Is Old School killing paper Vintage?

I love Vintage but I currently have more fun playing Old School. I'd prefer to play both over the span of a trip.

Vintage is almost impossible to play in paper if you don't live in one of a handful of places that actually have enough players to support the game. I don't live in one of those areas so I play MTGO. For me it's good enough but I would much rather play IRL. There are some Old School events in the Midwest so I can actually attend paper events.

I'm pretty bored with the competitive viable vintage decks right now. I think vintage is balanced, I'm just not as interested as I have been in other metagames.

I'm skipping Eternal Weekend this year. I would love to go but life made it complicated and having it over Halloween again was the nail in the coffin for me.

I think there is plenty of room for both. Old School offers another way for me to play with my favorite cards.

There's quite a bit of overlap in card pool between Old School and Vintage, when it comes to the more expensive cards. Price is one of the main prohibiting factors for entering either format, so if a player already has these select expensive cards that are largely responsible for making entry to either format so costly, they can usually play both Vintage and Old School without really having to choose one over the other. Other cards that are exclusive to either format would be easily affordable compared to the price of the moxen, for example. A match is on average 20-30 minutes (from personal experience), and people usually have enough time to play multiple Vintage and Old School matches in their free time.

There are players that have a clear cut budget, and need to choose between having a good Old School deck and a good Vintage deck, but I doubt that this is an issue with most players.

Of course, there must be players that dislike having to play against newer cards, like planeswalkers, uncounterable/hexproof shenanigans, etc. that play old school exclusively, but I think most of these players would have left Vintage anyway, with or without Old School.

last edited by Nower1990

I played Vintage from 98 to 2003 competitively, then sold out, mainly to Trinisphere. Came back in 2010, and was like first thing first, time to buy duals, what $40-$50, nope, $100-$300. Well, can't do that. So alternatives? I was going to proxy events, but even winning, it felt odd. Can't afford it? Shouldn't play. Wtf is up with those 4th edition factory? Why you proxying duals but got foil fetches? I just got tired of being "that guy". But with old school? I can build an entire rg beats deck with no Taiga or power for under $20 and be competitive and have fun. Prodigal Sorcerer's, Air Elemental, Boomerang and Counterspell? Done and done. It's actually easier to get into a revised old school deck than any Vintage deck, and I don't have to worry so much about elitism. It's more fun, cheaper, and def more nostalgic now. Outside of Duals, power, and FoW, what is even used from old school in Vintage? Moat, Abyss, and even Mana drain have fell to the wayside. With power creep, it was essentially Khan's block with p9 and fows and duals for awhile.

Families, age, money, and nostalgia are why Vintage, in paper anyways, is slowly losing ppl to old school imo.

@nedleeds said in Is Old School killing paper Vintage?:

The second is a player base that is aging into responsibility and not being replaced by 20 somethings because of cost. I get far more "man I wish I could go to Eternal Weekend but my (spouse, kid, work) ...".
Cost of cards is absolutely a factor, but I'm surrounded by a dozen people with power (or double power) who won't make Eternal Weekend because they used their vacation up on weddings.

As an example of this, I'm looking at going to a GP that won't have Vintage sides to hang out with Magic friends rather than spending multiple days of time off in a more expensive city at Eternal Weekend.

@serracollector You used an interesting word in your post - elitism. I have heard players in Vintage and in Old School use that word to describe the format and the community.

I felt a certain amount of elitism from the MTGO crowd.

I sometimes wonder if there is some type of elitism in Vintage. It can feel that way sometimes.

Let me start off my long post here by stating that I have for a very long time felt that Old School killed Vintage, at least in my area. In 2015, we used to get 20 for Vintage at Extreme Games in Gurnee, IL - which is about an hour from Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI, and about an hour and a half from Madison, WI. And 20 was down from almost always hitting 30 or 40 back in 2009/2010. Unfortunately, @JACO is part of the Chicago Group, and during their weekly play sessions, they eventually realized they didn't want to drive an hour to play the same people in Vintage, and they just played at their Home Store. This eventually converted to just Old School. So, they killed vintage locally.

I'm wrong and I was an idiot to think that way. Old School caters to a significantly different segment of the population, that ties into what @nedleeds was saying about the player base. As we get married, have children, and have more intense careers, our free time is valued differently. I am skipping Eternal Weekend this year because I am going to be buying a house where I live in Madison, WI which is going to be a $250,000 commitment. I convinced my wife to allow me to go to one major travel-event this year, and that was SCG Con for me. However, while I enjoyed myself in that tournament, I find that I've started to really enjoy playing smaller magic events. Going to FNM and playing 4 rounds of modern, and then being home to my wife by 10:00 PM is great. Dedicating a full Saturday, or a full weekend even, to magic is not really feasible. IF I am going to dedicate that time, I want to make sure I enjoy the people I am with, and enjoy the game I am playing.

That's what Old School is. There's HUGE benefits to Old School, outside the nostalgia.

