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Friday, March 19, 2010

History of Magic Formats: Moving towards the Next Step

Periodically, this great game of ours finds itself in a position which requires a change. With Wizards recently announced back peddle to more stringently enforce the Reserved list, I believe the game finds itself at the precipice of just such a change.

Brief History of Magic Formats:
  • 1993 (290 cards) Magic debut with Alpha
  • late 1994 (1 year, 9 sets, 985 cards) Magic deck construction rules are formalized and Standardized by the Duelist Convocation, giving birth to what would later be called type 1.
  • late 1995 (2 years, 14 sets, 1,446 cards) Magic deck construction rules were officially split into 2 separate formats, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 was later called Standard, Type 1 Eternal. (Type 1.5 was also used to signify a format with which the type 1 restricted list was instead banned)
  • late 1996 (3 years, 16 sets, 1,903 cards) Extended was created as a format. Standard had a rotation of approximately 1 year, Extended 2 years.
  • 2002 (~8 years, ~45 sets, 6,056 cards) Standard and Extended rotations changed to a convoluted system ~2/6 years in each format.
  • 2004 (~11 years, ~55 sets 7,364 cards) Eternal were officially split Type 1 becoming Vintage, Type 1.5 becoming Legacy.
  • 2008 (~15 years, ~75 sets, 10,028 cards) Standard and Extended rotations changed to a simpler 2/7 year system.
So here we are in 2010 with an expected ~92 major releases and approaching 12,000 cards by the end of the year. As you can see, as the game continues to grow, the DCI create new plateau formats to allow players to compete on level ground. I expect that some time between now and the end of 2012, the DCI will create a new Eternal format in order to address Reserve List cards. This new format will most likely inherit the Legacy banned list, and add all the cards on the reserved list. Alternatively, this format could simply ban all cards from Urza Block and older sets.

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