05/23/2011 MM: "Mana Action"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
"How about a mythic soda?"

"You're not taking into account Robocop's superior understanding of the legal system."

I laughed =P
Great article. For all the reasons you said, I love the mana. Of them I think the flow it helps create to be the best thing about it.

Also, I REALLY love the R&D comics. The My Little Pony one is probably my favorite so far. 
I agree with Mark on almost all of his points. The mana system of magic is in fact awesome.

I disagree however that the randomness is always good. I've played card games that let you play spells that you don't need as land. It works so much better. This approach still makes you spend your recources and only allows you to play a land each turn but the absence of mana screw makes a player have some control over the flow of the game, essentially making for a more fun experience.

I know Magic was the first game, and these other games have all based their mana systems off of magic, but it does seem to work better for these games in a way.
Well, except that I still like magic better of course.
I agree with Mark on almost all of his points. The mana system of magic is in fact awesome.

I disagree however that the randomness is always good. I've played card games that let you play spells that you don't need as land. It works so much better. This approach still makes you spend your recources and only allows you to play a land each turn but the absence of mana screw makes a player have some control over the flow of the game, essentially making for a more fun experience.

I know Magic was the first game, and these other games have all based their mana systems off of magic, but it does seem to work better for these games in a way.
Well, except that I still like magic better of course.


I wonder, if they acknowledged that a system where you can play unneeded cards as mana sources would be better, how they could go about implementing that.
I dunno how they would make it mecchanically:

Putting the card face down to say it makes (colorless?) mana is not available. Face down cards are 2/2 creatures;

Putting some kind of counter to mark those cards as mana sources instead of spells is a bad idea. It could create memory issues;

A solution to mana screw and mana flood on the terms above could obsolete many land cards. The only thing I'd advocate, if such solutions were implemented, is the removal of mulliganing if mana issues were no more.
I often play a variant where you can put your cards upside-down (like the flip cards, Budoka Gardener and friends).

It works quite well, especially if you make these lands count as basic lands. It does change the valuation of land fetchers of course, and multicolored cards (as these are now essentially double lands).

It's actually a really fun variant to play.
It's totally possible to eliminate mana screw from the game, in about a half-dozen ways.  Probably the best and easiest is to separate lands and spells into two separate libraries and choose which one to draw from whenever you draw.  Certain cards would not work under this format but the majority of the game would function fine.  There's also the spells-as-lands variant, although I don't really care for that one myself, I like the fact that lands are cards but I wish they were more interesting, like if you got some kind of bonus based on which basic lands you chose to play.  However it's probably not possible to institute such a system this late into the game.

By the way, those three comics he posted here are pretty good, but I used to follow Mark on Twitter and almost all of the comics I saw there just plain sucked.  A lot of the humor in TFTP seems to be incomprehensible to anyone who doesn't work in R&D - or else it's just not funny in the first place.  So I don't feel like bothering to go look at any more.

This is where the mana system comes in. By making spells have a cost, you are able to make different cards important at different parts of the game. Why would you ever play a weaker spell? Because it's cheaper. It's something you can do during the early parts of the game.



Yes, this is exactly why we have cards like Goblin Guide, Garruk's Companion, Blade Splicer, Burning-Tree Shaman, and Phyrexian Obliterator.  Because you're not allowed to gain a powerful effect without a commensurate cost.

Oh, wait, unless you spend lots of money.  Then you're totally allowed to trash players who play with commons.  Right, I remember now.
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 like the mana system.  I just hate getting land screwed/flooded on MTGO.  sour grapes I know.  Tongue out


"Drecon84 : Well, except that I still like magic better of course."  Does anyone play any of the other games out there anymore?  Tournament wise I mean.



LOL at willpell up there
Yeah, mana system is good, except when it decides the game due to mana-screw or mana flood.  Of course, that is because random is random.

