1/29/2010 LD: "A Brief History of Tap Lands"

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

Why is nobody concerned at how many times the Coastal Tower cycle has been obsoleted? In the last year? As Tom pointed out, the originals were played in constructed. The only reason can be power creep (and multicolor fanboyism).
I played back in the days from 4E to the Urza block.  Although the pain lands were available at the time, for a casual player like myself, the Mirage fetch lands were the best I can hope to get in adequate quantities.  I stopped playing after Urza, but when I heard about the Invasion tap lands, I couldn't believe it.  The pendulum sure swung from the days where mono-coloured decks were quite common to practically non-existent now.

I personally would like to see mono-coloured decks be more common.  It seems that mana bases for multi-coloured decks are much easier to build now, but I think it's just too easy to add a third colour now.  I liked it when mono-coloured decks can deal with the limitations of playing only one colour and that's when colour hosers were way better than they are now.  Back then, when you played mono-black, you know you have difficulties dealing with enchantments and artifacts, but you played around it.  Now, it's so easy to add green and/or white to add naturalise plus other cards.
<\ \>tuntman
Given that the Invasion dual lands were printed on the understanding that the Tempest ally-color duals sucked, why exactly did they reprint (with different names and art) the Tempest ally-color duals in the already-underpowered Champions of Kamigawa set?  If they'd made sexy dual lands in that set, nobody would have cared about the fact that most of the other cards were underpowered; Vorthoi like myself would still have the flavor-rich setting, but the tourney rats would have the dual lands to obsess over, and the whole set would have fared better, instead of being stuck in this slump between broken Mirrodin and not-broken-but-awesome Ravnica.
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
I really like these EBT man-lands too.

Balancing a land's drawback (e.g. EBT or "T: Add 1") is an interesting topic.

My personal opinion is that a properly-designed land is one that always warrants consideration. It doesn't automatically go in your deck if you're playing the right colours, nor does it automatically get left out.

I do have one issue in general though.

There's a rule stating that lands can't be strictly better than the basic lands. As long as they're not stricly better, then everything is fine.

I'd argue that some lands are better than basic lands. They're not strictly better, but they'll almost always be played, which invalidates the whole point of lands not being strictly better than basic lands. The M10 lands will almost always be played in a deck of the right colours.

The only reason better-than-basic lands don't totally obsolete basic lands, is because they appear in limited numbers. (Of course there are various interactions and issues that mean you probably wouldn't play entirely better-than-basic lands, but these lands are still better than basics.)

I understand that WOTC wants to enable multicolour play, but there's an easier way to do this. No drawbacks or other shenanigans.

The "lands can't be strictly better than basics" rule has already been undermined by lands that are better than basics, but not stricly better than them, so there's no reason why the following solution doesn't work:

Here's the card:

Show

Image.ashx?multiverseid=201406&type=card

Yep. Duals.

Like the M10 lands, they're better than basics, and their play is only limited by the fact that you can only have four of each in your deck.

Crazy huh? \:>


Why is nobody concerned at how many times the Coastal Tower cycle has been obsoleted?

They were already obsolete the moment they were printed.
As Tom pointed out, the originals were played in constructed.

So was Volcanic Hammer.

Why is nobody concerned at how many times the Coastal Tower cycle has been obsoleted? In the last year? As Tom pointed out, the originals were played in constructed. The only reason can be power creep (and multicolor fanboyism).



If you read the intro to the article:
"To my modern developer eyes, the message of these cards is that, if you decide that you want to play a multicolored deck, I guess that's okay, but you deserve to be punished for such impetuosity by a terrible mana base.
This is not the message that we want modern dual lands to send."
Indeed. Although I liked Coastal Tower back in the day (I remember seeing my first one at the Invasion prerelease), I'm also happy to see the uncommons that have obsoleted it. Of course, half the cards to obsolete Coastal Tower have been rare (Hallowed Fountain, Wanderwine Hub, the M10 one that nobody has, and now Celestial Colonnade), but I'm particularly pleased at the uncommons. Cards like the uncommon shardlands and the common Ravduals are the absolute foundation of many of my casual decks, not being able to afford rare duals for my 80+ decks.

The manduals are very good. I still think Celestial Colonnade is the best of the bunch, though I know the fans of Creeping Tar Pit outnumber me. But it's certainly a safe bet that any of the five I end up with will certainly find places in my decks.

Thank you to Tom for at least mentioning the rarity issue, and in this case I guess "balance in Limited" is a fair excuse for making these duals rare. (Better than with most rare duals, anyway!)

