10/04/2010 MM: "Proliferate Crazy Nights"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
I wonder why former WotC employees are ineligible....seems a bit odd. I mean, normally current employees can't win a contest, but since in this case the prize is to work for the company (again)....any thoughts?
All is forgotten in the stone halls of the dead. These are the rooms of ruin where the spiders spin and the great circuits fall quiet, one by one.
There is probalby some legalese regarding former employees, or it just kicks open a Pandora's box they'd rather leave closed.

As usual, good old-fashioned tension was removed from a mechinic because it made it "too hard." Moreover this trend of all-upside is hurting design space and card creativity. I otherwise do like Proliferate but the mindset of "players don't want to use this mechanic unless there is no chance of drawback" puts a crimp in everything that could otherwise be a lot more interesting. This is just one of the reasons most of the rares and mythics are powered up. Without any latitude to make potential drawbacks at all rarities the only thing you can do make something really exciting at mythic is to basically violate manacost benchmarks at will.

I'd love to see alternate-universe versions of Shards, Zendikar and Scars with some of the designs that didn't make the set because there was always that tiny chance a player would cast the card and "feel bad." 
A question that's nagging at me, which I hope you'll address in next weeks column: How much innovation is too much? In regards to both the block theme and individual mechanics. I have several block ideas. Of the two I'm most interested in, one has a fairly typical theme (tribal) but has a lot of new mechanics that might be a little overwhelming. The other introduces a completely new resource, which I have tested and am confident is a fun addition to the game, but a) creates a feel that is slightly unlike traditional Magic, b) would likely not be seen after the block in question, at least for several years, and c) may be hard to judge without having a chance to look at and play with the entire set.

I don't expect you to address those particular issues, but one of Gleemax's comments on the last search was something along the lines of "so and so had pretty good designs, which was easy, because he didn't take any risks." I have a variety of ideas of varying degrees of riskiness. Is there are "too risky" absolute threshold, or is it okay so long as I'm absolutely confident that my idea is fun?
"Overwhelming" is a good thing!
At an rate I'm out.  I can't reasonably abandon my regular job for six months.
Just had to ask: What's up with this "must reside in the US" requirement? I understand the need to be able to legally work in the US, but what if you were a US citizen and this whole thing just happened to kick off as you were finishing a degree abroad? You know, theoretically?
Unfortunately, the US requirement drops me from the running.

...I hate visas and convoluted immigration laws, our own as much as the US ones. They're only going to continue to make less and less sense as time goes on.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Ugh, I'd hoped that getting a work Visa from Australia to the USA would be comparatively simple due to the fact that we already have a Visa Waiver program, and that it'd be great for me since I was going to immigrate eventually anyway, but... darn . Ah well, least it gave me an excuse to start making a cool set.


As for Proliferate, I can see how it would be problematic in vast numbers, or at the very least a little clunky. Still a very cool mechanic though, and I love the fact it was made an action rather than a property.

"Overwhelming" is a good thing!
At an rate I'm out.  I can't reasonably abandon my regular job for six months.



I can, but I doubt I would have a job to return to at that point. Also I am not too sure I would trade the commute I have now for a commute that is longer but basically has me take the exact same path I do now. If they ever move further north, I could see myself being tempted...
There is probalby some legalese regarding former employees, or it just kicks open a Pandora's box they'd rather leave closed.

As usual, good old-fashioned tension was removed from a mechinic because it made it "too hard." Moreover this trend of all-upside is hurting design space and card creativity. I otherwise do like Proliferate but the mindset of "players don't want to use this mechanic unless there is no chance of drawback" puts a crimp in everything that could otherwise be a lot more interesting. This is just one of the reasons most of the rares and mythics are powered up. Without any latitude to make potential drawbacks at all rarities the only thing you can do make something really exciting at mythic is to basically violate manacost benchmarks at will.

I'd love to see alternate-universe versions of Shards, Zendikar and Scars with some of the designs that didn't make the set because there was always that tiny chance a player would cast the card and "feel bad." 




