10/25/2010 Feature: "A Few Multiple-Choice Words"

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


Take It and Suffer
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant creature
When Take It and Suffer enters the battlefield, destroy enchanted creature. Take It and Suffer deals damage to target player equal to that creature's toughness.

The reason this card cannot be an Equipment is that the equip ability is only allowed to target creatures you control. This card is pretty useless if you cannot target an opponent's creature.




Actually, it wouldn't be useless, because it does damage to target player whenever it destroys a creature. As Equipment, it becomes like a reusable Fling that does damage equal to tougness rather than power. You equip your Wall of Ice, your Wall dies, and your opponent then takes seven damage. Other cards with similar effects are Soulblast, Brion Stoutarm, and Devouring Greed. Any card that can break creature stalls by hitting your opponent for large amounts of direct damage is far from useless.


(I did get the question correct, by the way - you can't turn this card into an Equipment "with only minor tweaking" without totally changing the nature of the card.)

- Doug

 

"Collectability is just a code-word for ripping you off." - David Sirlin


We've never done a demon at common
 



Lady Orca.

Granted, she's only common in the MTGO Master's Edition III set.  :D

I call shenanigans on #6: Design often makes creatures that have flash and "enters the battlefield" triggered abilities like Deflecting Mage. Which of the following abilities would we least likely pair with flash?


The fact that 91% got it wrong should already be indicative of something amiss.  But reading the "answer", I see the problem: you didn't ask what you meant to ask.  What you meant to ask was "Given a creature with one of the following abilities, which one are we least likely to pair with Flash?"  That would have been a good question that exactly tested what you say this was meant to test.  Instead, the question is which of these is least likely to come out on a card.  And it can't be E, because you already printed Briarhorn!  The odds of something happening, given that it already happened, is 100%.


B remains the best answer to the question as asked - not because the ability doesn't want to get played at Instant speed, but because there are good reasons to just not put it on a creature like this.  (Being A. red doesn't natively get flash and B. you most likely want to use this on your own spell so your mana is already busy and can't afford the increased cost of a body.)


One or two bad questions is fine with a threshold as low as 44.  But let's recognize this question could have been phrased better.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

Okay, I guess I missed #48 because I'm dumb (silly Squadron Hawk), #15 because I didn't have the sense that they print demons (or other creatures) with mechanical downsides much anymore, and #38 because I really didn't have much sense that they print Green cards with vigilance.  Looking at them, those cards must have just slipped my mind because they're terrible.


I suppose 47 right is pretty good.  Hey, MaRo, we're competitive gamers here, how many people got each number of questions right?

Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
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I'm going to recheck in more detail, but I was told I failed the test yet I count 44 questions I got the right answers to Yell.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011

Actually, it wouldn't be useless, because it does damage to target player whenever it destroys a creature. As Equipment, it becomes like a reusable Fling that does damage equal to tougness rather than power. You equip your Wall of Ice, your Wall dies, and your opponent then takes seven damage. Other cards with similar effects are Soulblast, Brion Stoutarm, and Devouring Greed. Any card that can break creature stalls by hitting your opponent for large amounts of direct damage is far from useless.


I gave the "wrong" answer precisely because I noticed this too.

(I did get the question correct, by the way - you can't turn this card into an Equipment "with only minor tweaking" without totally changing the nature of the card.)

I guess it depends how you take "minor tweaking". The changes you have to make to the card's text are minimal, no more than those required by any other conversion of an Aura to an Equipment. The changes it would make to how the card would play are massive.


Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Wow, I did way worse than I thought (36). I can agree with most of the answers I missed.

Question 6 is almost the worst, punishing those who looked up Briarhorn. Question 33 definitely beats it, though, because in "The Great White Way" you said, "That said, what does white value most? Harmony." "It's Not Easy Being Green" does not contain the word harmony.

I agree #29 is the hardest, but the reason is a good one.

Thanks for the explanation and the chance to write such interesting essays. Do non-advancing candidates' essays ever get read, like next year after the contest is over? Perhaps under your read-all-feedback policy? I can't wait to read how Mark would've answered the essays!

Mystical Fighter
Creature – Human
2/2
First strike
[Mana]: Regenerate Mystical Fighter.

12) If Design wanted to change this card to green/blue by changing first strike to another keyword, which one would not work?


 a) flash 
 b) flying 
 c) islandwalk 
 d) shroud 
 e) vigilance




I understand why the answer is e, but I would like to point something out. I'm not a rules guru and am probably missing something, but if Mystical Fighter had shroud/regenerate, wouldn't it not be able to regenerate? Is it technically not the "targeting" its self with its ability or something?
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I'm still laughing at e) Mark Rosewater for Question #50.
I object to #38. I was under the impression that R&D had decided that the Thorn Elemental ability wouldn't be used on new cards more, because it wasn't any less confusing than trample, and so Lone Wolf and friends wouldn't be appearing in "Advanced-level" products after Eighth Edition. (Then again, since Rhox was reprinted in Tenth Edition, I suppose R&D decided that the ability was okay after all.)

- Doug

 

"Collectability is just a code-word for ripping you off." - David Sirlin

First of all, Amasir's analysis of #6 is spot on.

