9/06/2010 MM: "Something Wicked This Way Comes, Part 1"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
8 power creature for 5 as long as you play with gimick life total. *sighs*

Which is what poison is, an alternate less interactive(mark even stresses the point ) life total.
I've been waiting for this day since I was 8 years old playing my singeton copies of Marsh Viper and Pit Scorpion that I made unblockable with Dwarven Warriors.  Get there, poison!  I always believed in you!

The dragon looks pretty sweet to me.  Slap a Grappling Hook on him and swing in on turn 6 with a Distortion Strike for the win.  And you can even do it earlier with mana accel.  Can't wait to see the rest of the set.
Give them a chance... we've seen what, twenty cards from the set? And all but like five of those only if you follow sites like MTGSalvation who collect spoiled cards from events and such? I'm sure there's some interesting goodies in there. Poison redirects? Some sort of antidote that keeps it from killing you, but at a cost? We'll have to wait and see :J
I'd be interested to hear about how you approached the main inherent problem of poison - the fact that it's a fairly un-interactive mechanic.
Mark Rosewater is a madman. *slow clap*

Which is what poison is, an alternate less interactive(mark even stresses the point ) life total.


Are you serious? Next thing, people will start saying the library is just a different life total, since you lose when it reaches 0.
Manaug.gif | Manawu.gif | Manau.gif | Manaub.gif | Manaur.gif
I'd be interested to hear about how you approached the main inherent problem of poison - the fact that it's a fairly un-interactive mechanic.



Infect. Combat's interactive, you make poison focus on combat and you make poison an intereactive mechanic. I use that trick all the time in my personal designs.

You also have perliferate which will be on cards you can counter or destroy, adding to the interactivity.
… and then, the squirrels came.
Last week I talked about how when Mirrodin was designed we knew then and there that Mirrodin was already under attack from the Phyrexians.


Did MaRo write some other article last week that I wasn't aware of?

Last week's Making Magic contained no mention of the Phyrexians.
Poison being un-interactive is actually a good thing. It makes people think along different axes of the game. See if the opponent wants to kill you with creatures, and you're trying to defend yourself, there are three things you might do - you might block the creatures, you might kill the creatures, or you might gain life. Evasion abilities stop you from blocking the creature. Shroud stops you from killing the creature. Poison stops you from gaining life. Each of these things forces you to vary up your deck a bit to deal with different kinds of threats.
I'm with goblinrecruiter; when did he mention Phyrexians?  I've been quite confused by the Phyrexian vs Mirran twitter posts I keep seeing, apparently PAX-related...
Mark Rosewater is a madman. *slow clap*

Which is what poison is, an alternate less interactive(mark even stresses the point ) life total.


Are you serious? Next thing, people will start saying the library is just a different life total, since you lose when it reaches 0.




When creatures attack until you have attained 20 points, you win.
When creatures attack until you have given your opponent 10 poison counters, you win.

No, poison is actually another life total. At least milling requires a completely different set of actions. They will do some cool and fun things with poison, and we're chatting about such things in FSS. But they did nothing to counter the "extra life total" bit.



Off topic but the OTHER article this week about mechanics is looking really good. I wouldn't want to play Scars with the other Mirrordin block sets...it's looking really powerful. I like some of the new mechnics. I like the new Mox friend with metal craft.... we can stock up on "0" cost artifacts (and shatterstorms) It is a definately better mechanic than affinity because it's discrete bonus rather than making things cheaper. Some of the colorless options are going to get really nasty combine with Eldrazi decks too.
I've always found poison interesting, I wonder how it'll work here.  I can't wait to find outLaughing

As for the dragon, that is one of the coolest cards I've ever seen.  I suddenly want to play black.  
These humans, their imaginations are strong. Kill a thousand men and they will hate you. Kill a million men and they will queue to face you. But kill a single man and they will see monsters and devils in every shadow. Kill a dozen men and they will scream and wail in the night, and they shall feel not hatred, but fear. Excerpt from Simon Spurrier's Lord of the Night
I'll admit i'm already in love with scars for flavor reasons.  Mirrodin would be a utopian place for phyrexians to establish a new home. 

