07/18/2011 MM: "The Mighty 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'm not sure I agree with the change from "moving towards a perfect core set" to "making sure to mix it up every year". There may not be a "perfect core set" in entirety, but there are some cards that are just so perfect that they should be in every core set. The rest, though, should be free to change as much as the year's goal demands, for all the reasons Mark mentions.

I see the core set as the place to put all the cards that A) are staples that make Standard work, like Doom Blade, Cancel, Oblivion Ring etc. and B) demonstrate the color philosophies in the simplest, most elegant way.Like I said, some cards just work better than others for the core set, and thus should not leave, like Giant Growth. Changes like Lightning Bolt to Shock are fine, as the overall power level of certain strategies shouldn't be constant, but unless they're actually changing the standards by which they measure green pump (and if they are, more power to them), Giant Growth should remain in the core set. I don't mean to pick on Giant Growth, this point holds for any "change for the sake of change" to a staple. It's just that Giant Growth stands out for being the most recent, and the most hyped.

However, I have definitely enjoyed the new style of Core Set, M10 and on. It's nice to see a breeding ground for resonant designs and simple effects. My above point is only a very minor dissatisfaction in the face of what is overwhelmingly a cool change for the better.

Edit: I suppose I should at least try to define what I mean by a "core set staple". For variable effects like damage and creature pump, it is the cheapest version. That way, we know that gets you 2 damage and gets you +3/+3. For non-variable effects, it is the simplest version. destroys a creature, counters a spell.
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Is the core set really necessary?

Should it have been abolished, instead of polished and improved?

People are teaching new players with whatever cards they have (which is now slightly more likely to be core set cards). And how much simpler is the core set, compared to a block set? Is there really much difference? Couldn't new players (not being taught by a friend) be better introduced to Magic with specific cards and prebuilt decks, regardless of what set those cards came from?

Sure, the new core sets are far better than the old ones, but are they better than a block set? Do we need a story-less set every year? What's more exciting, the flavourful worlds of the blocks, or "some cards"? What are you more excited about? M12 or Innistrad? Not everyone will agree, but I know which one interests me more.

\:>
I'm still somewhat annoyed that Giant Growth got cut.  As the first poster mentioned, it's the most elegant creature pump spell there is, and it seems like it would play well into M12's theme of frequent attacking and blocking.  Cutting it seems like a mistake.  I'd like an article explaining why Giant Spider made it in (when it seems contrary to the theme) over Giant Growth.  Although honestly, I feel like the choice between the two was rather contrived, as if there had to be a "Core Set Survivor" because someone felt the need to drum up more suspense for the set, or something.  Bad decision, Wizards, bad decision (or it least it seems that way to me; I really wouldn't mind an article explaining the reasoning).
So when do we get Mantle Set Week and Crust Set Week?
Is the core set really necessary?

Should it have been abolished, instead of polished and improved?

People are teaching new players with whatever cards they have (which is now slightly more likely to be core set cards). And how much simpler is the core set, compared to a block set? Is there really much difference? Couldn't new players (not being taught by a friend) be better introduced to Magic with specific cards and prebuilt decks, regardless of what set those cards came from?
\:>



Scars block is a pretty intimidating set for new players to wrap their heads around, especially if you want to play limited.  I just got some of my family members back into the game, and core set drafting has been a much more positive experience when contrasted with the Scars block drafts we had: I love NPH/MBS/SOM, but there was just too much complexity and baggage for the newer players.  M12, on the otherhand, has been relatively easy to parse out, and allows everyone to focus on the fundamentals of good Magic.



Is the core set really necessary?

Should it have been abolished, instead of polished and improved?

People are teaching new players with whatever cards they have (which is now slightly more likely to be core set cards). And how much simpler is the core set, compared to a block set? Is there really much difference? Couldn't new players (not being taught by a friend) be better introduced to Magic with specific cards and prebuilt decks, regardless of what set those cards came from?
\:>



Scars block is a pretty intimidating set for new players to wrap their heads around, especially if you want to play limited.  I just got some of my family members back into the game, and core set drafting has been a much more positive experience when contrasted with the Scars block drafts we had: I love NPH/MBS/SOM, but there was just too much complexity and baggage for the newer players.  M12, on the otherhand, has been relatively easy to parse out, and allows everyone to focus on the fundamentals of good Magic.





Another huge plus core set drafting has that may be overlooked is that it's only one set, and it will remain that way for it's entire shelf life. It's far easier for new players, or players period even, to focus on mastering the format or at least understanding it when there's only one set to work out and not three, or even being one set one week only to have another set attach itself to the draft the next.
I'm still somewhat annoyed that Giant Growth got cut.  As the first poster mentioned, it's the most elegant creature pump spell there is, and it seems like it would play well into M12's theme of frequent attacking and blocking.  Cutting it seems like a mistake.  I'd like an article explaining why Giant Spider made it in (when it seems contrary to the theme) over Giant Growth.  Although honestly, I feel like the choice between the two was rather contrived, as if there had to be a "Core Set Survivor" because someone felt the need to drum up more suspense for the set, or something.  Bad decision, Wizards, bad decision (or it least it seems that way to me; I really wouldn't mind an article explaining the reasoning).

