This week marks the second anniversary of this column. Today we’ll take a look at the past 12 months of What We Learned. We’ll share the good times, the bad times, and whatever else we’ve been through together in the last year. To wrap things up we’ll take a look forward and make some bold predictions about what the next solar cycle holds for our community. In short, this is my year in review and my predictions for next year all wrapped up in one column to close out November.

Another Year Older

Satire and Stockings

We decided to begin our second year of life by picking apart a piece of supposed satire written by Chas Andres over at Star City Games. In his piece Chas attempted to make his feminist arguments in the guise of sarcastic comments about the state of the Magic community. The piece caused a lot of controversy and I still hold that this is absolutely the wrong way to go about trying to get this message across. The past year has been marked by Wizards and Star City Games pushing harder for equality in the Magic community. Women continue to be a horribly oppressed minority in our community and it falls on the pillars of our community to bear the responsibility of improving that situation. Both organizations have performed admirably since then, and no more terrible satire has been published on my watch.

Modern Event Deck

Wizards kicked off the year with a bang when they announced the Modern Event Deck. While Standard had been the home of these products for quite some time, this was new ground for Wizards. Modern is a notoriously difficult format to get into, and at the time we still had not seen the reprint of fetch lands. The deck was going to have an MSRP of $75 and when the contents were announced the community reaction was not stellar. To get to the bottom of it all, I played the deck for eight weeks at Twenty Sided Store, making community-driven changes under a tight budget. Ultimately I brought the modified Modern Event Deck to Grand Prix Worcester where it performed admirably but fell just short of day two.


The low point of the past year was most certainly Crackgate. Sidney Blair decided to spend his time at Grand Prix Richmond, still the biggest constructed Magic tournament of all time, photographing the exposed butt-cracks of people playing in the tournament. The victims of this shaming had no idea that they were being photographed and certainly did not give Blair consent to publish the images online. The image album quickly went viral resulting in the story being picked up by a number of mainstream media outlets including Gawker and even TIME magazine’s website. Blair was banned by the DCI for 18 months from playing competitive Magic.

Wizards v. Cryptozoic

It’s hard to believe it but it’s already been six months since Wizards filed their lawsuit with Cryptozoic, designers of the Kickstarter-backed game Hex. Hex is a massively multiplayer online trading card game with some very interesting MMO mechanics wrapped around a card game with some neat digital-only features such as cards with three sides. What’s become a problem however is that the card game wrapped in Hex’s MMO shell is essentially a clone of Magic: the Gathering. Wizards is claiming that Hex is infringing on copyright and trade dress laws. Hex defends itself saying Wizards can’t patent their game’s mechanics anymore. Pretty much everyone loses here except the legal teams who will make a ton of money.

Two Block Paradigm

Back in September, Mark Rosewater made a massive announcement, finally conceding defeat at the hands of the three-set block design. Instead, Wizards would be pushing on with a new two-block paradigm which would see two blocks released annually, each consisting of two sets. We won’t get our first taste of his until the fall of next year with the release of code-name Blood. Also, this means that the summer of 2015 will mark the final edition of the current generation of Core Sets, possibly forever.

Underground Dojo Keyboard Cagefighters

Last but not least we come to the tragic tale of cheating in Magic. Over a span of two weeks, Alex Bertoncini, Trevor Humphries, and Jared Boettcher were all banned from the DCI on multi-year suspensions for flagrant cheating on camera at high-level and high-profile Magic tournaments. In the case of Bertoncini no one was really surprised. Having already been suspended for cheating, virtually no one trusted Alex very much at all. He was caught on-camera keeping all the cards he drew from a Brainstorm and will be spending the next four years away from the Magic scene. Boettcher’s story is much more embarrassing because he was the reigning Rookie of the Year. The title has since been awarded to the runner-up. Finally we have the case of Trevor Humphries who was found guilty of stacking his opponents’ decks while shuffling. For his part he at least left us with this wonderful, wonderful meme:

Terrible Twos

This year we’re going to make some bold predictions for the Magic community for the next twelve months. I’ll make six predictions, all tangentially related to the six stories I highlighted above.

  1. First, the role of Women in the game will continue to improve in the coming year. Between now and next Thanksgiving we will have four Pro Tour events. My bold prediction is that there will be another woman competing in the top 8 of the Pro Tour before the end of 2015. With Melissa de Tora leaving the competitive circuit to take a job with Wizards R&D, it’s going to be tough, but several women have begun climbing the ranks and it’s inevitable that another lady planeswalker will reach the top tier of our game.
  2. Wizards will not create another Modern Event Deck. Despite my best efforts the first one did not sell well. Instead, Wizards will re-double their efforts on Modern Masters 2. My bold prediction is that the Zendikar cycle of fetch lands will be reprinted in Modern Masters 2 alongside another reprinting of Tarmogoyf.
  3. Sidney Blair was an unfortunate sideshow but Grand Prix Richmond was a huge triumph. The era of the 4,000-player Magic tournament is upon us and will continue with regularity. My bold prediction for next year is that there will be at least one Grand Prix with at least 5,000 players. My top-three picks for candidates to set this record are Grand Prix Atlantic City (May 9-10), Grand Prix TBD (May 30-31), and Grand Prix Seattle (Nov 14-15).
  4. This may not be a bold prediction, but nothing is going to happen in the Wizards/Cryptozoic law suit until 2016 at the earliest. For those interested to see the resolution of this case, you’ll have to check in for my 4th Anniversary article in 2016.
  5. We won’t find out too much about the two-block paradigm until we start to learn more about Blood, the fall set in 2015. However, we will be spending next summer saying goodbye to the Core Set. Here’s my bold prediction: this set won’t just be called Magic 2016. Expect something really cheesy like Core Set Omega or a product just called Magic the Gathering. The brand department hasn’t always made great decisions and this is an opportunity for them to do some heavy branding. They won’t pass it up and it won’t be pretty.
  6. Last but not least, I predict that 2015 will see a record number of high-profile cheating incidents resulting in bans. Players still haven’t figured out that they’re on camera all the time at the top tables. The cheaters will continue to get weeded out but it will still be some time before the community is really cleaned up.

That’s all I’ve got for predictions. Check back next year to see how right or wrong I was.

The Quick Hits

  • There’s an official survey to air your grievances about Magic Online. I’m not making this up [PureMTGO]
  • If you have some artistic talent, MTG HQ is giving away a Duel Decks anthology and some Commander 2014 decks [MTG HQ]
  • Mark Nestico takes a good look at Modern bannings and although he’s crazy to suggest that Dredge could be let into the format, the rest of his observations are interesting [StarCityGames]
  • Desert Bus has raised an incredible amount of money this past week for Child’s Play by giving away some sweet MTG swag [Gathering Magic]
  • Shockingly, leagues aren’t coming to MTGO this year. Here’s a bonus bold prediction: Leagues will debut in 2015 and they’ll be full of bugs. Win some, lose some [Quiet Speculation]
  • South Park this week featured Magic the Gathering. This is most certainly not safe for work [Quiet Speculation]

Wallpaper of the Week

Well that’s certainly Zurgo sitting on his Dragon Throne. This image was part of the promotional material from the videos for Khans of Tarkir, though I don’t believe it has appeared on a card… yet. It could very well show up in Fate Reforged or Dragons of Tarkir. I have to say I’m a bit disappointed by this wallpaper. It’s overly red and brown and there simply isn’t anything interesting going on other than the massive dragon’s skull.

Grade: D

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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