Thursday, April 28, 2011

Trace the Mistake Back...Now, Keep Going


When the spoiler bannings (Wafo-Tapa, Matignon, and cohorts banned for leaking the spoiler) were announced, a detail emerged that was glossed over by Wizards.

Why the hell were some players given confidential information that they could use to gain a competitive advantage in Magic tournaments?

Well, we kind of got the "why;" it was explained that the spoiler was given to aid Matignon in hyping the new set in his publication. There is no way disclosing the whole set is necessary. Why can't Matignon just talk about a preview card or two, or a mechanic? If an NDA is entered into with an author of preview articles, must it be a Pro Club member? The answer to these questions is that the benefit of providing this information to pro players couldn't possibly have justified undermining basic principles and expectations of fairness in competitive play.

It's really frustrating to see such oversights come to light only after a non-disclosure agreement was breached. I lost to Wafo-Tapa in Worlds (where I finished a win away from drawing into Top 8 in the final round), but I was outraged before I even remembered that fact. My friends and I fly around the world and try hard to prepare for these tournaments in the limited time we have with the new set. We show up to compete on a fair playing field. That's one of the things I love about the game, and it is an obvious pillar of tournament play.

The biggest mistake made was not Matignon sharing the list with his friends. It wasn't those friends sharing the list with the world. It was Wizards of the Coast providing an undisclosed competitive advantage to certain competitors.


  1. I agree, how far back does this go? Did Matignon have the spoiler months ahead of him coming 2nd at San Juan?
    Which other pros are getting a godbook in advance? I'm sure other french players had it and didn't get caught up this time. What about the Japanese, there was some cards spoiler in Japanese, Karn etc.

    If WoTC want to have thier product hyped in a print magazine they should have someone at WotC write the article not give a pro a full spoiler

  2. "The biggest mistake made was not Matignon sharing the list with his friends. It wasn't those friends sharing the list with the world. It was Wizards of the Coast providing an undisclosed competitive advantage to certain competitors. "

    Yes sir.

  3. Now, this is where it gets real. WotC giving these lists to people that are able to compete in their own "prestigious" tournaments with significant cash prizes is pretty absurd. And just to write set reviews? There's no reason why that couldn't wait, like everyone else has to.

    I'm interested to see what kind of non-action WotC takes regarding this matter since I doubt they would ever tackle a controversial issue like this.

  4. Agree with most of what you said. Buuuuut, Magic is not a level playing field. It never has been and probably never will be. Still, for Wizards to try and make it as fair as possible it seems bizarre that they would give pro players information that others don't have.

  5. Seconded here too.. It's unbelievable that a Pro player gets such a undisclosed competitive advantage. Even worse is that he can happily share it with a few (reliable) friends. It's when it spread too far that they all got caught. Who knows how long it's been going on for.

  6. whats worse is that its not just Matignon, PV also got the full spoiler but in .txt version given to him by wotc! How many other pro players get this stuff! This is a fucking travesty. Totally bullshit.

  7. Lol dude, I did not have the spoiler.


  8. So, you don't think this is a fair advantage. How many people do you know that use aderol during an event? If we're going to talk about integrity, let's make sure we hit everyone.

  9. PV did not have this particular spoiler. What the CFB article said was "I talked to PV a bit, and he said that when he wrote for a magazine he received his previews in .txt form, not a pdf."

    >>"...when he wrote for a magazine"

    Bottom line, like Sperling said, this is a big deal and WotC just glossed over it like it's irrelevant.

  10. PV didn't have the spoiler, unless Matignon sent it to him (I am 100% sure this didn't happen).

    This seems ridiculously unfair. The other thing that gets me, is that if they weren't pro players, they wouldn't have been banned (rancored_elf wasn't) so why treat them differently. Realistically they should have been sued.

    This "insider" information thing needs to end.

  11. I have lost a lot more respect for WotC than I have from Matignon or Wafo-Tapa over this.

    -Kyle Smith

  12. I wouldn't feel at a disadvantage playing them if they saw the cards a bit earlier than I did.....just saying......

  13. Yeah good work Anon. If you read the PV comment from the other article, he states that he USED to get spoilers in .txt when he wrote for a magazine. No mention that it was a full set spoiler either.

  14. "how far back does this go? Did Matignon have the spoiler months ahead of him coming 2nd at San Juan?"

    Take this to the next level. How far back, Magic expansion-wise, does this go? Mirrodin Besieged? M11? How long has Wizards been giving authors access to the set, which could have been spread amongst a small crowd (this time being the first to be a widespread leak)?

  15. San Juan was block as well, where knowledge of one set is huge. Everyone was scrambling after that pre-release to get packs so they could draft for a month before the PT. If they had knowledge of the Rise set, that is absolutely absurd.

  16. Oh man, I need to establish some close personal connections with writers! Just think of all the advantage not just in terms of preparing for what is an unknown meta for everybody else, but in making money!

    I could buy/trade for cards that are crap now but will be awesome when the new set comes out. If I had known about New Phyrexia's full spoiler and it didn't get leaked, I would have bought every copy I could of Splinter Twin, and now be selling it for $8 a pop or more! I would know which cards everybody thinks will be reprinted but actually won't be, and sell them or trade them away before their prices fall!

  17. It'd be cool if you could also talk about any legal issues raised by this whole thing and the actions you think WotC should take.

  18. Completely agree with you sir.

    @Anonymous: Do you think that testing weeks before you are able is not a disadvantage?!