They probably wanted more spiders to go along with arachnus spinner ,  Although I never really got Core set survivor either.
Is the core set really necessary?

Should it have been abolished, instead of polished and improved?

People are teaching new players with whatever cards they have (which is now slightly more likely to be core set cards). And how much simpler is the core set, compared to a block set? Is there really much difference? Couldn't new players (not being taught by a friend) be better introduced to Magic with specific cards and prebuilt decks, regardless of what set those cards came from?



As MaRo states, the learning curve of the game is seen as it's biggest weak point. Therefore it has priority and a lot of resources will be spent on it. Even if the core set only helps a little, that's enough to justify it.


Second, what do each of the colors represent mechanically? This is where my personal pet peeve about post-Magic 2010 core sets comes into play. While I really like the embracing of more resonance, I dislike that there are cards in Magic that are not representative of the color pie mechanically and show up in exactly one place: the core set. I feel the core set is supposed to be the teaching tool to show you what colors do. Being the exception hurts the core set's ability to teach. I want new players to learn that trample is primarily a green thing because it shows up in the largest number and lowest rarity in green.



And this is why I don't like Aven Fleetwing next to Sacred Wolf. Which one would you rather put Dark Favor on?
At least we don't have the Giant Spider/Azure Drake debacle anymore.

I'm still somewhat annoyed that Giant Growth got cut.  As the first poster mentioned, it's the most elegant creature pump spell there is, and it seems like it would play well into M12's theme of frequent attacking and blocking.  Cutting it seems like a mistake.  I'd like an article explaining why Giant Spider made it in (when it seems contrary to the theme) over Giant Growth.  Although honestly, I feel like the choice between the two was rather contrived, as if there had to be a "Core Set Survivor" because someone felt the need to drum up more suspense for the set, or something.  Bad decision, Wizards, bad decision (or it least it seems that way to me; I really wouldn't mind an article explaining the reasoning).



Indeed the explanation was Arachnus Spinner. For a long time in development, Giant Growth was in the set and Giant Spider was not, until they figured they wanted more spiders. =p I think it was explained on tumblr.

I'm not sure I agree with the change from "moving towards a perfect core set" to "making sure to mix it up every year".



But that change was made far before M10. I'm guessing 9nth?
I'm also going to disagree with the creation of cards like Titanic Growth as being new just to be new. it feels like it was a brand/marketing push imposed on design rather than a change that was good for the game.

Numerous times you've discussed how cards have gotten reprinted in expert sets because they were the cleanest most elegant form of the card, and that you shouldn't be forced to make a card just to make a card, so why would you not follow you own advice here? Do you not feel like there's an entropy point of the number of times you can print the same effect with slightly different numbers?
Is the core set really necessary?

Should it have been abolished, instead of polished and improved?

People are teaching new players with whatever cards they have (which is now slightly more likely to be core set cards). And how much simpler is the core set, compared to a block set? Is there really much difference? Couldn't new players (not being taught by a friend) be better introduced to Magic with specific cards and prebuilt decks, regardless of what set those cards came from?
\:>



Scars block is a pretty intimidating set for new players to wrap their heads around, especially if you want to play limited.  I just got some of my family members back into the game, and core set drafting has been a much more positive experience when contrasted with the Scars block drafts we had: I love NPH/MBS/SOM, but there was just too much complexity and baggage for the newer players.  M12, on the otherhand, has been relatively easy to parse out, and allows everyone to focus on the fundamentals of good Magic.



Incidentally? Bloodlust being in 2012 is a stroke of genius. After teaching a new player the basic rules (...Not an easy feat, Magic is a complicated game with asymetric information - And complicated games are annoying enough to teach when any hidden information is hidden to all players, when you don't know what the guy you're teaching is looking at things become harder - To the point that I find it easier to teach a more complicated games with perfect information than a less complicated games with hidden), the hardest aspect of the game I find is to explain is why you might want to do things on your post-combat main phase. Bloodlust gives an obvious answer, which should make it easier to get across the more subtle answers - And it's flavourful, too.

Saying that, I'm also not sure I buy how useful a core set is as a teaching tool when new players will either be learning from a friend who already plays, or pick up some intro packs for the latest set to teach themselves - I agree that it's easier to learn and to teach from a core than from a non-core, but I don't think most new players are going to be learning from the core despite that. Laying the basic foundation of Standard for that year seems like the more useful aspect of what the core set does, though since every block is made with limited in mind, the basic foundations that the core set does is going to be in the advanced sets anyway due to being needed at limited as well as constructed. As a learning tool I absolutely get why it's useful. I'm just not convinced how many people actually use it as such (...Well, 25% of people who get into Magic will get into it during the period a core set is the latest product, I guess...)
"Second, what do each of the colors represent mechanically? This is where my personal pet peeve about post-Magic 2010 core sets comes into play. While I really like the embracing of more resonance, I dislike that there are cards in Magic that are not representative of the color pie mechanically and show up in exactly one place: the core set. I feel the core set is supposed to be the teaching tool to show you what colors do. Being the exception hurts the core set's ability to teach. I want new players to learn that trample is primarily a green thing because it shows up in the largest number and lowest rarity in green."

