Future MTG stickers may permanently alter maps

Since their reveal in mid-July, the stickers have been one of the most controversial additions to MTG in recent memory. Players feared not only the mechanical implications of the stickers, but also the physical damage they could cause. Come when Unfinity released in early October, and players found that Wizards did their best to make sure the stickers weren’t destructive. Rather than leaving the cards covered in a sticky residue, the Unfinity stickers would barely stay on their own sticker sheet. While there were a few isolated incidents of destruction, for the most part concerns about the stickers were seriously premature. Despite the initial backlash, Unfinity may not be the last time MTG players are forced to play with stickers. For better or worse, future stickers might even be much stickier to permanently alter maps.

A new legacy

Regent of Murktide | Modern Horizons 2

As soon as you first hear about it, you might find the idea of ​​permanently altering your Magic cards completely outlandish. Not only would this process potentially damage the cards and make them hard to sell, but mechanically it’s quite a leap. Surprisingly, though, it’s a concept that’s not entirely new to the world of tabletop games. In fact, these evolving and constantly evolving types of games, known as Legacy games, have been around since 2011. Launched by game designer Rob Daviau, the first Legacy game was a variant of Risk, aptly titled Risk Legacy . In this game, the game board was permanently changed each time you played, and new rules could even be added. Risk Legacy also had little mechs, which is just cool.

Unlike traditional tabletop games, Legacy games take place over the course of a campaign, much like Dungeons & Dragons role-playing. This provides players with a more unique, mechanically complex, and story-rich experience throughout the campaign. This new and somewhat novel innovation in tabletop gaming has also been rarely tested by MTG’s R&D teams. Appearing at the hackathons, Magic lead designer Mark Rosewater attests that “we tried a version of Legacy Magic where the cards are glued and change permanently for future games.”

For better or worse, it’s unclear exactly why or when Studio X tested this new take on stickers in MTG. While great for creating a campaign experience for players to enjoy, today’s MTG formats obviously don’t need this Legacy mechanic. Regardless of the possibilities it offered, it seems those exceptionally sticky Legacy stickers aren’t something players need worry about. Ultimately, the main iteration of Legacy Stickers was dropped during the hackathon. As Rosewater explains, “We did some market research, and players were pretty adamant about not wanting to ‘permanently damage’ cards.”

A lasting legacy

Cryptic Arrows
Cryptic Arrows | Dual Masters 2022

Since Legacy stickers never made it past market research, it may seem like they’re destined never to return. Surprisingly, though, Magic: the Gathering already has its first tournament-legal Legacy card. Debut in Double Masters 2022, Cryptic Arrows mandates that players must physically draw on before a match. Proving that the two-color fixation that enters the battlefield is engaged, Cryptic Spires isn’t exactly good. However, it is no less useful. Tailored to the limited draft environment of Double Masters 2022, Cryptic Spiers allowed players to always write relevant patches. This was vital for Double Masters 2022 as it had ten three-color archetypes in the draft, essentially imposing complex manabases.

Quickly dubbed “doodle lands” by Reddit users, Cryptic Spiers would prove to be a remarkably effective repair. Since it was a common card in every sense of the word, MTG players didn’t have huge reservations about its physical marking. Unlike the permanent Legacy stickers on offer, Cryptic Spires did not require players to mark cards hard. This made it possible to change Cryptic Spires if players wanted to use it in their constructed decks for some reason.

On its own, Cryptic Spiers is relatively harmless and harmless. However, its ramifications for the future of Magic might not be. After its appearance in Double Masters 2022, it’s entirely possible to see this Legacy-Esque card marking again. After receiving some positivity towards the Legacy cards, Mark Rosewater revealed that “we’re dipping our toes into it with things like Crystal Spires”. Rosewater also reminded players that “it tested badly”, however, Crystal Spiers can nonetheless lead to bigger and better things.

Not the first time

Whereas Cryptic Arrows is the first tournament legal Legacy-Esque card, it is not the first Legacy MTG card. Rather, this dubious honor goes to inspiring antelope. Inspirational Antelope debuted as a test card in 2019’s Mystery Booster, featuring the literal Legacy keyword mechanic. Playable only in Draft, Inspirational Antelope required players to physically write a keyword or keyword ability which then determines the card’s effect. Despite an ambiguous “before the game starts” statement, the official rules explain that “once you write a word for a wordless heirloom ability, you cannot change it, even between games. It always makes part of this physical map.

Gold mine also features the Legacy mechanic and functions similarly to Cryptic Spiers, although the changes are permanent. While it’s understandable that MTG players might have reservations about having their maps permanently changed, they show the power of permanent stickers. Specifically, in Draft events, Legacy cards can support all Draft archetypes simultaneously, giving players more freedom during Draft. Similar to the Mystery Booster test cards, these cards don’t have to be playable in Constructed formats. If not strictly limited to Constructed play, Wizards could easily balance Legacy cards so they are not playable in Constructed formats.

Collectible riddle

If you ask me, it’s a fascinating opportunity, as is the rebalancing of Alchemy in Draft. However, there are serious concerns. As Tumblr user Winterwrap noted, “having permanent stickers could be very problematic for this collecting aspect of the game.” Winterwrap went on to state that “cards like Cryptic Spiers are good because they only create ten versions for collection purposes, and they never reach a state of uselessness that would require repeatedly buying more than copies of the cards if you wanted to continue playing with them,” However, there is obviously an underlying problem.

should wizards do good Legacy cards, collecting them can be a nightmare. In the secondary market, MTG players might worry about the original card owner’s sticker placement or handwriting. Unmodified cards can also become exceptionally expensive, making the card financially unviable to play in Draft. For this reason, we begrudgingly hope that Wizards won’t randomly introduce Legacy cards into the constructed deck.

Read more: MTG Meme causes a 3000% increase in the controversial card!

About Chris C. Hairston

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