05/16/2011 Feature: "Phyrexian Ken's Demands"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Feature Article, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Aaron, please consider wiriting articles just a little more often again. They're simply just better than all the other ones.

This is the article I was waiting for, thanks!


There have been some complaints popping up about this mechanic, ranging from "free spells are annoying to play against" to "the color pie is irrevocably damaged" to "life payment and cost reduction are about as unappealing as mechanics can get to the casual player."


In my case less a complaint and more the question "but I thought that you thought life it was unappealing to casual players."  I think this is one of the greatest sets you've done in a while, and I can't wait until 2014 when it comes to MTGO!


Of course the same Spike-ness leaves me cold on the Pwnage mechanic.  Graveyard, Exile, your deck, my deck: all the same thing.  If we can't interact with it right now, the card might as well not exist.  But I can grant that it would feel that way to the same people who think milling your best creature is like killing it.


I do think that the Lobotomy cycle (EradicateQuashScourSowing SaltSplinter) would have fit here perfectly for a similar feeling, but maybe they just didn't need a 3rd reprint.

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.

hah I love the original design of life's finale.

It feels so much more rude to put the creatures in play first, only to destroy them immediately. I recognize that would have made it worse (to the point of unplayable) against everything with good ETB abilities, but still. More fun the original way :D

Seriously, kudos on the design of this set; it's got perhaps the most cohesive feel of any block I've played without being excessively broken. R&D in all its facets went a long way towards making an invasive and evil feeling set, and NPH has been some of the most fun limited I've played. As a long-time player, NPH's easily my set since Time Spiral cardwise. Now I just wish MTGO release wasn't such a long wait so I could draft it nonstop :\

3. Mechanical overview summarized as "violating" and "win more." Likely manifests to fun game-play experience playing Phyrexians, unfun game-play experience fighting against Phyrexians.

I play magic to enjoy myself, and I was hoping that design cared about enjoyment. I am sad to see that ruining fun was actually an objective in this set. 

I have played a little New Phyrexia now, and I conclude that (for me at least) you have succeeded in 50% of your mission. There are Phyrexian cards ruining games, and it is indeed unfun to face them. The fun experience is still missing.

19. Include a powerful artifact that hoses all graveyards for my Commander decks.

Please don't design just to perfect your decks, other people feel the consequences. Argentum Armor already caused plenty of unfun experiences with Quest.

They should keep the name "exterminate", and put the picture of a Dalek on it. Tongue out
What exactly is meant by "Sim City" cards?

Did anyone ever think that the 1/1 infect should be red or white?  That would explain its absence from previous sets; those are the colors aggressive enough to historically have a "2/1" creature (red ones having some kind of a drawback in most cases, but here just failing to interact with Lightning Bolt would probably suffice).  As a green creature, Glistener Elf is just "one more", the BG infect deck didn't especially need it, though it certainly doesn't mind.

Some of the flavor texts I turned in during writing had Yawgmoth references in them; I didn't realize these were verboten.  To me it makes logical sense that Yawgmoth, who created or at least long dominated the Oil, would have imprinted his name (or at least his title The Ineffable) into the genetic memories conferred on anything infected by the oil.  I tried to suggest that one of the major schisms between rival "churches" in White Phyrexia was between a faction that upheld the memory of Yawgmoth and one that rejected this "false memory" and wanted to elevate their own Father of Machines (either Karn, Elesh Norn, or some other member of the faction in question).  This would have been a cool mini-story, and I may still use it in some of the short fiction I'm hoping to write in my spare time (assuming I ever have any spare time).

It only just dawned on me that there was never a white Proliferate card (and green only ever got the nigh-useless Plaguemaw Beast - how often do you want to tap your 4/3 creature for an ability?).  I thought I saw a full color cycle in the NPH file, but thinking back I'm sure now that I just assumed there was one after noticing the proliferate burn spell.

Imprint on nonartifacts makes me extremely happy.  I wish they'd make it an evergreen mechanic, as it just has such immense amounts of design space and is such an excellent tool.