Skythiryx is awesome for one reason-  Dragon Skeleton.  The artwork is amazing too. 
Much as I hate to speak against you Maro, it's clear that this quest is you doing exactly what you claim Odyssey taught you not to do - forcing players to play the set you wanted to design, instead of the one they want to play.  Knowing what I do so far, it looks like SOM is going to be a good set, but it will be so in spite of poison, not because of it.  Poison is a bad mechanic and R&D was right to kill it ten years ago.  Something similar to poison might have been really good, but poison itself was an example of how early Magic design was pretty screwball.  Amping it up to today's power level, I'm pretty sure by the end of the year the vast majority of players are going to be utterly sick of poison and will respond poorly to any thought of it returning again.  I'm reminded of the line in Peter Jackson's King Kong movies about Carl Denham's "unfailing ability to destroy the things he loves"; most of what ever made poison sexy was that it was rare and took some creativity to make it work, so making it both more common and more powerful is just going to make people grow to dislike it.

(I will agree with you that Leeches's inclusion in Homelands is pretty silly given that Homelands contains no poison at all; the idea of playing blocks in isolation hadn't happened yet, but it was still a dumb place to put that card.  I like the card, but it should have been printed in a set where it would actually be relevant.  You know, like Scars of Mirrodin.)

Poison is really not a great representation of Phyrexianization.  I'd rather have had something like "phyresis counters" which cause you to gain an additional phyresis counter each upkeep, and you lose the game when you have more phyresis counters than life (or, if that's too powerful, just when you have 20 of them).  Essentially, this turns  your life points into "cancer life" which grows and eats up your real life total until you're more dead than alive - that is a perfect Phyrexian mechanic.  Poison is sort of similar, but again I think this was you seeing nails where there were none because you wanted to swing your hammer.

I understand wanting things nobody else does, really I do.  And I'll give you props for going farther than the vast majority of people would to achieve your wishes; a decade-plus career born out of a wish to boost one unloved mechanic, that's one heck of a story to tell your grandkids.  But the mechanic was unloved for a reason, and not just because Magic players are spoiled and fickle (a creature that wins the game in five hits, as Marsh Viper does, is not what I characterize as "low power"; I firmly believe that twelve to fifteen attacks is closer to an acceptible number for winning most games, and am always annoyed at how far from that being the reality Magic is).

On the preview:
Skirthiryx is just another stupidly borken mythic; big creature with lots of abilities, like Thornling or Garza Zol or Akroma or any number of equally bland cards.  It wins games, but it doesn't entertain me.  The only part I like is Dragon Skeleton, and the art IMO fails at actually being such a thing - I want to see bleached white bones, not black metal bits sticking out of a partially intact carcass.  He looks more like a Dragon Zombie, and I don't much care for him even if I pretend he was printed as such, although I do really like the picture's background.  I hope there's a Chippy-illustrated Swamp; that would excite me approximately as much as this card does.
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
Mark Rosewater is a madman. *slow clap*

Which is what poison is, an alternate less interactive(mark even stresses the point ) life total.


Are you serious? Next thing, people will start saying the library is just a different life total, since you lose when it reaches 0.




When creatures attack until you have attained 20 points, you win.
When creatures attack until you have given your opponent 10 poison counters, you win.

No, poison is actually another life total. At least milling requires a completely different set of actions. They will do some cool and fun things with poison, and we're chatting about such things in FSS. But they did nothing to counter the "extra life total" bit.






We've seen, what, 10-20 cards? Give it a chance before you make claims that they "did nothing to counter the 'extra life total' bit." Clearly that was a consideration, and wait to see more cards and how it actually plays before passing judgement.

As for the article, I'm really excited to revisit Mirrodin, and especially excited to be poisoning players. Kudos to Mark for finally achieving his goal!
Between Pit Scorpion and Marsh Viper I've got a completely blank frame. What should be there? (Serpent Generator, maybe?)
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
I am curious to see how poison works out in this set. Could be a lot of fun. Or really frustrating. Or both. It's usually both...

As for the alternate life total debate, poison counters and your life total are similar, but have some pretty important differences:

1. I can gain life back. Maro specifically said that in this set, when you get poisoned, you're poisoned till you're dead or you win.

2. The way Infect works, you die faster from poison than you do from damage. Also, now I can't just block Infect creatures and expect it to not matter.

