What’s going to happen to paper Magic?
The current worldwide situation has put a lot of social events on hold. The world is currently beginning to get back into motion after a period of standstill. Covid-19 has changed how we view public events and gatherings. However, no matter if you’re a deadly disease or not, you will not stop us from playing Magic: the Gathering with our friends! Many players have flocked, with webcams, to Skype to organize Magic games with friends or have continued to play Magic: the Gathering Online or Magic: the Gathering Arena unfazed by the change to how we play with friends in social environments. This does leave a question about the future of paper events and how they have changed due to the virus. I’m sure many have pondered on the future of paper Magic. So, here is what I believe will happen and how badly I believe paper Magic has been affected by the Coronavirus.
Of course, it is more vital than ever that we support our Local Game Shops. It is here we were introduced to Magic, attend FNM tournaments, and buy our accessories and cards. With most of these shops being independent, we must show our support by buying from them over online retailers to keep their doors open ready for the return of paper events! Currently, there is a stigma surrounding social and public meetups in fears of spreading or catching the Coronavirus. The future of meeting up for paper events is unknown but for now, we must support our LGS to make sure we can attend FNM once the time comes. Of course, Wizards has implemented the FNM at Home events on Magic Arena, which in turn enables some sort of support for our LGS’s and feeling of participating in FNM. But we all know it’s not the same. I have seen a possible future for how we could be conducting paper Magic events. My Local Game Shop, which is already operating on shorter business hours, has installed 1V1 sized tables with protective plastic screens, socially distanced table placement, and limited seating capacity for the protection of the players. Of course, this is great for players looking to participate in Standard or Modern events but what does this mean for players looking to play a pod of Commander? Would you have to section of a floor or a corner of the shop for 4 players or a certain amount of pods to play? Would you have to phone to book a table for you and your group? These are all questions that would need to answer in due time, however, I believe a booking system for both casual and competitive events would make events easier to manage.
As a Pioneer player, the lack of paper tournaments to test and keep the meta healthy has damaged the newly created format. Therefore, without being to test what decks work in Pioneer has effected its chance to grow and adapt as a format as it was originally intended. This is a shame because I was very hyped for the release of a new format as I saw so many decks being given the potential they deserved. With no competitive tournaments to test how these decks perform and no way for the meta to adapt to changes and dominating decks and archetypes, the format is currently becoming a bit stagnated. I am hoping that the recent banning of several problem decks has invigorated people’s attention again. Outside of being tournaments, GPs are also massive social events, also similar in scale to something like ComiCon, where people meet up to celebrate the game that they love to play by attending side events, check out sellers and traders, and get to meet their favorite MTG personality. With these events on hold as well, the future of paper magic is uncertain. It is good to note that there have not been any means to replicate GPs online virtually. There is still hope for their triumphant return once lockdown restrictions are loosened and lifted.
Like many of my friends, I miss being able to go to a pub, order a couple of drinks, and have a few nice causal games of EDH. It was filled will banter and memorable moments that just cannot be replicated through Skype. I’m sure that this will soon return with the reopening of pubs. I see this as a great placeholder for being able to meet up and play Magic in person for the time being.
I think that paper Magic and paper events are going nowhere. They are simply on hold and their future is just being questioned due to the attention Arena has garnered during the lockdown. I miss the social aspects of Magic: the Gathering and being able to meet up with friends either at an FNM or for drinks with a couple of decks and see who can come out on top. I do not think paper events will return by the end of the year as the virus is still unknown and deadly to catch. As much as I wish they would I’m not sure now is the time. What do you guys think? Do you think paper Magic will return soon? Do you miss being able to meet up with friends and attending FNM? Tell me in the comments below your feelings.