As someone who spends a great deal of time playing, thinking about, talking about, Tweeting about, and occasionally writing about Magic, I’ll freely admit that I have absolutely no interest in watching streaming coverage of Magic events. Sorry!
So what this means is that when people started lighting up Twitter this weekend asking about what the new changes to FNM are, and specifically how this effects EDH, I of course had no idea what they were taking about.
So anyways, it appears that somewhere in the coverage of Whatever Big Event That Happened This Weekend That I Don’t Care About™, someone showed a graphic of formats that can now be sanctioned for FNM. Hey Cass (or whoever is in charge of graphics for this site), howzabout we put a copy of that image right here?
Wow, nice list WOTC! Now, the thing that caused a big stank on the internets was of course that EDH is listed, and we’ll get to that, but first, take a moment to really soak in that list, and then let’s talk. Hey graphics person, howzabout we put another copy of that image right here!
Ok, so now that you’ve really gotten tight with that list, let me offer five possible responses to it.
RESPONSE #1-The Analytical Response-
“Oh joy, I can finally get that Wizard’s Tower FNM I’ve been pining for all these years!”
RESPONSE #2-The Deeply Reflective Response-
“Wait, you can sanction all those fake formats but somehow Flip It and Rip It didn’t make the list? At least people actually play that format.”
RESPONSE #3-The Uncle Kaka Response-
“Oh fine, I can sanction a fucking Tribal Wars FNM but not Vintage? Eat a bag of dick, WOTC.”
RESPONSE #4-The Thoughtful, Carefully Considered Response-
“COMPETITIVE EDH!!!!!!! THE SKY IS FALLING!!!!!!!!”
RESPONSE #5-The Truth-
“Cool, so they didn’t change anything about FNM.”
Let’s go through these on at a time.
RESPONSE #1-The Analytical Response-“Oh joy, I can finally get that Wizard’s Tower FNM I’ve been pining for all these years!”
So you may have noticed, of the list of 28 formats that can now be run as sanctioned FNM events, approximately 21 of them (fully three quarters) are formats that most people have never played at all, much less played competitively. I’m pretty sure most people don’t even know what many of those formats are. For reals, what the hell is Wizard’s Tower?
Now, I can see how some stores that don’t already have an established FNM scene might decide to alienate the world by running an Archenemy Tournament FNM, but for most places that already have an FNM scene, they’re going to just keep on doing what they’ve been doing all along. Which means I still won’t have anyone who wants to play Planechase with me.
RESPONSE #2-The Deeply Reflective Response-“Wait, you can sanction all those fake formats but somehow Flip It and Rip It didn’t make the list? At least people actually play that format.”
As someone who has watched multiple stores struggle to generate interest in or cultivate scenes around niche formats, I will say this: Good luck getting that Star FNM to fire.
The FNM crowd tends to fall into two categories; regulars who show up every week to test and refine their Constructed decks, and casuals who show up from time to time to give Constructed a shot. In my experience, neither group has any interest in novelty formats: regulars don’t like them because they would rather keep playing a “relevant” format, and casuals get frustrated by them because there’s a decent chance that they will show up ready to play Standard only to find out that the format is Legacy, and they have no chance.
Also, let’s not forget that there are many players who do not have the card pool (or the format knowledge) to build decks for multiple formats. What this means is that most stores will continue to run the Constructed FNMs in formats that they are already running them in.
Of course, you can run FNM as Limited, which is cool, but you could already do that before this announcement.
RESPONSE #3-The Uncle Kaka Response-“Oh fine, I can sanction a fucking Tribal Wars FNM but not Vintage? Eat a bag of dick, WOTC.”
Look, I understand that Vintage scares the hell out of everyone, has a billion dollar barrier-to-entry, and has maybe 35 people in the entire world who actually play it. Still, if Wizards really wanted to do something awesome here, they could have added Vintage to the list of FNM sanctionable formats just in case you happen to actually have 8 people in your town who are crazy enough to play it.
Had Wizards wanted to do something REALLY awesome, they would have added some-number-of-proxy Vintage to the list. Granted, I understand there’s about a million reasons WOTC can’t sanction Proxy events, and that’s probably actually a terrible idea, but who cares? Sanctioned proxy Vintage, baby!
(Also, sorry Kaka for advocating proxy Vintage.)
RESPONSE #4-The Thoughtful, Carefully Considered Response-“COMPETITIVE EDH!!!!!!! THE SKY IS FALLING!!!!!!!!”
Hey look, the reason I’m writing this article! This was how these changes were first brought to my attention, as Twitter started blowing up with news that EDH was now a FNM format, and basically that the world is about to suck really bad.
Look, I agree with you OK? As someone who has written several “EDH for Prizes ruins the format” articles, I’m totally onboard with the idea that Competitive EDH FNM is probably a bad idea.
But hey, here’s the thing; if you actually delve into the announcement (and hey – here’s a link!), you’ll notice that they also mention that, basically, stores can now structure FNM however the hell they want. While most people associate FNM with “for prizes” (as most stores run FNM as a tournament for prizes), there’s not really any requirement to run it as a tournament for prizes any more. There used to be an expectation for the FNM promos (the only actual “prize support” that WOTC provides for FNM) to be given out to top 2 as well as to 2 randos, but under the new system you can give out FNM promos (and by extension, prizes) however you want.
This means, for example, that the “EDH Points League” that Erik has been feverishly working on could be run for FNM. Or you could run an EDH event where players vote on who gets the promos at the end. Sure, you could also run a heads-up EDH tournament, or a “4 player anything goes winner takes all” ComboFest, but you don’t NEED to; if we learned anything about Tournament EDH from GenCon 2013, it’s that given the use of a point system, you can totally play your silly, reasonably powered deck in an EDH tournament and have a good time (and win something!)
So anyways, if your LGS is talking about running an EDH FNM, go talk to them and encourage them to get over here and read our shit about how to do it right! Boom! EDH events run with slightly more sophistication than just “combo the table, win four packs” can be awesome, even if there are prizes involved.
Which brings us to…
RESPONSE #5-The Truth-“Cool, so they didn’t change anything about FNM.”
While it’s cool that WOTC has added all of these silly formats to the list, the reality is that many stores already have an established FNM scene, and for those that do there is little incentive to mess up what is working with novelty formats. What this means is that while some stores will run FNM Reject Rare Draft, most stores will continue to run the same FNMs they have always run.
But wait, here’s the other thing about that announcement! Note the part where it says “stores may run any number of events each week.” What this means is that stores can continue to run their regular Standard (or whatever) FNM, but also run an ADDITIONAL FNM that provides access to wacky formats.
Now, I know many stores will not do this (as offering two competing events on the same night is a good way to ensure that both events suck), but consider the possibilities: For example, one of my local stores runs an FNM where they start a (free, with optional buy-in) Standard tournament at 6pm and a (paid) draft at 7:30. This means people san show up, play Standard for free, and then draft if they scrub out in round one.
What I can envision some stores will do is offer something similar; a regular FNM event that starts at a set time every week and is consistently the same format, as well as a later-starting “side” FNM event that starts slightly later. This way, players can continue to have the consistent events they want, plus some people can play a fun, less competitive event. Win-win!
So, in conclusion, that’s how the new FNM thing works.
No, the sky isn’t falling.
What do y’all think?
Mr. P is sorry he insulted your Tribal Wars format. Mr. P secretly loves Archenemy. Mr. P is known throughout the world for his selection of fine cheeses.