9/14/2009 MM: "Achieving Zendikar, Part II"

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

Okay, this is the third page, I think, to have that piece of art on it. The one with the map, and the person with her right hand covered in a weird tattoo pattern, and her left hand missing the middle finger. Just show us the card already!


At least we now have the elf guy who's been about as pervasive.


The thing that excites me most here is the dual lands. I'm a budget player and I believe good multi-lands should exist at uncommon. I really liked the tri-lands, and if these new ones are as awesome as Mark says they are I might die of happiness.

I have a long shot hope of them being constructed worthy, the invasion ones were almost there and they were leaps and bounds over Tempest's atempts at non-rare duals.

Despite the exellent flavor (which is even easier to get now that I know what the deal with Allies is), the cards of this set continue to look really really boring!


Maybe it's just that so far they've only shown us the really crappy traps, and there are some good ones waiting that will get placed in decks and start inviting the mental games.   But where's the tricky stuff?  Where are the try-to-play-around-them instants?  Where are the creatures with sacrifice abilities?  You know, the ones that were too good to print when combat damage used the stack?


Where is anything more interesting than "I play a guy, your turn"?  Is it the defined-by-sorcery speed lands?  The quests that we see coming several turns in advance?  (At least Luminarch Acension is interactive.)  Is all of this leading up to M11 changes where everyone plays their hands face up?  Because outside of the new Wrath, I'm having trouble finding cards where that would matter!


Boring, boring cards.  And in case it's just me being grumpy (as I easily can be), I checked with a friend who's been upbeat on recent stuff and who played the hell out of M10.  He thinks the set is unexciting too.  I think it's just that Baneslayer Angel-type cards whose play is obvious may be great for the Yu-Gi-Oh crowd we know you want, but they don't hold up for those of us who have actually enjoyed playing the game for years.  We prefer cards whose play is a little less beat-you-over-the-head obvious.


But I guess I'm just being slow.  The clues are there:


  • the mechanic made on-board math very complicated. If I block and kill the other creature with adventurer in play, I could block Human Thief with a 1/1 (a black or artifact 1/1 obviously) and kill it

I mean if Mark's openly telling us that 1+1 = 2 is too much to handle, then really I should just give up.  And maybe it really is, because Mark doesn't even seem to understand his own example.  (You see Maro, in that example the creature would lose Intimidate and therefore you could block it with any color creature.)

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I'd just like to point out a pretty cool combo w/ the preview card, Turntimber Ranger.... Artificial Evolution


Change Ally to to wolf with the ranger's cip on the stack, and he reads "put an arbitrarily large number of wolves into play, and an arbitrarily large number of +1/+1 counters on Turntimber Ranger"

"The land block" is obvious, not in terms of mechanics (though there are lots of possibilities, and Horn of Greed is an obvious one) but simply in terms of "focusing on a type". Obviously there's some rich design space there, and it is difficult to believe that people resist so much. After all, the artifact block worked; I think the permanent type blocks are all fairly easily workable. The real challenge will be the instant and sorcery blocks. :P


But I can believe that your pitches have something to do with it. Either that or, as you point out, you have a lot of crazy ideas. The land block in a vacuum sounds like it has potential; the land block wedged between Barry's Land and cards with different backs which activate when you draw them from your library is something else. Maybe everyone just says no automatically at this point ;)

I mean if Mark's openly telling us that 1+1 = 2 is too much to handle, then really I should just give up.  And maybe it really is, because Mark doesn't even seem to understand his own example.  (You see Maro, in that example the creature would lose Intimidate and therefore you could block it with any color creature.)


His example does make sense.  See, the Human Thief is a 2/2 with Intimidate at the time MaRo is blocking it.  So he can only block it with a black or artifact creature.  Then, when combat damage is dealt and the other Adventurer dies due to lethal damage from the creature MaRo blocked it with, the Human Thief turns back into a 1/1 (without Intimidate, but that doesn't matter).  Since the Human Thief is a 1/1 with 1 damage, it would then die, too.

So maybe it is a little more complicated than you thought afterall?  A little more complicated than was needed, anyway.


Despite the exellent flavor (which is even easier to get now that I know what the deal with Allies is), the cards of this set continue to look really really boring!


Maybe it's just that so far they've only shown us the really crappy traps, and there are some good ones waiting that will get placed in decks and start inviting the mental games.   But where's the tricky stuff?  Where are the try-to-play-around-them instants?  Where are the creatures with sacrifice abilities?  You know, the ones that were too good to print when combat damage used the stack?


Where is anything more interesting than "I play a guy, your turn"?  Is it the defined-by-sorcery speed lands?  The quests that we see coming several turns in advance?  (At least Luminarch Acension is interactive.)  Is all of this leading up to M11 changes where everyone plays their hands face up?  Because outside of the new Wrath, I'm having trouble finding cards where that would matter!


