7/29/2011 LD: "The Magic 2012 Multiverse Dump, Part 1"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.

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Magic: The Gathering Rules Manager Wizards of the Coast Follow me @TabakRules
Those options aren't mutually exclusive though... I agree with the first and last choice in the poll. :/
Stop using "IMO" in sentences that aren't opinion. If you don't think a deck will ever be tier 1, that's great - but it's not an opinion. It's a prediction of the future. I identify as neither male nor female. You may refer to me with either gender pronoun or the singular they, whichever suits you best. ^_^ Re: Dismember
97543238 wrote:
Everybody knows that having your awesome creatures killed before they can do anything is frustrating, but the Red mage in me doesn't seem to understand why it's so bad when his creatures spontaneously combust into Flame Javelins and make his opponent discard something at the same time.
Currently Working On: Self-Mill (Standard)
Del 6/1: Should this card wait for the Djinn set to come rather than become "smart pudgy bird" or "baby sphinx"?



The Djinn set? Now my interest is piqued.

Could we have a baby sphinx? That'd be cute and awesome!

Also, I love the Skeleton. 
This article seemed really short.

I suppose the silent majority spoke on the Titans, but I'd still really like to see Tom address some of the concerns raised in the forum thread for last week's article.
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A genie is a well-known flavour and spelling, yet Magic continues to use djinn. Most of the time, it's pretty clear that a djinn is a genie, but not always.

Do people outside Magic know what a djinn is?

It's a bit like Magic using wyvern instead of dragon.

Can we have real genies now please?
I liked the Kids in the Hall reference on the Reassembling Skeleton comments. =P
Genies (or rather genii) are from Roman mythology. Djinn are from Arabian mythology. The fact that the former term was used for the latter in a French translation of One Thousand and One Nights because it sounded similar doesn't mean that they're the same thing.
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"MJ 6/10: strange that blue gets a 2 power 1 drop, but green doesn't.
TML 6/16/2010: What two power one drop? I don't see anything... "

Anti-green bias confirmed? ;P

I agree the article is far too short and also disappoints in presenting mostly boring cards to give insight on. I think we'd much rather get insight on a mix of some of the uber powered cards and just as importantly I think we'd also love to see the discussions that led to some of the blaringly obvious duds in the set that aren't even worth the paper they are printed on?

I'd personally love to see some of the thought process involved in giving Elves such a poor showing in the set. I have a wierd feeling there were some nice elves slated for the set that didn't make it in. Also, Gladecover Scout. I wonder if this card was worth playing at any point of development and if so, why it finalized as a hexproof elf that is so sad that hexproof is pointless? (Now if it had been a hexproof mana producer, that might have been worth while).
If Immolating Souleater has a mana ability, I would need someone else to explain to me just where in the Comprehensive Rules such a strange thing could have been caused.

However, the example does raise a good question. Does Pristine Talisman really have a mana ability either?

A mana ability can't be countered, because it happens too fast. When Pristine Talisman is tapped, two things happen - you add :1mana: to your mana pool, but you also gain 1 life.

So it ought to be just as possible to counter that ability as it is to counter Stream of Life. After all, otherwise, one could make a card with this kind of ability:

: Add :1mana: to your mana pool. Target creature or player receives 2 damage.

In itself, this isn't really a "flaw", I suppose, since Magic is not flawed because it's possible to make a card like Black Lotus; one just has to restrain oneself from doing so. But the fact that this ability is uncounterable, and it is not obvious that this is so, is what I see as a potential problem if this area of design space does get explored... even if more carefully than in my example.

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.



So it ought to be just as possible to counter that ability as it is to counter Stream of Life. After all, otherwise, one could make a card with this kind of ability:

: Add :1mana: to your mana pool. Target creature or player receives 2 damage.


No, you can't. Anything with a target is not a mana ability. And Tom, to his credit, did mention that in the article.

If it was felt that gaining one life was an effect that needed to be capable of being responded to, they would make that, too, targeted - that is the entire point of targeting.

However, I do wish he hadn't oversimplified what it takes to be a mana ability. While he did specifically mention the point about targeting, someone is going to walk away from the article thinking that Cathodion and more importantly Koth of the Hammer have mana abilities. If he had just said "nontargeted abilities that can produce mana (with a couple of nitpicky exceptions that aren't important here)", people encountering those cards would at least be alive to the possibility that those are the sorts of "exceptions" he meant.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Mons Johnson is now my hero. Seriously, if green is going to be constantly pigeonholed as the "creature color" and blue's major weakness is it's poor creatures, then why does blue keep getting great aggro critters and fatties on par with green Frost Titan? I love the phantoms from a 'cool' perspective but they suck in terms of design

Edit: I also love Matt Talak. Same reason
"30 Helens Agree..."
<3 the poll, and <3 Reassembling Skeleton.

