11/20/2009 LD: "Look out R&D! It's a Trap!"

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

As a Spike it is hard to always be aware of when I'm falling into the "Spike trap." Luckily there are plenty of non-Spike R&D members who are there to help me out. When I disagree with them, they can just say I'm being a Spike and discredit my position. Problem solved!

*laugh*

Only print the cards with tough choices that are also fun.  Problem solved!

Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
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...
What a joke. Print bad cards like Earth Elemental over Arc Slogger because most people are bad at Magic? This article has seriously made me want to quit this game. If this is how R and D thinks, then the only people who should play this game are narrow minded simple people. Well, this helps clear up why the Standard format is currently just a bunch of mindless aggro decks. There goes my hope in skill intensive Magic. Better print more mill cards because they are fun!!!!!!! not.
You're right. I would kill a man to get Slog printed.
-Spikey McSpikerson #37
What a joke. Print bad cards like Earth Elemental over Arc Slogger because most people are bad at Magic? This article has seriously made me want to quit this game.



Funny. Do you realize that this is exactly the type of thinking that Matt Place talks about in the article? If R&D saw Magic the way you do, Magic would quickly lose most of its player base. People don't like to put cards away that they could potentially play later. That is the same kind of player who thinks it's unfair to mulligan, who tries to balance out his kitchen table Magic rounds by banning land destruction "unless it's really cool", or who doesn't like the Ravnica shocklands because they deal too much damage.

Tournament players don't think like that, but they are not the majority of Magic's player base. R&D needs to cater to everybody - that also means that your bad card is another player's favorite.
Matt Place on design mistakes:

"If we believe it is OK to sacrifice game play for cards that upon first read are funny or interesting, we will make worse sets."

Mark Rosewater on Mindless Null:

"The original version of this card was as you see it except for

1 ManaBlack Mana. The card was created by Ken during the vampire design. Ken turned over his card designs to Henry (Stern) to put into the set. Henry typed the card in incorrectly as 2 ManaBlack Mana instead of 1 ManaBlack Mana. When the mistake was noticed, most of R&D found it funny and the card was kept as is."


www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.a...

If only you guys would be consistent, your rationalizations might approach believability.

Also, stop using the word "unfun". It's Orwellian, creepy corporate-speak.
"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
I'm confident that M:tG will one day have contraptions and assemble abilities.


I have to totally disagree with Matt on Steamflogger Boss. It's one of my absolute FAVORITE cards from Future Sight. It represented the set so perfectly! It was an okay card, (3/3 for 4, nothing to write home about) but the 'Contraptions' text reminded me of the very first time I picked up a Magic card.

When I first started playing Magic, I was spellbound (no pun intended) by the world the cards evoked. "What is Llanowar, and why did their elves look so vicious?"  "How is a Shivan Dragon different from a regular one?" and "Who's this Sengir guy?"

It's the hook that brought me into the game, and upon seeing Steamflogger Boss, I felt that exact same rush again: "Contraptions? What the-? Assemble? How do we do that? I HAVE TO KNOW!"

It made me nostalgic for the first time I was exposed to Magic, and nostalgia was the point of that block. In that sense, the card worked beautifully. It may not have been the most efficient card ever developed, but it was well worth a card slot to me.
@AngryGazeb: Sorry to say it, but the joke is on you. Your reason for why you liked it is why everyone else hated it. Everyone else realized WotC was preying on nostalgia to make a lame joke instead of actually catering to that nostalgia.

The reason this is bad is because it is essentially the people who make the game holding the people who play the game in contempt patronizing them.
@AngryGazeb: Sorry to say it, but the joke is on you. Your reason for why you liked it is why everyone else hated it. Everyone else realized WotC was preying on nostalgia to make a lame joke instead of actually catering to that nostalgia.

Essentially, it is the people who make the game hold the people who play the game in contempt; patronizing them.




Edit: I guess the real joke is on everyone who still uses these forums. What the **** is going on with the formating? Who thought this crap was a good idea?
Map to the Scary Graveyard
1
Artifact
[THE ART WOULD SHOW A MAP WITH THREE THINGS PICTURED ON IT – A SHOVEL, A ZOMBIE, AND A NECROMANCER]
T, Sacrifice CARDNAME: Put a 4/4 Zombie token into play. You may only activate CARDNAME if you have an equipment, a zombie, and a cleric in play.


There are several reasons why this shouldn't pass Development. The biggest is that you are catering to noone. Who would want to play this or think it is clever.

Make it overtly about creating a Frankenstein's monster: You need Dr. Frankenstein, a minion, and a laboratory. If you have those in play and can dig up a dead creature get to create Frankenstein's monster.

But the payoff of the card is garbage. Frankenstein's monster scared the **** out of entire villages, killed multiple people, and was extremely hard to kill. A vanilla creature, even if it's 4/4 doesn't get that feeling across at all. It needs Intimidate at least, if not regeneration too.

But even then, why go through all the trouble to create a Frankenstein's Monster, when you can just cast a Bog Wraith or similar for 3B? Or Zombify for 3B? Or Rise from the Grave for 4B?

To sum this all up: No, never print Map to the Scary Graveyard as you have described it in this article.
The idea that the majority of players would choose earth elemental over arc flogger is ridiculous to me, I know very few players like that. And I play in an extremely casual environment
Earth elemental is not timmy friendly, because having no abilities isn't cool, it's boring, even for my timmy friends. They would rather have arc flogger just because he has rules text even if they don't really like the rules text they would still like to have the option open if they're really desperate.
On the other hand, the Johnnies in my group will see cards like that and make a 200 card deck to fuel it. Or something else crazy.
The spikes will love it because of the reasons mentioned in the article.

