9/7/2009 MM: "Achieving Zendikar, Part I"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.

Called it on the Enemy Fetchlands! Zendikar is going to sell like hotcakes.

Disappointing about the full art lands not sticking around, but not really surprising. They know it's a hot commodity and as some forum posters have noted, if they were printed too often they would lose that specialness. I do think that they would be wise to occasionally reprint one of them as one of the four basic land reprints in the core sets. That would be a nice little thing for the fans.


 


I should say of course I'm very excited to finally see a land matters block. I've always decried the way lands were so short shrifted over the years, being relegated to just mana-fixing (and usually at rare, though it's nice to finally see this enemy fetches cycle) and the odd man-land.

Proud member of C.A.R.D. - Campaign Against Rare Duals "...but the time has come when lands just need to be better. Creatures have gotten stronger, spells have always been insane, and lands just sat in this awkward place of necessity." Jacob Van Lunen on the refuge duals, 16 Sep 2009. "While it made thematic sense to separate enemy and allied color fixing in the past, we have come around to the definite conclusion that it is just plain incorrect from a game-play perspective. This is one of these situations where game play should just trump flavor." - Sam Stoddard on ending the separation of allied/enemy dual lands. 05 July 2013

This article had A LOT of typos and grammatical mistakes. I guess the editor took Labor Day off too.


Good info though. I'm pretty excited for this set.

I seriously have a hard time believing that everyone always goes on saying that idea X will not work.  Magic is so versatile, as long as the idea isn't ridiculously narrow, it's possible to make any idea successful.  I'm also totally tired of hearing every one of Mark's "I had this idea and they said it couldn't be done but I said 'watch me' and did it and look how awesome it is" stories.  Either he's exaggerating how much hate he receives, or everyone else there just doesn't realize how versatile magic is.  I definitely doubt the latter is true.


I seriously have a hard time believing that everyone always goes on saying that idea X will not work.  Magic is so versatile, as long as the idea isn't ridiculously narrow, it's possible to make any idea successful.  I'm also totally tired of hearing every one of Mark's "I had this idea and they said it couldn't be done but I said 'watch me' and did it and look how awesome it is" stories.  Either he's exaggerating how much hate he receives, or everyone else there just doesn't realize how versatile magic is.  I definitely doubt the latter is true.




That or in person he's really annoying to work with.

I'm struck by the obvious combo of fetch lands and landfall. Today's preview card gets pretty big whenever two lands enter the battlefield on the same turn.

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I hate to act like they have to be in conflict, but I liked this preview article much more than the other (Probably due to liking the preview card(s) more and liking development stories). Although the story of how the land block came around is a bit... Overused (How many blocks have been supposedly "impossible" when they were first announced, barring tribal and multi-colored ones?), I'm still a sucker for Making Magic.


The Preview cards are awesome. Enemy Fetchlands are obvious, but that doesn't make their interaction with landfall any less beautiful. And the demon guy? Five mana for a 5/5 that dies to bolt and steals life/grows bigger every turn is great. The simple effect of lifestealing already makes me happy. He might not be constructed playable, but he's fun, works well with the other preview card, and more importantly, looks scary. Demons always look scary. It's apparently the dress-code in the underworld.

I'm not a big fan of the fetchlands returning, especially in a block where they combo so well with the block mechanic of landfall; while perhaps unsurprising given the last block was multicolor, they're going to be extremely expensive chase rares ($20+... again) and they're going to make extended continue to feature very expensive mana bases. I'm not all that surprised, but a bit disappointed.


I do like the landfall mechanic, though.


I seriously have a hard time believing that everyone always goes on saying that idea X will not work.  Magic is so versatile, as long as the idea isn't ridiculously narrow, it's possible to make any idea successful.  I'm also totally tired of hearing every one of Mark's "I had this idea and they said it couldn't be done but I said 'watch me' and did it and look how awesome it is" stories.  Either he's exaggerating how much hate he receives, or everyone else there just doesn't realize how versatile magic is.  I definitely doubt the latter is true.





We don't really get to hear about the bad and narrow themes that don't go through. Recall that they tried to do a four set block and failed, and failed to do a hybrid theme for Time spiral.

I don't think anyone argued that a land block couldn't be done, but doing a land block and having it be fun... that's something else entirely.

