9/4/2009 LD: "Developing for Multiplayer"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.

I was surprised how many folk were playing solo.


I assume they were 'goldfishing' - just practicing for 2p duels.

At my local game store "DreamWizards" we have an active Thursday night multi player community.  Our attendance for Thursdays is often larger than the attendance for FNM.  It was nice to see the poll confirm my experience at DreamWizards is more the norm.

I was surprised that the second place number of opponents was 2; three player games suck.


I am most excited to see a cycle of cards players have been begging for as, well, I'm a player. Now what had I been waiting to see?

I voted "A cycle of cards that players have been begging us to print for years" and I expect it to be the most popular option by a wide margin. The only cycle I know players have been begging to be printed are the ennemy-colored fetchlands, so it looks like more and more plausible to me, despite the fact that I've laughed countless times at the people who expected them every single set. This time, I must admit that the conditions for them to play a major role seem well in place :

  • No ennemy-colored duals left in Standard post-rotation;

  • Onslaught fetchlands are leaving Extended;

  • The Landfall mechanic rewards land-fetching;

  • M10 duals want you to play lands with basic land types (or lands that fetch lands with basic land types) as the rest of your mana base in a 3+ color deck;

I had "A card with the reminder text 'The land continues to burn ....' " as a close second, as this looks like the reminder text of a very original, offbeat mechanic.

The rest of the choices are the kind of teasers that make players imagine powerful exciting cards, while they actually usually end up being cards that are overcosted and/or have huge drawbacks and are too hard to use to be worthwile on a competitive level. But we'll have to wait and see.

Magic The Gathering DCI Lvl 1 Judge Don't hesitate to post rules question in the Rules Q&A forum for me and other competent advisors to answer : http://community.wizards.com/go/forum/view/75842/134778/Rules_Q38A

I voted for "the land continues to burn" because I have no idea what it could be referring to.  The cycle players have been begging for is also intriguing, but if it's a cycle that many players can deduce should exist it's probably not very innovative.  The other things aren't that interesting because they probably have drawbacks or cost a lot. 

In the case of Divination, it makes no sense to me that a divination spell would allow someone other than its caster to gain knowledge. He might choose to share the knowledge that he gained from the spell with another wizard, but the knowledge goes to him first. "Target player draws two cards" moves the card away from this concept, and that hurts the flavor too much for me to think that adding a little bit of multiplayer potential is worth it.

then rename the card.

i agree with maro here, it should all be targeted. the original card draw targetted in the original "flavor" set.  if new players have trouble with targetting they're going to have a hard time with lightning bolt and doom blade, and they have to learn targetting eventually. it's kind of important.

When I first got into Magic, I had a love of "you win the game" cards because the idea of using them to actually win made me smile. I don't think I'll ever lose that feeling, so part of me wants to answer the "win the game" rules text...but...

...legendary Octopus...

I have been reading Latest Developments since Randy Buehler was at the helm (boy do I miss him) and somewhere along the line the kind of responses the polls got made me think a huge amount, if not most, of the readers were causal players.

This one pretty much seals it, at least for now. I'm glad it's mostly not more than 50%.

Sorry for the off-topic but I outgrew multiplayer a long time ago xD.

I voted for "the cycle" if only to get the enemy fetchlands theory out of the way already. WoTC has been making many moneygrabs lately, but enemy fetchlands? Man, what a beating that would be.

Sorry for the off-topic but I outgrew multiplayer a long time ago xD.

Not offtopic at all given the poll.

For that matter, I grew into multiplayer a long time ago and outgrew standard.

Heres to hoping we get Cthulu as a legendary octopus...



TIERS ARE FOR ****S! Currently Rocking To: Dethklok - Dethalbum II Winds of Plague - All Albums Despised Icon - All Albums In This Moment - Beautiful Tragedy Darude - Music

"A spell that can allow you for no mana to put a creature from your library onto the battlefield."

All I can say is:

Flash Pact 0 - Instant - Flash Pact is blue. At the beginning of your upkeep, pay 1U or you lose the game. Search your library for a creature card and put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library. Sacrifice that creature unless you pay its mana cost.

"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)

"A spell that can allow you for no mana to put a creature from your library onto the battlefield."

All I can say is:

Flash Pact 0 - Instant - Flash Pact is blue. At the beginning of your upkeep, pay 1U or you lose the game. Search your library for a creature card and put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library. Sacrifice that creature unless you pay its mana cost.

