9/21/2009 MM: "Achieving Zendikar, Part III"

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

In before: THAT'S IT I'M QUITTING MAGIC FOR EVER MARO YOU HAVE LIED FOR THE LAST TIME!


*drops 3 paychecks on cards, melts them down, injects straight into tear ducts*


Serious note, what exactly did they do that made Branding so happy? Any speculation?


*30 replies of "MYTHIC UTILITY CARDS"*


 


Personally I'm hoping for alternate art, but you'd think the ever popular big art basic lands would be enough.


Maybie, seeing as they've highlighted a few overlaps in theme between Zen and D&D, we'll see Players Guide and Campaign Guide to Zendakr, even if it's DDI or simply published via Magicthegathering.com.


That would so make up for the lack of an artbook.


 

So...  You make rare duals for Brand?

It's pretty clear to me from this article that the Brand team is responsible for Magic's dumbing down.  They're Hasbro's bean-counter drones, putting pressure on the designers to make Magic more saleable, no matter what the cost to the game's design integrity.  Killing those awesome spell-lands because they made stupid players feel bad is almost certainly the result of Brand's interference.


And isn't it interesting how Magic is hiring more Brand people, with two openings in the past month, but hasn't hired a new designer since the GDS?  Obviously the only employees Hasbro wants to spend money on are the ones who will tell MaRo to stop designing clever sets that small numbers of smart people will enjoy, and start designing another Pokemon to put cash in Hasbro's coffers.


I think we can safely assume that Mark and the other designers will continue keeping Magic alive for as long as possible; Brand is choking the life out of it, but it isn't dead yet.  That said, we can expect to keep seeing more and more evidence of design quality being sacrificed for marketing flash.  Mythic utility today, ultra-chase double mythic utility tomorrow.  The end is coming, folks, we just don't know how fast.  Let us put our trust in MaRo and company to keep the game fun for as long as they can manage, before the Vampires of Brand finish their grisly work once and for all.

My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi

Kind of a copout article, I was hoping for some sort of reveal, not things we already knew and a "PLAY THE DAMN SET BEFORE YOU JUDGE IT."


Sadly there's a lot they could do with Branding that doesn't even touch the game, the webcomic, and selling them in stores is a brilliant move, as was probably knocking the book line, seeing as while it had some diehard fans (myself included) it probably wasn't worth the cost especally when they kinda get lost in the Franchise Fantasy section.


Kinda lame on the spell lands though, I think they were only tripping people up becuase they were new, not becuase they're that complicated taticaly, maybie they'll sneak in somehow now that the concept is proven.


Doesn't help that for the past year, magic's primary demograpghic has had no spare cash to throw around, and it doesn't look like they'll be back in a posistion to do so for another year or so.


 

Wow, Mark Purvis! The only person at WotC I know that goes to greater lengths to bling out his decks than I do.


In this article, Rosewater implies that "we saved some stuff for Worldwake." However, Tom LaPille pointed out last Friday that ORAN-RIEF THE VASTWOOD WAS STOLEN FROM MY SET. I guess everyone in R&D loved it so darn much that it got printed 3 months early. :D

Kenneth Nagle Game Designer Wizards of the Coast

True to form, Nagle. You're always getting in there and addressing the contraversial stuff, instead of going off on some inconsequential self-involved tangent. Never change.

"Make people wait for what they want, and you have power over them. This is as true for merchants and militia as it is for cooks and couples." —Gwendlyn Di Corci

Aren't the spell lands basically exactly the same thing as kicker?  Do people also get unhappy when they can't play their kicker spells because they can't afford the kicker costs yet?  Or are they smart enough to play the cheap versions of those cards, but not to play the lands without the extra costs?

Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
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These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
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Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...


Aren't the spell lands basically exactly the same thing as kicker?  Do people also get unhappy when they can't play their kicker spells because they can't afford the kicker costs yet?  Or are they smart enough to play the cheap versions of those cards, but not to play the lands without the extra costs?




Yeah, I thought about this too. Why didn't they just do it as Kicker? Not only is a land with Kicker amazingly cute in so many ways, but I think it would have done even more to bring the set together as a real cohesive entity, and would have cut back on the "Man, I can't believe I just played a ETB tapped swamp." feeling. After all, we're all very much acustomed to playing weaker spells with kicker when we need something THEN. I think flavoring it as kicker would have been just the ticket.


Hopefully R&D hit upon the same logic and just decided to move it off to Worldwake. Hopefully =/


Mew.