  19. Channelfireball comment:

    "I dont know the specific legalities off offering a game to the public to be played in a tournament fashion, and then offer secret benificial information to a select few, but I cant imagine in the face of a class action lawsuit Wizards wouldnt face some serious fines. The game shows of the 50s payed a heavy price for feeding answers to favorite players, maybe its Wizards turn to learn that lesson now."

    Anything to it?

  20. Don't forget they got Patrick into the top 8 of Paris. Patrick might not have known they had insider information, but that doesn't mean the original idea couldn't have been created when they were still the only ones capable of seeing the set.

    I don't really want to accuse Patrick, but he has been known to drop little tiny spoiler lines in his articles. I mean I guess it's possible thats where he got them from. (I am not saying this is in anyway true)


  21. lol they could have made $500+ just off splinter twin, it would have been an easy couple thousand off dark depths if you had hexmage spoiler in advance

  22. "It was Wizards of the Coast providing an undisclosed competitive advantage to certain competitors."

    There should have been (and probably was) and NDA. If it was a sensible NDA it would include not playing in pre-releases, launch events and any sanctioned event using the new set for some number of months.

    And it should be disclosed to the public, which writer had early access, simply so we know and can hold that writer & their contacts/friends/teammates under the microscope to determine if any violation of the NDA took place.

    Frankly, we're lucky that the participants in this saga are SO F***ING STUPID. Redistributing the whole PDF? Yeah, that won't come back to haunt you. I'd be more worried, in the future at least, that the information in the spoiler be shared without as much obvious f***ing idiocy.

    With a sensible set of policies in place I would assume that Pros would not agree to sign the NDA, as there would be too much intrusion into their dealings and especially because they wouldn't be able to play in events after launch anyway.

    Then some other writer could do the review for the paper mag.

    I don't disagree with Wizards giving the spoiler out to a paper mag for review, that's the only way it can work. I just can't see Wizards failing to understand that this is a serious possibility when you ship the spoiler to a magazine that hires Pros. Or at least without a damn strict NDA, one that includes not playing in events shortly after the launch of the set.

    But hindsight is always 20/20 I guess.

  23. Chapin decides to prepare for Paris with Wafo and Matignon and coincidently gets his first top 8 in years. Anybody who says information like this is not an obscure advantage is clearly doesn't understand or are lying to themselves.

  24. Is this the proper way to cope with losing in a game of skill and chance? Keep QQ'ing losers

  25. I would bet that a sensible NDA would also include something along the lines of "and dont share that you signed and NDA or that you even had access to the cards" If the actual set was never leaked, but it inadvertantly became public knowledge that GM or anybody else had access to the cards, this would still be worthy of extensive outcry.

    WOTC ty for pushing me to not compete, and therefore not buy your product.

    I WILL vote with my $$

    I hate to say it, but it makes me angry enough to hope that the plan of extensively expanding the GP circut bites WOTC in the ass after this.

    I sure dont want to sit down vs "insert name" pro who writes" on day two now... Why bother playing at that level, and subsequently why bother purchasing/opening product (how WOTC makes thier $ bottom line)

  26. As a member of the MTG Media, I can tell you for sure that there is most definitely preferential treatment being offered by someone at Wizards in terms of spoilers and that. This is true of only Magic, as they are very fair on their other product lines.

    However, that said, we have tried for years to get a single exclusive spoiler for our site and have never seen one. We are only offered "Pooled Spoilers" which is the selection of like five cards that everyone gets before the exclusives are released.

    So for Wizards to offer a an entire "God Book" to someone who is a writer is most likely a smoke screen. I have gotten exclusive spoilers from White Wolf (Vampire, the Masquerade) and Bandai (Battle Spirits) in the past and each time I did, we were given explicit direction in an email in advance:

    You will be given X cards which can not be spoiled before a given date and time. If you agree, you will be considered for future spoilers.

    After responding with my agreement, the email came with the hi-def images in pdf format. You only get the cards that you spoil. You don't get an entire set. Additionally, you may not have seen the God Book, but the God Book is essentially the document that is sent to the printer. It is not just text information. It is full color images of all the cards in print order, spaced perfectly for sheet cutting. I am not saying anything other than, if they have the Magic card back image, it is possible that they COULD have printed thier own sets of New Phyrexia cards.

    My experience with Wizards PR is that they are ten-fold more professional and organized than any other gaming manufacture on the planet. That said, I can't imagine that PR gave out a full God Book to this guy. There is something going on, and I sincerely hope that you guys keep digging around and figure it out. ;)

  27. The site got the GodBook, not Matignon. The site screwed up here by giving Matignon the whole thing, which they were not supposed to do. Granted, pros get preferential treatment. That has been the case for years. If you want the same treatment, stop crying and go get it.

  28. I think it's worth pointing out that the mag in question wasn't given the spoiler to do previews, they were given the spoiler to do a full set review, as the mag is a print mag.

  29. If it was the magazine and not Matignon, then it's obviously ok.
    It's not like the mag has PRO PLAYERS writing for them who CAN and WILL see the god book and CAN and WILL take advantage of it and playtest the hell out of it.

    Keep believing we have a level playing field. WoTC thanks you dearly.

    p.s.- what the PR says is that "As a writer for Lotus Noir Magazine, Matignon had access to the book in order to write about the upcoming release."
    He had access because He would write about it.