Boring, boring cards.  And in case it's just me being grumpy (as I easily can be), I checked with a friend who's been upbeat on recent stuff and who played the hell out of M10.  He thinks the set is unexciting too.  I think it's just that Baneslayer Angel-type cards whose play is obvious may be great for the Yu-Gi-Oh crowd we know you want, but they don't hold up for those of us who have actually enjoyed playing the game for years.  We prefer cards whose play is a little less beat-you-over-the-head obvious.


But I guess I'm just being slow.  The clues are there:


  • the mechanic made on-board math very complicated. If I block and kill the other creature with adventurer in play, I could block Human Thief with a 1/1 (a black or artifact 1/1 obviously) and kill it

I mean if Mark's openly telling us that 1+1 = 2 is too much to handle, then really I should just give up.  And maybe it really is, because Mark doesn't even seem to understand his own example.  (You see Maro, in that example the creature would lose Intimidate and therefore you could block it with any color creature.)




That particular clue has been there for a long time. Ever since it became too hard to parse Auriok Steelshaper like templates (gives bonus to itself), and we changed to Tolsimir Wolfblood like templates (gives bonus only to other creatures). Imagine how much more elegant Tolsimir would be with a P/T of 1/2, and "Other" missing in its first two abilities. But apparently that template led to too much confusion.


As for M10, basic sets have always been ... basic regarding gameplay. It's not so much that the tricks are missing (you have Doom blade, Giant Growth, Harm's way, Lightning Bolt, and more), there are no offbeat synergies-draft strategies. Just your basic creatures/removal. OTH, at least for me, Alara set was very interesting to draft, and I hope Zendikar will be too.

Go draft, young man, go draft!

I remember one of the Great Designer Search entrants playing around with land-matters-theme cards (was it even Ken Nagle?).  Back then it looked like a hard thing to pull off.  Someone in this thread pointed out that playing lands are sorcery-speed, once-per-turn events and so are difficult to design so that they play well (well mostly - they're reprinting cards like Harrow for a reason).  I can see why people would be skeptical about a land matters block working.  But I think these cards look like lots of fun - they change the way you build decks.


(Oh and I thought the past-present-future thing from Time Spiral was an awesome concept, even if the block didn't play all that well - if that's the worst Magic that they print then I'll keep coming back.)


As for M10, basic sets have always been ... basic regarding gameplay. It's not so much that the tricks are missing (you have Doom blade, Giant Growth, Harm's way, Lightning Bolt, and more), there are no offbeat synergies-draft strategies. Just your basic creatures/removal. OTH, at least for me, Alara set was very interesting to draft, and I hope Zendikar will be too.




You don't consider 12xTome Scour.dec an offbeat draft strategy? Tongue out


I love Zendikar, but it has entirely undone/obsoleted my YMTC file going back many years, which had been a (quite different) land-matters set.

His example does make sense.  See, the Human Thief is a 2/2 with Intimidate at the time MaRo is blocking it.  So he can only block it with a black or artifact creature.  Then, when combat damage is dealt and the other Adventurer dies due to lethal damage from the creature MaRo blocked it with, the Human Thief turns back into a 1/1 (without Intimidate, but that doesn't matter).  Since the Human Thief is a 1/1 with 1 damage, it would then die, too.

So maybe it is a little more complicated than you thought afterall?  A little more complicated than was needed, anyway.



Exactly what I wanted to write. Better read up on the example before you try to dismiss it that easily.

Anyway, a great article. Maybe a bit too much of the "I write it like it is" explanatory stuff, but it's always nice to see that Mark _really_ reads all of the posts we write here and is willing to respond to them in his column. Good job, Mr. Rosewater. And how about quoting some positive feedback in the column for once, a?


 

Manaug.gif | Manawu.gif | Manau.gif | Manaub.gif | Manaur.gif


Despite the exellent flavor (which is even easier to get now that I know what the deal with Allies is), the cards of this set continue to look really really boring!


Maybe it's just that so far they've only shown us the really crappy traps, and there are some good ones waiting that will get placed in decks and start inviting the mental games.   But where's the tricky stuff?  Where are the try-to-play-around-them instants?  Where are the creatures with sacrifice abilities?  You know, the ones that were too good to print when combat damage used the stack?


Where is anything more interesting than "I play a guy, your turn"?  Is it the defined-by-sorcery speed lands?  The quests that we see coming several turns in advance?  (At least Luminarch Acension is interactive.)  Is all of this leading up to M11 changes where everyone plays their hands face up?  Because outside of the new Wrath, I'm having trouble finding cards where that would matter!


Boring, boring cards.  And in case it's just me being grumpy (as I easily can be), I checked with a friend who's been upbeat on recent stuff and who played the hell out of M10.  He thinks the set is unexciting too.  I think it's just that Baneslayer Angel-type cards whose play is obvious may be great for the Yu-Gi-Oh crowd we know you want, but they don't hold up for those of us who have actually enjoyed playing the game for years.  We prefer cards whose play is a little less beat-you-over-the-head obvious.


