Hey everyone, Micah, here!  Probably not better known as JankJunction.  I bought my first magic starter deck back in 8th grade in 1995.  I saved my money and convinced my conservative evangelical (at the time) parents to let me get one by saying, “It’s not like this game has demons and warlocks in it.”  I get home and rip that baby open.   Oh.

After that I forgot about Magic and CCGs until Mojang announced a secretive project called Scrolls.  Later that year Blizzard announced Hearthstone and I immediately signed up for the closed beta.  Hearthstone wasn’t enough so eventually I sought out my LGS and that was basically it for me.  I got crushed my first FNM with my Abzan Outlast deck.  But the hook was in and it was set DEEP into my brewing little heart.  When a new set would come out I would literally have 100’s of deck ideas littered about my desk (physical and virtual).  Saffron Olive once even mentioned one of my decks in an article!

So what am I, self proclaimed brewing addict playing in Magic Arena?

The Deck

Red Deck Wins

Decklist

Importable Decklist

2 Magma Spray (AKH) 141
4 Soul-Scar Mage (AKH) 148
4 Earthshaker Khenra (HOU) 90
4 Lightning Strike (XLN) 149
1 Captain Lannery Storm (XLN) 136
4 Ahn-Crop Crasher (AKH) 117
4 Goblin Chainwhirler (DAR) 129
2 Hazoret the Fervent (AKH) 136
1 Rekindling Phoenix (RIX) 111
1 Glorybringer (AKH) 134
3 Ramunap Ruins (HOU) 181
4 Ghitu Lavarunner (DAR) 127
4 Wizard’s Lightning (DAR) 152
2 Burning-Fist Minotaur (HOU) 85
20 Mountain (AKH) 264

Why RDW?  Because currently (05/29/2018) it’s the only viable way to increase my collection to a size where I would be happy/able to start brewing.  I’m averaging 2.5 Rare/Mythics per Quick Constructed event. My QC events have taken anywhere from 20-40 minutes based on matchups and opponent play speed.  And for the record, I’ve put about $40 into the game mostly for drafting.

Ranting about the Economy is cliche at this point, and ideas to fix it are ubiquitous. But I want to list what I see as the main problems currently.

  1. Overall Deck Progress is too slow.
  2. It’s almost Impossible to brew.
  3. Metagame Convergence
  4. New Player Retention
  5. Metagame Self Correction

Number one is pretty self-explanatory.  Two and Three are really the same problem, and that is Goblin Chainwhirler = Fraying Sanity in terms of Wildcard (WC) cost.  Given an equal amount of Rares/Mythics, Red Deck Wins is the same WC cost as Fraying Sanity Fleet Swallower Combo.

If I were given a choice of crafting a playset of Chainwhirler’s or Fraying sanity, the reward system gives me ZERO incentive to choose Fraying Sanity.  We know that WOTC thinks dusting feels bad, but so does the current incentive structure.

Paper obviously doesn’t have this issue because the secondary market has largely solved this problem. Fraying Sanity is currently about $2 and Karn is $50.  The LARGE caveat being that because paper cards are a physical product there is not an artificial upper bound on the cost of a card.

Problems Three and Four are similarly linked.  As a new player, it feels REALLY bad to hop into a QC event and face 5 RDW and 2 Teferi Control decks when you’re piloting a marginally upgraded RG Dinos Deck.  A better matchmaking system would help, but a more diverse metagame would go a long way.

Problem 5 is that the metagame will stagnate without the ability to adapt.  In paper Magic, if a deck is dominant you can bring a deck teched to beat it.  You could even sell/trade what you were playing to switch to a deck that was better against the expected field.  This can’t happen in Arena without spending an equivalent amount of time/money as you did for your first deck (approximately).

Yeah yeah, you know all of this already.  What’s the solution?

Fix the WC cost of a card to its Metagame share.  Maximum cost is 1 WC.

Wait, isn’t this the same as it is now?  Yes, if you’re trying to grind a tier 1 deck, you’ll need to pony up the cash or the time.  But if you’re interested in something that’s not currently seeing much play, it’s much faster.

Try not to get caught up in the exact numbers, or the cards I put in which tier.

I think this solution addresses several of the problems I outlined above, but it also creates a few of its own.

  1. Complexity
  2. WOTC Secondary Market Issues
  3. Bad Timing Feels
  4. The appearance of Pay to Win

Complexity is the bane of all new user experiences and this certainly adds complexity.  Said complexity can be mitigated by solid UI design and implementation.

WOTC has been loath to acknowledge the secondary market lest they run afoul of gambling laws across the country.  Would something like this increase that jeopardy or is it completely irrelevant?

Price spikes and the Saffron Olive effect already kind of suck.  Would this ultimately do more harm than good in terms of player feelings?

And probably my biggest concern of all would be the magic community itself.  We’re notoriously value-focused and I can already foresee posts like, “A playset of Karn costs 4WC!!  But a playset of GW Hwuatli is only 1WC.  That’s not fair!!!” or “I’m so tired of all these net-decks!  It’s obviously pay to win.”

This type of solution creates all kinds of interesting incentives down the line.  What happens when WOTC manages to create a truly phenomenal format with 7-10 Tier 1 decks?  Not many discounts to be had.  What about a format with a clear Tier 0 deck.  Discounts as far as the eye can see?

How would this effect a draft format?  Well, Lich’s mastery would be almost guaranteed to table unlike when I felt obligated (because how could I not brew with this card) to take it in a Dominaria draft because it’s the same as taking a Tier 1 Rare in terms of my cost.

I’ll be waiting with baited breath for today’s economy article just like the rest of you.  Until that hits what do you think about an economy fixed to the metagame?

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