The Sandlot went through many changes and updates over the last year. Can you believe we celebrated our 5th birthday?! I'm so humbled to be a part of this amazing community that @cheracc made into a reality 5 years ago for his nephews. The growth and commitment of our players is astounding, and I look at all of you not as internet strangers, but as my friends that I've grown to cherish over my last 3+ years here as a community member, helper, moderator, and administrator. In 2016, we finally supported name changes both on the server and on the forums. We also updated our website with a gigantic set of Minecraft smilies, a new post ratings system, a new set of forum trophies to strive for, automatic name syncing with the Lobby in-game, and a new ban appeal process. We said farewell to the previous Semi-Vanilla Survival map, launching a brand new one with a magnificent Atlantis spawn, built entirely in survival, as well as beautiful and fun spawn hubs for many of Minecraft biomes. With the new server came resource worlds for all three Minecraft dimensions, and an update to the requirements for ranking up. We launched a brand new Arenas server with an expanded Spongebob theme, including new Jellyfish parkour twice the size of the old one, the arcade, the mall, and of course the ever popular Oyster Stadium free-for-all PVP zone. We added many new Arena games including Anvil Drop and Sandpit, and the super fun Bomb Arena. Hide and Seek and Build Battle were also added. We welcomed an amazing group of individuals to our moderator team: @BellStar03, @bobandbunny, @JackenKracken, and @Kyukuro--thank you all so much for your dedication and commitment to making The Sandlot the best and safest place to play Minecraft online with friends. Skyblock was updated with 27 new and exciting challenges across three new tiers. Skyblock was also updated to Minecraft 1.11.2 so that you could fly around with Elytra and obtain Purpur blocks and Sea Lanterns and all the other goodies added to Minecraft since 1.8. Also, don't forget that we turned Skyblock inside out and created Dirtblock too! HungerGames was updated to support Minecraft 1.11.2 as well, and two awesome new maps made by @Virgeric were added: The Abandoned City and Outpost V1rg3ric. Our 5th birthday celebration included a cake building contest where we got to see your creativity shine and make cakes that I wish I could eat in real life! We loaded the old Star Wars lobby into a party server and topped the Star Destroyer with the winning cakes, and gave you a TNT-throwing-cake to wreak havoc on the entire world! Lastly, who could forget that a few of us were lucky enough to attend Minecon 2016 and meet each other in person for the first time! It was an incredible experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. So, what does 2017 hold for The Sandlot? Well, lots! I wanted to give you all a sneak peek into what we have planned for the coming year. Please keep in mind that any and all of this is subject to change at any time. There are no promises here, but they are goals that we are striving for this year. Rules Update We are nearing completion of a rewrite to our rules. Our core values have not changed, but with these new rules, we hope it's easier for you to understand what behavior we expect from you as a Sandlot community member. Hardcore Relaunch I am planning on disabling the current Hardcore server mid-February with a farewell tour and livestream. After the server is disabled, we plan on reopening it sometime in the future with some of the gameplay suggestions discussed on the forums, as well as some new surprises. Semi-Vanilla Survival 1.11.2 Update I will be updating SVS to 1.11.2 relatively soon, depending on plugin support on the new version. I am hoping this will be a quick and painless update. New Lobby We love the Hogwarts lobby. We do not want to see it go, but at the same time, Hogwarts can be very confusing and overwhelming for new players. Our plan is to replace Hogwarts with a fresh, new lobby with much simpler navigation to all we have to offer. Hogwarts will not be gone forever, but will instead be moved to a separate server with all of your inventory and enderchest contents left intact. You will be able to visit and play in Hogwarts anytime you wish. Easy Reset Easy is home to our oldest map on The Sandlot, which is nearly 4 years old now! It has a lot of nostalgia and charm for all of our long-time community members, myself included. Many of you know that I call Easy "my baby" because it's the first server I ever played on Sandlot and where I have spent most of my time. I hate saying goodbye just as much as you, but with a new map comes new adventures, new blocks, new builds, and new possibilities! Arenas, PvP, and Mini-Games I don't have a whole lot to say on this subject right now, but I want to be transparent with you all in my communication. I need to make a few things very clear. The Sandlot runs on plugins created by other developers. Sometimes those developers stop updating their plugins. If nobody else in the developer community steps up to take over the plugin, it will most likely stop functioning as new Minecraft versions are released. This is really important to know for my next several points. Most of the mini-games in Arenas are handled with a family of plugins called BattleArena2. This includes CTF, 1v1, Arena, Arena Teams, Bomb Arena, Paintball, and Spleef. Unfortunately, the developers stopped working on these plugins. Nobody has stepped up to continue working on them. This means that most likely, the Arenas mini-games will stop working at some point and we will need to find alternatives, if any even exist. Hide and Seek has not been updated since Minecraft 1.8 was released. It is most likely going to be removed permanently. HungerGames has not been updated since Minecraft 1.9. I was able to get it working on 1.11.2, but as many of you have noticed, many of the kits have bugs due to changes in the core gameplay of Minecraft since The Combat Update. I have researched many other HungerGame type plugins, but none of them compare to our current HungerGames, unfortunately. Most of them only have a handful of kits, and they are all based on weapon and armor loadouts, and have no special abilities other than potion effects built into Minecraft itself. There is a possibility that the HG you know and love today might not be around forever. We have discussed at length the possibility of a "Factions 2.0" on The Sandlot. While we have not come to a consensus, we have been reading all your opinions on the matter and take those to heart. Some players want it, and others don't. For the record, we are still entertaining the idea, but do not take that as assurance that it will become a reality. This is just to let you know that it's not off the table completely just yet. We are going to add something new very soon. Let me once again take this opportunity to thank you all for making The Sandlot the best Minecraft community in existence. Thank you! I'm very excited at what 2017 will bring.