All that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity.
– Hamlet: Act 1, Scene 2
I’ve been to PAX West eight out of the past nine years, venturing specifically for Magic: The Gathering (the only one I’ve missed when my daughter had surgery). I feel like I have some expertise when I say this: This year was by far the worst effort put forth by Wizards of the Coast to do anything Magic related at PAX West. The only major event they produced was one panel about the worldbuilding of Ixalan for an hour. And that was it. How you found it was a blurb in the main schedule, not even a mention on DailyMTG.com.
It was embarrassing.
Let me amend that:
I was embarrassed for Wizards of the Coast.
When I’ve written these After PAX pieces, I was trying to give you a little bit of the atmosphere of Magic-related PAX. They aren’t really reviews as it’s not something that one can experience again. I tried to examine what was WotC doing to promote their latest set and their actions at the convention itself.
For years the draw was the Magic Party where they would debut cards with music, food, drinks and a bunch of people including WotC employees. Over the past few years the party was toned down but the increased presence of Magic was there. Two years ago there was a huge Eldrazi arm crushing a police car on the street. Last year, they took over a whole theater for Kaladesh and the huge street wide banner hanging on the skybridge displaying Saheeli Rai for all of the PAX attendees to see.
This year, an hour long panel with two preview cards.
And as much as it would be easy to blame WotC for this, it’s not their fault.
There’s one clear reason for this complete drop off, but I have a feeling that there were to other factors that contributed to this choice that made it a bit easier. The elephant in the room:
It’s a weekend long celebration of gaming and getting together with friends and making new ones. PAX is the one event every year that I’ll put almost everything else on hold to attend. In the past eight years of PAX, I’ve only missed once when my daughter had surgery (a few years ago, she’s doing pretty well now). I’ve seen the invention of the Magic Party, its evolution, to its final iteration last year. Now, Magic takes over an entire theater for a weekend.
I was one of the only people posting spoilers online in the first Magic Party on Zendikar (the first time around) to Twitter and now the multinational company is streaming high quality shows on Twitch dedicated to introducing cards and mechanics from the very people who designed them.
Every year WotC tries to go bigger and grander. Last year it was a section of the Convention Center that had a huge Eldrazi arm breaking through a window and smashing a car. It was pretty epic. This year WotC took over an entire building and threw a street fair (Inventor’s Fair) with a huge moving Elk (After the 0/4 Camel was previewed, I told a WotC employee that they should’ve had a real camel there too). That’s not out of place at this convention.
PAX is PAX.
WotC held the World Championship for the Pro Tour, which finally makes sense; now it’s right before a block rotates instead of at the end of the year when a new block has been in Standard for two months. The grand Paramount theater housed a variety of panels that you could watch both live and streaming live. If you didn’t want to watch what was happening onstage, you could spellsling with WotC employees and celebrities, play in numerous drafts, play Commander, Cube, or just the basic learn how to play this game all within the same building. There was merchandise sold in the lobby (with a surprising amount of variety of what to choose from), as well as a prize wall for those of you played in sanctioned drafts.
If you didn’t want to leave the Magic area for four days you didn’t have to.
I used to come to PAX because Magic was a part of it. It was something that I would do near the end of the day because of the party. Now, I go to PAX because Magic is there and I almost ignore the rest of the convention. Sure, I walked around once in the indie section and played a game in the Jackbox section, but PAX has lost its luster when it’s not Magic related. Maybe it’s because I feel it’s my duty to try and give you what it’s like while I’m there (I did a Parascope of the Inventor’s Fair).
It seems like a bad Jay Leno joke: “Hey, have you seen the price of Mythics lately? It’s like Wizards of the Coast decided that they were going to print money instead of cards!” Ha! Good one, Jay.
This hasn’t been the first time I’ve taken a look at Mythics (where I predicted that three Zendikar Mythics would be over $10 a piece), and most likely it won’t be the last. Now that we have two full blocks and a Core Set printed with the Mythic rarity, we can revisit a look at why Mythics are spinning out of control in price. Besides discussing on how to beat Jund, the rising cost of Mythics have been one of the hot topics of Magic lately. Paying $70 of a single card in Standard? Aren’t you glad there’s a Reserved List to protect such cards from losing their value in the future?
