18 de mayo de 2011

Eternal: But Does That Really Mean Forever?

Hace cosa de un mes, Titus Chalk, colaborador de la página GetheringMagic, puso en contacto conmigo y otros 3 miembros de la comunidad eternalera (Stephen Menendian, Oliver Daems y Fulio Zerbino) y nos pidió responder a las preguntas de una entrevista para ayudarle con algunas citas sobre un artículo que estaba elaborando. Pues bien, el artículo es público desde el pasado Viernes, y ya que la entrevista fue verdaderamente larga, os la dejo a continuación... ¡Prácticamente es un artículo por sí misma!

En primer lugar, un enlace al artículo original:

Eternal: But Does That Really Mean Forever? @ Gathering Magic, por Titus Chalk

Os recomiendo encarecidamente leerlo, pues habla con mucho acierto sobre temas actuales del formato.

Y a continuación, mi entrevista, eso sí, en la lengua de Shakespeare:

How old are you Cesar, and when did you start playing Magic? Have you always played Vintage?

I’m 26 years and bought my first M:TG booster packs back in 1996. I’ve always played Vintage, somehow. Back in 1996 nobody played competitive Magic where I used to live, but we used the Vintage B&R List. It was when I moved to Madrid in 2001 when I really started seriously playing Vintage with a group of friends. From then to now, some of us have always played Vintage seriously.

What’s the name of your association? How often do you organise Vintage tournaments?

Its name is “Realidad o Ficción” (Fact or Fiction), and it’s constituted by some of the best Spanish Eternal Players. We are organising Vintage tournaments once a month, the Liga Madrileña de Vintage (LMV) events. We also organise a Legacy league once a month. Those events have pushed forward Eternal formats in Spain. Once a year I (With the help of association Clandestino) organise the Eternal Weekend, the sanctioned Vintage and Legacy tournaments with the higher assistance in Spain.

From where you’re standing, does it feel like Vintage is dying?

Short answer is “Yes and no, but…” so I’ll explain further this question. Right now, I must admit that the format is interesting enough for a lot of players. Depending on the part of the world where you live, some decks appear to be more powerful than others, but no matter where you live, a lot of deck possibilities exist. Taking that into account, there are two major things that might kill Vintage: The Reprint Policy and the natural aging.

Natural aging is a process that any player should be able to understand, whether you are part of a youth group of promising players or a member of a team o experienced and legendary players, you must have seen players grow and leave the game because of having to study, working, getting married or having a child. This happens to every format, but that’s where the Reprint Policy stands disallowing a natural player base recycle in Vintage.

Everyday, there are fewer Power 9 pieces in the world, thus scarcity and prices discourage and disallow new players to enter the format. The Reprint Policy and the Reserved List represent one of the worst things that has ever happen to Eternal, the other being the proxies.

So, Does it feel like Vintage is dying? It does feel like something similar is happening, but a lot of things could happen to save it. As if we were in a mid-eighties cartoon… Do your part! Bring a friend! Invite Legacy players! Write about the format! Everyone can save the format somehow if everybody does his part. And about the Reprint Policy, let’s just wish that Wizards changes mind some day.

How would you describe the health of the Vintage scene in Spain? Is it mainly focused in Madrid and Barcelona, or is it spread all over the country?

During 2011, the leagues with the most assistance are taking place in Barcelona and Madrid. While it’s safe to admit that those are the major Vintage tournaments in Spain, with the exception of some premier events (Such as the Eternal Weekend and other Open tournaments), there are three other leagues taking place in Pais Vasco, Andalucia and Castilla y Leon. It’s important to say that, o all of those leagues, the league from Barcelona is the one with the bigger assistance, and it’s also the only one that don’t allow the use of proxies. The leagues from Madrid and Pais Vasco are reducing the number of proxies allowed and expecting an increase in the assistance.

Even though those are the minor and major focus of Vintage in Spain, there are many players spread all over the country. Those players are the ones that show up for premier events.

How do you explain the popularity of sanctioned Vintage in certain European countries compared to the US?

I think that this question answers itself. The difference between playing a non-proxy and sanctioned tournament and another one unsactioned is huge. There are some aspects that I don’t know about the US such as the number of players in most zones. What I can tell is that France, Germany, Italy and Spain (The 4 major Vintage countries in Europe) will be just 1/3 of the United States size. That undoubtedly counts, as players move easier to some tournaments here in Europe.