Aren't the spell lands basically exactly the same thing as kicker?  Do people also get unhappy when they can't play their kicker spells because they can't afford the kicker costs yet?  Or are they smart enough to play the cheap versions of those cards, but not to play the lands without the extra costs?




Yep. Or "mega"-cycling, or entwine, or landcycling, or splice, or hellbent, or any of the many, many other mechanics which can be played early on as a lesser effect or later on for a more impressive effect.


In fact, I *really* don't see how the proposed lands were any different from landcycling. In any way at all.


 


I am, in fact, baffled at their reasoning here.


Mark, you *CANNOT* design Magic by appealing to the lowest common denominator of your market research groups. If that had been Garfield and Atkinson's strategy, Magic would never have been made.


I suppose it's inevitable that Magic has to get dumber if it must continually grow unsustainably.


Which was, of course, inevitable the moment it was sold to a publicly traded corporation.

"Make people wait for what they want, and you have power over them. This is as true for merchants and militia as it is for cooks and couples." —Gwendlyn Di Corci


Aren't the spell lands basically exactly the same thing as kicker?  Do people also get unhappy when they can't play their kicker spells because they can't afford the kicker costs yet?  Or are they smart enough to play the cheap versions of those cards, but not to play the lands without the extra costs?




There's a story that's been told about Maro about a zillion times involving kicker, where it makes you think a card is only worth it when you use it at its full power, not realizing the entire point of the mechanic is versatility.


New players always wated to kick their spells, smarter ones either knew to figure out which situation was better, or used the kicker as gravy.


Hopefull with the exception of the cycle mentioned tonight (which feels kinda like Urza's rage, the coolest kicker card there was), they've moved past the over priced kickers, like 4 colorless mana for a +1/+1 counter on a prefectly good 3/2 for 2R and the like.

Land tokens sounded like a bad idea immediately.  I'm surprised you tried them for any length of time, but I guess there's nothing wrong with that.  I did think though that you had the problem solved as I read about "Dark Banishing Swamp", which created a very interesting decision.


Then I realized with creeping horror that this was an example of a card you wouldn't print.  And worse, the thing that makes it interesting is the very REASON you won't print it!


When did it become your job to play the game for us???


I suspected, but didn't want to say this earlier.  It has been apparent in the card designs that you want to limit options such that the obvious play is the correct one.  And here you so much as say it: people made mistakes, so you changed it.  I think this is a grave mistake that hurts the long-term playability of the game.


Learning is one of the great joys in life.  People enjoy strategic games because they make mistakes.  Learning from those mistakes is what enables them to do better in subsequent plays and makes the game worthwhile.  You seem to be on this crusade to take out the tough decisions and surprise plays, and as a result are killing the strategy of this strategy game.

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.

Here's an honest I-don't-understand-design question:  Why bring back Kicker, instead of Entwine?  Entwine seems like a better mechanic and a superset of Kicker, since you can have either/or effects.


Is this one of those "limitations are more interesting" things?  Or is it just about keeping the complexity down - I admit that Entwine is slightly more complex to explain.

You know, I've been thinking of this whole "don't judge the set yet" theme and such, and I realized something.  


The most exciting card I've seen so far is harrow.


Not because the rares suck or anything, but I just really appreciate seeing a card that really tells me how this set is going to work.  I'm going to play this and get like three landfall triggers?  Sweet! 


Go and look through people's responses to the previews.  When we get a spicy new rare, we don't sit down and pull apart that particular card, talking about its mana cost or art or effect.  We immediately say "lotus cobra + cruel ultimatum = ?"  Always, cards are judged in combination with other cards.


The most telling example, obviously, was back at the very first preview of Lorwyn- the treefolk that no one loved.  Tribal is probably the *worst* theme to try and show off with splashy rares.


It also feels rather anticlimactic when you go to your prerelease and open up your pack and the only card you DO recognize is your rare.


The point is, I'd like to see more commons.  I'd like it if we started with a slow build up the first week, show us some commons that illustrate key concepts, like landfall dudes or the mountain land.  Talk about how the set works at the common level.  Then week 2, BAM, awesome rares!


If the way you're previewing sets isn't working to show up what the set is actually like, then change the way you preview!  


Here's an honest I-don't-understand-design question:  Why bring back Kicker, instead of Entwine?  Entwine seems like a better mechanic and a superset of Kicker, since you can have either/or effects.