The main thing I don't care for is the tendency to not have some form of enemy duals around.  Want to encourage allied colors by having more duals of that sort?  Fine.  Just make sure there's always 1 enemy color set of duals available as well, as otherwise, the tendency to give more powerful cards more of the same mana symbol really hinders the ability to play enemy colors, setting up a situation where the limits are too much, bad limits.  After all, I can play a Phyrexian Obliterator with no problem in B/U or B/R, thanks to 3 playable duals (and a fourth if I wanted to use it).  Yet I can have troubles dropping a Howling Banshee in B/W when I hit 4 lands.
The main thing I don't care for is the tendency to not have some form of enemy duals around.  Want to encourage allied colors by having more duals of that sort?  Fine.  Just make sure there's always 1 enemy color set of duals available as well, as otherwise, the tendency to give more powerful cards more of the same mana symbol really hinders the ability to play enemy colors, setting up a situation where the limits are too much, bad limits.  After all, I can play a Phyrexian Obliterator with no problem in B/U or B/R, thanks to 3 playable duals (and a fourth if I wanted to use it).  Yet I can have troubles dropping a Howling Banshee in B/W when I hit 4 lands.


I'd like to think that was done on purpose and is a feature rather than a problem.
Okay, my thoughts on your points in support of why the mana system is a good system (spoiler: I fall firmly into the "it's not" category):

#1 – It Allows Magic to be a Trading Card Game: Really, this seems to be over-simplifying at best, insulting at worst.  There are a number of other TCGs that don't have a mana system.  It would have been more accurate to say something like "It makes some cards conditionally better than others at varying points in the game."  And while every TCG needs this condition to be satisfied, not all of them use something as random as Magic's mana system.

#2 – It Controls the Flow of the Game: This is true.  No objections here.  I've seen better implementations, but the mana system is actually one of the better ones.

#3 – It Helps the Game Become More Dramatic Over Time: Also true, and maybe the strongest point in mana's favor.  This is one of the best implementations I've seen for this purpose, marred only by the times that an otherwise exciting and dramatic game is prematurely terminated by one player ripping land after land from the top while the other guy draws gas.

#4 – It Helps Players Make Choices: Sort of true, but sort of not true as well.  Or, if you will, the flip side: it makes choices for the players.  In the early game, there's often little choice involved: Do you have a one-drop?  Play it turn one.  Almost no choice involved, unless you happen to have multiple playable, distinct one-drops, which while not uncommon, is probably less common than having either 0 or 1 one-drops, in which case the "choice" is automatic.  Turn 2, similar story.  In the late game, after you've played most of the cards in your hand and are playing off the top, same story.  Draw a card.  Can I play it?  If yes, do so.  If no, do nothing.  Little choice invovled.  (I'm over-simplifying here, but you get the idea.)  On the other hand, this concept does shine in the middle game, so props there.

#5 – It Cuts Down on the Number of Unique Cards in Your Deck: This is true, but neither advantageous nor disadvantageous in and of itself.  I had to read your description here four times, but I think the point you're trying to make is that cutting down the number of unique cards cuts down on complexity (which also is neither good nor bad in and of itself, though it may be beneficial for Magic in this case).  Correct me if I've interpreted this incorrectly.

#6 – It Keeps Variance in the Game: Ah, the killer.  Yes, the mana system adds variance...to a game that doesn't need it.  See, the thing is, most card games by their very nature have variance built into them already.  A match of Magic has way more variance than a poker game, but I've never heard anyone complain that poker was too skill-intensive.  Let's look at your sub-categories:
It mixes up when you can play spells: Yes, two games play out very differently when one player is mana-screwed versus when neither is.  Guess which of the two games is actually fun.
It greatly changes the value of the draw: You say this like it's a good thing.  Anyone who's ripped a land late-game over a spell (i.e., anyone who's played Magic) knows how terrible that feeling is.  This is not fun.  This is not good.  Sure, you'd rather draw your bomb than your Llanowar Elf, but at least with the Elf you've got something.
It restricts how many things you can do: Okay, this is actually a good point.  It doesn't nearly offset the rest of this section, though.

#7 – It Adds Skill to the Game: Um, what?  If you're arguing that the mana system's arbitrariness opens up areas for new skills to be perfected (such as the art of taking mulligans), then you're technically correct, but you're overlooking that the necessity of applying these skills reduce the overall affect of skill on the outcome of the game.  Take mulligans for example.  Sure, a pro may have an advantage by knowing that he needs to mulligan a particular seven-card hand, but then he's immediately handicapped by starting with a six-card hand.  If he needs to mulligan an additional time, he's probably at such a disadvantage that all his skill won't be enough to compensate for the loss of two cards.  I'm far from the best Magic player in the world, but I'd back myself against any pro you care to name if I got to start with seven cards and he only started with five.