What, the Reserved List doesn’t cover cards in the past 10 years? Oh. Ignore that last sentence then.
The most recent hot deck in Standard right now is a deck called “Superfriends” which includes 4 planeswalkers (i.e. the Superfriends). Taking down the evil known as Jund, these 4 superheroes were supposed to usher in the new metagame where we aren’t supposed to be afraid of that evil deck. But to summon these superheroes to fight you have to bring the cash money.
I’ve been busy, you’ve been busy; it’s all gotta do with this recession. I’ve been busy at work, busy getting the EDH blog off the ground (I Got 99 Problems But a General Ain’t One), and busy with general life stuff. That happens, you know, but I do have some interesting news to share with you today and it doesn’t have to deal with design, or make with the funnies.
Things are moving on a Magic movie.
Yes, you read that right. In what might be considered the “bigger” news that I’ll talk about on this blog is that currently there is work being done on a Magic movie, by Hollywood; not by your friend’s friend with their Hi8 camcorder and cardboard swords.
Some of you may have figured out that I’ve got three loves of my life: My wife (hi hun), Magic, and Movies. Wife doesn’t play Magic, but we watch movies together, and recently I’ve been mixing Magic and movies on this blog. In this new series (Magic Cinema), I take a look at some famous scenes in movies and imagined what they might look like if Magic was the central focus of them. This is the second scene I thought of, but more relevant timing (Note: I did not plan this to fit so well with the timing of “Lotus Cobra is Evil”) Some NSFW language, but not rampant.
A Few Good Lotus Cobras
Players are mad, they’re angry that Lotus Cobra was made a mythic, and they want answers. Why would they print such a powerful card at that rarity? More importantly the players want someone’s head on a plate. WotC offered up two of the developers who made Zendikar: Grame Hopkins and Matt Place. The two said they were just following orders but no one believes them.
Two Pro Tour players have been selected to represent the Prosecution, Mike Flores (who previewed the card and said it was nuts and one of the best cards ever printed), and Defense, Patrick Chapin (who doesn’t live in “Magic Christmas Land” (Sorry, another Premium SCG article)) as well as Fanboy Evan Erwin of “The Magic Show” to reside as judge. Smelling something fishy going on, Chapin had brought fellow Pro Player Brian Kibler to help defend the two sacrificial Zendikar designers and find out the bottom of the situation. There have been rumors of cards that were supposed to go in the Mythic Rare spot instead, to even one of the other cards moved to rare so Lotus Cobra could be Mythic, to moving Lotus Cobra to a different set altogether.
As a last ditch effort during the trial, Chapin has decided to put Mark Rosewater (MaRo), the head designer of Zendikar, on the witness stand to try and get something out of him. During his investigation, two people enter the courtroom, Elane Chase and Aaron Forsythe, both WotC Employees. After mocking Chapin for a few minutes, MaRo stands up and starts to leave. Chapin has asked him to sit back down because he wasn’t done with him.
INT – MILITARY COURTROOM – MORNING
Inside the courtroom everyone is stunned that CHAPIN told MARO to get back up on the witness stand. CHAPIN sighs and takes a drink of water. He’s decided to finally go for it, the jugular. MARO goes back to the stand and sits down.
What would you like to discuss now? My favorite color?
Mr. Rosewater, Zendikar was the first set in the block had no Green Mythic opening?
Worldwake, the next set, didn’t have an open slot for a Green Rare?
Patrick, I think we’ve covered this, haven’t we?
CHAPIN grabs both three ring binders from KIBLER.
Your Honor, these are the Multiverse database developers comments for both Zendikar and Worldwake. Zendikar shows no open Green Mythic spots that had to be created. That’s the same as Worldwake’s comments as well as there were no open Green Rare spots. I’d like to admit them as Defense Exhibits “Alpha” and “Bravo”.
I don’t understand. You’re admitting evidence of a card hole that never existed?
We believe it did, sir.
(Motioning to the WotC employees)
The Defense will be calling Elane Chase and Aaron Forsythe. They work for WotC and have intimate knowledge of the Multiverse database.
Your Honor, these two weren’t on the list.
Rebuttal witnesses, Your Honor, called specifically to refute testimony offered under direct examination.
If you looked closely at MARO, you could see a drop of sweat.