Why do you suppose Infecter Specter turned into a "go splat" instead of remaining able to hit multiple times for discard like every other specter?  I think it would have been cool (though cruel) to have hit for 1 card, then 2, then 3.  Instead you have to keep saying "no, keep your hand for now" until the poison is strong enough to be worth giving up your creature (which in many cases is never).  Rather sad.

The original design of Glistening Oil makes me extremely happy, though its failure to survive development is unsurprising.

I also really like the original execution (hah) of Life's Finale.  "Get out here and die already, dammit!"  It's a pity they changed it, even if the result is strictly better for the sake of gameplay.  It would have been especially rude against the Splicers, and great for combining with Blood Seeker and Deathgreeter (which is probably why they didn't do it, maybe this was too good).

I still blink every time I see Slag Fiend's cost.  Lhurgoyf was 4 mana and routinely cleaned house; how is this thing not going to break the game in half with things like Elsewhere Flask and Lotus Petal?

The original version of Birthing Pod not needing mana to activate would have been much preferable in my opinion.  If the card was blue, its activation would make sense, but the philosophy of green Phyrexia is more about letting nature take its course (not so much "survival of the fittest" as "non-survival of all but the fittest"), so having the creature "evolve" automatically rather than at a player's whim might have been preferable.  Had I designed it I might even have made the sacrifice mandatory, perhaps also shuffling your graveyard into your library periodically, to make it seem more as though your creatures were operating without your control.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi

I also really like the original execution (hah) of Life's Finale.  "Get out here and die already, dammit!"  It's a pity they changed it, even if the result is strictly better for the sake of gameplay.  It would have been especially rude against the Splicers, and great for combining with Blood Seeker and Deathgreeter (which is probably why they didn't do it, maybe this was too good).



It would've been really bad with the Splicers, as the Triggered abilities won't be put on the stack after it resolves, leaving your opponents with a bunch of Golems and you an empty field.

What exactly is meant by "Sim City" cards?


Cards where you're building something over time, adding abilities or strengthening the effect.


 


... is my unofficial explanation.  I too would appreciate Mark or someone expanding on the subject.

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.

Great article. 

Due to the London "regional" prerelease spectacular-screwup-and-epic-fail from WOTC Europe, I haven't played with New Phyrexia yet, but the booster box for our local draft is on the way.

I hope I don't regret it. I much prefer it when Magic games are fun for both me and my opponent, so it may be that this whole "make the opponent wish they weren't playing" aim will backfire a bit. People might end up just... not playing any more.

However, the set looks like it's got a whole bunch of fun cards, so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt, and I'm expecting the draft will be good fun.

Anyway, as I was saying, great article; please write another one any time you're in a similar situation. 
They've hardly made playing no fun at all - it's just a slight shift in the direction of cruelty.  Things will tilt back the other way soon enough, I doubt very many players will stop playing forever over one unpleasant set.  At worst they might sit the game out or switch formats until the set leaves Standard - and so it's a good thing that their experiment in griefer-enabling came as a third set in the block.

It would've been really bad with the Splicers, as the Triggered abilities won't be put on the stack after it resolves, leaving your opponents with a bunch of Golems and you an empty field.



Right you are.  Apologies for the screwup.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
I also really like the original execution (hah) of Life's Finale.  "Get out here and die already, dammit!"  It's a pity they changed it, even if the result is strictly better for the sake of gameplay.

Intentional color bleeding notwithstanding, putting creatures from the library onto the battlefield doesn't feel black, especially your opponent's. Ok, they're gonna die immediately, but still . . . I like the final card better for being less unnecessarily complicated.
What exactly is meant by "Sim City" cards?



Cards that focus less on weakening your opponent's board and more on strengthening your own board, is my guess. NPH is full of cards that have added effects of the first category (Rise of Eldrazi was an extreme of the second category on the other hand).
Karn being the most anticipated Planeswalker card? I don't know about that. I'm eagerly awaiting for Teferi to be printed.