Trample appears on eight green cards, one black card, and two artifacts in Magic 2011, and the two common tramplers are both green. So, poor example. What's actually peeving you?
Giant Growth: Arcane_Soul is right - there is a limited tolerance for green pump spells, especially given that some are scaleable (Untamed Might).  There was once a kind of symmetry - Lightning Bolt, Healing Salve, Giant Growth.  With Mutagenic Growth coincidentally printed for the year, maybe Giant Growth needed to change.  I like Giant Growth, but I might have tried +2/+2 and trample (CHARGE!) to contrast with Mighty Leap and match the damage from Shock, although the new spell, like Titanic Growth, would have to cost at least 1G to cast.

Giant Spider: Since Flying exists in the core set, Reach probably has to exist.  Cloudcrown Oak is a viable option, but instead we have [Giant Spider] and His Amazing Friends at uncommon and rare.  The rare spider gives Adaptive Automaton something to do, I guess.

So why the hell are Planeswalkers in the Core Set?!
The rest of the arguments are sound - and they all seem to be flatly contradicted by the presence of Planeswalkers, who are non-intutive, add unnecessary complexity and risk unbalancing things in a bad way.
"Second, what do each of the colors represent mechanically? This is where my personal pet peeve about post-Magic 2010 core sets comes into play. While I really like the embracing of more resonance, I dislike that there are cards in Magic that are not representative of the color pie mechanically and show up in exactly one place: the core set. I feel the core set is supposed to be the teaching tool to show you what colors do. Being the exception hurts the core set's ability to teach. I want new players to learn that trample is primarily a green thing because it shows up in the largest number and lowest rarity in green."

Trample appears on eight green cards, one black card, and two artifacts in Magic 2011, and the two common tramplers are both green. So, poor example. What's actually peeving you?


He's talking about cards like Hornet Sting again


Scars block is a pretty intimidating set for new players to wrap their heads around, especially if you want to play limited.  I just got some of my family members back into the game, and core set drafting has been a much more positive experience when contrasted with the Scars block drafts we had: I love NPH/MBS/SOM, but there was just too much complexity and baggage for the newer players.  M12, on the otherhand, has been relatively easy to parse out, and allows everyone to focus on the fundamentals of good Magic.




I had a different experience. I got some guys back into the game and Scars was a good block for it. Drafting isn't about picking colors anymore. It is about building  the pre-loaded archetypes correctly and the infect and metalcraft archetypes are blatant. They worked well for explaining why drafting colors won't work.

So why the hell are Planeswalkers in the Core Set?!
The rest of the arguments are sound - and they all seem to be flatly contradicted by the presence of Planeswalkers, who are non-intutive, add unnecessary complexity and risk unbalancing things in a bad way.


Because you can't forget to teach a player about a whole card type. While it is less so for M12, in M10 and M11 all of them were also comparativly simple planeswalkers. I think that the new Jace, Chandra, and Garruk are all fairly simple, but I have to agree that Sorin and Gideon are probably two of the most rules intensive cards ever printed.
Is the core set really necessary?

Should it have been abolished, instead of polished and improved?

While I would rather not see the Core Set abolished, I think that's a very good question.

I think that the Core Set has lost its way.

What the Magic: 2010 change did to the Core Set was to bring it a lot closer to being just another block expansion set, although it is still distinct by reason of both flavor and mechanics. This, however, was and is a positive change, which means that the Core Set lost its way earlier than that.

Back in the days of Alpha, Beta, and Unlimited, the Core Set was Magic. Expansions - from Arabian Nights to Ice Age - were an optional extra that players could get in order to have more fun.

Imagine if things were still like that today. If the Core Set contained the most powerful Magic cards currently (I'm not saying that it's necessary to "reprint the Power Nine" here) available, then it would be the best bargain, and so it would be what everyone buys first.

So, why can't that be the case?

Obviously, if the Core Set were the same from one edition (every two years) to the next, except for minor tweaks, and it outshone the expansions significantly, while still also being simpler, meaning less cards with drawbacks...

Wizards would sell a lot fewer cards. People would complete their Core Set collections, and only dabble a little in what changes every year, the block expansions.

So the spotlight is on the new block expansions. October is the big month for Magic. The Core Set is a shadow of its former self, looking for an identity. The article notes how its simplicity, and its lack of a restriction to a single flavor, are still useful things.

And they are, but they're not enough to drum up enthusiasm for the Core Set.

I think that what needs to be done is to split the Core Set in two.

Complete the process of making the Core Set into the equal of an expansion set - allow it to have new mechanics, don't restrict it to simple mechanics, and make it fully equal in power level to an expansion set. What would remain of the old Core Set model is that it would have a significant proportion of reprints, and no single flavor.