I agree i remember when Proliferate was spoiled and my friends were like whoa adding counters I choose?with no drawback? Doesn't feel phrexian to me...if thats the case i hate ichor rats because it gives me a poison conter

The biggest Vorthos Ever I'd rather have an awesome mechanic than the most flavor any day. Constantly coming up with cards all the time. So if you see a card you like tell me. Constantly trying to get into card of the week if you see a card you like please nominate.

Re work visa: It's simple! And it usually only takes five to ten years!

I'll leave now before this turns into a political flamefest... >_> 
Well, Mark, you could have told us sooner - a lot sooner. Heck, your anouncement could have included the simple statement "If you don't live in the USA you can't participate." Really, that would have been so much less detestfull!


Personally, I am really not sure about participating on the wiki anymore. I would most definitely have participated on it if there had never been the notion that I could join the GDS2, however, this changes things to the point where I am not sure if I still want to participate. MaRo, would you please say that influential work on the wiki will also be noticed by you guys? I mean, I know you don't shy away from bending the truth when it's necessary...
He did already say that, so I think you're good.

An additional question about the block requirements:

1) Is our opening submission going to include the mechanics and framework of the entire block or just the first set?

2) Will the block be a traditional 3-set block?

Knowing the answers sooner rather than later would help determine which ideas to focus on.
He did already say that, so I think you're good.

Link?

All I could find which MaRo said on the matter is that your design may get printed if you're not a partiicipant. That's not what I am really looking for. I mean, it's awesome and all to have something you made printed as a part of Magic, but it doesn't feel right. I don't have some brilliant design I want WotC to recognize, or I wouldn't be interested in participating in the GDS2. I want to see how well I can design - and if I measure up to the other participants, I want them to recognize that! Having designs get used by finalists and thus getting printed is an honor and all, but it's not anything like getting credited yourself.

Add to that the fact that you are giving up a pretty insane list of rights when posting any design on the wiki (or on the forum for that matter) and it stands all by itself that if you ever want to be able to use them for something else than Magic, you are better off not posting about them on the wiki. I understand we can't have the full rights to our designs and yet show them to WotC, but they are going overboard on this. For example, if they wanted they could adapt a card you have designed and posted on the wiki to be a new game and then sell the rights to make that game to a third party...

I'm sorry, people are surprised by the residency requirements for GDS2?  Really?


P.S. Only two more, MaRo, only two more!
Jolly good, I can't participate by virtue of being born on the wrong continent. Eh, your loss, Wizards. I'll make myself a game design career locally.

L1 Judge

As usual, good old-fashioned tension was removed from a mechinic because it made it "too hard." Moreover this trend of all-upside is hurting design space and card creativity.

Really? With proliferate? I love cards that have inherent tension and tricky, subtle choices, but I'd really hate to have my own cards powering up my opponent's planeswalker.
@OrcishArtillery - Yes, the residency requirement is a surprise. Four years ago, the condition was "eligible to work in the US". Now it's apparently changed to "must currently live in the US". That's not the same thing at all. There's probably a good reason for it, but it's still disappointing.

From the Great Designer Search 1: 

As of August 25, 2006, you must be legally eligible for long-term work in the United States for any employer and to live in the United States. Upon request, proof of such eligibility must be provided to Wizards.
I agree with No_Shoes.  A mechanic that ends up helping the opponent more than helping you leads to too much tension.  Why use an ability when what little you gain from it is outweighed at times by the amount gained by an opponent.

It is especially good to only have proliferate target certain targets in SoM because you wouldn't have to worry about poisoning yourself with it.  If Proliferate remained in the form that increased all counters, then once you get a poison counter, you can only proliferate eight times and hope to opponent doesn't poison you anymore.  The ability would be shut off rather quickly and rendering the cards with proliferate useless.
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)
I'm sorry, people are surprised by the residency requirements for GDS2?  Really?



Well, yeah...

Honestly, I just took the "Table of Contents" page and on every paged linked from there that introduces creative content without noting that the author can't/won't joing GDS2, I looked for the author to reveal his nationality - and found that over a third of the pages in question were written by people who are NOT from the USA.

Are you a smug American by any chance?

