2022 has been a heck of a year for Magic. We've seen massive swings in card value, more new product than ever, the reprint of Black Lotus and other Reserved List cards from Magic 30th, and ever more Commander product. Given all of that, it may be surprising that my overall outlook for 2023 is positive on the Magic front and not just for Commander fans! Let me show you why 2023 has so much potential.
While Underground Sea and Volcanic Island trade blows for the single most valuable dual, it's historically been Sea and this card is a bellwether for Magic. Checking the price graph, its price has recovered. Yes, there was a bottom and many of us probably missed it (I picked up a dirt cheap, graded Scrubland). What does this matter to the average player, though? Everyone that plays should want some of their cards to at least potentially have value. The failure of Magic 30th proves that most players do put at least some value on authenticity and that Wizards cannot just generate Black Lotus or other rare cards out of thin air without significant pushback.
The Reserved List website was missing for a short time which caused conspiracy theories! Like it or not, incredibly rare and super powerful cards that not everyone can own are part of the mystical DNA that makes Magic magic. Considering the "failure" of 30th, the price recovery of many cards, and the overall sentiment towards Secret Lair I feel like it's safe to say that the collectibility of Magic is safe.
Start Me Up to a Whole New Universe
It's happening. The new Commander Starter Decks are successful. I know this because I've gotten to play both in person and over SpellTable with several new players using these decks. 2023 won't be any different. With both Lord of the Rings and Dr. Who bringing in fans it's guaranteed that some of them will be converted fully into Commander players. The future for Commander looks very bright.
Outside of strictly Commander play, though, is Jumpstart 2022. This is a great product and would make for a good gift. For a casual night of Magic, Jumpstart essentially replaces both Draft and Sealed formats. This is something I do not say enough. One thing that differentiates Magic from other games is the ability to play many different formats including Draft and Sealed. This versatility is part of Magic's DNA as it is many games in one. I believe this is the kind of product that does a great job of getting brand new players into Magic and the addition of anime artwork in every pack sells cards.
Living in the Here and Now
Looking to the future is important but what about the now? Sometimes it's important to slow down and practice mindfulness. I've done that in two specific ways. First, I've focused on my deck-building goals. Last month, I had only built seven of the 32 decks I planned since August. Yikes! While it would be easy to blame the crazy product release schedule, or work, or the holidays or any number of other things, the true issue was lack of focus. However, by shifting my priorities to getting decks "playable, not perfect" I've been able to get another 11 built. Playing an imperfect deck really hones the optimization process because I get real meta feedback, not just EDREC suggestions.
Second, events, events everywhere! Playing Magic in person is great and I took the opportunity to be present as much as my schedule allowed. Interacting with other Magic players has helped me get a better picture of who plays Magic. It's a diverse group, for sure, but there are definitely some things that stand out. By and large, players want a deep and compelling gameplay experience with infinite variables. So far, I believe that Wizards is continuing to offer that experience.
2022 Realities vs 2023 Resolutions
So what will change in Commander in the new year? Certainly, there will be more variety, more cards to flesh out any deck idea, and more build-around cards than ever. But will you be different? For me, I'm going to bring out my more competitive side, with a minor caveat. Stax is not on the menu. However, I am going to build in more game-ending combos than I might normally have in lower-powered decks. Typically most of my casual decks are around a power level of five or six, with most other players bringing decks from five to seven. Locally we have a pretty healthy and established rule 0 and it generally results in excellent games.
That said, a particular situation crops up a little too often, namely, games going on for an hour or even longer. The games are good fun, and there's generally lots of interaction, comeback potential, alliances forged and broken, you name it. However, sometimes the fact that the games drag on makes getting a second or third game for the night impossible. One really long, intricate, and fun, game of Commander is great but it's still only one game.
So yes, I'm trying to get players to bring more powerful casual decks and at least one really competitive deck. Getting in a quick game in fifteen or twenty minutes before the LGS closes is better than no game. Overall the metagame and power creep at my local venues have not gotten so bad that even casual decks are dripping with infinite combos and I don't want to set that into motion. However, games do need to end and I plan on making that happen more often.
Breaking the Bank? Not on my Watch!
I'm a huge advocate for budget cards. You don't have to take my word for it, though, just pay close attention to your own games. At a competitive tournament, my Reliquary Tower was blown up by a Boseiju, Who Endures. Did I get Scrubland, Tundra orUnderground Sea? No, I got Raffine's Tower. I did not need one mana right then and there so I opted for better color fixing in the future. Furthermore, I could draw one of the better duals and play it untapped so it was better to leave them in the deck. Including this budget card made my tournament deck better, not worse.
There were, in fact, a ton of budget cards that would have been bonkers level for this tournament, meta breakers that don't see "normal" play that cost mere pennies. I will continue to advocate for cards that do a thing well at every price point, even if they are not always the most popular, well-known, or expensive.
2023 might have more shiny, new cards than 2022. However, will those cards be truly better? That remains to be seen and we will be reviewing them together to determine what cards are worth it.
So Much to Look Forward to
Wizards has an opportunity to continue to grow Magic and undo some of the damage that Hasbro has caused by reaching over and grabbing the steering wheel as often as possible. The road map is there for everyone to see but just because you see the road does not mean you drive it accident-free. Right now everything is in place for a successful Magic year and I am ready to welcome many new Commander players. If Wizards can stick with what makes Magic great it will be a great year!
I've resolved to bring a little more competitive heat to even my casual games in the next year. Will you do the same? Let me know in the comments if you have any Magic resolutions for 2023!