07/04/2011 MM: "Please Sir, I Want Some Core"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
I for one would be interested in hearing the full rundown of what the heck happened with 5th edition's design at some point.  It's possibly the strangest core set ever - gigantic (I guess you didn't want any precious cards rotating out?) and with the most scattershot balance short of Alpha/Beta/Unlimited (which has a solid excuse).  Lots of errata, too, some for the better, some for just the plain weirder.
  
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Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNoi_wwzbtQ
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WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?
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57070368 wrote:
58280208 wrote:
Even metallix is gone now.
I'm right here.
Do I want to hear more Core Set stories?

Duh. 
On the CO IRC, generally as TorpedoFish.
Vain? Me? NEVER.
57223408 wrote:
You're the straightest shooter I know on these boards. You don't mince words about your opinions, and I respect that about you. The whole fiasco you described in the last State of the CO Forum was particularly enlightening (and kind of disappointing with regards to how they see us).
56868168 wrote:
Ah, Tsuyo. When your post isn't one sentence long full of asterisks, you have much wisdom to share with us .
From the IRC:
(19:52) RuinsFate: You know, I was gonna agree with something PalOn said... but I think I'm just gonna through my lot in with tsuyo's sudden train-wreck grade interjection. (01:45) Nausicaa: yes your rage is a righteous rage :D (01:45) Nausicaa: righteous rage of torpedo
My sci-fi writing.
I love reading about the stuff in the past so it would be cool to see more articles about them.
Having only played since Zendikar, I read everything I can about sets years passed, so it'd be great to get newer articles that talk about them!

For instance, I've read probably half the articles on Ravnica Block, and the article on how Arabian Nights almost had different card backs was cool. To image if it had been different is mind boggling - Block Constructed would be all we'd have! And as much as I like Block Constructed, variety is good too.
More articles, please!


Something tells me that the Desert Twister story led to the current generation of developers sneaking Hornet Sting in. 

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

Master Thief?  Yes i'll take one or two for EDH
I like fun, but competitive decks. So I might not play what is optimal but they have normally been tested to have a 2/3 winrate.
Please write a whole article about the Sixth Edition Rules changes.
I for one would be interested in hearing the full rundown of what the heck happened with 5th edition's design at some point.  It's possibly the strangest core set ever - gigantic (I guess you didn't want any precious cards rotating out?) and with the most scattershot balance short of Alpha/Beta/Unlimited (which has a solid excuse).  Lots of errata, too, some for the better, some for just the plain weirder.

fifth Edition: it was just after the Chronicles fiasco.... so they added a whole extra 100 cards of stuff they wanted to reprint because those early sets were often sold out before they arrived at stores and new players had no other way to get those cards.

I loved the "artifacts tap" rule. That rule got Icy Manipulator kicked out of the "core" set for quite a while.... Oh look, that Howling Mine NEVER works on your turn... sorry...
I really liked the lesson of Desert Twister - sure Green usually doesn't kill creatures, but it also has enough power that for a hefty six-mana pricetag it can take out anything, because its power is the entire world.  I'd be very comfortable with DT coming back - every color should have answers, as long as they're flavored right, and the CMC accomplishes that here IMO.
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'm happy with the "artifacts don't work when tapped" rule removed. I do think it makes for some nice design space and enjoy some cards which have it (like, say, Howling Mine).

Nice stories, too. I especially liked the Necropotence-dig.
76125763 wrote:
Zindaras' meta is like a fossil, ancient and its secrets yet to be uncovered. Only men of yore, long dead, knew of it.
I concur that I sometimes think R&D in general, and MaRo in particular, can be a little too protective of the color pie while simultaneously using it as an excuse to make crazy-overpowered things or ignoring bleeds that genuinely do harm.

I always felt Desert Twister taught the same lesson artifacts taught: any color could potentially do stuff outside its normal bounds, but for a price and only when the flavor made sense. the Twister is a difficult card to use, even in Green; it's ONLY practical use is creature destruction as you have destruction of noncreature pemanents much more easily (not so easily in those days). At that point you're paying six mana for a sorcery-speed Terror that doesn't even stop regeneration!