And then the implication that control and combo decks are somehow less fun is painful to me, as a player that PREFERS to play either as control or combo or against it. Aggro mirrors are extremely tiresome for me and don't seem fun at all. I don't understand WHY R&D has decided that some types of fun are more "right" than other types of fun. I asked my friends that play aggro if they still have fun playing aggro if everyone else is doing it too, and they said no. I like combo a lot, but to play it I have to pull out very old cards. And when most of my friends are playing with Zen/Alara cards, I tire of the constant aggro decks. And I think they tire of the aggro mirror matches all day. I have a friend that loves land destruction, and he quit buying cards because of what happened to his favorite archetype in recent sets. I feel like they're doing the same to my loves of control and combo. I only started playing less than a year ago but I have more fun playing magic when I use cards released much longer ago that let me play the type of decks that I want to play (and by consequence I don't buy many NEW cards because I know I will be forcefed aggro or midrange).

Again, why is one guy's fun more fun than my fun? I can't believe that market research would show this viewpoint... maybe the group I play with is not typical despite being casual, but we don't want combo to go away and we don't want aggro to run over everything for free.

We want to play magic. The whole game of magic, not just Vampires vs. Boros or Jund vs. Vampires. We want to play Dragonstorm vs. Pickles sometimes. We want to play Counter-Rebel vs. Kithkin. Vampires vs. Counter-Phoenix. We want to have our token combo deck that explodes into an arbitrarily large number of saprolings to have an ability to compete with the other player's Boros deck and not just get overrun on a clock.

HOW IS IT FUN IF THE AGGRO DECKS ALL RUN OVER MY FUN BEFORE I CAN HAVE IT?
it's just as "unfun" as playing against land destruction. the game must always feel a little bit "unfun" at times to be truly fun. you have to be able to lose to make the game fun, always winning is boring to everybody. I have fun when I lose as long as I actually got to play a match with a deck that I like. Sure, being land-do locked out of the game from turn 1 is gay. But having to play a deck that I don't like (either, a good aggro deck that will only lose to other aggro decks, or a bad control/combo deck that will lose to everything), I don't have fun.

I'm a johnny, and I'm a spike. Both of these parts of me feel neglected by current designs. Timmies aren't the only players and even they usually have a component of the other player profiles. And not all timmies play aggro. One of my friends that is quite clearly a timmy constantly plays control decks. And he's not a "griefer" timmy, he just really likes playing big splashy cards and the easiest way to be able to do that is to control first

as you may be able to tell I feel very strongly about this... this article really hit a nerve.
The best we can do is speak with our wallets, and I suppose I have... as I haven't bought any zendikar at all. Nothing in the set is fun for me except for a handful of cards. The idea of landfall was so awesome, and the quests were a cool idea, and there were plenty of other cool ideas in the set... just when I look at all the cards there are very few cards that I can look at and say "awesome this goes in my favorite kinds of decks". I look at pyromancer ascension and I think it's awesome, but then nothing in the set works with it really. I look at vampire lacerator and at first I thought "cool" but then I realized that it'll just be used against me (btw I've read at various sites (channelfireball) that lacerator is not played at the top levels, as I understand that it's awful vs. other aggro decks and the type 2 format is so saturated with aggro that it's usually a sideboard card). And then there are all these cards in the format that just look like they're designed to hate me like bloodchief ascension to kill control spell pierce would've been really cool if anybody EVER played anything other than creatures that early... it'd be awesome to win counter wars, except those don't exist anymore

i just want to play control or combo when my friends want to play type 2 and not have it be the worst deck possible. i don't want to get run over for free by everything. i realize in retrospect that the 5 color control of last standard was not 5 color because the mana base was so "broken" that they had to splash for everything, but rather that control was just IMPOSSIBLE without doing so, that all the control spells were spread over too many colors to make a control deck with less colors viable at all.
The idea that the majority of players would choose earth elemental over arc flogger is ridiculous to me, I know very few players like that. And I play in an extremely casual environment
Earth elemental is not timmy friendly, because having no abilities isn't cool, it's boring, even for my timmy friends. They would rather have arc flogger just because he has rules text even if they don't really like the rules text they would still like to have the option open if they're really desperate.
On the other hand, the Johnnies in my group will see cards like that and make a 200 card deck to fuel it. Or something else crazy.
The spikes will love it because of the reasons mentioned in the article.

And then the implication that control and combo decks are somehow less fun is painful to me, as a player that PREFERS to play either as control or combo or against it. Aggro mirrors are extremely tiresome for me and don't seem fun at all. I don't understand WHY R&D has decided that some types of fun are more "right" than other types of fun. I asked my friends that play aggro if they still have fun playing aggro if everyone else is doing it too, and they said no. I like combo a lot, but to play it I have to pull out very old cards. And when most of my friends are playing with Zen/Alara cards, I tire of the constant aggro decks. And I think they tire of the aggro mirror matches all day. I have a friend that loves land destruction, and he quit buying cards because of what happened to his favorite archetype in recent sets. I feel like they're doing the same to my loves of control and combo. I only started playing less than a year ago but I have more fun playing magic when I use cards released much longer ago that let me play the type of decks that I want to play (and by consequence I don't buy many NEW cards because I know I will be forcefed aggro or midrange).

Again, why is one guy's fun more fun than my fun? I can't believe that market research would show this viewpoint... maybe the group I play with is not typical despite being casual, but we don't want combo to go away and we don't want aggro to run over everything for free.

We want to play magic. The whole game of magic, not just Vampires vs. Boros or Jund vs. Vampires. We want to play Dragonstorm vs. Pickles sometimes. We want to play Counter-Rebel vs. Kithkin. Vampires vs. Counter-Phoenix. We want to have our token combo deck that explodes into an arbitrarily large number of saprolings to have an ability to compete with the other player's Boros deck and not just get overrun on a clock.

