The Meathook Massacre | Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
6, Jul, 22

Historic Nerfs Have Players up in Arms

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Article at a Glance

Wizards of the Coast have just nerfed many deck-defining cards in Historic. In a move that utilizes MTG Arena’s greatest strength, players should be excited about a more diverse Historic meta. For most players, however, the opposite is true; they’re furious. 

Arena’s Not Like Other Games

As a vague parallel to paper Magic, MTG Arena isn’t like other games. In the wider gaming world, it’s not uncommon for a feature to be changed and nerf. Whether a character’s skills are tweaked, or a gun is made less powerful, nerfs aren’t uncommon. Even intensely competitive games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive occasionally change up one of gaming’s most iconic maps, de_dust2.

Players often aren’t happy about many of the nerfs that take place. However, their scorn is nothing compared to that of a Magic player. In MTG Arena, the cards you draft and craft are treated as an investment. Once you craft a card, you expect to be able to use it for as long as you want until it’s banned. If it is banned, Wizards of the Coast will mercifully refund you the wildcard you spent. 

The same is not the case for cards getting nerfed, however. Players who spent their hard-earned wildcards get nothing when a card in MTG Arena gets nerfed. This is the case no matter how severe the nerf is. A-Cauldron Familiar, for example, can no longer block. This massively nullifies one of its primary abilities, shutting down creature combat. 

Since the nerfs aren’t yet in the game, the broader ramifications of this change are yet to be seen. If Cauldron Familiar is completely ousted from Historic, players will see no reparations. This may not be the most significant issue since Cauldron Familiar is only an uncommon; however, A-The Meathook Massacre also received a considerable nerf. As a mythic rarity card, this is a huge problem, and it’s one that Wizards knows about. Mythic Wildcards are so hard to get that Wizards has previously sold a Wildcard Bundle and Mythic packs. 

The problems with A-Cauldron Familiar extend beyond it just being an uncommon, however. Thanks to Cauldron Familiar being a core component of Jund Food and Rakdos Sacrifice decks, multiple supporting rares, and mythics may now be made useless. While this is not an isolated issue, with bans causing the same effect, it should still be addressed as, in Arena, there’s no way to trade away your unwanted cards.

It’s Nerf or Nothing

This has left scores of MTG Arena players understandably upset. Taking to Reddit, many players have been lamenting the Historic nerfs. Not because of their change to the meta, however, but instead for what they stand for. At the time of writing, five of the six top posts on the Magic Arena subreddit are about the nerfs.

Despite my love for MTG Arena’s digital possibilities and the immeasurable time I’ve spent in the broader gaming world, I’m inclined to side with the aggrieved fans. With how predatory and troubled MTG Arena’s economy is, it’s simply not fair that players don’t receive compensation when a card gets nerfed. Literally, anything would be better than what Wizards is doing now.

For example, Wizards could give players the chance to refund nerfed cards in Wildcards once the changes are implemented. Even if Wildcards are returned at a reduced, this would still be better than having a useless pile of unplayable mythics and rares. MTG Arena’s competition, Hearthstone, has already utilized this approach extensively. In Hearthstone, players receive a quarter of a card’s Dust cost when disenchanting(getting rid of their cards). Alternatively, Wizards could introduce a new Historic format that doesn’t nerf non-Alchemy cards. This is something that’s even being asked for over on Reddit. 

Whatever Wizards decide to do, if they do indeed do anything, we can only hope it happens soon. The more cards that are nerfed before changes are implemented, the greater the risk to MTG Arena’s sustained future. A game can’t exist without players, after all. 

Just the Tip of the Iceberg

The issue with Wildcards is far from the end of Arena’s problems. We’re already discussed how Magic: the Gathering is having an identity crisis, and this wave of nerfs will make the problem so much worse. With cards in Standard being given new nerfed counterparts, many players will likely find themselves getting tripped up. 

Given how prevalent The Meathook Massacre is in both Historic and Standard, we expect to see plenty of players caught out by the change. We’ll have to assume that’s what’s going on anyway, as we still can’t talk to our opponents in Arena. 

Read More: Is the Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate Mastery Pass Worth Buying?

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