3. Poison gives you another metric to create state-based effects and triggered abilities from. "If you have x poison counters, y happens," or "If you gain poison counters x happens." You can do this with life, of course, but the existence of poison gives designers more space to work with.

4. Making poison different from life creates game states that would not exist otherwise. If I'm at 30 life, getting hit by a creature with Infect will not make my Serra Ascendant smaller. The other article today clarifies the rules of Infect and make it clear your life total isn't affected at all when a creature with Infect deals damage to you.

So is poison really "just another life total?" Sure. I mean, it works like a life total, so why not? But the argument is merely a semantic one, and ultimately doesn't matter; it's not just about how the mechanic itself functions, it's about what the mechanic adds to the game by its existence. I don't know what all else you could do with poison, but point 3 is enough to justify its inclusion, I think.
Just for that, Twelfth Tone, take this!

Yawgmoth Ascendant
Creature - Avatar, 4BBB, */*
Yawgmoth Ascendant's power and toughess are each equal to 30 minus 3 for each poison counter you have.
If Yawgmoth Ascendant would be put into a graveyard from anywhere, instead reveal it and shuffle it into its owner's library.
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 was really hoping that there would be a way to remove, redirect, or at least ignore a number of poison counters. That doesn't seem to be the case, and with Infect making power = poison, a lot of games will be decided by casting Giant Growth effects on a flying/unblockable Infect creature.

The effort is admirable, but I agree with the guy who said you failed to learn an important lesson from Odyssey. A bad mechanic is a bad mechanic, whether you have a place for it in your heart or not. Marsh Viperish creatures plus various "tap to do 1 to target creature or player" auras are an impressive Johnny-ish way to win via an alternate means. Seeing your opponent cast Distortion Strike on this mythic Dragon and getting 5 poison in one attack, and the knowledge that, lacking removal on your very next turn, you will get 5 more on his next turn and lose the game, is just demoralizing.

Infect means that any way to give a creature +X/+0 means giving it +XX/+0 (player cannot gain Life)is just abusive of the already increasing power levels of the game. I see a Mass Polymorph/Overwhelming Stampede deck on the horizon that makes 0/1 tokens into massive, evasive, trampling Infect creatures on like turn 3 or 4 and wipes out anyone unable to pull out an Earthquake/Pyroclasm type board sweeper in time.

I was not impressed by the Eldrazi and this concept doesn't make me want to play the game either. Mechanics that say "there's nothing you can do but sit there and take it" make me feel bad, whether I'm using them or being abused by them. And I don't pay $14 a draft on MTGO to feel bad. I pretty much stopped playing 8-person Draft after getting smacked around in ROE too many times, and don't see myself picking it up again anytime soon.

I'll have to agree with most of the people here on the status of poison. It's not something I'm really happy to see, and grafting it onto something as strong as wither is nasty. Expecially since pumps will maim players on turn 4. Combat phase of standard, take 8 poison counters because my critter with infect just got smacked with groundswell with landfall and a Giant growth.

Also, by not giving a way to interact with poison counters, they've made a mechanic that will have to have something done too it in the other two sets.
Um, where are you getting the impression there aren't ways to redirect or ignore it? Again. HOW MANY cards from the set have we seen? There's like two or three HUNDRED we haven't.
Phyrexians coming back makes me want to kick something; them being on Mirrodin makes me want to punch something. I generally utterly despise any machine- or technology-based dystopia, and Phyrexia was more rage-inducing than most on that front for me. The idea of those...hellspawned hacks coming to Mirrodin, one of my all-time favorite fantasy settings, and tarnishing its memory by attempting to convert it into another bloody machine dystopia already has me growling in rage and making vicious clawing motions in midair.

If I see hide, hair, or hint of Yawgmoth coming back, I'm going to start strangling kittens with my bare hands.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

I see you've found your motivation to help the Mirrans, planeswalker. :P

Are you serious? Next thing, people will start saying the library is just a different life total, since you lose when it reaches 0.



Your opponet accumulates 20 points, you lose.
Your opponent accumulates 10 points, you lose.

Meingful diffrences besides less ways to interact with the 10 point version?
Any design space available for poison also exists for life. Not so for milling.

Poison being un-interactive is actually a good thing. It makes people think along different axes of the game.



