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Magic: The Gathering‘s first ever million dollar tournament, the Mythic Invitational, began today. So far, it’s been huge and as I write this the official Twitch stream is sitting at just about 50,000 viewers. Brian Kibler, Day 9, and the host of casters have been doing a phenomenal job at keeping things interesting and fun, but there is one issue that is becoming apparent: the new time limit rule.
In a typical Magic: The Gathering tournament, if a match hits the preset time limit, there are a number of ways for this to be resolved. These include the players coming to an agreement on who would have won the match, judges declaring one person the winner if their board state is obviously more advantageous than their opponent’s, or basing the winner off of the number of match wins each player has. In the official DCI rules, the absolute last measure of victory is “who has the highest life total.”
Using life points to settle draws
However, in the Mythic Invitational’s new format, known as Dual Standard, the player with the highest life total wins a draw no matter what. This is not something the MTG community can get behind because, for as long as Magic: The Gathering has been around, life points have been considered a resource. Sometimes you let yourself get low on life to keep a board advantage, sometimes your cards get stronger the lower you are on life (looking at cards like Death’s Shadow or the Fateful Hour mechanic), and sometimes you can win a game even if you have lower health than your opponent. Combo decks do this routinely; Control decks can stabilize and then bury their opponents in card advantage even if they’re at 1 health.
Life total being the primary determining factor when there is a draw is a slap in the face to the history of Magic: The Gathering.
However, we need to remember that this is the first Mythic Invitational. There are bound to be problems, and this is one of them. Wizards of the Coast has been particularly receptive to community feedback regarding MTG Arena, so I have every confidence in them to fix this for the next Mythic Invitational. We need to politely express our displeasure on Twitter, Reddit, and the official MTG Arena forums so this issue can be addressed and resolved.
If you’re out of the loop on this particular Magic event, check out our Mythical Invitational breakdown.