Is Old School killing paper Vintage?

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: https://ancientmtgdecks.blogspot.com/ (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?:

@nower1990 http://premodernmagic.com/
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

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

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.

I dunno, I've run an annual full-proxy charity Vintage event the last two years with a small prize pool in an area that doesn't get a ton of Vintage events, and haven't broken the 20 player mark either time. I really marketed the hell out of it this year too, so I don't know that what you're describing is the solution.

@revengeanceful Then, maybe it just me that wants a change. From my feedback in other posts a lot players like just playing on MTGO.

But, the feedback in this post says that there is audience for paper that wants something like the Old School event model.

Not sure how to fit that square peg into that round hole but I feel like something needs to happen. I do not think Star City Games will keep feeding the beast with only 120 person turnout for full power.

The NYSC was cancelled and my local event is not breaking 16 anymore. People are very sick of the format right now and it is showing in the turnout for paper. The Vintage league on online usually is about 100 people and the challenges draw about 50 or so per week.

If I could figure out a way to get one event in my region per year and convince the guys in Cleveland to do one then that would be 2 regional events. Then, maybe the Battle Creek guys do one too. This is similar to the number of Old School events my my area. It might work.

I don't care about prize support but:

  • If I am paying a substantial fee to play, then I expect there to be support. Renting space is expensive and it all compounds on itself

  • I won't endure the expense of substantial travel (requiring hotel and likely airfare) for a small event or for no added incentive

  • The added incentive of title was always the big draw for me at eternal weekend. Winning the title of world champion is worth so much more than credit, art, or cards

I would say that Old School might have some influence on turnout, but I think calling it the reason is not accurate. I think that many people are just not as interested because the meta is not interesting anymore (for some - like me). I expect that will not always be true. These things shift all the time. In the interim, I'd rather spend my time on a format that I enjoy more at the moment.

In a sense, I may have gotten out of Vintage had it not been for Old School. I've certainly been tempted to sell out with the crazy price spikes of the last few years but my love for Old School has kept my cards in my hands. I know part of that spike is due to Old School in the first place, but if I hadn't picked it up myself, I'd be far more tempted to cash out.

I think the allure for many Vintage players was a stagnant metagame and the opportunity to play with cards of their youth, or familiar cards of duration.

The sets of the last 3+ years have been so powerful, that almost every other set, some Vintage stalwart is being pushed out by a newer, less familiar card. It's a changing of the guard. Just look at some of the most powerful cards in decks right now: PO, Inspector, Mentor, Hangarback, Ballista, Hollow One. That's a lot of old frame cards being replaced by new frames.

For some players, the new and exciting cards are interesting and inspiring.
For other players, seeing a card like Triskelion or Mana Drain become obsolete is upsetting. That portion of the metagame (for now) has gone to Old School.

last edited by joshuabrooks

@serracollector I agree that Old School can be extremely budget. I played MonoBlack with a borrowed CE Mox Jet at the Madison Offensiven(58 players I think) and won, and at the time the deck probably cost about 50 dollars. The entire deck could be bought in 4th editoon, other than Sol Ring, Hymns, and Order of the Ebon Hand.

@moorebrother1 a group of us just started playing vintage again after a LONG hiatus. I'm fortunate to live in the general pittsburgh area and will be able to attend EW this year. Beyond that are there any other regional type events like you described in this area throughout the year? Thanks!

@ebgmtg Not really, there is the The Mana Drain Open (Waterbury) in Connecticut, NYSC in New York, and Eternal Weekend. This year Star City did a power nine tournament in Roanoke, VA but we do not know if it will continue.

I am going to speak with some people in my local area and try to plan at least start a yearly regional event. There was an event at RIW Hobbies where we normally play for a Time Walk in June and that event only drew in 26 people.

I want to get at least 30 to 40 but I guess if I could get that group of 26 to play in a small EV event with prizes like playmats and a trophy it would be a start.

last edited by moorebrother1
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