Thinking along diffrent axes = bad.
It's the shadow problem, if both players can completely ignore each other why have an opponent at all? Players have to be playing the same game if there going to meaningfully interfere with there opponents game.

It's also extremely linear more so than any linear theme outside of spirits/arcane, infect creatures can't be meaningfully combined with non-infect creatures.

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

Other stuff

Honestly infect was a good keyword for using gimick life total #2.
But why is it on a 4/4 for 5? Infect let you get around the problem of doing double damage with poison by attaching it to wither. So you could have creatures that are generally smaller front than there non-infect counterparts but fight attrition wars in creature combat, which is actually an intresting change up that wither didn't get to experience since they still had to deal 20 damage.
I see you've found your motivation to help the Mirrans, planeswalker. :P

I wish I was the kind of person who could stand to casually destroy cards; I'd immolate every phyrexian-based card I opened.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Also, I think the idea is to move the interaction to before you get the counters... it's like trying to avoid taking damage rather than just healing afterwards.
'Dragon Skeleton' SO needs flavor text.  Awesome art:-)
Um, where are you getting the impression there aren't ways to redirect or ignore it? Again. HOW MANY cards from the set have we seen? There's like two or three HUNDRED we haven't.



Um, because MaRo said he wouldn't allow any way to neutralize the counters...
Mark Rosewater is a madman. *slow clap*

Which is what poison is, an alternate less interactive(mark even stresses the point ) life total.


Are you serious? Next thing, people will start saying the library is just a different life total, since you lose when it reaches 0.




When creatures attack until you have attained 20 points, you win.
When creatures attack until you have given your opponent 10 poison counters, you win.

No, poison is actually another life total. At least milling requires a completely different set of actions. They will do some cool and fun things with poison, and we're chatting about such things in FSS. But they did nothing to counter the "extra life total" bit.






We've seen, what, 10-20 cards? Give it a chance before you make claims that they "did nothing to counter the 'extra life total' bit." Clearly that was a consideration, and wait to see more cards and how it actually plays before passing judgement.



Actually the only consideration was that MaRo did not like Leeches.

As long as a player loses with ten poison counters, its another life total.

And as long as the poison counters are distributed the same way as combat damage is, any deck wanting to win with poison is going to look at lot like a a deck wanting to win by attacking for twenty damage.

So no, I stand by what I said. They did nothing and they don't even care that they did nothing, as long as cards like Leeches are not in the set.

So is poison really "just another life total?" Sure. I mean, it works like a life total, so why not? But the argument is merely a semantic one, and ultimately doesn't matter; it's not just about how the mechanic itself functions, it's about what the mechanic adds to the game by its existence. I don't know what all else you could do with poison, but point 3 is enough to justify its inclusion, I think.



Actually the semantic argument is anything indicating poison is not another life total. As for what it could add, there is nothing being done now that could not have been done earlier. At least now we know why. Mark had to keep repackaging the mechanic until he came up with something the rest of R&D would tolerate.

Now there is nothing wrong with it being in the set. It should be fun for players who are intot hat kind of thing, as long as it does not dominate the set. But nothing was "solved" with this latest attempt at poison. You even still have to get all the way to the combat damage step to put a counter on a player. It's definitely less versatile than the other attempts, to the point where they had to add Wither to it.

Also, I think the idea is to move the interaction to before you get the counters... it's like trying to avoid taking damage rather than just healing afterwards.



I already interact with the opponent before taking damage... I neutralize or remove most creatures as soon as I see them. It's the point of the thing though... Lifegain isn't a "great* strategy but it exists. MaRo basically said "I want poison to be a major part of this block and no one's going to stop it from being important!" Even if they should have...

I've read about R&D members (especially heads of design teams and such) "protecting" a favorite design when other people want to eliminate it, but here are two consecutive Large sets, ROE and Scars, where an entire theme seems to have been shielded from scrutiny and criticism, because the head designer liked it, regardless of its own merits.

Not that bad in the short term, if people don't like it they vote with their wallets. But long term it's dangerous to support these pet projects when they don't serve the needs of the players in general. Do we *really* need to make a way to win twice as fast even better? There are ways in Standard and Extended to win via an overwhelming attack on turn 4 or 5 with great consistency, do you want to have turn 3 or 4 kills via poison instead?

Any design space available for poison also exists for life. Not so for milling.


