Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Locally Looking at Legacy

Below is a post I made for the Magic community in the Greater Richmond Area regarding the health and growth of the Legacy format in our area. I moved it here so it had a more permanent home outside of my Google Docs. Additionally it shows a good use for data collection applied to community building and scheduling events.

Let’s talk about Legacy in Richmond.

There has been a lot of huff about our LGS community and their ability or desire to support Legacy. There have been concerns that stores simply don’t want to run Legacy tournaments because they “don’t care about Legacy.” The fact of the matter is that from an LGS standpoint they are going to care about what ultimately makes them the most money. Many stores have tried and all of them have failed to cultivate a weekly Legacy event. The first one is always large and people are excited, the second one is a little smaller, the third one rarely launches. This isn’t an anomaly, this isn’t isolated, this is every time. As a result of stores not scheduling Legacy tournaments the community took to scheduling their own. The now very popular bowling alley events spearheaded by Eric Oberholtzer. These caused a lot of tension on the LGS side of things due to being scheduled on top of PPTQs and other events. Discussions were had, tempers flared a bit, the “divide” between players and stores grew larger.

Since then things have relaxed, the bowling alley tournaments happen, and Battlegrounds has started supporting Legacy with two tournaments a month. The last Monday of every month gives us Legacy replacing Modern, and a monthly weekend event -- including a GPT coming up April 15. The Monday tournaments are consistently 5 rounds with a cut to the playoff rounds; the last Saturday event I attended was similar in size. These have been great. I have sadly been unable to attend a bowling alley tournament myself due to scheduling conflicts so I can’t speak to those. But with all this said I am prepared to make a bold statement:

I think we can play more Legacy.

Now, I don’t want to get too crazy. A weekly Legacy event is simply NOT going to happen. It’s never worked, people can’t commit. A store sets aside time and space and just ends up losing money on events that don’t launch. We don’t want this. We want our stores to still be there so we can keep playing Magic; to accomplish this we need to try something that works for them. We have to remember that at the end of the day, our LGS is still a business. 

Now let’s talk about data.

If you’re reading this, you likely contributed a response to my Google Form. When all was said and done we had 70 responses. This is a good chunk of data for a gaming community. Right up front we can go after the big question: Why don’t we play every week?
How often do you want to play?
We don’t play Legacy every week because people simply don’t want to play Legacy every week. Out of 70 responses only 17 rated playing every week a 5, that’s less than 25% of people surveyed. Playing every other week or once a month we’re both incredibly popular options. We’re already playing two events a month so we’re pushing this data a bit, but I think we can go a little further.

What day do you prefer to play?
The next question shows us that Thursday and Friday are awful, with an overwhelming preference toward playing on Saturday. Why is Saturday a problem? Remember before when I mentioned scheduling conflicts? PPTQs, Game Days, and other game systems having Organized Play events cut into a lot of Saturday time. And not every LGS is going to be able to support another whole event in their space on those days. Saturday is clearly ideal according to the data, but will consistently be met with conflict.

What tournament structure do you prefer?
In my heart of hearts I would love to have a league. I will happily toot my own horn that the Modern League last year at Jacques was my baby and I was very proud of it and thought it was very successful. However, dear reader, the data is not on our side. Having a modified swiss event with playoff rounds seems like the clear choice. There are some other issues with league play, primarily that without a weekly event it can be very hard to generate momentum. It also means we’re playing for *something.* Someone who joins late is going to feel like they don’t have a chance and are less inclined to play. An idea I would consider for the future is a “Tournament of Champions” of sorts. Win a monthly event? You qualify for the big one at the end. No points, no showing up late and getting daggered. I’m not taking this idea off the table, I’m just taking it off the table for now.

How do you feel about playtest cards?

Proxies. Playtest cards. Illegible sharpie scrawl on the back of a terrible common. We’re going to dig into this one a little bit because I’ve got some thoughts on these. First and foremost I was surprised to see a dead heat for needing them to participate. We have a LOT of people using playtest cards at these events when the data indicates we should be more evenly split. Two people said they wouldn’t participate if playtest cards are allowed, while I love playing against real dual lands, if we sanctioned every event we would probably play less Legacy. 

Give me a moment to equip my soapbox:

Here’s my thing with playtest cards. They serve a purpose, they let us try new things without investing in Magic cards. They let people who don’t normally play this format experience how ACTUALLY AWESOME it is because we can play ANYTHING. This all sounds great, right? The other edge on this sword is that they don’t incentivize people to actually invest in the format. When the sanctioned events come around we very likely don’t have anyone new playing the format because they haven’t needed to buy cards. Long term this matters for Legacy. Yes, these cards are expensive. No, Wizards probably won’t abolish the reserve list. But the bottom line is that if people don’t keep investing in the format and going out to things like GPs and Opens they are simply going to stop happening. “SCG is killing Legacy!” This statement infuriates me. Star City Games saved Legacy. The Power 9 series, the 5ks, the Open Series? These formats gave people more places to play the game. Yes, prices went up. Yes, the format got more expensive. That’s how supply and demand works. Attendance went down and as a result SCG scaled back the number of Legacy Opens they run. Do you know how many people played in the last Richmond Legacy Classic? Less than 60. Remember the statement about an LGS not running an event if it isn’t going to launch? This is the same thing at a larger scale. My long-winded point in all this is that while playtest cards help us play more Legacy locally we have to keep investing in the format. If you are using a printed out deck and really are having fun consider getting into the format. Yes, it’s expensive, but more than any other format right now it is an investment. 

Show up and play, keep Legacy alive.

Now back to the data...

What kind of prize support do you want?
The results here are pretty clear in my opinion. People want to play for store credit. Buying cards to finish your deck is sweet, being able to buy other swag like board games or sleeves is also sweet. Not too many people are into the idea of qualifying for a big event so I’m more inclined to make standalone events better and eventually look at a qualifier.

So what’s next?

What’s next is applying this data, which I’ve started to do. I tried to get the ball rolling on another tournament in April, but it simply isn’t going to work. However I am happy to announce that One Eyed Jacques is going to give us some table space on Sunday, May 21 at 2pm. Playtest cards will be allowed, entry fee will be $5, prizes will be paid out in store credit to Top 4. I’ve cleared that day out in my calendar to go play some Magic cards, will you?

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