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Posted by on Sep 6, 2011 in Articles, News | 23 comments
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Planeswalker Points and You

Planeswalker Points and You

So, you may or may not have heard that Wizards has just announced that there will be a new system in lieu of the old DCI ratings system: Planeswalker Points.

The Planeswalker Points System Announcement.

Basically, the new system awards points to players for participating in tournaments and winning matches (and to a lesser extent drawing matches), but no longer penalizes players for losing matches.  Yup, 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and no points gained or lost for a loss.  Depending on the size of event you enter, you’re also awarded a certain number of points for participating.  Each event is weighted to reflect its importance, so a strong finish at a larger PTQ or GP, for example, rewards a player much more than a strong finish at a FNM via an event multiplier. There will be bonus points given out as well. If we had to wager a guess, it would be for participation in special events and for Top 8/Top 16 finishes at GPs and PTs.

There’s a lot to take in, and the new system has implications on many aspects of the game, so if you want to dig in to the nitty gritty details of the new system, we recommend you read the following:

The Detailed Breakdown of the Planeswalker Points System;
The Updated Premier Event Invitation Policy;
The Problems With the Old Ratings System.

If you can’t be bothered to read through those, here’s a quick Mana Deprived overview of some of the most hot-topic implications:

Planeswalker Points: A Rating System That Rewards Players for Winning and for Playing Magic

Basically, instead of the old ELO ratings system from chess, Planeswalker Points reward you for playing more. With the old system, you were rewarded for each win based on the difference in your rating and your opponent’s rating, and punished for each loss the same way. So if you beat someone better than you, you gained a lot of points, and if you lost to someone worse, then you lost a lot of points. The problem with this was that, unlike chess, Magic has a fairly substantial element of luck involved, and so often the better player would lose games, not because of any error on their part, but because of something like mana screw, and therefore lose a huge number of points as a result. Ratings became more of an indication of your most recent tournament result, rather than your total play success, and consistent players who would play constantly would often be screwed over when it came time to receive invites based on rating in favour of those who had done well recently, perhaps simply by getting lucky one time.

This resulted in players “sitting” on their rating once they’d hit an appropriate level, so as to not risk losing out on important ratings-earned event invitations or byes. The result? Some of the best players weren’t playing in Magic tournaments. This had considerable implications, from not encouraging the best players to hone their game in a tournament setting to not allowing new players to improve by playing against the most skilled players in their area week-in and week-out.

The new system encourages new and veteran Magic players alike to play more Magic – there is no penalty for losses and rewards for participating and winning.

But if it Rewards Playing, Do Awful Grinders Have an Advantage Over Better Players Who Play Less Often?

Because Planeswalker Points is different in that it rewards players for winning, but does not penalize them for losing, there is concern that the system largely rewards quantity, not quality of play. Although this is a a complicated concern/question that can only be answered in time, it is important to say that Wizards appears to have taken this concern into account in their system.

– First, the system still rewards winning matches of Magic above participating in them;
– Second, events with larger participation offer larger participation points, and these events with more players translates to more rounds per tournament, over which more ‘skilled’ players should be able to accumulate more points than less ‘skilled’ players;
– Lastly, tournament multipliers have been introduced, so that Pro-Tours, Grand-Prix, PTQs and GPTs are weighted more heavily than your regular FNM or sanctioned Magic tournament.

Lets take a look at an example of some respectable finishes:

Grand-Prix
A record of 6-3-2 at a 900-ish person Grand-Prix will earn a player:
6 wins x 3 points/win = 18 points;
2 draws x 1 point/draw = 2 points;
7 participation points = 7 points;
= 27 points
x 8 (GP event multiplier)
= 216 points

PTQ
A record of 5-2 at a 100 person local PTQ will earn a player:
5 wins x 3 points/win = 15 points;
4 participation points = 4 points;
= 19 points
x 5 (PTQ event multiplier)
= 96 points

FNM
A record of 2-1 at a 15 person FNM will earn a player:
2 wins x 3 points/win = 6 points;
1 participation point = 1 point;
= 7 points
x 3 (FNM event multiplier)
= 21 points

As you can see, players who do well at large, important events get a much larger benefit per event than players simply grinding away, with numerous FNM successes needed to equal a single solid GP finish. The FNM multiplier (3x) does seem quite large at more than half of that of a PTQ (5x), but from a business model view, it makes sense to encourage players to play at Wizards’ flagship weekly events. Anywho, there’s a lot of math involved, and it’s too early to determine what balance the new system will take…favouring grinders, consistent play or the occasional outstanding finish at a large event.

