7/27/2011 StF: "M12 from the Inside, Part 2"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Savor the Flavor, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Though I have complained about Sorin's Vengeance in the past, and still do wish we'd have seem something other than "more life stealing" in Sorin's two spell slots, I have to say the art is amazing. Superb, really. And I did not notice the sclera thing, but it is a really cool detail. It's attention to the little things that make Magic's flavor so amazing to me.

Bloodlord of Vaasgoth. I like that the core set can tease various locations that have not yet been visited but may someday be. It gets me excited to see those places eventually. And again, this is some amazing art. But again, the card design leaves me a little upset (it's a neat idea, but it doesn't really work as a Lord for me, since it drops too late and doesn't help vampires already on the field). I miss Captivating Vampire. Three-drop is the perfect slot for a lord. See Adaptive Automaton Laughing.

Hunter's Insight. That is exactly the type of card draw green should have. I like it.

Skinshifter. This card is amazing. I love the design, I love the flavor, I love the name, I love the art. It's probably my favorite new card in M12. I desperately want to see the world from whence he comes.

The three artifacts "of Empires". I find it really neat that the item itself is creatively tied to the card's ability. The crown, since it's headgear, grants mind control. The scepter smacks people. The throne gives you a place from which to command a growing army. This is a really nice touch.

Adaptive Automaton. A really cool card that fills so many roles while still doing something quite simple. This is exactly the kind of cards that the core set needs, and the fact that it's here gives me faith that Wizards knows exactly what they're doing.

Druidic Satchel. Another card I love, for reasons similar to Skinshifter. I have always enjoyed cards that can serve multiple roles based on need, and the fact that the satchel changes roles at pseudo-random makes me like it no less. I didn't think of it as a "bag of tricks" until I read this article, but now that it's been pointed out to me I see how well it fits. On that note, maybe it should've been a Bardic Satchel, as Bards seem more the type to carry a bag of tricks. Still, I guess Magic doesn't have that many bards.

Finally, Buried Ruin. It's nice to see lands that do more than produce mana. Keep the cool, resonant land designs coming.

All in all, despite a few regrets, M12 is a really cool set with a lot of really cool cards both creatively and mechanically. I like the new direction the core set is going, and can't wait to see the awesome new cards M13 will bring to the table.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
core sets are awesome now regardles, but i will say that m12 definitley feels like it has more flavor than the average core set

but man, i love u and all the flavor u bring to magic lol, but please- tell us why Skinshifter is not a human druid, rather than shaman 

" a form of beastmaster, a nature mage who can alter his appearance and become one of the living creatures belonging to the forest he reveres. He's a kind of wild-man who can become a wild beast. We played with various creature types[...]"

druid would have been perfect for this card and everything about it, from art to actualy abilities

why? was it a mistake? or did u guys just not think about it?

 
Druidic Satchel and Skinshifter feel related to me. Like they're from the same (non-core) set.

And raadface, Shaman always feels more... 'wild' than Druid. A Druid uses ritual and diciplined action, where a Shaman just feels. This might be totally off, but it's where my guesses have always been :P
I seem to recall that Kelly Digges picks out the pictures for the articles; if so, then he is probably responsible for the hilarious fact that "When the design of a planeswalker card isn't fitting our conception of the individual it represents, you can bet we'll step in and work with the designers to get the design in line" is immediately followed by two of the biggest flavor fails in recent memory.  Koth of the Hammer...an artificer, from a tribe of artificers, on a world that is itself an artifact, which was created by a godlike planeswalker who was also an artifact, and he has no artifact-related abilities whatsoever.  He's very well designed as a "geomancer", which would be quite reasonable if he came from a plane which has earth.  (And shovels.)  Meanwhile, Thrun is the reclusive troll hermit who advises Glissa in the Mirrodin novels, and people have been waiting to see a card for him for eight years - so they get a powerful but boring beatstick.  There are many cards in SOM which have awesome flavor, but these are not among them, and I suspect their inclusion here is a deliberate dig at the fact that SOM didn't quite live up to its ambitions.