Contrast with, oh... Jace the Mind Sculptor, which does nothing out of color in blue, but allows blue to do it cheaply and for free. Sure, you have the upfront investment but every turn a planeswalker is out is another turn they pay you back on the investment. (Leaving aside the problem of 'blue gets every good thing as part of the color pie', which at least has been fixed a bit by weakening countermagic and letting green have some card draw as well.)

Or a good deal of the hybrid cards in Shadowmoor/Eventide, which let colors access entirely foreign abilities for no additional cost, using 'it's hybrid!' as a justification. I liked Shadowmoor, don't get me wrong, but some of it was definitely head-scratchy.
Master Thief's wording creates a weird interaction.

If player A steals an artifact with it from player B and player C steals the Master Thief, the artifact is returned to player B. Not very intuitive, but probably worth it.

The card is cool though and oozes flavor.
"I like it, it's in green, so yes I like it in green."

Having heard Skaff talk on the Three Donkeys Podcast (which everyone should listen to) I can totally hear him saying that.

I remember thinking that removing the tapped artifact rule made sense because of cards like the Sands,, but with a promise that "unless tapped" would be used everywhere it might be useful. That clearly stopped being true shortly thereafter, as "why bother?" became the rule of the day instead. I think that tap effects would be a lot more interesting if you could randomly shut off a Torpor Orb to resolve a key creature trigger.

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 remember thinking that removing the tapped artifact rule made sense because of cards like the Sands,, but with a promise that "unless tapped" would be used everywhere it might be useful. That clearly stopped being true shortly thereafter, as "why bother?" became the rule of the day instead. I think that tap effects would be a lot more interesting if you could randomly shut off a Torpor Orb to resolve a key creature trigger.

That's a good point.  They had the chance to continue the flavor of the majority of artifacts "turning off" when tapped, and they just didn't bother.  After Storage Matrix, the only card where they used it was Thunderstaff.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...
I really liked the lesson of Desert Twister - sure Green usually doesn't kill creatures, but it also has enough power that for a hefty six-mana pricetag it can take out anything, because its power is the entire world.  I'd be very comfortable with DT coming back - every color should have answers, as long as they're flavored right, and the CMC accomplishes that here IMO.



I like that Desert Twister was printed in its correct colors in three following sets: Vindicate, Saltblast and Maelstrom Pulse. I kinda of think that the latter should have had something of a rider on it: there is no reason Green should grant Black the ability to kill Black creatures, and no reason Black should allow Green to stop regen.; Green allowing Black to hit artifacts is made safe in that Green is in the cost. If anything, it should have made the owner of the creature or artifact sac it. In white, however, the ability to hit virtually anything should be the rule for the color, and prevent other colors from dabbling. Acidic Slime and Terastodon seem to me to be the correct place for "hits anything it needs to" while maintaining a creature-based removal structure.

This also means that Pistus Strike and Plummet are horribly out of flavor. So is Arachnus Web and Lignify. I would rather that they print creatures that can block fliers and kill them (flash, reach, deathtouch on spiders) or "fire arrows" in the sense of archers, like Trophy Hunter (IF you want to take the tap to hit out of White).
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
Dear Mark,

I very much enjoyed this article. In a sense, these articles are more njoyable than the typical card-by-card design comments because the greater distance makes you focus on only the best stories and they're all entertaining and/or enlightening with regards to MtG and/or design as a whole. Or human nature itself.

Please don't be cautious of giving us old stories.

Love,
 - Bez

July 4th (Congrats North Americans!)


Hello!


I enjoyed this article. I’d love to read more stories regarding the past – incredibly nostalgic to me and really interesting to see R&D own side of the story.


Please, feel free to share more of this with us.


Concerning the “Desert Twister” issue, what had changed in order to recently print a card like “Beast Within”?  


Wink


Johnny V

Please, feel free to share more of this with us.

Concerning the “Desert Twister” issue, what had changed in order to recently print a card like “Beast Within”?  



Johnny V




Someone other than MaRo is pulling the shots on what colors mean now. On the other hand, Beast Within is "creature destruction done by creatures" in a very loose sense. Because it is possible to make some sort of connection, it is therefore valid, and adequate design in green's philosophy of turning something into an animal and therefore GOOD.
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
Thomas Andersson did not make Top 8 of the first Pro Tour; he made 9th place:

www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Events.as...
Always good to read these stories, it's always good to see the past perspective on cards.  I agree with the others that Desert Twister doesn't seem too horribly out of flavor. I've always agreed with the idea that ramping up the mana cost and maybe narrowing the focus of a mechanic (or adding a limitation). I think Hornet Sting is a perfectly designed card. 