Regarding #46, I don't see clone being a hugely Johnny card at all. Clone just gives you more of something you already have. If Johnny wants to play some weird combo involving 4 different creatures, he needs to run those 4 creatures. Running clones only helps him get more of them. (Contrast that with something like Quicksilver Gargantua or Vesuvan Shapeshifter...)

Devastating Summons, on the other hand, is a classic "card with a big drawback". It's like Leveler or Sky Swallower. Granted, it became a spike card because there was a period when it happened to be really good in one specific constructed deck. But if that deck had never existed and you said "is this card for Timmy, Spike or Johnny" the answer would be 100% clearly Johnny. Johnny wants to be the guy who casts that card and everyone's like "whoa, that card is terrible" and he's like "combo it with acidic soil, and terravore beeyatch" or something like that. 
 
 


One other comment: it's pretty darn inconsiderate of Mark Rosewater not to have posted this literally the day after the multiple choice test. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's been agonizingly wondering what he missed for two weeks now, coming up with elaborate justifications for why X or Y or Z was right. But it costs "them" basically nothing to set this whole thing up so that we can see and discuss this immediately, and it's really a bit of a slap in the face that it wasn't done that way.
I'm not a rules guru and am probably missing something, but if Mystical Fighter had shroud/regenerate, wouldn't it not be able to regenerate? Is it technically not the "targeting" its self with its ability or something?


Abilities don't target unless they say they target.  Although a card could say "G: Regenerate target creature", the one used here just said "G: Regenerate {this}".  A card like that doesn't target.  Similarly, Nantuko Shade doesn't target and Knight of Dawn doesn't target.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.


Mystical Fighter
Creature – Human
2/2
First strike
[Mana]: Regenerate Mystical Fighter.

12) If Design wanted to change this card to green/blue by changing first strike to another keyword, which one would not work?


 a) flash 
 b) flying 
 c) islandwalk 
 d) shroud 
 e) vigilance




I understand why the answer is e, but I would like to point something out. I'm not a rules guru and am probably missing something, but if Mystical Fighter had shroud/regenerate, wouldn't it not be able to regenerate? Is it technically not the "targeting" its self with its ability or something?


No. Regenerating doesn't target anything. In fact, being a replacement effect, the idea of it targeting doesn't even make sense.

Obviously, effects that say "Regenerate target creature" do target something, but an ability of a creature to regenerate itself doesn't fall into this category.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Regarding 6:

The question MaRo answered is "Given a permanent x with ability y, which of the following values of y will make the conditional probability of x also having "Flash" the least?"

The question that was ASKED is "Given a permanent x and ability y, which value of y will make the probability of x having both y and "Flash" the least?" 

The difference is that the first one is Bayesian, while the second one only cares about the probability of the conjunct. Since the probability of a conjunct occurring that has already occurred is 1, by [Briarhorn, Draining Whelk, Haze Frog] all of the options except b and c are ruled out. B is the better of those two options.

In other words, the answer given in the article is just plain wrong.

I just noticed that someone already said this, except in more understandable language. Oh well- more voices for the chorus (of the conclave.)


Devastating Summons, on the other hand, is a classic "card with a big drawback". It's like Leveler or Sky Swallower. Granted, it became a spike card because there was a period when it happened to be really good in one specific constructed deck. But if that deck had never existed and you said "is this card for Timmy, Spike or Johnny" the answer would be 100% clearly Johnny. Johnny wants to be the guy who casts that card and everyone's like "whoa, that card is terrible" and he's like "combo it with acidic soil, and terravore beeyatch" or something like that.


Even in that respect, it's strictly inferior to the Beetle, which has all the same things going for it as a Johnny card and also gives him counters that can be further manipulated.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Regarding 6:

The question MaRo answered is "Given a permanent x with ability y, which of the following values of y will make the conditional probability of x also having "Flash" the least?"

The question that was ASKED is "Given a permanent x and ability y, which value of y will make the probability of x having both y and "Flash" the least?" 

The difference is that the first one is Bayesian, while the second one only cares about the probability of the conjunct. Since the probability of a conjunct occurring that has already occurred is 1, by [Briarhorn, Draining Whelk, Haze Frog] all of the options except b and c are ruled out. B is the better of those two options.

In other words, the answer given in the article is just plain wrong.

I just noticed that someone already said this, except in more understandable language. Oh well- more voices for the chorus (of the conclave.)


The level of overthinking here astonishes me. In any case, "Which of the following are we least likely to pair with Flash?" can quite legitimately be read as presupposing that "the following" all exist.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
There's also a problem with #31, which is that unconditional common tappers ALWAYS* have mana as part of their activated ability. Common pingers aren't done very often any more (most recently in Shards of Alara), but pingers in general usually have no mana cost.


(The exception is ballynock trapper... but that's a card where the manaless activation interacts nicely with the card design as a whole, plus it's part of a cycle...) (And that was longer ago than Vithian Stinger).

(Also note that I'm fairly sure a Rosewater column at some point talked about why they usually but mana costs on activated abilities because it makes your decisions more interesting... do I tap out for my big guy, or keep tapping mana up?)
 

I think part of the problem here is that Mark Rosewater is effectively 2 years in the future. Maybe in the next 2 years of sets there are lots of manaless common tappers (or even a single one) and no more common pingers ever, but all we have to look at is the actual printed cards as of right now.

Question 33 definitely beats it, though, because in "The Great White Way" you said, "That said, what does white value most? Harmony." "It's Not Easy Being Green" does not contain the word harmony.