You have to be able to move to Renton to take the internship. I don't think Wizards wants to wait 5-10 years.
I'm sorry, people are surprised by the residency requirements for GDS2?  Really?

I'm not surprised. I'm just supremely annoyed at the nigh-ubiquitousness of governmental interference. The world's the smallest it's ever been, and getting smaller all the time, and yet governments still insist on putting fences everywhere.

...Sometimes literally.

But that's not really a discussion relevant to the article, so I won't say any more about it.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

But that's not really a discussion relevant to the article, so I won't say any more about it.

I beg to differ - knowing it's a monday, knowing MaRo writes on monday and knowing MaRo a bit, I came to the site just for the info on the GDS, making it the one piece of the article I read. I don't think I am the only one who did so. As such, it's the most important part of the article to me and a bunch of others. It may be deviating from the article, but to a degree that I think should be considered decent.
Yeah I think talking about the GDS is fair game in this thread when it gets half the article. If he wants to write about two subjects, we get to talk about two subjects.

I agree with No_Shoes.  A mechanic that ends up helping the opponent more than helping you leads to too much tension.  Why use an ability when what little you gain from it is outweighed at times by the amount gained by an opponent.

It is especially good to only have proliferate target certain targets in SoM because you wouldn't have to worry about poisoning yourself with it.  If Proliferate remained in the form that increased all counters, then once you get a poison counter, you can only proliferate eight times and hope to opponent doesn't poison you anymore.  The ability would be shut off rather quickly and rendering the cards with proliferate useless.



That's assuming everyone is going to have counters, all the time. Even if that was actually true, there's more to Magic than draft or block.

And the reason the mechanic is so interesting is what it does outside of Mirrodin. Putting that tension in would have allowed them to more aggressively cost the Proliferate cards and that would have made the cards easier to incorporate in other decks. It also would have given them more ways to make the cards interesting.

As far as "only being able to proliferate eight times," that's actually quite a bit so I don't see the problem there. Forcing players to think about using cards is actually a good thing. The "all-upside" design, which is even creeping into the GILBIC portions of sets now, does not give players this mental exercise. You play your best cards, then I play mine. There's no risk or reward, just "best beats better." Which leads to deckbuilding guidelines that favor stonger cards over interactive cards.

Now if MaRo really hates non-interactivity - and honestly, he is a year too late in admitting there is a problem - then he can start by asking R&D to tone down the power and start making players think more about both deck design and in-game tactics. Otherwise, it is this that is making the game sell so well at the moment, and he just threw that comment in to give himself a reason to chastise R&D. Either way I don't like that they are taking decisions away from players. It makes this game significantly less fun to play for me. I don't want to have to fight the game, but having it do my work for me is the wrong way to counter that.
Might be just me, but are the following quotes as they should be?

"For those that might not be fluent in R&D lingo, parasitic, in design terms, means that the mechanic too much replies on itself." <- Not "relies on itself"? Couldn't find "reply on" in any dictionary.

"When Mark looked at my accelerate mechanic, he replied, "Why just poison and +1/+1 counters? Couldn't it work with all counters?"" <- Wasn't the mechanic about the -1/-1 counters at the start, and not the +1/+1 ones?
I beg to differ - knowing it's a monday, knowing MaRo writes on monday and knowing MaRo a bit, I came to the site just for the info on the GDS, making it the one piece of the article I read. I don't think I am the only one who did so. As such, it's the most important part of the article to me and a bunch of others. It may be deviating from the article, but to a degree that I think should be considered decent.

The topic I was referring to was immigration law and the politics thereof, not the GDS.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.



That's assuming everyone is going to have counters, all the time. Even if that was actually true, there's more to Magic than draft or block.

And the reason the mechanic is so interesting is what it does outside of Mirrodin. Putting that tension in would have allowed them to more aggressively cost the Proliferate cards and that would have made the cards easier to incorporate in other decks. It also would have given them more ways to make the cards interesting.

As far as "only being able to proliferate eight times," that's actually quite a bit so I don't see the problem there. Forcing players to think about using cards is actually a good thing. The "all-upside" design, which is even creeping into the GILBIC portions of sets now, does not give players this mental exercise. You play your best cards, then I play mine. There's no risk or reward, just "best beats better." Which leads to deckbuilding guidelines that favor stonger cards over interactive cards.