What Does My Total Lifetime Rating or Level Mean?

Simply, it looks as though your lifetime rating and current Planeswalker Points Level is nothing more than a way to track your lifetime progress as a Magic player in terms of how much you play and how much you win. Your lifetime points don’t seem to work towards any tangible benefits at this time. We suppose there is a possibility that whatever program Wizards eventually introduces to replace Player Rewards, if they ever do, may be tied to your Lifetime Points or Planeswalker Points Level, however. Or maybe they cut those programs to be able to afford the airfare?

So Why Have Planeswalker Points At All?  They Still Count Towards Invites, Byes and…Airfare!

Airfare? What is more important (to most competitive Magic players) than lifetime Planeswalker Points and Level is the number of points you acquire each season. Pro Tour Qualifications and AIR-FARE (!!!) are given to the top 100 players each season.

However, there is again a downside. The Grand Prix circuit no longer gives out qualifications to the top 16 finishers. Instead, the large number of points earned from doing well and competing at such a high level and large event should allow players to qualify without many other tournament successes. In theory, PTQ players who consistently top 8 but can’t seem to close the deal will be rewarded with points, and probably will manage to qualify that way with a free plane ticket, so that they can also afford to play. Byes for Grand-Prix are also given out based on Planeswalker Points standings at the beginning of the season, and last for the entire season. So even if you have one bad tournament, you will still have your byes for the next GP.

So…What Did We Miss?

Well, probably a lot. The implications of a ratings system change are numerous, and there are no doubt questions that haven’t been answered here or in the links provided at the top of this article. Someone who starts out poorly in a GP or PTQ is now encouraged to stay in the tournament. Will this introduce new problems with concessions or simply encourage continued play? Will Pro Tour players who play in just a few events each year, due to other commitments, suddenly become a thing of the past? Will FNM’s casual appeal start to whither away with an inevitable flood of competitive players? Will the bye system, which as far as we can tell is no longer broken down by region, hurt international representation at high-level Magic tournaments?

Either way, it’s a huge change for Magic and one that looks to be addressing most of the glaring issues people had with the old system. Time will tell if folks yelling “the sky is falling” or those thanking the powers that be for the change are correct.

What Do the ManaDeprived.com Writers Have to Say About the Change?

Alexander Hayne says: All in all, while the new system certainly has its flaws, I personally think it is a much better system. It encourages people to play Magic rather than sit on high ratings and encourages consistency over explosiveness. Even in chess, the ELO ratings system underestimates the chances that a weaker player will beat a stronger one, and in Magic the chances are much higher, so the system certainly seemed flawed. I trust Wizards’ judgement, since usually whenever they make a change Magic players cry out in outrage, but usually their decisions work out well in the end for the health of the game. Encouraging players to play more competitive events is good for the game.

Sean Gifford says: I think it will attract better players to the events I play most often, which is sanctioned Magic with a 16K rating against mostly low-rated opposition. A scenario that normally frightens away many individuals trying to maintain a high DCI rating. I will worry less about losing, and I will be in a less business-like mood when playing against opponents just learning the game. I am slightly annoyed that two premier events I just attended (Canadian Nationals and GP Pittsburgh) fall just before the current Competitive Season start date and as such will not contribute to my current Competitive Total for Byes at GPs in the first third of 2012.

Paul MacKinnon says: Overall I think this change is a good thing, as the previous rating system was severely flawed and not healthy for the game. This new system isn’t perfect however, namely for two reasons.

First, I don’t like how it puts so much emphasis on playing a lot of events, as opposed to winning a high percentage of matches. This makes qualifying more a reward for “grinding wins” as opposed to being a good player with a high win percentage. While someone playing a lot of events should be rewarded, I don’t think qualifying for high level competitions should be a reward for solely doing that. This especially hurts good players who don’t want to regularly grind events, especially FNMs. I’m curious what this will do to the overall level of play at certain events, like Nationals.