But I guess I'm just being slow.  The clues are there:


  • the mechanic made on-board math very complicated. If I block and kill the other creature with adventurer in play, I could block Human Thief with a 1/1 (a black or artifact 1/1 obviously) and kill it

I mean if Mark's openly telling us that 1+1 = 2 is too much to handle, then really I should just give up.  And maybe it really is, because Mark doesn't even seem to understand his own example.  (You see Maro, in that example the creature would lose Intimidate and therefore you could block it with any color creature.)




You just saved me an eventual post, I think. I've been trying to determine whether my complete lack of interest in Zendikar had more to do with the fact that I am out of Standard for more than a year or that this set just doesn't move me. I see a lot of cards that are obviously good, but very little that even makes me arch an eyebrow. So far Alara is looking less like a fluke and more like a prototype.


I actually liked a lot of Alara Reborn despite playing with almost none of it outside of sealed, and felt differently about that set at this point than I do about this set now. It's definitely not the rotation of Lorwyn, that I don't even care about anyway, that is clouding my view. I actually think that rewarding players for "something they like to do anyway" is part of the issue. You don;t have to do anything at all for most of these effects to take place. You just play, and stuff happens. It's one thing to kill interaction between players, but another thing entirely to kill interaction between a player and his own deck. 


As to Mark's point about the math being complicated, we were arguing that the game was turning into simple addition and subtraction around Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, not that the game was turning into complex addition and subtraction. It's painful to even think that he may have taken the wrong message from that. (Then again, he did basically apologize to us for making the game "too hard" at Time Spiral, and we can definitely say they are recovering from that low point over the last few sets.)

Spoiled as of sep 14 (myffic/rare/uncommon/common):
White - 2/6/2/1
Blue - 1/6/1/3
Black - 3/5/5/3
Red - 2/5/3/1
Green - 2/3/1/6
Arti - 1/1/1/0
tot - 11/26/13/14

I know that it's so much easier to just hype the rares, as in "These are the bombs you'll see and what we think Standard tourneys will consist of", but would it really hurt to indulge Limited players a bit by giving away 10ish (un)commons from every colour so we could see some hint of the surroundings we'll be ACTUALLY drafting in? *sigh*


And let's not get into how ridiculous the concept of myffic rare is anyway.


Still, I highly anticipate the first time I actually get to shout "YOU HAVE ACTIVATED MY TRAP CARD!" in a draft.

To talk about the quote to dragonmudd, I also read last week, and was among the few that didn't liked it at all. I don't know why so much people are buying into the hype of criticizing everything Maro talks about, SERIOUSLY. The guy has made great things for the game, and yes it is easy to see that people are mostly opposed to new ideas when it comes to Magic, the amount of rant and QQ you can hear all around for the M10 rules change for example. Despite all the negativity Magic is still here and kicking, and Zendikar will be awesome, I'm really forward to the pre-release!

It always makes me sad to see Odyssey panned.  I actually was very fond of Odyssey and Time Spiral block, but I've been playing for 15+ years, so if Time Spiral wasn't aimed at me, I don't know who it would please.  I'd just like to remind Maro that some people liked those sets!

I actually left during Odyssey in part due to its forced linear theme, but I came back at Time Spiral and I liked that a lot. I don't think this game is going back in that direction while it still has some of my attention. 



To talk about the quote to dragonmudd, I also read last week, and was among the few that didn't liked it at all. I don't know why so much people are buying into the hype of criticizing everything Maro talks about, SERIOUSLY. The guy has made great things for the game, and yes it is easy to see that people are mostly opposed to new ideas when it comes to Magic, the amount of rant and QQ you can hear all around for the M10 rules change for example. Despite all the negativity Magic is still here and kicking, and Zendikar will be awesome, I'm really forward to the pre-release!




Actually I was glad to see he addressed this. Dragonmudd's comment about Mark's storytelling was not an isolated incident, nor was the sentiment isolated to last week's thread. The acknowledgement and clarification is very welcome and the issue is now addressed. This is something that should happen a lot more often than it does, and not just for pointed accusations.


It always makes me sad to see Odyssey panned.  I actually was very fond of Odyssey and Time Spiral block, but I've been playing for 15+ years, so if Time Spiral wasn't aimed at me, I don't know who it would please.  I'd just like to remind Maro that some people liked those sets!




Odyssey had some great ideas, but I feel like the potential was wasted with the color-based shenanigans of Torment and Judgement. Torment felt rather forced with the "support black" theme, and Judgement was likewise forced in the other direction. Getting around those ill-advised themes, though, you had some great cards running around. Chainer was a hugely cool legend, the phantom creatures brought some interesting decisions to the table, and Soulcatcher's Aerie is still one of my favorite tribal cards ever (because omg birds = awesome).

