Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Future of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge

I really hope this doesn't sound arrogant...

As many of my longtime readers know, I spent over three years as the host for one of the most popular Player Run Events of the time known as Monday Pauper Deck Challenge. I stepped down at the end of Season 19, due to some major life changes I was dealing with. Today, living in a new state with a new job, it has become difficult for me even to participate in this great event.

I am very grateful for my fellow Standard Pauper enthusiast Malum who stepped in as host after me, eventually taking over for not only MPDC but the Thursday night SPDC event as well. But today, this same player announced that due to personal reasons, he is having to step away from hosting all 3 of the major PREs he has been overseeing. Malum has done a tremendous job, given the huge investment of time and energy it takes to successfully host 3 different major events, and I don't want anything I might write here to be taken as a criticism of him.

But I have noticed that participation in both of these events seems to be on the decline. Despite the fact that Standard Pauper is more popular than ever, it seems like the player base for these PREs is not growing. Where once we were debating how many rounds should be played with 40-50 players regularly participating, today the average event draws less than half that. As someone who invested a ton of energy into this event, it saddens me to see this happen.

As I mentioned a few months back, my current plan is to unveil a brand new Standard Pauper "league-style" event, where players compete for a month on their own time and schedule, then come together at the end of the month for a tournament with a suitably large prize pool and with byes dependent upon performance that month. With the great success of the Hipsters of the Coast event, I decided to wait until that event came to an end before trying to get this new endeavor off the ground. However, given the current situation with MPDC, I find myself wondering if taking back the reins of this event would be better for the Standard Pauper community, and thus a better use of my time and resources.

On the other hand, I also wonder if there simply is no longer the support for two separate Standard Pauper PREs. Could this declining participation simply be an indicator that what the community really needs is something different, rather than trying to recapture the past?

So here are the questions I would love to get some feedback on from my fellow Standard Pauper players:
  1. Are two weekly Standard Pauper PREs really viable given the recent trends?
  2. Can we find a reliable and skilled host or hosts to run these two events for the long term? If not, do you feel like I should try and take back hosting MPDC?
  3. Is there sufficient interest for me to go ahead and get this "league-style" event off the ground, or is that simply muddying the waters further?
Now more than ever, if you care about Standard Pauper, the PDCMagic.com PREs, and my participation with the format, please make your opinion known. Thanks.


  1. 1) It depends on why they are trending down. It could be due to lack of interest, it could be because there is still no good way to advertise PRE's. I know a lot of people I tell about the mon/thurs PRE's have no idea what I'm talking about, and when I explain it/remind them about it they show up.

    2) Probably, depending on my circumstances in the future (and whether WotC decides to extend my suspension for theros spoilers) I can probably with reasonable certainty run all the events (and I'm sure there are other people willing to volunteer)

    3) I hope so :D More is more betterer ;D

  2. Hi Gwyned, Im FabioS and is a pleasure write on your blog.

    I opened the MPDC's foruns as usual after a busy day (and still not finished) and... and... bad news from Malum...

    I'm over 2 years playing MPDC and SPDC and for me these events have always been a success. After Jamuraa goes, the SPDC players' base in euro-friendly time was growing up. I dont know what may have happened to MPDC (maybe flicker =).

    Im not fan of "league-style". Two rounds in Hipsters were enough for me. So, I think its possible to keep the two events, you should again be the host of MPDC and we could find someone to SPDC (ellmaris. MyGalaxy, Anomulus ??).

    Honestly, I think that league filled by the super prize. Proof of this is the amount of drops we've ever had.

  3. I would love to see them both continue.
    I would also like to see the new league style take off too as this would give me a chance to play again.
    not sure of the reasons why its dropped of but I feel they will go back up. maybe its just that time of the year.