As for prereleases, I've gone to the regional prerelease in London for every prerelease for several years, but for WWK I'm going to the local one in Cambridge because several of my London-based friends won't be able to make it, and so the extra 4 hours travelling aren't worth it. It's a pity to miss out on the triple small-set drafts and the atmosphere of the bigger event, but we'll see if the reduction in travel time is worth it.
I am also disturbed by the number of non-basic lands these days.  I think stuntman summed it up best.  There really is no reason to ever play mono-colored.  You never have to worry about color limitations.  Rather than work inside color limitations, WOTC has taken the lazy route and just made it easier to use other colors.  Why have to design a way for green to resolve its creatures when you can just make it easier for green to add blue and play counterspells?  Deisgn made easy, color pie be damned.

I think the most interesting thing about this entire article is the poll at the bottom.  While focusing on the possibility of people playing in both GP's, he seems to missed the massive point of the poll staring him in the face.  93% non-attendance at GP's?  That seems like a serious concern and maybe he should have focused on explaining what WOTC plans to do about that?  81% not interested in PTQ's seems like trouble brewing.  I hope next week we get a REALLY good article from someone/ANYONE at WOTC explaining what is happening to tournament magic.  Even the sanctioned and FNM are near 50% non-attendance.  I have my thoughts on the subject, and they mimic the thoughts in this article.  Every deck is multicolored so strategy is disappearing since everyone is being routed into the same decks.  The other concern would be the presense of massivly expensive Mythic Rares (baneslayer, planeswalkers) and preview cards that make it look like it's not going to get any better.  I think it's about time, someone (I'm really looking at Rosewater) step forward and talk SERIOUSLY about what is happening to magic.
What? Why on earth is it a problem that people don't go to tournaments? Spot the massive presumption that tournament Magic is the only kind that matters!

Remember, 90% of the player base doesn't play in tournaments. The tournament Spikes are vastly outnumbered by the kitchen table Timmies and Johnnies - in fact, they're even outnumbered by the kitchen table Spikes.
Magic is perfectly healthy if it manages to simultaneously appeal to a large number of tournament players and an even larger number of casual players. 
Always remember this: Magic is many things to many people. Surely the fact that there are so many random products like Planechase, all-foil boosters, EDH Slivers, and so on should be a reminder of this?

...Actually, wait, sorry. "Every deck is multicolored so strategy is disappearing since everyone is being routed into the same decks" - okay, I just fell for a troll, didn't I? Nobody could think that seriously after Zendikar
I have my thoughts on the subject, and they mimic the thoughts in this article.  Every deck is multicolored so strategy is disappearing since everyone is being routed into the same decks.  The other concern would be the presense of massivly expensive Mythic Rares (baneslayer, planeswalkers) and preview cards that make it look like it's not going to get any better.

Here are the major reasons players don't jump immediately into tournaments, and/or don't stay there long:

  • The vast majority of players just don't care
    Sure, the great unwashed masses may participate in an informal local "tourney" from time to time, but the idea of driving a couple of hours (or more) to play Magic in a room full of sweaty guys is not a high priority, or players find it just plain distasteful to drive all that way just to get pummeled repeatedly by pretty much the same deck.

  • Everyone just plays the same thing
    I can't just cobble together some goofy themedeck and expect to do any good.  Hell, I can't even refine that themedeck into the best it can be, because its best just isn't good enough if I happened to have picked the "wrong" theme.  When the best cards are much better than the next-best cards, it makes the best decks much better than the next-best decks, and magnitudes better than the average "themed" deck.  May as well scrap my current investment and assemble that deck everyone else is playing - it seems to win a bit.

  • It's too damned expensive
    When my "pet deck" is just not good enough to keep me from driving two hours just to go 0-2 (drop), I'm going to have to build a better deck.  When I find out that better deck is going to cost me $200 for just my lands, and another $80 for a playset of a critical rare and another $200 for a playset of a critical Mythic rare, I'm probably better off just buying a Xbox and several videogames.  It'll probably last longer.

  • Cards Expire
    After spending several hundred dollars for my deck, It turns out those cards are only good for a year or two before they are forcibly retired, or the next set spawns a brand new deck that stomps all over that old one everyone used to play.  Now I have to go spend several hundred dollars again, and pray I can carry-over at least half of my previous investment.
    Sure, I could give Extended, Legacy, or Vintage a try, but chances are very good those cards I spent all that money on for a few mere months of tournaments are dead-on-arrival in any of those formats.


And that, is why 93% of the poll respondents don't participate in GPs.
I have to disagree with you guys when you say there is 'no reason' to play monocolored.  This simply isn't true.  Play a deck like Jund then play a  deck like Vamps.  Jund gets color screwed a lot and loses a lot of tempo in playing their manabase.  Never happens with Vamps.  Vamps is probably a worse deck still, but has a huge advantage in its manabase, knowing that it will never be color screwed, and knowing that none of its lands come into play tapped.  Also, they do cater to some degree people who want to play mono-colored.  Cards like Tendrils and Mind Sludge are very good when you are running a ton of swamps and unplayable when you aren't. 

As far as these man-lands go, I think they are awesome, flavorful, and fun.  A dual, man-land is something we haven't seen and they seem to be very powerful.  To prevent them from being overpowered they always CIPT and the activation costs are a bit expensive.  Still, in any sort of control deck they are amazing.

