FNM promos are being replaced by double sided foil tokens starting with Ixalan.
I’m gonna be blunt. This is stupid. This is extraordinarily stupid.
Wizards has the end goal of filling as many FNM seats as possible on any given Friday night. We know this because they’ve either outright said it or alluded to it. And it makes sense. It’s part of their business model. More people in their local game stores means sales are going up. Higher sales means higher orders from the LGS to the distributor. Which makes distributors buy more from Wizards. Then Wizards has more profit.
That’s the gist of how it works. But how would Wizards go about doing that? Foil promo cards? That seems like a good idea. Since 1999 we’ve had extra promos given to players at FNM. It’s a part of Magic culture. Quality has wavered over the years. From the first one being River Boa to hot eternal staples like Swords to Plowshares. Promo quality now is stereotyped as being a random bad common/uncommon though.
We’ve had some good ones in the last couple of years though. Smash to Smithereens, Serum Visions, Path to Exile, Stoke the Flames. I can tell you that Stoke the Flames absolutely got people into my LGS for FNM. Card was nuts and everyone wanted a playset. Given this, we know the basic formula to fill FNMs. Good promo = packed FNMs.
“But those kinds of promos make FNM too competitive”, some are saying. Well, friends, I got a solution. Instead of top 4/top 8 getting promos, how about everyone gets a promo? Show up, pay your $5 or whatever, get your promo after finishing round one. Boom, problem solved. It solves over competitiveness for promos. It solves pre-round 1 drops. And assuming the promo is a good promo like Lightning Helix for example, FNM seats should be filled. This lets you show up with a wacky homebrew and not get hit with feelbads by everyone else playing tier 1 netdecks.
Even if standard is completely awful like it has been for the last while, people will show up to play because there’s value. Let store credit or pack prizes be top heavy for the LGS grinders. But give every single player a promo so everyone feels like they got some amount of value. Everyone walks away like “At least I got this card” even if they go 0-4. But that only works if the card is worth at least a little bit of money.
A related example I can use here is a long time ago, many moons ago, back when your pal Ryan was a relatively young nerd, my LGS experimented with guaranteeing a pack to everyone. $5, get a pack of the newest set, then top 4 would still get a handful of packs. Being an ultra scrub, that made me happy. At absolute worst I paid $5 for a booster pack. It made me want to keep playing there. It was like “Well I’m guaranteed a pack and if I git gud or have some lucky draws, then I’ll get like 5 or maybe even 9 packs.
But when it comes to these tokens, they feel worthless. Plus as far as I can tell right now, you still have to compete well to get them. They almost feel like an insult. “You won FNM, here’s your $40 of store credit which is worth actual product, also don’t forget this token basically no one cares about”.
Now we as a community definitely want foil tokens. It’s been proven with the Helvault thing and the zombie tokens from the SOI prerelease. Not to mention all the independent token producers. What should we have learned from this? Put them in the prerelease packs. People are going to need tokens for prerelease anyway. They were awesome for Shadows Over Innistrad. It felt like good value because it was a one weekend event and 2/2 zombies exist in a lot of forms in this game. Even put the tokens in bundles or planeswalker decks or booster packs. Just not as FNM promos.