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  5. Hello, Mr. MyGalaxy is here:))

    Firstly I want to agree with Fabios, that the Hipsters' event mainly attracted players with the prize pool. 1st place 45$ and ppl have a chance to get a free booster all along the league.
    I'm pretty sure if we increase the payout of MPDC to 15/12/7/7 we would get an attendance to 30 players easily. 20 flickers and 10 enthusiasts:)

    1) I don’t think we need 2 PREs atm. I usually play at the daytime (Tuesday and Thursday) and meet about 2-3 new players whom I tell about PRS and pdcmagic and encourage them to play. Why do we have such low attendance is still a question for me. I don’t think ppl just stopped playing because of flicker. Everyone can play flicker and have a good chance of winning every match-up. Or take MonoU and get all possible counters in. Maybe the problem is that matches became too long. People want to play PRE fast, because 90% of players think about the payout only and 2 Traders’ credits is not what one expects after 4 hours of a PRE. But we have the same problem if we play a lot of aggro decks and we have WW-WW or WW-Selesnya…

    2) Main words here are “long term”. Are you sure, qwyned, that you are able to host MPDC for the long term at the moment? You haven’t played at a single MPDC for 2 seasons already (ok, maybe one you did). Will you find time to host?
    Ellmaris or Anomulus can host. I can host probably after 28.10. The question is how long we will manage to do this.

    3) I think a league-event could substitute the SPDC. We don’t have funds at the moment to run SPDC on a weekly basis. I didn’t get my TIX back from jamuraa, but whatever…I could give out 15 tix for a community. But if this happen on a weekly basis, it is too much for me. If we make a league with the finals which will be held on Thursday instead of SPDC, but with a bigger prize pool, this could probably attract players. But we need sponsors. We can reward bots credits along with some tix, to increase a prize pool. It is doable, if we don’t need to pay out weekly, but once a month.

  6. 1) Are two weekly Standard Pauper PREs really viable given the recent trends?
    As lons as there is still prize support my answer is yes. Though i'd personally play those events even without any prize.
    MPDC and SPDC are great events gathering a solid player base, they maybe just deserve a better/ wider advertisment and information.
    We have to aim for a larger attendance (and we're trying to achieve that through the "Standard pauper Players" clan), as you said the format becomes more popular and we have to help newcomers find their way to the PRE's.
    One problem is maybe the turnover, newcomers using the format to step into the game, then moving away from it.
    Last word on this, the flicker meta from last seasons surely kept a lot of players away from the format, that is coming to an end with Theros (cheers) and i think we'll check that very soon if both events are still running.

    2) Can we find a reliable and skilled host or hosts to run these two events for the long term? If not, do you feel like I should try and take back hosting MPDC?
    Once more my answer would be YES, at least 3 players showed up and stepped in as cohosts in the latest events, including worlds. My Galaxy, Ellmaris and Anomulus (maybe there are others).
    I don't know about long term and can not speak for them, but if you Gwyned, Malum, Joe, Jamuraa and Dabil can help them improve with Gatherling functionalities, they really could do fine job, and they did already.
    Of course it would be great to have you back as a host and player too!!

    3) Is there sufficient interest for me to go ahead and get this "league-style" event off the ground, or is that simply muddying the waters further?
    Not a big fan of leagues too, i'd suggest fixing the attendance problem and advertisement for MPDC and SPDC first. But it sounds like a great idea.
    Advertising and promoting those events in New players / just starting out rooms is important but that requires a lot of work and time.
    It may be a key to success, i'm taking a bit of time doing so, everyone can take an active part in promoting the format and Player Run Events.
    I'd be really happy if results follow up.
    Sorry for broken english but it's pretty early here.

    Thanks for all the good work you have done and keep on doing for the STD Pauper Community.

  7. Hey thought I would put some feedback here too even though I don't play in any of the std pauper PREs. This isn't through a lack of interest but because they aren't at great times as I live in New Zealand :). I hope the events do keep going as I do keep trying to find the time to play in them and even though I do not play in them yet, the contribution to the communtiy from the people who run them is much appreciated!