For an introduction to Magic, bring in the Base Set. All reprints. Although a new one would likely come out each year too, the set would not change much. So its power level would be low - it can't have Mox Pearl, but it can have Marble Diamond - because an unchanging set can't interfere with the pattern of block rotation. It would have a complete set of rare duals... the painlands. About the only decent card in it would be Birds of Paradise.

How do you sell it? Well, my idea is to give it away free, while still selling it at the same price per booster pack as all the other sets.

How are you giving it away if you're charging the same price? Fair question, but with perceived value in Magic, that's easy enough.

Replace one common in this year's base set with a bonus card - which is a randomly-chosen rare from the preceding three block expansions. Since the rare contains nearly all the value of the pack, that makes a booster worth just about as much as any other booster - even if the rest of the cards were as uninteresting as basic lands.

That's how I'd make Un-sets saleable as well.

So value is equalized, while the principle of 15 cards for $4 is upheld.

The plan is that players would accumulate these valuable rares, useful for playing "real" Magic, while they get started playing what is both introductory Magic (in terms of mechanics, in terms of having a fixed target to learn instead of a moving target) and bargain-basement Magic since they have a fixed target to collect.

So, basically, a few free Birds of Paradise plus junk rares are given away as loss leaders, but not much of a loss.

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.

I actually want to defend the new style for core sets.  A lot of new players (older players too) can easily get into the game by drafting (everyone buys the packs and needs only some basic lands to play).  When 2010 came out I remember actually commenting on how refreshing it was to have the set follow the color wheel so well.  Similarly, if an experienced player were to build two decks out of core set cards and teach a new player how to play with them, they would be able to show the different colors' strengths and weaknesses (ok, you are in green so you basically have 0 removal but you have lots of critters that can smash face better).  Of course, it annoys me that they took out giant growth seeing as it is one of the most elegant spells ever created but hey, Wizards often makes questionable decisions.  After all, they printed goyf, a green critter that ravager affinity sometimes splashed green for.

The core set is definitely easier to teach from. Hands down. It keeps the game as simple as it can be, all while hinting of power that some cards can/do have (think Grizzly Bears and the Titan cycle).

I've recently tried teaching my little brother how to play using the SOM/MBS/NPH cycle and it had me teaching him things he just didn't need to know (things like infect, metalcraft, Phyrexian mana, etc). It's hard to make a winning infect deck using only MBS.. you have to reach into NPH as well. Same goes for metalcraft. So if a new player happens to see an awesome infect card and wants to use it, (s)he will have a much harder time winning. Teach that player using M12 and if they see a cool card and want to use it, they can build a deck around that strategy and have a much better chance of winning.

Another aspect of the M12 core set that helps beginngers, is that it pretty much pinpoints combo cards. Look at the whole Gideon cycle (Gideon's Lawkeeper, Gideon's Avenger, and Gideon Jura himself). The names of these cards help players realize that cards don't just work by themselves, but that they can actually work together. This helps form strategy.

Someone already touched on bloodthirst and I agree with him-or-her completely. It's an excellent mechanic because it helps teach new players the importance of timing. Every new player I've encountered tends to play cards as soon as (s)he can. It's hard for them to grasp the "leave your mana open through your attack phase" idea when, in their minds, they have no reason to leave it open. Bloodthirst really helps with this.
I've got only positives about Core Sets as they are currently, and I for one was pretty hyped for the M12 release (still am, for the online one, in Denmark the "live" milieu is pretty, uhm, limited). I like its simplicity, its, dare I say it, elegance. Sure, I love discovering combinations of advanced cards in expansion sets (Painsmith+Mortis Dogs+Vault Skirge! Of course! Add Esperzoas for Classic!), but I enjoy "figuring out" the less complicated Core Set no less. The Core Set is necessary for standard, is very useful for new players, but as MaRo says, it also needs to get the dedicated players excited. Well, it's working on me! For those who dislike it, continue to play SOM Block until Innistrad hits! No-one forces you to play M12 if you feel it's too simple.

I was happy with this week's article. It was about design, and it was a good read. Never mind that I had read at least some of it in tidbits before (almost inevitable with such a long-spanning weekly coloumn), there were some new angles and perspectives on it too. I'm looking forward to the online release of M12 now (more than I was before reading )!

Also, I hope that twist to the T-shirt coloumn next week turns out to be worth it, because I know I'm going to read it any way...
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!
I really like core sets, and I was especially impressed with M11. M12 is kinda mediocre... but whatever works.
I'm also going to disagree with the creation of cards like Titanic Growth as being new just to be new. it feels like it was a brand/marketing push imposed on design rather than a change that was good for the game.

Numerous times you've discussed how cards have gotten reprinted in expert sets because they were the cleanest most elegant form of the card, and that you shouldn't be forced to make a card just to make a card, so why would you not follow you own advice here? Do you not feel like there's an entropy point of the number of times you can print the same effect with slightly different numbers?