While not everybody is going to be running decks that use a lot of counters, the fact that there will be a few makes the change a problem.  When making my comment, I was actually referring to Standard.  In Standard, we have Planeswalkers, levelers, quests, ascensions, +1/+1 counters (especially on allies), charge counters, -1/-1 counters, and poison counters.  What are the odds that your opponent is going to be using at least one of these in their deck.  You may face a good number of decks that don't use any of the counters or not in sufficient numbers (although I really wouldn't want to use Proliferate at all when a Planeswalker or really good quest is on the field) you may face decks, such as allies or infect, that may gain a greater effect from your proliferating than you would.

If this change were to be implemented, then cards such as Thrummingbirds, Steady Progress, and especially Inexorable Tide would become really bad.  While eight counters may seem like a lot when using one or two Contagion Clasps or Throne of Geth, if you use Thrummingbird or Inexorable Tide, getting up to eight counters can be a fairly quick task.  If the change were to me made, Inexorable Tide would go from an okay card to completely useless unless you pack some enchantment destruction to remove it once you reach seven proliferated counters.

While I do feel that there needs to be more tension decisions in this game as there were in the past, helping your opponents to that extent would be too much.  Now if none of the current proliferate cards were made (except maybe the contagion artifacts and Throne of Geth), then I may agree that having proliferate targeting all counters on the field would be good due to the tension it creates.  But since we have Thrummingbird, Steady Progress, and Inexorable Tide, the change would be more hurtful then helpful.
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)
I forget, is this an unpaid or paid internship?

Also, scars of mirrodin sans phyrexia is the most boring set of all time.  Holy moley the mirrans are boring.
If this change were to be implemented, then cards such as Thrummingbirds, Steady Progress, and especially Inexorable Tide would become really bad.  While eight counters may seem like a lot when using one or two Contagion Clasps or Throne of Geth, if you use Thrummingbird or Inexorable Tide, getting up to eight counters can be a fairly quick task.  If the change were to me made, Inexorable Tide would go from an okay card to completely useless unless you pack some enchantment destruction to remove it once you reach seven proliferated counters.

While I do feel that there needs to be more tension decisions in this game as there were in the past, helping your opponents to that extent would be too much.  Now if none of the current proliferate cards were made (except maybe the contagion artifacts and Throne of Geth), then I may agree that having proliferate targeting all counters on the field would be good due to the tension it creates.  But since we have Thrummingbird, Steady Progress, and Inexorable Tide, the change would be more hurtful then helpful.



They balance the cards after the mechanic is finalized, not the other way around. And as there are only six cards in the set with the ability, they would probably not have had to do that much. Thrummingbird and Steady Progress could probably have been left alone. By making this decision they have cut off design space. That also happened with Level Up when they decided to go with sorcery speed. In that case the reasoning was that instant speed made things too difficult for players. So it isn't just one mechanic. This is representative of the current mindset R&D has when creating sets. I know normally you don't want to help your opponent, but cards should exist to allow better players to make better plays. This is a missed opportunity.
You play your best cards, then I play mine. There's no risk or reward, just "best beats better." Which leads to deckbuilding guidelines that favor stonger cards over interactive cards.

How, exactly, is this different from every time ever?
I seem to recall that the very essence of Constructed is to minimize the very existence of the opponent by being as overbearing and non-interactive as possible, with the only desirable "interaction" being "reaction".  Meanwhile, over in Limited, the BREAK mnemonic serves largely the same purpose.

Playing efficiently is important in Standard. In aggro, it basically means you just swing. But there used to be far more in Standard than simply watching your opponent play until you untap. Shards brought this problem to an entirely new level, and I am not completely sure its absence will change anything. Next year at this time Shards will be the lead set in Nu-Extended, so I think the problem is just going to appear there as well, if it has not already with this latest rotation.