Whoa, probably not. More like,

Dramaticer Entrance -- Instant/Trap -- 5GG -- If an opponent cast a creature with power greater than 5 this turn, you may pay 0 instead of ~'s casting cost. Search your library for a creature card and put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

Here's a copy of the email I sent, to see if anyone shares the same sentiments:

Some preface on my play group: We have 8 regulars with a pretty small age spread. 4 of use are seniors in high school, including me, and 4 of us are in their 2nd year of college. We play about 3 times a month on average, give or take a set release or school/theatre things going on, with our average night netting at least 4 players. The formats we play include EDH, Type 4, draft (upon release of a new set), and good ol' Chaos Multiplayer.

Within my group, there are 3 things that have more power in multiplayer than they do in the 1 v 1 realm of Magic.

1) Efficient removal. In 1 on 1, you either force the trick or play around in. There's not much to do there in that linear world. But in multiplayer, when you see that someone has been holding a single plains open for several turns, you don't have to wonder how to play around his Swords to Plowshares or Path to Exile. Just attack the guy to his right. The fact that you need your creatures to do so much more means you're even more reluctant to send them to a possible death. Making it known that you have outs if someone were to attack into you effectively gains you a dozen points of life or more per game. That, and when you actually use the removal, you've spent so much less than they have, and if this continues across the whole game, you can just grind your opponent to death by resource advantage.

2) Life gain, and more specifically, life link. And, to get even more specific, Loxodon Warhammer. Granted, gaining too much of it can make you a target, but innocuous gains here and there can really add up and buy you turns. In the early game, life gain can give you a buffer and a fairly true sense of security. Late game, it helps you survive at least an additional turn or more against their dragon air force. Plus, there's something to be said when you swing and gain 18 on top of dealing 18 to your opponent with a double-striking-life-linking-trampling-hasty-Beater. That's pretty much just cool.

3) Creatures that go the extra mile. Comes into play effects or continuous effects that let you squeeze out every possible drop of worth out of a creature are worth so much. Kokusho is not just a 5/5 flier, Thraximundar is not just a 6/6 haster, and Avatar of Woe is not just an undercosted 6/6. I guess I could be saying that black creatures are really good, but things like Shroud or Protection can also go a long way. As I said earlier, your creatures have to do a lot more than 20 damage to win.

2 other things to take note of:

As you pointed out in your column, cards like Breath of Malfegor paint giant targets on your forehead. No one likes taking 5, and no one likes the guy who did it. Cards like this have effectively been phased out of the group because of the pattern that follows. You deal a little to everyone, and everyone deals a little to you. However, when everyone is 5 people, that 'little' adds up.

Additionally, and I guess this is a thank you as well, rarity helps keep casual play honest, and keeps some things cool. I'm not saying I don't think everyone should have Wrath of God - but if everyone had Hellkite Overlord, it'd lose it's cool, and if everyone had Baneslayer Angel, things would get degenerate. However, situations like this are answerable by mere commons and uncommons, and that keeps the balance over here in Casual Land.

Well, that's my (unintentionally long-winded) report from this side of Multiplayer Magic. Keep up the good work - the balance that the game has for multiplayer, as far as big splashy spells vs cheap answers, is at a great level. So basically, do exactly what you've been doing, and you'll keep the same number of people answering 4, 5, and 6+.

Unfortunately, I have to say this article was very "Meh...".

I am sure that there is actually very deep theory about developing with multiplayer in mind. Because when you develop for single player - making the card be more benefitial for multiplayer does not change (almost) anything about single player play, but of course - improves it for multiplayer - thus there is a preassure for higher mana cost - which then can decrease the value of the card for single player. So you should maybe in that case add some subtle benefits still for single player. Why should anyone in single player play imperial mask over ivory mask? There is a difference between shroud and untargetted by opponents.

I would have loved an article that looks in this topic on a more theoretic level, than just going through some rather random cards. And unfortunately, quite often Tom speaks more on just  a card level. But I am sure he can also speak on a broader level, so am looking forward to that type of articles in the future.

p.s. just to add to the mp debate - the all time bestest  and funnest multiplayer card - Coalhauler Swine


p.p.s how do you autocard in this forum?

p.p.s how do you autocard in this forum?

You can't.  Goooo, new forums!

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