Deep Analysis – Failed Inspection of In-Store Play Prizes

Welcome Disciple of Bolas!

Recently Wizards of the Coast posted an article about their in-store play program changes.  I would like to go over the everything and then list my feelings on the matter.

Store Championships

This is a program addition is pretty cool.  Game Day events certainly used to fill this role, but adding more in-store programs are a good thing.  Adding this at the end of the season (the first being Ixalan) lets the format grow to a good spot before having the event happen.

Magic Open House

You’ll now be able to take home a foil full-art promo card from the upcoming set!  This sounds pretty cool as an advertisement for the newest set.

Standard Showdown Packs

The change to the Standard Showdown pack is just OK.

This was changed from the Hour of Devastation foil full art land to the new printed lands (Rebecca Guay lands from Commander 2016 products) but this is going to get old fast too.

Don’t get me wrong, I like foiled lands but I also live in the southern US which makes foil curl thanks to humidity.

Friday Night Magic Seasons

From a business perspective, having the FNM season tied to the current set does make sense.  This would allow for 3 proper choices of promo cards from the current released set except…

Friday Night Magic Promo

…Wizards changed the FNM promos to be double-sided foiled tokens?  What the hell Wizards?

Apparently, Wizards is changing FNM promos so that only casual players will attend by removing the incentive of a foiled promo card for the current standard environment.  Their plan is to get competitive players to take part in Standard Showdown events and Store Championships.

Holes in Wizards’ Plan

Wizards tried to say that competitive players at FNM kept casual players from playing at FNM.

I believe this to be false.  What was keeping players from playing in FNM was the terrible problem that has been Standard over the past couple of years.

Wizards stated that competitive players were only coming to FNM for the ‘good’ promos.

I also believe this to be false.

Wizards would not release any data on FNM promo months but did use the analogy that the June FNM of Aether Hub did not have a significant increase in players from the January FNM promo of Noose Constrictor.

For years, your Friday Night Magic promos have chosen terrible cards for their prizes.  I’m not sure whether that is Marketing making the decision or not, but your luck has been terrible.  Suddenly you get a couple of nice promos like Fatal Push and Aether Hub without any notice other than 1 page update on your website and no social media posts about FNM and expect players to come flocking back to FNM.

You’ll notice that in posting this information, Wizards actually contradicted itself.

If you are trying to shift competitive players away from FNM to Standard Showdowns, then why not move the promo over to the Standard Showdown packs instead of eliminating them all together?

Better still, why not come up with a new promo process to reward each level of player?

Here is something that I would implement:

  • FNM events would receive 2 different promo cards per month (1 would be an alt art foil common for participation, 1 would be an alt art foil uncommon for Top 4).
  • Standard Showdown events would receive a different promo cards per month (1 would be an alt art foil uncommon for participation).  The Standard Showdown pack would contain an alt art foil rare in one of the slots.
  • Game Day would continue to have 2 alt art, full bleed promo cards (1 uncommon, 1 rare)
  • PPTQ and RPTQ events would receive an alt art, full bleed promo mythic card
  • Rewards program should return and be based on the number of events played during a 3 month, 6 month, or 12 month season.

The Biggest Way to Help Attendance

Many things could help FNM better.  Better promos, more promos, more in store play could help.

The number one thing that would make Friday Night Magic better is to simply make Standard better.  The reason that players are NOT coming to FNM is due to Standard.  You want to push Standard down players throats so much, then make sure it is a better product.  If Standard format sucks, players are going to take breaks from the game and come back when it is better.


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