… and then, the squirrels came.

I'm actually really (really) disapointed with the enemy fetch lands. On a global case I think allied pairings should have better fixing than enemy pairings, and they consistently even them out even with a delay (granted the fetch lands when used together with enemy duals with basic types make this moot). But that is minor.


The major issue for me is that they don't seem to give much thought to Extended. The Ons fetches rotating out would improve certain mistakes a bit (e.g. Tarmogoyf in mostly every deck) and would certainly give Extended a boost of originality. As it is, we are going to have "Mono" Blue with splashes (Ancient Grudge, for example) while still running Shackles or Teferi if they want to, Zoo and so on.


I understand that fetches have synergy with landfall, but so does Terramorphic Expanse and other stuff like that. They could make  a different variation of fetch lands that could only get basic lands (instead of basic types) and print the enemy fetches after Rav duals rotated out.


I'm really getting the impression that Magic as a *game* is suffering. Congrats to WotC as Magic as a *product* seems to be doing very well, with Mythic 'Walkers being staples, Mythic Angel as well, and I can see the (spoiled) Mythic Goblin being something like that as well. The lands will certainly make the set a success, possibly at the cost of some Extended popularity (I know there are some people who will enjoy the "similarity" with past season - I wonder if that is the majority). The lands would make another set a success if they were introduced later though, so I'm not even sure it is a net gain for them to have "jumped the gun" on them (IMO they did, but what do I know).


Ivo.

Maro tells us so often that decisions are important and here he creates an ability which is onesided and will trigger anyway.  You allways want to play lands. Unlike a mechanic like Madness, which gives you a choice: another land in play or a card to use that discard ability, Landfall is a no-brainer.


Will I play it? Of course, the possibility to gain an advantage from a top-decked land is incredible powerful. An uncreative keyword, but very powerful, I wouldn´t be surprised if we will see many manaramp strategies in Zendikar. I am not convinced that it will create fun games but we´ll see.


But:


The printing of the enemy colour fetch lands is a dirty trick and a big rip-off. Just when extended rotates the replacement edition brings new fetchlands to replace the Onslaught ones? What a coincidence! And look there all rare... Wasn´t it possible to just reprint the Onslaught ones? Seems like Zendikar doesn´t even feature an enemy colour theme, was it really necessary to print rare lands which you´ll need in Standard for your landfall abilities AND in any other format to replace the old fetch lands? A slap in the face of every magic player, not to mention that its an obstacle for beginners.

Great news for my wallet, I haven't seen anything tempting me into Zendikar yet. Hurry up and tell us what tribes are in it. I might stretch to buying singles if you print any good cats or wurms, but so far I'm not feeling pulled in by the set. Hmm, maybe its time for another break, like when Time Spiral was released. Hey, that's wierd, both of those came out after a good multicoloured block...

Creature using your "land drop" already exists: Rock Jockey


 


And seeing its 3/3 for 3 mana and they considered a 3/3 for 1 mana ??

Too bad about the full art basics. :'(


Maybe they could have done something in-between: making 1 of every 4-5 basics in a booster be an extended art one...


For the rest, wait and see!

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Am I right in thinking 'landfall' can trigger twice in a turn with a fetchland - once for the fetchland, once for the land it fetches?


 


I've believed for a while that they should print allied duals at uncommon. That way, they could ensure that allies are seen to be 'working together more often'.


The notion that "For cool things to enter, other cool things must exit." seems untrue. Full-art lands wouldn't prevent other new, splashy, things from creating an impact.


As is, I'm less interested in collecting the full-art lands. I mean, I'd like all my lands (at least in any given deck) to be of the same type at least.


Am I right in thinking 'landfall' can trigger twice in a turn with a fetchland - once for the fetchland, once for the land it fetches?




Correct. Lavaball Trap works on a similar principle.


 


I agree that the same old story of "Mark has an awesome, left-field idea for a set, and everyone says it's crazy and can't be done, but DAMMIT HE SHOWED THEM," is getting rather old - but at the same time, we don't hear about how often he suggests things which get shot down never to see the light of day. For every 'impossible' set he suggests which sees print, maybe there are ten which don't...