I think I got this one wrong, but it doesn't bother me as much.  Maybe because I was very close between the two.  Or because I've already accepted that Green and White are the same color.

What pushed me toward White was the "each person's life".  My sense of Green is that it doesn't focus on the individual.  Had the statement been "there's a pattern to life, and accepting this is the key to harmony", I'd have 100% gone for green.  But the idea of "each person" brings to mind assignment and duty, both white cards.  Also I tried looking up "fate" and didn't see any connection to green.


But again I don't mind missing it now that I see the statement phrased as "nature vs nurture."  I didn't pick up on that, but I should have, and that makes it a good beat.


 


-----------


As an aside, due to time spent not playing (and perhaps it's historical reputation now), Kamigawa is easily the block I know least about.  Thus I had no idea Vine Kami even existed and thus my ignorance guided me to the right answer there.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

I just noticed that someone already said this, except in more understandable language. Oh well- more voices for the chorus (of the conclave.)

Yes but your answer is mathier, and therefore superior.  

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

Regarding 6:

The question MaRo answered is "Given a permanent x with ability y, which of the following values of y will make the conditional probability of x also having "Flash" the least?"

The question that was ASKED is "Given a permanent x and ability y, which value of y will make the probability of x having both y and "Flash" the least?" 

The difference is that the first one is Bayesian, while the second one only cares about the probability of the conjunct. Since the probability of a conjunct occurring that has already occurred is 1, by [Briarhorn, Draining Whelk, Haze Frog] all of the options except b and c are ruled out. B is the better of those two options.

In other words, the answer given in the article is just plain wrong.

I just noticed that someone already said this, except in more understandable language. Oh well- more voices for the chorus (of the conclave.)


The level of overthinking here astonishes me. In any case, "Which of the following are we least likely to pair with Flash?" can quite legitimately be read as presupposing that "the following" all exist.

"overthinking" is an empty term. If there's a truth of the matter, then no amount of thinking should lead you away from it so long as the thinking is correct. If it is incorrect, then kindly point out where it is incorrect. Quantity does not trump quality, but neither does it obviate quality.

It doesn't matter whether you presuppose their existence or not. It's a question of semantic structures. The logical content of "which of {y} are we least likely to pair with 'Flash'" is the first order formal statement in my first post.

Oops. Over-thinking this issue too. Sorry.

Thus my considered rebuttal- "nuh-uh" 
Regarding 6:

The question MaRo answered is "Given a permanent x with ability y, which of the following values of y will make the conditional probability of x also having "Flash" the least?"

The question that was ASKED is "Given a permanent x and ability y, which value of y will make the probability of x having both y and "Flash" the least?" 

The difference is that the first one is Bayesian, while the second one only cares about the probability of the conjunct. Since the probability of a conjunct occurring that has already occurred is 1, by [Briarhorn, Draining Whelk, Haze Frog] all of the options except b and c are ruled out. B is the better of those two options.

In other words, the answer given in the article is just plain wrong.

I just noticed that someone already said this, except in more understandable language. Oh well- more voices for the chorus (of the conclave.)


The level of overthinking here astonishes me. In any case, "Which of the following are we least likely to pair with Flash?" can quite legitimately be read as presupposing that "the following" all exist.

"overthinking" is an empty term. If there's a truth of the matter, then no amount of thinking should lead you away from it so long as the thinking is correct. If it is incorrect, then kindly point out where it is incorrect. Quantity does not trump quality, but neither does it obviate quality.

It doesn't matter whether you presuppose their existence or not. It's a question of semantic structures. The logical content of "which of {y} are we least likely to pair with 'Flash'" is the first order formal statement in my first post.

Oops. Over-thinking this issue too. Sorry.

Thus my considered rebuttal- "nuh-uh" 




When I saw the 'right answer' and read his explanation, the first thought in my head was, "That is not the question he asked."  Anyone who has taken the SATs knows about these trapdoor questions, where the semantics is the important part.  Being a person who speaks English, writes English and reads English, I value my English being some modicum of correct.  When I see an error in a sentence, I gravitate around that, and attempt to solve it.  The question, as asked, was best answered by B).  The end.
I gave the "wrong" answer precisely because I noticed this too.

Same here--I actually like the idea of a repeat-a-Fling Equipment.


I do think #6 was heavily misleading, though--the wording is open to interpretation, leaving the "why" up to the reader. E is the only effect that could work (reasonably well) on a creature without flash, yes. However, if the reader read the question not as asking "Which mechanic is the least likely to be paired with flash because it could work without flash?" but instead as asking "Which mechanic is the least likely to be paired with flash because it gains the least interest and/or utility by appearing on a creature with flash?" (as compared to just a regular instant, say), the answer changes.

C and E are both very interesting on a creature with flash, because the combination of getting a creature and the effect drastically changes combat math in your favor. D is interesting because the added creature again changes combat math, this time for next turn--your opponent might have thought he would be safe from your return strike, but the added creature could tip the scales. A is interesting because it allows a counter-control deck to put pressure on the opponent without leaving itself open. In all of these cases, the whole is greater than the individual sum of their parts.

But B...B doesn't gain much of anything from being put on a creature with flash as opposed to being on an instant. It doesn't change anything about what the effect can do, and it doesn't affect combat math in itself any more than the body would without the ability.