Another detail that I don’t like is the fact that the system doesn’t differentiate between playing against a good player vs a bad player. It is more beneficial to go to a tournament with a bunch of easy opponents and earn easy points as opposed to going to one with skilled players where it’ll be harder to earn points.

There is actually a solution, at least partially, to both these problems: they should have included some sort of multiplier for winning against a highly ranked player. This would obviously reward doing well against good players instead of seeking out easy opponents. It would also reward having a high win percentage in a tournament, as players who do well in an individual tournament would more likely end up getting paired against good players in the later rounds, and get the chance to earn more points.

The new system isn’t perfect, but it’s a great step in the right direction, and it seems to me that the benefits probably outweigh the cons. Despite the fact that it’ll probably hurt me more than benefit me (as I don’t grind regular tournaments), I think this is probably a good thing for the game.

Shawn Petsche says: It looks to be an improvement on almost every level to me. It corrects many of the most glaring wrongs of the previous DCI system and seems to at least address most of the knee-jerk reactions people would have to a system that doesn’t penalize losses (through event multipliers and season resets). My only real concern at this point lies in the details of the point scaling…is a 3 x event multiplier too high for FNM (Wizards, I both ‘get’ and ‘resent’ Friday nights being the nights you chose to host your flagship weekly event)? Will grinding in every GP, of which there are now many, work out to be too much for some higher quality Magic players to match? Basically, will the math work out so that the world’s best players and most consistently winning grinders continue to be rewarded over just those who grind more? Will the math of this coupled with tournaments with no downside to entering them tempt more T.O.s to set up fraudulent tournaments, thus risking the very integrity Wizards is hoping to maintain? Granted, this is looking at the worst possible outcome in light of a very positive change. The larger point is that it looks like some serious work went into devising the detailed point system, and it looks like a great start, but we’ll see what we’re saying about it 12 months from now.

Ian Baker says: This is somewhat of a pet topic of mine, as I wrote an open letter to them some time ago asking them to rehaul their system. At the time, my main complains were that it didn’t make sense for high ranked players to play events like FNMs, and also that concessions were quite rampant. The new Planeswalker points system mostly fixes these two issues.

The first issue is in fact completely fixed, as now there is no downside to playing in any given event, only upside. I like that a lot, as it basically just encourages people to play more magic. Concessions will still be a part of magic with this new system, although I think they will be much less frequent, and only used as a kind of “push” to get players over certain barriers.

While the new system encourages less concessions at existing events, it does increase the chances of T.O.s running completely fraudulent tournaments, as if they do not get caught there is virtually no downside…I don’t know how wizards will curb this.

I also quite like that points are reset each season, to give everyone a fresh start. I think all that remains is to play for a while under the new system, and then I can find new things to complain about.

Davies Clark says: It does exactly what it needs to do. After this announcement I started to plan out my life in 2012 to include 3-5 tournaments a week. It will allow for players who can rarely even make it to a GPT, or even win 1, have a shot at a few byes. It does a bit more than encourage players to get to tournaments, it forces them to. What are this season’s level 8s going to do about this? We all know players with a top 8 resumé too long to list are capable of doing well, but does WotC really expect LSV to grind FNMs just so he can stay Q’ed. Paul Rietzl asked on twitter if he could fall off the train if he keeps his standard schedule of playing all the PTs and a few select grand prix appearances. Paul also said that a great way to farm points if you scrub out of a GP is to stay in and offer a draw to every op and just scoop if they dont want to. You still get points and don’t drop in rankings. Silly things like this show that we are now forced to play rather than rewarded to play.

I really hope we are all over-thinking this as Wizards has invested a lot of work into this and has tried to produce something for all players to benefit from. We can now see that the death of MPR was not only for 1 person nats qualifiers but also for planetickets to the top rated players per season. Still not sure how I feel about this. How are players that go to school/work/live in areas without alot of tournament support going to get there?

Dan Mayo says: As a player who likes to try out ‘suboptimal’ decks from time to time, this announcement will encourage me to play more FNMs without worrying about my rating. On the other hand, there is no question that your Planeswalker rating doesn’t necessarily reflect your skill level as much as it did with the previous system.