But definitely more stories, the further back the better. 
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
what happened to Skaff?
I have no problem with Desert Twister.

I don't agree with Maro's hard line on the color pie: to me, the color pie is more an *inclination* towards certain abilities that colors do well, rather than a *inability* to do anything but those abilities that are on-color.

Green is not the color of creature kill, which is why it has to pay 6 instead of 2 mana to kill a creature. That's a huge difference, and doesn't "wreck the color pie."

Similarly, I wouldn't have a problem with 4BB: Destroy target enchantment or 4RR: Draw two cards.
I very much enjoyed this article and would like to read more like it.  Thanks.

Yes, I would like to see more of these articles.


'very unique'?  Tsk, tsk, tsk...

Thank you, Erik.
I'd just like to take some time to defend MaRo re: the color wheel.  I might even take a more hardline approach than he does.  I've seen several posts so far saying that an increased mana cost is justification for doing something out of color.  But just as he pointed out, letting a color do things it isn't supposed to do is a slippery slope.

I wasn't around during the time Desert Twister was in print, but I have very negative feelings towards Hornet's Sting.  The entire point of the color pie, to me, is to illustrate mechanically what the color represents philosophically.  Direct damage, spot creature removal, etc. are and should be things that green just doesn't do.

More than a lot of players I suppose, I would prefer to keep the colors very separate, and very unique.  To me, it's what really defines the game.  When we start blurring the lines of what colors are allowed to do, we move toward that dangerous area of homogenized magic, where colors lose their meaning and any color can do anything, for the right price.  Anything for a price, now that's a very Black philosophy, and as all fantasy game players know, dabbling in black Magic nevery turns out well.  Smile
Master Thief's wording creates a weird interaction.

If player A steals an artifact with it from player B and player C steals the Master Thief, the artifact is returned to player B. Not very intuitive, but probably worth it.

The card is cool though and oozes flavor.


There are other cards that use similar templates (including Aladdin), but usually those are for activated ones. I do find it weird that this uses a different version of the ability than Sower of Temptation, given how similar the two cards otherwise are.

Card is neat. May or may not make it into my Teferi EDH. If it were a Wizard it'd be definitely in, but since it's a Rogue I can't tutor it.
blah blah metal lyrics
Please, feel free to share more of this with us.

Concerning the “Desert Twister” issue, what had changed in order to recently print a card like “Beast Within”?  



Johnny V




Someone other than MaRo is pulling the shots on what colors mean now. On the other hand, Beast Within is "creature destruction done by creatures" in a very loose sense. Because it is possible to make some sort of connection, it is therefore valid, and adequate design in green's philosophy of turning something into an animal and therefore GOOD.

I see. Thanx Qilong.

I guess it is similar to the "Alien" movie: a creature inside devouring/destroying the other.
Please, feel free to share more of this with us.

Concerning the “Desert Twister” issue, what had changed in order to recently print a card like “Beast Within”?  


Johnny V




Someone other than MaRo is pulling the shots on what colors mean now. On the other hand, Beast Within is "creature destruction done by creatures" in a very loose sense. Because it is possible to make some sort of connection, it is therefore valid, and adequate design in green's philosophy of turning something into an animal and therefore GOOD.

I see. Thanx Qilong.

I guess it is similar to the "Alien" movie: a creature inside devouring/destroying the other.



I'm sorry, actually. I was being a tad snarky. I do not think, in fact, that Beast Within should be monogreen, or even Green. It feels Black. I can be okay with Black getting permanent destruction, since it can generally hit everything save artifacts anyway, and it's not a stretch to make it a forced-sacrifice-into-creature, like Mercy Killing. The card exists, I think, to give Green answers, and I do not think there is a flavor reason for its existence at all (what flavor there is is better seen in Black).
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
Green initially was the color that represented the destructive force of nature. If you look at the alpha, arabian nights, and antiquities sets, you'll find that green has more cards that destroy things or damage creatures than any other color. If you read the Alpha rulebook, it describes green as a color that does that kind of things, and if you look at the effects green got, it was able to destroy artifacts, creatures, lands and enchantments, so Desert Twister didn't feel out of place.