The question could also be interpreted as asking "Which ability is least likely to be paired with flash because it does not appear in a color with normal access to flash?", and B is again the right answer there, as the ability is red.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

I got 43/50.  Several of the ones I missed were for this sort of reason, however:



I call shenanigans on #6: Design often makes creatures that have flash and "enters the battlefield" triggered abilities like Deflecting Mage. Which of the following abilities would we least likely pair with flash?


The fact that 91% got it wrong should already be indicative of something amiss.  But reading the "answer", I see the problem: you didn't ask what you meant to ask.  What you meant to ask was "Given a creature with one of the following abilities, which one are we least likely to pair with Flash?"  That would have been a good question that exactly tested what you say this was meant to test.  Instead, the question is which of these is least likely to come out on a card.  And it can't be E, because you already printed Briarhorn!  The odds of something happening, given that it already happened, is 100%.


B remains the best answer to the question as asked - not because the ability doesn't want to get played at Instant speed, but because there are good reasons to just not put it on a creature like this.  (Being A. red doesn't natively get flash and B. you most likely want to use this on your own spell so your mana is already busy and can't afford the increased cost of a body.)


One or two bad questions is fine with a threshold as low as 44.  But let's recognize this question could have been phrased better.



Basically my reasoning on #6.  And some of the others?


I chose "add flying" to #15's demon, because there are quite a few demons with flying/trample (at their size, it functions as semi-evasion, especially with an "if-damages" clause), and there's even a flying/shadow, whereas the "painful downside" seems to be mostly confined to older cards (and we were instructed to lean toward modern design).


I chose "tap target creature" on #31, because there have been precisely two instances of manaless, nonrestricted tapping on commons since Ravnica, whereas the Samite Healer ability has shown up quite a few more times, and most of the uncommons with the healer ability have additional abilities as well, thus presenting a reasonable argument for uncommonality.


Embarrassingly, I missed #19 because I was fiddling with an enchantment block as my "design test" world, and thus assumed the card was initially created as an enchantment for a particular reason, and I punted #48 by getting caught up in whether or not to include Canyon Minotaur and totally glossing over Squadron Hawk's flying.


My two other misses were legitimate, but I can't help but feel a bit miffed that about half the questions I got wrong were (in my opinion) misleading, either by wording, the evidence at hand, or both. Perhaps the test didn't go through Development before printing. ;)


 But I'll get over it. This was certainly cutting into my free time for other projects, and even though I thought I had a fairly good chance of making a run at this whole deal, I think the format lends itself to those more able to endlessly pore over the wiki for the best ideas, and to those who have done extensive networking within the online community (which essentially eliminates a lot of competent people, a shame imo).


(On the other end of the spectrum, I found it amusing that most people seemed to find #29 confusing, because I thought it was fairly straightforward.)

But B...B doesn't gain much of anything from being put on a creature with flash as opposed to being on an instant. It doesn't change anything about what the effect can do, and it doesn't affect combat math in itself any more than the body would without the ability.

The question could also be interpreted as asking "Which ability is least likely to be paired with flash because it does not appear in a color with normal access to flash?", and B is again the right answer there, as the ability is red.


B) Says "Target" thus it can only happen with a spell on the stack and thus can only work on a creature with Flash.

As a side note: I did better than expected on the test.  Hopefully I'll be in a better position to participate in the next search.  ^_^
Some issues with the quiz:

1) Question 6 is worded oddly.  Perhaps it's because I did it at 1:30 am and not 1:30 pm, but it seemd to read in the opposite way as intended.  That probably explains the number of people who missed it.

2) Question 14 is just blatantly false, as is your reasoning.  I know you're R&D and I'm not, but after seeing which cards make Mythic and which don't in recent sets, I'm calling you out on this one, MaRo.  This is just total BS.  In particular, this quote:

We try hard to make mythic rares feel special and unique, and Nasty Demon just doesn't quite clear the bar.



If you hadn't printed Vengevine at Mythic or Drana/Hoard Smelter Dragon at rare, I might be inclined to believe this.  However, taking those into account I'm calling BS on this.  Mythic rarity is most definitely not the rarity used to make cards "special and unique" and is instead the rarity used to make cards "that will sell well, causing dealers and players to crack obscene amounts of packs to get playsets that are required to not get smashed in tournaments".

3) Question 19: Yoke of the Damned much?  I don't think there's that much of a stretch from Yoke of the Damned to this card.  I also don't see how the fact that the card is black is relevant to whether it should be an Instant or Sorcery, or an enchantment.

4) Question 31: I'd be interested to see what card you would put this on, taking into account you'd basically be obsoleting Blinding Mage in the process, and Blinding Mage was one of white's best common creatures in M11.  I don't see much of a difference between printing this ability at common and moving Might of Oaks to common, and I don't think Might of Oaks should be a common since it pretty much obsoletes Giant Growth.

5) Question 34: Isn't Flashback primarily a red and blue mechanic?  Yeah, there was Roar of the Wurm, but the memorable Flashback spells were primarily red and blue.

Two other questions I wanted to talk about.  (And I'm spread across a bunch of posts today instead of consolidating as usual, due to their separate component nature.)


Number 2: What rarity is "Fast Guy"?  I went back and forth forever on this.  My reasoning was as follows:


Child of Night shows that black gets Lifelink at common.