If one were designing proliferate to work without poison counters, one might end up with something like "Fauxliferate.  (You choose any number of permanents with counters on them, then give each another counter of a kind already there.  If any players have taken damage this game, you may have any number of those players lose 2 life.)" 


Thinking along diffrent axes = bad.
It's the shadow problem, if both players can completely ignore each other why have an opponent at all? Players have to be playing the same game if there going to meaningfully interfere with there opponents game.


I think there's the possibility that having poison as a viable alternate win condition in Magic might be like having ringout as an alternate win condition in fighting games:

"Fighting games with 'ring out' such as Virtua Fighter and Soul Calibur as especially devoid of slippery slope properties. In these games, a player instantly loses if his character is ever pushed out of the ring, no matter how much energy he has. Basically, no matter how far behind you are, no matter how close you are to losing, you always have a 100% damage move: ring out. Long ago, I thought this concept was 'cheap' and served only to shorten games while adding little benefit, but actually the threat of ring out adds quite a bit to both these games. Since the threat of ring out is so great, another whole element of positioning is added to the game. A player must fight both to do damage to his opponent, and fight for position to avoid ring out."
--David Sirlin, Playing to Win


It's also extremely linear more so than any linear theme outside of spirits/arcane, infect creatures can't be meaningfully combined with non-infect creatures.


Infect creatures encourage you to play with more infect creatures.  That's appropriate flavor-wise, at least.  I also imagine that R&D was paying attention to how infect interacts with cards outside of Scars since that was the reasoning for vetoing the poison dual lands.


Honestly infect was a good keyword for using gimick life total #2.
But why is it on a 4/4 for 5? Infect let you get around the problem of doing double damage with poison by attaching it to wither. So you could have creatures that are generally smaller front than there non-infect counterparts but fight attrition wars in creature combat, which is actually an intresting change up that wither didn't get to experience since they still had to deal 20 damage.


But wouldn't a smaller infect creature just die when it fights something bigger (or even something the same size), and therefore be unable to give any poison counters?  That was the natural check against wither in Shadowmoor.


And as long as the poison counters are distributed the same way as combat damage is, any deck wanting to win with poison is going to look at lot like a a deck wanting to win by attacking for twenty damage.


Rosewater hinted that there are answers to poison that don't involve healing the poison away.  Since healing is the answer to losing life, the fact that the set offers different answers to poison already suggests how dealing with a "kill-you-with-poison-counters" deck will be different from dealing with a "kill-you-with-twenty-damage" decks.  Maybe there are metalcraft abilities that prevent you from receiving poison counters or prevent you from losing when you have ten poison counters?
Well Platinum Angel already stops you from losing when you have ten poison counters. I'd be on board for something like the original Lich. Mainly because I wish they could reprint the original Lich.

Otherwise if creatures are what put the poison counters on a player, then dealing with the creatures is still going to to be the way to prevent death by counters - Fog, blocking, removal, whatever else.
Alright, I have got so much to say here, let's just take it slow and tackle points one by one:

To those who are bitching about Phyrexians arriving in Mirrodin: You ought to realize that the Mirrodin you love so much was actually Phyrexian-enabled as well. Without the Phyrexians, there would never have been any metal on Mirrodin (alright, no more than a normal amount anyway). It's not just that (as was stated by someone here) Mirrodin would be a paradise for the Phyrexians to settle, it's that they took their time and made it their paradise. That's how Phyrexians work, through plots that span millennia. (In the end, that's also how Urza beat Yawgmoth, by playing his own game.)

On the topic of Poison:

I am not saying anything about they pulled it off or not, but this does indeed sound like the story of Odyssey, a set which wanted to be designed, not a set that wanted to be played. However, I fully expect that Mark was exaggerating to some degree in how Poison made his career. However, this being Mark Rosewater, it is always hard to see to what extend he is telling the truth.

I am expecting cards like:

Dialysis               {6}
Artifact

You can't lose the game due to poison counters.