Chris Landsdell: This is the third time Magic has died in the past two weeks. Pretty good going, no? You can check out the next instalment of The Great Debate to get the detailed views of Gavin Verhey, Sam Stoddard and myself on the biggest and most controversial issue to hit competitive Magic since dual-faced cards. Oh. Right.

What do you think about the ratings system change?
Is it a good thing for the game?
Are you affected in a way that this system doesn’t seem to account for?
Let us know in the comments!

  • http://www.manadeprived.com DougPkr

    Worst…….
    Day…….
    Ever…….

    The same day I start school is the same day I look at the end of my MTG career. I will still PTQ for fun but that is probably about it, GP’s in 2012 seem like a joke, Nats probably won’t work out as I have ratings byed in 7 years in a row, this is the worst ever.

    THE ONLY upside is maybe over the summer I can try grinding FNM and 3-5 weekly events to swing a 1 time deal of a PT, but chances are I won’t because everyone in the world will be doing the same thing, and our shitty local 7 store small community won’t have big multipliers for us to use.

    You take out my big pre-releases to tell me to play at the small stores. You take out my incentive to T8 DI PTQ’s a year, never lose rating and still get to go to Nats my favourite tournament, and you take away my ability to comfortably hold my cards while drafting. Thank you WOTC, for taking away my game. New plan, Modo grind for life and never play paper magic…. Or come off this steaming tilt and re-assess.

    Dearly Departed
    DougPkr

  • Darren

    Chris Lansdell kind of looks like Ron Jeremy in his picture.

  • justin rchardson

    people need to stop bitching, you are not going to quit magic

  • Brian Ziemba

    I think this is awesome. I love playing magic, so now I can play more without going 4-1 at an FNM and losing a millions points. People can’t just sit on their rating anymore. They have to play! And that’s a good thing for me and my fellow grinders.

    True believer
    EZBZ

  • http://musevessel.wordpress.com Bruce

    Ian,

    I don’t understand how the new system encourages TO’s to commit fraud any more than the old system did. Under both systems a TO could falsify results to improve someone’s rating.

  • http://www.manadeprived.com DougPkr

    @Bruce without even thinking too hard one key thing here is you can hide the fraud easier, since you don’t have to stay 100% wins all the time to be gaining. You can just have this guy 5-0 and 4-1 like 4-5 events a week, big multipliers, and get a ticket. Also the fact it is only a few month grind per event means you just need to do that big push for a small window of time, get the invite, than stop. I think any system that makes it easier to hide the fraud makes it much more likely to induce said fraud in to existence.

  • http://www.manadeprived.com DougPkr

    PS a tweet I read sums up this ridiculous change.

    The PWP EV of playing day 2 of a GP when you are at 6-2 is lower than the EV of dropping and playing the PTQ on Sunday.

    Don’t belive me? Well he (@dieplsks) provides the math

    points_PTQ =

    112.1239
    EV off a 9 round PTQ

    >> .6*7*3*8

    ans =

    100.8000
    EV off day 2 of a GP IF you win 60% of your matches.

    So if you are trying to grind to get to a PT, and are at 6-2 after day one of a GP, this system suggests strongly you DROP from the event and play the PTQ, the GP it self has no slots for top 16 ,your 6-2 is very very outside shot at T8, and the PTQ it self has a slot plus more PWP EV.

    RIDICULOUS SYSTEM IS TERRIBLE

    (Anyone confused by the math, EV = Expected Value, the average value you can expect to get out of a given situation based on an average of variables. He just assumed 60% win rate in both, which is GENEROUS for the GP day 2 and reasonable if not a bit low for the PTQ, so I would venture a guess most of US READING THIS would have it even more skewed in the PTQ favour, he than multiplied it by the bonus’ etc etc to get an average guess of what you would gain from an event. I realize, you COULD do better or COULD do worse, this is a statement of EV and not a result based factoid).

  • http://www.brokencitymagic.com Shawn Petsche

    Doug – keep in mind that there is a bonus point system that has yet to be fully announced or implemented. PV provided similar math on Twitter, which Brian David-Marshall replied to saying it was inaccurate until Wizards applied bonus points for Top 8s and such. If the bonus system rewards players for: Top 8, Top 16, Top 32 or Day 2 of GPs, then there could be a very valid reason to stay in them at 6-2 rather than drop for a PTQ.