Is this one of those "limitations are more interesting" things?  Or is it just about keeping the complexity down - I admit that Entwine is slightly more complex to explain.




Look at the preview card. You could design that with entwine, but it just screams kicker.

i would just like to say that i am very, very happy about wizards' attitude toward mechanics now. i used to get really sad when i liked a mechanic from a block but knew i would never see it again. now i have hope for all my favorites. so, good call on that, guys.

I agree - the selective re-use of mechanics is to be encouraged.


I wouldn't object though if they complemented kicker (which applies whenever a spell is cast) with some sort of "as this permanent enters the battlefield you may pay X" version. I dunno... booster... or something. Maybe not that one, cos then you've have "when ~ enters the battlefield, if it was boosted... " and that's all sorts of wrong. But you get my drift. Perhaps Upgrade.


Heck, you could have kicker and upgrade on the same card... eg.


Kor Settler - 1W


Creature - Kor Scout


Kicker - W, Upgrade - G


When Kor Settler enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, you may search your library for a plains card and put that card into play tapped. Then shuffle your library.


When Kor Settler enters the battlefield, if it was upgraded, you may search your library for a basic land card and put that card into play tapped. Then shuffle your library.


2/2


Okay, a bit cluttered, but the point is that you could have applied upgrade or something like it to lands.


And yes, I know they would never run this because the two mechanics are too similar and therefore confusing to the new target audience.

Personally I wish they would rename kicker to something that sounds good, like evoke. Kicker and kicked are words that don't sound right for a fantasy game.


When did it become your job to play the game for us???




When they realized we wouldn't be able to afford to play it ourselves?


 


But seriously, folks, there are a lot of people out there upset about MaRo saying that there wouldn't be mythic utility cards just a year before 3 mythic utility cards were previewed through official channels, but I think they're looking at it the wrong way.


Magic is a game that constantly breaks its own rules, and Zendikar is the perfect time to break this one. This is, after all, the "treasure hunting" block. So, when a player opens up a Mythic Goblin Lackey, or a Mythic Force of Will, or a Mythic Sakura-Tribe Elder, it's like they're discovering a treasure chest with actual money inside! It's also a great way to capitalize on all the unused design space around eBay.


At least, those would be good arguments if we were morons.


 


Seriously, MaRo, you lied. Apologize already.

"We will all be purified in Wurm. What is good will be used to heal Wurm, or grow Wurm, or to fuel Wurm's path. What is vile will be extruded, and we will be free of it forever." --Prophet of the Cult of Wurm

So far I've liked what I've seen from this set.  I'm in the minority here but I think having a Brand team work with R&D is going to be a good thing in the long run.  To me they're kind of the "gut-check" brains who are the voice of a lot of the casual people like my friends who like Magic but don't have the time to get deep into the sets, rumors, and message boards to maximize their skills.


With respect to that I trust them on this.  The only thing I'm having a hard time envisioning is a lot of the board state we're going to have to keep track of with landfall.  I think this could be a big headache with all the potential triggers going off and having to do the accounting for it all.

I'm confused about what people are complaining about in this article, or is it all just residual hatred for Lotus Cobra? I agree, Lotus Cobra is a dumb Mythic Rare. I don't think MaRo himself was lying though (I don't think rarity of cards is really his decision - it's a development thing, and the logic he presented at the time he made the  "no utility mythics" made sense, I'm pretty sure he believed what he was saying at the time), so this is a weird place to complain about it.


So for this article we're all complaining about... kicker? Well, to be honest it's not my favorite mechanic (I prefer more flavorful ones) but I have no particular qualms with it being used here. It's not like the set is otherwise lacking flavor  or interesting mechanics IMO. I really DO like this particular preview cards. And he says we're getting a different mechanic (at least a variant) next set.


He says it's a bad idea to print cards that make players actively feel bad for making good decisions. This is different from a card that requires a decision, period. I don't see a problem with it.


So...  You make rare duals for Brand?




Do you really have to ask this?


(If you were being rhetorical/sarcastic for Rosewater's benefit, I apologize).


 


And like I said about the fetches in another thread, they do not feel like an organic outgrowth of the set's themes. They do feel like how Maro talks about cards that get put into his back pocket for a better fit/rainy day, and low set sales is a good definition of rainy day if you ask me.  It's yet another set of dual lands at rare, but the fact that they've been asked about for so long kinda mitigates that.


