2014 was a wild year for the Magic community with plenty of ups and downs. Theros came to a close and Tarkir’s story is just beginning. There were accolades and admonishments to go with a few game-changing announcements from the likes of Mark Rosewater and Helene Bergeot. Today, as we prepare for the new year, we look back at the 10 most important stories for the Magic community in 2014.

Top 10 Stories of 2014

10. PAX East

The biggest news from PAX East this year in Boston was that we didn’t learn about Khans of Tarkir. The annual northeast gaming mecca was where we first learned about Theros and the Return to Ravnica. It was sad to find out that this major announcement had been pushed out to the Pro Tour. Ultimately it makes sense to try to increase viewership of the Pro Tour by making major announcements there. Still, PAX was  full of exciting Magic news including a demo of Duels of the Planeswalkers, the announcement of celebrity cards in Magic 2015, the reveal of Athreos, and an impassioned plea for un-banning by Stoneforge Mystic herself.

9. The 2014 Pro Tour Hall of Fame Class

Most years there is a lot of debate over who will get inducted into the Pro Tour HOF but this year the decision seemed almost unanimous. 86% of ballots included Makihito Mihara. 72% included Paul Rietzl. 61% included Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. No one else even came close to 50%. Will Edel  had 31% of the votes to finish in 4th place for the voting. Another important name on the list, Tomoharu Saito, received 15% of votes. It will be interesting to see if his past transgressions keep him from ever being a member of the Hall of Fame.

8. Unbanning Bitterblossom (and Wild Nacatl)

The Modern format has had a long-established list of banned cards dating back to the format’s inception. The majority of the cards on the initial list were banned because of their power level in other formats. For example, the dominance of the faeries strategies in Standard and Extended led to the banning of Bitterblossom when Modern was formed. After several years, the DCI finally decided that the faeries simply weren’t as threatening as they once were and allowed them to roam free again. Since then plenty of people have tried to break the card in the Modern format but to no avail, it seems the DCI was right about this one. They also un-banned Wild Nacatl, something no one seems to have noticed or cared about.

7. Announcing the Modern Event Deck

It seems like ages ago that the Modern Event Deck came and went, but in reality it was announced in January, released in May, played by yours truly at a Grand Prix in July, and then largely forgotten about afterwards. When it was first mentioned the speculation ran wild. Would it contain fetch lands? Would it contain shock lands? With a $75 MSRP the sky was seemingly the limit. When the list was revealed and there were no powerful staples worth oodles of money the community unanimously claimed it unplayable. I did my best to prove them wrong and still feel that the deck is perfectly reasonable for casual Modern players looking to get into the format. I think that sales of the deck however would state otherwise. I don’t expect Wizards to make another one of these anytime soon.

6. Vintage Masters

The release of Vintage Masters on MTGO created unprecedented positive buzz for the digital form of Magic. Nearly everyone was drafting this unique format, and hoping to get a chance to play with the most overpowered cards and decks of all time. Plenty of pillars of the community such as Luis Scott-Vargas and Randy Buehler helped support the format by streaming matches and supporting the community. Prices for power shot up and then fell down as the excitement waned. The set has since returned for brief periods and I expect that it will continue to be a mainstay of Magic Online for years to come.

5. Wizards v. Cryptozoic

The lawsuit likely won’t be settled for years but it seems that Wizards and Cryptozoic, the makers of Hex, will be going to court over the principle of just how much of a game you can legally copy and still call it your own intellectual property. The facts are very simple. Hex made an MMOTCG and it’s very cool. However, the card game that’s within their MMO platform is Magic the Gathering. The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but Wizards is claiming they haven’t been changed enough, and that the common person would not be able to distinguish between the two. There’s a thin line between a game’s mechanics, which can legally be copied, and a game’s overall appearance, which cannot be copied. In a few years that line may get a lot thicker.

4. Two-Block Paradigm

Mark Rosewater shook the Magic world with an announcement about the future of Magic. After struggling for years with the problem of the third set in each block, Wizards had finally decided to just get rid of it. From now on all blocks would consist of two sets, one large and one small, and we would get two blocks every year. This shift begins in the fall of 2015 with the Blood & Sweat block and the spring of 2016 with the Tears & Fears block. Khans of Tarkir will be the last three-set block for the foreseeable future. This also means that whatever core set product comes out in the summer of 2015 will be the final core set. Wizards has plans for yet-to-be-announced replacement product for new players. The most shocking part of the announcement? The community was generally cool with it and no one felt the sky was falling. We must really all hate the third set of each block.

3. Path to the Pro Tour

Goodbye Pro Tour Qualifiers and hello Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers. The competitive scene will change forever after the current season of PTQ tournaments for Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir comes to a close. The time-honored tradition of playing a single day of Magic culminating in a single player going home happy and everyone else going home sad is coming to an end. In the new world of qualifiers players will compete in local preliminary qualifiers which award invites to several regional qualifiers. The top 4 or 8 from those events (depending on attendance) will get invited to the Pro Tour. It’s a brave new world and people are divided on whether or not it will go over well. I remain cautiously optimistic.

2. Underground Dojo Keyboard Cagefighters

Reading that cracks me up. It seems that the past few months have been full of crackdowns on cheating by the DCI. Players have responded with all kinds of defensive arguments but none was as vitriolic as Trevor Humphries’s rant about how the internet community of Reddit called him out because of their jealousy of his success. Since then several more high profile players have been dealt with accordingly including Marcio Carvalho being disqualified from the World Cup a few weeks ago. Cheating has run rampant in the game from the lowest levels to the highest for many years and it’s about time that this issue became front-and-center in discussions.

1. Crackgate

No story shook the Magic community to its core more in past years than Crackgate. Players at one of the largest tournaments ever were candidly photographed by another attending player. The subject matter was exposed rear ends and the photo album rapidly went viral. The response was more divided than a congressional hearing with people quickly falling on the side of being completely outraged that butt-cracks exist and are allowed to be shown in public or being completely outraged that the victims were grossly humiliated on the internet. Ultimately Wizards (properly) sided with the latter group and announced sweeping changes to the penalties for harassment at tournaments. The player responsible for the photoset was given a multi-year ban from the game.

As we look to 2015 it is important for Magic to continue to push boundaries out of its niche community and into the wider geek culture, but not like this. Not like this at all. Let’s hope the top story of 2015 is about how we finally broke down some of the boundaries between the game and the outside world.

The Quick Hits

  • Alex Gershaw shares his tale of community building in the world of Legacy players from Leeds and wants to see more people do the same in their own communities [Mana Leak]
  • Cardmageddon is an interesting idea and one that I would like to see take off, but it sounds like attendance was pretty low [Quiet Speculation]
  • Danny Brown wants to be able to cube draft on MTGO whenever he damn pleases and it’s hard to find a compelling reason as to why he shouldn’t be able to [Quiet Speculation]
  • The first spoiler from Fate Reforged trickled in this week and while it’s not impressive it is unique [Gathering Magic]
  • Mike Linnemann talks about the role of artists at Grand Prix events as the tournaments become more like mini-conventions [Gathering Magic]
  • Paulo looks at the top five mistakes that good players make at Magic. I think I was guilty of all five of these at one point or another [PV’s Playhouse]
  • And the second spoiler from Fate Reforged showed up this week and is slightly more impressive than the first [Quiet Speculation]
  • Paul Cheon, Tom Martell, and Josh Utter-Leyton lay out their wish lists for Magic in 2015 [Magic TV]

Wallpaper of the Week

Because of the holiday break there was no official wallpaper this week. So it’s another week of Narset on our desktops. I guess it could be worse.

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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