Yeah, I know he lost his spark, but who's to say it doesn't come back? What if there was a card set set in the past? The blocks don't have to be chronologically presented to players, right?
For an article that was supposed to be about Magic cards, it was about the egos of the people that make them. If you can't actually write about the cards, then it is good that you don't write very often.
2. Deliver on expectations of Phyrexian flavor, history, and ultimatum, a.k.a. a black-centered bioengineering inexorable hybrid of The Zerg + The Borg.


I agree that this is a good villain archetype - a swarm, a horde, body snatchers, mindless masses assimilating everything in their path - but it's striking that you mention two science fiction villains as examples and no fantasy villains. Do you guys feel like Magic has too many zombie apocalypses? Is there no design space left for mind-controlling cults? This is still a fantasy game, with "Magic" right in the name. Some variety and sci-fi-like twists are fine, of course, but between this, Esper recently, Mirrodin in general and lots more little things here and there, we've had quite a lot by now.

6. Push the clean and spectacular "Pwnage" mechanic past all naysayers.

Don't you just love the conviction with which Ken tries to sell his ideas?


This was another goal that I tried for far longer than I should have to achieve. Pwnage was another "violation" mechanic that allowed you to shuffle cards from your opponent's library into your own. Okay, it tried to allow it, but the rules are never, ever going to budge in that regard.



Wow. I realize that making Magic sets is a difficult process, and in particular I realize that the "Design" part of the process is the time for brainstorming and pushing boundaries and all that, but even taking all that into account, this looks to me like one of those "anyone could have told you it was a horrible idea from the start" things. First of all, the potential for cheating and theft is huge and obvious. People should always be careful, of course, but you don't need to make it any easier for people to rob others or just take their cards by innocent accident. Second, I'm not a Melvin but it's probably a rules nightmare; temporary ownership is a very weird concept. Third, using it as "intended" is relatively weak. Removal is removal, and the chances of getting one card that's shuffled into your library are very low. Much better to destroy something and then just reanimate it. So this mechanic would be tremendously difficult for everyone to make and use, would be Johnny-ish at best and probably not that great even for him, and would cause a constant risk of people losing or "losing" all their valuable cards. I hope you didn't spend too long trying to implement this.


And yet, you know, I think there's room for a cycle of cards like Praetor's Grasp. The black one could be either Praetor's Grasp unchanged, or could be changed to work more like making the opponent discard, or it could just destroy target nonblack/nonartifact/nonwhatever creature. The blue one could be a counterspell, sort of like Spelljack but tweaked to match Praetor's Grasp. The red one could be either a Shatter effect that exiles or Disintegrate and the white one could be either Condemn or Order from Order // Chaos (or, if you wanted to make a really mean card, Soul Nova), all of which with the same "you may play that card from exile" clause added added to them. And the best green version that I can think of at the moment is "exile target land" (green has a little land destruction here and there, and it would also serve as mana acceleration, which is definitely green. Still, this would probably be too much of a "griefer" card for even this set and would play very differently from the others), but there's probably a better way to do it.


Make it happen, please. When New Phyrexia comes back and invades some other plane, maybe?



hah I love the original design of life's finale.

It feels so much more rude to put the creatures in play first, only to destroy them immediately. I recognize that would have made it worse (to the point of unplayable) against everything with good ETB abilities, but still. More fun the original way :D



Hmmm. That made me think that it should have put the creatures from your opponent's deck into play under YOUR control. That's more blue than black, but I'd say it's close enough to black to fit, especially in this set. That way you'd benefit from any ETB abilities, which certainly fits with the "win more" feel of the set. Only problem is it would have to be "sacrifice all creatures" instead of destroying them, because combined with regeneration or something that would be ridiculously powerful. But then, "sacrifice all creatures" plus the potential for three ETB abilities might be too swingy... oh well.

"New Phyrexians" are never going to escape being a direct lift of Hellraiser.
Yeah, I know he lost his spark, but who's to say it doesn't come back? What if there was a card set set in the past? The blocks don't have to be chronologically presented to players, right?