HOW IS IT FUN IF THE AGGRO DECKS ALL RUN OVER MY FUN BEFORE I CAN HAVE IT?
it's just as "unfun" as playing against land destruction. the game must always feel a little bit "unfun" at times to be truly fun. you have to be able to lose to make the game fun, always winning is boring to everybody. I have fun when I lose as long as I actually got to play a match with a deck that I like. Sure, being land-do locked out of the game from turn 1 is gay. But having to play a deck that I don't like (either, a good aggro deck that will only lose to other aggro decks, or a bad control/combo deck that will lose to everything), I don't have fun.

I'm a johnny, and I'm a spike. Both of these parts of me feel neglected by current designs. Timmies aren't the only players and even they usually have a component of the other player profiles. And not all timmies play aggro. One of my friends that is quite clearly a timmy constantly plays control decks. And he's not a "griefer" timmy, he just really likes playing big splashy cards and the easiest way to be able to do that is to control first

as you may be able to tell I feel very strongly about this... this article really hit a nerve.
The best we can do is speak with our wallets, and I suppose I have... as I haven't bought any zendikar at all. Nothing in the set is fun for me except for a handful of cards. The idea of landfall was so awesome, and the quests were a cool idea, and there were plenty of other cool ideas in the set... just when I look at all the cards there are very few cards that I can look at and say "awesome this goes in my favorite kinds of decks". I look at pyromancer ascension and I think it's awesome, but then nothing in the set works with it really. I look at vampire lacerator and at first I thought "cool" but then I realized that it'll just be used against me (btw I've read at various sites (channelfireball) that lacerator is not played at the top levels, as I understand that it's awful vs. other aggro decks and the type 2 format is so saturated with aggro that it's usually a sideboard card). And then there are all these cards in the format that just look like they're designed to hate me like bloodchief ascension to kill control spell pierce would've been really cool if anybody EVER played anything other than creatures that early... it'd be awesome to win counter wars, except those don't exist anymore

i just want to play control or combo when my friends want to play type 2 and not have it be the worst deck possible. i don't want to get run over for free by everything. i realize in retrospect that the 5 color control of last standard was not 5 color because the mana base was so "broken" that they had to splash for everything, but rather that control was just IMPOSSIBLE without doing so, that all the control spells were spread over too many colors to make a control deck with less colors viable at all.




If there were more players like you, magic would be a much better game. Excellent post. I'm much more competitive than you as I play as many tournaments as I can, but I agree with you completely. And even when I play magic for fun, you really can't compete today with any sort of control deck. Yet no developer writes anything about why or how they have killed control cards (especially blue ones) and we're supposed to all just accept it and play mindless aggro all day, and of course...be bad at magic and play earth elemental over arc slogger.
They already made a BETTER map to the scary graveyard, and it's the herald cycle from Shards of Alara.

Your quest: to get three creatures down in these certain colors
What next? perform some kind of ritual sacrifice (?)
Reward: summon the beast

Personally I never play them because I never got the rare 'reward' cards!

R&D knows they have a broad audience, based on the fact that they always have a little something for everyone.  Their ideal is when multiple worlds overlap, like Rite of Replication.  It can be big, combolicious, and total win.

I just feel like there's too much emphasis on Spike!  Oblivion Ring wasn't good enough at taking out creatures so they really had to specifically cut the cost and change 'permanent' to 'creature' and call it Journey to Nowhere?  Too many players didn't like the downside of Path to Exile?

Plus, the disparity between commons and rares (now mythic rares too, don't get me started) is just silly.  After LORWYN, there is NO common green trample at 5/5 or above.  That means there is NO common green trample at 5/5 or above in Standard, period!

They always talked about how 'revolutionary' it was in M10 that they didn't do things 'just because it was always done that way'.  If having a common green 5/5 trample creature in a core set isn't Magic, what is?
It's interesting to note that Arc-Slogger is praised in the Gatherer comments for being an already solid body by red standards, which happens to have a gravy ability, while Earth Elemental is lambasted as being overpriced and weak.



I think the real problem with Steamflogger Boss is not so much the card itself as the fact it's a rare. Without the rules text, the card is a 3/3 goblin for four mana. That's hardly a star, but it's printable. With the first line, it powers itself up in multiples. That seems fine and pretty balanced. The final line is neither adding nor removing anything from what is already a decent card, but not enough players could look past it.

What Steamflogger Boss absolutely is not is worthy of being the only card in the booster with a gold symbol. Opening a 'normal' bad rare is disappointing, sure, but it's part of the game. However, opening a rare which was included in the set primarily as a joke would, I can imagine, make it feel for a lot of players like the makers of the game are just having a laugh at their expense. "Oh look... another kid pulled that contraption guy instead of Tarmogoyf or Pact of Negation! Hah!" For the record, I think that might have been the problem with One With Nothing as well. At uncommon players wouldn't have felt like they were giving up half as much with these cards (which were never going to seriously affect limited play, so that argument is irrelevant).



I'm with Gwendolin_Di_Corci and aaa_aaa_aaa on the subject of fun and unfun... however Matt or Mark might try to cut it, every time they start talking about 'fun', it comes off like their market research is concrete scientific proof that X is fun and Y is not. Personally, I find crazy combos fun, but I don't find Progenitus fun. I accept others have differing opinions and that's their perogative. Yet to read one of these articles, it basically feels like being told that my idea of fun is invalid or somehow fake.



FungusAmongus86, I was with you up until you talked about 'mindless aggro decks, there goes my hope in skill intensive Magic'. That reminds me of the people I played against twelve years ago who thought that because they stuffed their deck with Counterspells and I played Sligh, they must be more skilled than me. They completely failed to notice the irony in that one - a lot of control decks can afford to make mistakes in games where beatdown decks can't. Anyone can sit behind a wall of permission or run out the same cards in the same sequence every game, but it takes skill to know which of your creatures you can afford to trade for damage this turn and which you'll need to hold back, whether to go for two damage with a Cursed Scroll or bluff into something you don't actually hold, and to work out whether it's worth the risk of sacrificing your mountains to Fireblast this turn or holding off to hardcast it next turn. I'm not accusing you of playing unskilled decks yourself, I have no idea what decks you play, but seriously man, aggro absolutely does NOT equal unskilled; hell, with aggro you're putting yourself on a fast clock, and it's important to maximise every turn.