As MaRo always says, Magic is a game that breaks its own rules and its design is no different. Rules aren't there to be blindly followed. This also happened when Dissension did have split cards; the previous sets already differentiated the block enough from Invasion block so there was no reason to follow the rule that strictly.

In this case they did believe the 'core set survivor' thingy was enough justification to break the rule.

For an introduction to Magic, bring in the Base Set. All reprints. Although a new one would likely come out each year too, the set would not change much. So its power level would be low - it can't have Mox Pearl, but it can have Marble Diamond - because an unchanging set can't interfere with the pattern of block rotation. It would have a complete set of rare duals... the painlands. About the only decent card in it would be Birds of Paradise.



This is basically what the core set was around 6th-8th. The problem with it was that, as MaRo describes, because the established players did nothing with it, it also failed at its other tasks.

So why the hell are Planeswalkers in the Core Set?!
The rest of the arguments are sound - and they all seem to be flatly contradicted by the presence of Planeswalkers, who are non-intutive, add unnecessary complexity and risk unbalancing things in a bad way.



Because they're awesome, exiting and the face of magic.
The design philosophy is that its okay to let players jump through hoops if the reward is worth it. Players -want- to learn more about how planeswalkers work, that's the idea.

The rarity also helps; the higher the rarity, the higher Wizards is willing to set the complexity bar.

The problem I have with the way Core sets are made is pretty simple- they underestimate the new player. Cards like Goblin Piker and Runeclaw Bear have always been a mockery of the game because they can only serve as learning tools. It's almost insulting for cards like Cloud Crusader, Silvercoat Lion, Greatsword and Kite Shield to be designed because they are made to be worse than other cards, but good for "teaching".


Cloud Crusader for example, wouldn't hurt the game by being a 3/5 Flying First Striker, and it would prove itself to be a useful beater for a new player to learn first strike with. Instead it finds itself in the same garbage bins as the "strictly worse than" cards from core sets, which is very hard to be excited about. In this sense I feel the Core Set should always be as useful as it is good for learning, with cards like Trusty Machete or Bone Saw to teach people how to use equipment and how to seek value in permanents, since they are not only simple but may wind up being cards that the new player will use in some future decks, without them having to climb the rarity latter- which is where the Core Sets encounter most of their problems. A good example is that in an Advanced Set, rarity has no say so in "power-level" (otherwise simplistic but nifty bits like Gitaxian Probe would never exist),  but is in place so that players can't have a bunch of Karn Liberateds in their limited pool. However, in Core Sets, the only cards which have a tendancy to be worth playing otherwise are usually higher rarity or scattered among the crowd of poorly picked commons (and now uncommons).


 

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Wynzer, most of these cards are excellent in Limited.
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!

The problem I have with the way Core sets are made is pretty simple- they underestimate the new player. Cards like Goblin Piker and Runeclaw Bear have always been a mockery of the game because they can only serve as learning tools. It's almost insulting for cards like Cloud Crusader, Silvercoat Lion, Greatsword and Kite Shield to be designed because they are made to be worse than other cards, but good for "teaching".


Cloud Crusader for example, wouldn't hurt the game by being a 3/5 Flying First Striker, and it would prove itself to be a useful beater for a new player to learn first strike with. Instead it finds itself in the same garbage bins as the "strictly worse than" cards from core sets, which is very hard to be excited about. In this sense I feel the Core Set should always be as useful as it is good for learning, with cards like Trusty Machete or Bone Saw to teach people how to use equipment and how to seek value in permanents, since they are not only simple but may wind up being cards that the new player will use in some future decks, without them having to climb the rarity latter- which is where the Core Sets encounter most of their problems. A good example is that in an Advanced Set, rarity has no say so in "power-level" (otherwise simplistic but nifty bits like Gitaxian Probe would never exist),  but is in place so that players can't have a bunch of Karn Liberateds in their limited pool. However, in Core Sets, the only cards which have a tendancy to be worth playing otherwise are usually higher rarity or scattered among the crowd of poorly picked commons (and now uncommons


See, there's a problem with that. If we never have cards that are "strictly worse than" cards or by extension, "just as good as" cards, then the power level can do nothing but go up and up. So lets' say we do make that 3/5 flying first striker for 4.


 





See, there's a problem with that. If we never have cards that are "strictly worse than" cards or by extension, "just as good as" cards, then the power level can do nothing but go up and up. So lets' say we do make that 3/5 flying first striker for 4. So what's the next step at common? 4/4 flying first strike for 4? 4/4 double strike for 3? Eventually you have to level off or scale back. That means that, necessarily, you'll have some cards that don't get played much outside of block constructed or limited. It's a necessary function of the game. They can't all be good cards.
Why in the world are others posting in this thread teaching new players with a draft?! That's maybe tripling or quadrupling the complexity and putting more distance between the new player and the first time he or she actually casts a spell.