There have been a couple sets that were set in the past. Urza's Saga block continued from the much ealier Antiquities as well as being a prequel to the then-current Weatherlight saga, and later Coldsnap was a sequel to the much earlier Ice Age block. The problem with a Teferi planeswalker in a similar set (say a sequel to Mirage block) would be that the planeswalker cards represent post-Time Spiral planeswalkers, who have severely reduced powers compared to the original sort.

I'm not surprised to see Slag Fiend was a lhurgoyf in design. I realise lhurgoyves are from Dominaria, but I still think Creative seriously dropped the ball with that one.
blah blah metal lyrics

Pwnage was another "violation" mechanic that allowed you to shuffle cards from your opponent's library into
your own. Okay, it tried to allow it, but the rules are never, ever going to budge in that regard.



New idea for making the Pwnage mechanic work:

Put all the pwned cards into a separate pile beside the deck. While there are cards in the pwnage pile, before each time a player draws, they would flip a coin. Heads, draw from the pwnage pile, tails, draw from your normal deck. Pwnage pile is shuffled each time your deck is shuffled. Opponent is allowed to count the cards in the pwnage pile at any time. If you run out of cards in your deck, and still have cards in the pwnage pile, you will deck out. You can search through the pwnage pile as if it were part of your deck. If an effect would look at the top of your deck, it only affects your deck, not the pwnage pile.

If a player has a choice to pwn cards from your deck, they may treat a pwnage pile as part of your deck. If you have pwnage cards from multiple players, put them in separate decks and use an appropriate.

Not any worse in complexity than Knowledge Pool.
I play magic to enjoy myself, and I was hoping that design cared about enjoyment. I am sad to see that ruining fun was actually an objective in this set. 


I have played a little New Phyrexia now, and I conclude that (for me at least) you have succeeded in 50% of your mission. There are Phyrexian cards ruining games, and it is indeed unfun to face them. The fun experience is still missing.




Well if your opinion turns out to be more common, not only will they probably never try this again, but they will swing so far in the opposite direction that it might not even feel like anyone is playing a game anymore.

Personally I am glad they are still willing to take chances like this in R&D. If you have to make all-upside cards that also don't make your opponent feel bad once in a while, that's yet more design space cut off intentionally. I guess we're going to find out soon enough if this is what R&D feels like they need to do.

@ZerothoftheLaw: That still ends up with cards you don't own in your hand. (Under the current rules, this can't happen; they'd be sent to the owner's hand instead. And for reasons of avoiding confusion as well as the theft concerns and related issues already mentioned, this should not be changed under any circumstances.)

Seriously, what's wrong with using the exile zone for this? That's what every other similar card in the game does and I don't see any compelling reason for this mechanic to be different. Instead of putting the card in your hand, just take it out of the extra pile and give permission to play it.

I also don't like the randomness of the mechanic you propose. If anything it's more of a problem here than the analagous element of the original proposal; forcing a 50/50 chance of a dead draw is an extremely harsh drawback in anything but a mirror match. For this to be a defining mechanic of the set as Ken seems to have originally wanted, it would need to be played, and a requirement for that is making sure it isn't horrible.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Haven't had a chance to play with any NPH cards yet, but this was a great article. I always love mailbag type articles, and even though this wasn't strictly a mailbag article, it still had the feel of a question/answer conversation. 

 
Proud member of C.A.R.D. - Campaign Against Rare Duals "...but the time has come when lands just need to be better. Creatures have gotten stronger, spells have always been insane, and lands just sat in this awkward place of necessity." Jacob Van Lunen on the refuge duals, 16 Sep 2009. "While it made thematic sense to separate enemy and allied color fixing in the past, we have come around to the definite conclusion that it is just plain incorrect from a game-play perspective. This is one of these situations where game play should just trump flavor." - Sam Stoddard on ending the separation of allied/enemy dual lands. 05 July 2013


19. Include a powerful artifact that hoses all graveyards for my Commander decks.

Please don't design just to perfect your decks, other people feel the consequences. Argentum Armor already caused plenty of unfun experiences with Quest.




