[Official] State of Modern Thread (B&R 07/13/2020)

Aazadan
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Post by Aazadan » 1 year ago

CurdBros wrote:
1 year ago
Aazadan - I agree with you. That's why I said in my original post that as a business decision for WOTC that digital is definitely more profitable because the cost to create cards is so much less (no printing, no shipping, etc). From a purely profit standpoint it's the way of the future. I am just an old fart (in my early 30's) that doesn't like it :)
There's one other major business advantage too. It close to doubles your playerbase for events. Previously, I mentioned that at double the profit, they could lose half the customers and wind up in the same place. But, it's actually more extreme than that, because paper events disproportionately favor attendance from guys even though Wizards data says that about 40% of the playerbase are women. So by moving things online where that atmosphere is significantly lessened they get far more potential players.

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Post by cfusionpm » 1 year ago

Aazadan wrote:
1 year ago
I think Patrick Sullivan is a very good hire for them for now, but I already think they have several competent people in R&D. I don't think Moderns (or more broadly, Magics) current issues stem from a talent pool issue. I think their main issues right now are process issues, and a heavy dose of interference from upper management.
Melissa del Tora and Paul Cheon admitted on a stream of that they never imagined people would use Oko's Elk ability defensively on opponent permanents. Those are two extremely strong minds in competitive Magic.

The problem isn't meddling, it's that a handful of people in a room are going to miss things that a million people on reddit will catch immediately (just like CopyCat).

The secretive element to the process is the most detrimental. When only a handful of the same people can make discussions about upcoming cards, you get lots of echo chamber thinking and circular logic. It can lead to interpretations and developments that don't represent what the mass players might think of, because they simply don't have that extra outside voice.

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Post by Aazadan » 1 year ago

robertleva wrote:
1 year ago
We deserve bi-weekly ban list updates for every format. They should never let a format rot for 6months until their next decision.
It's not quite that simple. When cards create ban issues, it usually happens because something new was printed. If that something came from a set that was in the usual Standard rotation, they typically hope to follow up with answers to that something periodically (with additional cards coming out over time) over the next 1 to 6 sets or so.

So, a card is new, gets adopted, and becomes dominant after 2 to 3 months. Suddenly the next set is appearing which will have the first of a series of answers to it (usually the weakest of the answers). If that solves the problem, great. If not, you need to wait on more tournament data which takes another month. Then you'll have another set come out, followed by a ban list update that's too close to the set release to really make a call.

This pattern persists for several more set releases, until the meta either answers it, or it fails to answer it. As such, only the most obvious of things tend to get banned, because Wizards doesn't want to prematurely ban anything. Basically, the game suffers from this issue where there's always new cards just around the corner, and the hope is that safety valves put in those new cards can address current issues. 99% of the time, this is how things work and nothing goes wrong.

A proper series of safety valves would address a lot of this, but so far Wizards has been terrified of putting those safety valves into Modern. It's also possible that such safety valves can't even be built without making the game even more a battle of sideboard luck.

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Post by Aazadan » 1 year ago

cfusionpm wrote:
1 year ago
Melissa del Tora and Paul Cheon admitted on a stream of that they never imagined people would use Oko's Elk ability defensively on opponent permanents. Those are two extremely strong minds in competitive Magic.
Paul is definitely not a good game developer. Melissa I'm unsure on, You're mixing being good at playing a game with being good at making that game.

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Post by ktkenshinx » 1 year ago

CurdBros wrote:
1 year ago
Aazadan - I agree with you. That's why I said in my original post that as a business decision for WOTC that digital is definitely more profitable because the cost to create cards is so much less (no printing, no shipping, etc). From a purely profit standpoint it's the way of the future. I am just an old fart (in my early 30's) that doesn't like it :)
I agree Magic is unquestionably heading in a digital direction. It is cheaper, aligned with where most games are going, allows for microtransaction/whale-style economies, and ultimately results in the gold standard mobile transition. I'll also add something I've been saying for a while now: it allows Wizards to patch cards. We will never see another card banned again in any format and everyone will be allowed to play whatever they want. Unfortunately, this will have the side effect of allowing Wizards to release some truly broken nonsense on a much more regular basis, as the bar for testing is much lower when you can just patch away a bad design mistake. But that's definitely where the game is heading. I'm just a little surprised we're going to get there so quickly.
robertleva wrote:
1 year ago
We need to call out WOTC for what it really is: It's a company that has has a product that is awesome and relevant, but the company that created the product is operating on principles that were outdated 20 years ago when they first adopted them. Saying that wotc is tight lipped regarding company to player communication is like saying that the ocean is wet. They trickle out a few paragraphs a year, and a few decisions a year. This is utter %$#%$#% by today'd modern gaming standards.