I voted for Matt Tabak. This thing should be broken! Compare:

Hawk - 1W
1/1
Some cute rules text.

Skeleton - 1B
1/1
Some cute rules text.

I would've bet on the Skeleton being constucted-worthy. Boy have I learned something!

Reasons why the skeleton should be awesome:
1) Super Johnny combo piece! Potentially unlimited EtB triggers or bodies.
2) Doesn't die to most discard, counter magic, or creature removal.
3) A graveyard-based card which can dodge GY hate by jumping out of the yard!
4) It does something fairly useful when your combo is not assembled. (Unlike, say, Grindstone.)

But yet, I can't break it. ;_;
But yet, I can't break it. ;_;


Contamination. You're welcome.
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50% of players approve of the titans? That's interesting. I don't even know what to make of it, but it's interesting.
My answer to the poll would have been "All three are right"
M:tG Rules Advisor
If Immolating Souleater has a mana ability, I would need someone else to explain to me just where in the Comprehensive Rules such a strange thing could have been caused.



What he means is that many think an activated ability with mana in the activation cost is a 'mana ability'.

50% of players approve of the titans? That's interesting. I don't even know what to make of it, but it's interesting.



Not necessarily, many voted yes purely out of secondary market price concerns. If they exist, they might as well exist in plenty.
Reassembling Skeleton makes far more sense to me than any regeneration creature ever has, both flavor-wise and mechanics-wise.


Yeah, did seem a little short, and didn't really get into anything too controversial.

I usually like these types of articles, but this one didn't really do anything for me this time.  
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
Cool broken image you have thar.
50% of players approve of the titans? That's interesting. I don't even know what to make of it, but it's interesting.


50% of the people able to answer polls approve of the Titans. As far as I can tell, a lot of people have not been able to answer polls, myself included.
I know, probability dictates that the percentage wouldn't change much if more people had been able to answer. I'm not upset about the 50%; I'm upset that I still, after months, can't answer polls.
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I love the card Reassembling Skeleton, but I hate the name Reassembling Skeleton. It's too blunt and descriptive. I would love it if it were called something like "Boneyard Skeleton" or something that suggested being made of used bits, and art that showed a skeleton piecing itself back together.

Or a skeleton swinging a skeleton arm like a sword, which itself has a sword clenched in its hand. But I digress. 
I think the article should be a bit longer. Why not include more multiverse comments for other cards too? Can't imagine its hard work to do that.

Another thing I'm missing is a nice interpretation of the polls you make. Would be cool to hear what you make of the numbers. I think ~50% for the Titans is not very much for mythic cards.
The land poll did surprise me though, as I thought most people are sick of them. Glad most of them do like them though!




What templating problems would Grand Abolisher have caused if it shut off mana abilities? Regarding Del's examples, I assume that while a player's permanents' mana abilities are shut off, he can't stop Shrouded Serpent from becoming unblockable when it attacks him, he can't use his Azorius Aethermage to draw a card, and he can't have his creatures deal damage via Electropotence because he can't put any mana in his mana pool to then pay with.
My interpretation of the potential templating problem is that, since most players wouldn't know whether the "may pay" on the Serpent trumped the "can't" on Abolisher, they'd be forced into a clunkier wording like "may pay 4 if able"---adding words to a range of future cards and Oracle entries for little advantage on this one.

I like Reassembling Skeleton because a surprising number of players assume Regeneration does exactly that.  So by spelling that ability out on a card, and then putting it next to one with Regeneration, that should encourage them to go look up what Regeneration actually does.


Speaking of new players, I get skeptical when R&D goes around their headquarters looking for throughts from the common man.  Suppose you're Bob from Accounts Receivable at WotC.  You know how important Magic is to the company, and you've tried it, but it wasn't really your thing and you don't play with any regularity.  But one day a member of the Magic Development Team comes up to you.


Developer: Hey you, do you play Magic?
Bob: Me?  Oh I ... um ... a little?
Developer: Oh a Casual Player.  That's perfect.  Here, look at these two cards.  Which one has a mana ability?
Bob: Oh uh ... I ... I don't ....
Developer: Aha!  So the cards are too confusing!  Better go nerf Damage on the Stack again.  Thanks Bill.
Bob: It's ... oh um yeah, no problem.