TSkinshifter. This card is amazing. I love the name



You're welcome.

(And I agree with keiyakins' point about Shamans.  A Druid would be "white-leaning" green (keepers of tradition and preservers of the land), with maybe even a trace of blue (not meddling with nature but sometimes gently guiding it just a bit in some constructive direction, while preserving knowledge of the forest's secrets - none of which is exclusively or definitionally blue, but it wouldn't feel out of place on Bant as much as on Naya).  While Shaman bleeds into red and even black, being based on the veneration of spirits (who are more powerful than you and probably not especially nice to those who tick them off).

All in all, despite a few regrets, M12 is a really cool set with a lot of really cool cards both creatively and mechanically. I like the new direction the core set is going, and can't wait to see the awesome new cards M13 will bring to the table.



Agreed.  M12 could have been better, but is quite good nonetheless.
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
core sets are awesome now regardles, but i will say that m12 definitley feels like it has more flavor than the average core set

but man, i love u and all the flavor u bring to magic lol, but please- tell us why Skinshifter is not a human druid, rather than shaman 

" a form of beastmaster, a nature mage who can alter his appearance and become one of the living creatures belonging to the forest he reveres. He's a kind of wild-man who can become a wild beast. We played with various creature types[...]"

druid would have been perfect for this card and everything about it, from art to actualy abilities

why? was it a mistake? or did u guys just not think about it?


With very few exceptions, Druids in MTG have abilities related to land or mana.  Skinshifter has no such ability.
I understand that in MAGIC druids are supposed to have land or mana based abilities and shamans are supposed to be more animistic but I assumed that Skinshifter was supposed to be a top-down represenation of a DnD druid.
I understand that in MAGIC druids are supposed to have land or mana based abilities and shamans are supposed to be more animistic but I assumed that Skinshifter was supposed to be a top-down represenation of a DnD druid.



Okay, but which game is Skinshifter a part of: Magic or D&D?  =P  Sometimes different fantasy systems just don't match up; a red mage from Final Fantasy would actually be a white-black mage in Magic.  The Water Tribe from Avatar: The Last Airbender is obviously attuned to water, but I think they would be white-aligned in Magic.

On that note, maybe Druidic Satchel should've been a Bardic Satchel, as Bards seem more the type to carry a bag of tricks. Still, I guess Magic doesn't have that many bards.


I agree that a bag of tricks sounds more bardic than druidic.  Interestingly, the other bard in Magic is a shaman and not a druid.  Maybe shamans and druids have always been bitter rivals, and the satchel got stolen during the feud? 
It's the Mr. Potato Head of magically animated military constructs.



There are no words to describe how epic this sentence is.
I miss Captivating Vampire. Three-drop is the perfect slot for a lord.




I was beginning to think that I was the only person who played this card.
I understand that in MAGIC druids are supposed to have land or mana based abilities and shamans are supposed to be more animistic but I assumed that Skinshifter was supposed to be a top-down represenation of a DnD druid.



Okay, but which game is Skinshifter a part of: Magic or D&D?  =P  Sometimes different fantasy systems just don't match up; a red mage from Final Fantasy would actually be a white-black mage in Magic.



Really? I thought most Black Magic in FF was more 'causing damage' rather than 'causing loss of life,' so I'd have gone for Red/White for FF Red Mages, white for FF White Mages and Red for FF Black Mages.

(And probably Red for FF Blue Mages, though there's an arguement for Blue for 'can cast whatever the other guy hits me with', I guess, but it feels more improvisational trickster than chessmastery to me, which is definitely more Red.)
That story about the "3/3 zone" was very interesting, I would love to hear more of those meta-flavor-guidelines from time to time =D
Now I see where you're going with the 4/3 and 4/4 giants in recent coresets.