We as gamers deserve a million times better. We deserve bi-weekly ban list updates for every format. They should never let a format rot for 6months until their next decision. They should also be very interactive with the community such as letting the people know what the %$#% they actually intend to do with Modern. Ktk has written an amazing article to this effect.

ktkenshinx Somewhere in your article please please please suggest that they adopt a modernized approach to communicating with their customers. An official forum where devs could post and respond is the very fking least we deserve.
10000%. My top four "Fixing Modern" imperatives are:

1. Format vision/direction redefinition
2. Aggressive bans to nerf decks at the margins while preserving core identities
3. Unbans to galvanize the player base
4. Opening of regular, at a MINIMUM monthly channels of open, public, consolidated communication on Modern.

There's a bunch of stuff after that like releasing more data, discussing Modern's future in an Arena world, addressing Play Design shortcomings, etc. I'm going to wait for the GP Austin catastrophe and Monday fallout to settle prior to publishing, so we'll see if the next few days add any imperatives to the picture.
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Post by Tomatotime » 1 year ago

Aazadan wrote:
1 year ago
Paul is definitely not a good game developer. Melissa I'm unsure on, You're mixing being good at playing a game with being good at making that game.
To add my 2 cents, Melissa was a part of the M25 set team which was widely acknowledged as a complete botch job, taking that as well as her Play Design performance and honestly, I'm not sure how she even still has a job. Though I guess on some level, there are plenty of other incompetent people working at Wotc so whatever.

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Post by cfusionpm » 1 year ago

Aazadan wrote:
1 year ago
cfusionpm wrote:
1 year ago
Melissa del Tora and Paul Cheon admitted on a stream of that they never imagined people would use Oko's Elk ability defensively on opponent permanents. Those are two extremely strong minds in competitive Magic.
Paul is definitely not a good game developer. Melissa I'm unsure on, You're mixing being good at playing a game with being good at making that game.
Perhaps I am.... I am not familiar with some of the specifics that would differentiate between play skill and development skill. I assume their abilities to draft and build decks is immensely helpful, but what other skills might they lack? (genuinely unfamiliar with what might be needed for good design).

That said, I can't imagine that the echo chamber structure doesn't have a nonzero negative impact as well.

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Post by Aazadan » 1 year ago

Tomatotime wrote:
1 year ago
To add my 2 cents, Melissa was a part of the M25 set team which was widely acknowledged as a complete botch job, taking that as well as her Play Design performance and honestly, I'm not sure how she even still has a job. Though I guess on some level, there are plenty of other incompetent people working at Wotc so whatever.
I've never followed her or really listened to what she has said, especially before working at Wizards which is why I'm not really sure. Either way, I'm not really all that interested in analyzing it in detail. My main point was that although some people in R&D aren't good developers they aren't suffering from a talent pool problem. Usually to be good at making a game you need to be average to a little above average in playing ability (enough that you understand all the game mechanics) but very good at game development (Which Wizards uniquely refers to as game designers).

I think that this may be one of the causes of some of Magics process going poorly over recent years. They used to have average players but above average designers working on their design teams. Then, after a year design would hand a file off to development who would then tune those designs to be balanced. In recent years, going by what statements I've read from their design team, the developers have been taking more and more of a role in actively designing sets. To the point that while not stated, reading between the lines it seems more like recent sets were designed by the developers and then finally the playtesters who I've also seen argue that they need to be designers, not developers.

So, one possible problem could be that they're still hiring the right people, but they're not assigning tasks correctly to those people. Instead, everyone is being spread out rather than focusing on the area that they're good at which is resulting in a lot of highly tuned but flawed designs, in addition to the usual mistakes that just simply happen here and there.
cfusionpm wrote:
1 year ago
Perhaps I am.... I am not familiar with some of the specifics that would differentiate between play skill and development skill. I assume their abilities to draft and build decks is immensely helpful, but what other skills might they lack? (genuinely unfamiliar with what might be needed for good design).
It's somewhat hard to describe succinctly, but if you can find some clips of Patrick Sullivan talking about development aspects in Magic, like power concentrations of colors per set, card design, and so on... he very clearly knows what he's talking about and understands making games, on the mechanical level as well as how to make them fun so that people buy/play them. Then compare that to someone like Kibler who is probably even better than Patrick Sullivan but gets upset over green not having a 1 mana accelerator in a Standard format, and then argues that makes green a weaker color.

