Trivia Contest | Unfinity
3, Jul, 23

MTG Extra Decks Could Be Going Extinct

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Within Magic: the Gathering, it is a widely understood truth that players have a lot of decks. This isn’t just thanks to the myriad formats in the game, but also the inherently customizable and personal nature of Magic. Through this, it’s not uncommon for MTG players to have half a dozen different Commander decks alone! 

Regardless of which format you play, having numerous decks is part of the fun in MTG. Apparently, however, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. That appears to be the conclusion, at least, following a recent discussion on Blogatog. Despite the potential for fun, it seems additional decks in MTG aren’t universally beloved. So much so, in fact, that this card type could be going extinct!

A Long Struggle for No Success

Incite Insight
Incite Insight | Unstable

Technically, supplemental, or additional, decks have had a long history in MTG. After all, they were first introduced, or rather teased, all the way back in 2007. Appearing on Steamflogger Boss from Future Sight, this timeshifted card revealed the existence of Contraptions. Unlike the similar teased Planeswalker card type, however, Contraptions would take a decade to see the light of day. 

Before Contraptions could release in Unstable, Wizards went ahead and released the first supplemental deck mechanic in 2009. Exclusively played in the format of the same name, this mechanic, Planechase, presented a huge spike in logistical complexity. Mandating MTG players bring an additional deck containing ten Planechase cards, this mechanic was hardly a smash hit. Saying that, however, it was nonetheless appealing enough to recently make a triumphant return. 

While Planechase was no otherworldly success, it was hardly the only extra deck mechanic Wizards has produced. After all, as we teased earlier, Wizards eventually released Contraptions in 2017’s Unstable. Similarly to Planechase cards, this new mechanic had its very own deck which made finding games using these cards difficult. For Contraptions, this problem was exacerbated even more since it was a silver-bordered non-eternal legal mechanic. 

Identifying that detail may have been a major problem, Wizards would try again with supplemental decks in 2022. Releasing not just one, but two different mechanics with extra decks, Unfinity was another monumental complexity spike. Unsurprisingly, considering the reaction to past Un-Sets and recent controversial developments, this didn’t go down well. 

Extensively criticized by many MTG players, it seemed the appeal of Attractions and Stickers disappeared almost instantly. Sure, decks using these mechanics did see some fringe Legacy play, however, that didn’t mean players loved them. In fact, it seemed the opposite was true, with many players wishing they wouldn’t return.

The Death of Extra Decks

The Most Dangerous Gamer
The Most Dangerous Gamer | Unfinity

Thanks to Unfinity underperforming, it seemed disgruntled MTG players would get their wish. As, following comments made online by MTG’s Lead Designer, it appears there’s no guarantee another Un-set will be made. In theory, this should spell the end of supplemental deck mechanics, since they’re usually exclusive to Un-Sets. For better or worse, however, this may not be the case. 

Considering they can be a lot of fun, somewhat understandably, not every MTG player was happy to sit idly by and watch this mechanic die. Subsequently, some players such Nottheomen reached out to Mark Rosewater via Blogatog in the hopes of finding out about the mechanics’ future. Unfortunately for Nottheomen, however, despite asking if MTG would get “another legal side dech mechanic,” Rosewater didn’t provide a proper answer.

Instead of revealing an insightful glimpse into the future, as they often do, Rosewater instead turned the question back around on the community. Asking in return if Blogatog readers would like to see more supplemental decks, Rosewater collected some all-important community feedback. Unfortunately once again for Nottheomen, however, the feedback that Rosewater received was far from positive. 

While it’s important to note that there weren’t a huge number of responses, most MTG players nevertheless wanted extra decks gone. To achieve this, several players such as Llanowarminotaur stated Wizards should “keep this stuff in Acorn.” Explaining this stance a little bit more, players like Coatsville claimed “It increases the complexity more than it’s worth.” 

While there were many players who enjoy the interactions and design space of Attractions, Contraptions, and Stickers, there’s no denying the complexity creep. The more of these mechanics that get created, the harder it will be to just sit down and play Magic. Subsequently, as Dndryan suggests, it may be better to expand existing mechanics, not create new ones. 

“I think adding onto the mechanic of attractions would be fun, but adding even ANOTHER side deck to legal magic is where I would personally cross the line, sideboard and attractions are enough!”


A Glimmer of Hope

Inkling Summoning | Strixhaven: School of Mages
Inkling Summoning | Strixhaven: School of Mages

Thankfully, while supplemental decks may not be everyone’s favorite mechanic, there is a more enticing alternative. Pointed out by several users across Tumblr the sideboard already exists, and it may be the perfect extra deck. In theory, using the sideboard as an extra deck is not a new concept at all. Even cards that tutor from the sideboard have existed since as early as Judgement in 2002! Despite this, however, much of the design space is untapped. 

To change this, Wizards created the Learn mechanic for Strixhaven: School of Mages. Allowing an easy way to utilize the sideboard, this mechanic expanded the deckbuilding possibilities in interesting, novel, yet unobtrusive ways. Despite this, however, the 2021 mechanic hasn’t returned since, leaving the sideboard currently untapped in formats such as Standard. While this may not be the worst thing in the world, it’s clearly some desire for extra decks in MTG, even if it’s far from universal. 

Read More: MTG Players Don’t Have High Hopes For Upcoming Reprint Set

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