This week Wizards made a big announcement about Magic Online. No, they’re not finally giving us leagues. No, they’re not making improvements to server stability. No they haven’t fixed all those bugs. No, there isn’t a Mac version on the way. The big change is that they’ve given the role of Events Manager to a new person. Read on for more excitement and sarcasm!

Lee Sharpe, MTGO Events Manager

My name is Lee Sharpe and my job is to make your MTGO experience less miserable through improved event scheduling instead of actually fixing anything.

Lee Sharpe isn’t a bad guy, I’m sure. In the past he’s served as a level three judge, a member of the rules team, and has been a developer for MTGO in the past. He was working as a member of the business intelligence team (whatever that means) before being announced as the new event manager for Magic Online. Lee is a data-driven individual and plans on running the events schedule in a data-driven way. He’s making a bunch of changes right off the bat so let’s get that out of the way.

  • The daily schedule will no longer be the same every day but will be split into a Monday/Tuesday, Wednesday/Thursday, and Friday/Saturday/Sunday schedule
  • New Player events will run five times a day on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays
  • The number of Legacy daily events will be reduced
  • The number of Pauper daily events will be increased
  • The number of Vintage daily events will be increased
  • Magic 2015 Sealed events will be canceled
  • Momir Basic events will be canceled

On the surface these changes seem pretty straight-forward. There has been a significant lack of people playing Legacy so the support for the format is being reduced. The opposite is true for Pauper which is a wildly popular format. Vintage needs support to see if the format will grow. Getting rid of Magic 2015 sealed makes sense. It isn’t a knock against the format, but with Khans of Tarkir out, why would anyone still play M15 sealed? Also you can never have enough “new player” events so increasing those also makes sense.

Getting rid of the Momir Basic events is unfortunate but also a bit out of line with the rest of the changes. Each of the other changes fit Lee’s self-confessed data-driven motivations. People playing more of a format results in more events. People playing less of a format results in fewer events. The data backs the changes. Momir Basic however isn’t being cut for this reason. It’s being cut because the “variance inherent to it makes it more appropriate to queue events than the daily events intended for regular and serious high-level competition on Magic Online.” That doesn’t sound data-driven at all. It sounds like they just don’t want people playing Momir as a daily event for the sake of the “integrity” of daily events.

Do they seriously think that Magic Online has any integrity left and that in order to preserve what little integrity the daily events have they need to get rid of Momir Basic? Is there anyone out there grinding daily events thinking to themselves, “you know what would make MTGO more legitimate and respectable is canceling these stupid Momir Basic events that reward random number generation instead of skill.” No. No one is saying that at all.

So what gives? Either the fine folks running the USS Integrity (my new nickname for Magic Online) truly believe that getting rid of Momir Basic daily events will help improve the quality of the daily event schedule, or there’s a different reason for the cancellation. Perhaps it’s because MTGO’s server architecture is so shoddy that it can only handle so many simultaneous events so they’ve decided to give Momir Basic the axe to fit in more Pauper and Vintage tournaments. This is similarly unlikely because all those M15 and Legacy events going away should have lightened the load plenty.

This is the big announcement. Not leagues. Not a stability fix. No native Mac version. Just another internal resource, someone who, no offense to Lee, has been part of the problem for over 7 years, is going to be given a bigger role to fix something that really didn’t need a whole lot of fanfare in fixing. Magic Online’s problems begin and end with the culture at Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro allowing the product to be mismanaged for well over a decade with no end in sight. Until someone at a very high level finally makes the decision to start caring about Magic Online nothing is going to change and we’ll keep seeing announcements like these.

The Quick Hits

  • Jared Yost reviews the Fate Reforged clash pack which includes Courser of Kruphix and Hero’s Downfall as chase rares [MTG Price]
  • MJ Scott shares all the details of her recent cosplay adventure as Marchesa, the Black Rose [Gathering Magic]
  • MTG UK announced a new Eternal National Championship to be held May 23rd to 25th and will feature a Vintage, Legacy, and Modern championship [MTG UK]
  • If you’re in the mood for a lot of legal and financial talk you can check out Hasbro’s Q4 and 2014 FY Earnings. The summary is that Magic is doing very well and is holding up Hasbro’s profits [Hasbro]
  • The fine folks at MTG Price have a proposition for any women attending GP Vegas in an attempt to get more women playing Magic [MTG Price]
  • Wizards announced a new expansion pack for Duels of the Planeswalkers which reminded me that this game still exists [Arcana]
  • IGN had some new details about the Magic board game including the price of $30 and a tie-in with Magic Origins [IGN]
  • Last but not least, Danny Brown reports on Jon Loucks leaving Constructed Resources and basically being burnt out on Magic and speculates that working for Wizards literally sucked the love for Magic right out of him [Quiet Speculation]

Wallpaper of the Week

I’m not sure what it is exactly about the artwork for Mastery of the Unseen that makes it seem lame to me, but it really does not do Ugin justice in my opinion. Maybe it’s just the scale of the whole thing. Shouldn’t Ugin be larger? This artwork was only available on the special pre-release pack version of the card, so Ugin is really the focus here, but I’m just not impressed.

Grade: C

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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