Stickers were announced for Magic: The Gathering on July 23, but not everyone in the TCG community has given the peelable plastic a warm welcome. The main sticking point for many fans seems to be the fact the stickers, which can give cards new stats and abilities, won’t just be legal in the upcoming Unfinity set – they’ll also be legal in Eternal formats. This means stickers are coming to Vintage, Legacy, Pauper, and Commander.
On August 11 and 12, MTG head designer Mark Rosewater responded to multiple sticker-related concerns on his blog. The first fan to write Mark says they like the idea of stickers in an unusual set like Unfinity, but they “will feel uncomfortable seeing them across the table in Commander, as it feels too whacky compared to the ‘normal’ style of gameplay”. This Magic player suggested they should have the option to “opt out” of playing games with certain mechanics – something MaRo shut down with a lengthier than usual response.
“Here’s the problem with ‘opt in’”, Rosewater says. “It can’t work.” “It presumes that players all want certain things, and are equally hesitant about the same things that they would prefer to opt-in to. But that’s not how the Magic audience actually functions.”
“Each player has their own list of what they want in the game and what they don’t” he adds, “and those lists are all over the place”. Rosewater continues his argument by listing other features that would have to be opted into if Wizards of the Coast followed similar requests. These include black cards, violent imagery, counterspells, hybrid mana, and even skeletons.
“Everything you love about the game, that makes Magic Magic for you, someone else despises and wishes it weren’t part of the game,” Rosewater says. “The key to our success is to offer lots of different things and let the audience pick and choose which parts they want to partake in.”
Rosewater adds opponents playing in a way you may not like is “what playing a customisable game is all about”. “You get to experience what makes other players happy. Maybe you’ll come to realise it’s not as bad as you imagined, maybe you’ll even come to love it yourself when exposed to it, or maybe you’ll continue hating it, but accept it as a by-product of you getting to play what you love.”
The blog post concludes with a buffet metaphor. “Our job is to provide a wide variety of different food, so that everyone’s meal can be a combination of things they enjoy”, Rosewater says. “We’re not going to remove popular dishes from our buffet because some diners don’t like them.”
“If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. If you hate the smell of it, don’t eat at a table where someone else is enjoying it.” “‘Please force players to have to ask my permission if they can play what they want to play’ is a recipe for disaster”, he adds.
The second blog post Rosewater answered shared concerns about opposing players placing stickers on their cards. “I and many others legitimately don’t want people taking our cards out of sleeves and applying stickers to them”, the player writes. “Have you considered that this is a step in the wrong direction for people playing in public places, and that this could legitimately start fights and conflicts at things like LGS and Command Zone events?”
For this question, Rosewater had a shorter response. “You can only sticker cards you own (not control, own), and it’s fine putting the sticker on the card sleeve if you prefer”, he says.