Balerion, don't forget that Frankenstein's Monster was a pacifist, so the token ought to have Defender too ;)


FungusAmongus86, I was with you up until you talked about 'mindless aggro decks, there goes my hope in skill intensive Magic'. That reminds me of the people I played against twelve years ago who thought that because they stuffed their deck with Counterspells and I played Sligh, they must be more skilled than me. They completely failed to notice the irony in that one - a lot of control decks can afford to make mistakes in games where beatdown decks can't. Anyone can sit behind a wall of permission or run out the same cards in the same sequence every game, but it takes skill to know which of your creatures you can afford to trade for damage this turn and which you'll need to hold back, whether to go for two damage with a Cursed Scroll or bluff into something you don't actually hold, and to work out whether it's worth the risk of sacrificing your mountains to Fireblast this turn or holding off to hardcast it next turn. I'm not accusing you of playing unskilled decks yourself, I have no idea what decks you play, but seriously man, aggro absolutely does NOT equal unskilled; hell, with aggro you're putting yourself on a fast clock, and it's important to maximise every turn.

)



I agree maybe I was a bit too harsh on that, but this guy Matt Place really set me off with his article. I myself have played aggro decks at grand prix events and ptqs, but mostly because I felt it was the best deck. Aggro decks are quite skillful, although I will never believe aggro decks are as skillful as control decks in general, I do see your point. I am mostly miffed that we have no viable control decks in constructed magic right now or even the current limited format for that matter and apparently people like Mat Place and whoever else is developing this joke of a format are convinced that everyone is ok with this and magic is fun with only aggro decks that win in 3 minutes floating around. All I want is the option of the counterspell deck, or the Day of Judgment control deck. You can't do that without losing right now. And the reasoning is because most people find this unfun? well I find it absolutely disrespectful to the common intelligence by saying Earth Elemental is more fun than Arc-Slogger.


I agree maybe I was a bit too harsh on that, but this guy Matt Place really set me off with his article. I myself have played aggro decks at grand prix events and ptqs, but mostly because I felt it was the best deck. Aggro decks are quite skillful, although I will never believe aggro decks are as skillful as control decks in general, I do see your point. I am mostly miffed that we have no viable control decks in constructed magic right now or even the current limited format for that matter and apparently people like Mat Place and whoever else is developing this joke of a format are convinced that everyone is ok with this and magic is fun with only aggro decks that win in 3 minutes floating around. All I want is the option of the counterspell deck, or the Day of Judgment control deck. You can't do that without losing right now. And the reasoning is because most people find this unfun? well I find it absolutely disrespectful to the common intelligence by saying Earth Elemental is more fun than Arc-Slogger.



Fair enough, it was just the wording I guess. And yeah, I too would like to see more variety not just in colours and different types of aggro as we have now, but in pacing and win condition, and to have control and combo be viable as well. But then, what goes around comes around, and when only control decks are viable, I'll miss creatures! I do think that on the whole, Standard has been consistently more open and varied ever since Kamigawa/Ravnica and that R&D are still working in the right direction on average, but the balance between viable archetypes hasn't been found yet.

Earth Elemental isn't bad, but even the Vorthos in me prefers Slogger XD A weird one-eyed lunar monster thing which generates its own electrical arcs? That's pretty cool.
@AngryGazeb: Sorry to say it, but the joke is on you. Your reason for why you liked it is why everyone else hated it.


I think if you take a look at this thread, search for "Iron Intervention", and read the following 6 pages, you'll find quite a lot of people who love the existence of Steamflogger Boss, including me. I mean, look at some of these posts:







forums.mtgsalvation.com/showpost.php?p=1... - decklist two
forums.mtgsalvation.com/showpost.php?p=1...

I think this shows there were plenty of people who love the idea of Steamflogger Boss and his clanking army, and would love to see Contraptions printed. There's a strong movement to get a Contraption or a Contraption-making Rigger as YMTC4 if and when that ever happens. We love the idea, regardless of whether it was originally intended as a joke.

Again, why is one guy's fun more fun than my fun? I can't believe that market research would show this viewpoint...



you answered your question later on =)

as you may be able to tell I feel very strongly about this... this article really hit a nerve. The best we can do is speak with our wallets, and I suppose I have...



Why is 1 fun more 'right' than another fun? Because it generates more money...

Also, stop using the word "unfun". It's Orwellian, creepy corporate-speak.



The word is poor, but the concept is extremely important to game design. How would you name it?

As funny as it is to some R&D members, "jokes" like Steamflogger Boss don't add value to actual games of Magic.



Maybe I don't feel the pain because I don't buy that much packs, but I love Steamflogger Boss and Mindless Null. They add nothing to the games, but they certainly add to the metagame (MaRo's one). If you would google all the cards from Zendikar, I'm sure Mindless Null came up... a lot! For me, it's one of the most valuable cards from Zendikar, because I enjoy all the discussions it generates. But I'm probably a minority...

Should we in R&D ignore the hate for Arc-Slogger since the haters are wrong and the card is actually very powerful? Absolutely not! Our goal, above all else, is to make the game fun. Just because something is powerful doesn't give it an excuse to be miserable.



I DON'T see the problem with Arc-Slogger. It is not unfun to play against. It is unfun to play it as a non-spike, but you don't have to!!!

The problem with a competitive spiky counter deck, is that every other deck needs to be able to answer it. You can't play your deck, because it falls to the counters. Playing against Arc-Slogger is far from that unfun.

But it all comes down to:

A challenge is making the correct number of Spike-only cards, which is generally a few per set.