In conclusion, I've played enough TCGs that didn't have the mana system's vulnerabilities to know that such a system is usually a detriment to the game involved.  Magic's mana system was innovative for the time, and it's not like drastically altering the game to eliminate it is feasible or desirable, but that doesn't mean that the system is actually good.  Trying to convince others that it is will likely just mislead a new generation of designers down the wrong path.

Finally, to end on a positive note: I liked the cartoons.  Keep them coming.
I'd like to think that was done on purpose and is a feature rather than a problem.



It is no doubt done on purpose, most things are.  But it isn't a good feature to have as big of a gap as we currently have.  The fact that an XXXX creature is easier  to play in an allied color deck than a 2XX card is in an enemy colored deck...well, that really says all that needs to be said.

There's basically no restriction one way and a harsh restriction the other way.  It shows both sides of the limitation issue.  That limits are good, that too harsh of a limit is bad.
I'd like to think that was done on purpose and is a feature rather than a problem.



It is no doubt done on purpose, most things are.  But it isn't a good feature to have as big of a gap as we currently have.  The fact that an XXXX creature is easier  to play in an allied color deck than a 2XX card is in an enemy colored deck...well, that really says all that needs to be said.

There's basically no restriction one way and a harsh restriction the other way.  It shows both sides of the limitation issue.  That limits are good, that too harsh of a limit is bad.


It's not actually that hard to play howling banshee with four standard-legal lands. marsh flats and some amount of terramorphic expanse/evolving wilds should be fine.
It's totally possible to eliminate mana screw from the game, in about a half-dozen ways.  Probably the best and easiest is to separate lands and spells into two separate libraries and choose which one to draw from whenever you draw.



Or you can have face up piles of basic lands available for any draw, while mixing other lands in with the spells.

I've never tried it, but it would be an interesting experiment.  Guaranteed land draws would provide the vast majority of what the mana system accomplishes without any of the drawbacks.  Is Mark correct that such a system would be less fun to play, or would most people's intuitions be correct that the lack of land screw/flood would improve the game?  I'd like to see such an experiment.  Who all has tried it often enough to have a solid opinion?

I suspect many spells are currently priced too cheaply for a game including guaranteed land draws -- that might mess up the experiment a bit.
It's not actually that hard to play howling banshee with four standard-legal lands. marsh flats and some amount of terramorphic expanse/evolving wilds should be fine.



Sure, but then the land you draw on turn 4 that lets you play it is a swamp and therefore you cannot play the you just drew.  Or you've got to choose, play the white knight on turn 2, thereby using those things to get plains and not being able to cast the banshee, unless you get that swamp draw, or get the swamps, to be sure you can play the banshee and hold off on the white knight.  That sort of thing happens all the time in an enemy colored deck.

Meanwhile, an allied color deck has no such worries.  It plays a land, it gets both.  Doesn't have to pay life for it.  Has a far greater chance of those lands not coming into play tapped.  If it wants to run 12 of such lands, it can still have 12 other lands in the deck, making it easier to hit land drops reliably, which is something that having 12 fetchlands in a deck would hinder a bit, potentially forcing you to run additional lands.  And the 4 lands there that are definitely coming into play tapped...they can also turn into creatures.

It is far, far easier to run allied colors than enemy colors right now.  And while it should be easier, it shouldn't be that much easier.
Well if it is mana week, perhaps Tom will be kind enough to explain how it is okay for rares and mythics to "shortcut" the mana system.
I can see I'm going to have to write an entire article on why I actually consider Magic's mana system quite mediocre.

But that's not why I'm commenting... Tales from the Pit is AMAZING! I particularly love "The Real Origin of Phyrexian Mana". That Tumblr page might be your first ever six star article! Cool
If Giant Growth isn't in m12 I'm gonna freak out lol
RE: The comics

Awesome, although it'd also be fun to see Growth and Spider meeting at the M12 Launch Party.

Awkward. 

What a developer means:  NO!


Hahahaha.  Nice.


Mark, one of my favorite things about the 'mana system' is that you can have color PHILOSOPHIES.  That's pretty cool.  I always enjoyed that:-)

This article was... erm never mind. There were ponies in the article. Weaponized Ponies. My opinions on this are invalid. 
I think the article neglected the most important issue, which is: which ponies? Are we talking Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash, or are we stuck with an army of Fluttershies? If it's the latter, do they get to bring their animal friends? Can they go Flutterrage?

I wonder, if they acknowledged that a system where you can play unneeded cards as mana sources would be better, how they could go about implementing that.