 


The flavour of Zendikar has me mostly interested. I was worried that the more oblique ideas would be sidelined for not being 'resonant' enough. Okay, so Zendikar is no Mirrodin or Phyrexia in terms of straying from generic fantasy tropes, but it seems pretty weird and alien nonetheless, and I like that a lot. The only thing I don't like? Well, let's look at the mechanics... you assemble a team of Allies to go Questing in ever-shifting Lands, avoiding Traps along the way... it's the World of WarCraft set! D&D 4.0 was too heavily influenced by MMO's for my personal tastes, and Zendikar seems to have been heavily influenced by that same general idea too. That has me a little apprehensive. But like I said, I recognise that it's just my own personal dislike for that kind of game causing that.

A slap in the face of every magic player, not to mention that its an obstacle for beginners.


I am no begginer, but hey - I don't feel slapped in the slightest bit and I am in fact a Magic player. Just because you've got problems with enemy fetchies doesn't mean that I do, or my friend Bobby does, or Jimmy from accross the street does. In other words - you're not representing me, so don't write on my behalf, please.

Well, let's look at the mechanics... you assemble a team of Allies to go Questing in ever-shifting Lands, avoiding Traps along the way... it's the World of WarCraft set! D&D 4.0 was too heavily influenced by MMO's for my personal tastes, and Zendikar seems to have been heavily influenced by that same general idea too. That has me a little apprehensive. But like I said, I recognise that it's just my own personal dislike for that kind of game causing that.


World of Warcraft? Really? Have you ever played that game? Zendikar is far more like a fantasy Indiana Jones setting. I guess you could argue that it's also a bit like D&D, but I don't know where did you get the idea it's like 4th Edition. The only thing that links these two together is assembling a team (not really a theme in Zendikar from what was spoiled up to now) and going treasure hunting in a hostile environment (check). Here's the catch, though - you had exactly the same things in D&D 3rd Ed, 3.5 Ed and in 4th Edition.

I'm sad to see the full-art lands go away after Zendikar, but I understand the logic. They wouldn't be special if they were to appear in every set from now on. Anyway, the set seems to be pretty special from what I've seen up to now and it looks like I'll be less hesitant to buy a box or two than I was with Alara.

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I'm not a big fan of the fetchlands returning, especially in a block where they combo so well with the block mechanic of landfall; while perhaps unsurprising given the last block was multicolor, they're going to be extremely expensive chase rares ($20+... again) and they're going to make extended continue to feature very expensive mana bases. I'm not all that surprised, but a bit disappointed.




I don't think they will be that expensive - they are in the big set.  The OLS fetchlands were not $20 once they were in wide circulation, although I will grant that people probably appreciate a good fetchland a little more these days.  I'm guessing most of them will end up in the $4-$5 range eventually (the online price at which I bought most of my OLS fetches).


It seems weird to only have the enemy ones legal at a given time.  I'm surprised that the allied ones weren't in M10, but maybe that turned out to be too nuts with landfall.

Well, let's look at the mechanics... you assemble a team of Allies to go Questing in ever-shifting Lands, avoiding Traps along the way... it's the World of WarCraft set! D&D 4.0 was too heavily influenced by MMO's for my personal tastes, and Zendikar seems to have been heavily influenced by that same general idea too. That has me a little apprehensive. But like I said, I recognise that it's just my own personal dislike for that kind of game causing that.


World of Warcraft? Really? Have you ever played that game? Zendikar is far more like a fantasy Indiana Jones setting. I guess you could argue that it's also a bit like D&D, but I don't know where did you get the idea it's like 4th Edition. The only thing that links these two together is assembling a team (not really a theme in Zendikar from what was spoiled up to now) and going treasure hunting in a hostile environment (check). Here's the catch, though - you had exactly the same things in D&D 3rd Ed, 3.5 Ed and in 4th Edition.



Not the way I played 2nd or 3rd ed ;) In fact I don't think I'd played a dungeon crawl in years before 4th ed came out. You can't tell me the redesign of classes for 4th ed was without an eye on MMO structure. You've got the tanks, the command class, the DPS class all fully laid out. You actually need to care about formation, unlike every other edition since 1st. The progression up the skill and ability sets is very much like an MMO. And yes, the flavour returning from the more esoteric and personal potential of 2nd and 3rd towards straight-up dungeon hacking. Can you do a combat-free, sociopolitical campaign in 4th the same way you can in 3rd? Possibly, but I doubt it'd be anything like as open for the players or as easy on the GM. The bulk of MMOs are all about assembling a team and going treasure hunting in a hostile environment. D&D 4th was very much more about treasure hunting than 3rd was, in my experience. And so far, Zendikar seems to be about it as well.


