It’s remarkable to me that 2017 will be over in just a couple of weeks. This year has both been incredibly long and gone by incredibly quickly. It’s also been a journey for the Magic Community. From Aether Revolt in January to Unstable in December it’s been a year jam packed with new Magic cards. From Legacy played at Grand Prix Louisville the first weekend of January to Ixalan Limited’s final weekend in the sun the past few days in New Jersey and Singapore, it’s been a remarkable year for the Pro Tour. And last but certainly not least, it’s been a very, very interesting year for the community outside of the game itself.

There is a saying that you’re probably familiar with which is meant to be thought of as a curse and it goes something like, “May you live in interesting times.” That is to say people tend to be happier when things are less exciting. If that applies to the Magic community then this year would have been a very unhappy year because these are very interesting times. However, I think the community is probably stronger than it has ever been and the game is healthier than its ever been and Hasbro’s quarterly reports echo the same sentiment.

So today, before we finally close the book on 2017, let’s take another look at the five biggest stories that rocked the Magic community in 2017. Hopefully we’ve all learned some valuable lessons and will take them with us as we travel on into 2018 together playing this crazy cardboard crack game we all love so dearly.

Honorable Mention – Helene Bergeot’s Departure from Wizards of the Coast

Original Story Here

Helene worked at Wizards of the Coast for 21 years and was best-known as the director of global organized play for the past several years. She left Wizards and the Pro Tour leaving an incredible legacy and her departure sent shockwaves through the pro player community. Since her departure in May, no formal replacement has been announced for the role that Helene vacated.

#5 – The Pro Tour Team Series

Original Stories Here and Here

It’s likely that the team series will be a much bigger story in the coming years, but its humble beginnings in 2017 definitely warrant an entry here. Pro Tour teams have been a part of competition since the earliest days of Magic’s history, but beginning in 2017 they became a formal part of the Pro Tour circuit with an additional prize for the top teams at the end of the season.

After an pilot season that spanned Pro Tours Aether Revolt, Amonkhet, and Hour of Devastation, the first full season of the Pro Tour Team Series competition began in earnest at Pro Tour Ixalan with 37 teams entering the competition. They’ll continue their quest for the first full season title at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan in 2018 and the series will continue at Pro Tours Dominaria and 25th Anniversary.

#4 – HasCon and the Grand Prix Convention

Original Stories Here, and Here

Welcome to the age of the Magic the Gathering Convention. Grand Prix Las Vegas and HasCon will pave the way for MTG Conventions for many years to come. The second HasCon has already been announced for 2019 and Grand Prix Las Vegas will return in June 2018. In addition to Vegas, four-day Grand Prix events are also being held in Seattle (April), Birmingham (May), Richmond (August), and Shizuoka (November).

In the past, Magic events have meant tournaments and vendors, but in the past few years they’ve grown to include artists, cosplayers, community personalities, and even more extravagant exhibitions like the Original Magic Art gallery at GP Vegas or the 25th Anniversary panel at HasCon or the playable demos of MTG Arena that traveled to many events this year.

As the game and the community continue to grow, these events will also continue to grow and shape the community. 2017 was the biggest year ever for Magic the Gathering conventions, really putting the “Gathering” in the game’s name and this trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.

#3 – The Plight of the Standard Format

Original Stories Here, Here, Here, and Here

If anyone had a bad year it was Wizards of the Coast’s development team thanks to repeated problems with the power level of Standard constructed Magic. Beginning in January and continuing for several months, cards were banned from Standard on three occasions. The most difficult ban was the emergency ban of Felidar Guardian, done after a few days of MTGO data revealed that the environment still was not healthy after other bans.

By the middle of the year, Wizards had unveiled the new Play Design team headed up by Daniel Burdick, and by the end of the year Mark Rosewater had outlined an entirely new structure to the entire design and development process, something that’s been a long-time coming as the existing process had been in-place more-or-less since Richard Garfield first began designing expansion sets.

While the damage to Standard was not on the same level as previous times there were concern (e.g. the days of Caw-Blade, Affinity, or Combo Summer), there were still widespread reports of reduced tournament attendance at all levels of the game. Standard has since recovered and is arguably healthier than its been in a very long time, but this was a hard lesson learned by Wizards, and a lot of changes throughout the design process have been effected either as a direct or indirect result.

#2 – Wizards Fights Back Against Harassment

Original Stories Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here

I don’t think there’s anything I can say about the shifting culture in our society that Time magazine didn’t already articulate perfectly.

If you are the victim of harassment of any kind in the community do not hesitate to report it to the various channels at your disposal. We cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to feel safe in the Magic community at public events from Friday Night Magic to Grand Prix Las Vegas.

#1 – Magic the Gathering Arena & Magic Digital Next

Original Stories HereHere, Here, Here, and Here

There was no bigger story in all of Magic this year than Magic Digital Next and the announcement and subsequent rollout of Magic the Gathering Arena. Magic the Gathering Online and Duels of the Planeswalkers were simply not cutting it when it came to competing with the modern landscape of games like Hearthstone, Eternal, Hex, and TES Legends.

With more digital card games cropping up every month it seems (have you played Gwent yet, it’s in open beta), it’s long been overdue for Magic to truly enter the digital age. Of course this has brought up many more questions about the future of Magic Online and almost of all them remain unanswered as we continue forwards with the MTG Arena closed beta.

But, that’s not all! Earlier this year Wizards announced a new Magic the Gathering branded MMORPG game was in development and a new studio took over active development of MTG Puzzle Quest for publisher D3. Wizards is clearly embracing the idea of spreading the Magic brand into the world of video games and this could very well be the biggest story of 2018 as well.

I look forward to seeing you in 12 months to find out!

Rich Stein is a retired Magic player, an amateur content creator, and a Level 2 Social Justice Sorcerer. He hopes to eventually become a professional content creator and a Level 20 dual class Social Justice Sorcerer/Bard but he’s more than content to remain a retired Magic player. You can follow his musings on Twitter @RichStein13.

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