And I don't care what people say about the keyword-soup Time Spiral, that block made me happy. They started to lose me with Future Sight, but Time Spiral (the set) and Planar Chaos were some of the best nostalgia moments I've ever seen.


Zendikar looks to be a very promising set... let's hope it matches the hype!

The adventurer concept is pretty cool once it's explained, but I have to say the idea didn't come across at all without help from MaRo.  So I'm going to give huge minus points to the creative department on this one. 


I'm actually more excited about this set than I have been for any set since Ravnica.  But I've been tricked before.  M10 previews looks good too, but I've learned they can hide a whole lot of boring in what they don't preview.


Also, wow, MaRo bristled quite a lot about the comments regarding the quality of his ideas.  But I'm impressed with the manner he addressed it.

A lot of people seem to find it unbelievable that so many things I've pitched have had such a bad first impression (split cards, hybrid mana, tribal as a block theme, the 4-3-3 block breakdown of Ravnica, etc.) when each went on to be so well received by the public.


Oh, that's your fault?  Next to Cascade (yours too?) it's the most broken mechanic I've ever seen.


"Lets make dual decks play as well as single-color decks and make tricolor decks play better then dual color decks."


Of course the public is using these cards... they're overpowered.  They also used as many Sol Rings and Moxes as they were allowed to also... what do they have in common?  Making mana a negligible concern for a deck.


Cascade is similar in that it's possible to cast spells that you don't happen to hav the mana for yet, but it's even more broken in that you get a free card draw AND the mana to cast it.


 


I came back to the game after a very very long period of being away for M10... it's great.  Please don't retread these sorts of ideas though or you'll just make me want to go away again.


 


 As for the Ally cards... I can basically see a retread of the elves deck happening, and can't say that I'm enthusiastic about getting bigger and bigger and bigger effects.  It pretty much just forces people to play with a ton of anti-creature to keep things from spiralling out of control.  Normal creatures vs Allies... Ally looks to smoke them.  Hurray??


 


 


 


 

Of course the public is using these cards... they're overpowered.  They also used as many Sol Rings and Moxes as they were allowed to also... what do they have in common?  Making mana a negligible concern for a deck.

By "these cards", you mean "Plumeveil, Kitchen Finks, and Figure of Destiny", right?

(neglecting for the moment that Figure is only in mono-red and mono-white nowadays, creating an issue where it's in both decks but not one where it's being activated by both colors very often)


And you blame hybrid and not manafixing? Interesting.

Very good to see an uncommon cycle of duals. Let's just hope they don't have wall-of-text restrictions on how they're played.


 


Mark really must have got a lot of emails about last weeks column and his "golden child" status. While I always accepted the idea that he mayb exaggerates a little, I also completely believe that we only see a small portion of what gets accepted, as he said.

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'm really excited about Zendikar. I mean, the places look so cool, and I just LOVED the Trap mechanics!


 


I'm very curious about those uncommon lands... I really hope they are usable, I don't want another borderpost cycle (which I actually use on my artifact deck, but, whatever)


I like gamedesign, (videogames and card games), so I really like to read those articles about "what happens behind the scenes", and how hard it is to develop new ideas, and convince other people that these ideas are good...


Also, where is picture of an open book with pop-up dragons from? Is it from a know card? Or from a Zendikar card?

The pop-up-book art is from the Unhinged card My First Tome.


As for the comments on MaRo's storytelling, I think he was trying to sort of set the record straight on that in general. He's said similar things before, but I suppose it was time to do it again. And I can see why the idea of a "land set" might not be all that appealing if you didn't know how it was going to work. I can understand similarly for most of the other ideas, with the exception of hybrid; I suppose he just didn't do a great job explaining it the first time around, because even though the idea that "you can play this for green or white mana" was revolutionary, everyone understood it immediately when it was spoiled.


As for the comment on hybrid making it too easy to run too many colors, that's really more of a Shadowmoor block design/development issue. MaRo was talking about hybrid when he first proposed it in Ravnica design. I don't think, though, that a block that's half hybrid is inherently vulnerable to mana issues; as long as the color pie is followed strictly, hybrid doesn't make it any easier to play 3+ color decks. I do believe that the amount of mana fixing currently in Standard was an R&D mistake. Putting the Vivid lands AND the hybrid lands AND Reflecting Pool in the same block when they knew the next block would need decent multi-lands (because it was a gold block) was obviously going to make it really easy to play any number of colors. This defeats the point of the mana system, and it eventually led to the longtime dominance of a deck that was essentially a list of the best cards in the format.

"I don't lie in my column.


Not all my ideas are good.


It's hard to see potential.


Everyone else is supposed to be skeptical.


My job is to tell a compelling story." 