I'm not saying that's a bad thing, just an observation based on what's been revealed so far.


Creature using your "land drop" already exists: Rock Jockey


 


And seeing its 3/3 for 3 mana and they considered a 3/3 for 1 mana ??




And from the way Rosewater discussed the mechanic in the article, I'd say there are going to be a couple more land drop cards in Zendikar, but the ability won't have a keyword.

Maro is like one of the best game designer on the planet, his articles are always so insightful.

I can't for the life of me find the article to quote, but I seem to remember that when the alara tri-lands were spoiled, a big deal was made about how their being uncommon.  I remember it because I got really excited that I wouldn't have to spend a $100+ just on the fundamental building blocks of a tournament playable deck (and that's only 1 deck, nevermind wanting to play a couple different decks over the course of a season).


It's been a year or so and what do we have?  More $10+ lands coming down the line.  I can completely understand the reasoning behind the rarity on these particular lands, but did they really have to print them right now?  Couldn't extended and our wallets been given a respite?  Why give us yet another tool to thin our decks of land when Mark describes topdecking lands as exciting?


For these and many other reasons I'm frustrated and dissapointed with the current game.


And yet, all I'm hoping for right now is that they printed enough of this set.

I had the same experience yesterday with really needing a land during Planechase. Goldmeadow planechase was in the command zone & my opponent (the wife) Had 20+ goats in play to my meager 6.


This set looks great! The extended art lands are great & I cannot wait to see all the love to the subtypes. Zombies, Goblins, Vampires, Elves & Merfolks oh my!


 

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I am no begginer, but hey - I don't feel slapped in the slightest bit and I am in fact a Magic player. Just because you've got problems with enemy fetchies doesn't mean that I do, or my friend Bobby does, or Jimmy from accross the street does. In other words - you're not representing me, so don't write on my behalf, please.




I am not writing on your behalf, I am stating my opinion. And in my opinion Wotc could´ve shown some dignity and tone down the yield maximization at least a little. But I guess as long as Bimmy and Jimmy don´t care about beeing ripped of and are happy about each new chase rare this will not happen.



I seriously have a hard time believing that everyone always goes on saying that idea X will not work.  Magic is so versatile, as long as the idea isn't ridiculously narrow, it's possible to make any idea successful.  I'm also totally tired of hearing every one of Mark's "I had this idea and they said it couldn't be done but I said 'watch me' and did it and look how awesome it is" stories.  Either he's exaggerating how much hate he receives, or everyone else there just doesn't realize how versatile magic is.  I definitely doubt the latter is true.




That or in person he's really annoying to work with.




It does seem REALLY bizarre that coworkers would constantly be thinking that everything is impossible.  I mean is it really hard to imagine that you can create a block based on lands?  There have been plenty of popular lands throughout the years, and mechanically they can do pretty much anything.  Very few restrictions.


Seems like a no-brainer to me, but what do I know?  I guess it does make somewhat of a story..


I don't think they will be that expensive - they are in the big set.  The OLS fetchlands were not $20 once they were in wide circulation, although I will grant that people probably appreciate a good fetchland a little more these days.  I'm guessing most of them will end up in the $4-$5 range eventually (the online price at which I bought most of my OLS fetches).


It seems weird to only have the enemy ones legal at a given time.  I'm surprised that the allied ones weren't in M10, but maybe that turned out to be too nuts with landfall.




Well, Arid Mesa is currently preselling on eBay for $20+ each, and it doesn't find blue. I hope the prices of the new fetches do drop, but I'm not that optimistic about it. They'll be useful in pretty much every format (Threshold will love a G/U fetch).


Also, it would have been nice to play Extended without fetches for a year. I don't mind enemy fetches being introduced, but there will always be that "what if?" scenario.