By the time someone has agreed to learn, they've heard my summary of the game concept that you're a wizard fighting another wizard by casting spells and summoning creatures. (Much as WotC might prefer I say "planeswalker", I prefer to use only words the non-player has heard before to avoid further explanation.) Instead of explaining very much at the start, I just show the prospective player my two intro-pack-emulating teaching decks, each with a certain "poster child" card on top (I think I've got Angelic Arbiter and Shivan Dragon), let them pick which one they want, help them shuffle a bit, then have each of us play with our hands revealed as I talk them through it.

I do free mulligans if the hand won't play well, saying, "There are rules for drawing new hands that people use at tournaments, but we'll just get you seven new cards to make the game go smoothly." Then they're playing a land, and I explain which of their cards cost the least mana that they'll be able to play soon, if not now. I put extra 1-cmc creatures in these decks so that there will be a lot of times the first turn has action, and it's really hard for them to get mana-screwed. It's just a few minutes between me putting the decks on the table and them casting a spell.

I love the new core sets. I was basically inactive around the time of M10, but started drafting again with M11, and it got me excited to play. My two M12 drafts so far have been just as great, despite my frustration at losing to a Grave Titan + Vengeful Pharaoh monoblack monstrosity this Saturday.
Sylvan; One of the guys at the Sealed tournament I went to saturday opened Grave Titan, Inferno Titan, Rune-Scarred Demon and the on-colour cards to support them(!).

I was almost as outraged at his meager 2-2 standing before the fifth and final round as I was when I heard him opening his packs...
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!

The problem I have with the way Core sets are made is pretty simple- they underestimate the new player. Cards like Goblin Piker and Runeclaw Bear have always been a mockery of the game because they can only serve as learning tools. It's almost insulting for cards like Cloud Crusader, Silvercoat Lion, Greatsword and Kite Shield to be designed because they are made to be worse than other cards, but good for "teaching".


Cloud Crusader for example, wouldn't hurt the game by being a 3/5 Flying First Striker, and it would prove itself to be a useful beater for a new player to learn first strike with. Instead it finds itself in the same garbage bins as the "strictly worse than" cards from core sets, which is very hard to be excited about. In this sense I feel the Core Set should always be as useful as it is good for learning, with cards like Trusty Machete or Bone Saw to teach people how to use equipment and how to seek value in permanents, since they are not only simple but may wind up being cards that the new player will use in some future decks, without them having to climb the rarity latter- which is where the Core Sets encounter most of their problems. A good example is that in an Advanced Set, rarity has no say so in "power-level" (otherwise simplistic but nifty bits like Gitaxian Probe would never exist),  but is in place so that players can't have a bunch of Karn Liberateds in their limited pool. However, in Core Sets, the only cards which have a tendancy to be worth playing otherwise are usually higher rarity or scattered among the crowd of poorly picked commons (and now uncommons


See, there's a problem with that. If we never have cards that are "strictly worse than" cards or by extension, "just as good as" cards, then the power level can do nothing but go up and up. So lets' say we do make that 3/5 flying first striker for 4.


 





See, there's a problem with that. If we never have cards that are "strictly worse than" cards or by extension, "just as good as" cards, then the power level can do nothing but go up and up. So lets' say we do make that 3/5 flying first striker for 4. So what's the next step at common? 4/4 flying first strike for 4? 4/4 double strike for 3? Eventually you have to level off or scale back. That means that, necessarily, you'll have some cards that don't get played much outside of block constructed or limited. It's a necessary function of the game. They can't all be good cards.



'Eventually,' according to the explanation of why they banned Jace was the Scars of Mirrodin block.
I'm also going to disagree with the creation of cards like Titanic Growth as being new just to be new. it feels like it was a brand/marketing push imposed on design rather than a change that was good for the game.


I assumed they benched Giant Growth because a one-mana instant pump spell at common made poison too strong.
I'm also going to disagree with the creation of cards like Titanic Growth as being new just to be new. it feels like it was a brand/marketing push imposed on design rather than a change that was good for the game.


I assumed they benched Giant Growth because a one-mana instant pump spell at common made poison too strong.



Unnatural Predation?

EDIT: Mirran Mettle, too.
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!
For Giant Growth/Giant Spider: I agree with the people who are saying that replacing Giant Growth (A card that is far from playable outside of limited, and it tends to be a stretch there) with a card that costs twice as much with minimal benefit is rather pointless.

Consider the following comparisons: 
For Burn, moving from R to 1R gets you a 50% damage increase and an extra tag-along Shock->Incinerate
For -X/-X, moving from B to BB gets you double the result Disfigure->Grasp of Darkness
Note that for those examples, the 1 mana card was already playable and yet the boost was still greater than Giant Growth->Titanic Growth.

The simple addition of Trample instead of an extra point of power/toughness would have made the card a lot more useful and exciting while still avoiding power-creep. If you don't want the complexity, then the simpler version would've been better.

Personally, I would've preferred to see Giant Growth stay and replace Giant Spider with Deadly Recluse.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)

So why the hell are Planeswalkers in the Core Set?!
The rest of the arguments are sound - and they all seem to be flatly contradicted by the presence of Planeswalkers, who are non-intutive, add unnecessary complexity and risk unbalancing things in a bad way.