At some point, green's destructive ability shifted to white, who suddenly became the color able to destroy everything while green became the worst color in the game. Then Mark Rosewater started shifting a lot of green effects to white (fog, sandstorm, mass lifegain, wyluli wolf, tranquility, flash, desert twister), and white effects to green (disenchant, pacifism, vigilance, crusade effects), making both colors interchangeable, while at the same time giving us the worst core sets in the history of the game, with great moves like taking away Birds of Paradise from the core set because it had flying.

The proof that it was a mistake to take away all forms of creature control from green is that fog is again a green ability, and you can find cards like Beast Within on the newer sets. Moreover, these changes came from the development team, which are the ones that care the most about good gameplay, which in turn is what makes games fun. So, if contradicting a design choice produces a better game overall, it's probably a flawed design choice.

I thought the main call on color identity was the overall flavor, with line-by-line characteristics being secondary.  The eternal example being that Moat isn't red, and resetting your life to 5 isn't red, but Form of the Dragon is extremely red.


So if Nature is green, and a storm can destroy a creature, then why shouldn't Green represent that?  Now I think a better issue with Desert Twister is that the name doesn't invoke pinpoint destruction.  I would either make it involve some randomness (the path of a tornado is unpredictable) or make it an instant like "{this} deals 1 damage to each of target player's creatures.  Creatures can't attack this turn." (like a Sandstorm but everybody takes cover.)  In both cases though it would still potentially destroy creatures.


what happened to Skaff


seydaneen, I believe Skaff is a freelance designer now.  People come to him with prospective game ideas and he works on the ones he likes.  So Microsoft or EA could pick him up for a project, or you could if you offered enough and had a good idea.  Sounds like a good life to me.  Smile

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.

"Me: So would you mind removing it from the set?
Robert: Well, it is a nice simple card with a splashy but unique effect. Is there something else to stick in its place?
[ROBERT AND I LOOK THROUGH THE BINDER OF GREEN RARES AVAILABLE FOR THE SET.]
Robert: No. No. No. Maybe. Nah, no. No. No. Ummmm... No. No. No. No. No. No. And no. Doesn't look good."

Did you ever ask yourself why there wasn't a suitable, sufficiently splashy and distinctive replacement for Desert Twister inside green's slice of the colour pie, I wonder?


I thought the main call on color identity was the overall flavor, with line-by-line characteristics being secondary.  The eternal example being that Moat isn't red, and resetting your life to 5 isn't red, but Form of the Dragon is extremely red.


So if Nature is green, and a storm can destroy a creature, then why shouldn't Green represent that?




Because it's green, and the "overall flavour trumps the colour pie" rule is almost never applied in green. The new core sets (M10 and beyond) were the first time I've seen that rule applied to green, with Entangling Vines.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the Skaff story sounding like a friggin' eulogy.
while at the same time giving us the worst core sets in the history of the game, with great moves like taking away Birds of Paradise from the core set because it had flying.

The only core set Birds of Paradise was omitted from was Ninth Edition.

While it's quite possible that Randy Buehler is a liar, he states the following reasoning:
The reason we didn't put it in Ninth is that we wanted to bring back Llanowar Elves. The Elves are a perfect common for showing off green's mana acceleration flavor, but having two different 1-mana creatures that tap for mana in the same core set is just too much. Elves and Birds are so powerful in constructed that it left us no room to print more good, cheap mana accelerators in the expert-level sets. Thus we're only going to have one of them at a time in the Core set.


Admittedly, that too is no longer modern-day design policy, but if he's telling the truth (and I tend to believe him on these matters) you are not.

edit: and if Randy's a liar, www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/Article.a..." title="www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/Article.a...">so is Aaron Forsythe!
I LOLed at the Necroptence's Whoops!

That was a good one! 
while at the same time giving us the worst core sets in the history of the game, with great moves like taking away Birds of Paradise from the core set because it had flying.

The only core set Birds of Paradise was omitted from was Ninth Edition.

Birds of Paradise were only out of Standard for a few months, anyway, because they put them into Ravnica that fall.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...
On stories: MaRo is a truly great storyteller. I value his storytelling abilities almost as highly as his design abilities; his stories are the only material I've ever come across that I automatically lucid read without even trying. His story about the swordfish and the runner ranks as one of my favorite tales from any source, period. When MaRo stops working on Magic (and there will be a day, though maybe he won't stop entirely) and starts working on publishing Mood Swings or whatever new games he creates saves and destroys all at once, I want him to write a column about whatever the hell Mark Rosewater feels like writing about today. I'd read it.

