Ask anyone why they quit Magic and you’ll get one of two very different answers.

The first is that they just did. They grew up, or went to college, or they just lost interest passively. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Life is basically a struggle between what your interests are versus what is important to you. Your priorities change and sometimes you need a break or even a total cut off from your hobbies.

The first answer shouldn’t surprise anyone. There is nothing shocking about a shoulder shrug followed by, “It just wasn’t important to me anymore.” There’s very little Wizards of the Coast can do to stop us from growing up.

The second answer, however, Wizards can do something about. When I ask people I have kept up with over the years why they quit playing, especially after they seemed to be steady grinders, the answer is invariably, “I was sick of keeping up!”

Magic can be frustrating when you feel like the metagame is in constant flux or if the format bans your deck. Or the format you adore is insanely broken and it’s because all the new cards are good and your investment is now worthless.

A great example is the current Modern format. With recent bannings negating one of the format’s long time staple decks (for the record I played Splinter Twin and I’m ok with the ban), and the emergence of a new deck as tier-1 virtually overnight, I can understand why a lot of players have quit Magic in the past.

Modern is a non-rotating format. The card pool never shrinks, except for bannings. This gives your standard cards a second life.

Most competitive players get into the game with Limited these days. Then as they build a collection they explore constructed and build a Standard deck. After a rotation or two of Standard they realize that Modern offers them a format that they can buy into and not have to watch their format staples drop in value, never to return again, after a year.

Many players stay right in that sweet spot. They play some Limited, some Standard, and work on Modern. That’s a great place for them to be as far as WotC goes because they can support those players with product and coverage. I won’t go into Legacy and its problems for WotC, that’s a different article entirely.

So then we have these players working of their Modern Decks, playing Standard and during their constructed “down time” they draft. Every year these players look to the Modern Pro Tour for innovation, and to familiarize themselves with the format.

Then this Modern Pro Tour happens. The bannings take place and a new tier-1 deck emerges. That deck is ultimately resilient to hate and pretty much favored against the field. In fact it does so well that six of the top eight decks are this deck. Wow that’s exciting (not really, but bear with me here).

So that “sweet spot” player realizes he has a few of the new cards for that deck, why not build it? Wow! Eye of Ugin is $40 now? Ok that’s fine. Eldrazi Temples are $7! A $7 uncommon is not too big of a deal as there’s plenty of that in Modern. The deck is pretty good, so he figures, “Why not buy in?”

April 3rd comes along. WotC drops the Ban Hammer three months after the pro tour just as Mr. Sweet Spot finishes the deck. About $200 right down the drain. He decides “fuck this” and sells his collection after a few more months of playing sub-par decks in Modern and losing his weekly tournaments to tier-1 decks because he refuses to invest in another top deck. Modern is too much of a gamble for him to keep up with. He was sick of keeping up.

That’s a nightmare scenario that would have been totally avoidable had WotC actually play-tested their new cards in the Modern format. Already many players I talked to this weekend in Philly were telling me they would see what happens in April before they decide to play Modern again. That’s not a good place for so many people to be in.

I’m sure that when WotC decided to have a Modern Pro Tour two years ago they didn’t imagine that showcasing their newest competitive format would have such a devastating effect on their player base. It certainly doesn’t happen like this in Standard.

WotC has some soul-searching to do as far as the Modern format is concerned. I hope they have learned a valuable lesson from this debacle. If not, or if they aren’t sure what that lesson is:



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.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.