2013 was a great year in Magic: The Gathering for the most part. With the game becoming more popular than ever, and the continuing of the Ravnica block, the game wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the year.
One Small set for Spring, 3 Big sets for the rest:
The Return to Ravnica block format was set up to have 2 large sets followed by a small set. Wizards is still trying to figure out the correct format for how they want to release set sizes, with a variation of Big-Big-Small and Big-Small-Big (as seen in Innistrad Block). For the winter, we get Gatecrash which continued our Ravnica story and introduced the Boros, Dimir, Gruul, Simic, and Orzhov Guilds. Each guild had their own mechanic which resulted in some winners (Bloodrush) and massive failures (Cipher). The addition of new Planeswalker Domri Rade also made GR a viable deck for standard.
Next came Dragon’s Maze, a smaller set that mixed all 10 mechanics from both previous sets and added the Fuse mechanic to split cards that were in the set. This set concluded the Return to Ravnica story and introduced 10 guild champions that ended up doing nothing in standard (Valroz being the exception).
Summer brought us back to the core with the reintroduction of Slivers to the game. The new slivers were updated to only affect the controlling player’s slivers and gave sliver fans everywhere more choices for their decks. The bigger news though, was the reprint of Scavenging Ooze and Mutavault, allowing newer player to get their hands on them at reasonable prices.
Finally, Fall brought us the release of a new set and a new Standard rotation. Theros, themed from ancient Greece, brought new mechanics to the game. Bestow, Heroic, Devotion, and Monstrosity filled the set with Devotion being the breakout mechanic so far. This rotation shifted a Multicolored heavy Standard format from earlier this year to a more mostly mono color format featuring tournament winning mono blue and mono black decks. Another popular reprint, Thoughtsieze, was brought back in this set as well.
What’s in a name?
Gatecrash. Dragon’s Maze. 2013 was a bad year for set names, giving a great block names that seem like 3rd of 4th choices (it’s not like Return to Ravnica was much better on the creative side). Fortunately Theros and its follow up sets are much better in the aspect. Dragon’s Maze new split cards added to a long list of split card names with additions such as Far and Away and Turn and Burn. The Commander set added Widespread Panic to the list of card names (for those who weren’t aware, Widespread Panic is a rock jam band). Pinocchio inspired (at least I’d like to think so) Colossal Whale exiles creatures when it attacks until it returns to play. Little things like these keep the game fun.
2013 was not only a great year for Magic game wise but also brought 2 attendance record breaking events. First, Grand Prix Charlotte (Gatecrash Sealed) in February brought in a total 2,672 players for the event, making it the largest event in Magic history. This record was quick broken, though, a few months later with Grand Prix Las Vegas (Modern Masters Sealed). The Las Vegas event had to be capped at 4500 players which was reached before the event and will not likely be outdone anytime soon. Other Grand Prixes throughout the year were also in high attendance with over 1,000 in attendance becoming the norm. With events going too long, changes will be implemented to help events start on time, including cutting Saturday registration for events.
There was a lot happening in the Magic community and within the game in 2013 as well. Rules changes, sites shut down, and Selesnya fans got a unpleasant surprise in their maze runner. Here were some big headlines we caught throughout the year.
Emmara Tandris – In what started as a simple thing, the slow reveal of each of the Ravnica Guild’s Maze Runner, turned into a big controversy upon reveal of the final one, Emmara Tandris. Leading up to Dragon’s Maze we got a taste of the other maze runners, with only the Selesnya one left. People were speculating that they were saving the best runner for last (as the rest have been a bit lackluster), and once Emmara Tandris was the internet was in an uproar. Emmara was easily the worst of the maze runners. A bit more research based on her art and the elemental token for Dragon’s Maze lead people to find out that she was switched with Voice of Resurgence, the best card in the set. This eventually led to Mark Rosewater providing an explanation of the situation, this hopefully ending the biggest non important controversy of the year.
Cockatrice Shuts Down – Cockatrice, a free program that lets players play Magic online had it’s major servers shut down earlier this year by a pending lawsuit from Wizards of the Coast. While new servers came up and there are plenty of other programs for playing online, this cause quite a stir among players at the time. This could be seen as the beginning of wider crackdowns on free Magic programs.
Brian Kibler and MTGO – What started as a tweet, and then a post on Star City, turned into the shut down of daily events on Magic Online in November. Brian was playing in a high profile event before some errors with Magic Online disconnected him and caused problems for him near the end of the event. This incident was what finally put MTGO over the edge while Wizards decided to work on a way to fix it. The Magic Online secondary market was hit with prices dropping on cards, while many online grinders were left without events to play in. Kibler, being one of the faces of competitive Magic had the power to get the right attention to the people who needed to know about this.
Legends of the Fall – Earlier in the year, Wizards stated, that starting with M14, there will be a change in the Legend Rule. This announcement allowed each player to control the same Legendary permanent and if they controlled two of the same legend on their side, they can choose to get rid of one and keep the other. This was seen as a preface to the new Legendary cards coming from Theros in September. While the effect of this rule in Standard wasn’t major, in other formats cards like Gaea’s Cradle and Mox Opal became better.
With 2013 almost finished, we see that Magic ended the year stronger than ever and 2014 should continue that trend. With the new Grand Prix Schedule announced with higher payouts and the Star City Circuit also growing with a year end Championships tournament, there shouldn’t be a weekend without Magic going on. Will the rest of the Theros block keep going strong? Will the new fall set add some new excitement to standard? Will M15, bring back a fun mechanic from the past (crossing fingers for Buyback)? We will keep a track of things throughout the new year and keep you posted. What was your Magic highlight of last year?