Some time ago I made a video about what Magic: The Gathering does better than any other game. Games like their perceived competitors of Hearthstone and Hex. It was at its core a video about Friday Night Magic. How this is the heart of Magic: The Gathering as a game. Friday Night Magic is where we all come together to play this game. At some stores we draft, at others its Standard, and at others even Modern. And here, and there are a place or two its Legacy or Canadian Highlander. It’s our community, our social circle. We’re friends and sometimes even lovers are made, and it is as I said in that video. What Magic does better than any other game or at least, I’m sorry to say, it was. Because Wizards of the Coast has just announced that in an effort to discourage competitive players from Friday Night Magic and redirect them instead to playing in the Standard Showdown. They will be discontinuing Friday Night Magic promos and replacing them instead with foil tokens. I want to repeat that just so that we’re on the same page. Starting October 6th of this year Friday Night Magic will no longer offer foil Magic cards as promos and instead will offer a foil double faced token. This defies all common sense. To go from foil Magic: The Gathering cards to foil tokens is a strict downgrade. To do so intentionally seems even more maddening. But Wizards has now made not one, but two official statements trying to explain their decision. And it feels like they are all over the place with their answers. Now I have linked to the two articles in the description of this video and I encourage you to read them and whether you agree or disagree with these changes I encourage you as always to let Wizards know your feelings on this so that they get a feel for what the playerbase wants. What’s really noteworthy is that even in this official article, Wizards acknowledges just how important Friday Night Magic has been over the long run of this game. Stating, “FNM has been and continues to be the foundation of our weekly in-store play. It is one of our longest-running and most successful play programs in our 25 years, so we’re not looking to mess with the formula too much.” So that being said, let’s discuss why Wizards of the Coast is messing with the formula… much. Premise: if Friday Night Magic promos are too desirable, too good. Then competitive players will attend in order to get them and this will discourage new and casual players from themselves attending. Thus, in order to get new players to FNM – promos must be eliminated altogether replaced by a token. I believe this is false. Competition is not what drives away new players. Competition is what drives players, new and old, down to the store to win. It’s a competitive game. Well most games are, and we need something to be competing over. This should be something that I can’t get sitting around the kitchen table with friends. The goal is to get players out from around the kitchen table and down to the local game store Now stores offer prizes but Wizards can and should offer something too. Something that these players can’t get anywhere else But can get at any- all Friday Night Magic events. A premium Magic: The Gathering card to add to their collection. To add to their decks, to add to their trade folders. A promo card, quality promo card is and has been a positive benefit to Friday Night Magic Assuming you select the right cards, but I’ll get to that in just a moment. Look. Double-sided foil tokens are great, in addition to- in addition to a premium Magic: The Gathering promo card. But not instead of. Do you think that a foil double-sided token will get a different set of players down to the store to play? Great. Offer them as an added benefit. Do you feel that only winners getting the promos is discouraging? Well then maybe print enough of these foil double-sided tokens so that all entries get one. Then you play and compete for a chance at the promo. Now your casual player gets their cool casual token and the competitive player has the cool promo to compete for. Add. Give. Invest. Do not take away. Now here’s an interesting thing, if the Standard Showdown is where they want competitive players to go and they felt that the Friday Night Magic promos are what got competitive players down to the store to play. Then why didn’t they just shift the promo to the Standard Showdown packs? Why isn’t, as of October, Friday Night Magic promos as we knew them now going to be in each and every Standard Showdown pack in addition to its existing contents? You know to get those competitive players down to Standard Showdown instead of FNM. Well instead Standard Showdown packs are apparently now getting a premium foil land each month. A basic land. The inaugural premium land is a doozy for collectors I’ll admit. The famed Rebecca Guay basic lands. Previously unavailable in foil. These will be included in the Standard Showdown packs. But a fair question both on the tokens and on these basic lands in place of Magic: The Gathering card promos is Where is this going long term? Yes, a lot of players myself included absolutely want those Rebecca Guay foil lands. But after they’ve been offered. What’s next? Noah Bradley foil lands, maybe some Terese Neilson foil lands. Uhh- and then what’s after that? What’s after that? After a while, this is going to turn into a common and less desired piece of the Standard Showdown pack. It’s just a foil basic. Just like the last time and the time before that. Sometimes it’ll be from an artist that is very popular or just happen to be a particular art style that it gets a lot of attention. But in the end, it’s going to wear itself out. And I feel it’s going to will it- wear itself out fast You’re not going to sustain interest over several years. I don’t even think you’re going to make it to one year. And the same can be said of the tokens. The foil Zombies that were in an added bonus to the Innistrad pre-release kits were well-received because nothing like that had ever been done before and it was in addition to the Standard promo that was included in pre-release kits It was a way to offer someone a neat little foil token of a common and popular tribe. Those Zombie tokens can be used by Commander players, Legacy players, Modern players, Standard players. But you’re going to run out of creatures to make tokens of really fast. And after you get your Zombies, your Angels, your Dragons the options will become slim. Wizards even says it wants these tokens tied to the current Standard. So actually, forget about getting a 4/4 flying Angel or Dragon token and expect instead the… embalmed Sacred Cat, whatever, from Amonkhet. Again these will have rapidly diminishing value over a short period of