Those of us that play MtGO might remember the Dakkon Blackblade avatar. It allowed you to play colored cards in your hand as randomly chosen copies of basic lands in one of the cards' colors. They could put this ability on an enchantment, or on a command-zone emblem.

Online, this is easy to implement technically. In paperland, you could put the card in play, and cover it with a basic land, or some such thing.
So it's possible. I don't like the idea, except maybe on an enchantment. Green one, of course Smile

Go draft, young man, go draft!

I really hope that the last comic in the article doesn't mean that they are removing the two remaining cards that have been around since Alpha.  If they remove one, fine.  But I think that they should keep one for the remainder of the game. 
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)
I really hope that the last comic in the article doesn't mean that they are removing the two remaining cards that have been around since Alpha.  If they remove one, fine.  But I think that they should keep one for the remainder of the game. 

The last comic is about the supposed tension between the two of which one will be the last one standing
Hhaha the comics were a hoot!  I think there can be some muligan rules to help eleivate early screw.  The pile sugestion from earlier is just no good.  Think about what this does for agro decks.  You always get your 2 lands then draw endles gass.  Any kinds of rules changes in this way, where you could play much less land and always get the small amout you need would drasticly chnage the game.  Im sure every one there has tried all kinds of ideas over the years, at this point I think there just is no answer.
Love the Stratego refference I never meet people who know about that game.
I think one of the things that wasn't brought up is that mana screw (and variance in general) is one of the biggest skill testers because it provides bad players an obvious and catastrophic excuse for why they lost. Many people hate mana screw (and flood) mainly because they are bad players and did not see the proper plays that would have led them to victory. Mana screw is just another barrier for players to overcome and at higher levels it can be very challenging to determine if there was anything you could have done to win the game or if it truly was variance.

Another great thing about mana screw is that it creates tension. I recently lost a game of magic because I was sitting there for several turns not able to draw my seventh land and play my bomb. Everyone of those turns was exciting as I hoped to draw that land. These situations would not be exciting if we didn't have vivid images in our mind about the catastrophe of mana screw. Everyone claims to hate this part of the game but this is what creates the gambling aspects of magic that make it very addictive. When you lose to randomness you get angry and immediately want to play again to get that "fair" match.

Also, magic has less variance than poker due to the fact you can play cards to minimize it. Restrictions breed creativity and the threat of mana screw is just one more thing that enters into the calculus of what priorities a player wants his deck to address. Just look at how interesting it is to debate whether one should play UW cawblade or the UWb variant. This would not be a question if the black version didn't have the tradeoff of a more unstable mana base.

As much as we hate when it happens to us, in the long run we win just as many games from the variance as we lose and mana screw is actually one of the best, and less obvious, mechanics of magic.
I really hope that the last comic in the article doesn't mean that they are removing the two remaining cards that have been around since Alpha.  If they remove one, fine.  But I think that they should keep one for the remainder of the game. 

The last comic is about the supposed tension between the two of which one will be the last one standing


Interesting. Between the two, I'd hope for Giant Growth to be the last one standing. It's probably a better card (probably better in Limited, but that's hard to compare exactly just because they're apples and oranges; definitely better in Constructed), it's more broadly useful (a combat trick that can fit in any creature-heavy deck vs. a primarily defensive, medium-sized creature), and it's the last survivor of a three-of-something-for-one-mana cycle way back once upon a time. And I agree, I certainly hope that at least one card stays around for the life of the game.

I wouldn't have suggested Giant Growth, though. As much as I like green, it doesn't seem like an "iconic" enough card to be the one eternal one. Unsummon would have been a much better choice if it hadn't missed Ninth Edition, both due to playability and the whole idea of controllish tricks and summoning creatures again and again. But I have to admit that of the cards that made it to Tenth Edition, relatively few look all that good. It took a while, but I finally found this article on it. Air Elemental and Rod Of Ruin are underpowered compared to current cards, Howling Mine has clunky wording and weird interactions due to a rules change, and all the rest are OK but don't really fit the modern color pie quite right. They're decent cards, but they shouldn't be the "standard-bearers" for anything.

So: Giant Growth forever.
I often play a variant where you can put your cards upside-down (like the flip cards, Budoka Gardener and friends).

Yes, Duel Masters may have taken Magic's mana system and perfected it.