And so we get cards changed just because some WotC grunt doesn't want to tick off the Powers that Be and get thrown to an Orgg.


I mean hey, look.  Benthic Explorers is tricky.  I wouldn't blame anyone for failing the "mana ability" quiz on that one.  (Especially considering the errata and card text are different now.)  But if you don't know that a "mana ability" is an ability that makes mana, I wonder if you even tried to learn the rules?  Simplifying and teaching via cards are both good things, but they shouldn't obviate actually learning the rules.

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.

But if you don't know that a "mana ability" is an ability that makes mana, I wonder if you even tried to learn the rules?  Simplifying and teaching via cards are both good things, but they shouldn't obviate actually learning the rules.



The majority of players won't try to learn the rules. Most people will just know what they need to know to play the game. Like a car, they will know how to drive it but won't know what's under the hood. That's how people are, so you either cater to that or lose customers.  
But if you don't know that a "mana ability" is an ability that makes mana, I wonder if you even tried to learn the rules?  Simplifying and teaching via cards are both good things, but they shouldn't obviate actually learning the rules.



The majority of players won't try to learn the rules. Most people will just know what they need to know to play the game. Like a car, they will know how to drive it but won't know what's under the hood. That's how people are, so you either cater to that or lose customers.  



And, lets be fair, in at least 90% of situations, you don't need to know any more rules than the structure of turns, and what's written on the cards... Plus WotC's full rules document acknowledges that most people won't need to read it... And is 139 pages long. Or, if by 'people should just learn the rules,' Amarsir meant 'read the basic rulebook' rather than 'learn the 139 page document that explicitly recomends not reading it'... It Briefly touches on mana abilities in the glossery and leaves out the bit about mana abilities not being loyalty abilities and lack targets (and doesn't even go near 605.1b's statement that for a triggered ability to be a mana ability it has to trigger from activating a mana ability.)

So... If they've memorised the basic rules, sure, they'll be able to tell that Pristine Talisman has a mana ability and Immolating Souleater doesn't, yes. They won't, however, know that if Pristine Talisman's ability had Target Player rather than You gain 1 life, it wouldn't be a mana ability... (Of course, it being burried in the glossery is probably an arguement for putting at least one thing that cares about mana abilities in the core set; most people only read glossery entries for terms that actually come up. Without a card that says 'mana ability' on it, they won't think to look up what a mana ability is either in the basic or comprehensive rules. And in a core set, I think putting reminder text, even briefer than the glossery entry, explaining what a mana ability is would be valid.)

For the distinction between mana abilities and non-mana abilities specifically, and if most players need to know what it is: Since the ability to counter abilities at all isn't on many cards compared to the ability to counter spells, and once an ability is on the stack it's irrelevent what happens to the thing that put it there, that mana abilities don't use the stack, and what is and isn't a mana ability, at the casual level, tends not to come up.
Reassembling Skeleton makes far more sense to me than any regeneration creature ever has, both flavor-wise and mechanics-wise.

QFT

@ Busting Reassembling Skeleton:
A quick search for any ability that forces you sacrifice a creature will be enough to "break" this card, since this actually transfers the cost into . Contamination however isn't really such an issue, since there are more cards to break it (f.e. Awakening Zone). And of course, you can go infinite with the skeleton!! But that doesn't bother me, since WotC even printed Devoted Druid and Quillspike within the same block? So preventing infinite doesn't seem to be major aspect in card development. My preferred version would be something similar to Knight of the Holy Nimbus and a cmc 1, so I hope WotC never returns to the !!!uncommon!!! Drudge Skeleton.

@ Divine Favor:

MR 7/06/10: If you care about aesthetics, the life should be the combination of the power and toughness.
AF 7/19: I didn't realize aesthetics had such well-defined answers.


Such an answer would have upset me, since aesthetics is about common concepts of a good "design" (f.e. symmetry, the golden ratio, etc.).

Although I don't really agree with Mark Rosewater at this point, it also really unnerves me to see cards with an additional "someone loses 1 life" printed on, just for some sillyness reasons...
(to give that card a new name and to disguise the lack of creativity (see Geth's Verdict)).