 


 


 


I agree that the same old story of "Mark has an awesome, left-field idea for a set, and everyone says it's crazy and can't be done, but DAMMIT HE SHOWED THEM," is getting rather old - but at the same time, we don't hear about how often he suggests things which get shot down never to see the light of day. For every 'impossible' set he suggests which sees print, maybe there are ten which don't...


 




Actually, I seem to recall Maro once admitting that he exaggerates a little when he tells stories like this, and I also recall someone else from WOTC once coming into the forums to suggest Mark kinda plays these things up for dramatic effect.


 


On the other hand, I've seen other article authors talk about something they didn't think they could do or figure out, and I'm like "you're creating a fantasy based strategy card game for a living, you may be thinking outside of the normal box, but you just put yourself in another box."


Remember, basic human nature means sometimes the unknown can scare you, even though you're already doing stuff that would make other people run and hide under the bed like a dog during a fireworks show.

Proud member of C.A.R.D. - Campaign Against Rare Duals "...but the time has come when lands just need to be better. Creatures have gotten stronger, spells have always been insane, and lands just sat in this awkward place of necessity." Jacob Van Lunen on the refuge duals, 16 Sep 2009. "While it made thematic sense to separate enemy and allied color fixing in the past, we have come around to the definite conclusion that it is just plain incorrect from a game-play perspective. This is one of these situations where game play should just trump flavor." - Sam Stoddard on ending the separation of allied/enemy dual lands. 05 July 2013

I am not writing on your behalf, I am stating my opinion. And in my opinion Wotc could´ve shown some dignity and tone down the yield maximization at least a little. But I guess as long as Bimmy and Jimmy don´t care about beeing ripped of and are happy about each new chase rare this will not happen.


I understand your point, but still - how is it that you decide what is "a slap in the face of every magic player"? If I don't feel slapped then am I being slapped? If it's really just your opinion, I'd be greatful if you express that somehow when you post such polarizing remarks (a simple IMO would suffice). Because, from my perspective, it looked like you were speaking on behalf of "every magic player" and that would be rude, really.

As for Bobby (not Bimmy) and Jimmy - they don't care. They'll buy a box each and share all the cards they need for tournaments. They'll buy a single or two if they don't have it, or just go drafting. This way or another, they'll get what they need. Don't worry about them. They're ok with this.

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I'm really getting the impression that Magic as a *game* is suffering. Congrats to WotC as Magic as a *product* seems to be doing very well, with Mythic 'Walkers being staples, Mythic Angel as well, and I can see the (spoiled) Mythic Goblin being something like that as well. The lands will certainly make the set a success, possibly at the cost of some Extended popularity (I know there are some people who will enjoy the "similarity" with past season - I wonder if that is the majority). The lands would make another set a success if they were introduced later though, so I'm not even sure it is a net gain for them to have "jumped the gun" on them (IMO they did, but what do I know).

Ivo.




Indeed, this is a continuation of the moves Wizards has made seemingly in desperation. They are upping the stakes to a large degree. They've used the "all gold" gimmick. They gave back Lightning Bolt two years after Aaron Forsythe said he thought Incinerate was a little on the strong side. They moved Serra Angel to uncommon not because she belonged there but because they essentially obsoleted her at mythic to the degree that it is a chase "I win" card.  Now they've used the "enemy fetches" trick and made some other "I win" cards, and to date we have only a third of the set spoiled. These are the things that make me wonder what exactly the corporate overmasters are expecting from these guys. I do know this: they are certainly willing to risk future card development and format health to get sales right now. Two years ago, this would have bothered me.


Of course, if this were two years ago or even a year ago I'd be jumping all over these, having missed their allied counterparts in Onslaught. I still might. But I have no real plans to continue buying cards, especially considering that the little cherry-picking I did with M10 has yet to result in any real deckbuilding spree - or manifested itself in any deckbuilding at all, to be honest. All these lands would do is make my existing decks better, which is certainly worthwhile, but not really necessary unless I decide to be competitive in Extended (which requires, at a minumum, that Mirrodin leaves the format). But they are good, and people have been asking for them. It might be a good time to go ask WOTC for some of that other candy that's out there. You'll probably get it.

The enemy fetchlands are pretty great, because I was beginning to worry that they were going to start straying away from enemy colored lands, since they didn't print any in 2010.