Pokemon and The Legend of Five Rings both use a resource system; and Yu-Gi-Oh! does without one by making every set have cards that benefit each other in ways that don't apply to other sets... reminiscent of the isolation of Kamigawa. Evolution in Pokemon, of course, also controls timing.

So having mana in multiple colors was indeed a critical element for the success of Magic that Richard Garfield came up with.

Online, this is easy to implement technically. In paperland, you could put the card in play, and cover it with a basic land, or some such thing.

Well, the simplest thing to do is to follow Duel Masters, and turn the card upside-down - cards that can be used that way would then have an enclosed mana symbol on the bottom.

For one set, they could do this with a few vanilla creatures at common in each color. Of course, black doesn't get much in the way of vanilla creatures...

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

 

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

This has got to be the first Rosewater article in a very long time that has zero occurrences of "unfun" in it.
What the hell is going on?  Shouldn't he be apologizing for the game mechanics ruining some noob's vague idea of "fun", and implying that anyone who accepts that sort of thing as normal is just a mean and bad person?

The article is full of sensible and logical points, without any hyperbole or Roseanne references.  Quite frankly I'm scared now.
What a developer says: "That's a very interesting idea. I like it, but there are a lot of issues that it creates. Give me some time to think about it."

What a developer means: "No!"

...LOVE this!  It's completely true of Software Developers as well!
I am Blue/White
I am Blue/White
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator. White/Blue? Go figure. I'm an L3 Judge!
I think one of the things that wasn't brought up is that mana screw (and variance in general) is one of the biggest skill testers because it provides bad players an obvious and catastrophic excuse for why they lost. Many people hate mana screw (and flood) mainly because they are bad players and did not see the proper plays that would have led them to victory. Mana screw is just another barrier for players to overcome and at higher levels it can be very challenging to determine if there was anything you could have done to win the game or if it truly was variance. Another great thing about mana screw is that it creates tension. I recently lost a game of magic because I was sitting there for several turns not able to draw my seventh land and play my bomb. Everyone of those turns was exciting as I hoped to draw that land. .



I'll just stop you there with one word: (oh, wait I can't use that word here). Here's a more family friendly word: No. 

Losing because you can't play your pieces is not fun. Losing because you got outplayed is, well, I wouldn't call it fun but I fully accept that as part of any game. 

Maro hasn't trotted it out in some time, but he used to try to compare MTG to chess. Someone on the forums immediately shot that down with an analogy along the lines of "if Magic were like chess, your starter pack would have a rook, a knight and a bunch of pawns. You'd take that to Friday Night Chess and you'd be paired up against a guy running 16 queens.

To continue the chess example with a mana screw analogy, imagine you sit down for a game and find that some of your pieces have been randomly glued to the board. It's a cheap glue, so it will wear off eventually, but you don't know when, and in the meantime your opponent is able to use all of his pieces and some of yours just sit there. That's what mana screw feels like to me. 




I often play a variant where you can put your cards upside-down (like the flip cards, Budoka Gardener and friends).

Yes, Duel Masters may have taken Magic's mana system and perfected it.

Pokemon and The Legend of Five Rings both use a resource system; and Yu-Gi-Oh! does without one by making every set have cards that benefit each other in ways that don't apply to other sets... reminiscent of the isolation of Kamigawa. Evolution in Pokemon, of course, also controls timing.

So having mana in multiple colors was indeed a critical element for the success of Magic that Richard Garfield came up with.




Funny how MTG will take things like the mythic rarity and whatnot from other games (wasn't Pokemon the first to have foils also?), but they won't admit the resource system could stand to learn a thing or two from the other games. Magic may have been the first, and it generally works great 99% of the time...it's just that 1% of it doesn't that makes it so frustrating. 


I often play a variant where you can put your cards upside-down (like the flip cards, Budoka Gardener and friends).



Online, this is easy to implement technically. In paperland, you could put the card in play, and cover it with a basic land, or some such thing.

Well, the simplest thing to do is to follow Duel Masters, and turn the card upside-down - cards that can be used that way would then have an enclosed mana symbol on the bottom.

For one set, they could do this with a few vanilla creatures at common in each color. Of course, black doesn't get much in the way of vanilla creatures...



I've thought for a while about how the game could use a cycle or two of common vanilla's with an ability just like this. Make the creatures really terrible if you have to (though still usable as chump blockers or whatever), but do something to bridge the gap between lands and everything else. 