-----------------------


Sometimes WOTC frightens me, especially when I read passages like this:


Once upon a time, mechanics were seen as a disposable item. This philosophy can most tangibly be seen on the Reserved List. Each year for quite some time, we were allowed to save a small percentage of cards that we would be able to reprint; the rest went on the list. Did we ever save cards with keyword mechanics (other than evergreen ones)? We didn't, because those were not thought of as repeatable.


So not only does the Reserved List keep many perfectly usable and flavorful cards from ever seeing the light of day again, but it was also responsible for holding back mechanics?


 




Aren't the spell lands basically exactly the same thing as kicker?  Do people also get unhappy when they can't play their kicker spells because they can't afford the kicker costs yet?  Or are they smart enough to play the cheap versions of those cards, but not to play the lands without the extra costs?




Yeah, I thought about this too. Why didn't they just do it as Kicker? Not only is a land with Kicker amazingly cute in so many ways, but I think it would have done even more to bring the set together as a real cohesive entity, and would have cut back on the "Man, I can't believe I just played a ETB tapped swamp." feeling. After all, we're all very much acustomed to playing weaker spells with kicker when we need something THEN. I think flavoring it as kicker would have been just the ticket.


Hopefully R&D hit upon the same logic and just decided to move it off to Worldwake. Hopefully =/


Mew.




And then somebody nails it in the forums.*sigh*


 


I was glad to hear the story of the design of the +1 life dual cycle. Erik Lauer said "how about this" and they stuck it in. Oh well, they can't all be tales of danger and derring-do I guess


 


 


 

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

Well, my post was residual anger about the utility mythics lie (I still do want an apology to his readers for that one).


However, the other comments are lamenting the loss of the expanded EBT land cycle (possibly with kicker).


I agree that it's usually a bad idea for mechanics to make players feel bad about good decisions. However, I recognize that the community at large may desire cards that reward tough gameplay decisions (this is, after all, the most complicated game in the world, played by people who generally fall on the righthand-side of the IQ bell curve). On the whole, I'm inclined to think that R&D made the right call here, though.


However, I do wish the "land set" had more nonbasics at common and uncommon. So far they've revealed the existence of only 20 nonbasic lands, and half of those are rare.

"We will all be purified in Wurm. What is good will be used to heal Wurm, or grow Wurm, or to fuel Wurm's path. What is vile will be extruded, and we will be free of it forever." --Prophet of the Cult of Wurm


It's pretty clear to me from this article that the Brand team is responsible for Magic's dumbing down.  They're Hasbro's bean-counter drones, putting pressure on the designers to make Magic more saleable, no matter what the cost to the game's design integrity.  Killing those awesome spell-lands because they made stupid players feel bad is almost certainly the result of Brand's interference.


It's pretty clear to me that MaRo himself thought the spell-lands were a bad design.  "Even when I had Deadly Bog in my hand, played in my deck counting it as mostly a spell so that I was not mana screwed by it, I still felt bad when I had to play it as just a tapped Swamp."  But then, I read what was actually in the article, rather than what I wanted to read.

And isn't it interesting how Magic is hiring more Brand people, with two openings in the past month, but hasn't hired a new designer since the GDS?  Obviously the only employees Hasbro wants to spend money on are the ones who will tell MaRo to stop designing clever sets that small numbers of smart people will enjoy, and start designing another Pokemon to put cash in Hasbro's coffers.

Maybe Wizards is hiring more Brand people recently because they've had people leave that department, and they need fill the vacant spots.  Did you think of that?  No, you didn't, because you're so blinded by your bias that you can't consider explanations that don't fit your narrow worldview.

I think we can safely assume that Mark and the other designers will continue keeping Magic alive for as long as possible; Brand is choking the life out of it, but it isn't dead yet.  That said, we can expect to keep seeing more and more evidence of design quality being sacrificed for marketing flash.  Mythic utility today, ultra-chase double mythic utility tomorrow.  The end is coming, folks, we just don't know how fast.  Let us put our trust in MaRo and company to keep the game fun for as long as they can manage, before the Vampires of Brand finish their grisly work once and for all.

