How many Spindown dice do you have sitting around? I’ve got at least a dozen. Why do we still receive these worthless hunks of plastic? They are the new bane of my Prerelease. I can’t stand Spindowns.


Wait, New? What was the old bane.


It used to be choosing a clan or a guild or picking a color only to be blessed with a sealed deck that is completely incompatible with my deck choice. At one point it was a terrible prerelease foil, that oh so worthless “free” rare foil that you can put in your prerelease deck.


Wizards listened to us after a few years, and finally decided that indeed the players were right. No one wants a terrible commemorative set rare, that has a the date stamped on it, just for showing up. Not unless we can actually get some value out of it. The act of choosing one and overprinting it even makes the good cards drop in value for a time.


So they changed it. Your “free” foil became random. Some folks were blessed with an ultra rare version of the card they wanted and some were not, but everyone seemed happier knowing that their seventh rare at prereleases were random. Something makes limited Magic so much less exciting when you know you’ll be seeing the same five game breaking limited bombs every match.


But that’s all in the past…


Wizards got it right. They took a moment and listened to their players. Then they made a change to address our input. That’s no surprise, Wizards has been doing a relatively great job of this lately. Now it’s time they retire the Spindown.


I know what you’re thinking, but why?


The spin down isn’t doing anything to you, it’s not hurting anyone. What about those new players that don’t have fifteen hulks of worthless plastic dice?


Have you ever started a Prerelease game against someone new to the MTG tournament scene? Of course your have. Bright-eyed and super happy to have their new cards, they work their way to the seat and introduce themselves, ask how your deck build went and then they take out their fresh Spindown and ask, “High roll?”


I hate to be this guy, but eventually someone is going to have to tell them: they can’t use that to determine who goes first. I do this for two reasons. One is because you can’t, and though it’s not a big deal, I might as well have them learn now. Two is because other shadier players can roll a spindown to guarantee a higher result. It’s a prerelease so honestly it’s not a big deal, but for the sake of everyone being on the same page and having no one take advantage of a new player, I’m gonna fill them in. This is a stupid conversation to need to have. I mean, the instantaneous response to that ends up being, “Oh, weird, I guess I’ll just use it for my life total.”


Except you really shouldn’t do that either. You should use paper and pen to keep track of life. Dice get knocked around and tables get bumped. This is a real irony, too, because keeping track of life is why Spindowns … spin down.


So now you’ve spent the last minute and a half preaching tournament rules to a new player. Which honestly just sounds like you’re trying to intimidate him, so when he gets weird about it and you call a judge and the judge confirm this, it’s just a bad, stupid experience for someone new to the game that makes him feel kinda dumb.


We can avoid this so easily.


Solution #1

Offer a normal d20. Good old fashioned random d20s are of great use in Magic, you can roll for first, or use it as a planeswalker loyalty counter or even keep track of +1/+1 counters or pretty much anything that’s not life total. That solves at least one of the two awkward conversations with your opponent. And the “that Spindown is really not random” is the more awkward of the two conversations.


Solution #2

Offer us a commemorative set pen and maybe a small life pad, enough for 4-5 matches. The pens don’t have to be any more expensive than the Spindowns. You encourage good record keeping for both players and everyone needs pens. No Magic player is going to gripe about going to three prereleases and getting too many pens. We all need pens, why not just hand them out at prerelease?


Solution #3

Save that Spindown money and give everyone a cheap but reusable deckbox with enough room for all their Prerelease cards. Another thing Magic players can’t have enough of is deck boxes. We all have a ton of cards and a bunch of decks—why not give us something to put our cards into? Admittedly Wizards’ new Prerelease pack is quite a lot better than the old 9x6x1.5 inch space-hog boxes we used to throw right out because they didn’t fit anywhere, but there’s room for improvement for sure.


I want to be candid here, I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth. Spindowns are worse than getting nothing, in my opinion. They create a bad new player experience, and are pretty much worthless for what dice are intended for in Magic. Too big to be a convenient counter really, and they can’t be used for life totals. Wizards, it’s time to retire the Spindown. Thanks for the several dozen I own, but we can do so much better.

Zac Clark @DurdleMagus

Zac Clark is the Founder of Hipsters of the Coast. An avid gamer since his early teens, Zac can often be found in Brooklyn either playing games or taking photos. When he’s not drawing extra cards, wrathing boards and countering spells, he’s taking pictures of other peoples good times and listening to 90’s Music.

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