Mark.  Dude.  You come across like you're defending yourself.  You don't need to do that.  We keep coming back BECAUSE we like what you have to say.  There's ALWAYS going to be someone who isn't happy with you (ESPECIALLY on the internet).


 

"I don't lie in my column [I reserve my lies for Ask Wizards questions.]


Except lies by omission, as seen above.


F'r example:


"Entwine is not a subset of kicker."


Except...


"Entwine is another obvious subset of kicker."


 


Go go hasbro handpuppet.

I read "Ally" and saw "Aurochs".  Not so cool.


And... land always matters, especially when you don't have any.  This will just mean "rare land matters" which is of course a pain for the casual player (that'd be me).

I'm not impressed by Mark's list of mistakes:


Odyssey: great block!  I love graveyard mechanics (at least, until they get too degenerate like the Extended Dredge deck from a year ago).  The overlap of threshold, flashback, and madness was some pretty cool design space.  Each year when a new is about to be spoiled I look for signs that we're finally getting a second graveyard block.


Time Spiral: great block!  I thought Time Spiral was a ton of fun to play, so much so that I didn't mind that much that it replaced Ravnica as the main Limited format (though that was partially due to how much I'd played Ravnica by the time Time Spiral came out).  I know a lot of veteran players and also newer players who are serious about the game who loved Time Spiral.  It wasn't just the nostalgia aspect.  Time Spiral is the only block in recent memory (maybe since Kamigawa or Onslaught) where the block themes didn't bludgeon players over the head.  The various time-oriented mechanics definitely came into play and made you think differently, but it wasn't like you were building a suspend deck or a vanishing deck the way you would build an Grixis Unearth deck or a Lorwyn Elf deck.  A lot players appreciated the room for innovation in that format.


I didn't play much with splice.  I've never seen it regarded as a hated mechanic.  I will let Mark count it as a failure though because it is an insular mechanic with no synergy outside of the block and thus not much staying power in the overall metagame (hmm, insular mechanics without much synergy outside of the block -- sounds kind of like allies...).


The free mechanic and the banned cards he's made are not his fault.  Mark's a designer.  His job is to come up with interesting new designs.  It's up to development to make sure those designs are balanced.  At least when he made a broken card, it was really and truly broken.  Those cards are easy to ban unlike the Bitterblossoms and Tarmogoyfs of the world (I know Mark technically had a hand in Tarmogoyf's design, but again it's a fine card mechanically.  Development just undercosted it.  I've never actually heard who made Bitterblossom).


As for terrible cards like Mudhole...I don't know what to say.  In previous columns, Mark has defended the printing one utterly trashy looking rare here and there to appease the segment of the community that enjoys making the challenge cards work.  Mudhole itself is just terrible overcosted -- how does that compare to Tormod's Crypt?


 


EDIT: Also, I hope to one day see the combat changes and Mythic rarity amongst Mark's self-confessed mistakes (though perhaps he doesn't feel responsible for them).  Unfortunately, I feel that day won't come until Magic goes out of print.


I read "Ally" and saw "Aurochs".  Not so cool.


And... land always matters, especially when you don't have any.  This will just mean "rare land matters" which is of course a pain for the casual player (that'd be me).




I hear ya, on the other hand, us casual players will know of alot of forgotten ways to get alot of land into play in one turn. Making those $15 lands a waste of money.


Ally to me seems like a misfit in this set. Ally sounds like it should be in a set filled with war or large armies. Something lik Invasion. It would have worked better with Adventurer instead of Ally in my opinion. And it gives rise to a new interesting class. Oh well... I blame development, not creative for that.

98% of people use statistics in their sigs, or have used them in the past. If you are one of the 2% that haven't or don't, place this into your signature. New Magic Forums, Im'a let you finish, but the old Magic Forums were one of the greatest boards of all time!

"Lets make dual decks play as well as single-color decks and make tricolor decks play better then dual color decks."

Of course the public is using these cards... they're overpowered.  They also used as many Sol Rings and Moxes as they were allowed to also... what do they have in common?  Making mana a negligible concern for a deck.



I'd hate to say it, but I disagree with pretty much every point you've said so far. Yes, there are lots of hybrid cards that people are playing right now. But for every tournament viable hybrid card, there's about half a dozen or so hybrid cards that simply don't make the cut. And for every tournament viable hybrid card, there's about half a dozen or so non-hybrid cards that are also being played in tournaments.


Yes, there are certainly powerful hybrid cards, but hybrid mana isn't what makes them good.


Cascade is similar in that it's possible to cast spells that you don't happen to hav the mana for yet, but it's even more broken in that you get a free card draw AND the mana to cast it.


I will agree with you that Cascade is good, but it's not unbeatable. Hell, you don't even need special sideboard situations to beat Cascade. It's just another deck, and it's nowhere near dominating the tournament scene.


