Wizards of the Coast has just announced a new pilot prize support program for the Standard Magic: The Gathering format. Called “Standard Showdown: Kaladesh“, the new prize support program aims to get more players in for Standard by distributing special kits to be used on four consecutive Saturdays between November 26, 2016, and December 7, 2016.
Each kit contains forty “Standard Showdown Booster Packs”, each of which contains three cards: one “premium” foil from a Standard legal set as well as Zendikar Expeditions and Kaladesh Inventions, and two non-foil cards which are either a rare or mythic rare from a Standard legal set. There are some exceptions to what can be found in a Standard Showdown: Kaladesh Booster Pack; players won’t be able to find any double-faced cards from Shadows Over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon, and the non-foil cards won’t include Oath of the Gatewatch.
Ten Standard Showdown: Kaladesh Booster Packs will be used per week, with Wizards of the Coast recommending the following prioritization for pack distribution:
- Undefeated players.
- Returning players from previous weeks.
- New players.
- Players who brought a friend.
Reaction to this announcement on the reddit Magic: The Gathering subforum has been mixed to negative, with comments citing that Standard attendance is historical low near the holiday shopping season (making this a poor period to test out a pilot program), and that outside of Game Days, pre-releases, and other competitive events Saturdays have struggled with low Standard format attendance. Favorable comments have drawn comparisons between this program and the recent “Treasure Chests” on Magic: The Gathering Online.
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I’m torn on this announcement. It’s great that Wizards of the Coast is finally acknowledging that Standard attendance (specifically Friday Night Magic) has dropped over the last year, but between this and the recent announcement that Standard rotation would be returning to pre-Battle for Zendikar speeds, I worry that they’re making too many changes too quickly without waiting to see if it has the desired effect first. I’m also concerned that this addresses the symptoms of Standard attendance dropping, and not the root cause itself, and will at best be a band-aid solution. I’m remaining hopeful, but only time will tell if this has any affect on Standard attendance.
I’m also curious as to why Oath of the Gatewatch was excluded from this program, as no reason is given in the announcement and the Zendikar Expeditions from that set will (presumably) be included.
What are your thoughts on this new prize support program? Do you think it indicates anything about the current health of Magic: The Gathering and Wizards of the Coast? Let us know in the comment section below.