27, Oct, 23

Doctor Who Creates Massive Rift in MTG Format!

Article at a Glance

Legacy has been in a rather unique position in MTG for quite some time. Thanks to the format utilizing the entire 30-year card pool, this format moves slowly but is very expensive to get into. After buying all the relevant pieces, however, the format is surprisingly cheap to keep up with. 

Thankfully, while Legacy is by no means cheap, it is a lot less expensive on Magic Online. This is largely thanks to the fact that, online, you don’t have to drop a few thousand dollars on a single playset of lands. This difference is typified by the aptly named Lands deck, which is incredibly popular in the format. 

On paper, this deck can easily set you back over $9000, thanks to Reserved List lands like [tooltips]The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale[/tooltips]. Thankfully, on Magic Online, purchasing this deck will only set you back around $417. With this in mind, it’s no wonder MTG players quite like Legacy on Magic Online. 

While this price is a very compelling factor, unfortunately, there is a problem with playing Legacy online. Thanks to missing cards, Legacy on Magic Online is almost a completely different format compared to its paper counterpart. Obviously, this is quite a big problem, and sadly, it’s only getting worse. 

Doctor Who is Not Digital

As if the lower prices weren’t tempting enough, a major draw of Magic Online, and MTG Arena for that matter, is convenience. Able to play as much and whenever you want, these clients are great for preparing for tournaments, and improving your skills. After all, getting good at a game as complex as MTG requires repetition, and there’s no better place to get some games in than online.

As much as MTG Arena has its strengths, Magic Online is the home of high-level online events. The competition is incredibly steep, with many of the best players in the world being constantly active. Boasting all the formats you’d need, and plenty of firing events, Magic Online is a haven for competitive MTG players. 

Allegedly, while Magic Online is the competitive frontrunner, it curiously has some of MTG Arena’s problems. Just like Explorer and Pioneer on Arena, Magic Online is missing some cards which make a huge difference within formats. This is largely seen in Legacy, thanks to the missing Commander sets which don’t always see a Magic Online release. 

As anyone familiar with Explorer will know, this can cause huge problems. Without every powerful staple and answer available to players, the metagame quickly diverges, making competitive testing unviable. Considering what we said about Magic Online’s competitive strength mere moments ago. This is obviously a problem. 

While Legacy on Magic Online hasn’t been too terribly affected by this problem so far, unfortunately, it’s about to get a lot worse. On the 26th of October, it was announced that the recently released Doctor Who Commander decks weren’t coming to Magic Online. While updates were promised if needed, this is unsurprisingly a major problem for Legacy fans. 

“I like that the universes beyond stuff brings in new players, but not being able to play real legacy on modo is a huge bummer”


It Doesn’t Stop There

For better or worse, the Doctor Who cards aren’t the only ones missing from Magic Online. The cards from last year’s Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks, for instance, are also unavailable on Magic Online. Allegedly, this is due to licensing issues, which prevent individual cards from appearing digitally.

While it hasn’t been explicitly stated, there is a possibility that the same issue has caused the Doctor Who decks’ digital disappearance. Thankfully, however, there is a glimmer of hope, that might just save the day for hopeful Legacy players. 

While the majority of paper-exclusive Commander cards don’t make an impact on Legacy, Daybreak Games does pay attention. Keeping a keen eye on format-warping cards, the Magic Online developers have a proven track record of trying to shore up differences when they appear. This was most recently demonstrated with [tooltips]Creative Technique[/tooltips]. 

Creative Technique is a rather unassuming five-mana Sorcery that created an entire archetype in the Legacy format. This deck, named Mississippi River, aims to resolve either a Cascade spell or Creative Technique to, essentially, cast their entire library in one turn. Using multiple lands that tap for two mana, the goal is to generally take two turns off and try to win the game on the third one.

For a while, this archetype was simply only viable on paper, since Magic Online simply didn’t have Creative Technique. Fortunately, Daybreak Games resolved this discrepancy, adding the card, alongside others, to sure up the differences between paper and online Legacy. 

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The LOTR Holiday Release is Next!

Unfortunately, as if the Doctor Who Commander decks weren’t enough of a problem, things may get even worse later this year… The upcoming Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Holiday Edition is releasing in November. This set also offers a collection of new cards for players to enjoy, but they all have the Commander legality, making them only legal in Commander, Legacy, and Vintage.

Out of the cards we’ve seen so far, Legolas’s Quick Reflexes looks to be an incredibly interesting option for Legacy players to experiment with. Should this card not be introduced to Magic Online, it would be a real travesty. Considering the track record for getting Universes Beyond Commander cards online is not great, players are already beginning to worry that this is a real concern. 

Fortunately, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Commander decks actually did make their way onto Magic Online, as did the Commander decks in Commander Masters. This is to say that, while some Commander releases are missed, others are not.

Hopefully, the rift between Magic Online’s Legacy card pool and the Paper Legacy card pool can be fixed. That said, Daybreak Games is still doing a fantastic job leveling up the ancient Magic platform, and I would recommend the client to anyone trying to cut their teeth in competitive Magic.

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