Personally, I think it would actually be better for limited if all of these powerful lands were uncommons.  It sucks when you open a rare land in limited, believe me.  Also, because rare lands are usually so valuable, people rare draft them.  It skews limited.  It also makes the cards more expensive on the secondary market than they should be, given that people (obviously) need lands.  Wizards should make the rare lands uncommon and use the rare slots for more flashy spells.  The refuges from Zendikar were perfect.  Also, print at least some decent mana-fixing at common, for Limited and Pauper.  The Ravnica karoo lands were perfect.  My two cents. 
And that, is why 93% of the poll respondents don't participate in GPs.



First, I want to thank Tom for the explanation including historical context for the man-lands.  When I first saw these I wasn't too thrilled TBQH.  I can see how these will really help out late-game.  I have a concern that because they're rare they are going to end up at $20 which would not be fun but it is what it is.

That 93% of players in this unscientific poll is shocking to me.  I would have thought that number would be higher.  I guess it is a possible indicator that casual bigger than I thought.  I typically don't have to worry about power creep or the metagame.  We just play with what few cards we have available.

Also based on the types of articles you see on this site you'd think that 90% of the people play tournaments.  It would be nice to see more casual-focused articles here.  Maybe talk up Planechase a bit more.  When I manage to play with people who have the planar decks it's a blast.  Since it's release I haven't heard a peep about it from this site.

Keep the tourney coverage to the various fan sites.  It seems that there is way more of that type of talk going on around the internet and at no cost to WotC.
There would have been too many lands floating around in drafts that popped out of the land row and beat the crap out of you.



isn't that what a set called "worldwake" should feel like, though? honestly in a set that's supposedly about lands coming to life, how can there even BE "too many" lands beating the crap out of you? i wish they had done some more common and uncommon man lands and balanced them so it wasn't a power issue. is it really that difficult to do that? how hard would it be to have a common and uncommon cycle of man lands with weak enough power/costs for it to work out?

There really is no reason to ever play mono-colored.



that's weird, someone should tell those people paying 14 bucks for vampire nocturnus or running ant queen and eldrazi monument. apparently this guy has the secret tech on why you should stop playing those decks you've been top 8ing with.
isn't that what a set called "worldwake" should feel like, though? honestly in a set that's supposedly about lands coming to life, how can there even BE "too many" lands beating the crap out of you? i wish they had done some more common and uncommon man lands and balanced them so it wasn't a power issue. is it really that difficult to do that? how hard would it be to have a common and uncommon cycle of man lands with weak enough power/costs for it to work out?

I agree*. Fundamentally, I just think Zendikar-Worldwake didn't do as good a job of making "lands matter" as fallingman's set Verdia did nine months earlier. The manlands there were interesting, the mechanics played around lands rather better than Landfall does, and the in-game feeling was very much caring about what lands you and your opponents played, whether you might have a chance to bounce that land of theirs that's cultivated with an irritating spell, can you get this land to have the right basic land type, which of my lands would be best to attach this Fortification to, and so on. It worked far better than Zendikar at making lands matter.

*: There is the rather big proviso that I haven't yet played with Worldwake. It may - possibly - be that the Zendikons, Dread Statuary and Vastwood Animist are enough to make it feel like a proper "when lands attack" set. That's not the feeling I've got so far, but it may be that play convinces me.

On one side, we have a whole team of developers, working together, who make Magic for a living and each individually have impressive resumes of competitive Magic at professional levels.  On the other side, we have forum dwellers who make posts which I have taken the liberty of summarizing with the following templates:

"WotC has done ______ wrong, despite their experience, research, talent, and teamwork.  I, sitting here alone at my computer, came up with an alternative off the top of my head, and it is clearly superior."

"WotC is making a claim that ________, and has backed it up with historical references.  My sole opinion is contrary to this, so clearly WotC is in error."

"WotC believes that card X will be good in either limited or constructed, or both, based on their long years of competitive experience and countless hours of playtesting said card.  From my computer I can clearly see that the card is unplayable [or broken].  WotC is mistaken."

Now, it has always been my suspicion that members of WotC's Magic R&D might be more likely to be correct on a topic of disagreement than the forum regulars.  However, in the past, that belief has been no more than mere conjecture.  Thanks to the poll results posted in this article, I now have statistical evidence that not even 1 in 10 of the people criticizing WotC's decisions or contradicting their claims have any idea what they're talking about.  Maybe it was just a lucky guess, but I always thought that Tom LaPille, MaRo, and Aaron Forsythe might understand Magic a little better than the forum dwellers.  Looks like I was right after all!  Thanks, Tom!

Because clearly broken cards have no effect anywhere except in tournaments?

