Power creep is talked about in any game that’s been around for a while, but often, it’s a controversial topic. In most games, power creep is seen as a bad thing because it may often become a balance or design issue. Depending on the game, it could completely mess with the economy as well.

In Magic, I’ve heard power creep talked about since about 2013. A lot of people don’t really understand what it means or the implications of it, but it’s a cool term that people use to make it seem like they know what they’re talking about. It’s almost always seen as a thing that’s detrimental to the growth of a game, despite it being a natural occurrence. You’ll hear things like, “If everything is strong, nothing is strong;” or, “It makes things harder to balance.”

I’m not convinced power creep is all bad.

While I’m not really in the market for dedicating sentences to add preventative disclaimers, there are very real consequences to unchecked power creep. But this isn’t really within the scope of what I want to talk about—what I want to bring up is how it affects us in an actual game of Commander.

I think one of the biggest questions I have is: Does it really matter if power creep is ever-present? We already self-regulate the format by rule zeroing and discussing power levels of respective decks beforehand. Additionally, what may be strong in one format, isn’t necessarily that powerful for us, even if it’s specifically made for us. Yes, power is relative, but so is the perception of power.

So, let’s say power creep does matter to you, that it is definitely affecting the game we all love and enjoy. There are plenty of good ways it affects Magic—for starters, it just gives us super powerful effects. The “If everything is strong, nothing is strong” saying is so loaded and misleading that I genuinely don’t think it’s a good saying. If everything is strong, then we get to play with a bunch of strong effects! Who cares what it’s like relative to whatever Shards of Alara format you played 13 years ago or whatever. We get to play with cards that have 72 lines of text that ultimately get hit by Nature’s Claim and wind up doing nothing, then the person casting Nature’s Claim becomes the center of Twitter discourse!

Power creep is great because all of the tools that we get are just fun. No one wants to play with a boring Diabolic Tutor, but Beseech the Mirror is a whole lot more exciting. And if you want to enjoy some lower-powered games, those cards aren’t really going anywhere.

There’s the issue of competitive standing, to which I say: whatever. Competitive players are going to play regardless of how objectively, subjectively, or relatively powerful cards are or get. As long as there’s a competitive system to support them (which is another topic in and of itself), they’ll be fine.

This topic is way more nuanced than just this, but I really dislike the notion that things getting stronger means that game integrity or game flow gets compromised. There are so many ways of enjoying Magic, and power creep doesn’t really take away from what can already be enjoyed. In the worst-case scenarios, we can always correct formats ourselves (as we’ve demonstrated in the past) and will continue to do so in the future.


Anthony Lowry (they/he) is a seasoned TCG, MMORPG, and FPS veteran. They are extensively knowledgeable on the intricacies of many competitive outlets and are always looking for a new challenge in the gaming sphere.

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