Dan Rowland: New Format, New Opportunities

NOTE FROM DAN ROWLAND: This article is about actual formats, not rotations. The AGP format change just highlights how diverse a game can be with multiple formats, especially those that are supported. FoW has shown their willingness to at least try out different formats on higher levels, and support them with promos so that LGSs can try them out as well.


Unless you have been living under a rock, really good news came out on April 13th, especially for Regions that never got the Valhalla Cluster or even the 5 starters.  At least according to the Hoodie Guy, a new format called “Wanderer” will appear consisting of Grimm Cluster forward. Here is a link with timestamp for verification.

https://www.twitch.tv/fowtcgjapan/v/60256580?t=27m10s

If you want to follow the discussion/semi announcement go here:

Facebook Group Post

The biggest effect this will have, concerning players and stores is you will not see the huge plummet in value for your Grimm Cluster cards, since they will now still be useful after the rotation in September.  This is especially good for LGS as any older singles they have will not be a total loss in price.

Value is not the only thing of course, but when you spend money on cards and product the last thing you want to see is that money disappear.  So a sigh of relief in that department.  The next biggest bonus is that we get to keep playing with all of our cards.  This is more than just a new format though, it also opens up the opportunity for a more robust tournament scene and more options for the game as a whole.

With most players now having enough cards to play in a new format, once it emerges, it can now offer LGS and even larger events the chance to have more diverse formats.  As much as I hate to keep referring to MTG in this case I have to, but in an organized play way.  Many years ago MTG would have Pro Tours and larger events that were one format, at its peak having 6 to 7 Pro Tours a year.  Now they have just a few that are multi-format, usually consisting of a limited and constructed portion.  I think we can all agree at this point that FoW limited needs some work, but the idea of a multi-format event is still intriguing and even appealing now.  I mean who would want New Frontiers and say Grimm Cluster constructed as the two events?  Now though we could have New Frontiers and Wanderer, sounds better, right?

It does go a bit beyond that though.  I think first we need to look at all of the formats available, though some not everywhere, just so you can get a scope of how many there actually are at this point, I will include the “new cluster” coming out in September, since that is when Wandered is set to premier.

LIMITED:

Valhalla Draft                        Valhalla Sealed Deck
Grimm Draft                         Grimm Sealed
Alice Draft                              Alice Sealed
New Cluster Draft                 New Cluster Sealed

Now consider you can use any ruler from the block or the Limited Ruler, you have potentially 16 formats in limited alone.

Constructed:

Origins Valhalla (with lifebreak)        Origins Bifrost (without lifebreak)
Valhalla Cluster (with lifebreak)         Grimm Cluster
Alice Cluster                                           New Cluster
Wanderer (Grimm +)                          New Frontiers

So eight constructed formats and eight limited (maybe 16), we are up to 16 formats that can be used for multi-format event.  This information is based on the Floor Rules, section A3 if you want to find out more. To include set names and promos allowed.

Needless to say they should go with New Frontiers and Wanderer if there ever is a multi-format event, since Origins is not legal everywhere it would be a bad idea.  The most likely event would be worlds itself, but no one is stopping any third party from trying it either.  This type of event can add a new level to competitive play as well as allow those with older cards to still use them and retain their value.

As a business, FoW could benefit greatly as well.  Again we will go back to MTG. The vintage format was never really supported in the early 2000’s, the big formats were Extended and S tandard.  Then in 2004 WoTC started their eternal championships, since discontinued. Something happened though, a Black Lotus worth about $450 in early 2004 shot up in value to almost $2000 after that announcement, you can imagine all the other vintage cards went up as well, and you would be correct.  This is good for LGS especially, since singles are a big part of profit for them.

Now apply this to FoW, just because they have announced this new format doesn’t mean anything unless they support it, and it looks like they will initially at least with some promos specific too it.  This is the key point though, is the new format just to appease players and LGSs? Or will they do more with it down the road?  An AGP?  A day at Worlds?  This is where they can benefit with products like MTG’s Modern Masters and future Eternal Masters.  Releasing products that reprint older cards but that are only still legal in the formats the originals are.

This is also a long term thing, since I am sure reprinting Grimm cluster cards in special sets is silly at this point. What about Valhalla though? One of the largest markets for FoW, the United Stated, never got Valhalla. We got 5 starters in limited numbers that totaled 80 different cards, but not the full three sets which, as a cluster, were a lot more than the current 4 set clusters, 504 cards total.  These could be put out tomorrow. Fixed products, similar to the Vingolf.  489 cards in one box (not counting the 15 starter cards).

Sound ridiculous? Why? As far as production it would be much easier. They already have the cards, the English versions, thus there is no need for new art or anything, since we never got them in the first place.  Also making fixed sets is a lot easier than doing a print run that has collation. All that would be needed is adding a symbol on each card, like the 2 nd printing or special printing icon. Sounds like printing money to me, they could even do a short run to see how well they sell, since they are not making booster packs, it would be vastly less expensive.

Since each box would only have 1 of each card who wouldn’t buy 4 to get a playset? They could even release them by each set, Like a Dawn of Valhalla Box with just the 205 cards. Whatever, the point is, making Valhalla available to everyone it essentially good business and for the players an opportunity to add more to the FoW experience. Toss in a few promos a year and you have a supported additional format at the local level.  If they add it to larger events later, cool.  That is where multi-format events using Wanderer and New frontiers can give you the insight as to whether the player base is interested.

One has to look at Origins as a format that adds to the game. Of course, I would not recommend the lifebreak version, but here again it can add more depth and strategy as well.  By having a banned list it can be regulated and changed up when needed (I am looking at you 1 st turn Gwib with fake walls).

FoW is a new game and the player base is growing, so why not offer everything that has come to this point? Adding formats and cards that already exist to the game isn’t going to hurt it, it just gives your new markets access to what the rest of the World has only brings it all together. Plus, you can make some added revenue for very little work using stuff you already have.  And it doesn’t even effect the formats that exist already.