About  Buried Ruin being a bridge between Zendikar and Scars: isn't it a core set too late?
I understand that in MAGIC druids are supposed to have land or mana based abilities and shamans are supposed to be more animistic but I assumed that Skinshifter was supposed to be a top-down represenation of a DnD druid.



Shamans and druids are both very close to each other, realistically speaking. They're both spiritual heads, but not of strictly formalized religions like clerics. They both invoke the powers of others, but not the distant, singular, extremely powerful entities invoked by clerics so much as the commonplace, nearby powers of nature spirits, animals, the land, and the dead.  They both are keepers of deep, hidden knowledge, but not the formalised knowledge learned through experimentation and passed on through education. Their knowledge is derived from a hard-forged spiritual link with that which they wish to know. Druids and shamans share a lot of the qualities that distinguish them from wizards on one end and clerics on the other.

The main difference is that druids can be thought of as "shamans of the seasons and lands," where as the nominal shamans are more often "shamans of specific spirits, elements, and animals". The black Nezumi shamans invoked locusts and bone, red shamans invoke fire and dragons, and green shamans invoke the many plants and animals of the green spectrum. (Fauna Shaman would be another example that matches well with the Skinshifter.)  Druids, on the other hand, talk a lot about the land, and never really mention specific plants or animals so much as Nature (with a capital 'N'). So I guess another way of thinking of it is that druids like Nature -- big, vague, and all-encompassing -- while shamans tend to be more specific in their devotions.
Meanwhile, Thrun is the reclusive troll hermit who advises Glissa in the Mirrodin novels, and people have been waiting to see a card for him for eight years - so they get a powerful but boring beatstick.


While it is a card that could have been designed (and maybe was) to be a boringly almost-unstoppable green creature like Gaea's Revenge, I think it is justified here. Thrun is the last troll, and if he has survived this much, I'd expect some set of abilities similar to what the has. The fact that it's good or even pushed for being a mythic or legend doesn't automatically mean it's not flavorful.

Pointing this out because I've seen many similar comments.
Really? I thought most Black Magic in FF was more 'causing damage' rather than 'causing loss of life,' so I'd have gone for Red/White for FF Red Mages, white for FF White Mages and Red for FF Black Mages.

(And probably Red for FF Blue Mages, though there's an arguement for Blue for 'can cast whatever the other guy hits me with', I guess, but it feels more improvisational trickster than chessmastery to me, which is definitely more Red.)


Yeah, I'd say Black Mages are red in magic terms, especially since red gets spells related to fire, ice, and lightning, which black mages are known for using. (Admittedly red gets ice less than the other two, but it happens on occasion.)

White Mages are definitely white. So are Green Mages, which do exist in FFTA2 at least. (I've no idea what other games they may be in; I'm not a massive FF fan.)

Blue Mages are blue mechanically (Skill Borrower), but maybe green flavourfully, with their connections to wild beasts and such.
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Really? I thought most Black Magic in FF was more 'causing damage' rather than 'causing loss of life,' so I'd have gone for Red/White for FF Red Mages, white for FF White Mages and Red for FF Black Mages.

(And probably Red for FF Blue Mages, though there's an arguement for Blue for 'can cast whatever the other guy hits me with', I guess, but it feels more improvisational trickster than chessmastery to me, which is definitely more Red.)


Yeah, I'd say Black Mages are red in magic terms, especially since red gets spells related to fire, ice, and lightning, which black mages are known for using. (Admittedly red gets ice less than the other two, but it happens on occasion.)

White Mages are definitely white. So are Green Mages, which do exist in FFTA2 at least. (I've no idea what other games they may be in; I'm not a massive FF fan.)



I thought Green Mages caused status effects, both offensive and defensive, but Green Magic is something Square-Enix doesn't seem to like sticking to a definition of, it seems to change in the specifics of the sort of things that are green (vs white or black) from game to game.

Blue Mages are blue mechanically (Skill Borrower), but maybe green flavourfully, with their connections to wild beasts and such.