The simplest way to explain it I guess is in how holistic the view is, looking at the same card/mechanic/color/deck/whatever from multiple points of view from using it/opposing it, to how it fits into it's entire standard lifecycle, and more.

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Post by drmarkb » 1 year ago

I think the designers are doing the job they have been told to do.
Their job is not to design a good game, it is to sell packs.
Magic is not one game it is many, and they are designing for all the profiles of players, including those here for the lore, casual and commander players, for Arena draft and BO1/3 standard, Brawl, Legacy, Modern, Pioneer, Vintage and many more. The reality is they are designing for Commander, and by association Brawl, and Arena, with Lore/art a secondary consideration, and Modern/Legacy etc. a tertiary and quaternary, at best. Spike is no longer the demographic, either.

Let us look at what that means. They follow the data that says people dislike being told "no" and like to be able to "do stuff", rather than stopping others do stuff, So answers are weaker than threats, and we get anaemic cards like the latest turd-on-a-stick Eidolon of Obstruction, which for two mana taxes opponent's planeswalker activations....by one. Yes, that's right- one. Oh, and it is a 2/1 dude. It annoys rather than stops. Legacy won't use it, despite the body and first strike, because Revoker exists. It won't stop the next Oko, it will slow it, for a turn or two. Years ago they made Null Rods and Stony silences- harder to kill as they are not dudes, same cost, but they say "no", not "pay one more".

Every now and then a designer can slip something in like Tomik, specifically designed to hurt lands/depths strategies until it is removed, and annoy DnT players in the mirror. Because its text is so specific it does not exist in regular Mtg beyond Legacy, but it has a decent body for limited and nobody cares beyond the target audience. Modern might get a few of these but it won't get the general answers like Stony Silence, at least not for the problem permanents that are nearly always walkers and creatures today, with the odd land/artifact in there. BO1 in arena has meant a drift towards modal spells which will have the word "walker" and "creature" on them but they will be 1 for 1, and thus the threat will often have generated value. Given the rate at which the high end stuff goes off- think Urza, Jace or Oko- it is likely that they won't provide the answer. Making walkers have summoning sickness may have helped with oko, but by and large they won't design the safety valve cards that impact the two biggest problem cards, the ones that the casual players want.

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Post by robertleva » 1 year ago

A stony silence for walkers would change the entire dynanimic of walkers they've been developing. I'm not gonna lie, the new walker tax bear is pretty good, it screws up play curves the same way thalia screws up mana curves.
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Post by iTaLenTZ » 1 year ago

Eidolon of Obstruction doesn't do much because walkers have passives and abundance loyalty. On the draw the card is a joke. In general Thalia is already much better.

Scenario:
Second turn opponent plays tax bear
Third turn you play T3feri but can't activate it.
Third turn opponent attacks T3feri who is now sitting at 2 loyalty.

If your plan was to only make use of T3feri because of his passive than the hatebear accomplished nothing. You can proceed to combo on turn 4 without your opponent being able to do anything about it. Thalia would have delayed T3feri at least 1 turn while also messing up the rest of your deck. If you needed Teferi to bounce something in both cases you could only play it on turn 4 therefore Eidolon of Obstruction has no advantage over Thalia in that scenario either. It is really a narrow and bad card.

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Post by Ed06288 » 1 year ago

The biggest blight on this format has always been expensive zen fetches and rarity bumps to stuff like tarmogoyf and dark confidant.

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Post by ktkenshinx » 1 year ago

Ed06288 wrote:
1 year ago
The biggest blight on this format has always been expensive zen fetches and rarity bumps to stuff like tarmogoyf and dark confidant.
Modern has a lot of issues right now, but calling rarity bumps and prices the "biggest blight" is definitely inaccurate. There are so many larger issues Modern is facing right now. Format accessibility is definitely important in the long-term, but Wizards needs to take some short- and mid-term steps to ensure Modern is even around for card prices to matter. This means better communication about Modern's direction/goals, bans, unbans, and commitment to supporting Modern in an Arena/esports world. If those things don't happen, Zen fetches could be pennies and it wouldn't improve Modern engagement.