A few Arc-Sloggers, a few combo cards, a very-very-few-but-not-zero Mindless Nulls =)
with ability on the stack, Path to exile the arc-flogger.

there goes 10-11 cards from your deck and a horrible 5cmc creature.


for the price of 1 R and 10 random cards this card can take out a Wall of reverence which hit the table the turn before and already gave you life.


honestly. Arc-Flogger is no where near as spike as... oh i dont know. Gifts ungiven? or Fact or Fiction? or Tarmogoyf.


honestly... you could have used Tarmogoyf as your Spike example. That thing practically invented spike on its own ;)


lol... I have to say, i do not agree with your statement, research, or methodology used to come up with that conclusion.


There is one thing to be spike another to make 1 of i win the game cards. which Arc-flogger cannot do.


IF and i swear to you, that if you ever print a card that is 3cmc with a 1/1 body with R, remove the top 10 cards of your deck, deal 10 damage to target creature or player. Itll would see insane play.


for 3 reason.

1. The cost is outragous for the effect.

2. The effects ability only requires 1 open source of mana.

3. The eternal formats would abuse this in a heart beat.


You think im lying?

remove a simian spirit guide, play ritual spell from cold snap, play again, play again, seething song. play creature, and activate the ability twice.


That good sir is a spike card on its own, that the johnnies would be all over in a heart beat.


its like johnny, meet spike. Spike meet jhonny.


The win spike will want to win.

and the johnny will want to abuse the heck out of the card.


what ever the case may be. recently since Lorwyn standard. I noticed a lot of timmy cards and a lot of hate on counter spells.


suddenly, we have cheap counter spells at 2 but that only deal with creatures.


going first, means nothing more than, Maybe getting a creature on turn 2 and above.

going second, that means 2 creatures will make it into the board. Not to mention since you have counter specific spells in hand. You cant counter the lightning bolts/ cruel ultimatum / what ever other non creature spell the opponent is casting without you thinking twice about actually countering heavy spells or continue waiting on creatures.


I stopped playing at Eventide. I havent attended any event since, I saw the card lists and noticed i wasnt liking the sets any more. Zendikar seemed like a glimmer of hope, but even that was shortlived.


really look at worlds right now and tell me you dont see mirrors. come on, all you see is JUND. its not much Aggro vs. Control. Or control vs. combo. or combo vs. aggro. the game has turned into who can hit the face hard and how fast.


im glad i've only been playing EXT right now... :D


I quit Magic when Urza's Saga came out.  So did all my friends.  It wasn't until Mirrodin that I started playing again regularly. 

Don't apologize for Steamflogger Boss or Arc Slogger.  I love them so much!  Who hasn't milled their decks down with an Arc Slogger only to find themselves with 5 turns left before they're dekced and lose the game?  AngryGazebo captured my thoughts perfectly about the Steamflogger Boss.  You see the card and it immediately makes you wonder HOW assembling contraptions would work in the game of Magic.  You end up spending days... weeks... MONTHS... thinking about how each color would assemble contraptions.  Then you have MaRo come out and say "Surprise, we're not making contraptions EVER!" 

Well, I still don't believe him!  I am convinced we will one day see Steamflogger Boss in all his whippity and pinchity goodness! 

Anyway, Magic just popped up overnight at my university.  It started with like 4 people from the video game club deciding to bring in their cards one night, and now upwards of 50 people play... everywhere on campus and at literally all times of the day.  It's exciting because, as a player since Tempest, it's great to see new players' reactions to the game. 

I think it's soooo cute that people are stuffing their multiplayer decks with life gain and burn spells.  Just the other day, someone said to me, "First you play this enchantment that removes their graveyard from the game, then when you cast this discard spell, it will instead REMOVE IT FROM THE GAME!!!"  I was like, "but by the time you can cast that discard spell, they'll have one card in hand maybe, and why on earth does it matter if you remove their graveyard from the game if they don't have any cards that interact with the graveyard?" 

"You just don't understand." 
It's interesting to note that Arc-Slogger is praised in the Gatherer comments for being an already solid body by red standards, which happens to have a gravy ability, while Earth Elemental is lambasted as being overpriced and weak.



I think the real problem with Steamflogger Boss is not so much the card itself as the fact it's a rare. Without the rules text, the card is a 3/3 goblin for four mana. That's hardly a star, but it's printable. With the first line, it powers itself up in multiples. That seems fine and pretty balanced. The final line is neither adding nor removing anything from what is already a decent card, but not enough players could look past it.

What Steamflogger Boss absolutely is not is worthy of being the only card in the booster with a gold symbol. Opening a 'normal' bad rare is disappointing, sure, but it's part of the game. However, opening a rare which was included in the set primarily as a joke would, I can imagine, make it feel for a lot of players like the makers of the game are just having a laugh at their expense. "Oh look... another kid pulled that contraption guy instead of Tarmogoyf or Pact of Negation! Hah!" For the record, I think that might have been the problem with One With Nothing as well. At uncommon players wouldn't have felt like they were giving up half as much with these cards (which were never going to seriously affect limited play, so that argument is irrelevant).






I was with you until One With Nothing (and somebody else mentioned Mindless Null). The difference being Steamflogger Boss is a flavor win first, that happens to have a solid enough body to make it not completely useless otherwise. Endless examples have been posted in other threads about how OWN and MN are completely outclassed, so I won't bog down this thread with them. Moving the Boss the Uncommon would have been prefereable (at the very least so I could find more than one of them just by popping packs), but also so they're effect could have at least been occasionally seen in Limited.

The other two cards are just bad cards, at least Steamflogger Boss has its flavor going for it, and if R&D wanted to make things better, they'd at least print more Riggers (I've half-joked that Cylian Elf and Runeclaw Bears would have both benefitted from the rigger creature type) for some synergy at the kitchen table, but the best solution would of course be to print contraptions.

