FNM Part 2: Standard Boogaloo

Ian O'Brien
In response to yesterday's blog post, a lot of people have (with good reason) asked questions about the wisdom of running two standard events on the same night. Rather than answer the question ad infinitum, I thought I'd write another quick post about it here. This is a stream-of-consciousness post so apologies if any of it reads less than perfectly!

We are part of a wider group of WPN stores in the UK that, along with WotC's Organised Play guys, discuss the topic of Magic - events, formats, growth, and more - on a daily basis. We discuss where Magic is going, how stores are doing, national trends in players, what is working for stores and what is not. It is an invaluable feedback tool and helps a lot with decisions making when parallels can be drawn between other playgroups and communities.

One of the things that is most often discussed is the matter of new players. How do we grow the game? How do we ensure that we attract new people to the hobby and make them want to play? Without new players, the game will die, so this is very important to any community. There are many answers but some of them are overwhelmingly common, particularly these ones:

*new players might not be able to, or be ready to, build complete decks - for reasons of time, money, investment, and so on
*new players often do not feel ready to compete in a "tournament" - even an FNM level tournament
*new players want to play with other new players

Now, as much as we (that's me, and Ritchie, and you guys - our locals) are always happy to educate new players in the ways of the rules, deckbuilding, play ability and more, we have to accept that that is not always what people want, and it is also not always what they need. Sometimes new players simply want to play a fun event with their current peers. They may be interested in learning how to play what I've been terming "full fat" Magic, or they may not; that choice is up to them, and therefore JustPlay should support it.

Whilst on the surface it may seem that two Standard events on the same night may conflict, they really should not. These events may have the same format but the players they are aimed at are (for the most part) players with different goals. Also, consider the advantage for new players who are playing Standard alongside experienced players; they can see awesome full-fat standard decks in action first before having to commit the resources to build one. As a new player, you can watch a game, pick up tips from experienced players, and chat Magic with them. You might not get this if the non-standard format is Modern; people look at a whole plethora of cards they don't know, or are never planning to own, and switch off.

To summarise, what we're trying to do with our new player Standard events is to give newer players, inexperienced players, or simply players who want to "try before they buy" a chance to do that in a tournament with a lower overall barrier to entry. As a new player, you can grab a free intro deck or two and join in the event. You can play with your Magic league deck. You can play with whatever you want. 

Of course, our hope is that everyone wants to start playing in more and more awesome premiere Magic events, and playing in "full fat" Friday Night Magic, but having somewhere to start is always helpful. And the choice is there for new players. That's what's important here; we are offering a choice, and that should in no way impact one event or the other.


After player feedback from our post yesterday, we've also decided to switch our bi-weekly eternal rotation from legacy to modern. This means that we will now be alternating Modern and Standard every week (alongside new player Standard, every week) with Legacy temporarily out of the rotation until we figure where to put it.

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