There are probably as many opinions about this subject as there are players. Many people see the format as primarily nostalgia-based, while others may see an opportunity to explore a format with a small card pool that was not historically “solved.”
I certainly don’t speak for even the local playgroup, but I will add some thoughts here as I come across them about what people think is playing or building in the spirit of the format:
- This is a casual group of people playing an unsanctioned format with occasionally nebulous rules. Most people playing this format are just looking to kick back and play a few games. Many are older and some may be using the only cards they ever bought two decades ago. Please be respectful to the people playing and their situation in life. This format is not typically about winning at all costs. There’s nothing on the line at the moment in this group except everyone’s enjoyment. I personally won’t begrudge anyone their competitive nature, but if you only ever show up in the hopes of stomping everyone game after game, you might not be playing in the spirit of the format.
- We allow proxies, but consider limiting yourself so that interesting deck construction choices can be made. When the game started out, rarity was a game balancing mechanic. Decks with Power 9 were rare, and you might not have been able to even find four of a dual land you wanted for your two-color deck, never mind eight of them for your three-color deck. There is no hard limit on the number of proxies, but I would say that if you’ve gone above 10-15 cards that you never plan on acquiring, you may not be playing in the spirit of the format.
- The internet existed in 93/94, but locating a deck online was uncommon even in 1997. That said, some decks are famous enough that multiple people may show up with most of the same cards. Also, not everyone is interested in building a deck from scratch and just wants to play a few games. In keeping with #1, don’t be rude to a player if they show up with a Deck to Beat they found on the internet. That said, if you never choose to venture outside of the Decks to Beat realm and make something a little off the wall just to see how it plays, you might not be playing in the spirit of the format.
- There are many reprints of cards throughout the history of the game. Many events require original art and sometimes restrict which copies with original art you can use. However, as stated in the deck construction rules page, I am of the opinion that a card is a card and that as long as it existed in the format historically that it should be allowed. Among other things, sometimes people actually prefer art other than the original. I would say that if you refuse to sit down across the table from someone who doesn’t have, can’t afford, or doesn’t want to use an original printing of a card, you might not be playing in the spirit of the format.
That’s all for now, I’ll update this as I hear more opinions.