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 think it's soooo cute that people are stuffing their multiplayer decks with life gain and burn spells.  Just the other day, someone said to me, "First you play this enchantment that removes their graveyard from the game, then when you cast this discard spell, it will instead REMOVE IT FROM THE GAME!!!"  I was like, "but by the time you can cast that discard spell, they'll have one card in hand maybe, and why on earth does it matter if you remove their graveyard from the game if they don't have any cards that interact with the graveyard?" 

"You just don't understand." 



Awesome =) Now that's real magic!


The other two cards are just bad cards, at least Steamflogger Boss has its flavor going for it



What's the difference between flavor and metagame-humor? Say Steamflogger would not have it's first ability, only the second, wouldn't it be the same as Mindless Null? 4 for 3/3 versus 3 for 2/2, both justified for reasons outside of the game itself?

Also, One with Nothing is a great card. It just doens't make a great rare =( The last packs I ever brought had Pale Moon and Wintermoon Mesa in them. However, I don't share the hate for Mindless Null, as it is just a common, and putting uberbad rares at uncommon should not change much as there are already many narrow uncommons that are not played in limited
This article has seriously made me want to quit this game. If this is how R and D thinks, then the only people who should play this game are narrow minded simple people.

Oh the irony.

I'm a Spike through and through, but the kind that plays aggro most of the time, because I like being pro-active and presenting multiple threats to my opponent. Do I like the Standard metagame right now ? Yes and no... There sure is a satisfaction for me in seeing an environment where everyone has to play Magic interactively instead of either completely denying their opponents' right to play Magic (dedicated land destruction, dedicated permission) or play solitaire (combo). However, those strategies are legitimate when they're not degenerate and create a good competitive tension, and they should be able to exist. Right now, I'd like Jund to be a little less prevalant, and I'd like control to have more of a chance to compete.  A turn 4-kill capable combo deck, but no faster, and that can be answered to by many types of decks is also something healthy for a metagame in that it forces adaptation and can enable a good rock-paper-scissors balance. For that to happen, blue control needs to have some good counterspells to keep combo in check, though. A simple two-mana counter like Mana Leak would help fix the current unbalance a great deal.

That said, no matter if you like the direction R&D is taking Magic right now or not, the fact is the game is thriving, moreso than ever before. Card production simply can't meet this year's exploding demand. Tournaments such as Grand Prix's have the largest attendances in history. The truth is they're doing things right for their own wealth and for the health of the game, at least for the moment. Honestly, if their choices make some control-oriented Spikes abandon the game, it's a small loss compared to all the new players gained. And to say it bluntly, losing one condescending sore loser jerk to gain two new enthousiast Timmies is more than a +1 net gain for a community in my book.

I don't wish the current imbalance towards aggro to last too long, for fear of the game losing some of its variety and competitive appeal. But it's not that bad for the moment, and the pendulum still has time to swing back. We've had control-dominated metagames for years, where only one adapted aggro deck could struggle to win, and now it's the other way around; in a perfect world, the balance between play styles would be achieved at all times, but it's not an easy task to accomplish even for an experienced R&D team. It seems that the imbalance towards aggro is more profitable to them than the imbalance towards control or combo, but I believe they're conscious that they must not go too far and keep some viability for everything in the long term. We'll see, but I'm confident.
Magic The Gathering DCI Lvl 1 Judge Don't hesitate to post rules question in the Rules Q&A forum for me and other competent advisors to answer : http://community.wizards.com/go/forum/view/75842/134778/Rules_Q38A
The idea that the majority of players would choose earth elemental over arc flogger is ridiculous to me, I know very few players like that. And I play in an extremely casual environment

Matt did not at all say that the majority of players would choose Earth Elemental over Arc Flogger:

"But a huge number of Magic players would disagree. Non-Spikes often despise Arc-Slogger because the tension to pay ten cards, many of which are better than Shock, for 2 damage isn't fun. I believe some of these players would rather run Earth Elemental."

At least try to understand the article before you go off on a rant about it.

I'm a Spike, but is it still only Spike if you cackle maniacally as you cast Arc-Slogger while playing a 300 card Prismatic Stairwell Highlander deck?  I think Arc-Slogger has broader appeal than you give it credit for.

Dear Matt Place, If the new Mirrodin set simply makes contraptions and has new Riggers, this will be A-ok! Since Rigger is an actual creature type on Moriok Rigger from Fifth Dawn (according to Gatherer), it only seems plausible!

What's the difference between flavor and metagame-humor? Say Steamflogger would not have it's first ability, only the second, wouldn't it be the same as Mindless Null?



No, because Steamflogger would still just be a Hill Giant, not strictly worse than a Hill Giant. Mindless Null is strictly worse than Scathe Zombies. (And Hill Giant is significantly stronger than Scathe Zombies in any event.)

Which leads me to a quibble with the original article: Mr. Place's comment about "sacrific[ing] game play for cards that ... are funny". They didn't sacrifice game play by printing Steamflogger Boss; the card plays just fine. It's not strong enough for competitive constructed play, of course, but most Magic cards aren't. The joke is just gravy. (The real problem with Steamflogger Boss, for me, is that the joke doesn't work. I can't see them ever introducing a "Contraption" mechanic where "Contraptions" were all considered interchangeable and all you needed to know was how many you had in play. It should have said something like "...assembles another Contraption of the same type.".)

What a joke. Print bad cards like Earth Elemental over Arc Slogger because most people are bad at Magic? This article has seriously made me want to quit this game. If this is how R and D thinks, then the only people who should play this game are narrow minded simple people. Well, this helps clear up why the Standard format is currently just a bunch of mindless aggro decks. There goes my hope in skill intensive Magic. Better print more mill cards because they are fun!!!!!!! not.