  8. 1. Are two weekly Std Pauper PREs viable? - I think having two Std Pauper PREs would be more viable if they were branded more seperately. Perhaps one can be given a more serious set up while the other is more casual. The serious one having the top end prize support and Swiss/TopX structure. The casual one having more "consolation" prize support and a simple 4-round structure. The serious one needs a competitive name along the lines of "Standard Pauper Challenge" while the casual one needs a name along the lines of "Casual Standard Pauper". Both could maybe feed into a combined "Champs" event, but with the casual one earning players fewer qualifying points. The casual one could even ban cards that the more casual players shun (ie: Flicker last season). In that sense, the casual side could be a testing ground for bans for the more serious events. I look at the success of things like the SCG event series, and I see similar potential for the PRE events (albeit at a smaller scale).

    2. Hosts? - Always a concern. We've been blessed with some dedicated hosts for a number of years now. As hosts move on, we recognize how valuable they were. I don't think we can continue to expect individuals to volunteer so much of their time. I think if someone were to take on a group of PRE's to operate as a business model like the SCG series, we'd have our host(s). Imagine text ads for events in the trade window of sponsoring bot? Banner ads across the web site of the host? If this sort of idea doesn't develop before I retire in a few years, I might take it on myself!

    3. League style event? - I think there is potential for a league, but I am not sure what design would work best for the pauper community. I miss a lot of events due to shift work, so a league style event makes sense to me. I think time zones are still an issue, as the person who can't make the normal MPDC time slot, isn't going to be online when many other league players are anyway

  9. gwyned first of all it is a pleasure for me to comment on here given all that you have contributed to the PRE community.

    First allow me to introduce myself, my MTGO name is Dabil, On PDCMagic.com I ran TPDC for many seasons. I also run gatherling.com, and am one of the programmers developing the Gatherling program that both PDCMagic and Gatherling.com use. So I know quite a bit about the PRE scene.

    I think a large part of the reason that attendance has dropped off for MPDC and SPDC is simply because there are more PRE options these days. MPDC and SPDC are both great events, but unlike in years past, there are many more PRE's that a player can choose to play in now. Every day of the week there is at least one PRE now. Before the summer gatherling.com had 20+ PRE's occuring per week.

    They were:

    PK Modern
    Classic Heirloom
    Where Angels Fear To Tread
    Sunday's Official Brawl

    Momir Basic
    SilverBlack Nemesis

    Pauper Classic Tuesday
    One Night Deck

    One Buck Challenge

    Friday Night Standard EU
    Standard Heirloom
    Friday Night Standard
    Top8 Pauper Classic
    FNMM: Friday Night Modern Massacre
    Friday Modern Madness

    Tribal Apocalypse
    Rotating Block Heirloom
    Standard SilverBlack

    Not to mention we also had the following leagues occuring weekly:
    PK Standard
    PK Classic
    Classic Quarter League
    Pauper Championship Series
    Vivat Centum!

    And that is just the PRE's on Gatherling.com, add in the PDCMagic.com PRE's and other PRE's occuring in the community and you now have a very competitive environment. Years ago when I first started running TPDC there was maybe 5 PRE's. All were on PDCMagic.com.

    So am I surprised that MPDC and SPDC's attendance is down? No, I am not. There are now just a lot more PRE's to play in these days. Although on Gatherling.com we still do reach events that have 30-40 players, but they aren't an every week occurance like they used to be.

    Also, I have always felt that two Standard Pauper events were too much. Like many people I like variety, and I think having two events in the exact same format is a little much. Personally I would like to see the Modern Pauper format make a come back. So if you are planning on keeping both MPDC and SPDC, I think it would be neat to make one of them a Modern Pauper event. I know many people would like that. (The M in MPDC could = Modern as well)

  10. I recently (and publicly and melodramaticly) quit MTGO entirely. I am Copperfield on the forum and Cabel in game, for reference.

    But I'd definitely come back if you started the league and/or resumed hosting MPDC.