Because they're awesome, exiting and the face of magic.
The design philosophy is that its okay to let players jump through hoops if the reward is worth it. Players -want- to learn more about how planeswalkers work, that's the idea.

The rarity also helps; the higher the rarity, the higher Wizards is willing to set the complexity bar.



At the risk of putting words into the mouths of the design team who made this decision, I think Planeswalkers are included in core sets (aside from Branding's purposes, in that they serve as faces of the game and star in the storylines of Magic) is to show what Magic is like, as a counterpoint to the simpler spells new players learn. So while stuff like Shock and Unsummon shows what Magic can do at its core (no pun intended), Planeswalkers show off what magic is capable of at its zenith - cards that effectively feel like other players. Magic immerses the player by simulating they are a spellcaster through its gameplay, but planeswalkers take that immersion to another level by introducting characters who are intended to feel like your "equal" - an ally and not an underling. A fellow spellcaster in card form.
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.
I'm also going to disagree with the creation of cards like Titanic Growth as being new just to be new. it feels like it was a brand/marketing push imposed on design rather than a change that was good for the game.


I assumed they benched Giant Growth because a one-mana instant pump spell at common made poison too strong.



Unnatural Predation?

EDIT: Mirran Mettle, too.


They exist, but neither is quite as powerful in a poison deck as Growth. Mettle requires a heavy artifact presence and Predation is useful mostly for its evasion (although that's plenty).

The problem I have with the way Core sets are made is pretty simple- they underestimate the new player. Cards like Goblin Piker and Runeclaw Bear have always been a mockery of the game because they can only serve as learning tools. It's almost insulting for cards like Cloud Crusader, Silvercoat Lion, Greatsword and Kite Shield to be designed because they are made to be worse than other cards, but good for "teaching".


Cloud Crusader for example, wouldn't hurt the game by being a 3/5 Flying First Striker, and it would prove itself to be a useful beater for a new player to learn first strike with. Instead it finds itself in the same garbage bins as the "strictly worse than" cards from core sets, which is very hard to be excited about. In this sense I feel the Core Set should always be as useful as it is good for learning, with cards like Trusty Machete or Bone Saw to teach people how to use equipment and how to seek value in permanents, since they are not only simple but may wind up being cards that the new player will use in some future decks, without them having to climb the rarity latter- which is where the Core Sets encounter most of their problems. A good example is that in an Advanced Set, rarity has no say so in "power-level" (otherwise simplistic but nifty bits like Gitaxian Probe would never exist),  but is in place so that players can't have a bunch of Karn Liberateds in their limited pool. However, in Core Sets, the only cards which have a tendancy to be worth playing otherwise are usually higher rarity or scattered among the crowd of poorly picked commons (and now uncommons


See, there's a problem with that. If we never have cards that are "strictly worse than" cards or by extension, "just as good as" cards, then the power level can do nothing but go up and up. So lets' say we do make that 3/5 flying first striker for 4.


 





See, there's a problem with that. If we never have cards that are "strictly worse than" cards or by extension, "just as good as" cards, then the power level can do nothing but go up and up. So lets' say we do make that 3/5 flying first striker for 4. So what's the next step at common? 4/4 flying first strike for 4? 4/4 double strike for 3? Eventually you have to level off or scale back. That means that, necessarily, you'll have some cards that don't get played much outside of block constructed or limited. It's a necessary function of the game. They can't all be good cards.



Not at all, the object is to not need strictly better or worse than to begin with, simple expansion if you will. I know that the Core Set doesn't have this luxury in the form of complex new mechanics and multicolored cards or what have you, but the idea is to never "top" a card that's playable, and to never make strictly better or worse versions of what already exists. This is how power-creep is avoided, not making worse or better cards. My problem was never "just as good as" being the common bond so long as the card was playable to begin with.


A good example is Barkshell Blessing which for all practical purposes is considered one of the "weaker" Giant Growth-like mechanic cards, but because it isn't better OR worse than any cards which function similarly to it, it remains a fun, playable card. Or with cards which are ACTUALLY in the coreset that were a good call, Mana Leak is only considered "unplayable" in a format or pool of cards with Mana Drain (a card that is just plain broken). In Mana Leak's case it remains powerful without having to be improved, or needing a strictly worse version, it simply is where it needs to be.

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Why in the world are others posting in this thread teaching new players with a draft?! ...



I thought this point was more about teaching limited than teaching the game. You're right for just teaching the game, but I don't think M11 really provided that much of a better place for learning sealed and draft. Draft assumes some knowledge of the card pool beyond just knowing how the game works.

Take the MB prerelease. With faction packs, you are clearly deciding if you want to try to make the poison deck or the metalcraft deck up front. To that end, the block was useful for explaining the nature of limited. By contrast, I found RoE to be awful. It was hard for novices to understand the archetypes so they just took whatever colors looked fun and created messy drafts.