That's why it amused me that MaRo waited until this year to mention it, and then he only talked about Zendikar limited. This is one result of "all-upside, all the time" which is a more recent trend. It is now better to just play your great card on your turn than to answer that of your opponent. Obviously removal is played and so are counters, but a lot of depth in this game is gone.
There is probalby some legalese regarding former employees, or it just kicks open a Pandora's box they'd rather leave closed. 
As usual, good old-fashioned tension was removed from a mechinic because it made it "too hard." Moreover this trend of all-upside is hurting design space and card creativity. I otherwise do like Proliferate but the mindset of "players don't want to use this mechanic unless there is no chance of drawback" puts a crimp in everything that could otherwise be a lot more interesting. This is just one of the reasons most of the rares and mythics are powered up. Without any latitude to make potential drawbacks at all rarities the only thing you can do make something really exciting at mythic is to basically violate manacost benchmarks at will.


Eh, some mythics are deserving of it, others aren't.
As for the "No chance of a drawback": Mark Rosewater did the correct thing with Proliferate, and you are completely wrong for thinking it is more interesting with tension. It isn't; its very uninteresting. In a format where many cards can benefit from it, proliferate is a drawback, not a bonus. That would mean that it would be WORSE in formats where the weaker cards with it would be better, making it less likely to show up at all.
Fundamentally, its more fun this way and much more likely to show up. You just have to cost things appropriately.
And the reason the mechanic is so interesting is what it does outside of Mirrodin. Putting that tension in would have allowed them to more aggressively cost the Proliferate cards and that would have made the cards easier to incorporate in other decks. It also would have given them more ways to make the cards interesting.


See, here's the other flaw in your thinking. "Well if it had a drawback it'd be cheaper." WRONG. Not everything CAN BE cheaper, and it is precisely this consideration which prevents it from being such. Fundamentally, if it had the drawback, it would just be worse and more unplayable, but it couldn't cost any less because it would still break if below a certain cost, despite the drawback - it would make games more random (which is bad) and would be just too good in others.
As far as "only being able to proliferate eight times," that's actually quite a bit so I don't see the problem there. Forcing players to think about using cards is actually a good thing. The "all-upside" design, which is even creeping into the GILBIC portions of sets now, does not give players this mental exercise. You play your best cards, then I play mine. There's no risk or reward, just "best beats better." Which leads to deckbuilding guidelines that favor stonger cards over interactive cards.


I think any environment which is heavy in creatures tends to involve significant interaction. That being said, there are more and less fun means of interaction.
Now if MaRo really hates non-interactivity - and honestly, he is a year too late in admitting there is a problem - then he can start by asking R&D to tone down the power and start making players think more about both deck design and in-game tactics. Otherwise, it is this that is making the game sell so well at the moment, and he just threw that comment in to give himself a reason to chastise R&D. Either way I don't like that they are taking decisions away from players. It makes this game significantly less fun to play for me. I don't want to have to fight the game, but having it do my work for me is the wrong way to counter that.


Proliferate is a bad case, because it is actually designed properly; you are just plain old wrong about it. It is true that drawbacks can be intersting, but not all interesting cards have drawbacks, and not all drawbacks are interesting. Dark Confidant has a very interesting drawback. Yawgmoth's Bargain does not.
Fundamentally, those of you who are arguing for it being symmetrical don't understand the design very well. Symmetry can make cards awful, and a whole mechanic of symmetrical effets is just asking for trouble, and it won't make the cards magically better.
They balance the cards after the mechanic is finalized, not the other way around. And as there are only six cards in the set with the ability, they would probably not have had to do that much. Thrummingbird and Steady Progress could probably have been left alone. By making this decision they have cut off design space. That also happened with Level Up when they decided to go with sorcery speed. In that case the reasoning was that instant speed made things too difficult for players. So it isn't just one mechanic. This is representative of the current mindset R&D has when creating sets. I know normally you don't want to help your opponent, but cards should exist to allow better players to make better plays. This is a missed opportunity.