As for the Ally cards... I can basically see a retread of the elves deck happening, and can't say that I'm enthusiastic about getting bigger and bigger and bigger effects.  It pretty much just forces people to play with a ton of anti-creature to keep things from spiralling out of control.  Normal creatures vs Allies... Ally looks to smoke them.  Hurray??


Have you ever seen Slivers? When I first looked at Allies, I immediately compared them to Slivers. And given that Slivers have rarely been tournament viable, I can't imagine Allies being that much better, let alone "smoking normal creatures".


And the fact that you compared it to Elves (instead of Slivers, which is similar to the Ally mechanic or instead of Goblins, which have been a tournament viable tribe for years) tells me you're out of touch with what's "broken" in Magic. (No offense intended.)


Yes, I agree that making over-powered cards is bad. But what Wizards is printing today is nothing compared, oh I dunno, free spells and Affinity. (Although I will cede that Tarmogoyf and Bitterblossom were mistakes. Fortunately, one's already out of Standard, and the other one rotates when Zendikar comes in.)

Ally makes no sense at all. You don't know what the hell are they about and why they care about other allies until you read that they were changed from Adventurers. Though renaming them like that is like decideing "in this set we will call creaturs objects instead."


His example does make sense.  See, the Human Thief is a 2/2 with Intimidate at the time MaRo is blocking it.  So he can only block it with a black or artifact creature.  Then, when combat damage is dealt and the other Adventurer dies due to lethal damage from the creature MaRo blocked it with, the Human Thief turns back into a 1/1 (without Intimidate, but that doesn't matter).  Since the Human Thief is a 1/1 with 1 damage, it would then die, too.


Then he sucks at English.  I admit, I missed the first use of the word "block".  My defense is that the phrase "If I block and kill then I can block and kill" doesn't make sense.  Out of order sequence rules aren't that generous.  I read it as "if I kill then I can block and kill", but he meant "block both, kill both".  Yes, you'd need a black/artifact creature for that.  My bad.

Hardly too complicated.  People frequently forget damage lingering until later in the turn, which is what he's describing there.  That doesn't go away just because a bonus is permanant rather than conditional.  What it does is make tricks like what he said impossible!  And it makes tricks like what I thought he said impossible!  Which is 100% my point - bye bye tricks, hello obviousness!


And if you're doing a little dance because I'm complaing and big grouch Amarsir went and misread the sentence, please pause a moment to consider that it only helps my point if you think I would have missed that play.  I want stuff that isn't obvious, so I can get it wrong and then learn.  But they don't want to give us that anymore.


 


As for M10, basic sets have always been ... basic regarding gameplay. It's not so much that the tricks are missing (you have Doom blade, Giant Growth, Harm's way, Lightning Bolt, and more), there are no offbeat synergies-draft strategies. Just your basic creatures/removal. OTH, at least for me, Alara set was very interesting to draft, and I hope Zendikar will be too.


I agree zlehtnoba, core sets are what they are.  Make them for other player, and if there are any cards I like they'll do fine as singles.  I give a big pass to core sets. It's the expansions where I start expecting more.


I should also point out that you're talking about Limited.  My rant pertains to Constructed.  In Limited, each player has 1-4 removal spells and 15ish creatures.  So there's always a question of "should I use my removal now, or save it for something worse?"   Other reads may be possible ("Does he have Windstorm or should I play another flier?") but at minimum that "How much threat is this creature?" situation will always come up in Limited.  Largely because the opponent's decks are unknown.


In Constructed though, you can usually get a read on what's in the opponent's deck from picking the archetype.  And when deckbuilding, you have as much removal as you want.  So the "What could he have?" question disappears in all it's forms.  Ideally, this is replaced with other things: "Do I need to bait a counter?"  "Does he have a Momentary Blink to save his creature?"  "If I make him pump Wild Mongrel, will he just Madness something or does it cost him a real card?"  And so on.  Possible plays that make you read or mislead your opponent.  Or as I refer to them, "tricks."


Can you give me an example of that type of play from Alara Block Constructed?  The closest we came was the Charms, but they didn't see that much play.  Maybe you'd hold extra land to protect from Esper Charm in discard mode.  (But probably not since the same decks often had Blightning.)  Maybe you'd try to bait a Jund Charm in pump mode so you could remove 2-for-1.  But not that often.  This stuff just didn't happen in Alara Block Constructed, and I know I'm not alone in saying that.  You wouldn't know if most of your coverage comes from Wizards directly, but a number of pros said exactly what I'm saying after PT:Honolulu.


I am really hoping that Traps will bear some fruit.  The whole idea of the concept sounds good - lure the opponent into a trap or play around his.  But do you see people putting Lavaball Trap into their decks?  Will I pause before using a Fetchland if they have 3RR open?  I doubt that will ever come up.  Which to me makes traps a big waste so far.  But I do hope I'm wrong.


