Please make flashback drafts more frequent

archone

New member
WOTC R&D puts in thousands of hours designing every set and most of them are drafted for only a couple months then never seen again. Some of these draft formats are universally beloved and all of them have at least a few diehard fans. I would love to see more of these draft formats offered as flashback drafts on a rotating basis.

Recently the alternate play schedule has shifted towards more cubes and wacky formats like chaos draft, which I appreciate. I've had fun with many of the one-of cubes and I think they add to the MTGO experience. However, these formats are a novelty and the quality of these formats generally don't match sanctioned draft formats because they haven't undergone the same degree of playtesting.

I love Vintage cube, but it is usually available for 2 months out of every year. I've played it more than any single draft format at this point and frankly I'm a little bored of it. Other cubes can be interesting but learning the archetypes and strategies of a cube only to never play it ever again feels very unsatisfying. Due to these factors I end up playing flashback drafts far more than cubes.

Personally speaking, I generally only play the new draft format for 2-4 weeks and usually when I stop playing, it's because I want to do something new rather than disliking the format. MTGO once had a year where every week offered a different flashback draft format and it was a very enjoyable experience. Flashback drafts offer players some much needed variety with certifiable quality during the lull between sets, whether they are playing it for the 1st or 100th time. I think more frequent flashback drafts, perhaps parallel to the cube schedule, would do a lot to drive player retention with low risk.
 
Upvote 3

MTGO_TonyM

Developer
I appreciate your feedback on this.

Our play data over the last 6 months has shown that Flashbacks of existing formats are deeply unpopular - to a much more severe degree than before. Players are voting with their wallets.

This suggests one or more of the following:
  • I have a knack for picking the worst formats (#riseoftheeldrazi4ever)
  • Players aren't wanting to play old formats specifically when they're Phantom (though even Keeper events have been unpopular)
  • Cube and wacky formats are an inherent strength of MTGO
We are not yet at the point where we'll have rotating Cubes every week, and there is still value in having old format flashbacks/keeper drafts. This is something we review consistently.
 

archone

New member
Thank you for taking the time to respond Tony!

I think the number one thing that would help promote weekly formats is a more visible schedule. I will always play a dozen or so flashback drafts of any set that debuted >3 years ago, but I missed some of my favorite formats like IPA and MMD this year. MTGO is not a particularly social platform so I don't login on a daily basis unless there's something I want to play, and I definitely don't check the blog or calendar regularly. I often find out by word of mouth and by then the week is mostly over. I know this is not an easy problem to solve, but putting the alternate play calendar on the front page ahead of time would help a lot.

I also don't know if you have any data on how much player overlap there is between cubes and flashback formats. Based entirely on limited personal experience, I know enfranchised players tend to play more flashback drafts than newer players. Perhaps 2 concurrent formats running for 2 weeks would entice more of the playerbase?

And I'm with you all the way, #riseoftheeldrazi4ever
 

42en

Member
  • Players aren't wanting to play old formats specifically when they're Phantom (though even Keeper events have been unpopular)

Flashback Drafts being Phantom is the real issue. Just Imagine how hype an Urza Block Draft would be, when the Draft wasn't phantom (because there are a couple expensive cards in the set). If the incentive to Draft are the regular prices and the event itself is phantom, no one bothers to spent a lot of tix / PP / Draft sets.

I could imagine that non-phantom Flashback drafts of set with an overall set value of 100+ tix would be rather popular (according to goatbots, anything involving Tempest, Masques or Urza Block... not to mention original Masters Edition drafts).

Money Drafting has always been a big part of MTGO economy, and if you can't keep what you open, I suppose people just aren't interested enough.


Edit:

And paying ~ 10 tix for a phantom Draft that you might finish 0-3 or 1-2 and end up with nothing but -10 tix is really bad EV. In a non phantom Draft you at least have the chance to make your money back from that one chase card you might have opened.

Basically I'd say Flashback Drafts are only worth it if they are non-phantom and the overall set value yields at least a somewhat acceptable EV.

Kamigawa block or Ravnica sets just don't have the monetary appeal to get drafted for 10 tix (let alone phantom).

But for example cards like Meltdown (Urza's Saga uncommon) peaked at around 40 tix each copy for quite some time, due to very low supply. Several people enjoy playing older formats online due to larger ready-at-hand player base and comparably cheap staples (15 tix for a Lotus vs. several grand seems like a good reason to play online vintage). But then having certain uncommons from older sets skyrocket due to low supply seems counter-productive in that regard (and rather hard to factor in, when certain cards get a very sudden increase in demand).

Thing is to find the right balance between fun Flashback Drafts for a limited amount of time and ruining the rest of the economy. Might be a thing that could run on a select number of holidays for a couple days. But if you have a flashback format running for 3 weeks in a row it is very likely to turn sour.
Thing is to find the right balance between fun Flashback Drafts for a limited amount of time and ruining the rest of the economy. Might be a thing that could run on a select number of holidays for a couple days. But if you have a flashback format running for 3 weeks in a row it is very likely to turn sour.
 
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MTGO_TonyM

Developer
And paying ~ 10 tix for a phantom Draft that you might finish 0-3 or 1-2 and end up with nothing but -10 tix is really bad EV. In a non phantom Draft you at least have the chance to make your money back from that one chase card you might have opened.
Point of clarification - 1-2 record gets 50 PP (1/2 entry back). That helps the event EV stay within a normal MTGO range.
 
I appreciate your feedback on this.

Our play data over the last 6 months has shown that Flashbacks of existing formats are deeply unpopular - to a much more severe degree than before. Players are voting with their wallets.

This suggests one or more of the following:
  • I have a knack for picking the worst formats (#riseoftheeldrazi4ever)
  • Players aren't wanting to play old formats specifically when they're Phantom (though even Keeper events have been unpopular)
  • Cube and wacky formats are an inherent strength of MTGO
We are not yet at the point where we'll have rotating Cubes every week, and there is still value in having old format flashbacks/keeper drafts. This is something we review consistently.
One thing I noticed about all of these low participation flashbacks is that none of them were advertised in the client. Cubes always get a slide on the welcome page, but I'm sure some potential players were unaware of the flashbacks in 2022. Most of the formats have been for the connoisseurs, but Ixalan was a surprising choice to revisit. I think its popularity is more connected to the improved payouts of this new structure, which might help invite players in if it is used again in the future. Invasion drew big numbers both times it was flashed back recently. I think it could be a good candidate for annual or biennial leagues.

Flashbacks will never be as popular as the mainstream cubes, but MTGO has an opportunity to offer both and reach more players. One comment I hear often is something like, "I don't want to learn a complicated old format to play it for a week," so offering primer articles just like cubes get would also ease participation. Drafting was a lot more arcane in the past and not everyone enjoys cracking packs with 3.5 playables on average, so there is a limit to the amount of growth, but on the other hand interest in old-school Magic is higher than ever.

What ties both my points together is that cube is more popular, but it is also much better marketed and explained to casual players. Players might be voting with their wallets, but you are putting a lot more effort into making the cubes successful than the flashbacks. Cube is more lucrative so that makes some sense, but there are more weeks than cubes ready to showcase so it also makes sense to leverage Magic's classic back catalog in a way that cannot happen anywhere else.
 
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