As for the idea of using a land drop to play a spell, I don't understand why that couldn't be used. I mean, several things have alternate mana costs in this block, like the Whiplash Trap, so I don't see why a card couldn't say something like "You may play this without paying it's mana cost if you haven't played a land for the turn." It's virtually the same idea, minus the tension. On top of that, some turns you might not or might not need to drop lands, so it'd be nice to have something you could play at a reduced cost.


That demon I'm a little torn on. It's a decent effect, but it has no evasion at all, and to be mythic, I'd have expected something other than getting bigger and hurting the enemy based on an event that may or may not happen.

Has anyone noticed that the symbol on Ob Nixilis's forehead looks a lot like the symbol for Worldwake?

What's the difference between a duck? One leg is both the same. Is it farther to Chicago or by bus? Depends on whether you walk or take your lunch.

I was quite excited to see the enemy-colored fetch lands.  Until I came here to read the comments, and noticed that they're rare. 


But, then again, with the 4-level rarity distribution, new rares are somewhere in between old rares and old uncommons in terms of availability.

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Has anyone noticed that the symbol on Ob Nixilis's forehead looks a lot like the symbol for Worldwake?




Wow, you're absolutely right.  Good call on that.


And good point by those people who mentioned that it's possible for every one of MaRo's ideas that work, there are ten that don't.  I'd love to see MaRo do an article about specific failed ideas.  I think it could be very insightful into design.  Unfortunately, he's always so tight lipped about ideas that didn't pan out because he believes there's always a chance it might get fixed and/or used in the future, so I probably won't get my wish.


But, I am still tired of that same old victim tune he always tells.  I think it's mostly because it sounds like he's calling out the other designers and saying that they're not as good at design as he is because they can't see how this idea will work.

I hate rare duals.

Some of the game-health comments echo my own thoughts.  Thoughts such as, "Why aren't the designers/developers paying attention to power inflation?" and "Why must they try so hard to beat each previous year's sales?"


I'm about sick of Wizards doing gimmick blocks for sales.  Invasion was innovative.  Ravnica was flavorful and potent.  Alara was a sellout.  So too the creature-type linear blocks (I wasn't even that crazy about Onslaught because it had so many dead cards to me, and that was the first time around).  I'm not saying Zendikar is a gimmick block, because there may well be innovation here at last.  But the game's power curve is also getting steeper at an alarming rate.


While this wouldn't be very popular with the Spike crowd, I say we go back to a set where Spike isn't the intended audience.  I mean making a low-powered block.  Maybe two.  Maybe then we would see some innovative deck designs crop up when they aren't under such intense pressure to attack for 2 or counter spells.  I like games that last until turn 11 or later, quite honestly.  People must have noticed by this point in time that combo decks are on a long decline in Standard.  The most innovative to come in recent memory is the Time Sieve deck.


2010 had me wondering if maybe Wizards was getting some of the picture.  I finally saw bad commons again!  There have been a string of sets that really didn't have anything worse than about mediocre in them whatsoever, which means power creep across the board.  Yet a few bad commons aren't enough to offset the overall power level of a set.  As most every strategy gets more and more aggressive and power-ridden, Wizards is at risk of:


1.  Alienating those whose strategies are not being continued at the same level, such as combo players.


2.  Causing beloved older cards to not measure up to the ferocious regime of the Modern Sales Era, thereby alienating both old casual players and old tournament goers alike.  Spike might still play, but he'll have a tear in his eye.


3.  Forcing extended players to continue to shell out money in droves as each shiny new overpowered set comes down the pike.


4.  Reach a point of no return, which I shall dub the Power Creep Event Horizon.  At this point, they must either force themselves to start printing cards worse than those seen before and back further and further away from the precipice they have forced themselves to, or crash headlong into paradox where they print better cards but nobody wants them.


No, I'm not saying that Magic is dying.  I'm just saying Wizards is not necessarily making good decisions for the long term of the game in order to boost short-term sales.  Perhaps I should lay the blame with Hasbro, as the pressure may be felt from higher up the chain of command.  In any case, they need to calm the heck down with the power creep (and WTF is up with Mythic Rarity, anyway?  Give me a break!) and let the game breathe a few breaths without the pressure of sales and shiny toys.