(Mind you, I agree that most whiners about specific cards' power levels are talking out of orifices not designed for it. I just don't agree that "doesn't go to tournaments in the past 3 months" is the same as "has no idea what they're talking about", or for that matter that "votes in Tom's poll" is the same as "posts in the forums" - there have been several polls on this site where the vocal majority in the forums are of one opinion, but the voting majority on the poll is the other way.)
Because clearly broken cards have no effect anywhere except in tournaments?

(Mind you, I agree that most whiners about specific cards' power levels are talking out of orifices not designed for it. I just don't agree that "doesn't go to tournaments in the past 3 months" is the same as "has no idea what they're talking about", or for that matter that "votes in Tom's poll" is the same as "posts in the forums" - there have been several polls on this site where the vocal majority in the forums are of one opinion, but the voting majority on the poll is the other way.)



I sacrificed some degree of strict accuracy for the sake of poignancy.  I believe my point still stands.

that wizards has designed with the goal of dumbing down tournament play is not really helping your argument.  i've met a 'tournament player' before.  they couldn't even understand banding correctly.  I'd certainly rather take the opinion of some who have been playing for 15 years, who commonly have to deal with complicated interactions between cards that never gets played in tournaments.  they know more about magic than people who can't even SEE the trends.

isn't that what a set called "worldwake" should feel like, though? honestly in a set that's supposedly about lands coming to life, how can there even BE "too many" lands beating the crap out of you? i wish they had done some more common and uncommon man lands and balanced them so it wasn't a power issue.


I agree. When Tom and MaRo tell us that these rare dual manlands represent the theme of the set, but don't worry limited players, you get one uncommon, it feels like a slap in the face.

Yeah, we haven't played Worldwake yet, but if you're one of the many players who primarily or exclusively plays limited, doesn't this scream, "This set is not for you?"

Maybe in practice Zendikons will prove to be more exciting than they look, but if they're supposed to be the "theme" of the set for limited, they don't seem very well integrated. Where are the cards that reward attacking with a land, for example? Shouldn't there be some if that's the theme? Shouldn't your theme appear on more than six freaking non-rares? There are 8 non-rare allies, for god's sake, and that's supposed to be a sub-theme.

I felt that while the allied-color dual land cycle from Tempest certainly did have a big drawback, compared to a mere CIPT, since with one of those one could get colored mana from it on the same turn as it is played, there would be rare cases where one would want to play one of those instead of a land from the Invasion cycle.

So, if sets were larger, I would think it might be worthwhile to include the Tempest dual land cycle - extended to enemy colors as well (as even I won't try to defend the enemy-color cycle in Tempest) - at common (or at their original rarity of uncommon if making even dual lands as weak as this common is beyond the pale) as an additional dual land cycle in a core set. They may be bad, but Invasion-style is not strictly better.

Also, I notice that the article avoided mentioning the very nice rare dual lands from Magic:2010. Since those usually won't need to come into play tapped, they're finally close enough to strictly better to make the Tempest ones irrelevant.

One could always sweeten the pot by having allied three-color lands with either tap for (1), or tap for any of the three colors and wait a turn combined with two-color lands with a much smaller drawback.

Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!

 

I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.

Fundamentally, I just think Zendikar-Worldwake didn't do as good a job of making "lands matter" as fallingman's set Verdia did nine months earlier.



just checked that out...that set looks really cool.
This article confirms a sad tendency: printing bad cards just because the first impression they cause in kids is immense while stop printing cards that Timmy despises because they don't swing for five with trample and lifelink.


[Urza's factory] was very, very powerful, but I'm not sure that anyone got excited when they read this card, nor would most people single out ..."OpenTip(event, "Urza's Factory")" href="...:autoCardWindow('Urza[s_Factory')">Urza's Factory as a card that sticks out in their head when they think about Time Spiral.

Magic developers are all experienced competitive Constructed players, which makes us very well-qualified to judge how powerful cards are. We knew that the conservative designs of these "dual land man-lands" were powerful, but they didn't excite us. We also knew that less experienced players are usually less excited about lands than we are, which meant that in terms of perception the first drafts of these lands were unexciting or worse for most of the population. That's not what the set needed. We needed cards that players would be excited about. We needed cards that were fun to play with. We needed cards that were powerful enough that you'd remember them, even though they were sitting among your opponents' other lands. So we made them that way.



This is the problem: a less experienced player with enjoy his Terra Stomper until it keeps losing match after match against control with it, then it will learn to hate it and, in the long run, have a bad impression of the set. For a good player, Urza's Factory will be nuts as soon as he recognizes its power and will keep being good after a round of plays. First impression cards are the ones that everyone remembers as failures, so sets filled with those cards are not going to fare well, given that usually after a few weeks the true power of cards settle and the set is judged good or bad (just look at Conflux).


