As I’m sure many people know, Wizards recently made a statement about the leak of the Godbook of New Phyrexia.
I’m here to present my thoughts both as a player and as a writer who gets exclusive preview cards for articles.
As a player, I was happy that the godbook was spoiled. One of my friends recently qualified for pro tour Nagoya, and this let us start brewing and testing for the full block format weeks in advance of the set release. I’ve spent several hours on Skype with friends pouring over the GodBook on multiple occasions, and have enjoyed looking through every card in the set. After all, I love spoilers and drew numerous hours of entertainment and discussion from the GodBook. However, this is only one side of the coin.
As a writer for Power 9 Pro, as the person who took initiative to get us spoiler cards, I disapprove of the leaks. We had hiccoughs with our first exclusive spoiler (Tunnel Ingus) because of a change in email servers, but when I previewed Go For the Throat some months ago, it easily became one of the most visited articles on the sight. Exclusive spoilers like this help drive visits to the site, and therefore revenue for the company, with is obviously important. With the GodBook spoiled, such preview cards would be pointless, because everyone knows what the cards do already and there’s no tension as you scroll down the page to find out what awaits you in booster packs on prerelease day.
So instead of writing to you all about the exciting new set of New Phyrexia, I’m writing a commentary on what can only be described as a ‘Magic Scandal’. We have two of the most prominent players suspended from sanctioned play and nobody is really happy.
I’d like to clear up a few misconceptions about preview cards that I’ve seen pop up around the internet.
1) Spoilers are free. That’s right, sites like Power 9 Pro, Channel Fireball, etc. do not pay to get spoiler cards. We have a mutualistic relationship – we get more website hits with preview cards while wizards gets hype for the new set. Everyone wins.
2) Who gets what. Websites like Power 9 Pro and others do not receive the godbook. Never have, most likely never will. Because of the relative speed with which we can publish content, we can trow up an entire set review shortly after the set is spoiled. A print magazine like Lotus Noir is a different story. They need to have articles written in advance, so that they can be laid out, printed, and distributed. This process is quite time intensive and so I understand why print magazines need advance notice of a set, especially if the issue is only slated for release after the set is spoiled. Matignon did not get the spoiler by sheer virtue of being a pro, or being the world champion. Rather, it was only because he works for a print magazine. Patrick Chapin, Brad Nelson, and numerous other pros do not – I repeat do not get godbooks in advance.
Now there is obviously a potential for advantage to be gained by having the spoiler in advance. Could Guillaume have purchased several sets of Stoneforge Mystic when/if he knew about Sword of Feast and Famine? Sure – but that possibility exists with any spoilers. Writers like myself get our preview cards in advance of the date we are allowed to publish them, and as such can do “Insider Trading”. When I first learnt that Mana Leak was reprinted in M11, I considered stocking up on textless copies while they were $2 apiece. However, my conscience wouldn’t let me do that, and while not explicitly prohibited, it’s not something I would feel comfortable with doing. It comes down to a matter of ethics and what one is willing to do with the privileged information.
As far as playtesting is concerned, that’s a different matter. If the Guillaumes had just played with themselves, the set probably wouldn’t have been leaked and they’d have had a sizeable advantage at pro tour Nagoya. This is obviously harmful to the integrity of the game, and I can’t done that sort of advantage. A week or 2 is one thing, but over a month is quite startling.
Obviously this could be solved by simply not distributing godbooks to anyone. This would harm the magazines when the do post-set articles, but one could argue that the age of Magic magazines is long gone, signified especially by the passing of Scrye a few years ago – or that they simply can’t do full-scale set reviews immediately after launch, and can just get preview cards like other sites. However, I’m not in the magazine business and don’t know what the exact timeline is that they have to work with. Regadless, I think this needs to be addressed in order to maintain the image and integrity of the game.
Anyway, that’s my take on this. I’m disappointed that 2 of my favourite players were behind the leak, and wizards is well within their right to punish them as they have. I hope that somthing of this magnitude doesn’t happen again, because I think it’s in the best interests of the game for everyone to see the cards more or less at the same time.
On a birghter note, New Phyrexia Prereleases are next week, so I hope you all have a great time there. I’ll be at the Wizard’s Comics prerelease in Edmonton, so any local readers should drop by and say hi. As always, feel free to post in the comments below, or email me at zak-AT-power9pro.com or via twitter at www.twitter.com/zturchan.