Latest forum issue found: it seems you can't attribute a quote to someone unless you know their user number - name isn't enough.  Nice "feature" for those of us who answer multiple people in one post.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.


Not all my ideas are good. Yes, I highlight my successes. I'm proud of them, and I have a column to talk about Magic design every week. I also have my share of failures. I designed Odyssey which was hated by a portion of our audience. I came up with the crazy past / present / future block plan for Time Spiral that turned a lot of people off.




Wow. Gotta hand it to the guy. Genius.


Like many, I felt that those blocks had a lot to offer. There was unrealised potential true but I didn't hate them.


See, now I'm thinking "wow - those aren't failures man - you should give yourself a break".


Genius. Because it nearly made me forget that a few years ago he stated (and I agreed) why rarity should never equal power and now that seems to have been abandoned for profit, and when he designed M10 he stifled debate on the combat rules changes by waiting a month before a very cursory explaination of some of them (oh yes, and the whole "functional reprint counts as new" fiasco), and when he released mythics and assured us that they wouldn't simply be a list of chase cards and that policy seems be swiftly eroding by degrees. And unless I am mistaken his policy on power creep, which he also decried a few years ago, seems to be on holiday whilst he burns through his six-year plan.


Mark, you aren't a bad guy. I don't hate you. I think overall you contribute positively to the game. I get that you're a columnist and have to embellish sometimes. But you're also an apologist and all too fond of spin and specious argument, and whilst you probably don't lie in your column your sure as hell aren't shy of speaking in forked tongue.


This felt like an insincere confession. I'd rather hear about his role and beliefs in matters I actually give a crap about.

I have a copy of Mudhole! It's all your fault, Mark! Why?!


:P

Manaug.gif | Manawu.gif | Manau.gif | Manaub.gif | Manaur.gif


Genius. Because it nearly made me forget that a few years ago he stated (and I agreed) why rarity should never equal power and now that seems to have been abandoned for profit, and when he designed M10 he stifled debate on the combat rules changes by waiting a month before a very cursory explaination of some of them (oh yes, and the whole "functional reprint counts as new" fiasco), and when he released mythics and assured us that they wouldn't simply be a list of chase cards and that policy seems be swiftly eroding by degrees. And unless I am mistaken his policy on power creep, which he also decried a few years ago, seems to be on holiday whilst he burns through his six-year plan.


Mark, you aren't a bad guy. I don't hate you. I think overall you contribute positively to the game. I get that you're a columnist and have to embellish sometimes. But you're also an apologist and all too fond of spin and specious argument, and whilst you probably don't lie in your column your sure as hell aren't shy of speaking in forked tongue.


This felt like an insincere confession. I'd rather hear about his role and beliefs in matters I actually give a crap about.




I am not too sure how much he has to do with some of the changes. I think there is a degree of tension there. He is still defending crap rares like One With Nothing while Aaron Forsythe makes sure nothing like that actually sees print (in fact, some of the crap rares of past sets turned into crap uncommons in Alara Reborn).  And it was AF himself that was on the fence about Incincerate due to power level, only to have Lightning Bolt show up in the very next core set - which by all accounts was a combination of two things: AF's vision and everyone else's attempt to match that vision. I am not sure if Mark is really completely in tune with what we're seeing. (Of course Mark was the one previewing Baneslayer Angel, the current poster child for power creep AND rarity creep.)


As for the debate over the combat changes, I agree that was mishandled - but not by him. This is where the head of R&D is supposed to step up. I understand why they waited a week, but after that, when some of the level-headed people still had concerns, either AF or Mark Gottleib should have given voice to it. Mark Rosewater said something finally becuase no one else did.


I am very critical of him myself, but I think he is not the trigger man for a lot of what is going on.

I really enjoyed this article, especially the part about the recurring theme of others not sharing Mark's vision, time and again.


But seriously... Ally? That totally destroys the flavor. Ally has such a martial connotation, it does not fit Zendikar, "a sparsely populated world", at all. Alliances are specifically formed to defeat others, whereas adventurers simply seek to overcome obstacles on their journey... "We form an alliance against the hostile nature of Zendikar"? Nope, does not work for me.


I see the problem with type line length, but with a little bit of flavor fine-tuning, Adventurer could have easily taken the spot of class type:


  • Elf Scout Ally = Elf Adventurer

  • Merfolk Wizard Ally = Merfolk Adventurer

  • Human Soldier Ally = Human Adventurer

  • Human Rogue Ally = Human Adventurer

  • Human Warrior Ally = Human Adventurer

Well class-based tribal didn't work flavorfully either, just mechanically.



Genius. Because it nearly made me forget that a few years ago he stated (and I agreed) why rarity should never equal power and now that seems to have been abandoned for profit, and when he designed M10 he stifled debate on the combat rules changes by waiting a month before a very cursory explaination of some of them (oh yes, and the whole "functional reprint counts as new" fiasco), and when he released mythics and assured us that they wouldn't simply be a list of chase cards and that policy seems be swiftly eroding by degrees. And unless I am mistaken his policy on power creep, which he also decried a few years ago, seems to be on holiday whilst he burns through his six-year plan.