I hope Zendikar is a rest from gimmicks (sans enemy fetchlands, of course), but if not I sincerely hope the two blocks following Zendikar are low on power and high on flavor and creativity.


For what it's worth, the demon is awesome.  ^_^

I'm about sick of Wizards doing gimmick blocks for sales.  Invasion was innovative.  Ravnica was flavorful and potent.  Alara was a sellout.  So too the creature-type linear blocks (I wasn't even that crazy about Onslaught because it had so many dead cards to me, and that was the first time around).  I'm not saying Zendikar is a gimmick block, because there may well be innovation here at last.  But the game's power curve is also getting steeper at an alarming rate.


Every block since... ever has had a theme. The only ones that didn't have a theme are the core sets.


While this wouldn't be very popular with the Spike crowd, I say we go back to a set where Spike isn't the intended audience.  I mean making a low-powered block.  Maybe two.  Maybe then we would see some innovative deck designs crop up when they aren't under such intense pressure to attack for 2 or counter spells.  I like games that last until turn 11 or later, quite honestly.  People must have noticed by this point in time that combo decks are on a long decline in Standard.  The most innovative to come in recent memory is the Time Sieve deck.


... Kamigawa. Kamigawa was a lower power level than most blocks and people disliked it greatly. Though the problem is, power creep doesn't exist in the game. The new sets don't overshadow the previous sets. Sure you can compare indivual cards... but doing so doesn't tell you anything about power creep. Yes Baneslayer Angel is more powerful than Serra Angel, but then again Cancel isn't as powerful as counterspell. R&D pushes certain aspects of the game, but always compensates by lowering the power of other areas.


2010 had me wondering if maybe Wizards was getting some of the picture.  I finally saw bad commons again!  There have been a string of sets that really didn't have anything worse than about mediocre in them whatsoever, which means power creep across the board.  Yet a few bad commons aren't enough to offset the overall power level of a set. 


Bog Hoodlums, Yoked Plowbeast, and a slew of bad commons would care to disagree with you. Plus power level is defined by all rarities. Trust me there are bad cards everywhere. Though common tends to not have as many bad cards because in limited you need enough playable cards to actually create a deck.


As most every strategy gets more and more aggressive and power-ridden, Wizards is at risk of:

1.  Alienating those whose strategies are not being continued at the same level, such as combo players.



Power levels wax and wane. What is powerful at one point may be weak at another. And weren't you just saying how much you enjoyed Time Seive... a combo deck.


2.  Causing beloved older cards to not measure up to the ferocious regime of the Modern Sales Era, thereby alienating both old casual players and old tournament goers alike.  Spike might still play, but he'll have a tear in his eye.


I don't quite understand this argument. Older cards are in older formats. And older cards sometimes do get replaced by newer cards. Creatures especially because back when creatures were terrible. R&D has in recent years been pushing creatures more and more. But at the same time they are pulling back on noncreatures in order to balance everything out.


3.  Forcing extended players to continue to shell out money in droves as each shiny new overpowered set comes down the pike.


So you want power sink? Seriously, in order for power levels to remain the same you need to keep them the same. That means every set will include sexy new cards that will be powerful. Forcing R&D to print only worse cards  than previously printed will kill the game faster than power creep could.


4.  Reach a point of no return, which I shall dub the Power Creep Event Horizon.  At this point, they must either force themselves to start printing cards worse than those seen before and back further and further away from the precipice they have forced themselves to, or crash headlong into paradox where they print better cards but nobody wants them.


They do do this already. They print better versions of some cards and worse versions of others. The point is that the game is in constant flux, but the overall power level remains the same. But there is a limit to power level and they don't cross it.


In the end the game isn't getting more or less powerful. It's staying the same. People have been complaining about power creep since i started in Mirrodin and yet the game is no more powerful now than then. So find me a standard deck as powerful as Ravanger and i'll conceed the point. (In fact find me a deck as poweful as Tolaria and i'll conceed the point twice)

… and then, the squirrels came.