+1 to this, although I'll give Ken the benefit of the doubt and assume he was joking. I kind of get a deadpan tongue-in-cheek vibe from the phrasing of the demand and that's definitely Ken's kind of humor.
You'll forget you ever read this the minute you look away.
Veslfen's House of Bone-Dry Sarcasm
88318561 wrote:
76783093 wrote:
there is nothing "epic" about a turn one victory. ever. or really any magic game, for that matter.
So this one time, I wanted to play a game of Magic with my friend, but he was in another country and neither of us had Magic Online. I hitchhiked my way to the coast, barely fending off hungry wildlife when I couldn't get a ride, nearly dying of thirst crossing deserts, and posoning myself half to death foraging for food. At one point, I was taken hostage by a group of kidnappers, only managing to escape after a week of careful planning thanks to careful application of a rusty spoon. Once I reached the coast, I had no money to buy a ticket across the ocean, so I built a boat using my own two hands, and spent months sailing across the waves, nearly losing my deck as I swam to the shore of a desert island in a storm after being capsized by an enormous wave. Nearly delusional after so long with no human contact (the notches I cut in the single tree to tell time had long since felled the thing) I was eventually rescued by a passing ship, where I was taken aboard as a crew member. We sailed around the world, seeing many exotic places and having great adventures, before we finally arrived at my friend's country. Once more I stumbled across a desolate landscape, riding on train or car when I could, and going on foot when I could not. Eventually, weary to the bone, seven years after I started my journey, I arrived at my friend's house, clutching my well-worn and weathered deck to my chest. We shuffled up our decks, I won the roll. Gleefully, I laid down my cards. Black Lotus. My friend looked quizzically at me, wondering what I was about to do. After so long, he no longer knew what deck I had brought with me to this game. Flash. A knowing smile appears on my friend's face as the knowledge slowly returns to him. Protean Hulk. My friend extends his hand, knowing the game is over before it even started. And finally, after so many trials, the sweet taste of victory is mine.
56866178 wrote:
108166749 wrote:
So no one else is upset with the stunt Wizards just pulled to drive sales?
Drive sales of what? Non-Jace, non-Mystic cards? I'm pretty sure people already own more than eight Magic cards. If you don't, I feel for you. Maybe you can trade those Stoneforge Mystics, which are still quite valuable, for some.
And yet, you know, I think there's room for a cycle of cards like Praetor's Grasp. The black one could be either Praetor's Grasp unchanged, or could be changed to work more like making the opponent discard, or it could just destroy target nonblack/nonartifact/nonwhatever creature. The blue one could be a counterspell, sort of like Spelljack but tweaked to match Praetor's Grasp. The red one could be either a Shatter effect that exiles or Disintegrate and the white one could be either Condemn or Order from Order // Chaos (or, if you wanted to make a really mean card, Soul Nova), all of which with the same "you may play that card from exile" clause added added to them. And the best green version that I can think of at the moment is "exile target land" (green has a little land destruction here and there, and it would also serve as mana acceleration, which is definitely green. Still, this would probably be too much of a "griefer" card for even this set and would play very differently from the others), but there's probably a better way to do it.

That's a cool idea for a cycle!

Imagine your green one in the current constructed formats, with man-lands, Valakut, etc...  Wow.

Looking at that Mirrodin Pure box art, I realize that we should have called foul based on the crummy design alone!
Looking at that Mirrodin Pure box art, I realize that we should have called foul based on the crummy design alone!


many people did
I'm normally a big fan of cycles, but this set seemed to have an awful LOT of them, especially for such a tiny set.  Souleater cycle, common colored artifact creature cycle, rare phyrexian mana cycle, chancellor cycle, praetor cycle, exarch cycle, loses 1 life cycle, then proliferate cycle, shrine cycle.  That's over a quarter of the set.