  • Kerrydan

    @DougPkr Could you flesh out the math in those calculations of yours, please? There’s something I’m missing here. Not trolling, just honestly want to understand.

    Doesn’t the “7*3″ part assume you’re winning 7 participation points per round? That’s not the way I read the announcement. I read it as Participation Points are a one-time award you get after playing 1 round.

    So shouldn’t the calculation for the GP Day 2 be…
    .6 * (7 rounds * 3 pts per win * 8x Event Muliplier for GP) = 100.8 points

    While a 9 round PTQ…
    7 Participation Pts + .6*(9 rounds * 3 pts per win * 5x Event Multiplier) = 88 points

    I took these numbers from the GatheringMagic article on PWPTS, here: http://www.gatheringmagic.com/talking-about-planeswalker-points/

    So my conclusion is that your EV (assuming the ONLY thing you care about is the points) is actually still better for competing in Day 2 of the GP.

  • http://www.brokencitymagic.com Shawn Petsche

    @Kerry – according to the official Wizards info, your participation points are included in your point total to be multiplied by the event multiplier. So 7 participation points in a 9 round PTQ will actually end up being 35 points earned for just showing up. See here: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/PlaneswalkerPoints/Information. Perhaps a fix is if Wizards counted day 2 of a GP as another event participated in (earn the GP participation points twice, essentially).

    There’s some really interesting Twitter discussion on this topic between Finkel, Steve OMS, some of the Wizards guys (Mark Rosewater, Aaron Forsythe, etc) and Paulo.

    I think Steve OMS has a level-headed look at it, though it is admittedly assuming a few things. He suggests that while the new system will encourage increased play, when Wizards announces what happens with the Pro Players Club, it won’t actually affect the current Pro Players in a way that forces them to grind.

    Interestingly, now that this system has been announced, some folks seem to be defending the ELO system that was argued against so much, suggesting that the ELO system wasn’t what caused people to sit on rating, but ratings-based byes.

    I found this exchange particularly interesting:
    thepchapin @maro254 ELO didn’t discourage people from playing…ratings invites did.
    mtgaaron @thepchapin That is true. When a measure becomes a goal, it ceases to be an effective measure.

    Complicated stuff, but it seems like the bonus systems and the Pro Players Club info needs to be released before conclusions can really be drawn, since a lot of arguments against the system seem to be based on incorrect data (the PWP totals are currently out of whack, with no bonuses awarded, and many tournaments having the wrong multiplier associated with them).

  • Kerrydan

    Thanks for correcting my math, Shawn. So I was wrong.

    So it is actually better EV to drop and do the PTQ:
    (7 Participation Pts * 5x) + .6*(9 rounds * 3 pts per win * 5x Event Multiplier) = 123 points

    But as I pointed out, that’s assuming the ONLY thing worth getting is Points. Personally, I’d trade the 22 difference in Points over the money you can win even outside of the Top 8 in a GP.

    I guess one could argue that the points could be worth more, if ones goal is to snag a points invite to the next Pro Tour.

  • john

    I like magic, I rarely care about ratings and I can understand the issues that people are bringing up, despite the fact they don’t really affect me. What I don’t like most, as a casual-competitive guy, is the FNM weighting. I have better things to do most Friday nights than hang out in a games store. It’s Friday night, dammit! I resent the implication that I’m a lesser player because I can’t make it to FNMs.

  • Kerrydan

    But see John, you’re still looking at rating as measuring stick for players to stack their egos next to each other.

    Point totals only matter now for byes at GPs and invites to the Pro Tour.

    So what if some other guy is bragging about earning 102 points for going 5-0 at the last two FNMs, if you beat him at Thursday night draft the same two weeks (only earning you 18 points total)? You still beat him.

    Unless you plan on placing higher than him at the next closest Grand Prix. Then, yes, FNM results might matter a little too much for earning byes, IMHO.

  • http://www.polishtamales.com PolishTamales

    This is kind of a bad thing. You used to get a get a handful of casual players at an FNM and now you have jaded-cynical assholes trying to grind points each week with their net decks. Wizards needs to separate the two somehow, since I don’t feel little Megan enjoys playing against a Splinter Twin deck round after round against a guy that min/maxes his points.