I thought Blue Mages were more 'use the other guy's spells against him' rather than 'borrow what someone else on my team is doing' which *checks*...

...Is apparently blue despite clearly being part of the Trickster archtype's repetoir, which I thought they were pushing as one of Red's 'things' (Actually looking through various cards R&D doesn't seem to be sure if the Tricksters archtype should be Red or Blue. Compare Reverberate and Twincast)

Druidic Satchel. Another card I love, for reasons similar to Skinshifter. I have always enjoyed cards that can serve multiple roles based on need, and the fact that the satchel changes roles at pseudo-random makes me like it no less. I didn't think of it as a "bag of tricks" until I read this article, but now that it's been pointed out to me I see how well it fits. On that note, maybe it should've been a Bardic Satchel, as Bards seem more the type to carry a bag of tricks. Still, I guess Magic doesn't have that many bards.

Finally, Buried Ruin. It's nice to see lands that do more than produce mana. Keep the cool, resonant land designs coming.
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Two points I wanted to highlight as similar to my own. I really, really want to make a 4xDruidic Satchel plus 56-land deck. And Buried Ruin is something along similar lines that I like, in that I wish this game had more utility lands that could do things (and make 40-, 50-, even 60-land decks viable)

I was a little bothered by the comment that you only had room for one other land. Did you bump Terramorphic Expanse for this? Surely there was some chaff common that could have been dropped to keep the Expanse in (and if you really want to expand the lands, surely you could consolidate the five lifegain artifacts into one card.) 
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
Really? I thought most Black Magic in FF was more 'causing damage' rather than 'causing loss of life,' so I'd have gone for Red/White for FF Red Mages, white for FF White Mages and Red for FF Black Mages.


Yeah, I'd say Black Mages are red in magic terms, especially since red gets spells related to fire, ice, and lightning, which black mages are known for using. (Admittedly red gets ice less than the other two, but it happens on occasion.)


Fair enough.  I guess I was thinking more along the lines of FF Black Mages casting spells through occult dealings, spell components, and study instead of through raw emotion.  (Then and again, it seems that some Magic red mages have to study their magic, so maybe that isn't a good distinction.)  Sometimes the FF Black Mages do get spells that would be black in Magic, though, such as Poison, Drain, Osmose, and Rasp--which just supports the point I was making that fantasy systems don't always match up.  =)
I thought Blue Mages were more 'use the other guy's spells against him' rather than 'borrow what someone else on my team is doing' which *checks*...


I more just meant the "has all activated abilities of [other creature]" bit, which hasn't been used on many cards but seems to mostly be blue.
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I love ability-tastic lands and agree that we should see more of them.  I suspect the existence of nonbasic land hate is part of why this hasn't happened too much.

The thing with Sorin's eyes didn't seem to come up in the Zendikar novel, in which Nissa Revane regards Sorin as human when they meet; there might have been a mention of him having "dark eyes", but that can mean anything, and there certainly wasn't a "he looks human except that his eyes are black" or the like (though admittedly Nissa is an isolationist elf, she may not have had enough dealings with humans to know that their eyeballs are always white).  It makes me think this detail is recent, which causes me to be irritated that they're devoting effort to enforcing it now, when this wasn't done in the first place.  It often seems to me as though Wotco does not keep as careful track of the details of their IP as most creative companies; consider the kind of continuity shenanigans DC Comics goes through because they know perfectly well that having a character spontaneously change eye color when they appear for the first time in ten years will result in a deluge of hate mail.  Granted, Magic prides itself on being ever-changing, so maybe an avoidance of getting bogged down in details is deliberate - but if they're doing sclera checks on Sorin, they clearly aren't totally committed to the "innovation and reinterpretation" angle either.

Also, while composing this insight, I realized for the first time that Nissa Revane has something in common with Glissa Sunseeker besides pointed skin (and, er, other portions).  I wonder if we shall see still more "-issa" elves.
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
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