While I understand Wizards’ policy on not allowing proxy/counterfeit cards in sanctioned tournaments, threatening the WPN status of stores who allow them in unsanctioned tournaments is against their best interests.
Through listening to numerous podcasts, reading various articles and keeping abreast of Twitter, I’ve heard of many shops that happen to host unsanctioned legacy or vintage tournaments where they allow players to use up to between 6-12 proxy cards in their deck, this is between 10 to 20 percent of the main deck. The reasons these shops allow the proxy cards is several. Firstly these stores would not have enough players to fire an event without allowing proxy cards. Secondly as these decks are very expensive, it allows those players who are acquiring their deck one card at a time to play with them when they are almost complete and often they leave the most expensive cards till last which take them the longest to afford. Thirdly it allows players to alter their decks and test changes without having to make a large (and sometimes unfruitful) purchase first. Lastly these tournaments are a great way to get players to invest in these expensive singles that local shops make profits off of buying and selling.
Now one might argue that this is unfair to those who have spent the money to buy their entire decks, and that is true, but what is more unfair is to spend $2000 or more on a Legacy deck ten times that for a Vintage deck and have no one to play against. Eternal format players will almost universally chose to playing against someone using a few proxies if it means they get to play the game they love if the other options is the deck sits collecting dust.
Now I’m close friends with a couple of shop owners and have heard interviews of several others, and one common thing is that they don’t just go running tournaments (of any game system) just because. They only begin to run them when players suggest to them to do so. Game stores are nothing if not supply to meet a demand and what Wizards is doing is trying to command stores not to meet that demand. If the store felt it could get more people by just hosting another Standard/Modern/Limited tournament, I’m sure they would just do that instead.
What I don’t understand is why Wizards doesn’t seem to see why these tournaments are good for them. When stores run tournaments they almost always collect some sort of entry fee and give out some sort of prize. That prize is either going to come in the form of New Magic product or sometimes store credit, but usually Wizards is profiting from this and the local store is always profiting from this. When game stores that sell Magic product stay open it is good for Magic. When people come in to the store and see other people playing magic (even more so in a tournament setting) it is an opportunity for them to learn more about the game and a chance for the players or store owner to get a new player playing the game. Game research has shown that the best way to get people to play is to sit them down and teach them to play. You could hand them free product and it will sit unopened in their closet if they aren’t taught to play. Magic is sold in big box retailers like Target and Walmart but they product doesn’t move nearly the way it does at local game stores. This is because game stores offer discounts on product (even if it is only covering the tax) and provide players with a place to play and meet up. So Wizards needs to be supportive of things that actively profit game stores.
Speaking of sanctioned tournaments Helene Bergeot tweeted today they they are looking a ways to support all formats, the problem with this is that Wizards support is just a few Legacy GPs a year and Eternal Weekend. Allowing stores to run unsanctioned tourneys with a few proxy cards and say only having them be cards on the reserve list would go a long way to support the formats. When people have 80-90% of a deck and a big tournament like a GP or SCG classic the players are going to be much more likely to finish their deck so that they can go play in the big tournament that they have been able to practice for. Wizards says they are supporting these eternal formats, but if they follow through with this then when someone decides to cash out of Legacy/Vintage they will be less people waiting to buy those cards off of them.
Note from Constructed Criticism: While we may not agree with all things said by Matt we always want to be available for members of the Constructed Criticism community to voice their opinions. Thanks for reading!