Hello, new Arena players! If you've just recently started playing, you've just seen the big brouhaha over the Zendikar full art lands Quick Draft fiasco. Looks like it's over for now, with Wizards giving out a code for three free lands, but otherwise not changing their policy and not giving out any more draft refunds. Some folks are okay with this outcome, some are still mad, but either way this looks like the end of the situation.
You may think this was a strange little controversy. You might not even care about any of this. But take this advice from someone who has been playing since the Closed Beta:
This will all happen again. Because it has already happened many times.
For us old-timers, this wasn't anything new. It was part a long pattern of behavior from WotC in their management of Arena. A list of all the weird little ways that WotC has tweaked Arena in disfavorable ways to the player community would be too long for a post. 1-for-2 Historic wildcards; the Vault / 5th copy problem; drafting prices; Mastery Pass value decreases -- those are just the ones I remember off the top of my head (other veterans: feel free to add your own memories!).
The pattern has usually been this:
- Wizards announces a feature or promotion that seems generous, or at least fairly priced.
- Wizards then changes that feature to be extremely unfair and exploitative.
- The community objects, loudly and severely.
- Wizards partially backtracks, making the feature slightly less outrageous, but (almost) never as fair and generous as it was originally.
In this manner, Arena has slowly but consistently gotten more expensive, less new-player friendly, less well designed, and more haphazardly managed. The Quick Draft thing is just the latest example of this longstanding process. It is nothing new.
So, what should you, a new Arena player, learn from this situation? Here's what I hope you take away from it:
- WotC cannot be trusted to manage Arena in a manner that is best for the health of the playerbase. This isn't necessarily because they are nefarious; lots of these situations have seemed to arise more from incompetence rather than deliberate malice. But either way, the point is the same: Do not trust WotC to do the right thing by themselves.
- You must fight, loudly and boldly, for the change you want. Players have, actually, won some of these past battles, forcing WotC to reverse bad decisions. Whether this has been because we rationally demonstrated that a decision was stupid, or whether we just made the managers afraid of the backlash, either way fighting has (at least partially) had the desired effect. WotC does respond to our feedback, but you have to fight for it.
- Join in publicly, even if you're not affected. Not every decision affects everybody equally. If you don't play Historic, you might not care about Historic wildcards getting gutted. If you don't like draft, you might not care about the misleading info about Quick Draft rewards. But the player community as a whole is affected. And the volume and intensity of community response is what forces Wizards to change. Think about the health of the entire Arena game, and support your fellow players when they get screwed.
- Be ready for the next problem. Don't be surprised the next time WotC does something dumb or bad. This behavior pattern will not change, so long as WotC's management of Arena stays in its current form. Just like any systemic problem, because it's happened before, it's going to happen again, because the root causes of the problem have not changed. The next time Wizards screws up the game, be angry, be disappointed -- but do not be surprised. And be ready to fight it.