(the wording is probably a bit off)

and:

Medicine Man          {1}{W}
Creature
You don't lose the game unless you have 5 additional poison counters
1/2

and:

Antidote Vial            {3}{G}
Artifact
Poison counters can't be put on you.
{1}{T}: Remove a -1/-1 counter from taget creature

(I don't know about colored artifacts, really, and I don't care either. It's just the idea that matters, and the idea of this card best fit on a colored artifact)

Another point that has been brought up in this discussion is how linear poison counters are. This has a problem that is even worse in infect. For example, if Pit Scorpion hits your opponent three times and then is killed, while it's the only poison counter card in your deck, it was an awful way of doing so, but you still did 3 damage. Now with infect, we are sure to have dozens of creatures that only hand out poison counters and don't do normal damage. Now I would like to point you at an insightful article by Devin Low and state that infect is parasitic.
Imagine playing in a draft where no two packs are from the same set. If there's Scars of Mirrodin coming by, you won't want to pick a 2 power or below infect creature, as they are pretty worthless. A three power infect creature depends on the cost (and you will be picking it for it's whither only). Even what can be considered a bomb changes, for example, the previewed Skithiryx is still an obvious choice. However, the otherwise pretty powerful non-black 4-power flying infect guy becomes questionable - it may very well just hit the opponent once or twice and then meet its death at some Terror-incarnation, and in that case it has achieved nothing at all.

There is another problem I am having with infect, though. That's its whither. I am afraid of it. We have had whither before, but that limited environment was carefully crafted to suit whither. It had a bunch of way to remove counters, it had Persist. The rules of what's good and not were eschewed and an entirely new balance was created. I am afraid that in a environment where the cards care about so many other things (poison counters, artifacts, imprint, equipment) they can't pull off a similar Balancing Act. Maybe they did, but I am afraid they might not have.

Then a few more details on the article itself:

The image of Serpent Generator is broken for me. I don't know if it's just me or the image, but it took me a while to figure out what card Mark was talking about (and that is from someone who has html developer tools and was quite well able to find out rather quickly). It may only be a paragraph later that Mark tells which card he was talking about, but still, living in confusion for a paragraph doesn't do an article any good.

Last week I talked about how when Mirrodin was designed we knew then and there that Mirrodin was already under attack from the Phyrexians.

Unless some may have been able to grasp, MaRo wrote about some unknown force last week, which now turns out to be the Phyrexians, making this an accurate statement. However, another comment MaRo made about last week's article ticks me off, though:

The Great Designer Search 2. The winner gets a six-month design internship in Magic R&D. You can click the link to see all the details, but the biggest take away is make sure to be back here on September 29th to enter.

There are no details in last week's article! Heck, as I read it right now, I won't even know whether I can participate (being a European for one thing) until the day the search starts. I probably won't be participating anyway, but still, I feel it is really annoying that I there is such a lack of details, which is then followed up by a snappy comment like "read last week's article for any details".

Well, I guess that is most of what I wanted to rant about :P

edit: the vertical spacing after quote-blocks downright sucks. Now, I have to remove all spacing from my source to get a decent result. Not exactly user friendly...
I am shocked he said there'd be no way to remove poision counters. That seems rather unfair to white. It would seem to hose a number of white mechanics. I mean white is the "defensive" color and now we get an offensive mechanic added to the game which cannot be healed. So oh well! Sorry white and green. Guess your life gain mechanics will simply dissapear for afew blocks! It'll be fun seeing you try to compensate for that! /sigh same reason I hated Shadowmoor. Defensive colors get screwed every time.
Hm. Poison counters seem interesting. The Clone Shell seen in the Mechanics article would explain Darksteel Colossus rotating out. Still, if you're playing in legacy/extended, just imagine. I bet there's some equipment that can give a creature infect. Behold, a turn 6, indestructible 11/11 with trample and infect.

This is why designs like this don't work. Hopefully, there will be some interactivity with poison counters, but from the way Mark was talking about it, he seemed excited that there is no way to deal with them except by killing your opponent first. 
I think the whole poison debate is being slightly overrated.  So there's one flyer at common with infect.  Big woop.  Mirrodin had spiders and Elves scouring the skies, it's pretty safe to say that there will be anti-flying cards around as well.  A wall is still a wall, whether it's blocking poison for you or damage.  And I doubt they'd print anything that'll give Infect en masse, seriously.  Give them some credit. 