  • http://www.manadeprived.com The Doctor

    @Bruce

    If one were to run a completely fraudulent tournament using the current ELO system, some of the people in the tournament would lose points. Of course, one could use falsified DCI numbers for the losers, so that only real people gain points, but that would be increased fraud and increased risk.

    Under the current system, in a tournament where absolutely no matches are played, everyone would gain some amount of points, even if it is not very many. As Doug said, you would no longer have to have the person who was gaining the most points win every tournament, thus increasing chances to hide the fraud. Additionally, since there is no actual loss to ANY of the players other than the risk of banning, players may now be more likely to collude with TOs to run these fake tournaments.

    All that said, I think there is going to be a very important onus on players, judges, and TOs to report these kind of incidents if they hear about them and have sufficient evidence that they have occured, as they are just plain bad for the game.

    @DougPkr

    I understand not being able to FNM being a pretty huge barrier to the pro tour now. It remains to be seen how big of a barrier it will be. We also don’t really know what the pro club levels are going to look like. Don’t quit yet, give it some time, see if it really is as hard as you think it is, and then send wizards a nice, long, angry email. Wait till the lifetilt fades.

  • http://www.manadeprived.com The Doctor

    @john

    Yeah, the x3 for FNM irks me, too. I understand that FNM is their flagship program and that they want to promote it, but what they’re really saying is that it’s three times better to play essentially the same games of magic on a Friday than it is to play them on any other day of the week. I feel like the FNM championship would do enough to bring people out to FNMs that only a x1 modifier would be needed, but I think perhaps x2 makes the most sense, promotion wise.

  • http://www.manadeprived.com DougPkr

    Well I wasn’t planning on stepping a big leap back until next year when it goes in to effect (currently I am playing like 2-3 times a week and am sleeving up splinter twins right now to go to a Wed event, but that will change to 0 in my plans) but I will still do my best to show up to PTQ’s etc, but that will be it.

    I may still modo and play casually, and even fly to places like MTL to hang out with friends (or even the trip to Seattle it isn’t that bad a drive) but the playing competitive, putting in hours of play testing in attempt to always do well and make sure my rating is good enough to get me to Nats will not happen. As a result I bet I will be worse and lose more, which will be both penalty and fun free, and that will result in me exiting in a little while I assume.

    Yes things could change based on the Player Club announcements but that is just how it feels right now, and I certainly can only comment on how it feels right now, nothing more.

  • FLapan

    I was happy about the change until I realized how much the new system value FNM. Can somebody explain why being 1-3 at FNM worth more points that being 3-1 any other day of the week? That is complete stupidity. Now, it will probably be impossible to obtain byes in GP or to qualify for National without playing FNM.

  • Richard

    As someone who has been playing for since the birth of Magic, I can honestly say it’s about time. I understand entirely why people are upset, it really is a huge change to the ELO system that was in place. But what I think this does personally speaking as an observer more rather than a grinder is that it equates to opening the point system a whole lot more for people and makes competitive aspect/pro-life more accessible.

  • Kelly

    As a tournament organizer, I have a few issues..

    There needs to be some alternative the the FNM system. I understand that they want to encourage FNM play, but as many people have said, lots of people have other things to do on a Friday night, and to be almost completely left out of competitive magic due to the day of the week seems wrong. Couldn’t we have “Monday Night Magic”? Or is the MNM trademark already taken up by tasty chocolate candy with peanuts inside?

    The other think that doesn’t add up is the math. Someone 4-0ing a 16 man FNM and 3-0 two other 8 man events during the week will still earn less than half the points of someone who just shows up to a GP with 3 byes. As much as it looks like this system awards the local player who just grinds for 4 months straight, if you can’t get to the PTQs and GP, there is no amount of magic that can make up for that.

    The other thing I don’t like is the attendance multipliers. This system gives players incentives for travelling away from their local FNM to a larger event simply because there are more people there.

    Also what’s with Pre-Release being a 1x multiplier? Shouldn’t that be at least equal to an FNM? Is there any event they want people to attend more than a pre-release?