"The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"

In regards to valuable design tip #1: I remember them saying the same thing about Suspend creatures coming off suspension with haste.  Apparently, at first the creatures didn't have haste but everyone would always attack with them immediately because they were so eager for waiting for the creature, so they just changed the ability because of that same line of logic.  It's still one of those things that bugs me, only because I had the exact opposite reaction.  When I first played with suspend creatures, I sometimes wouldn't attack with them because I just cast that creature this turn.  It doesn't say haste on it (outside of 7 lines of reminder text, if it has reminder text) and I've been playing magic long enough to know that when I just cast a creature, I have to wait a turn before I attack with it.  If I hadn't known the story of why they have haste, I would be realy really confused as to why it has haste.  I obviously figured out that suspend breaks a normal rule of magic, but I never understood why the original playtesters assumed it broke that cardinal rule of magic in the first place, so that they had to change the rule.


Valuable design tip #2 is a very good reason to make a change, IMO.  It's interesting to see there's a line of when a certain amount of discomfort is too much.  Cycling and kicker play the same way (not all instances, but some), but these cards were just a little too much pain in the "I'll settle for the less desireable effect" category.  Interesting to me anyway.


ETB has not yet replaced CIP in my brain space yet, but I'm working on it.

What does make me a little sad is there isn't much (read: at all) in the way of man-lands. One of the things I was hoping for was the ability to make an all-land deck that can actually hold its own (even if it's not a top-8 constructed killer). Hopefully that's something that will come in Worldwake, but right now the land only complements normal strategies rather than offeringe entirely new ones.


Also a little intrigued that we don't have many sac-lands, which I think are a better way to address the "spell-lands make me feel bad when I have to play them without their ability." Mouth of Ronom never made anyone feel bad unless they were on the recieving end.


Personally I wish they would rename kicker to something that sounds good, like evoke. Kicker and kicked are words that don't sound right for a fantasy game.




i agree with you so hard i might explode.


I don't think MaRo himself was lying though (I don't think rarity of cards is really his decision - it's a development thing, and the logic he presented at the time he made the  "no utility mythics" made sense, I'm pretty sure he believed what he was saying at the time)


maro isn't a random hired writer, he's the face of wizards. when he says something is not going to happen, it's official from wotc. when that thing he said wasn't going to happen happens anyway, it's a big deal. that said, i'm sure you're right that he had little to nothing to do with lotus cobra being mythic rare.


so this is a weird place to complain about it.


i agree with you there. as with the rules changes doomsayers, expect to see people mentioning lotus cobra in completely irrelevant threads for the next couple of weeks. i will probably be one of them, and anyone is welcome to call me on it because it's ridiculous.


Seriously, MaRo, you lied. Apologize already.




i don't think he wrote this article yesterday, so you might want to give him a reasonable amount of time to respond (if being reasonable is something you're interested in). i would appreciate a response as well because i'm not happy about this either, but i doubt maro had much to do with it, and if that's the case whoever did make the decision has probably told him to keep his mouth shut (or given him a company line to recite about it).


i don't think he wrote this article yesterday, so you might want to give him a reasonable amount of time to respond (if being reasonable is something you're interested in). i would appreciate a response as well because i'm not happy about this either, but i doubt maro had much to do with it, and if that's the case whoever did make the decision has probably told him to keep his mouth shut (or given him a company line to recite about it).




Well, I certainly don't want to establish a precedence for reason, but if he wanted to apologize/explain himself/attempt to justify the presence of Mythic Rare Utility, he has other venues besides his column. For instance, he is very active on Twitter. A short tweet saying why he mislead us, or why the policy shift occurred might be enough to at least give the indication that he cares what the consumers think.


As for why I posted about this issue in this thread, I know that MaRo reads the forum thread for his own article, but I don't know if he reads other articles' threads. I want him to understand that his misstatement of WotC policies as an attempt to justify them is a very big deal to his readers.


His article is one that is supposed to be informative in nature. It is worth reading only insofar as it can be counted on to be accurate. If he misleads readers on some matters, who is to say that any information in his article is factual? Now, I don't think he misleads us about the design process, but without knowing the rationale for his statement on the Mythic Rarity, and without any sign of contrition on his part for the break of faith, I really have nothing to base my trust on but wishful thinking.


 


EDIT: Even if this was a money-grab from the higher-ups (which I doubt, as I don't think the people watching the bottom line know enough about Magic to identify the chase utility, or care enough to alter the rarity), I still think it was a bone-headed play for them. A decision like this has the potential to drive a lot of tourney-goers away from the game for at least a couple of years due to affordability concerns. If this happens, we'll probably see amazing sales for Zendikar as secondary market retailers try to accquire product to sell, followed by extremely poor sales of Worldwake, Set 3, M11, and next year's block. 3 months of Feast, 21 months of Famine.