Also, you should notice that the sanctioned spanish tournament (The Eternal Weekend) had an assistance of about 150 players, the last Italian sanctioned event (The D-Day) had about 180 players. One of the main reasons why Bazaar of Moxen assistance last year was about 400 players it’s because of the sensational position that it has. The southeast of France is, more or less, the center of Europe, and most Vintage focuses in Europe are as far as 1000 or 1500 kilometres.
Last but not least, is that people loves playing with and playing against real cards, playing in sanctioned and large events, and that’s what offer the biggest European tournaments.

How damaging do you think the introduction of proxies was to Vintage?

So much that hardly ever will be undone. I don’t really know who had the idea in the first place, but it wasn’t a good idea.

Playing Magic is a lot about feelings, even though not many people will accept it, but there’s more people out there wanting to play “that legendary format where moxen are tapped” than those loving to play “that format where people plays with proxied and fake cards”.

And there are much more other reasons why proxies weren’t nice to Vintage. It discouraged people to buy into de format, which in addition means that those players care less about the format, feel less involved and fall out of the format easily. It may seem marginal, but in a format as Vintage losing a few players because of this is just too much. Among those few players the Vintage community might have lost article writers, future tournament organizers, forum moderators, team drivers, deck creators…

Proxies also promote the idea that Vintage is not a serious format, as its events are rarely sanctioned and fake cards can be used to play.

I think that they seemed to be good in the short run, but overall bad in the mid and long run.

Here in Madrid we are trying to reduce the number of proxies allowed every year, and personally, I tried to do my best for the format in my country by organizing a 4000€ sanctioned Vintage tournament. The most important difference between that tournament and the one that took place in 2009 is that it was sanctioned… And the assistance was higher in the sanctioned event!

When the US moved to a proxy scene in 2004 onwards, did you notice more Europeans buying into Vintage? Did the strong Euro at the time and the Americans selling off their power cards boost European Vintage?

I’m not exactly sure on how to answer this, as there are a lot of things that have to be taken into account, but the short answer might be yes. In the end, the result was that people willing to have Power Pieces were allowed to but them, and possibly European players were more interested than Americans.

Should there be a Wizards-supported Vintage event in the calendar – a Grand Prix, or something like a ‘Vintage Game Day?’

“Should” is a hard word to tell. Is there a reason why Wizards should promote the format? Possibly yes. Should there be a Vintage Grand Prix? Probably not. Will I want this to happen? Yes! For sure!

The thing is that Eternal players seem to be less interested in transatlantic tournaments. The Bazaar of Moxen tournament is the most important Vintage tournament in the world. I think that even though the PseudoVintage Worlds have existed for years in the US, most players will admit that the assistance (Of about 400 players) and the prizes (This year’s 28 pieces of Power 9, a playset of Bazaars and Duals) are incredible.

And with all those points into account, no more Americans came to the event than Spanish (As I know both numbers) to the last Legacy GP in the US. That’s because, above all, a transatlantic flight is still very expensive.

Anyway, I will love a Vintage Championship or a Grand Prix taking place both in Europe and the US, but I know that’s hardly happening.

Have you noticed the Legacy boom affecting the attendance of your Vintage tournaments, either positively or negatively?

In the first place, I think that a lot of players jumped from Vintage to Legacy, as a casual, cheap and attack phase based format was what they were looking for. In the last year, now that some of those clauses are no longer truth, some Legacy based players are jumping to Vintage looking for a broader playing experience.

This is possible, at least here in Spain, because most Legacy Leagues are organized in conjunction with the Vintage League, trying to leave a week free between each tournament, and the organizers promoting both formats.

The assistance for both the Vintage and Legacy tournaments that I’m organizing is increasing this year, so I can tell no other thing.

With the demand for Legacy staples incredibly high (particularly duals, force of will and wasteland), can players be encouraged to try Vintage, too?

Assuming a 7 proxy Vintage tournament or a sanctioned Legacy event, a lot of Vintage decks will be cheaper than some of Legacy, so it might happen, but as I already have most playable Eternal cards, and the sudden Legacy cards price increase is just happening now, it is too soon to tell.

