________ Goblin
13, Mar, 24

Wizards Concerned About MTG Stickers in Competitive Format

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Article at a Glance

One of the most poorly received mechanics in all of MTG, at least when it comes to Constructed gameplay, is the referral to sticker sheets by a handful of Unfinity cards. In theory, the use of stickers to represent some sort of modification to MTG cards isn’t inherently problematic. After all, it’s not uncommon for players to use cutouts to highlight keyword counters that have been placed on one of their Creatures, such as Grimdancer.

The main problem lies in how these sticker sheets are managed in a tournament setting. See, a large portion of sticker-related cards from Unfinity are not legal in Eternal formats. However, one pesky Goblin is not only legal in Legacy, but is also quite powerful and sees consistent play in the Goblins archetype. The card caused enough trouble when brought to Magic Online, since stickers were impossible to implement. As a result, a modified version known as “Name-Sticker Goblin” appears on Magic Online.

Instead of using the original sticker mechanic to determine how much mana you net when the Goblin enters the battlefield, you simply roll a die and get a certain amount of mana to work with based on the number rolled. Currently, the Magic Online and paper versions function a bit differently, and the sticker aspect in paper can be quite frustrating to deal with. So much so, that members of the Play Design team at Wizards of the Coast made it clear in a recent WeeklyMTG Twitch stream that they are looking into potential solutions. For those unfamiliar, it’s important to go over exactly how sticker sheets work in a Constructed setting and the various problems that can arise.

Sticker Sheets in Constructed Tournaments

_______ Goblin

In order to effectively utilize cards that can have stickers placed on them, the first step is to bring a total of at least ten sticker sheets with you to your tournament to register. There are a total of 48 unique sticker sheets to choose from. Assuming your goal is to maximize the powerful Goblin shown above, there is an optimal set of sticker sheets to bring that feature the most unique vowels.

Once you have registered your deck and sticker sheets, you are ready to go. From there, before each game, you choose three sticker sheets at random to use during the game. Then, if you cast the Goblin above, you get to choose one of your stickers from those sheets to put on the card and reap the rewards.

In this sense, because the sticker sheets are randomized before each game, the amount of mana you net from casting the Goblin in each instance will likely differ. This element of randomness isn’t necessarily ideal for tournament play, and neither is having to go through the work of registering sticker sheets if you want to play Goblins in Legacy. However, these are from the least of the concerns that the Play Design team brought up.

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Phyrexian Metamorph Problems and Beyond

“If you don’t bring a sticker deck, you can’t get the ability”

Dan Musser

There are two main issues that the Play Design team harped on that have made the use of stickers problematic for live tournaments. The first problem is that there is actually an advantage to registering sticker sheets in a Legacy event without open decklists. This is true even if you don’t have any use for stickers in your whole deck.

Because Goblins is the primary top tier deck to feature sticker cards in Legacy, if you sit down with sticker sheets, your opponent is likely to mulligan under the assumption that you are playing Goblins. On the flip side, of course, if you are playing Goblins and reveal sticker sheets, your opponent may mulligan more aggressively to get an edge in the matchup. This dynamic is far from ideal in a tournament setting, even if it doesn’t present a huge advantage in either direction.

The biggest problem, though, comes when a player resolves the sticker Goblin, and the opponent wants to copy it using Phyrexian Metamorph or Phantasmal Image. As the Play Design team points out, under current rules, if you don’t bring a sticker sheet with you, you won’t actually get to use the Goblin’s ability to your advantage. This can create incredibly awkward situations where players utilizing these Clone need to show up with their own sticker sheets in the off chance they get paired against Goblins and this line of play comes up.

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Solutions Aren’t Easy to Come By

“It’s something we’re currently in search of a solution for”

Dan Musser

Of course, it’s easier to point out the flaws associated with the sticker mechanic than come up with an ideal solution for these problems. This raises the question: is there a reasonable solution to be had? While none of these suggestions completely solve all sticker issues, there are some potential alternatives to the current subset of rules.

It doesn’t seem unreasonable to alter specific rules to address the situations listed in the prior section of this article. For instance, you could make it a rule that only players making use of sticker cards are allowed to register sticker sheets in the first place. This would help prevent the “bluffing” problem we described where players would register sticker sheets solely for the purpose of throwing the opponent off guard.

This unfortunately doesn’t address the Clone problem. However, if you are playing against Legacy Goblins and the opponent plays the sticker Goblin, they will almost assuredly have sticker sheets at the ready. As such, maybe there’s a solution where if you copy the sticker Goblin, you can use the opponent’s sticker sheets in some capacity to determine how much mana you will net. Even this is a difficult thing to enforce, though.

All things considered, the way “Name-Sticker Goblin” works on Magic Online is much smoother. There’s still randomness involved, but rolling a die to determine how much mana you get is a much smoother alternative. The good news is that the Play Design team is clearly looking into the issues associated with stickers in paper. Hopefully a reasonable solution is proposed in the near future. For now, make sure to keep these points in mind if you plan to enter a Legacy tournament in the coming weeks.

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