"We will all be purified in Wurm. What is good will be used to heal Wurm, or grow Wurm, or to fuel Wurm's path. What is vile will be extruded, and we will be free of it forever." --Prophet of the Cult of Wurm

Well, I certainly don't want to establish a precedence for reason, but if he wanted to apologize/explain himself/attempt to justify the presence of Mythic Rare Utility, he has other venues besides his column. For instance, he is very active on Twitter. A short tweet saying why he mislead us, or why the policy shift occurred might be enough to at least give the indication that he cares what the consumers think.


unless he's not allowed to comment on it, or wants to wait for it to blow over before responding.


As for why I posted about this issue in this thread, I know that MaRo reads the forum thread for his own article, but I don't know if he reads other articles' threads. I want him to understand that his misstatement of WotC policies as an attempt to justify them is a very big deal to his readers.


that's fair.


the most likely situation is that he had nothing to do with the decision, and therefore is in a difficult position. he can't really "apologize" for lying if he didn't actually lie, or if doing so requires him to point the finger at someone else (which might be a bad idea). remember that what he actually said was that "we don't WANT mythics to be utility," and since he's in charge of design you'd think that would mean they wouldn't make utility mythics (this was the obvious implication to the reader). but just because they WANT things doesn't mean they get them when there are other forces involved (for instance non-design/development business related forces).


i'm kind of arguing devil's advocate here, because i agree with you that there's been a breach of trust. but i'm not as upset about it and i'm willing to give it some time. maybe lotus cobra will be a $1 mythic. maybe maro will give a really excellent explanation for it. maybe the large amount of high quality commons and uncommons in zendikar will make up for the ludicrous situation at mythic rare (so far so good from what i've seen).

I have always thought Erik Lauer was cool, even made a weird tribute card that can deal damage to him when he's in another game once. Now I find out that he designed the uncommon duals which are the same as a cycle I put in my Fountain of Acid set at the start of last year. Should I be flattered or angry that he copied my idea?


Decent article. I saw into the whole "kicker mechanic and a set that rewards you for playing extra lands has synergy" thing and I reckoned it was one of the few good ideas in this set.

As long as the Mythic discussion is continuing, a few thinks I've been thinking about now that I've seen more of the set unfold:


1) We've seen what I assume is most if not all of the mythic rares previewed. I think the total number is 11. Of those, only three are questionable as "Mythic" in my opinion (Lotus Cobra, Instigator, and Mindbreak Trap). Of those, only Lotus Cobra and Mindbreak Trap qualify as utility. Instigator is certainly good but it only goes in one specific deck strategy. The rest of the Mythics are all the same big splashy and mostly unplayable cards we generally assumed they were. 


2) I saw an interview recently (mananation.tv/episodes/082/mananation_ep...) with Aaron that touched about Lotus Cobra. One point he makes is that the point was never to avoid Spike cards, period, for Mythics. It's a little silly to have an entire rarity dedicated entirely to janky timmy and johnny cards that happen to occasionally be good enough for Spikes to play. I think that's a fair point (noting that there's a difference between "a card for Spike" and "a utility card.") He also points out that although Mindbreak Trap is basically a counterspell, it honestly is a pretty damn cool counterspell.  I also agree with him somewhat here, although I think it would have been just as cool as a rare.


I think it's fine for, of the 8-12 mythics in any given set (I don't remember offhand how many go in big and small sets), have 1-3 cards that are clearly intended for Spike (3 being the upper end of what is acceptable in a large set). If it weren't for Lotus Cobra (which really does not feel Mythic at all), Mindbreak and Instigator would feel more natural, as two particularly cool Spike cards, no matter how essential they might turn out to be for the metagame.


I'm hoping that the backlash they're getting is enough that history will leave Zendikar as the "high point" in how utilitarian Mythics can get. If the next set takes it down a notch, and it occasionally 

i can't speak for everyone, but personally i have no issue with spike cards being at mythic. i don't like baneslayer angel for other reasons, but i think it makes perfect sense at mythic. it feels mythic, and it's clearly for spike (spike timmy overlap, actually).


saying "we never intended to make none of the mythic rares spike cards" completely misses the point. supposedly you never intended to make mythic rare utility cards...that's what you said. but then, here you are making them. i think wotc needs to be more careful about what they tell us, but unfortunately if they learn that lesson they'll probably just opt to tell us less, which isn't much better.


edit: personally i don't think the flavor is there for mindbreak. and instigator is mythic on the coattails of lackey, which i think is a lame method of determining mythicness. i do understand it though. generally i do agree with you, despite all that. i understand why instigator feels mythic to people, and mindbreak is pretty neat. lotus cobra is just a blatant failure at mythic and it makes the other two seem worse than they are.