We believe that Magic is more fun when players have choices in deck building, and opening up the ability to play multicolored decks greatly increases the amount of things that a deck builder can do


There's a point where it stops and starts going backward. When too much fixing is available, suddenly everything become worse than picking most colors and playing the best cards. Even when this isn't Vivids + Pool environment, it's easy to see how Jund, for example, obsoletes any attempt at making a GB, GR or BR deck. Simply, there isn't a point.


To my modern developer eyes, the message of these cards is that, if you decide that you want to play a multicolored deck, I guess that's okay, but you deserve to be punished for such impetuosity by a terrible mana base.


Now that the lands aren't the drawback on themselves, others are needed. The most fair modern policy would be that if you want to play rainbow goodstuff, you deserve to be punished by the appropiate nonbasic hate.


 

If Limited gets in the way of printing good Constructed cards... Screw limited
This article confirms a sad tendency: printing bad cards just because the first impression they cause in kids is immense while stop printing cards that Timmy despises because they don't swing for five with trample and lifelink.



On the one hand, it makes sense to print cards that are of interest to beginning players, because new players coming in to the game keep it alive and growing.

On the other hand, power level is relative. Magic isn't more fun simply because the cards are more powerful. If that was the case, why did they ever stop printing the Power Nine?

The problem with Homelands, Mercadian Masques, and Kamigawa was that the cards in them were less powerful than the cards from other sets people were playing with at the time, not that the set design was such that they couldn't have been used to play a fun game with those sets in isolation.

This is the problem: a less experienced player with enjoy his Terra Stomper until it keeps losing match after match against control with it, then it will learn to hate it and, in the long run, have a bad impression of the set.


Well, there's another solution to that! Just stop printing Counterspell!

Yes, I'm being facetious. But I'm hoping that this will help to make my point clear.

It makes sense to complain that there is too much emphasis on cards that are meretricious - cards that are flashy, but not really as powerful as they seem. But is that a big deal; everybody who buys a booster pack has the same chance of getting cards of different levels of power?

When too much fixing is available, suddenly everything become worse than picking most colors and playing the best cards. Even when this isn't Vivids + Pool environment, it's easy to see how Jund, for example, obsoletes any attempt at making a GB, GR or BR deck. Simply, there isn't a point.



But you did get there eventually. The problem isn't that the cards are too weak and look too strong. The problem is that when you print weak but flashy cards - and then weaken other cards so that the decks built around them have a chance to survive - then you end up simplifying the game so much that you no longer have a balanced environment in which genuinely different deck archetypes can be competitive.

This is the argument that needs to be made clearly. Sometimes, it seems to be overstated. Some people seem to be saying that Magic was more balanced when blue control was dominant than now, when control decks need to include other colors and other archetypes are in the running. If one archetype is dominant, there's no balance, but if four archetypes are competing, and one is weak, there is still a great deal of variety.

Of late, though, it hasn't been that blue control is weak, but several other deck types have been in contention. First Fairies, and now Jund, dominate - not just one archetype, but one deck.

The missing element, then, seems to me that perhaps a case can be made that if control doesn't have a strong presence, it's hard to avoid a clearly dominant deck emerging out of the rest of the field - and this doesn't require control to be the one dominant deck type that everyone had to play to win (and that this wasn't really the situation in Magic's past, despite perceptions).

Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!

 

I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.


Now, it has always been my suspicion that members of WotC's Magic R&D might be more likely to be correct on a topic of disagreement than the forum regulars.  However, in the past, that belief has been no more than mere conjecture.  Thanks to the poll results posted in this article, I now have statistical evidence that not even 1 in 10 of the people criticizing WotC's decisions or contradicting their claims have any idea what they're talking about.  Maybe it was just a lucky guess, but I always thought that Tom LaPille, MaRo, and Aaron Forsythe might understand Magic a little better than the forum dwellers.  Looks like I was right after all!  Thanks, Tom!




Keep in mind that Wizards' top priority is to make money with Magic.  They try to make Magic the best game it can possibly be, they work hard trying to make the experience awesome and ensure that the players are getting their money's worth...but if at any time they have a choice between making the game play better or making a profit off it, they will always choose profit, because they like to keep their jobs.  So I wouldn't completely reject the idea that it's possible for a forumite to come up with better ideas than those of Wizards.  The forumite *only* wants to improve the game (by their own definition of "improve", of course); they aren't required to sacrifice even one iota of that quality for the sake of the bottom line.  I am not prepared to say exactly which things Wizards does have been more for the health of the game and which have been more for the health of the company - they love it when they can do both at once, but they always break in one direction, and it's perfectly valid for forumites who are doing this as a labor of love to break in the other direction, and say that the game might be better if Wizards didn't have to worry about money.  (Hey, pretty much everything in the universe would be better if the responsible parties didn't have to worry about money.)
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
that wizards has designed with the goal of dumbing down tournament play is not really helping your argument.  i've met a 'tournament player' before.  they couldn't even understand banding correctly.  I'd certainly rather take the opinion of some who have been playing for 15 years, who commonly have to deal with complicated interactions between cards that never gets played in tournaments.  they know more about magic than people who can't even SEE the trends.