P.S. Why isn't Slag Fiend a Llurgoyf?
I'm normally a big fan of cycles, but this set seemed to have an awful LOT of them, especially for such a tiny set.  Souleater cycle, common colored artifact creature cycle, rare phyrexian mana cycle, chancellor cycle, praetor cycle, exarch cycle, loses 1 life cycle, then proliferate cycle, shrine cycle.  That's over a quarter of the set.


P.S. Why isn't Slag Fiend a Llurgoyf?


I can't find cycles of proliferate or "loses 1 life". New Phyrexia has four cards with proliferate: a black instant, a blue sorcery, a blue creature, and a red instant. Two uncommons, two commons, no white or green proliferators. As for "loses 1 life", there are two blue instants with that phrase, a blue enchantment, one red sorcery, a black instant and a green instant. And as for white, Suture Priest is the closest thing I could find, but it's very different from the others. As for the "rare phyrexian mana cycle", there are eight rares with Phyrexian mana on them somewhere and, yes, five of them have it in their mana cost, one of each color. But there's one instant, two artifact creatures and two noncreature artifacts, so if that's a cycle it's a very loose one.

Beyond that, how many cycles are normal?
Beyond that, how many cycles are normal?



"Not Enough".
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
Looking at that Mirrodin Pure box art, I realize that we should have called foul based on the crummy design alone!

If anyone else recalls, I did, and got shouted down by other people who thought they understood graphic design better then me.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/0a90721d221e50e5755af156c179fe51.jpg?v=90000)
Beyond that, how many cycles are normal?



"Not Enough".



Do you mean there's a certain threshold of cycles that you enjoy within a given set (and the current saturation is below that threshold), or that there's "never enough" cycles for you?
You'll forget you ever read this the minute you look away.
Veslfen's House of Bone-Dry Sarcasm
88318561 wrote:
76783093 wrote:
there is nothing "epic" about a turn one victory. ever. or really any magic game, for that matter.
So this one time, I wanted to play a game of Magic with my friend, but he was in another country and neither of us had Magic Online. I hitchhiked my way to the coast, barely fending off hungry wildlife when I couldn't get a ride, nearly dying of thirst crossing deserts, and posoning myself half to death foraging for food. At one point, I was taken hostage by a group of kidnappers, only managing to escape after a week of careful planning thanks to careful application of a rusty spoon. Once I reached the coast, I had no money to buy a ticket across the ocean, so I built a boat using my own two hands, and spent months sailing across the waves, nearly losing my deck as I swam to the shore of a desert island in a storm after being capsized by an enormous wave. Nearly delusional after so long with no human contact (the notches I cut in the single tree to tell time had long since felled the thing) I was eventually rescued by a passing ship, where I was taken aboard as a crew member. We sailed around the world, seeing many exotic places and having great adventures, before we finally arrived at my friend's country. Once more I stumbled across a desolate landscape, riding on train or car when I could, and going on foot when I could not. Eventually, weary to the bone, seven years after I started my journey, I arrived at my friend's house, clutching my well-worn and weathered deck to my chest. We shuffled up our decks, I won the roll. Gleefully, I laid down my cards. Black Lotus. My friend looked quizzically at me, wondering what I was about to do. After so long, he no longer knew what deck I had brought with me to this game. Flash. A knowing smile appears on my friend's face as the knowledge slowly returns to him. Protean Hulk. My friend extends his hand, knowing the game is over before it even started. And finally, after so many trials, the sweet taste of victory is mine.
56866178 wrote:
108166749 wrote:
So no one else is upset with the stunt Wizards just pulled to drive sales?
Drive sales of what? Non-Jace, non-Mystic cards? I'm pretty sure people already own more than eight Magic cards. If you don't, I feel for you. Maybe you can trade those Stoneforge Mystics, which are still quite valuable, for some.
Looking at that Mirrodin Pure box art, I realize that we should have called foul based on the crummy design alone!

If anyone else recalls, I did, and got shouted down by other people who thought they understood graphic design better then me.



I don't know who shouted you down, but that ppor packaging seemed to be a consensus among the community. It was one of the "clues' pointing to the fact that the Phyrexians won. Of course this was back when some people still thought they designed two sets and were going to throw one away after the players "voted," even though we were specifically told otherwise.
Beyond that, how many cycles are normal?