You fail at design here. "Cards should exist to allow better players to make better plays." Guess what? Level up being sorcery speed does exactly that. At instant speed, knowing when to level up is trivial - whenever it would benefit you in combat, and during your opponent's end step. You have untapped mana? Time to level up!
At sorcery speed it is MUCH more interesting. How much do you level? Do you tap out to level up your dudes, thus indicating you don't have a response? Do you bluff a response? Is it better to race, or to hold back and respond? At sorcery speed, the decisions you make regarding levelling are much more interesting. At instant speed, its actually a lot more boring, odd as that may seem.

At sorcery speed it is MUCH more interesting. How much do you level? Do you tap out to level up your dudes, thus indicating you don't have a response? Do you bluff a response? Is it better to race, or to hold back and respond? At sorcery speed, the decisions you make regarding levelling are much more interesting. At instant speed, its actually a lot more boring, odd as that may seem.

At sorcery speed, it instantly renders the bulk of levelup guys utterly unplayable for just not being worth the investment.
Yes, even if it was instant there would still be plenty of stinkers, but as-is, far too many of them are marginalized, especially so if the level-up cost is above 1 or 2, or it takes piles and piles of levels to actually do anything meaningful.

Good to have you back TD, but I am going to do us both a favor and ignore the parts that are your opinion versus my opinion. Which, as usual, is almost everything. I normally enjoy the banter but don't want to derail the thread.

You fail at design here. "Cards should exist to allow better players to make better plays." Guess what? Level up being sorcery speed does exactly that.



No it does not. And here is why it does not. It was made for ROE limited, which had very few surprises in it. Compared to other environments there was hardly any risk in spending mana once at a time, on your turn. You could safely tap out if you wanted to. The reason it was made to be sorcery speed has little to do with skill-testing. In fact it was to done that way specifically to make things easier for players who would otherwise have trouble assessing game states. It had the added bonus of not being a particularly strong mechanic, so outside of a few powerful mythics and 1-2 uncommons it is not even being used. And those cards certainly aren't being used because players can put counters on them.

In the end Level Up was a bad design that was put in the only place where people would want to use it.
Good to have you back TD, but I am going to do us both a favor and ignore the parts that are your opinion versus my opinion. Which, as usual, is almost everything. I normally enjoy the banter but don't want to derail the thread.

You fail at design here. "Cards should exist to allow better players to make better plays." Guess what? Level up being sorcery speed does exactly that.



No it does not. And here is why it does not. It was made for ROE limited, which had very few surprises in it. Compared to other environments there was hardly any risk in spending mana once at a time, on your turn. You could safely tap out if you wanted to. The reason it was made to be sorcery speed has little to do with skill-testing. In fact it was to done that way specifically to make things easier for players who would otherwise have trouble assessing game states. It had the added bonus of not being a particularly strong mechanic, so outside of a few powerful mythics and 1-2 uncommons it is not even being used. And those cards certainly aren't being used because players can put counters on them.

In the end Level Up was a bad design that was put in the only place where people would want to use it.


I know they had it at instant speed at one point; I've read the article. I still stand by the statement that it is a more interesting mechanic at sorcery speed precisely because it is weaker, because it forces you to actually make a decision, as well as allowing for bluffing.

The fact that ROE was a non-interactive environment may make level up a lot better, and makes the sorcery speed a bit pointless (if you don't have any instants/flash spells to play anyway, there's not much to bluff) but that's not the fault of the level up mechanic and more the fault of people working on the set. I haven't played any RoE limited, so I can't really comment on its level of interactivity.

I will say that level up is a better mechanic at sorcery speed, though, for the reasons delineated above - at instant speed there aren't as many interesting decisions to make.

I might also add that it is rather contradictory of you - you argued that proliferate should have tension, but when tension on level up is brought up, you're against it, despite your stated opinions on the matter. Seems like you're looking for power rather than anything else, and aren't finding proliferate as strong as you'd like... just like level up.

But of course, if level up was instant speed, they'd have to make the level up cards worse, and they're apparently often terrible as is, whereas making proliferate have a drawback probably wouldn't let you drop the cost on the proliferate cards.

I know they had it at instant speed at one point; I've read the article. I still stand by the statement that it is a more interesting mechanic at sorcery speed precisely because it is weaker, because it forces you to actually make a decision, as well as allowing for bluffing.