And let me be clear, I agree with the majority of the article. I like the resource system, it is a crucial part of the game. But because it's so crucial, is why an issue like mana screw should be worked on. 


And the toons were very funny. Though I don't understand the distinction between "cartoon Optimus Prime" and "movie Optimus Prime". The movie was also a cartoon, I mean, nobody would ever be so foolish as to try and make a live action Transformers movie, would they? 
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
Mana is awesome. But, regarding mana screw:

I play a variant called the Big Box. Players share one deck of each color. When a player draws a card, they may draw a land of the color they want.

It has been the most balanced format I have played. Generally speaking, the best player wins. If they lose, it's usually because they made a mistake in play, OR chose to draw too much/not enough land.  

From the marketing vantage, screw is good because it injects luck into the game. It also puts an emphasis on skilled deckbuilding. However, IMO mana screw reduces the gameplay skill factor.
Isn't basic landcycling the elegant, Magic-style way for creatures to also be lands? Two ways to implement it:

1. Wizards of the Coast could put several high-quality basic landcycling cards in new sets, reducing the effect of mana screw on competitive play.

2. Players could invent variant formats giving everything free/cheap landcycling. 
Of the options I've ever played with regards to dealing w/ mana screw the duelmasters aproach is the best one I've used, simple & clean. I'm all for including some vanilla creatures in every base set that either land cycle or can be played as lands upside down ect. My own personal idea is to have the option to replace a turn's draw with: "exile cards from the top of the deck until you draw a basic land card and put that in your hand", but that's too out there methinks so i use it in friendly games at the kitchen table and seems to work alright.
The crazy important thing, beyond all other considerations, is that one of the giants must win.  It doesn't have to be in this core set, but one must succede while the other falls.  Otherwise I will feel let down, and a bit betrayed.  Personally, I hope it is giant growth, as it is the more exciting card and captures the interactivity of the game.  

Giant spider is solidly defense, slows the game, and encourages the opponent not to attack.
Giant growth says "block it, I dare you" or "GOTCHA!" and is the climax of many games.  

Combat is what makes the game worth playing, and combat tricks are what actually allows combat to happen, since it prevents each combat from being predetermined.  

I like both cards, and I don't think I could be happier with our final two.  How could I?  Green is my favorite color.
I think Maro misses a very important distinction and a lot of his articles demonstrate this.  There are two different kinds of "random" that happen in Magic.  One is (usually) fun and the other is not.  The unfun randomness is mana screw/flood.  The only people who enjoy this either enjoy pain or enjoy other people's pain.  Mana screw/flood makes it so that your actions are meaningless.  If I want to do something where nothing I do means anything I'll buy a lottery ticket.

On the flip side there is the randomness of what spells you draw.  This is almost always fun.  Take singleton formats (besides standard singleton, stupid jace).  These formats are fun because the randomness tests your skill.  Can you make the best decision in every situation?  In this case the randomness certainly still makes luck matter but it's much more fun.  It challenges you rather than punishes you.

Personally I think that changing the mulligan rule would make the game less luck dependant but not so much that it would stop being Magic (after all, if I didn't want luck to be involved I would just play chess).  Give players one free mulligan so that you aren't punished immediately for being unlucky (something that seems like kicking someone when they are down).  This way, players who built bad decks or make bad decisions regarding mulligans are still going to get unlucky more often and get lucky sometimes but overall the results of matchups would reflect the players' skill levels more than dumb luck.
Combat is what makes the game worth playing


Uhhhhhhhh...

Otherwise nice post though. 
The crazy important thing, beyond all other considerations, is that one of the giants must win.  It doesn't have to be in this core set, but one must drop while the other falls.  Otherwise I will feel let down, and a bit betrayed.  Personally, I hope it is giant growth, as it is the more exciting card and captures the interactivity of the game.  

Giant spider is solidly defense, slows the game, and encourages the opponent not to attack.
Giant growth says "block it, I dare you" or "GOTCHA!" and is the climax of many games.  

Combat is what makes the game worth playing, and combat tricks are what actually allows combat to happen, since it prevents each combat from being predetermined.  

I like both cards, and I don't think I could be happier with our final two.  How could I?  Green is my favorite color.



The thing to remember though is that giant spider is green's token method of dealing with it's biggest weakness; flyers.  While giant growth is amazing I personally will usually take giant spider over it in drafts simply because I hate matches where I auto lose to a flying critter.
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