Demonic Tutor

Magic: the Gathering in the UK

A lot of people tend to go through phases of quitting and re-starting the game, and I'm finding that I definitely have times when I really like it and times when I'm a bit bored with it. It's probably entirely set dependant (Innistrad was awesome, but I've been quickly bored by all of Scars block, Avacyn Restored and now RTR and Gatecrash). People always say that the game was better in the old days, but is this really true, or is it just that the more you play the game the less real difference you notice between sets? Especially with "New World Order", the commons in the sets seem to be more and more similar and (probably due to smaller set sizes) there seem to be less 'buid-around' uncommons, less creatures with CIP abilities, and more creatures with decent P/T and minor/no abilities. So I guess what I'm asking is whether this is actually the case, or if people just get 'magic fatigue' and that's why so many people end up taking breaks from the game to just play cube etc? Or is the quality of sets just worse now than it used to be?

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Interestingly, I feel that at its core Magic is actually quite a boring game. The basic limited gameplay is 'make guys and attack', and with the colour pie there is a general similarity between colours across sets. This, I think, is why a bad set is so bad - when you can't do much beyond the basics the game is not that much fun. A good set like Innistrad makes the game interesting by breaking the rules and making the limited experience unique. Otherwise all you have are boring creature decks.

+1 to everything in this post re: life changing. 

Also at some point in most reasonable player's career they get sniff of success, rub shoulder's with some better players, and read a bunch of stuff about EV and decide that if they aren't getting va-va-va-vaaaaalue from an event then it is unsuccessful.  That, and the fact that they've played for a long time lessens the magic that comes from changes occurring.  Sure the game changes all the time, but the impact of change isn't really there any more, which gives the feeling that it's getting stale and boring. 

I get bored with the game sometimes, but not often.  Sure I have a lot of nostalgia from different parts of my magic life (played casual in ice age, prereleased since Urza's Saga), including the ultimate power of Blinding Angel, Lin-Sivvi wars, casting sorceries with " " as their text, going 13-1 in a weekend with Red Zone 2k2, playing RUG in Rav drafts, punting countless PTQ Top 8's for over a decade, being in 1st overnight at a GP and somehow managing to not Top 8, booking a flight to a PTQ because modo was down, etc etc etc.  Wait what was my point again?  Oh yeah.  Magic is basically the same.  It's a little duller because you're a) adept at rolling with the changes, and b) not able to commit to it because you have other life commitments.

Simon O'Keeffe said:

You kids have never had it so good! (obligatory old man comment out of the way)

Magic has indeed changed over the years, mostly for the better, but some for the worse. As someone who started playing back when Ice Age was just released (almost 20 years ago) I would say that modern sets are mostly better than old sets. I will concur with Phil's point about artwork. I loved some of the old artists that were used (Richard Kane Ferguson and Harold McNeil were two good ones I remember).

Specifically with regards to drafting, I think some of the issues with modern sets is that archetypes are too clear cut. I'd pinpoint the Original Ravnica set as the beginning of the problem. By itself it was a pretty dull format. There were only 4 decks to draft (5 if you counted non-mill Dimir). Guildpact alleviated it a bit, although Grixis was a clear best deck, and Dissension just made it a completely different, and good format.

Since then most sets have had fairly well defined limited archetypes with cards specifically made for them. This can take some of the shine off the actual draft as decisions can feel forced. Older sets got around this issue by just being sloppily designed and drafting a collection of good cards was an archetype. 

All that aside I think that the main reason that peoples relationship with Magic changes is that they change more than Magic does. It is fairly rare for somebody to have a passion for something which remains undimmed by time. Magic is also a hobby which demands a lot of time if you want to enjoy everything it has to offer: drafting, constructed, casual formats, deckbuilding, testing, sorting and storing cards, trading, keeping up to date with the metagame, competitive play, travelling.

When I was single, had a non-intrusive 9-5 job, and all my friends and family lived fairly close it was something I was happy to devote a lot of my free time to. As those things changed, and demands on my time from them increased something had to give, and it was a fairly easy choice to just let the sun go down on my competitive and constructed careers, not ever both to trade, and travel to less events. It helped that I'd achieved a lot of what I wanted to do at the game.