When the head of R&D is concerned that Inincerate is a little bit too strong and then turns around and lets a card much stronger than it through two years later, there's definitely an indicator of a power change taking place, especially considering that Lightning Bolt isn't even considered to be that overpowered in Standard now. But while they can yank it a year from now, its presence is now felt in Extended for another six after that and the impact will be noticable. In fact it is noticable at all levels, down to casual play, where 3-toughness creatures are getting a little extra scrutiny (which is precisely the issue that led to its removal the last time). But players like power, and Bolt is power. They're just hoping not to have to pay the piper on the other side, and I am not convinced they'll be able to skirt the bill.


Focusing just on Standard is not good for the game. There isn't much you can do about the eternal formats, but Extended is supposed to be the place all of us go next. That's also the place where creatures are continually being obsoleted, not by more interesting designs, but by having larger numbers in the lower right corner and/or smaller numbers in the upper right corner. That is NOT game evolution. It is, however, giving players "what they want," assuming what they want is power. This is Magic with Cool Ranch and Blazing Buffalo flavors in the same bag, or the X-Games version of Magic, or the PTI version of Magic. It's LOUDER than ever before and they will now have to keep getting louder. They are favoring raw power now because it has the biggest immediate impact. They once trusted in their designs more. They've had varying degrees of success that way, but there is something causing them to not want to have any variance at all - as if they cannot under any circumstances afford to put out a set that does not sell well. It shows.


A similar story is found with the fetches timed to enter Extended at exactly the point the other ones leave. This is something that players had been clamoring for and now they are getting them, and of course Standard will not suffer in any way for it. But other than decks that relied specifically on Onslaught cards, we'll hardly notice a rotation there. That's not good news for people who rolled into the format in the last year or so looking for fluidity and a second chance to use their cards. I was specifically waiting for Onslaught to leave in large part due to the fetches I don't have and en environment I did not crave. (I would need also to deal with Affinity, but at least that will rotate on schedule, earlier in fact than I was originally expecting.)


Perhaps this will all work out. The numbers don't lie; M10 is doing well and Alara block's last couple of sets showed marked improvement of sales before that. Zendikar will likely continue this trend. I am looking at a game I would like to come back and play in another 5-10 years if the mood strikes me. But things are much, much different now than they were even two years ago, when Lorwyn was on the horizon and they were dealing with a dip in sales.

Actually, Land Drop Goblin has a greater drawback than Rock Jockey's.  You can cast two Rock Jockeys in the same turn if you haven't played a land that turn, but you can't cast more than one Land Drop Goblin a turn no matter what (excluding the effects of cards like Fastbond, I think).  So Land Drop Goblin can be cheaper than Rock Jockey.



I don't think they will be that expensive - they are in the big set.  The OLS fetchlands were not $20 once they were in wide circulation, although I will grant that people probably appreciate a good fetchland a little more these days.  I'm guessing most of them will end up in the $4-$5 range eventually (the online price at which I bought most of my OLS fetches).


It seems weird to only have the enemy ones legal at a given time.  I'm surprised that the allied ones weren't in M10, but maybe that turned out to be too nuts with landfall.




Well, Arid Mesa is currently preselling on eBay for $20+ each, and it doesn't find blue. I hope the prices of the new fetches do drop, but I'm not that optimistic about it. They'll be useful in pretty much every format (Threshold will love a G/U fetch).




I wouldn't be surprised if they are more than the allied fetches, but I'm really only thinking about the eventual heavy circulation price, not the presale price.  The Ebay presale prices are high at this point even for crap rares.


My opinion may be colored by the fact that I'm rarely an early adopter / first week buyer of singles, since I don't play competitive constructed.


Has anyone noticed that the symbol on Ob Nixilis's forehead looks a lot like the symbol for Worldwake?




Ob Nixilis really intrigues me on the flavor aspect. An ex-planeswalker demon that's imprisoned on Zendikar because of the plane's magic (which may have to do with the symbol on his forehead) certainly makes for an interesting antagonist, possibly the main villain of the block plot (altough Sorin is certainly more powerful a villain, he probably isn't tied as much to the plot). As such, I'm surprised he wasn't spoiled in a flavor centered article, but we'll surely get to learn more about him from Doug Beyer soon enough anyway.


Is it the first time we see a demon (ex-)walker ? I remember some black-aligned walkers from the Dominaria storyline which may or may not have been demons too (Leshrac, Tevesh Szat ?) but I'm not sure.

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