While block mechanics are only important in name for Scars limited, bloodthirst is very similar for M12. It appears in specific colors and you need to draft a deck archetype to get the most out of it. To that end, M12 looks similar to Scars in that taking metalcraft cards without support won't do you much good. With the smaller size of M12, it could be a really good set for  teaching the nature of limited to novices of the format.


As far as Planeswalkers in the core sets go: I maintain that for both the goals of having Planeswalkers be the face of the game and the goal of teaching players, Planeswalkers need to be available at rare. Restricting an entire card type to Mythic makes it more difficult to bring in new players and teach them the game, especially since Planeswalkers have become so integral to the game despite being the cardtype with the least members. It leaves you two options: Either have several extra planeswalkers on hand to give out (Which is expensive, especially since all the cheap walkers rotated) or simply skip them altogether and just have the new player be completely blindsided.

If you're teaching using any tool available in a prepackaged form (Excluding the Duel Decks that include planeswalkers) to teach new players, it either definitely won't include Planeswalkers or has a very small chance of it. Unless a new player starts by cracking a large number of packs (After crunching the numbers in another thread, the point at which 50% of players will have opened at least one 'walker is the 17th pack) or gets lucky, they are not going to get a Planeswalker on their own.

Yes, I do understand Planeswalkers need to be special and flavorful and all that, but by keeping them out of the hands of new players, they're not able to work very well as the face of the game. 
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)

Yes, I do understand Planeswalkers need to be special and flavorful and all that, but by keeping them out of the hands of new players, they're not able to work very well as the face of the game. 



To be quite honest, I hadn't thought of it quite that way before (since I've always seen Planeswalkers as utility enchantments with their own toughness).So why AREN'T they in Intro Packs or what have you? At some juncture I would dare it to say it's to increase the number of boosters sold or to let them retain their second-market value, but that in itself is pretty bad for the game (because, who can AFFORD to open an excess of packs? People who invest in them, creating a middle man which gets to name the price until someone is willing to pay for it). The reason this becomes bad is that until a Walker sees a premium product with an MSRP of $20 at Wal Mart or Barnes and Noble, we find the clerk at our local hobby shop being the one pulling the strings, which in theory says "Magic is keeping hobby shops alive", but in reality means "Magic is becoming much more expensive for a new player to get into"

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See, there's a problem with that. If we never have cards that are "strictly worse than" cards or by extension, "just as good as" cards, then the power level can do nothing but go up and up. So lets' say we do make that 3/5 flying first striker for 4. So what's the next step at common? 4/4 flying first strike for 4? 4/4 double strike for 3? Eventually you have to level off or scale back. That means that, necessarily, you'll have some cards that don't get played much outside of block constructed or limited. It's a necessary function of the game. They can't all be good cards.



Yup, they cannot.  Most cards ought to be decent. 

That said, they do need to make sure they don't print cards that are just bad.  It is pretty evident which cards are bad...when drafting, they are usually those last 2-3 non-land cards in every pack.  Now, sure, sometimes cards get left there because they are narrow, useful in the right constructed deck, but not in limited.  The ones I'm talking about though are things like Dryad's Favor.  Definitely not good enough for constructed.  So narrow that it doesn't even see much play in draft.  You could take that same card, have it give Reach and +0/+1 as well, and it still wouldn't be anywhere near power creep, but you'd be a bit more likely to use it.

As for core sets, I like them swapping out the cards, sort of.  The aspect I dislike isn't that there are new cards, but rather, Mythics, specifically, the chase ones.  Bad enough chasing mythics in non-core sets, but in core sets, I stand a good chance of getting a mythic that I already own.  And others are in the same boat, so those reprints drop in price quickly, as the price focuses on the new cards.  With rares, most of them got swapped.  With mythics, a good portion got left.

Overall, I also feel that M12 is lacking compared to M11.  But then, M11 is one of the best overall designed magic sets ever.


On Giant Spider v. Giant Growth: It can't just be to promote a spider theme, since they could do that with cards like Canopy Spider that they also consider to be perfect designs. My inference is that they wanted to have some "brakes" on a fast format, and Giant Spider is a terrific blocker, which had much higher priority than keeping the last member of the boon cycle alive.
As for core sets, I like them swapping out the cards, sort of.  The aspect I dislike isn't that there are new cards, but rather, Mythics, specifically, the chase ones.  Bad enough chasing mythics in non-core sets, but in core sets, I stand a good chance of getting a mythic that I already own.  And others are in the same boat, so those reprints drop in price quickly, as the price focuses on the new cards.  With rares, most of them got swapped.  With mythics, a good portion got left.


I'll take the other side on this one: Having Mythics that aren't that expensive isn't a bad thing from a budget player's perspective. Speaking as somebody who doesn't have a ton to spend on cards, I'm thrilled when I can get good cards without paying through the nose. Having a lower entry barrier to competetive play is a Good Thing in my opinion, and not having to pay $5+ per dual land is definitely a step in that direction. FNM is no fun when it gets divided into two groups of people: Those who can afford $100+ per deck and those who can't.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)