    One thing that might turn out to be cool is it gives store an easily traceable system to encourage in house rewards for playing and winning. As a tournament organizer I can now, at the end of each month or season, give out bonus prizes to my top 8 point earners or something like that. It could turn out to help local play, but there has been no support from wizards to this effect. I want wizards to send me a package in the mail every month with a bunch of packs of foils. “here is a list of your regular player who played in X number of events this month, give them this pack of foils” and “here is a list of players who earned X number of points this month, give them this more different pack of foils” That’s the sort of tangible reward my casual grinders would want and should get, rather than some elusive plane ticket that will end up in the hands of the person who got the plane tickets last season and got to go to the big events.

    Also I now am going to sanction two FNMs every week and if the players want, I’ll make their pairing method swiss+3 so we can have like 15 rounds of FNM completed every week. FNM marathons baby!

    Long winded… blah. Enough said from this lvl 34 invoker…

  • http://www.brokencitymagic.com Shawn Petsche

    As a TO myself (Broken City), it will be interesting to see how this plays out for us as well…

    It used to be that, as a bar that ran 16k events and that was considered Advanced Level with prize support from Wizards (even if just in the forms of promo cards and Player Rewards), we’d get a solid 30-40 people out each night. The 16k was both an incentive and deterrent to grinders, sure…if they needed to earn a chunk of points quick, they’d come out and risk it for potential huge upward swings, or to hit their last 10 points, but if they were already high up, it’d be rare that we’d see folks playing at the bar…it seemed to even out. Once the Player Rewards dropped, we lost a decent chunk of our non-competitive regulars, though.

    When this was first announced, my initial reaction was to be excited – with no penalty for losses, and no longer being recognized as a 16k event holder, surely the grinders would come out again and our attendance would start rising.

    …but then I read the fine print and saw that our events are now 1 x multipliers while FNMs are 3 x. We’ve already had some of our Broken City regulars start apologizing because they’re going to be switching their “1 night a week of Magic” from Wednesday at the bar to a local FNM. It’s sort of a vicious circle. We’d have better EV if more people came out, but more people are less likely to come out to the bar than an FNM because the EV is lower.

    Which is tough – this is clearly what Wizards wants. To promote their Flagship event, to get people back in retail stores, etc. But it’s also just another slap in the face to independent TOs like myself, and what the bar had accomplished in a short amount of time. We can’t compete in EV week to week with FNMs, and in fact, we can’t even hold FNMs anymore as we’ve been stripped of our Advanced Level w/ the last round of changes to the WPN. It’ll be interesting to see if the lure of beer and cards, at a lower multiplier, will still be enough to get the slingers out.

    Great point about the potential for folks to move away from local tournaments towards those with larger attendance.

    I imagine that in the grand scheme of things these issues aren’t at the top of Wizards’ mind, or that they’re fine with the consequences, but they are extremely valid to bring up nonetheless. Cheers.

  • john

    @KerryDan;

    Wizards rating FNMs higher than a just-as-well-attended other night (which in my neck of the woods was a 16k event once a week) specifically implies that Wizards cares less about me and my habits than they do about people who can and will make FNMs. This has nothing to do with ego, and everything to do with easily measurable weightings.

    On top of that, I do want to do well at magic always, and if getting a bye at a GP is harder for me simply because I can’t do Fridays, Wizards is sending a message loud and clear: Play FNM or suck more.

  • Kerrydan

    @john Wait, so your main goal really is getting byes for GPs and an invite to Nats? If that’s the case, then yes, I agree. FNMs are weighted way too unevenly and punish competitive players who can’t attend them.

    My point was that if you really are a casual player who doesn’t care about the competitive GP/Nats circuit, then why would you care about your Competitive/FNM points totals? It isn’t a real measure of skill any more, it’s a measure of *accomplishment*.

    Shawn said it best above: WotC wants people to play their one night a week of Magic at a local store, and are using the FNM brand and high points multiplier as the carrot to do so.

    IMHO, the problem is with the “F” in FNM. I have a feeling that many more people like you and I will be complaining about this over the next year (I have a problem attending FNMs too, btw), and I sincerely hope one of the resulting tweaks to the system for 2013 will be that stores will be allowed to designate one event a week as “Premium” Night Magic. This way they won’t be restricted to Fridays, and stores in the same geographic area can work together to make the schedule better for all their players.