time. Premise: people were unhappy with the quality of promos, so Wizards has discontinued them in order to try offering something people will be happy with. I believe this is false, very false. People were not unhappy with getting promos at Friday Night Magic. They were unhappy with the cards which were selected as promos as well as the small amount given to most stores. People wanted better promos and more of them. Not for them to be done away with entirely. Premise: we offered a better promo recently Aether Hub and numbers didn’t increase. To quote one of the articles, “The data just doesn’t bear that out. While I can’t give you the exact numbers, I can tell you this- in June, when Aether Hub was the FNM promo, attendance was not noticeably different than January, when Noose Constrictor was the promo.” All right hang on, either experienced players are showing up just to win promos or- or- or promos aren’t interesting enough to get players down to FNM. But it can’t be both. It attracts players and it doesn’t attract players. Which is it? Putting aside for a moment the fact they insist they can’t give us the data. There are many possible reasons why Aether Hub did not see a significant increase in attendance in comparison to their example- their one example of Noose Constrictor. First of all, if you have a long history of lackluster promos and then suddenly change to having a more desirable one. How exactly is the average, probably non-Friday Night Magic attending player, Going to hear about this sudden shift in promo quality? On reddit? It’s a small fraction of the player base. The official Magic: The Gathering YouTube channel? No video hyping the fact that you get an Aether Hub promo was released. On Wizards’ Twitter account? Nope. Not one tweet was made directly announcing Aether Hub. They tweeted out a link to the list of promos in their typical lackluster clockwork fashion, but with a long and established history of bad promos it is understandable few people clicked on it. No noticeable effort was made to get word out. Continuing on, this is also just one good promo out of what has now been years of lackluster selections. Maybe instead of just trying a better promo pick for one month, and using the one month’s data to justify ending Friday Night Magic promos, Wizards could have, I don’t know done six, seven, eight months of quality promos so that players had time to take note. Word-of-mouth could spread and hey, maybe Wizards could even add a little hype to these great promos being offered. Tell me what the numbers are like after six months of better quality promos with effort made by the company. Also, I think the state of Standard is a fair factor to consider when you look at FNM attendance numbers. Promos aren’t everything and a bad or uninteresting Standard, which many felt we had during the month of Aether Hub is going to result in low numbers. Next let’s get to that data they can’t show us. Why? Why can’t you show us the data? Logos is a very compelling rhetorical strategy. Show us what you got. I would love see how this compares to months such as when Path to Exile and Serum Visions were FNM promos. Were those months significantly higher in attendance? I’ve heard from a lot of sources that they overwhelmingly were. Or is that data, if revealed, not only going to show that promos can indeed drive up attendance, but that players might be more interested in Modern staples over what’s hot in Standard at the moment? But you can’t just say trust us the numbers proves we’re right, but we can’t show you the numbers or tell you the numbers, but trust us. Aha, no data please. The next premise is one I’ve heard from not just Wizards of the Coast but from many in the community. Is the only reason you go to Friday Night Magic for the promo? Should it be? Well, no, of course not. That’s not the only reason FNM is the lifeblood, the heart of the Magic community and it being that is great. But it is through playing the game that we connect with one another. The game is the key component there and prizes you can win by coming down to play the game are going to be a huge factor. I mean should we eliminate promos for game day as well? After all, top eight gets full art foil rares and first place gets a play mat. Maybe everyone should just get a token and call it a day Are we eliminating incentives or are we increasing them? What’s the right direction? I started by mentioning my previous video about what Magic does better than anyone else. But I also talked about at another time the diminishing rewards being offered to Magic players in this one. It seems we are being given less and less and the reasons just don’t add up. In the end, maybe even with good cards attendance numbers aren’t closely tied to the promos. But is attendance the sum goal? What about loyalty? Does your poll measure how long, and how fiercely loyal of a customer promos might yield you? The player who comes every week for years, instead of every other week for months. Is that someone to invest in and support? Magic: The Gathering is a collectible card game. The players want collectable cards. Friday Night Magic promos were these. They went in people’s cubes They blinged out Commander, and Modern, and Legacy decks with them. They have been, in Wizards’ own words, the defining part of the foundation of in-store play. The very foundation. Foil double-sided tokens are nice. They’re neat, but we do not need to get rid of FNM promos in order to give them out to players. Hey, I want to show you something. This is the promo I got from the very first time I won Friday Night Magic I remember so much about that night. The game store I played in, what the setting was like. The decks that I played, Standard decks that I no longer get to enjoy because they’ve rotated. I mean I remember them in my mind. Each opponent I went up against, some of whom are now very dear friends of mine others moved away and yet I remember them when I look at this card. The card means a lot to me even though it’s not currently in a deck of mine. All that stuff that we talked about that Magic should be beyond the promos. The people, the community, the game, the strategy, the connections, all of that stuff. It’s all tied into things such as the cards we collect. In a way, they are photographs of an entire Magic event. They’re important. I don’t think the players should be divided between casual and competitive. When I won that Friday Night Magic I was a casual player and I beat a competitive one. Let us come together. Let us play this game and give us more not less. And this program was made possible thanks to a sponsorship from Card Kingdom, as well as the patreon support of viewers such as you. So thank you!