Pro's of Old School

  • Extremely chill environment. Everyone is imbibing, laughing, talking about bad beats, and just hanging out.
  • No pressure on 'winning'. You go into the event knowing you're not playing for EV.
  • Chaos Orb flips. Seriously, have you ever flipped this card?
  • Fun plays. Losing in Vintage on Turn 1 is like "seriously, what the fuck, nice "Mox Mox Mox Crypt Outcome Force Blue card hand, moron". Losing in Old School on Turn 1 is like "wow, that was sweet.". The most broken plays I encountered on Turn 1 are: Turn 1 Abyss. Turn 1 play a bunch of moxes and then Timetwister. Turn 1 Mind Twist for > 2. Turn 1 Serendib. And I have been turn 1 Fireball'ed for 20 ONCE in the times I've played.
  • Overall, the games feel much more balanced. You get to play old cards that are extremely powerful, but many of those cards aren't blowouts, so the game feels more like Magic.

Cons of Old School

  • There is no 'EV', so travelling to the event, you're not going to win money. (this is actually a pro, as you go with no expectations but to hang out and have a blast.)

And seriously, have you ever hung out with @Mith , @JACO , Ben Perry (The Librarian of Leng), @thepowernine , or any of the other guys at these events? Hell... the Chicago Lords of the Pit mostly HATE me, but they're a fucking blast for the most part. There's a dude I met from Tennessee that came to Madison in the winter for the Madison Offensive, and he was an awesome dude. There's a guy named Gus that moved to Madison recently, and is hugely interested in old school.

*** all this, and I haven't even mentioned the obvious that Vintage is somewhat a miserable format right now ***.

@13nova said in Is Old School killing paper Vintage?:

There is no 'EV', so travelling to the event, you're not going to win money. (this is actually a pro, as you go with no expectations but to hang out and have a blast.)

I'm going to exactly Eternal Weekend this year with the attitude of "I'm here to win." And given the state of Vintage, I think I'm likely not to do that even there--I'm there to have a good time, play a few good matches, and hang out with a fun crew.

I have no nostalgia for the format, so I don't love Old School (and there's an element of elitism about "only this version is allowed" in the format I don't love), but I would 100% agree I show up to events for the community, and a 5 round goof off win box is probably going to be a lot more fun for me than an entire weekend of Magic. I 100% see where you're coming from. I've dropped from tournaments after winning a match for top 8 because a football game is on, and I felt like I made the +EV play for my life, though not necessarily for my wallet.

The real hurdle you have to jump with Old School is getting used to everyone incessantly saying how special Old School is.

I play a variety of formats (mostly Vintage, 94, 95, and Middle School these days, with Modern and Legacy lagging far behind the past year or two). I enjoy playing different formats because they all offer different interactions, some overlap of cards used, and different things to enjoy. Rotating what you play and focus on helps ensure you never really tire of any of them, if you appreciate the differences between them. I have started organizing events based on this principle, and will continue to do so in the short term while it continues to interest me. Hopefully that mentality spreads.

  • Vintage is basically at all time highs the past couple of years. Compared to other formats, it is always going to be viewed as on life support, because of the ever increasing cost of the cards. This will not change, even with so much new lifeblood being injected by MTGO and the VSL the past few years. Some people will shift in, while others age out or focus on family (or sell off collections for a final time to buy a house).
  • Old School (and other similar retro formats) are growing in popularity for some of the same reasons that EDH/Commander is popular. Players don't have to pay attention to any real metagame to have fun, and they can jump in an out without much knowledge lost. The type of players that tend to gravitate towards these are also older, and enjoy their limited free time playing something they want to play, rather than just grind and compete. This is the difference between mature adults deriving enjoyment from beyond the more narrow scope of what the young grinder does.

There is almost zero chance of positive expected value (EV) of playing any type of Magic long term if you are focused on dollars and cashing checks. Opportunity cost/time, travel, food, and cards assure that it will always be costly beyond monetary return. The value comes in fun and enjoyment of playing, and casual formats translate to that much more directly than competitive formats for most people.

Its most certainly a contributing factor. As a TO we pray for 25 people, hope for 20 and expect 15. And this is at a very popular store in the heart of the NE meta. With that said, 2 things kill us more than anything else. Legacy is not one of them. Double booking a vintage event within a 3 hour radius or booking an old school event. When you are talking 20 people, losing even just 3 people is a 15% reduction. Show me another format or another game that can consistently take a 15% drop off and I'll show you a game that people are in a panic about having it fail.

Is it the only reason? No. Card prices, losing interest for players after 10-20 years of play prize support (related to card prices) all contribute. But we can directly measure old school's effect.