Re: GP Austin
Coverage is up on Twitch:

I strongly encourage everyone to watch even if the format is sort of in dumpster fire territory. Wizards pays attention to viewership counts and if we get the rare Modern GP on a weekend, we need to be showing up in force. I'll go so far as to say we should not watch any SCG Modern this weekend unless we have it open in another browser; it's much more important to boost GP viewership.

Join the conversation at #MTGAustin on Twitter (https://twitter.com/hashtag/MTGAustin?s ... ick&f=live)
Text coverage page when it's updated: https://coverage.channelfireball.com/event/47

The biggest datapoints from this weekend will be Day 1, Day 2, and T32/16/8 prevalence to justify ban/unban cases. But a secretly critical datapoint will be attendance. GP Columbus had awful attendance, and if GP Austin repeats this showing, that's an important indicator of format issues. It's also an indicator of paper GP issues, because Standard GP have had terrible attendance too, but in the larger Modern picture it's not a stretch to tie this primarily to format health.
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Post by True-Name Nemesis » 1 year ago

Day one meta breakdown for the GP.

Edit: Commentators on both SCG and CFB streams are not even hiding their disdain for Oko right now. Will be a right travesty if it doesn't go.

Also 1000ish players which imo is on the smaller side for a North American Modern event, although it might have to do with the event space. WoTC used to indicate an approximate player cap for the different events when they were in charge but I can't find that info anymore on CFB's site.

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Post by idSurge » 1 year ago

Ed06288 wrote:
1 year ago
The biggest blight on this format has always been expensive zen fetches and rarity bumps to stuff like tarmogoyf and dark confidant.
This is so far down the list of relevance, its hardly worth mention.

EDIT: Love me some Day 1 Numbers. Jund Players, keep holding that flame boys.
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Post by cfusionpm » 1 year ago

Day 1 tells us what people prefer to play.
Day 2 and Top 8 tells us what's actually successful.

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Post by metalmusic_4 » 1 year ago

My buddy is playing in Knoxville today and he told me he hasn't played the same deck twice yet, and he hasn't played urza yet. Urza is certainly prevalent and will likely be big in the day 2 meta though.

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Post by ktkenshinx » 1 year ago

cfusionpm wrote:
1 year ago
Day 1 tells us what people prefer to play.
Day 2 and Top 8 tells us what's actually successful.
Definitely, but without Day 1 numbers, we don't have a good sense of what is truly successful. The gold standard of data at these kinds of events is conversion data from Day 1 to Day 2 to T64/32/16/8. Of course, the platinum standard is MWP and matchup MWP spectra, but I'm generally happy with just the gold.

RE: GP Austin attendance
We're looking at 802 players at the GP (https://coverage.channelfireball.com/as ... 76135.html). By comparison, GP Columbus was an unmitigated disaster at 657 players. How does Austin compare?

The answer: it's also a disaster. At 802 players, Austin is the 6th worst-attended GP in Modern's history after Columbus, 2013 GP Brisbane (466), 2012 GP Lincoln (716), 2013 GP San Diego (759), and 2015 GP Porto Alegre (789). Outside of the awful GP Columbus, the next most recent American GP with comparably bad attendance was 2019 GP Minneapolis at 981 players, which is still quite a bit higher. The last two Texan GP also had SIGNIFICANTLY higher attendance: 2016 GP Dallas at 2,019 players, 2019 GP Dallas at 1,256 players. It's particularly troubling that 2019 GP Dallas was just in late June of last year, and we already saw a 450+ player drop just 3 hours away and a few months down the road. This is currently the worst news to come out of the weekend and yet another indicator of major Modern decline.

To be clear, paper GP are generally in trouble right now. Standard GP in the last few months also had terrible attendance. But Standard also had a terrible format, so that's an overlapping variable that is likely influencing both events. I suspect the Pioneer GP will have great attendance later this year; Modern's March GP will only be well-attended if Wizards takes significant steps towards fixing the format in the next 1-2 months.
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Post by Ym1r » 1 year ago

This Oko-Urza-Titan slugfest is soooo annoying to watch. At least we get to see a Yawgmoth or Bant Snow Control/Snowblade from time to time.
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Post by Amalgam » 1 year ago

Snowblade has actually been doing quite well between the gp and the scg stream which is a nice sight to see. Really hope this deck has the power to stick around post Oko banning

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Post by CurdBros » 1 year ago

I think there are several factors at play with the GP attendance.

