The first major content creation event since the world changed has come and gone. MTG (not GP) Vegas 2021 will go down in the nerd lore as the event the community that in many ways had grown and changed so much since the pandemic and it was in Vegas that everyone was finally able to gather.
There was a ton to the experience, from my own weekend to discussions with other people deeply invested in the future of Magic and Commander in particular, and I want to highlight some of those today!
There Was an Appetite for Content
Companies that have begun to cautiously re-enter the events space have done so with an eye toward safety and sustainability - no one wants an event that goes in such a way that hosting a second event is untenable. We've seen forays into this space over the past several months, from Flesh and Blood events to MTG tournaments at PAX West and GenCon, among others. Vegas was where it all came together, and the safety rules were followed and enforced at the venue.
The event was bursting at the seams - so much so that the tournament organizer actually had to find additional space to house everyone on Saturday who wanted to play. Packages and the Command Zone were sold out all weekend, and the judge staff did an incredible job accommodating so many people.
For those who couldn't attend, they looked toward the Internet and social media. I was one of the people who recognized the opportunity and thanks to a generous sponsorship from the Masters of Modern podcast, I was able to attend the event and provide coverage including deck techs, lists and interviews.
I was far from the only one - EyelashTV streamed the entire weekend - and the response from the community told me that the appetite for Magic - the in-person kind - is back and stronger than ever.
Board Wipes Are Out
This is one of the more interesting developments in Commander over the past 18 months, and I talked with some other Commander creators about why this is in Vegas.
There are a few reasons why Wrath of God may be falling out of favor in some decklists, and it makes sense when you consider the context. In a COVID world we've seen Spelltable Commander take off, and that's something that really wants to follow a rough script: play easy-to-grasp themed decks that can put on a good show for 45-60 minutes and then move toward a conclusion.
Board wipes are anathema to that. And while this obviously applies moreso to people playing online, it also makes sense in the context of something like MTG Vegas. It may not matter to your group of four at home whether your Commander night encompasses three one-hour games or one three-hour game, but when you want to get in a bunch of different games with new people or groups of friends at the in-person gatherings we want to get back to, maybe it's time to put away the Day of Judgment.
Modern has a Modern Horizons 2 Problem (But is Sweet, Anyway)
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer leads the way here, but simply put the dominance of Modern Horizons 2 as a whole is a problem for the format. Basically every deck heavily features the set and in really flagrant ways like Urza's Saga.
Or is any of that a problem?
Modern is a diverse format right now, and a ton of different decks and brew had success. The format is more powerful than ever before, but the addition of "free" spells like Solitude and Force of Negation has given people access to answers where they didn't exist before, and also turned a number of matchups into grindy battles after early resource trading. In other words, it feels just a little bit like Legacy these days.
I'm not going to offer opinions on bans or anything like that when we had a very diverse Top 8 and yet-to-be-fully-explored brews like this floating around. But I will say that I hope we have a very long break before anything nearly as impactful as Modern Horizons 2 comes along.
This Was Important for The Secondary Market
I know this isn't something we focus on much in this column, but the secondary market is something I follow very closely along with my Brainstorm Brewery cohosts to help keep the game affordable for players.
Which is an area we've really struggled over the past 18 months. When live events shut down, they didn't just take away a chance for players to gather and play. It took away the primary avenue in which players gathered to sell cards to the vendors who often end up fulfilling orders across the internet. CoolStuffInc was one of the stores in attendance at the event, and the lines were long throughout the entire weekend. Players came with cards to unload, and unload they did.
All of that will take some time to hit the market as it's Thanksgiving weekend, but it's something to keep in mind if you're looking to see if any of your needs have been restocked in the coming weeks heading into Christmas.
MTG Vegas was an absolute blast, and absolutely exhausting. As always I didn't get to do nearly as much as I wanted to talk to everyone I wanted to, but it was an event that left all of us with one conclusion: Magic is back.
Thanks for reading,