Crypt Ripper shows that black gets Haste at common.  It also shows (as do many other cards) that putting two abilities on one creature is acceptable for common.


Vampire Nighthawk shows that three abilities is uncommon.  Unless it was just too good for Limited at common.  Which might have been the case, in which case 3 abilities would actually be common if you wanted it to.


Since "double-scoop french vanilla" is by nature simpler than static + activated ability (Crypt Ripper), there's no complexity reason Fast Guy can't be common.  And as a 3/1, it easily trades so it shouldn't overpower Limited either.


What beat me is "lifelink power > 3 is not common" as a rule.  I think it's a legitimate beat and I'm not complaining, but I wouldn't have fingered that as a rule.  And even now I would argue that it's not "too swingy" unless paired with evasion or high toughness.  This 3/1 trades with anything.  But I take his point that at the moment it is a rule, and thus I appreciate learning it.


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


Question 15)  As a Demon, which change is Design most likely to make?


Firstly, I didn't pick up at all on "demons aren't common".  Nor did I feel that 5/5 is small.  It felt rare based on the size and ability, so that wasn't an issue.  I was just surprised by that in the answer.


But 15 specifically seems very odd, in that they would give it a drawback and wouldn't give it Flying.  On a strict Gatherer count, I see 24 Demons with Flying and 26 with a potentially controller-harming ability.  So that's a technical majority, but so close I wouldn't comfortably point one way or the other.  And I'm not moved by the "double evasion" argument.  I grant it can be redundant, but on Rares or above that's hardly unheard of.  My friend Stronghold Overseer the Flying Shadow Demon assures me that he has my back on this.


But moreover I wonder if you really would "add a downside".  That just seems like a bad way to design.  A demon with a drawback is very flavorful, but it should be created organically.  As in:


"I have a great idea for an ability that could backfire."
"Great, let's make a demon."


or


"The story says the villain makes a demonic pact.  We need to represent the evil that comes to collect."
"Be careful what you wish for, can-do."


but not


"I have this fat double-saboteur but it might be too big for a Specter."
"Well let's make it a demon and give it a drawback."


Not only is that a very unnatural way to design a card, but I thought the lesson of Echo was that sticking drawbacks on a card just to show you can is something the players won't like.  Thus I didn't really like this answer.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

Oh yeah, #31 seems to be contentious.


Maybe I'm wrong on this, but my read was that the mana cost is not a component when considering whether to design a certain ability.  (Except in the case of something like off-color activation.)  Cost comes later, possibly as late as development.  Thus to answer the question, after debating it heavily, I simply decided "you'd use this ability, then discuss what it should cost."  As it turned out, that worked.


B) Says "Target" thus it can only happen with a spell on the stack and thus can only work on a creature with Flash.

You understand though that other possible answers are "don't put it on a creature" and "don't print the effect at all".  So it's not "ONLY work on a creature with flash" unless you close your mind to those other possibilities.  And the question as asked was too open-ended because it left those answers in.  Mark wanted us to answer assuming the ability would be on a creature.  But strictly speaking, that's not what the question asked.  Hence 91% wrong.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

probably not the first to say I got 43 correct. Was just as well, I didn't really have that great a world design.

I understand why I got most of them wrong. The only one I'd contend is the 'creatures with landfall gain haste' one. I feel that if design wanted creatures having a certain ability word to matter, there would be a way to tweak the rules to allow design to do that. Rules get changed all the time to help design better make cards they want (see: M10 rules changes) and I think the rules committee could reasonably do the work needed to make that happen.

Also, making a changeling tribal card goes against what the purpose of changelings. They're supposed to be a form to the function of tribal, and be non-parasitic modular cards that can help a number of deck types. This would completely go against that aspect of them. I get why I'm wrong, but hey, RnD seems very keen to give players a chance to influence the game (which I applaud them for) so there's my bit of design advice for the day.
Curses, 8 missed.

Biggest surprise, #15 (Demon one).

Biggest laugh, Maro's explination for #15...

"A is incorrect, we like to give demons flying, but it's not a rule."
"C is correct, while it's not a rule that all demons have mechanical downsides, we like to give them some if possible."

.... what? I hate this question because both FLying and drawbacks are someone they give to demons, choosing between the two is taking a shot in the dark.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#41 is mis-written. It says "Black sorcery that let's you pay life to draw cards which isn't something they'd do at common. Greed isn't common.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#48's just stupidly ambigious. Are we suppose to apply the letter of the defintion or use common sense? Why the hell even have the term "vanilla" if you classify all vanilla creatures are virtual vanilla?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Overall the test is pretty disapointing. You should really give your multiple choice test to the rules and templating team, since you guys tend to leave things ambigious. Alot of the questions i got right i still don't think are fair to alot of people.

I don't mind hard questions, but flat out tricks and subjective questions aren't great. It's telling that only 1 person got all 50 right... this test is impossible unless you guess. And alot of the questions are actually refuted by gatherer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Biggest shock, less than 800 people competed! I guess the essays scared them off.
… and then, the squirrels came.
Regarding "the probability of something that's already happened is 1", this ignores the implied scope of the question as regarding future design. I was well aware that it had been done, but that is of limited relevance to the question of which is least likely to appear in a future set. I read the question as "which of the following creatures is least likely to have Flash, given that it has this ability too?".