"Not Enough".



Do you mean there's a certain threshold of cycles that you enjoy within a given set (and the current saturation is below that threshold), or that there's "never enough" cycles for you?



I personally love cycles and think they're one of the best implementations of Rosewater's creed of "restriction breeds creativity", (such as forcing the developers to finish cycles within the constrains of the current set). And they also provide a great excuse to stretch the color pie (I remember a discussion a few years back about the Kamigawa dragons and my point was that for such an iconic creature, stretching dragons to all five colors every now and then was worth the trouble). 

Looking at that Mirrodin Pure box art, I realize that we should have called foul based on the crummy design alone!

If anyone else recalls, I did, and got shouted down by other people who thought they understood graphic design better then me.



I don't know who shouted you down, but that ppor packaging seemed to be a consensus among the community. It was one of the "clues' pointing to the fact that the Phyrexians won. Of course this was back when some people still thought they designed two sets and were going to throw one away after the players "voted," even though we were specifically told otherwise.



I hope they learned a good lesson from all this: that teasing an alternate set was just dumb if you weren't going to follow through on it at some point. You'd think the "we found Coldsnap in a filing cabinet" debacle would have made it clear to them how seriously we take their statements. 

And I still think it would have been better to call it Mirrodin Pure all along, but then have the reveal be that Mirrodin has become "purely" Pyrexian.  
Proud member of C.A.R.D. - Campaign Against Rare Duals "...but the time has come when lands just need to be better. Creatures have gotten stronger, spells have always been insane, and lands just sat in this awkward place of necessity." Jacob Van Lunen on the refuge duals, 16 Sep 2009. "While it made thematic sense to separate enemy and allied color fixing in the past, we have come around to the definite conclusion that it is just plain incorrect from a game-play perspective. This is one of these situations where game play should just trump flavor." - Sam Stoddard on ending the separation of allied/enemy dual lands. 05 July 2013
Looking at that Mirrodin Pure box art, I realize that we should have called foul based on the crummy design alone!

If anyone else recalls, I did, and got shouted down by other people who thought they understood graphic design better then me.



I don't know who shouted you down, but that ppor packaging seemed to be a consensus among the community. It was one of the "clues' pointing to the fact that the Phyrexians won. Of course this was back when some people still thought they designed two sets and were going to throw one away after the players "voted," even though we were specifically told otherwise.



I hope they learned a good lesson from all this: that teasing an alternate set was just dumb if you weren't going to follow through on it at some point. You'd think the "we found Coldsnap in a filing cabinet" debacle would have made it clear to them how seriously we take their statements. 

And I still think it would have been better to call it Mirrodin Pure all along, but then have the reveal be that Mirrodin has become "purely" Pyrexian.  


As for the alternate set thing, it doesn't seem like that big a deal. It doesn't seem to have caused much harm, aside from pissing off hypothetical people who believed it would be decided by vote "even though we were specifically told otherwise". Some people are dumb enough to be offended by anything; you can't design your plans around keeping them happy. Also, what Coldsnap debacle? Sure, the set wasn't all that popular, but I think that had more to do with power levels and weird mechanics than anything about the made-up story behind it.

