Well, it’s not called Timewalking for no reason. Historical relevance is paramount. While some don’t care, some like me do and to the point that I wouldn’t support an old school card pool that hasn’t be played officially. One of the desired effect too is that you can re-imagine a format you or others played, show how far off people were back then, have fun making a better deck than a famous player of the old days etc. That means:
* the formats we promote have existed.
* the rules and erratas we use strive to emulate those formats.
They only strive to. In Old School 95 for instance, we don’t want to emulate too much, since back then Ali from Cairo, Berserk, Candelabra of Tawnos, Copy Artifact, Underworld Dreams, Mishra’s Workshop and Zuran Orb were restricted, Channel, Chaos Orb and Time Vault were banned, Basalt Monolith couldn’t untap itself, and we probably don’t want to have the old Tabernacle at Pendrall Vale + Living Plane interaction with the added as techy as secret way to cheat your way out of it etc. But we can strive for instance by reinstating the tapped blocker rules, allowing alpha Orcish Artillery/Oriflamme to cost 1R, or by letting people destroy an Abyss during their upkeep without having to suffer from it.
But since there are an awful lot of small and big differences between the errata and rules of today and those of back then, we must use some limiting principle like:
- Power Impact.We can’t errata half of the cards, what’s more some of those old erratas only make sense with the old rules, and we can’t just simply ask people to learn the old rules (notwithstanding their many shortcomings), so we have to cut in. Maybe you know of a cool interaction that was possible back then, but if it only sees very marginal play, people probably won’t be ready to expand the erratas list for your personal whim. The card’s power and impact is that guiding principle, because among those cards whose functionality is critically altered and are reasonably “erratable” they are the cards that will truly matter for the metagame (Mana Vault, cheap Orcish Artillery, The Abyss..).
But also, first and foremost :
A spike is a competitive player. That doesn’t mean he’ll cheat, that just means he plays the game to win, that’s his usual way to have fun at Magic. Some old school formats are more or less clearly defined as being made for “fun”, by which they mean non-competitive play. That’s fine, though it saddens me how entitled some people feel to criticize if not discriminate against the control player who happens to be playing in a format where Control is on top (The Deck in swedish-based 94 magic typically).
There’s always been some criticism from people who dislike such or such decks. No problem there -as long as boundaries are respected, it’s part of the game. But unbalanced formats not only are uninteresting for the spike, they also lead them to be either get bored playing the top deck over and over, or to try to hypnotize themselves into forgetting what the best deck is/pretending to be something else than who they are, a spike.
NONE OF THAT HERE !
How can we achieve that ?
- Balance.Well I can’t know everything beforehand, and I sure hope I don’t. But in so far as I can, I test and test until I have a strong inkling I have a balanced format before supporting it. By which I mean a format with several top decks, in most of the macro-archetype ( Aggro, Midrange and Control are macro-archetypes). I’m also very reactive when it comes to adjusting things. No waiting for a year or a quarter. If we’re convinced an alteration would improve the format’s balance we can use it as soon as people have read it !
- Uncharted Territory.
Some formats have been almost completely explored. It happens eventually (though that happens diabolically fast for Standard formats, what with the millions of people playing it). I don’t have much interest in those formats, so I support largely unexplored formats. While the former principle is probably mostly of interest to competitive players, this one should be to all deckbuilders : ideally we play formats where all the job’s on you. It’s an exaggeration of course, but still, we can do our best to boldly go into uncharted territory and keep the spirit of mystery and adventure !