Should proxies be allowed in Old School?

Written by Ron Saikowski, November 19th, 2017

For those who don't know, there is a poll that has been posted in the Old School Magic 4life Facebook Group. While it's a closed group requiring membership, I wanted to repost my thoughts on the matter here for those not already members.

I suspect most avid Old School players are already members and I would encourage everyone who can to submit their answer to the poll and leave a comment.

I applaud the OP for posting it and bringing the topic up to the rest of the Group. It's something that we as Old Shcoolers need to address or eventually it will be addressed for us. I have included my comment below as I (like everyone else) have a strong opinion on the matter.

"We just didn't have access to all cards like we do now. There was no internet, no ebay, no craigslist or anything like that... no buying singles online from around the world. No comparison shopping for the best deal on the card in the best condition you could find. The pool of cards you had access to was insanely small by comparison and you often traded up to get what you want or picked it up at a nearby game store if you were lucky enough to have one in your area AND they happen to have that particular card for sale.

We're all older now, I would venture to say that while most of us still enjoy the competitive aspect, it's nowhere near the main reason we play anymore. For those of us who have been around since the beginning, it's the chance to relive a little bit of our youth, a chance to recapture the fun we had all those years ago. For those who have just started, I'm willing to bet they've seen the fun to be had in this format and want to experience it as well because it's not often found elsewhere. Winning or losing has now become irrelevant for us. We all know the "power" builds and optimal combos to play... and yet we don't play them. It's the time spent with like minded gamers enjoying a game we all love. That's what we're hunting for, not the best win/loss record.

The problem now is the cost. In the beginning, there was still access to the cards and they didn't cost as much as a new car like they do now. Those days are gone. We can talk all we want about them, but they're gone. Some of us paid more than others to get our cards. Some of us paid much less. But if we make this about who has the money today or who had the money 25 years ago... we are missing the point completely.

Today, we are playing a format of a game that will live and die based on what we decide to allow and what we decide to prevent. As a group of gamers, we've already been pushed to the fringes of the game we love. Official support for this format is nothing compared to other formats and it's likely to continue its slow decline as card cost and other factors come into play in the coming years.

I'm willing to bet most of us play online or we wouldn't be playing at all. To that end I don't care if someone proxies one or a hundred cards. I don't care what edition your Serra Angel or your Island is from. I don't care if you have them or not. I just want to play the game I love. I want to relive the fun I had 20 plus years ago. This format breeds a certain kind of player. It's not the same type player found today at most conventions.

Allowing proxies is not going to change that. I think if we continue to keep artificial boundaries in place (no proxies, no CE/IE, other arbitrary limitations...) we are really only contributing to our slow demise in the end and one day we'll wake up and realize that we can't even find someone to play with online anymore. Then where do we go?"

An update to my initial comment after more comments had been posted...

"I'm not sure the format is growing... these cards are not being made by WotC. They haven't been for years. There are a finite number in existence and only so many remain today. Time has taken it's toll and will continue to no matter what we decide to do here. They (the cards) are only going to become more and more rare as time marches on.

What we may think is "growing" is merely an increase in the connectivity of those players that do have the cards. We have the ability to communicate with anyone around the world at any time of the day and it's easy to find others who have and share the same hobbies we do. This does not mean we are growing in number each day, it simply means we are now better connected with those that remain.

And to those who say that if you own one expensive card, you should be able to buy another... that is incredibly flawed as well. There is no way to know how they came about that card. Did they buy it as a single card? Did they get it in a booster pack years ago? Was it given to them as a birthday gift years ago? Did they win it in a tournament that they borrowed their friend's deck to play in? When we impose our financial position or beliefs on others, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Not everyone can afford the real cards or cards from the specified editions. There is no way to know the financial position a gamer is in and it's really none of our business. Some folks have weathered a lifetime of disasters from divorce to losing a house, cars, jobs, medical emergencies and any other tragedy you can imagine. To say they can afford and should just buy another one is actually quite disgusting.

As for those who say the financial barrier keeps out the "undesirables," that's perhaps the most elitist thing I've seen here. I would ask what it that you're really afraid of? Is it that if you give some younger, inexperienced player access to the same cards you have that they might beat you? Using a financial barrier to keep others out of the game will do just that, but it will not keep out the trash. There are good players and there are bad players in Old School just as there are good and bad in any format out there. It has nothing to do with money.

And this can be tied in with telling people, "you can buy a budget deck" to get started. You might as well tell them you'll play against them as long as you can be guaranteed to win because you have access to superior resources and they do not. And for those folks who say new players need to build their deck over time and collecting the cards is what you do in Old School... why would think you have the right to impose the way you do or had to do things on someone else? Just because I had to work for years to get my cards does not mean everyone else is required to do that. Would you even think of telling someone else how they should do anything else in life and if they don't follow the same path you took, they're doing it wrong? There might be no quicker way to push people away than that.

OP posted this topic/poll for a reason. The comments and discussion are here for a reason. This is something we as a community need to discuss. Really this isn't about proxies or playing with different editions cards, it's touching on far bigger issues."

Thanks for reading.
Go make your voice heard if you can.
Bring the topic up in your gaming group.
It's not about what you had to go through to get here.
It's about the game we love and what we want to see it become in the future.

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KEYWORDS: Old School Magic, proxy, rules