And as for "Mirrodin Pure", I agree it would have been cool, and in fact it would have made even more sense because of how they keep reminding us that new Phyrexians have no memories or anything of the original Phyrexians. Mirrans should have been changed into monsters but still think of themselves as Mirrans, just "perfected" Mirrans. Unfortunately, Phyrexia is a longtime villain and they probably wanted to get the name back in use. This is one of those decisions where Branding or Marketing would have a strong opinion.
I started cackling with sadistic glee when I read the design version of Life's Finale (Exterminate). I'm imagining putting on my best Strong Bad impression: "Oh, these creatures in your deck are sooo great, I suppose you'd like to play with them DELETED!" Whereas the rider on the printed version always gives me a "oh, yea, whatever" vibe. I never even realized the flavor that you're Damnationing so hard, you destroy creatures that they haven't even drawn yet! Why did Development change it? Just so that you could use it on opponents' creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities? That seems silly -- having a random little restriction on what you want to hit with it is just an interesting little interaction. To avoid triggering other cards like Suture Priest? But I think that's a cool flavorful and mechanical side effect. Oh well, at least we got to read about it in this column!
I started cackling with sadistic glee when I read the design version of Life's Finale (Exterminate). I'm imagining putting on my best Strong Bad impression: "Oh, these creatures in your deck are sooo great, I suppose you'd like to play with them DELETED!" Whereas the rider on the printed version always gives me a "oh, yea, whatever" vibe. I never even realized the flavor that you're Damnationing so hard, you destroy creatures that they haven't even drawn yet! Why did Development change it? Just so that you could use it on opponents' creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities? That seems silly -- having a random little restriction on what you want to hit with it is just an interesting little interaction. To avoid triggering other cards like Suture Priest? But I think that's a cool flavorful and mechanical side effect. Oh well, at least we got to read about it in this column!


I'm sure a lot of R&D liked the original design, but when you think about the titans, Squadron Hawk, Stoneforge Mystic, and many others, it's clear that ETB abilities are very popular. This is probably a case where a really fun-looking design had to be changed because it just didn't play out as fun as people wanted it to.

IMAGE(http://steamsignature.com/status/default/76561197995631463.png) No longer a commander as of 7/29/13.

I can speak a bit more on Life's Finale. I designed the original version--just a random idea I threw at Ken when he was first putting the set together. Don't get me wrong, I love the original wording, and I do think it created interesting decisions in that you never really wanted to choose to put your opponent's indestructible guy onto the battlefield and then try to destroy it.

But then I had to put my developer hat on, and after watching six different (smart) people get the interaction with Blade Splicer and other token makers wrong, we had to ask ourselves how much the novel line of text was worth, and it wasn't worth having so many people come to the wrong conclusion about how the card actually worked.

I'm sure there are plenty of you that dislike that we "play to the lowest common denominator" or whatever, but (1) this wasn't the lowest denominator--these were seasoned players that know enough to be working here; and (2) the card is still plenty cool.
I'm sure there are plenty of you that dislike that we "play to the lowest common denominator" or whatever, but (1) this wasn't the lowest denominator--these were seasoned players that know enough to be working here; and (2) the card is still plenty cool.

Seems to me that just the opposite occured.
As designed, it comes off pretty much the same as a pair of children fighting over who gets to turn off the lightswitch, only to have the one kid turn it off, then the other turn it back on then off again.

The end result is the same.  Insisting on A-B-C, instead of just going directly from A to C, enables the immature sort of "I really want to kill that guy, but you haven't played him yet!!" pointless jollies.  I wonder how many of those sort of players even realize the finished card has (essentially) the same end result.
I'm sure there are plenty of you that dislike that we "play to the lowest common denominator" or whatever, but (1) this wasn't the lowest denominator--these were seasoned players that know enough to be working here; and (2) the card is still plenty cool.


I think you made the right call.  I might have toyed with something like moving the Wrath effect until end of turn.  That lets the triggers resolve as people expect and to my mind actually feels "meaner".  But as printed it's only a small difference off design and it wouldn't have been worth the timing confusion that surely would occur.

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.

Looking at that Mirrodin Pure box art, I realize that we should have called foul based on the crummy design alone!

If anyone else recalls, I did, and got shouted down by other people who thought they understood graphic design better then me.



I don't know who shouted you down, but that ppor packaging seemed to be a consensus among the community. It was one of the "clues' pointing to the fact that the Phyrexians won. Of course this was back when some people still thought they designed two sets and were going to throw one away after the players "voted," even though we were specifically told otherwise.

Well, untill the box art, I admit I was in the "Maybe they designed half a set depending on which faction one" camp. What can I say? I was hopeful that the promo was actually meaningful.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/0a90721d221e50e5755af156c179fe51.jpg?v=90000)