Now I'm happy to just enjoy playing cube, and silly casual formats that require no upkeep, and drafting once a week. I still get to enjoy a lot of the core Magic fun but without too much of the overhead.

And by "you" I guess I mean "me", because these are the causes for me ever feeling this way.

to be honest, I have not really ever played magic for the game, I've always played it as a mental exercise (that's why you sometimes see me beat myself up over things like playing wrong land turn 1, or for the people who have known me a long time, the 6-sided game concession die). However, with recent changes to the game, more streamlined "archetype" draft formats, increased price, no more elo rating, having to play a lot just to get gp byes, I find it hard to justify playing the game much any more, even for formats that I like a lot. I feel that the game is no longer "for me" and has been going that way for a long time. Hence, now trying to play things like League of Legends.

I'm the sort of person who loved Time Spiral and Odyssey blocks. Blocks which were RIDICULOUSLY over complicated to play, 100s of on board tricks and synegies, but which Wizards customer research showed ppl didn't really enjoy. I have one box of Odyssey, Torment and Judgement stored away to play on my 50th birthday, so if you guys are around...

As for burnout? I don't agree that is a factor (at least for all people). E.g. I LOVE football, and have followed it for 20+ years, doesn't stop me playing fantasy football, playing in the park on weekend, getting a coaching license. The problem with magic is that to do these things and play at this lvl will cost a lot of money, time and brain space.

So... anyone want to play some Magic this weekend? :P

I strongly agree with Simon- we've all changed a lot over the time that we've played the game. One of the things that makes it such a good game is the many different ways to play it. It's easy to pick the aspects of the game which you enjoy the most, and make that the magic that you play.
I'm surprised by people saying that 'magic is expensive'. I think that you could argue that sanctioned magic is expensive, but pretty much any other magic isn't.

Re: Dan B's comment about some magic players are not nice.


When I first started playing at clubs and competitive magic, I came across quite a number of unplesant individuals.  Nasty, selfish, bullying kind.  I had the idea then (wrongly) that this game either were played by mostly just these people or it brings out the worst in people.  However, the longer I played, the more people I met and some have become great friends.  I realised it's not the magic that bring out the worst in people, but just that like all walks of life, you get all sorts.  Magic is no exception.


Agree with Simon and Dan R, comp magic is costly, like any serious hobbies.  Going to a footie game in London could easier cost you £50 to £100 (inclusive of travel, food, beers, tickets).  Casual play, cheap.

Re the people thing- playing outside of a sanctioned setting fixes this- you play with people who you've chosen to see.

this specifically for me as well. i play league of legends with a good group of guys multiple times a week and it pretty much fulfils everything magic would for me but costs a tiny tiny fraction of the price.

specifically with League, another thing that really draws me in with it is the fact it is extremely watchable. i watch hours and hours of LCS coverage every single week because the commentators are excellent and the intermatch material is extremely high quality. i tried to watch some of the pro tour coverage for montreal and just turned it off after a few minutes. even if there are no pro matches being broadcast (unlikely given there are two LCS leagues plus regular tournaments; IEM etc) i find even the ordinary streams to be way more entertaining than magic streams - because you aren't just sat there while the streamer's opponent is thinking or between rounds etc etc

Peter Dun said:

I feel that the game is no longer "for me" and has been going that way for a long time. Hence, now trying to play things like League of Legends.

Interesting to hear you guys all play League too!

This is a game I've been playing on and off for the past two years, and I agree it fulfills a lot of the competitive edge I looked for in Magic but with a vastly lower amount of compound time required. You only ever need an hour spare, rather than a minimum of two and a half for a draft online. League certainly has some of its own issues, but now being the biggest online game in the world they have really put an amazing amount of effort into their pro scene, and the quality is very high this year.

I play on EU West as TorqGWJ, feel free to add me. I play with a pretty laid back group a couple of times a week.

The only thing I find lacking with LoL is the face to face social interaction.

See you in Manchester? :P

Dan Barrett said:

So... anyone want to play some Magic this weekend? :P

Not PTQing further than an hour away I'm afraid. I'll come to WMCQs/PTQs in e.g. Milton Keynes though.

Levi Hinz said:

See you in Manchester? :P

Dan Barrett said:

So... anyone want to play some Magic this weekend? :P

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