SS: It started with a couple friends who liked to play MTG together, but thought the community was missing something, and together we could help.
ElspethFTW: Your website has a lot of articles now and on such a vast variety of topics! Star City Games often locks their content for Premium memberships and some other Magic sites have gone to subscriptions, too. It's great that you have so much fantastic MTG content available for free!
SS: I understand that other MtG websites need to have premium memberships and subscriptions to stay up and running, so I can't be mad that they do it, but I feel like it divides the community too much and that's something we want to avoid.
ElspethFTW: Agreed. I honestly can't afford the memberships myself, and even if I could, I likely wouldn't pay them. I like it when sites unlock premium content on a regular basis, and wish more sites would do that - for the good of the MTG community.
Q2: Sylvan Studies has come a long way, but where do you think it will go in the future? Any specific future plans?
SS: Some of it needs to stay under wraps until it's ready to be shown off, but our main goal is just to have a steadier flow of content, but we wouldn't be opposed to branching out into new areas if people would be interested. But for now we are focused on stabilizing ourselves.
ElspethFTW: I think you guys are doing great! You've definitely become a big part of the MTG community and shared so much knowledge in so many areas!
SS: The great thing about our group is that we all love Magic, but we each have different things we love. zebot loves Legacy and Vintage, Riuka focuses on EDH and general ideas that could work in any format, and I am really into Pauper. This gives a diverse range of topics.
Having a diverse group definitely helps! Personally, I tend to be more into the finance aspect of the game, but I like to read about every format. It's great that your group offers a little bit for everyone.
Q3: Where do you see Magic the Gathering going in the next few years? With a major motion picture upcoming and so many spinoff products being released seemingly everyday, how do you think more mainstream attention will affect the game and the community at large?
SS: I feel that the mainstream attention will mainly lead to community growth, and doesn't everyone want more people to play with? I personally with MtG was a lot more available so I could have found it much earlier in life.
I also think spinoff products are a great thing for the game as a whole. They give use fun new ways to play the game we love, and they can even give us reprints and new cards for other formats we enjoy.
ElspethFTW: I was actually exposed to MTG when I was much younger but didn't get into it until I was a young adult. The mainstream attention is definitely hooking the younger kids now even more than it did when I was younger.
As long as they keep it creative and keep it from getting stale, I think Wizards is doing a great thing for the game. Of course, sales are the bottom line, but it seems like so far they're headed in the right direction.
SS: The way I was exposed to MTG was really dumb now that I think about it.
ElspethFTW: Ah ha ha! I'd love to hear it!
SS: I was at a Salvation Army looking around to see if they had anything cool and I found an Ultra Pro checkbox (one of the cheap but good ones). The reason I wanted it was for my Pokemon cards and I didn't really care that it had a Magic deck inside so I put the cards in a box under my bed and forgot about them.
Years later I stumbled across them and the art looked really cool, so I went online to learn all I could about the game. To this day I regret putting those cards away. So these cards are really special to me.
Sylvan Might can still get people out of nowhere now! :-P
Q4: There are plenty of hot topics around MTG right now. But is there some issue, within the game or community, that you feel isn't being addressed or isn't being properly addressed?
SS: While there are always going to be problems in the community, I feel like the biggest problem is WotC's lack of communication sometimes. Without proper communication, problems are much harder to resolve, and then the most angry voices are all that's heard
Take for example Kamigawa, WotC doesn't want to return to it because the sets were badly received. The reason they were badly received is due to the weird mechanics and overall not great cards. We should return there to give it a second chance.
While returning to Kamigawa is not the biggest problem (honestly it's not really important at all) nothing will change if we are unable to discuss things clearly with WotC.
I know it isn't going to be easy for them to listen to all our complaints, but how many FTV's need to come out of the box curled before they realize something is wrong.
ElspethFTW: I agree that WotC's communication isn't always consistent. But they do listen, eventually. Do keep in mind that WotC is part of Hasbro, which is a massive corporation, and so certain things have to go through certain channels and that can take time.
Kamigawa was a cool plane, but as I wasn't playing MTG at the time, I look at it a bit differently. I'd find a return there worth the risk, but WotC apparently doesn't.
With as many channels as they have for people to communicate with them, their lack of response or strange response can be frustrating. But again, it's part of a corporation and corps can do weird things.
I totally agree on the FTV printing process problem. But if people keep buying them, it's likely nothing will change. It's frustrating, but they don't want to spend the cash to address the problem. I think that's dumb too, but I know how businesses can think sometimes.
Final Question! Q5: If you could change or improve just one thing in MTG, what would it be?
SS: The overall accessibility of cards. I'm not talking about reprinting everything on the reserve list and making cards worth nothing. I'm talking about weird cards that are way too expensive then they should be because of a weird print run like Oubliette or any card from Portal.
I don’t expect them to reprint Tarmogoyf as a common, but something really needs to be done about availability because it scares off new players, but you also can't nuke the price and make people or LGS's lose money.
ElspethFTW: I absolutely agree that cards like Oubilette from years back and random good cards from Starter and Portal sets should be reprinted. This has been done already somewhat with Portal Three Kingdom cards in some FTV and Commander products.
Of course, you can't upset the apple cart too much. Tarmogoyf is an interesting case where it actually was made mythic for draft considerations, and not just to sell the set. But yes, you don't want to anger people who invest in these cards as collectors either.
Case in point: Yu-Gi-Oh! They reprint the living heck out of everything. Now the good thing is, it brings in a lot of players. That game is thriving right now. But it's almost impossible to collect with any certainty due to everything ever being reprinted all the time.
WotC is well aware that they have a product that is not only extremely profitable with a huge secondary market, but that people seriously invest in MTG cards. They have to be careful what they reprint. You can't make everyone happy, but I've noticed WotC is trying harder.
More than ever, WotC is actively reprinting format staples, casual all-stars, and obscure cards in new product all the time. The best cards will often recover in price fairly quickly anyway. Done smartly, reprints actually grow the game. Yu-Gi-Oh did it wrong. MTG can do it right.
I agree with you, though. They could reprint more than they do and not really hurt anything, especially with cards that don't currently have foil versions. They only help themselves there.
SS: They're on the right path.
ElspethFTW: Thanks for such an awesome interview! Before we wrap up, is there anything you'd like to ask us or something you'd like to say?
SS: Thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun! If you're interested in taking a look at our website you can find us at http://sylvanstudies.com
You're welcome! I've been following you guys for awhile. Your content is top-notch! Hopefully this interview brings lots of new eyeballs to your site!
** Disclaimer: I was compensated in absolutely no form for this interview. It was done purely for the good of the Magic the Gathering community and the goodness of my own heart ;)
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