I doubt that a +4/+1 Dark Favor would ave been too good, since Sinister Strength is better than the final Dark Favor. But in my opinion, it's a red flavor to be focused on pure strength (see Firebreathing), whereas black is about overall-power at any cost and this includes a high toughness as well (see Nantuko Shade // Vampire Aristocrat). Therefore Parallax Dementia is a much cooler and much more flavorful aura card than the black Favor. (maybe a black Unstable Mutation would have been best).

But to return to the Divine Favor. The "+1/+4 & +1 life" version would have felt like a crippled version of Hero's Resolve. But still, in my opinion, white isn't about gaining life, but rather about "don't losing any lifepoints".

@ Grand Abolisher:
I don't understand why the Abolisher proibits activated abilities in the first place.

It's a break to other white cards with a similar ability: See Silence, Orim's Chant, Oriss, Samite Guardian, Basandra, Battle Seraph, Exclusion Ritual, Angelic Arbiter or Iona, Shield of Emeria.

@ illusions:
I don't like this theme. I understand the "pseudo-real until 'touched'" concept similar to D&D illusions, but combat usually means to 'touch' it. Therefore the illusions feel strange, since they can be infected, survive a Pyroclasm, but a minor Cerulean Wisps spell breaks them.

In my opinion, the Skulking Ghost, maybe the ur-version of the illusions was just a misconcept of someting that should have been like a creature version of Cowardice. The illusions on the other hand should have a different drawback in my opinion. My suggestion is "whenever they are dealt damage, ...", but even an effect similar to Fog Elemental would have been more flavorful than the actual version.

@ Chasm Drake:
Just a color-sifted & slightly-altered version of Kinsbaile Balloonist... and another example that white causes the greatest color-shift // color-bleed to blue and green. And this color bleed proves that R&D doesn't have a clue what the mentioned colors are really about. Blue has no control beside Mana Leak and "control color" also seems to mean "can't do anything permanently against cards on the battlefield". White isn't peaceful and defensive, since the flavor text of Gideon's Avenger states the opposite.

And by the way, the reason for the Chasm Drake is a pure smack in the face of flavor, since this proves that R&D doesn't design cards for a specific color, but only to fix off-color or multicolor problems. THIS really made me lose any confidence in the design process at WotC.
I mean hey, look.  Benthic Explorers is tricky.  I wouldn't blame anyone for failing the "mana ability" quiz on that one.  (Especially considering the errata and card text are different now.)


Going by the oracle text I'm saying yes. Is it?
Although I don't really agree with Mark Rosewater at this point, it also really unnerves me to see cards with an additional "someone loses 1 life" printed on, just for some sillyness reasons...
(to give that card a new name and to disguise the lack of creativity (see Geth's Verdict)).


I agree that the 'loses 1 life' riders on a bunch of cards in New Phyrexia felt very forced, especially considering that, up until that point, Phyrexia had been established as the side that eschews life and goes for a win by poison. However, on Dark Favor it makes sense to me, since it shows that Black uses life as a resource, and the Core Set is meant to teach such things.

But to return to the Divine Favor. The "+1/+4 & +1 life" version would have felt like a crippled version of Hero's Resolve. But still, in my opinion, white isn't about gaining life, but rather about "don't losing any lifepoints".


While it would be cool to see White focus on damage prevention, eschewing life gain so that green could have it exclusively... It is hard to argue with the cards. White IS about life gain, like it or not. And is better at it than green, if I'm not mistaken.

@ Grand Abolisher:
I don't understand why the Abolisher proibits activated abilities in the first place.

It's a break to other white cards with a similar ability: See Silence, Orim's Chant, Oriss, Samite Guardian, Basandra, Battle Seraph, Exclusion Ritual, Angelic Arbiter or Iona, Shield of Emeria.


I agree wholeheartedly here, it does feel weird. However, it was probably done for power level reasons, or to make the ability more interesting.

@ illusions:
I don't like this theme. I understand the "pseudo-real until 'touched'" concept similar to D&D illusions, but combat usually means to 'touch' it. Therefore the illusions feel strange, since they can be infected, survive a Pyroclasm, but a minor Cerulean Wisps spell breaks them.


I'm against the Illusions, too, but for a different reason. In fact, my reason was mentioned in the article:

MJ 6/10: strange that blue gets a 2 power 1 drop, but green doesn't.
TML 6/16/2010: What two power one drop? I don't see anything...

Blue is the least agressive color. So why does it get some of the most efficient creatures in the Core Set, the set that is meant to teach the color pie in its purest form? This is a failure, in my opinion. And yes, TML's response is somewhat amusing, but I'd much rather have seen an actual justification for such a flagrant color pie violation than a witty handwave.