On the color pie: I think the color pie is not as important an issue as a lot of people make it out to be. Oh, it's important, the existence of the color pie is exceedingly important. But ultimately the exact nature of the boundaries are not as important to the health of the game as a lot of other things, like complexity creep and player retention and balance issues and a bunch of other really important stuff I'm forgetting. [CARD]Hornet Sting[/CARD] came and went and Magic's still here, and not too much better or worse off for it. Maybe one day we'll look back and laugh at [CARD]Hornet Sting[/CARD] much as we laugh as [CARD]Desert Twister[/CARD] today, maybe we'll learn it is a natural part of the game, and either way Magic goes on. Besides, Five-Color control had a day in the sun, and that still felt like Magic. Deciding what abilities go where is a slightly arbitrary decision to create linearity/modularity, and that stuff has a way of working itself out over time for the most part.

On Skaff Elias: I don;t know what he's doing at this moment, but he's certainly not dead, and he actually recently worked with Richard Garfield on a game called en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectromancer" title="en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectromancer">Spectromancer. It's basically a simplified, streamlined version of Magic with an emphasis on gameplay as opposed to deckbuilding, and it's currently available at a hugely discounted price through Steam. I'd recommend picking it up, especially if Duels 2012 left you looking for a slightly deeper experience.
I too would be interested to hear MaRo's take, and that of the rest of R&D, on Beast Within and Chaos Warp. Both seem waaaaayyy out of colour pie to me. I mean, imagine if either of those turned up in a fan-made set. There'd be a chorus of "Er, no. Fun idea, but massively colour-pie-breaking." 

I like Lignify and Arachnus Web (especially with the spider that flings them), like Plummet and Hurricane, and dislike Hornet Sting. I'm somewhat on the fence with Desert Twister... it is clearly out of the modern pie, but it's got a lot of history and flavour. If I object to Hornet Sting I guess I should object to Desert Twister too... I certainly wouldn't want to see anyone coming up with something like it in a new set.
That article makes me miss Desert Twister.  A 6 mana sorcery isn't an issue.  If green got Terror, okay, color pie issue.  But a 6 CMC sorcery is not a problem.  Those type of cards are overall a good thing for magic.  It gives a color an answer to something.  It won't be great, but at least there is some hope.  And they usually don't see much serious play anyway, due to not being optimal enough.

The whole green fights creatures with creatures thing has rarely worked out as well.  You typically cannot force a creature to block.  Green is the color least likely to see evasion on its creatures, while other colors happily fly around it.  And the other colors just kick any threatening green creatures in the jimmy with a non-creature answer while their creatures do their thing.

There's far bigger issues to keep an eye on, things like the power level on certain mythics.  For that matter, there's better small issues to focus on, like getting a more limited version of O-ring (creature and planeswalker only) added rather than reprinting the answer any permanent O-ring.

When MaRo stops working on Magic (and there will be a day, though maybe he won't stop entirely)



I look forward to that day, personally.  Although no doubt whoever follows will have his own quirks that are equally annoying ;)
While it's quite possible that Randy Buehler is a liar, he states the following reasoning:
The reason we didn't put it in Ninth is that we wanted to bring back Llanowar Elves. The Elves are a perfect common for showing off green's mana acceleration flavor, but having two different 1-mana creatures that tap for mana in the same core set is just too much. Elves and Birds are so powerful in constructed that it left us no room to print more good, cheap mana accelerators in the expert-level sets. Thus we're only going to have one of them at a time in the Core set.


Admittedly, that too is no longer modern-day design policy, but if he's telling the truth (and I tend to believe him on these matters) you are not.

The mistake you are doing is that Randy Buehler is using diplomacy here to justify the removal of Birds of Paradise on ninth edition, the moment they actually took it out from the core set, but the issue about having a green flier in the core set giving the wrong message to new players spawned during the polls to pick cards for 8th edition, where that very strategy backfired. Their intention was probably to stop printing birds after they rotated out of Ravnica, but then a change of policy happened that kept them around.