Mark, you aren't a bad guy. I don't hate you. I think overall you contribute positively to the game. I get that you're a columnist and have to embellish sometimes. But you're also an apologist and all too fond of spin and specious argument, and whilst you probably don't lie in your column your sure as hell aren't shy of speaking in forked tongue.


This felt like an insincere confession. I'd rather hear about his role and beliefs in matters I actually give a crap about.




I am not too sure how much he has to do with some of the changes. I think there is a degree of tension there. He is still defending crap rares like One With Nothing while Aaron Forsythe makes sure nothing like that actually sees print (in fact, some of the crap rares of past sets turned into crap uncommons in Alara Reborn).  And it was AF himself that was on the fence about Incincerate due to power level, only to have Lightning Bolt show up in the very next core set - which by all accounts was a combination of two things: AF's vision and everyone else's attempt to match that vision. I am not sure if Mark is really completely in tune with what we're seeing. (Of course Mark was the one previewing Baneslayer Angel, the current poster child for power creep AND rarity creep.)


As for the debate over the combat changes, I agree that was mishandled - but not by him. This is where the head of R&D is supposed to step up. I understand why they waited a week, but after that, when some of the level-headed people still had concerns, either AF or Mark Gottleib should have given voice to it. Mark Rosewater said something finally becuase no one else did.


I am very critical of him myself, but I think he is not the trigger man for a lot of what is going on.




 


Fair enough, and nicely presented points. I guess MaRo is reaping my ire for being Wizard's chief apologist.


I do still think his "faux confession" was nothing more than misdirection though ;)


I really enjoyed this article, especially the part about the recurring theme of others not sharing Mark's vision, time and again.


But seriously... Ally? That totally destroys the flavor. Ally has such a martial connotation, it does not fit Zendikar, "a sparsely populated world", at all. Alliances are specifically formed to defeat others, whereas adventurers simply seek to overcome obstacles on their journey... "We form an alliance against the hostile nature of Zendikar"? Nope, does not work for me.


I see the problem with type line length, but with a little bit of flavor fine-tuning, Adventurer could have easily taken the spot of class type:


  • Elf Scout Ally = Elf Adventurer

  • Merfolk Wizard Ally = Merfolk Adventurer

  • Human Soldier Ally = Human Adventurer

  • Human Rogue Ally = Human Adventurer

  • Human Warrior Ally = Human Adventurer



this.


ally is a poor choice.


adventurer is probably about as good a choice as anything that captures the theme, although I think that they probably tried too hard to bring in this mechanism and it is really just a very narrow uninteresting tribal interaction, whereas they could have made things a bit more spicy.

Its a shame about the Ally thing, because Turntimber Ranger has the best Zendikar art I've seen yet. I also like the Baloth Woodcrasher and Felidar Sovereign, but while the world of Zendikar is beautifully crafted, most of the artists used so far don't appeal to me much. The spoilers need more Wayne Reynolds and Kev Walker.


Its also nice to see at least one cat in the set, but Scythe Tiger seems a bit bad if you're not building around Zendikar's mechanics. I think I'd rather use Wild Nacatl. The shroud is nice, but the art on WN is superior.  :P


Overall, I'm not drawn to this set so far. That might change depending on the rest of the set, but I doubt it. I don't want to sound like a hater - they've done a good job on it, but it doesn't appeal to me personally. I'm sure for others this is what they've been waiting for, and I'm interested to see what others do with it, even if I don't plan to use it myself.


For a while I've been trying to trim my collection of all the cards I kept "just in case" or because they look powerful "in the right deck". I've played for long enough now to know what I like, and its rare for me to add another deck to the list (Alara added three!). Now all I want to do is to buy cards that enhance the decks I already have. I haven't seen much in Zendikar yet that gels with what I've got.


I don't want MaRo to take the whining too personally. I'm glad he writes for the site, and even if I don't always agree, I like to read what he has to say.

I designed Odyssey which was hated by a portion of our audience. I came up with the crazy past / present / future block plan for Time Spiral that turned a lot of people off. I made the free mechanic from Urza's Saga, and Champion of Kamigawa's splice onto arcane. I designed Carnival of Souls and Mudhole. I have designed more banned and restricted cards than any other designer in the history of the game, including Richard "Power Nine" Garfield. Not everything I touch is golden.


 


Define a portion and a lot? I dont know Odyssey so good, but I know Time spiral. And saying anything negative of Time spiral from a design point is ridicolous. If this is your way of saying "oh look I can fail also (but I am so good that even my fails are really good)" you are less humble then I thought.


But something I really want to know is, I have designed more banned and restricted cards. Well, "if you say A....they are?