1.) Modern is on a decline and in a bad spot. The meta game is not great right now with Oko everyhere. I don't think it's comparable to eldrazi winter or Hogaak days, but there are definitely some major changes needed.

2.) Pioneer is the new shiny format. Many players have begun concentrating on pioneer. Most players can't afford (time or money) to have muliple non-rotating decks in paper. Therefore, a lot of players are likely waiting to use their new pioneer decks and are saving vacation days for that tournament. It's a new format so there will definitely be some excitement which hurts modern.

3.) Paper magic in general is down. GP attendance is somewhat down across the board. With Arena, MTGO, and now the MPL a lot of players are playing more online than ever.

4.) The new route to the "Pro Tour" is very vague and always changing. The MPL seems unattainable and the new players tour is confusing. In addition to that WOTC's recent announcement adds another level of confusion. Grinders used to be able to travel the world and grind events and be sure that at minimum they were gaining points towards silver, gold, platinum level which had definite perks over the long run.

5.) Several modern tournaments were held this weekend. The SCG tour held a modern event, WOTC/Channelfireball held a modern GP or magic fest, and NRG games also had a $5000 modern tournament that is being covered.on twitch as well. That is a lot of modern to chose from.

6). Most likely bans come Monday. Some people will take the opportunity to play Oko one more time, however, others have likely sold out of the deck and didn't attend because they are waiting to see what happens. This is a very small percentage, but it still makes a small dent.

All in all modern definitely needs a shot in the arm, but I do think this was a perfect storm to create slightly lower GP numbers. I think [mention]ktkenshinx[/mention] is exactly right; the March GP numbers will go a long way towards knowing how stable modern's future will be. I think Pioneer numbers will definitely be higher this year due to costs and due to the excitement about the format. After a year or so once the pioneer meta is a bit more figured out it will be very interesting to see how modern and pioneer compare to each other.

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Post by drmarkb » 1 year ago

ktkenshinx wrote:
1 year ago
cfusionpm wrote:
1 year ago
Day 1 tells us what people prefer to play.
Day 2 and Top 8 tells us what's actually successful.
Definitely, but without Day 1 numbers, we don't have a good sense of what is truly successful. The gold standard of data at these kinds of events is conversion data from Day 1 to Day 2 to T64/32/16/8. Of course, the platinum standard is MWP and matchup MWP spectra, but I'm generally happy with just the gold.

RE: GP Austin attendance
We're looking at 802 players at the GP (https://coverage.channelfireball.com/as ... 76135.html). By comparison, GP Columbus was an unmitigated disaster at 657 players. How does Austin compare?

The answer: it's also a disaster......

To be clear, paper GP are generally in trouble right now.
That is two clear key points, all GPs are poorly attended compared to what we had but they are no longer GPs, of course. That whole "see the world, play the game" thing is dead. The reduced coverage and renaming have really hurt the attendance. Pros are no longer incentivised/forced to play, coverage is not there. I honestly don't think they care that much about GPs. Focus on paper GPs might, in the eyes of WOTC, draw attention away from the bigger picture- selling arena. The format is not going to help, but even if it was at its best, I don't think 1600-2000 player GPs are what they want.
Last edited by drmarkb 1 year ago, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by CurdBros » 1 year ago

Ym1r wrote:
1 year ago
This Oko-Urza-Titan slugfest is soooo annoying to watch. At least we get to see a Yawgmoth or Bant Snow Control/Snowblade from time to time.
The GP coverage was much better in terms of games and decks. I have found that the SCG meta in general always seems to be much more inbred than GP metas. They cover a lot of the same players on the same teams and they all typically always bring similar or the same decks.

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Post by idSurge » 1 year ago

CurdBros wrote:
1 year ago
Ym1r wrote:
1 year ago
This Oko-Urza-Titan slugfest is soooo annoying to watch. At least we get to see a Yawgmoth or Bant Snow Control/Snowblade from time to time.
The GP coverage was much better in terms of games and decks. I have found that the SCG meta in general always seems to be much more inbred than GP metas. They cover a lot of the same players on the same teams and they all typically always bring similar or the same decks.
Ya, SCG being a glorified regional circuit has this issue for sure.
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Post by metalmusic_4 » 1 year ago

Final prediction for Monday jan 13.

Ban: oko, urza, more (idk which cards though)
Unban: twin

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