I'm calling bull on Aaron's explanation for the cobra. We know that wizards has sets finished roughly a year in advance. If they were actually reacting to player feedback, it would have taken longer than Zendikar to get a utility mythic printed.


The more I think about this, the more I think it was a calculated deception rather than an honest mistake. Lotus Cobra was likely in the file for some time when MaRo made his famous "No utility mythics" comment. I can't help but think that lie was a loan on the inevitable anger that would come when they did print utility mythics.


Still, that doesn't make sense to me, because it would be a lot less messy just to explain the actual reason why they're printing mythics: to keep set prices constant while printing less cards.


Anyways, I just hope that R&D learns their lesson soon. I'm willing to give them a pass on the cobra, but if Worldwake has another blatant utility mythic, I'll probably be taking a break from this standard season. If Live/Long/Prosper continues the trend, I'll probably be quitting Magic until I can afford it again. I can get competitive strategy gaming elsewhere, thanks.

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Eh, don't know that I agree with you on the "Lotus Cobra probably existed when Mark made his 'No Utility Mythics' statement." I'm sure some version of the card existed but I doubt it had reached its final form and rarity yet. (It was originally designed as a Ley Druid for 1G, and then changed over some un-stated period of time). I'm pretty sure they leave time for development between each set so they can change things to address something they didn't forsee happening. If not between every two sets, at least in the space of three sets.


Still, that's arguing minutia. I largely agree with your post and general sentiment. 


i can't speak for everyone, but personally i have no issue with spike cards being at mythic. i don't like baneslayer angel for other reasons, but i think it makes perfect sense at mythic. it feels mythic, and it's clearly for spike (spike timmy overlap, actually).




Honestly, I don't have an issue with Spike Cards being Mythic, either, so long as they're the right kind of Spike Card. In particular, Spike Cards that act as a finisher, and might show up as less than four copies in a deck.


What I do have a problem with is utility cards being printed at Mythic. I especially have a problem when that Utility card is so much better than alternatives that people feel compelled to run 4+ in their decks, lest they suffer competitive disadvantage.


I don't like the idea that, between the fetchlands and cobras, the core of a competitive deck will be sufficiently expensive to represent a barrier to entry in Standard, and I don't like the idea that the people who stop playing Standard Constructed will not return for at least 2 years, no matter how awesome the next 6 sets are.

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Eh, don't know that I agree with you on the "Lotus Cobra probably existed when Mark made his 'No Utility Mythics' statement." I'm sure some version of the card existed but I doubt it had reached its final form and rarity yet.




It may very well be the case that someone in development moved the card to Mythic after MaRo made his statement. However, it does pose an interesting question:


In what way does that reflect better on Wizards?


It essentially means that they decided to print Mythic Rare Utility after they had become aware that their customers specifically did not want them to do this.


There's also the issue that, even if MaRo didn't know Lotus Cobra would be Mythic, this at best means he tried to assuage people's fears and concerns without checking with the relevant people. So, he either deliberately mislead us about the future direction of the company, or he mislead us about the information he had access to (as it is not unreasonable to assume he would not make such a statement without checking with people who work in his building).

"We will all be purified in Wurm. What is good will be used to heal Wurm, or grow Wurm, or to fuel Wurm's path. What is vile will be extruded, and we will be free of it forever." --Prophet of the Cult of Wurm

Set looks good.



You lied about utility mythic rares. 



When someone says 'Zendikar' to me, I don't think of cool adventure world.  I don't think of Landfall or enemy fetch lands.  All I think of is how Wizards lied about mythics.  I warn newbies about competitive play... Zendikar is very unforgiving.  It's going to have two $50 staple cards, so unless you want to drop $1000 on magic in the next year, find another game.


Seriously, if you guys wanted to hit the 'Acquistion' theme, you really dropped the ball here.  I can almost no longer afford to play, and because I'm a spike, that means I'll just drop the whole game if it gets too expensive.   I'd have forgiven you if you made them the release/pre-release cards, but you didn't do that either.

I would like to narrow the problem a little bit.