Or, is it time to let Vintage die? Is Legacy just a better format – and one that Wizards can realistically support?

Nothing can be compared with the experience of playing and tapping moxen (If the Null Rod and Chalice of the Void players allow you). Also, Wizards can’t realistically support Legacy until they get rid of the Reserved List. Legacy might be an overall better format (Number of tournaments and proximity, assistance, deck options…) but the good thing about Magic: The Gathering is that it has a lot of formats, and no good thing is letting die one of them.

Do you think certain un-bannings in Legacy would cause Vintage players to switch to the more popular format en masse (for example Mana Drain)?

Releasing Mana Drain in Legacy will be an error, as it’s obviously a boosted card, but in any case I don’t think so. As the Magic Online Classic format has shown us, Vintage is the Power 9, and I don’t know of any real possible unbanning that will promote Legacy en masse among the Vintage players.

Is there anything that would make you want to stop playing Vintage?

Maybe, a sum of some reasons. The day none of my friends still play the format, the day not at least 8 players show up in a tournament, the day the format is outlawed, busted and boring or the day my girlfriend, family and job disallow me to participate in tournaments. Maybe.

So I think that while I still fight for none of those reasons to happen, I’ll be playing the format.

How do you feel about the reserve list?

It’s possibly the worst thing that has ever happen to Eternal formats, even more than proxies. With the Reserved List in existence, something has to happen to Eternal Formats (Let’s say a BIG change) or something tricky has to be done by Wizards to not let Vintage and Legacy vanish.

It’s obvious for everyone that each month, each day, less cards exists in the sum of the market and the eternal community of the staples of he Reserved List. This fact is less damaging now that what it was 15 years ago, but I personally know o people whose cards have been lost or destroyed during the last year, people who keep their Power 9 and Duals at house, even though they will never play again… They won’t just sell them. Every additional collector decreases the number of “playable” cards in the format. No matter which way, we will never have as much cards in the sum of the community and the market than what we already have.

Legacy has proven to be a great “constructed” format, and its growth is being stopped just by the availability of cards not matching the number of players looking for them.

As a proud owner of most cards needed to play any Eternal format, a lot of collections and working in an MTG related store, nothing will please me more than the fact of the removal of the Reserved List and the Reprint Policy.

I think that it’s already demonstrated that cards from the older sets tend not to lose value independently of how many reprints it has nowadays (See the value of Birds of Paradise or Shivan Dragon from Beta and modern sets), I can’t understand how and why so many other collectors and players are positioned against the removal the Reprint policy. I’m almost sure that my Beta Set won’t lose value even if WotC releases From the Vault: Power 9, as any card released today will never be from Beta, or Alpha, or whatever, and that’s what collectors (The people who will pay +100$ for a Birds of Paradise or Shivan Dragon) are looking for.

And even so, if my collection loses a bit or a lot of value, I’ll feel happy if I get more players to gather for the next Legacy or Vintage event.

In the end, I think that someday WotC will get rid of the Reprint Policy, as a company should what is best for the company and it’s customers, and I’m not exactly sure what is the percentage of customers for and against the Reprint Policy, but I’m sure that there are far more people against than in favour.

How do you view EDH’s relationship to the official eternal formats? Is it a threat to Vintage?

I think it’s not. EDH is completely different. It won’t ever be Vintage and Vintage will never be EDH. The most important why we play EDH is because it’s a fun and casual format, and I know no Vintage players for whom EDH is a substitution for the Vintage Drug.

Finally, if you could give one message to Wizards about the eternal formats, what would it be?

For me, the support of the Eternal formats is the most important thing, and while I understand that it shouldn’t be the same for them, I’d love them continuing to celebrate Legacy-based GPs, Vintage Championships and the like… But the main problem nowadays is the Reserved List.

I’m aware, more or less, about the advantages that Wizards will take by removing the Reprint Policy, and I am confident that they will get rid of them as soon as they find a way to.

César “CHaPuZaS” Fernández

Con eso me despido por hoy y... A Disfrutar!!!

2 Comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

Muy muy interesante!

Anónimo dijo...

Muy interesante lo que dices, me ha gustudado ^_^