And this color bleed proves that R&D doesn't have a clue what the mentioned colors are really about. Blue has no control beside Mana Leak and "control color" also seems to mean "can't do anything permanently against cards on the battlefield". White isn't peaceful and defensive, since the flavor text of Gideon's Avenger states the opposite.


Considering R&D defines what the colors are about, they definitely do know. It's whatever they say it is. Yes, some colors blend together a bit too easily, like Green and White, but that doesn't mean R&D has no clue what they're doing. And saying White can't be peaceful and defensive, especially based on the flavor text of one card, is wrong. Each color has multiple aspects, multiple ways to interpret their philosophies. White has a peaceful and defensive side, and also a progressive evil-slaying side. Both are represented mechanically: Life gain, damage prevention, Pacifism effects etc. are the peaceful side of White; exile, destroying attackers, efficiently aggressive creatures etc. are the progressive side.

Furthermore, the reason Blue can't do anything permanently to cards on the battlefield is not because it's the "control color", it's for balance reasons. Seriously, Blue is already the best color in almost every Block, we don't need to see it be able to blow up creatures and artifacts and enchantments with a single spell.

Feel free to reinterpret the colors however you want, as a thought exercise. Don't then get angry at Wizards for not following your version instead of their highly-precedented, finely-tuned version.
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And by the way, the reason for the Chasm Drake is a pure smack in the face of flavor, since this proves that R&D doesn't design cards for a specific color, but only to fix off-color or multicolor problems. THIS really made me lose any confidence in the design process at WotC.



???

It's an exception, not the rule.

I mean hey, look.  Benthic Explorers is tricky.  I wouldn't blame anyone for failing the "mana ability" quiz on that one.  (Especially considering the errata and card text are different now.)


Going by the oracle text I'm saying yes. Is it?



Yes.  Specifically given erata so it wouldn't be an exception to the Mana Ability rule.   That's the sort of thing Mark Gottlieb liked as rules manager, changing errata to match the intent of the card.  Matt Tabak leans more toward printed wording so I'm not sure how he'd feel about the Explorers.


Or, if by 'people should just learn the rules,' Amarsir meant 'read the basic rulebook' rather than 'learn the 139 page document that explicitly recomends not reading it'...

Or neither.  Especially not the comprehensive rules which are meant to be read cover-to-cover about the same way a dictionary is.  Besides, I specifically said not the esoteric stuff, so even bringing up triggers and targeting stuff is more than a little disingenuous, not to mention the word "memorize"

For this particular rule to come up, all you need is a little curiosity about play.  "Hey can I respond to you tapping for mana?  Oh, a 'mana ability'?  OK."  You play and then it comes up and then you know.  But that's not even the point.  (Though I'd like to point out that if basic lands actually had words on them, they might explain this sort of thing.)


The majority of players won't try to learn the rules. Most people will just know what they need to know to play the game.

Fine.  I'm not going around slapping the cards out of people's hands.  I'm saying if people only know what they need to know, don't use them as a yardstick of what's knowable.  I don't know what the state bird of Delaware is.  That doesn't mean I couldn't get the answer quickly if I needed to.  It just means I haven't tried to find out.

Grand Abolisher is just fine as written, don't get me wrong.  But they've referenced this kind of "informal straw-poll" approach before and I worry that the proactive approach is giving bad results.  It's one thing to watch someone misplay Blightsteel Colossus against Leyline of the Void and realize they're confused.  It's something else entirely to go up to a random person and ask if they know the priority resolution rules for replacement effect.

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.

Check out my magic blog: http://magicthemusing.wordpress.com/
Benthic Explorers is in a fine place. It can't target the land in the cost, and we've long-held that the "do X to do Y" template should put X in the cost and Y in the effect.

Man, you go with the printed wording on like two cards and you get a reputation quick around here. ;-P
Magic: The Gathering Rules Manager Wizards of the Coast Follow me @TabakRules
Benthic Explorers is in a fine place. It can't target the land in the cost, and we've long-held that the "do X to do Y" template should put X in the cost and Y in the effect.

Man, you go with the printed wording on like two cards and you get a reputation quick around here. ;-P



Lol!


Hey I said I didn't know!  I was withholding judgment and it's not at all because I have a long-held fondness for Master of Arms and was crushed when you threw him under the bus.  Not at all!

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.