Maro said "No utility card at mithic", ok.


But what exactly is a utility card? I think that here we are missing a clear cut definition.


And BTW are you all sure that lotus cobra will be a problem on the Tarmogoyf size? A card that every deck will run 4 copies of?


Personally I'm not sure. For a dedicated deck is surely awesome but I don't think we will see it outside of green. This is not skullclamp 2.0.


 


I would like to narrow the problem a little bit.


Maro said "No utility card at mithic", ok.


But what exactly is a utility card? I think that here we are missing a clear cut definition.


And BTW are you all sure that lotus cobra will be a problem on the Tarmogoyf size? A card that every deck will run 4 copies of?


Personally I'm not sure. For a dedicated deck is surely awesome but I don't think we will see it outside of green. This is not skullclamp 2.0.


The Lotus Cobra is no Tarmogoyf... but then, Tarmogoyf wasn't Mythic.  The price may be similar because of that.  Anyway, the Instigator and the Cobra may become staples of the format, but they still require specialized decks, and they're not really utility.

What bugs me most is the counterspell.  Counterspells are clearly utility, especially when they're not difficult to cast (2UU or zero!) and fill a commonly needed niche (stop uncounterable spells, combo, and even regular spells at a reasonable price!).

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Anyway, the Instigator and the Cobra may become staples of the format, but they still require specialized decks, and they're not really utility.




I'm with you on the Instigator, as it's only a utility card in a Goblin deck. The Cobra, on the other hand. . . .


As a 2/1 for 2 mana that sometimes accelerates you a turn while fixing mana and attacking to keep up pressure, it's good, and that just requires basic lands, not much specialization, there.


It gets much, much better when you use the fetch lands which decks are going to use anyway, unless they have a really compelling reason not to. In this case, it will reliably accelerate you to 5 or 6 mana on turn 3. This can be huge, given the cards we have at that cost. It will not be unusual to see a turn 3 Baneslayer Angel, Ob Nixilis, Roil Elemental, or Sorin Markov. True, it's not great in the late game, but let's be honest, there won't be a late game.


This card will be a 4-of in almost every deck that matters, not because it's a powerhouse on its own, but because it facilitates other strategies so well. Don't think of it as Tarmogoyf or Skullclamp, think of it as Sakura-Tribe Elder or Artifact Lands, only jumped up 3 rarities.

"We will all be purified in Wurm. What is good will be used to heal Wurm, or grow Wurm, or to fuel Wurm's path. What is vile will be extruded, and we will be free of it forever." --Prophet of the Cult of Wurm

Personally I'm not sure. For a dedicated deck is surely awesome but I don't think we will see it outside of green. This is not skullclamp 2.0.


i'm not convinced yet that it will be run in high numbers, but think about it this way, and forget all the "violent ultimatum on turn 3" stuff. fetch lands are good, people will be running them. i don't think anyone would disagree with this. so on turn 3, with fetch lands, cobra, and no other acceleration, you're looking at 5 mana. that's pretty good, and it doesn't require a "dedicated deck." all it requires are fetch lands (which everyone will play anyway) and some green (which won't be difficult when good mana fixing is present).


Honestly, I don't have an issue with Spike Cards being Mythic, either, so long as they're the right kind of Spike Card. In particular, Spike Cards that act as a finisher, and might show up as less than four copies in a deck.


or how about spike cards with some flavor, like garruk or baneslayer? or even the instigator? i thought "the flavor of mythic rares" was important. a 2/1 snake with no defining snake-related characteristics isn't doing much for me. since flavor doesn't hurt the card's spike appeal, why didn't they at least disguise this a little better by giving it some flavor, like with baneslayer?


I don't like the idea that, between the fetchlands and cobras, the core of a competitive deck will be sufficiently expensive to represent a barrier to entry in Standard, and I don't like the idea that the people who stop playing Standard Constructed will not return for at least 2 years, no matter how awesome the next 6 sets are.


i hope this doesn't happen but zendikar is looking more and more prohibitively expensive for standard players, so i think it's inevitable that they're going to lose some players (when gaining players is supposedly their goal). i think a lot of it remains to be seen, though. cobra looks good, but the hype is often wrong. take a look at silence, which i saw for like 20 bucks on ebay before release and more in the local shop case. now it's settled around 5 bucks. i would buy lotus cobra for 5 bucks.


then again, birds is about 8 or 10, and mythic birds would probably be 15 or 20. so we'll see.

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