Neither you nor I represent a majority of Magic players and people who purchase Magic cards.  WotC must print different cards that appeal to different types of players.  There will be some cards that will appeal to you greatly, but there will also many others that will appeal to others greatly, but not to you.  No card can be all things to all people.  There are so many more people who are different than you or I (play in different formats and environments or at different skill levels) that it is likely there are more cards suited to other people than just you or I.

Map to the Scary Graveyard
1
Artifact
[THE ART WOULD SHOW A MAP WITH THREE THINGS PICTURED ON IT – A SHOVEL, A ZOMBIE, AND A NECROMANCER]
T, Sacrifice CARDNAME: Put a 4/4 Zombie token into play. You may only activate CARDNAME if you have an equipment, a zombie, and a cleric in play.


There are several reasons why this shouldn't pass Development. The biggest is that you are catering to noone. Who would want to play this or think it is clever.

Make it overtly about creating a Frankenstein's monster: You need Dr. Frankenstein, a minion, and a laboratory. If you have those in play and can dig up a dead creature get to create Frankenstein's monster.

But the payoff of the card is garbage. Frankenstein's monster scared the **** out of entire villages, killed multiple people, and was extremely hard to kill. A vanilla creature, even if it's 4/4 doesn't get that feeling across at all. It needs Intimidate at least, if not regeneration too.

But even then, why go through all the trouble to create a Frankenstein's Monster, when you can just cast a Bog Wraith or similar for 3B? Or Zombify for 3B? Or Rise from the Grave for 4B?

To sum this all up: No, never print Map to the Scary Graveyard as you have described it in this article.



WotC apparently made this mistake multiple times.  See Kyscu Drake and Urborg Panther.  Not only is this a crappy way to get a (at the time) big creature, you have to load your deck with crappy creatures and play them and hope you surive long enough get rid of your multiple crappy creatures you have played to get a fatty out.  On top of that Kyscu Drake is an anagram of Sucky Drake.  They not only printed crappy cards, but one of these cards is also supposed to be a joke.
<\ \>tuntman
I think Arc Slogger is fine. If you are spikey, you play him, if not you don't. Spikes deal with overcosted timmy cards, and Johnnies deal with linear mechanics all the time.

Though i agree that there shouldn't be too many, and you shouldn't have to force non-spikes to use them.
… and then, the squirrels came.
with ability on the stack, Path to exile the arc-flogger.

there goes 10-11 cards from your deck and a horrible 5cmc creature.


for the price of 1 R and 10 random cards this card can take out a Wall of reverence which hit the table the turn before and already gave you life.


honestly. Arc-Flogger is no where near as spike as... oh i dont know. Gifts ungiven? or Fact or Fiction? or Tarmogoyf.


honestly... you could have used Tarmogoyf as your Spike example. That thing practically invented spike on its own ;)


lol... I have to say, i do not agree with your statement, research, or methodology used to come up with that conclusion.





In response, pay another R and still get the (effectively) free shock.  20 cards is nothing if I get 4 damage out of the deal.  (Philosophy of Fire wise it's not a great deal, but on the other hand, some of those cards were lands and didn't buy me any damage on their own anyway.)

It's not quite fair to compare Arc Slogger to Wall of Reverence - a certified Red Deck Killer.  Compare Arc Slogger to the typical case, where it's 5 power for a creature that's somewhat hard to kill, somewhat hard to block, and may just eat the last 8 points of your life on the next turn, or remove a blocker for whatever beaters you have this turn.

Out of the options at the time, and particularly in a Limited environment, Arc-Slogger was a Spike's dream.  It helped that it looked bad enough that casual players wouldn't pick it.  It was particularly awesome in big deck formats, of course.

It's hard to really explain what made it good, other than:  anything which gives the Red Deck card advantage is a good card.  Almost any bad card becomes good, if it gives Red a little more stamina in the stretch, or ability to close an almost-there game.

Back on topic (slightly):  I didn't like Morph cards at all, but I appreciate that they were good for the game, a certain subset of players loved them, and in many cases they made for great Spike moments.  I don't think R&D should consider Onslaught block a mistake, and I hope they are still willing to take interesting ideas, maybe even Spikey ideas, and spin a block out of them.
Is it sad that I love playing a deck with Urborg Panthers and its ilk to **** out my Spirit of the Night?  I know, deep down, that it's kinda crap, but I love it all the same.  Plus, I dig the Urborg Panther art.  Kind of reminiscent of The Maxx, remember him?
Great article Matt!  A few comments:

1) The problem, imo, with Steamflogger Boss is not that it's stupid or that it's unfun for whatever reason, but it's rare.  Sure, if you ostensibly ever make a Rigger tribe, you want the lord to be rare, but as-printed, it's not much better than a Hill Giant, and it's only better than a Hill Giant if you're playing with Lorwyn block or Mistform Ultimus.  Printing Hill Giant as a rare is just bad design, imo.  I could go with it if it were uncommon, but it's just a total waste of a rare spot.

2) I have to take issue with this:

And that is exactly the problem. If we believe it is OK to sacrifice game play for cards that upon first read are funny or interesting, we will make worse sets.



This is true to an extent.  Cards like Steamflogger Boss are stupid.  However, I'm a huge fan of the Un sets.  They were a blast to play, even if not always balanced (I once had a Granny's Payback cast against me for 40+.  I lost that game.).  I still love them and am holding my breath for Un set 3, despite the recent core set policy changes.  That is to say, if you want to print dumb cards, do it in an appropriate way.  Steamflogger Boss was inappropriate, as it took up a slot (a rare slot, even!) in a tournament-legal set.  If you want to do something like this, have a blast, but do it in an Un set or something.