One reason for reading it that way was the claim in MaRo's e-mail that there wouldn't be any trick questions. That was of course BS, as best demonstrated by #29 (I saw the right answer instantly but that's because I'm an RQ&A regular). But at that early point in the test I was still taking MaRo's claim seriously. The "which card is least likely to be printed in the first place?" version of the question is a trick question.

###########################

Questions I got wrong (one or two of which I could dispute), just for the record, were 17, 18, 20, 22, 30 and 40. That is only six questions so I don't understand why I didn't pass. I'll e-mail MaRo about this sometime in the next day or two, I don't feel like doing it now.

I got a few, most notably #2, right for the wrong reason (and in the case of #2 I actually became convinced by the ensuing discussion that my correct answer had in fact been wrong).

@Ertai87: Small point, but who said colour was relevant to #19? That's another (minor) example of a trick question technique, he gave extra information that made no difference to the answer. The card is just goofy as an enchantment no matter what colour it is.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Curses, 8 missed.

Biggest surprise, #15 (Demon one).

Biggest laugh, Maro's explination for #15...

"A is incorrect, we like to give demons flying, but it's not a rule."
"C is correct, while it's not a rule that all demons have mechanical downsides, we like to give them some if possible."

.... what? I hate this question because both FLying and drawbacks are someone they give to demons, choosing between the two is taking a shot in the dark.

That's a very selective reading of what he said about A. His main point was that they wouldn't add flying to that card, as opposed to replace flying with Intimidate (EDIT: sorry, other way 'round, but you get the point). Yes, they do occasionally do things like that, but it's not nearly as likely as C is. It's the fact that it already had Intimidate that made the difference, and I thought MaRo was pretty clear in explaining that.



#41 is mis-written. It says "Black sorcery that let's you pay life to draw cards which isn't something they'd do at common. Greed isn't common.

Nor is it a Sorcery, so what's your point? And Sign in Blood is a common.
#48's just stupidly ambigious. Are we suppose to apply the letter of the defintion or use common sense? Why the hell even have the term "vanilla" if you classify all vanilla creatures are virtual vanilla?

The key here, though it's subtle, is that he explained right in the question why they care whether a card is VV, and that reason applies equally to cards that are just plain vanilla. Thus, when they are checking if a set has enough VV cards, cards that are vanilla simpliciter count. (Having said all that, I didn't see that point until several days later; I got the right answer by simply mechanically applying the definition, not by the above thought process.)

Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Curses, 8 missed.

Biggest surprise, #15 (Demon one).

Biggest laugh, Maro's explination for #15...

"A is incorrect, we like to give demons flying, but it's not a rule."
"C is correct, while it's not a rule that all demons have mechanical downsides, we like to give them some if possible."

.... what? I hate this question because both FLying and drawbacks are someone they give to demons, choosing between the two is taking a shot in the dark.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#41 is mis-written. It says "Black sorcery that let's you pay life to draw cards which isn't something they'd do at common. Greed isn't common.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#48's just stupidly ambigious. Are we suppose to apply the letter of the defintion or use common sense? Why the hell even have the term "vanilla" if you classify all vanilla creatures are virtual vanilla?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Overall the test is pretty disapointing. You should really give your multiple choice test to the rules and templating team, since you guys tend to leave things ambigious. Alot of the questions i got right i still don't think are fair to alot of people.

I don't mind hard questions, but flat out tricks and subjective questions aren't great. It's telling that only 1 person got all 50 right... this test is impossible unless you guess. And alot of the questions are actually refuted by gatherer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Biggest shock, less than 800 people competed! I guess the essays scared them off.




You're first two points are idiotic:

Read #15's explanation again.  It already had intimidate, it didn't need flying.

Greed isn't a sorcery, Sign in Blood is.

48 was easy enough to grasp, but  I could see your complaint.

EDIT: Curses!  Beaten by one post!  
That's a very selective reading of what he said about A. His main point was that they wouldn't add flying to that card, as opposed to replace flying with Intimidate. (Yes, they do occasionally do things like that, but it's not nearly as likely as C is). It's the fact that it already had Intimidate that made the difference, and I thought MaRo was pretty clear in explaining that.



Indeed, Flying and intimidate is almost as pointless as Flying and Shadow. or deathtouch on a 6 power creature.

... R&D sometimes does redundant abilities on creatures for flavor reasons. Since this is a flavor question, I didn't look at it that way.


Nor is it a Sorcery, so what's your point? And Sign in Blood is a common.



Sign is blood doesn't have you pay life. It's loss of life. In magic "Paying life" means something.

There is only one instant/sorcery at common that has you pay life... and that's as an alternative cost (nothing to do with drawing cards).

They won't print a black sorcery at common that let's you pay life to draw cards.

(This is me overthinking, but the question is worded poorly using slang that has game meaning, which shouldn't be done.)

The key here, though it's subtle, is that he explained right in the question why they care whether a card is VV, and that reason applies equally to cards that are just plain vanilla. Thus, when they are checking if a set has enough VV cards, cards that are vanilla simpliciter count. (Having said all that, I didn't see that point until several days later; I got the right answer by simply mechanically applying the definition, not by the above thought process.)



The question should have had the phrase "Usiing this definition" to make it clear that's what they were asking. I'm not in R&D, i don't know that when they talk about virtual vanilla they include vanilla creatures, i don't know how that term is used in every day conversations, this is the first time i've read about it.