Next, keep in mind how things are worded.  Infect deals damage in the form of poison counters.  A Samite Healer will prevent damage and thus a counter.  More than likely there'll be some kind of Tatterkite functional or full reprint.  Barring that, they could just print a cycle of 'target creature loses Infect' spellcasters.  Infect will wind up being an attempt to make damage prevention more viable, the same way they've upped the level for lifegain. 

Also, Steady Progress will likely make Pyromancer Ascension decks a lot more degenerate than poison decks.  That's not even mentioning the sheer pain this can cause along with Planeswalkers (loyalty counters included, remember?).  The support for the theme is looking pretty broad-spectre so far.  Proliferate won't just deal out the counters in SoM, but in all of Standard, be they loyalty, quest or otherwise. 

So I, for one, will take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the game. 

So...vs poison decks, run suicide decks, planeswalkers, etc.  My concern is we end up with rock paper scissors...

Suicide kills poison
poison kills lifegain
life kills suicide

Cats land on their feet. Toast lands peanut butter side down. A cat with toast strapped to its back will hover above the ground in a state of quantum indecision.

I don't have any problem with poison as a mechanic. After all, milling is essentially a second life total of 60, which loses 1 whenever a player draws a card and forces you ro rely on library life burn spells. There really isn't much difference between "put the top 5 cards of your opponent's library into his or her graveyard" and "you opponent loses 5 library life". Milling works just fine.

It's the power level that concerns me. Every creature with Infect essentially has Double Strike when dealing damage to a player (since you need half as much poison damage as regular damage to lose the game) and Wither when dealing damage to a creature. The poison damage doesn't help cards that are trying to win with normal damage, sure, but that doesn't matter when your whole deck only deals damage with poison. Now this isn't inherently overpowered, but the infect creatures don't seem to be costed like they have both a weaker deathtouch and double strike when dealing damage to players. The skeleton dragon has an evasion ability, so it's essentially a 4/4 flyer with double strike. Most of the time it will hit for 8. Consider that the standard for five mana is a 3/3 flier, or a 4/4 flier at the most. I could accept a 5-power legendary flier at 5 mana, but 8 power? As another poster pointed out, it wins the game with Distortion Strike and 2 turns. Ichor Rats is effectivly a 4-power creature for 3 mana when damaging players (and when damaging creatures, it has Wither to make up for the effective -2/-0). It also causes each player to effectively lose 2 life. Thrummingbird and Plague Stinger seem fine as effective 2-power fliers, though they're on top of the curve. 2 power flying in black for 1B is strickly better than what black normally gets (2 power for 2B).

I'm worried that poison was pushed in development to the point that it became much better than regular damage. Since development doesn't have enough people and time to figure out every troubling card combination, it's possible that some time this year someone will figure out the right pump cards to break poison.  Will the tournaments this year be overshadowed by a degenerate aggro poison deck?

MaRo--

"My hatred of Leeches did one important thing. It cemented in me the importance of poison not just being another life total. (This theme will become very important in Scars of Mirrodin's design.) As such, you will not see any card in the entire Scars of Mirrodin block that removes poison. It cannot be done. There are answers. There are ways to deal with poison but healing yourself of it is not one of them. If you want to remove poison counters you will only have one way—Leeches."

Makes me want to RAGE. I was excited to see phyrexia coming back as I love yawgmoth and his little creations...but Infect and more specifically poison counters with no way to remove them and huge beating flyers like Skithiryx make me wonder...will this be another devastating blow to magic like the original mirrodin block was?
People are seriously overreacting to Poison.  "Oh my god, if they make Poison effective it will change the face of standard!!!111"  That's good.  Standard is already changing because of Alara rotating out, and Poison -could- shift it even further into another direction.

"But what if poison becomes really dominant?  It could spell the ruin of Magic!"  No, it won't.  If Poison becomes really powerful, then the format will shift to deal with it.  We already have an AMAZING answer to Poison, it's called damage prevention.  Life Gain cards will become less useful and won't be used as much, and decks will start sideboarding in damage prevention spells like Refraction Trap and whatever else.  I would be really surprised if there wasn't a ton of damage prevention effects floating around in SOM for this specific purpose.

Settle down people.  It feels like every set that comes out people are screaming that it's going to ruin everything.  And every time the game moves on and everyone adapts to the format no matter what happens to it.  Let's at LEAST find out the other 200+ cards in the set before we scream about the sky falling.