3) As for that card that Maro suggested, I'm disappointed cards like that aren't done more often.  I play the Kaldra set in my EDH deck, (tried to) built a deck based on The Unspeakable, and was a huge fan of the tribal lords from Onslaught (Voice of the Woods cycle).  It would probably never see play in anything outside of casual, but I would love to see it.  If you want to get my interest, though, the reward has to be something more flashy than a 1-mana 4/4 dude.  Spike is satisfied by 1-mana 4/4s.  Johnny wants something cooler than that.

erdana, sans-serif">There are many other "Spike traps" that need to be avoided. Another is the idea that balance equals fun. This is far from true. As an example, imagine a world where the Prison deck (a deck based on keeping your opponent's lands from untapping with Icy Manipulators and Winter Orbs) goes about 50/50 against a beatdown version of Zoo. When the Zoo deck wins it takes 3-10 minutes, but when the Prison deck wins it takes 20-30. Not only is it unfun to play against Prison for any amount of time, but even when you are at even odds, you still spend most of your time losing to the awful thing!



What?  

Am I to understand the solution then is for the Zoo deck to win ~3 times as often so both players are winning the same amount of time?

I'm confident that M:tG will one day have contraptions and assemble abilities.



Agreed.

My biggest problem with this article was that there was no reference to Admiral Ackbar.
The contraptions will probably appear in the next Un-set, which would also have been the perfect place for Steamflogger Boss. That way everyone who actually liked the card could still enjoy it, and people who bought Future Sight packs would have had one less can of snakes to open. I am very glad they have learned their lesson from the backlash over that card. Magic can't be all things to everybody, but if a card has people in R&D rolling on the floor like Boss supposedly did - it probably doesn't belong in a tournament-legal set. Steamflogger Boss took its lumps and will continue to do so for years, but it did get R&D to fix a problem with superbad rares.

What a joke. Print bad cards like Earth Elemental over Arc Slogger because most people are bad at Magic?


No, that's not what he says at all.  He says that cards like Arc Slogger should not dominate a set.  An Arc Slogger mechanic as a major mechanic would cause the set's popularity to dive among Casual players if there wasn't a second major mechanic that lets one use the exiled cards.

And then the implication that control and combo decks are somehow less fun is painful to me, as a player that PREFERS to play either as control or combo or against it.


He doesn't say that.  He says that formats dominated by combo decks are painful and less fun.  This is because in a combo-dominated meta, every major deck must be the combo deck or a deck designed to answer that combo, which greatly reduces the variability of that meta and prevents the rest of the players from having fun.

Reducing combo's power level a little actually balances the meta more then having it balanced.  A format that's perfectly 1/3 aggro, 1/3 control, and 1/3 combo is actually not the most healthy or fun format, because combo decks demand more of the decks playing against them (as far as specific answers) than the other deck archetypes.

Am I to understand the solution then is for the Zoo deck to win ~3 times as often so both players are winning the same amount of time?


No, the solution is to reduce the frequency at which decks that extend game length appear.  In other words, there should be 3 times as many zoo variants so that more people will play these variants.

Decks that takes 30 turns to kill should not show up at Tier 1 every Standard.  That doesn't mean they never should show up.  His point is that power balance isn't always a measure of balance, because even if zoo and lockdown win 50% of the time, the zoo player will spend 90% of his time losing.  When players are invested more in the quality of games rather than quantity of wins (i.e. outside of tournaments), the 90% time spent losing is a much bigger issue than the win percentage.
Reprint everything from Future Sight. It was a great set, and I know that Rosewater could invent Contrapations and Assembling.

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

"Another is the idea that balance equals fun."

What? This is the complete inversion of sanity. Balance is EVERYTHING for Magic development. If certain deck is favored over another, what skill is involved in choosing which one to play (this also goes to the amount of jaded people that wants a single top deck that is all about countering spells)? Even if one deck takes 30 minutes to win, Matt Places assumes that a) Winning is all about a random lottery where players can't do anything to affect the result (aka no playskill involved) and b) That the outcome of the matchup was known since the beginning, so the fast deck player didn't have any fun at all just because he or she lost. That's far for true: I lost a bunch of my memorable matchups, but I remember them fondly because they were actually a challenge to play well and because they were close or, in another word, BALANCED. As it was said earlier, then combo Winter wasn't a mistake, because with the turn 1 kills you barely spent time at losing .

I suppose we will get the same anwer about balance not being significant when the deck full or rares stomps over the deck with cheap cards.

At least I would like to see a 100 % Spike set full of decision intensive cards for every playstyle and a very flat power level distribution among them. Even if in the real world it can't happen, at least cater for all players. Nowadays it seems that even the GILBIC junk steals the slots that would be otherwise given to the deep interesting cards.

The article seems to confirm R & D are turning their back at the current competitive crowd once and for all. Now any further criticism to the health of a given format will be naysayed using this distorted definition of "fun metagame" and any demand for interesting card will be ignored because only Mensa members could understand it and they aren't a significant part of the sales.


If Limited gets in the way of printing good Constructed cards... Screw limited
The article seems to confirm R & D are turning their back at the current competitive crowd once and for all. Now any further criticism to the health of a given format will be naysayed using this distorted definition of "fun metagame" and any demand for interesting card will be ignored because only Mensa members could understand it and they aren't a significant part of the sales.



Hyperbole much? Egad... I got used to the doomsaying-prone Transformers fandom, but I'm really starting to get sick of (almost) every single Magic article (well, other than Serious Fun and Savor the Flavor) having at least one (usually more) declaration in its comments thread that something-or-another is irreparably sullied for all time.

Last time I checked we were discussing a game whose entire format is fundamentally altered every single year. The downside of that is that pretty much anything you like will change. The good part is that pretty much anything you hate will also change. It's just a matter of having the patience to refrain from declaring the end of everything at the drop of a hat.

Meanwhile, I join the masses awaiting the coming of a horde of Contraption-Assembling Riggers in the steampunk set which must be lurking just over the horizon. (And in my dreams the Foglios come back to do art for it and it ends up turning into Girl Genius: The TCG)