I feel that some of the biggest factors driving people away from vintage are WotC's departure from its old design philosophy. Recent cards tend to have banal art, titles and flavor texts compared to many of the older cards. Too many of the recent cards refer to some planeswalker. Too many titles are Jace's this, Liliana's that. Too many flavor texts are just: 'I'm planeswalker x, and I feel this way!' (e.g. Act on Impulse) Too many artworks are bad computer generated art depicting a planeswalker with smoke and sparks coming out of their orifices. How many Jace cards should there be? How many cards should refer to how 'badass' Liliana is? How many more planeswalkers are going to be bad parodies of comic book superheroes and villains? Corny pop culture stereotypes are replacing the cryptic intrigue and mystique of older cards. One of the aspects that I like about Magic's premise is imagining that my cards are my spells, and that I'm the one casting them. Ganging up on my opponent with imitation superhero buddies isn't appealing.

More importantly, many of the recent cards have boring mechanics that reduce player interaction. Look at Cavern of Souls: there are very few strategies that can interact with what is being 'summoned'. It's a dead end in terms of player interaction. If you use it to summon Thalia, Gaddock Teeg, Ethersworn Canonist, etc. turn 1, continue to pump out your taxing creatures and artifacts turn 2 and 3, you've locked your opponent out of the game.

Planeswalkers are another example: planeswalker abilities cannot be easily interacted with in a nuanced way when they are in play. You either attack them with your creatures, cast the select few removal/counter-trigger spells that apply to planeswalkers, or shut them down completely with Pithing Needle and the like. So many of the awesome old artifacts, counterspells, and removals need to be sidelined if you want to beat them consistently.

It's completely understandable that many people don't want to pit their cherished Magic cards against what are effectively Pokemon and Yugioh cards (not to disparage them). Playing 93/94 is not the most inclusive way to do this, but it's one way to get rid of bad design decisions that have been tacking onto Magic over the years. I personally would love to see a format that limits itself to all pre-modern sets.

last edited by Nower1990

@nower1990 said in Is Old School killing paper Vintage?:

Too many flavor texts are just: 'I'm planeswalker x, and I feel this way!' (e.g. Act on Impulse) Too many artworks are bad computer generated art depicting a planeswalker with smoke and sparks coming out of their orifices.

This was an incredibly amusing description.

To your post's conclusion, I remember a little while ago I was hoping this format would take off, because it's essentially what you're asking for!

last edited by Hrishi

Or this: (this is my site - shameless post right here)

Based on all of comments to this thread maybe Vintage should take page from Old School and hold more regional events with very small prize pool and the proceeds going mostly to charity.

The Old School events are getting more that 80 players and they are drawing players from all over the country. If there are issues getting a monthly event fired in local areas maybe do a yearly or bi-yearly event to get a better draw. If this was done on a regional level we could have more events with more people. The EV would be next to zero but there would be more paper Vintage played.

This is something I could get behind. I know some local card store owners would be down with this my area.

last edited by moorebrother1

@stuart I stand by my response in that thread: for me, prizes are irrelevant

@stuart It might just be regional start with smaller groups in the beginning similar to Old School too. These events did not start out at 80+ they grew and they grew fast.

Most people want to play the cards that they own with like minded people. I think if I could convince the local shop owner I know to do a yearly event and I think she would do it then we could draw 30 - 40 in the first year or two and grow it out from there.

Regionally, I know my area has Battle Creek, Cleveland, Toronto and Detroit. I think if a few others like your region does the same we could growth it out similar to Old School.

The people who want EV can play in a GP for all I care.

last edited by moorebrother1

@hrishi said in Is Old School killing paper Vintage?:

To your post's conclusion, I remember a little while ago I was hoping this format would take off, because it's essentially what you're asking for!

This is what I want. Sadly it doesn't seem to have any following, since even the facebook link is dead. Nothing turns up on google.

@moorebrother1 said in Is Old School killing paper Vintage?:

This might be for you

This seems interesting. I might miss Brainstorm and FoW but I'll give it a try.

Regarding prizes, what motivates Old School players may not be very similar to what motivates Vintage players. There is a big overlap between the formats, but I get the impression that Old School has a more relaxed vibe than Vintage. People might be inclined to attend Old School events for small prizes just to be part of the event. But for Vintage, you might need unique and/or higher-value prizes (like alternate art cards) to overcome the opportunity cost of having to travel, spend money, and so on, to get to an event, when players can instead play MTGO or XMage almost for free at home.

Old School also has that card flipping aspect that requires players to use physical cards, whereas the gameplay aspect of Vintage has been comprehensively programmed for the computer.

@nower1990 I find the idea that there has to value kind of ridiculous. If paper events are only at the BIG scale then you have 4 of them a year like we have now with 100 - 120 and Eternal Weekend being the BIG one in the US anyway.

If we copy the Old School model then we get 30 - 50 person events regionally about once every other month and if it goes well once a month for regions like East coast, Midwest, Central, Southwest, and West coast.

Is this easy to do - no. The way I see if people are sitting on cards and want to play them then this will be the model unless paper is only a 4 event cycle in the US.

last edited by moorebrother1
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