I understand the thought process, but i think they lean a bit heavy on the assumption that you know alot about R&D when we don't. If they wanted me to apply the difinition to all cards without any other factors, i could have, but after the other tricks questions, i wasn't ready to just be a robot on this one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Overall the test was fine, there's just some minor problems here and there. I do think alot of the questions tend to be based on assumptions that you know what they are asking, and what they are asking isn't very clear. And Maro's slang makes for some really annoying situations where being technical hurts you.


Good luck on your appeal Jeff.
… and then, the squirrels came.
You're first two points are idiotic:

Read #15's explanation again.  It already had intimidate, it didn't need flying.





* Do you not understand the concept of flavor? Flavor isn't something that's design focused. It doesn't matter if Flying and Intimdiate is nigh unblockable, from a flavor perspective most modern demons fly. As opposed to... less than most that have drawbacks.

Greed isn't a sorcery, Sign in Blood is.


Show me a sorcery that let's you pay life for cards.

* The question should be written:

"A black sorcery that draws cards and causes you to lose life."

… and then, the squirrels came.
That's a very selective reading of what he said about A. His main point was that they wouldn't add flying to that card, as opposed to replace flying with Intimidate. (Yes, they do occasionally do things like that, but it's not nearly as likely as C is). It's the fact that it already had Intimidate that made the difference, and I thought MaRo was pretty clear in explaining that.



Indeed, Flying and intimidate is almost as pointless as Flying and Shadow. or deathtouch on a 6 power creature.

As I acknowledged, yes, they occasionally do that. But not nearly as often as they give Demons drawbacks.

It's a bit like the debate over #36. Yes, B is, technically, also wrong. But E is still clearly the better answer, because the statement in B is only wrong on a detail (change "enchantments" to "cards" and it's fine), while E is just fundamentally misconcieved beyond any hope of fixing.

The question should have had the phrase "Usiing this definition" to make it clear that's what they were asking. I'm not in R&D, i don't know that when they talk about virtual vanilla they include vanilla creatures, i don't know how that term is used in every day conversations, this is the first time i've read about it.

That would be why they told you. The information you needed was right in the question, albeit in a subtle enough form that I didn't see it until afterwards either.

Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Okay, time for me to list the questions I got wrong, and whether or not I agree with the "correct" answers:

6) Design often makes creatures that have flash and "enters the battlefield" triggered abilities like Deflecting Mage. Which of the following abilities would we least likely pair with flash?

a) Counter target spell.
b) The next time target instant or sorcery spell would deal damage, it deals double that damage instead.
c) CARDNAME deals 2 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.
d) Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn.
e) Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn. – CORRECT



The correct answer here is obviously B.  As many others have pointed out, E has been done before and could easibly be done again.  On the other hand, there are many good reasons why, if R&D wanted to put this ability on a creature, it should use "The next time an instant or sorcery spell you control would deal damage this turn, it deals double that damage instead" and put it on a creature without flash.  If they really want to make it multiplayer-friendly, they could leave out "you control".

14) Which rarity is the most appropriate for [Nasty Demon]?


I went with mythic on this one, because Nasty Demon just feels so much like Geth, Lord of the Vault.  Both are 5/5 black creatures with intimidate and a second ability that mostly only matters if you untap with it while certain conditions are met (your opponent having creatures in the 'yard vs. cards in the hand).  I would also like to point out that since introducing the mythic rarity, they have made eight mythic demons and only six rare ones.

24) A player loses the game when he or she draws a card with no cards left in his or her library. What's the most important reason for this rule?


a) It encourages players to play with larger decks.
b) It gives the game an interesting win condition.
c) It keeps the game from continuing indefinitely. – CORRECT
d) It makes long games more exciting.
e) It makes draw effects that target a player more flexible.


I'm trying to think when C has ever been important.  It's certainly not important at tournaments, be they competitive or FNM, because the 1-hour round limit does a way better job at restricting this than the deck limit.  Even if it didn't, when was the last time you lost a competitive game due to decking without someone's deck being explicitly built around milling (in which case B is a more appropriate answer).  Maybe C matters in casual?  Well, not really.  If a game goes on that long, either they players are having fun (in which case the game might as well go on longer) or they're not (in which case they probably started a new game way before one player ran out of cards).  I think the only reasonable answers to this question are B and D (for the record, I went with D).

25) Which of the following is true about planeswalker design?


a) A planeswalker must have exactly three abilities.
b) A planeswalker cannot activate its "ultimate" ability on the turn it is cast.
c) A planeswalker must have at least one ability that adds loyalty counters and one ability that removes them.
d) A planeswalker must have a subtype that isn't shared by any other card.
e) A planeswalker cannot have any card types other than planeswalker. – CORRECT


I guess the question is, "Do you consider Gideon Jura's last printed ability to be an ultimate ability?"  I don't, so I went with B.  Really, what's so ultimate about turning into a creature for a turn?  Compare that to the ultimate ability of pretty much every other planeswalker (that is, the planeswalkers that actually have ultimate abilities) and it doesn't seem very ultimate at all.  Also, I really don't see what would be so bad about having an artifact planeswalker.  The explanation that Mark gave in his article (basically, "we've made a bunch of cards that interact with artifacts, so it wouldn't be safe") didn't seem very convincing.  Say that, I don't know, Garruk Wildspeaker was an artifact.  That's a problem how?  What're you going to do, Tinker him out?  (Hint: There're better Tinker targets in Vintage) If E is a rule about planeswalker design, it probably shouldn't be.