Too bad that "decision" is usually to leave them in a shoebox and put some other card in the deck instead, huh?.


I know they had it at instant speed at one point; I've read the article. I still stand by the statement that it is a more interesting mechanic at sorcery speed precisely because it is weaker, because it forces you to actually make a decision, as well as allowing for bluffing.

The fact that ROE was a non-interactive environment may make level up a lot better, and makes the sorcery speed a bit pointless (if you don't have any instants/flash spells to play anyway, there's not much to bluff) but that's not the fault of the level up mechanic and more the fault of people working on the set. I haven't played any RoE limited, so I can't really comment on its level of interactivity.

I will say that level up is a better mechanic at sorcery speed, though, for the reasons delineated above - at instant speed there aren't as many interesting decisions to make.

I might also add that it is rather contradictory of you - you argued that proliferate should have tension, but when tension on level up is brought up, you're against it, despite your stated opinions on the matter. Seems like you're looking for power rather than anything else, and aren't finding proliferate as strong as you'd like... just like level up.

But of course, if level up was instant speed, they'd have to make the level up cards worse, and they're apparently often terrible as is, whereas making proliferate have a drawback probably wouldn't let you drop the cost on the proliferate cards.




That would make sense on the surface, but here's the flaw. The "tension" generated by level up at sorcery speed is not particularly interesting and one-sided. You activate and wait for it to resolve Then you put a counter on the creature. Then you do it again. At some point, the number of counters means something. If the design was strictly one counter=one threshhold then I would 100% agree with you that sorcery speed was a good choice for gameplay. But no, the design is that you often add a counter and nothing happens at all. That's just not exciting enough to warrant the one-sided tension.

It's after that point that the fact that it also isn't very strong comes into play. Now who wants it? Really bored casual Johnnies, perhaps, although they should contact me if they are actually that low on ideas that they would settle for Level Up. Me when I was just getting back into the game and thought Suspend was the awesomest thing in the world, possibly, at least until I played with it for a while. (Confession: I still think Suspend is awesome.) Spikes? Not really, save for a few that were actually costed properly or overpowered. That leaves ROE limited players. It worked in that format because it was not very likely to get blown out on your turn for tapping out due to there not being a ton of instant removal. It also gave players stuff to do in the middle turns of the so-called "Battlecruiser" Magic.

Proliferate, on the other hand, could have provided tension on both sides of the board. Is it worth it to throw a counter on an enemy planeswalker when you have charge counters added to your artifacts? How about a +1/+1 counter for you but four for me? And is it a good idea to give both of us another poison counter? I stand by what I said about Proliferate. As for dropping manacosts, I could see Contagion ClaspImage.ashx?type=card&name=Contagion Clasp with a 3-mana activation easily if you didn't have the choice. ThrummingbirdImage.ashx?type=card&name=Thrummingbird gets fixed with "you may" and Steady ProgressImage.ashx?type=card&name=Steady Progress would be fine as-is. Selective proliferating also takes a flavor hit, but I am not as concerned about that. My concern is the trend of taking away the harder choices at every chance they get. The game is warping around this. I would love to be proven wrong as Scars of Mirrodin develops further. 

Shorter version, I say Level Up did not deliver enchanced gameplay at sorcery speed because not every mechanic does. You can't just add the timing restriction to an activated ability and make it good in this regard. But I do think Proliferate would have benefitted from the tension. As for balancing the Level Up cards for instant speed, of course they would have to do that. And it would still see more play in more places - kitchen tables and tournament tables alike.
I'm not sure if its a great idea to be talking about limited formats you haven't really played. There was plenty of instant speed removal, and level up made for a lot of intersting gameplay decisions. It was one of the most complex limited format this game has ever had and, despite what you may think, the format wasn't actually do nothing for 9 turns then ELDRAZI, and to assert it was repeatedly without having really played the format seems pretty stupid.
I know how the set was designed as well as anyone else here does, I have actually played with it, and I know why the ability was a good fit in it. I understand that it isn't 100.0% "sit around for nine turns." But if you put Level Up, as is, in another set, and the chances of those same cards being very useful drop considerably.

