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8, Jul, 24

MTGO Decklist Reduction Causes Outrage In The Community!

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For those who follow the competitive Magic scene, MTGO is a lot more crucial than it seems on the surface. A huge number of events are hosted on the platform, for every format imaginable. As a result, when it comes to deckbuilding innovations, they often show up here before anywhere else. The fact that cards are much cheaper on MTGO helps a lot, too.

Unfortunately, Daybreak has just announced a major reduction in the amount of MTGO decklist data that will be available going forward. Unsurprisingly, the community is not happy about it.

Less Data, Less Problems?

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Before we get into the outrage, let’s go over the specifics of this change. Just before Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3, the MTGO decklist service experienced an outage. No tournament data was available for almost two weeks, with lists only starting to be retroactively added today. Along with these lost decklists, however, came an announcement.

In a post on the official MTGO Twitter account, it was confirmed that starting this week, significantly less MTGO decklist data will be available to view online. We’ll still be able to see the top 32 from Scheduled Events, and “a selection” of 5-0 League lists, but that’s all. No more data from Preliminaries, or from other small events. The reasoning behind this change was explained on Twitter.

“A review of the Decklist selection of MTGO.com showed we are displaying more card data than desired. We are returning the page to its previous functionality.”

@MagicOnline

The post went on to state that the Decklist page itself will be returning the week of July 8th. Sure enough, there’s plenty of tournament data for today and the past couple of weeks available right now. It also noted that “Data from Preliminary events will be excluded while we continue to develop these pages.” So Preliminary decklists may return at some point, but for now, they’re on the scrap heap.

Community Backlash

MTGO-Decklist-Reduction-Unruly-Mob

Unsurprisingly, players had some thoughts on this MTGO decklist data reduction. In the comments of the original post, criticism of the decision came thick and fast. Selkcahs kicked things off with “This is so bad and hurts mostly the more casual players that can’t really stay up to date with the metagame by playing a ton of games. Less information available is always bad.”

This is a solid point and cuts to the heart of the issue many have with this change. Without comprehensive data, it can be difficult to know what’s performing well in the meta and what’s worth investing in. When MTG decks are as expensive as they are right now, the ability to make informed decisions in this respect comes at a premium.

Of course in an ideal world, where Magic cards are actually affordable, this wouldn’t be as much of an issue. There’s even a case to be made that revealing every little bit of data is actually a bad thing. After all, the speed and frequency at which online games can be played causes formats to be solved faster.

“Maybe somebody was unhappy with how much data was out there and afraid the format was getting solved too fast.”

@philzeng

Sadly, we don’t live in an ideal world where MTG is affordable. As a result, the positives that more information and a known meta bring outweigh the negatives.

A lot of players were also quick to point out the wording of the post. Specifically, the “more data than desired” part. “More data than was desired by whom?” asked William B, who wasn’t alone in this ask. Many suspected the decision was forced by WotC, in an attempt to obfuscate recent tournament results to justify a lack of bans on problem cards like Grief and Nadu.

Moving Forward

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While this specific reason is unlikely, the MTGO decklist data reduction almost certainly comes from WotC’s end. The increased availability of MTGO data was almost universally well-received by the community. Those who wanted it loved it, and those who didn’t were unaffected. There’s an argument that the sheer volume of available data could be overwhelming for some. But there’s also a counter-argument that the type of player to go looking for data wouldn’t fall into this category.

Based on this, it’s safe to assume that WotC was involved in the decision. As Sean Soderman jibed in the thread, “Blink twice if WotC made you do it.” What’s less safe to assume is the reasoning behind it. Manipulating public perception of data to avoid banning cards sounds far-fetched, and a little too supervillain to align with reality. The point mentioned above, however, with regards to extending the time it takes for a format to be solved, has some serious legs.

The experimental stage that a format enters when a new product is released is undoubtedly the best time to be a Magic player. It’s a brief window where anything is possible, and decks aren’t fine-tuned to end the game in a matter of turns. Both new and experienced players alike can find joy in these windows, so it makes perfect sense to want to extend them. Even if it comes at the cost of full transparency.

This is all pure speculation, of course. Whatever the reason, the MTGO decklist data reduction is happening, and we’ll all have to deal with that.

Read More: Players Voice Frustration as Major MTG Event Gets Cancelled

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