With many MTG cards being rather expensive, to say the least, purposefully damaging cards might seem absolutely ludicrous. No matter how much you hate playing against it, destroying a Sheoldred, the Apocalypse essentially throws $50 down the drain, after all. Despite the inherent cost of MTG, however, the threat of destroying cards has been thrown around quite a lot recently. This is thanks to the seemingly endless controversy that Magic: the Gathering has been embroiled in as of late. Following 30th Anniversary Edition packs being given out, for instance, several players destroyed packs to protest the set’s release. Recently, however, MTG players have been asking for cards that have to be destroyed on purpose.
A Tear-ible Idea
Somewhat remarkably, the idea of destroying MTG cards in order to use them isn’t entirely new to the game. Instead, cards that have to be torn up have existed since 1998. Released within Unglued, Blacker Lotus and Chaos Confetti offered powerful effects at the expense of the cards themselves. As you can imagine, this decision to have purposefully destroyable cards wasn’t loved by the MTG community. Subsequently, these controversial cards are rarely thought about outside of novelty Cubes, leading to prices steadily declining over time.
Alongside the self-destructing cards from Unglued, destroyable MTG cards have actually appeared more recently, albeit not on purpose this time. Released as part of 2022’s Unfinity, Stickers didn’t quite stick the landing. Initially, upon their reveal, many MTG players were concerned that Stickers could end up damaging their prized cards. While this did happen, in the majority of cases, the opposite turned out to be true. Thanks to Wizards’ choice of glue, Stickers turned out to be effectively one-time use, often refusing to go back on the Sticker Sheet. Thankfully, due to the mechanic’s dismal popularity and the possibility of paper proxies, these effectively destroyable cards haven’t been a concern post-release.
Despite the rather disastrous track record for destroyable cards in MTG, players have recently asked for their return. Proposing the idea to MTG’s Lead Designer on Blogatog Tumblr user Vereendood suggested tokens that could be cut in half.
“Hello Mark, do tokens absolutely need to be full size? Would it be possible to print tokens like split cards when it makes sense – eg: vanilla Zombie or Goblins – that we can cut down in half so they take a little less space on the battlefield and we get more variety?”Vereendood
Responding to this curious question, Mark Rosewater stated, “I’m not sure a lot of players want to cut their cards.” This response seems to make sense, given the reaction to past destroyable mechanics. Nevertheless, after giving their own opinion, Mark Rosewater turned the question around, asking the community, “is this something you all would like?”
Surprisingly, in the small community of Blogatog, MTG players were remarkably receptive to the idea of split tokens. Tumblr user Katyagoncharov, for instance, highlighted that, especially in Limited, there’s no guarantee you’ll open all the tokens you need. “I do think it would be better to have more tokens because usually, in Sealed, I end up running cards I don’t have the tokens for. But I’d prefer it in the form of more double-sided tokens.”
Offering a similar suggestion, Mecharazzmatazzbean highlighted that tokens don’t really need a card back. “maybe making tokens double-faced more often. The back of a token is pretty much used for a secret lair ad, a Friday Night Magic ad, or a magic online ad, which I guess the business end of the operation might not want to get rid of.” Unfortunately, for token-hungry players, the ad card in Draft packs won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Explaining this decision in the Blogatog FAQ, Mark Rosewater explained stated the following.
“Couldn’t we take off the ad to include a token?Mark Rosewater
As the ads pay for the cards to be there in the first place, no. It would be kind of like asking a magazine to stop running ads because you find the articles more interesting.”
Since removing ad cards is off the table, reinventing the design of tokens for Draft was a surprisingly popular suggestion. As Tumblr user Makomore pointed out, however, taking scissors to an MTG card probably isn’t an ideal solution. “Scissors, no. Perforation, absolutely. Would love a way to fit more tokens into boosters.” Concurring with this suggestion, Tlblitz commented “Yeah. Going perforated or punchout would shrink token size (making more space) and increase the number of available tokens (also helping with token-heavy board states).”
A Token Solution
While there were a surprising number of players eager for the reinvention of tokens, there were some naysayers. Tumblr user Cptnbg, for instance, stated, “absolutely not, lol. You can use anything for tokens, so if you wanna print some half-size Goblins you can do that. But I like the full-size token cards.” Ultimately, while Cptnbg’s lack of enthusiasm for smaller tokens was an uncommon opinion, they do touch upon an important point.
Outside of major tournaments, tokens are much less strictly regulated than MTG cards themselves. So much so that alters, proxies, and spindown counters are frequently used as tokens within casual and competitive MTG games. Thanks to this attitude, players can always have access to the tokens they need. So long as there’s a pen and paper within reach, of course. Alongside players creating their own tokens, many LGS supply tokens for Draft events, and players can obviously bring their own.
While each of these solutions helps to mitigate the token supply problem, more tokens are never a bad thing. Whether or not split or punch-out tokens become a reality, however, remains to be seen. Previously, MTG players have requested a dedicated Token Station to little avail, so unfortunately, I wouldn’t hold out much hope.