40) From a design standpoint, what is the most important advantage of the variance of the draw to Magic?


a) It's a catch-up feature.
b) It adds randomness, which creates greater variety of game play. – CORRECT
c) It allows a player to beat a more skilled opponent.
d) It creates suspense in the late game.
e) It enables the creation of cards that manipulate the library.


I was mislead by the words "From a design standpoint" and opted for choice E.  Design can't do anything to make the draw more random -- in fact, design can't really do anything to affect A, B, C, or D without invoking E.  Stuff like Scry affects B and C, stuff like Fateseal affects A and D.  But note that the only way to do so is by manipulating the library -- choice E.


44) According to R&D, what is the flanking mechanic's biggest shortcoming from a design perspective? (See all creatures with flanking here.)

a) Flanking not working against other flankers wasn't intuitive to many players and thus was often played incorrectly. – CORRECT
b) Flanking creatures were all conceived as humans riding horses, thus limiting the types of creatures R&D could design.
c) Flanking only worked on attacking and not on blocking, limiting the number of interactions it created.
d) Flanking was priced such that players didn't actually pay anything extra for the flanking ability.
e) Flanking didn't include a number, eliminating the ability to design future versions using increments greater than -1/-1.


I was torn between A and E here, and finally settled on E because, although Flanking 4+ might as well just say "Destroy all creatures without flanking blocking this creature" for all practical purposes, I think there's  just enough design space to (barely) justify Flanking 2 and Flanking 3, at least in a hypothetical what-could-have-been world.  Personal experience probably mislead me here as well, since I was around during the Mirage era, and I don't remember anyone ever playing flanking incorrectly.  It always seemed pretty intuitive to me: "We have horses, so we can outflank anyone who doesn't have horses."  What's so confusing about that?

48) One of R&D's ongoing concerns is board complexity. We've coined the term "virtual vanilla" to refer to a creature that, after the first turn it enters the battlefield, functions as a simple vanilla creature for purposes of evaluating the board state. (Avoid getting hung up on obscure combinations of cards that could make the card not function as a vanilla.)

I admit, I counted Squadron Hawks here.  I'm really not sure why.

Well, there you have it: the seven questions I missed (full disclosure: I might also have missed 17, since I can't quite remember if I opted for A or B), and the reason you won't be seeing any of my awesome design ideas anytime soon (full disclosure: design ideas may not actually be awesome, though I think my world was pretty interesting.  Think of a new twist on morph, a new twist on flip cards, and a new twist on flash, to go along with a dual theme of "information matters" and "things change suddenly", and you'll be on the right track).  Although to be fair, I'm not sure if I'd make the cut from 101 applicants down to 8.  My ideas are pretty good, but I'm expecting great stuff from the final candidates.  I hope they don't disappoint.
Regarding 25, I don't regard Gideon as having an ultimate either, but that still makes him something of a counterexample to C. More importantly, Sarkhan the Mad is also a counterexample to C, and a much clearer one.

Also, there's the fact that MaRo has explicitly spelled the answer out in a previous column.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Just for the record, there are 7 demons in standard 
5 have flying.
2 have drawbacks.

There are 15 demons in extended.
11 have flying. (And two that don't have an obvious reason why they don't)
7 you could argue have drawbacks.

If i didn't know, i used gatherer. All things being equal, adding flying to a demon is more common than adding a drawback.


* I see the point of the question, and i now know what he was asking. At the time, what he was asking seemed to be something different. I'm bringing this up so that the next MC test can correct this and avoid this type of question.*

* Specifically the "Hey here's a flavor question, but really it's a veiled design question that we do break on occasion, at rare... have fun!"
… and then, the squirrels came.
I have a few similar concerns like most of you.  The wording of some of the questions is ambiguous with the no trick questions policy.  Another factor that slowed my thinking was that some cards could have used a suggested converted mana cost number.  Knowing that development refines a cards cost, design still places some estimated cost on cards.  This became a factor to my answers on some cards, that possibly led me to wrong thinking.  
Secondly, I believe in the future that they should have no essay portion until a later stage (I know the essay was to show commitment level).  The multiple choice with brief explanation of the thinking behind your decisions, would make for a better measure of the  understanding of design.  Not being able to expound on answers until after the competition  is pretty heavy handed from a division that cares about ideas and "the process".  
Thirdly, I realize that their offer is generous and rare, but could they spend a little more time mentoring the amateur designers that independently create cards/sets.  That is to say, not looking at the designs but aiding the community in understanding which design rules can really be bent and not broken.  Sometimes we see only the surface of what the true tenements of Magic are and a simple word from those in the know would help greatly.  This site should be the natural breeding ground for the next designers they could hire, if they played a more active role in refining them.  I will post some more dissent later.

Even in that respect, it's strictly inferior to the Beetle, which has all the same things going for it as a Johnny card and also gives him counters that can be further manipulated.



Right. Beetle is a Johnny card. Summons is a Johnny card. Fauna Shaman is a Johnny card. Whatever the other answer was is a Johnny card.

Clone really is not. It's a Timmy card mainly, and maybe a Spike card in rare formats. But why would Johnny play with Clone?