This.
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
What? Why on earth is it a problem that people don't go to tournaments? Spot the massive presumption that tournament Magic is the only kind that matters!

Remember, 90% of the player base doesn't play in tournaments. The tournament Spikes are vastly outnumbered by the kitchen table Timmies and Johnnies - in fact, they're even outnumbered by the kitchen table Spikes.
Magic is perfectly healthy if it manages to simultaneously appeal to a large number of tournament players and an even larger number of casual players. 
Always remember this: Magic is many things to many people. Surely the fact that there are so many random products like Planechase, all-foil boosters, EDH Slivers, and so on should be a reminder of this?



+1


Now, it has always been my suspicion that members of WotC's Magic R&D might be more likely to be correct on a topic of disagreement than the forum regulars.  However, in the past, that belief has been no more than mere conjecture.  Thanks to the poll results posted in this article, I now have statistical evidence that not even 1 in 10 of the people criticizing WotC's decisions or contradicting their claims have any idea what they're talking about.  Maybe it was just a lucky guess, but I always thought that Tom LaPille, MaRo, and Aaron Forsythe might understand Magic a little better than the forum dwellers.  Looks like I was right after all!  Thanks, Tom!




Keep in mind that Wizards' top priority is to make money with Magic.  They try to make Magic the best game it can possibly be, they work hard trying to make the experience awesome and ensure that the players are getting their money's worth...but if at any time they have a choice between making the game play better or making a profit off it, they will always choose profit, because they like to keep their jobs.  So I wouldn't completely reject the idea that it's possible for a forumite to come up with better ideas than those of Wizards.  The forumite *only* wants to improve the game (by their own definition of "improve", of course); they aren't required to sacrifice even one iota of that quality for the sake of the bottom line.  I am not prepared to say exactly which things Wizards does have been more for the health of the game and which have been more for the health of the company - they love it when they can do both at once, but they always break in one direction, and it's perfectly valid for forumites who are doing this as a labor of love to break in the other direction, and say that the game might be better if Wizards didn't have to worry about money.  (Hey, pretty much everything in the universe would be better if the responsible parties didn't have to worry about money.)


By virtue of the game needing to survive, choosing money is better than choosing something that might make the game 'better' but will kill it. World sucks blah blah.

The forumite *only* wants to improve the game (by their own definition of "improve", of course); they aren't required to sacrifice even one iota of that quality for the sake of the bottom line.



Yes. This is exactly why we need to be patient with Wizards.

I've just come up with an idea, though, that might make it possible for Wizards to make more people happy without endangering the bottom line at all. In the Pro Tour - but not elsewhere, like FNM and other retailer play, replace Standard Constructed and Extended Constructed with Standard Pro and Extended Pro.

Same formats, with one exception: Counterspell is legal too.

The idea is that the pro player, but not casual players, can manage the difficult task of playing against control even when it's reasonably strong - and, if they have to do that, the meta will be less likely to coalesce around one deck like Fairies or Jund. As a bonus, this throws a spanner into netdecking.

There's even a precedent: when Extended was first created, Revised was 'way out of the rotation, but the dual lands were made an exception, and were legal in the first rotation of the format.

Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!

 

I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.

I've just come up with an idea, though, that might make it possible for Wizards to make more people happy without endangering the bottom line at all. In the Pro Tour - but not elsewhere, like FNM and other retailer play, replace Standard Constructed and Extended Constructed with Standard Pro and Extended Pro.

Same formats, with one exception: Counterspell is legal too.

The idea is that the pro player, but not casual players, can manage the difficult task of playing against control even when it's reasonably strong - and, if they have to do that, the meta will be less likely to coalesce around one deck like Fairies or Jund. As a bonus, this throws a spanner into netdecking.



uh this is actually a pretty great idea. make many spells like counterspell which aren't broken but cause problems in casual (cough cough land destruction) legal in high level tournaments but not local stuff. it will make deckbuilding and testing even more complex (you can't take the same deck to every event) but pros and true spikes like a challenge anyway. and it will let the people who WANT to play that stuff play that stuff and the people who don't won't have to deal with it. honestly this is one of the best fixes for this problem i've ever heard. and you can print stuff in new sets that goes really well with those cards so pros will still be buying, but that stuff won't unbalance the kitchen table at all. the only problem i see is wotc (or hasbro) might not see the profit in it, but i think giving pros the environment and power they want will bring more players to high level events, and they can use the knowledge that these cards are in play to design stuff pros will want to buy new sets for, the same way they put in stuff for super johnny and other niche players.
uh this is actually a pretty great idea.



Well, I'm glad that the quality of my ideas has finally started to improve!

make many spells like counterspell which aren't broken but cause problems in casual (cough cough land destruction) legal in high level tournaments but not local stuff.