    My first event was MPDC, hosted by you, about three years ago. Winning the Worlds event my second season is the highlight of my Standard Pauper playing memories. Seeing the events go into the forties made me feel warm and fuzzy. And seeing the series fall was probably inevitable, but makes me feel sad even though I've "quit" due to real life constraints.

    I do think the main problem here is that Wizards is not doing its job and meeting demand.

    There were two PREs to serve two different time zones. Viability is not as important as necesssity. It *might* be viable to find enough people to run a weekly event in an American, European, and East Asian/Austro-Oceania friendly time, but it's not as viable as if Wizards were running prize-supported Standard Pauper tournaments themselves like they should be.

    I suggest a course of action for Gwyned himself and for the rest of us.

    For Gwyned, I'd say start up the the league *and* come back to MPDC. Whatever time works out for you, we know you'll stick with it and give sub-hosts advance notice of scheduling conflicts.

    For the rest of us, I suggest sending *another* e-mail to the guys at Wizards so we can let guys like Gwyned off the hook already. Wizards employees get paid to make this game great, and they are not making it great for a cross section of their players, they are making it more difficult and making the lives of some of their most dedicated players more difficult to make up for it.

    It's not fair that a guy who has two kids to raise and a tough job to do and a wife to keep happy and a home to maintain to have to also keep a format alive that profits your company, Wizards. Step up, already, WotC.

    But that said, I'm serious. Gwyned, you are the best host ever and if you take over MPDC or start this league I will have no choice but to re-install MTGO.

  11. Aspiring Standard Pauper player here. Just based on everybody's comments, I really wish I was around for the events you hosted, gwyned.

    I cannot comment on the viability of two Pauper events per week. I work erratic hours and will likely be unable to attend either event. If/when I find a "normal" job, I will certainly do everything I can to attend. In fact, I would not be opposed to assisting the event hosts (and maybe, after some experience, running the event).

    Personally, I just want to play Standard Pauper. The league sounds like a fantastic idea, though I think you might be inundating the scene with too much of the format. I do not have any great concern for prize support as, once again, I simply wish to play Standard Pauper and have fun.

  12. Hi guys,
    At the beginning I wish to say BIG THANKS for both Gwyned and Mallum who hosted my favourite magic event ever - MPDC. Been playing for ages - once I even won WORLDS :) (Mace_Windu, killert, Tracon)
    I think 1 event a week is fine - but am I wrong or someone here missing the point that we talking about EU time zone?
    I'm also on gatherling.com I can agree there are loads of event there - but most of them are for US players and those for EU have a really bad attendance as well. I think the problem lies on the WOTC side :( They tend to accept player run events - but if we are not allowed to advertise them in the game (client) it is really hard to keep them alive.
    Regarding league play - I think it is fun but I don't think so it will be enough players to make it.
    Regarding Dabil - I had a crazy idea -(was confused with wording few uears ago) is there any chance to incorporate-link both gatherlings together? :) That could lead to more audience maybe better sponsor support , who knows..

    1. As you may know, Jamuraa runs PDCMagic.com and I run Gatherling.com. There are no plans to link the two sites, although we have both discussed it in the past. We even discussed combining the two sites to make one big PRE site. But I sort of doubt anything will come of it. Although I remain open to it. For the immediate future, I don't think either Jamuraa or myself have enough time to combine the two sites, even if we would like to. It would be a big endeaver. I think the best you may see is the two of us add links to each others sites on our front pages.

    2. As you may know, Jamuraa runs PDCMagic.com and I run Gatherling.com. There are no plans to link the two sites, although we have both discussed it in the past. We even discussed combining the two sites to make one big PRE site. But I sort of doubt anything will come of it. Although I remain open to it. For the immediate future, I don't think either Jamuraa or myself have enough time to combine the two sites, even if we would like to. It would be a big endeaver. I think the best you may see is the two of us add links to each others sites on our front pages.