Too bad that "decision" is usually to leave them in a shoebox and put some other card in the deck instead, huh?

Sure, but that's true of almost all cards. I mean, how many clash cards saw constructed play? At least level up cards are interesting; I'd take a level up card which was at least interesting over another Craw Wurm or Grizzly Bears any day, in terms of what I'd like to open. I LIKE seeing new things, not boring, same old, same old, even if I know it is not good and won't see any serious play save in limited, and maybe not even there.
That would make sense on the surface, but here's the flaw. The "tension" generated by level up at sorcery speed is not particularly interesting and one-sided. You activate and wait for it to resolve Then you put a counter on the creature. Then you do it again. At some point, the number of counters means something. If the design was strictly one counter=one threshhold then I would 100% agree with you that sorcery speed was a good choice for gameplay. But no, the design is that you often add a counter and nothing happens at all. That's just not exciting enough to warrant the one-sided tension.

The reality is that activating it and having it resolve is really not problematic; it is only when you hit the threshold of mattering where your opponent is going to do something about it. It doesn't really matter whether or not one counter = one threshold. You are just thinking about it wrong; the real purpose of it is twofold. Firstly, you can "store" mana in a way; secondly, its a means of making it cost more to go from level 2 to 3 than from level 1 to 2. It is a bit clunky, but allows more fine tuning, and also makes it less problematic with proliferate (which it is synergistic with for obvious reasons).
It's after that point that the fact that it also isn't very strong comes into play. Now who wants it? Really bored casual Johnnies, perhaps, although they should contact me if they are actually that low on ideas that they would settle for Level Up. Me when I was just getting back into the game and thought Suspend was the awesomest thing in the world, possibly, at least until I played with it for a while. (Confession: I still think Suspend is awesome.) Spikes? Not really, save for a few that were actually costed properly or overpowered. That leaves ROE limited players. It worked in that format because it was not very likely to get blown out on your turn for tapping out due to there not being a ton of instant removal. It also gave players stuff to do in the middle turns of the so-called "Battlecruiser" Magic. 

Obviously you missed something important here. Not all cards are directed at everyone. In this case, they were:1) Limited cards.2) Constructed cards.3) Timmy cards.So claiming they're bad, then listing why they aren't, just proves you don't understand why they exist and why they are the way they are.
Proliferate, on the other hand, could have provided tension on both sides of the board. Is it worth it to throw a counter on an enemy planeswalker when you have charge counters added to your artifacts? How about a +1/+1 counter for you but four for me? And is it a good idea to give both of us another poison counter? I stand by what I said about Proliferate. As for dropping manacosts, I could see Contagion Clasp with a 3-mana activation easily if you didn't have the choice. Thrummingbird gets fixed with "you may" and Steady Progress would be fine as-is. Selective proliferating also takes a flavor hit, but I am not as concerned about that. My concern is the trend of taking away the harder choices at every chance they get. The game is warping around this. I would love to be proven wrong as Scars of Mirrodin develops further. 

The problem is that you are wrong. It isn't more interesting; it is less interesting. Proliferate is a build around me, and it is sucky when your deck randomly loses because your opponent happens to play something with counters in it. That'd be horrendously terrible design. You stand by it because you don't understand it and don't understand that costing is not "Oh, this has a drawback, it can cost 1 less."
I was just thinking about why R&D made Level Up a sorcery-speed mechanic.  The conlusion I came up with was that for flavor reasons, R&D didn't want Level Up to act as a combat trick.  Normally, a creature levels up after performing some task, rather than immediately before doing so.

Another reason is to avoid deadlock.  If Level Up were instant speed and you had a Zulaport Enforcer with 2 level counters on it and 4 mana open, I'm not going to swing into you with a 4/4 black creature.  In fact, I would wait for you to level up the creature and you would wait for me to attack; this isn't tension, it's deadlock.  R&D probably figured that the format is slow enough and the additional risk of deadlock would just make it too slow.

That said, I didn't like Maro's explanation of why Level Up was made sorcery speed.  It came off as condescending.
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