Land destruction is a good example of a type of card that is perhaps unjustly disliked in casual play. But while I see that nonbasic hate is normally an important part of Magic (although something that Wizards has quite properly de-emphasized at present, so that both the heavily multicolor Alara block and the land-based Zendicar block can actually work as intended), while alternative ways to advance one's interests, even if they aren't alternate wincons, are good, I'm not familiar enough with this issue to know if LD would change the meta.

Also, here, I have a question.

In the case of the original Extended format, it was one whole cycle of cards that were allowed in through a special exception. One card is less than that, but both arrangements are fairly simple.

I suppose one could find a suitable card from each color to add in, such as Dark Ritual for black, but I would be worried that even a short list of exempted classic cards would be confusing. Not so much to the players affected as to the Magic community as a whole: I don't want to introduce any more differences between the ordinary formats and the Pro versions than necessary.

I may be wrong, though, in thinking that just strengthening control - by the significant amount that Counterspell would strengthen it - would bring about the changes in the meta that I'm looking for. Because I'm making two assumptions.

One, I think, is pretty safe. That is that over and above any prejudice against counterspells held by a faction of casual players, it is true that until very recently, when Blue finally got dropped enough in strength, at the ordinary player's level of play, control decks were very hard to play against, and the joke about Island being the most broken card in Magic had some validity.

The second one, I'm less sure about, but I think it's likely to be valid. And that is that the strength of control, at the pro level where players know how to deal with it, is an important factor in maintaining a balanced meta.

One way this could work is if control is the greatest threat if unmet (which it can be even if it is not the strongest deck archetype), so that every other deck type has to include ways to deal with control, then they can't, at the same time, cover for their weaknesses with respect to one another. It's when each deck type has certain big strengths, and other big weaknesses, that you get the type of scissors paper stone relationship that helps to prevent one type of deck from being simply the strongest. (Even when the deck strengths are nontransitive, of course, it's still possible for one deck type to be clearly the best for the given playing field of deck types, but it's less likely if the nontransitivity is more pronounced.)

Given the nature of the second assumption, and that I'm less confident in it being correct than I am of the first one, I would be hesitant to go out on a limb and speculate on whether or not having more powerful land destruction cards, for example, would have the specific effect I'm aiming for in all this - to create a more balanced meta at the Pro Tour level. Allowing a lot of extra cards would seem to be more likely to have unpredictable results, more likely to make the format less balanced than to create balance.

Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!

 

I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.

playing multicolor hasn't been a problem in anytime I remember, though I missed fifth dawn -->morningtide

reflecting pool, undiscovered paradise, city of brass, gemstone mine all good stuffs


I suppose one could find a suitable card from each color to add in, such as Dark Ritual for black, but I would be worried that even a short list of exempted classic cards would be confusing. Not so much to the players affected as to the Magic community as a whole: I don't want to introduce any more differences between the ordinary formats and the Pro versions than necessary.



I think if they're going to do something like this, then they should actually print whole new versions of the cards in question, with a totally different cardface similar to that of promos, and make them mythic rares in a regular set such as Core.  The card would say right on it that it's only legal for use in top-level events, and anyone who doesn't play at the top level could sell one of these must-have super-rares to the tourney rats for big bucks.

(Of course, I may be completely out of my gourd on this one.  But it's a thought.)
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

I suppose one could find a suitable card from each color to add in, such as Dark Ritual for black, but I would be worried that even a short list of exempted classic cards would be confusing. Not so much to the players affected as to the Magic community as a whole: I don't want to introduce any more differences between the ordinary formats and the Pro versions than necessary.



I think if they're going to do something like this, then they should actually print whole new versions of the cards in question, with a totally different cardface similar to that of promos, and make them mythic rares in a regular set such as Core.  The card would say right on it that it's only legal for use in top-level events, and anyone who doesn't play at the top level could sell one of these must-have super-rares to the tourney rats for big bucks.

(Of course, I may be completely out of my gourd on this one.  But it's a thought.)



there is no way they would do this. it flies in the face of their rule that you should be able to play the cards you open, and would also require ugly extra text. new players opening them would be confused and upset that they opened a useless card as their rare.
I think if they're going to do something like this, then they should actually print whole new versions of the cards in question, with a totally different cardface similar to that of promos, and make them mythic rares in a regular set such as Core.  The card would say right on it that it's only legal for use in top-level events, and anyone who doesn't play at the top level could sell one of these must-have super-rares to the tourney rats for big bucks.

(Of course, I may be completely out of my gourd on this one.  But it's a thought.)



there is no way they would do this. it flies in the face of their rule that you should be able to play the cards you open, and would also require ugly extra text. new players opening them would be confused and upset that they opened a useless card as their rare.



I agree it doesn't seem to be a good idea.

If there's a list of several cards that belong in the pro events but not in ordinary play, I can see, though, that something like this might be considered a way to make it less confusing. Of course, as long as the list is short, it's no worse than the banned and restricted lists of Vintage and Legacy.

But I have to consider the possibility that he is just gently making fun of some of my earlier suggestions for improving the game of Magic. Like printing a starter set which contains flip cards such as a Lightning Bolt/Shock with a red border, or a Counterspell/Cancel with a blue border, so that the starter set never rotates out, but depending on the current Standard environment, Wizards tells people which color cards can be turned more powerful side up.

Compared to that, no idea can be overcomplicated.

Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!

 

I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.

Willpell has an alternative outlook on reality.

When he comes up with a crazy idea, it's safe to assume he's being serious - not taking the mick.
Given that the Invasion dual lands were printed on the understanding that the Tempest ally-color duals sucked, why exactly did they reprint (with different names and art) the Tempest ally-color duals in the already-underpowered Champions of Kamigawa set?  If they'd made sexy dual lands in that set, nobody would have cared about the fact that most of the other cards were underpowered; Vorthoi like myself would still have the flavor-rich setting, but the tourney rats would have the dual lands to obsess over, and the whole set would have fared better, instead of being stuck in this slump between broken Mirrodin and not-broken-but-awesome Ravnica.



I've always been disappointed by the Kamigawa lands but I never made the mental leap you just did. Brilliant.

(Also, just started reading Watchmen, frakking brilliant)

I really like these EBT man-lands too.

Balancing a land's drawback (e.g. EBT or "T: Add 1") is an interesting topic.

My personal opinion is that a properly-designed land is one that always warrants consideration. It doesn't automatically go in your deck if you're playing the right colours, nor does it automatically get left out.

I do have one issue in general though.

There's a rule stating that lands can't be strictly better than the basic lands. As long as they're not stricly better, then everything is fine.

I'd argue that some lands are better than basic lands. They're not strictly better, but they'll almost always be played, which invalidates the whole point of lands not being strictly better than basic lands. The M10 lands will almost always be played in a deck of the right colours.

The only reason better-than-basic lands don't totally obsolete basic lands, is because they appear in limited numbers. (Of course there are various interactions and issues that mean you probably wouldn't play entirely better-than-basic lands, but these lands are still better than basics.)

I understand that WOTC wants to enable multicolour play, but there's an easier way to do this. No drawbacks or other shenanigans.

The "lands can't be strictly better than basics" rule has already been undermined by lands that are better than basics, but not stricly better than them, so there's no reason why the following solution doesn't work:

Here's the card:

Show



Yep. Duals.

Like the M10 lands, they're better than basics, and their play is only limited by the fact that you can only have four of each in your deck.

Crazy huh? \:>





I want to have your owlbabies.





Fundamentally, I just think Zendikar-Worldwake didn't do as good a job of making "lands matter" as fallingman's set Verdia did nine months earlier.



What a great looking set.


An additional comment of my own: sets with good lands push my spending button. Opposite holds true: I've bought no more than a handful of Alara Reborn packs for that reason.
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
milo, i didn't say that.
Sorry, multiquote messed up my formatting.
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
no, don't go blaming the website. this can only be milo error. the website is flawless and never does weird stuff.
But I have to consider the possibility that he is just gently making fun of some of my earlier suggestions for improving the game of Magic. Like printing a starter set which contains flip cards such as a Lightning Bolt/Shock with a red border, or a Counterspell/Cancel with a blue border, so that the starter set never rotates out, but depending on the current Standard environment, Wizards tells people which color cards can be turned more powerful side up.

Compared to that, no idea can be overcomplicated.




My idea wasn't a joke, although it wasn't incredibly serious either.  I just thought that this seemed like another good use for the mythic rare slot...currently there are three good reasons for a card to be mythic IMO (it's a legend or planeswalker so only one can be in play, it's a card specifically named on other cards, or it breaks an extremely fundamental rule of the game in a very extraordinary way), and while every Shards of Alara mythic fit those categories, most of the ones in subsequent sets don't, they're just overpowered cards bumped up from rare to make them "chase".  Making a card that most people literally cannot use mythic, on the other hand, makes sense; its rarity makes it valuable for the few people who want it, so the people who don't want it can trade it for money.

In other news, ever since they first printed Shock as a clear admission that Lightning Bolt was too strong, I've wanted a way to correct the discrepancy - an alteration to Lightning Bolt that would make it and Shock seem like viable alternatives to each other.  I had the idea of a points system for deckbuilding, whereby Shock maybe takes only 1 point away from your deck's maximum total while Lightning Bolt takes a whole bunch away, so you can only use a certain percentage of cards that are on the higher power level of Bolt before you're forced to take on some weak cards to balance your points total.  Obviously this would be at BEST an immense amount of work to implement, and probably just plain impossible given the way card potency varies by situation.  But it's a pet idea of mine nonetheless.  And it suggests another way to clarify the distinction between broken competitive decks and "fair" casual decks - just set a points total which limits what you consider "fair".  All theoretical for now, though.
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