08/01/2011 MM: "Resource of Income"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
I like these introspective articles.

I do, only when they're introspective about Magic. I've had more than enough of Rosewater's life advice/philosophy. These articles are not an appropriate forum for him to dispense such advice/philosophy. Please, Mark, save it for your kids.

Scars also had Imprint. It's only natual that when you revist and plane your going to have lots of throw backs.

Anyway, I love these kinds of articles. Not only do they show how magic gets made, but but teach lessons about other things, this time game design. I just love when my readings on magic can help me learn about other things.

I also like how I can show them to people that don't play the game and have them appreciate whats being said. 
Hey, column #500? Didn't Rosewater mention having big plans for that one?

Aha, found it: from "Beginning At the End" [August 28, 2006]

"And for anyone that cares, I plan for my streak as a columnist to be a very long one. I've already begun to think about cool things I could do for my five hundredth column and that's six years away! (Okay five hundred and first – the fifth hundred is already slotted for “Five Hundred and Counting”.)" 

We could potentially see some fireworks two weeks from now. That will be a theme week, which could cause some potential conflicts, but MaRo has to have seen that coming in advance and taken time to prepare for it.

My thought: Rosewater should combine promised craziness with writing off-theme in the one way he's done it before: by announcing a new un-set.

But if it turns out that this one was the '500th' column, that's ok too. It's a good retrospective/look ahead for Magic.
This is easily my favorite Making Magic in a long time. It is understandable that it's harder and harder to find completely new things to say after so long writing this column, which makes the fact that he's done so today all the more impressive and enjoyable for me. It may not be 100% new, but if I'm not mistaken he's never really discussed this topic before in any depth. Keep up the good work, MaRo!

Also: Did he manage to not only tease Innistrad but also M13 in the same column? Touche, sir. I tip my hat to thee.
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Another thing that comes to mind when I think of new mechanics is new players. I only really started playing Magic when Mirroden Besieged came out. Not to mention that Magic has been around so long that some of it's players are younger then the game itself! Although some mechanics might be repeats to some of the older players and developers, to many other people it's a mechanic they have never actually seen in a set.
Hm, I mostly skimmed this article.  I think it's a valid topic for Rosewater to talk about in Making Magic, but I get the impression it's motivated more by rationalization (a la When Cards Go Bad) than by introspection.

I also can't help but feeling this article would have been particularly useful for the GDS participants had it been written before the GDS competitions--budding Magic designers are essentially stuck in Stage #1, no?

This is kind of a nitpick, but the comparison regarding young and old people's attitudes about mortality fell flat for me.  It doesn't make sense to suggest that games have finite lifespans like humans do and then also claim that Magic is immortal barring "mismanagement" from Wizards's side.
The one time I'm interested in reading a "_____ of the Week" article, and hardly any mention of the topic, or answer to the question I (and many others had): Why bloodthirst? I don't remember anybody being fond of it. Sure it's somewhat flavorful, but it's incredibly boring.
Imprint is in fetal position crying in a corner somewhere over being ignored by MaRo, especially given the fact that MaRo has stated multiple times how much he loves Imprint.

I like the article. It's an important thing to discuss. I do hope that we'll get to know the process of how Bloodthirst was picked at some point during the week, but that is best for a Feature Article (which, sadly, we did not get) or LaPille.
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The one time I'm interested in reading a "_____ of the Week" article, and hardly any mention of the topic, or answer to the question I (and many others had): Why bloodthirst? I don't remember anybody being fond of it. Sure it's somewhat flavorful, but it's incredibly boring.



It's likely loved by the casuals and newer players that make up the majority of the game.
This is easily my favorite Making Magic in a long time. It is understandable that it's harder and harder to find completely new things to say after so long writing this column, which makes the fact that he's done so today all the more impressive and enjoyable for me. It may not be 100% new, but if I'm not mistaken he's never really discussed this topic before in any depth. Keep up the good work, MaRo!

Also: Did he manage to not only tease Innistrad but also M13 in the same column? Touche, sir. I tip my hat to thee.



It's two times he's just mentioned Innistrad like it was slipping off his tongue and then moved on -_- I guess that's to be expected, building up expectations and stuff like that...

I agree that this is a fine article, I'm glad it's about Magic Design, even if it felt a bit short and was more abstract than I had hoped for...

The one time I'm interested in reading a "_____ of the Week" article, and hardly any mention of the topic, or answer to the question I (and many others had): Why bloodthirst? I don't remember anybody being fond of it. Sure it's somewhat flavorful, but it's incredibly boring.



I agree that the article could have talked more about bloodthirst in the actual instead of using it as an abstract set-off for the article it became (let's face it, this article could probably have popped up with any returning keyword as an excuse. The most bloodthirsty about it was the Vampire image).

What I would've liked is MaRo's thoughts on why bloodthirst is such a great mechanic to include in a Core Set (because it is!). Stuff like teaching new players that they can cast creature spells after their combat phase, the importance of simplicity and elegance in a mechanic (bloodthirst is this because it has a positive feedback with itself; attack in order to get out better creatures in order to attack, etc. This also makes it a great stand-alone/linear mechanic, unlike keywords like proliferate that work best with other keywords (infect)).

It also is an easy appeal to players (people want to attack with their creatures; What's better than an incentive to deal damage and bigger creatures to attack with?), especially people who are learning the game. It provokes combat and teaches players the importance of resource management (nudge nudge, MaRo); can I afford not blocking this? That question is normally just a matter of racing, tricks and life totals, but with bloodthirst it becomes something more.

I'll stop now before I write the coloumn for him, and get back to my work...
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Now thats an interesting topic. I really like to read about future things of magic and the thoughts of MaRo/R&D about it.

I like the reusing of old mechanics..there are so many interesting new environments to be made with old mechanics and new cards.
The only thing I dislike is the "overabundance" of new core set + needed mechanics. Bloodthirst, Scry (M11) would be nice subthemes for future expert sets but having the need of a new base set every year takes a lot of design space imo...I hope they know what they do here.

The only thing I dislike is the "overabundance" of new core set + needed mechanics. Bloodthirst, Scry (M11) would be nice subthemes for future expert sets but having the need of a new base set every year takes a lot of design space imo...I hope they know what they do here.



Scry was already used in Future Sight as well, mechanics like these show they have no problem bringing back a mechanic multiple times, so appearing in a core set doesn't impede the possibility to return in future sets =)
I also wouldn't worry about design space, as the core set only takes the most simple form. Future Sight's scry is way more advanced than M11's one. If there's an advanced version of Bloodthirst, M12's one isn't in its way =)
The one time I'm interested in reading a "_____ of the Week" article, and hardly any mention of the topic, or answer to the question I (and many others had): Why bloodthirst? I don't remember anybody being fond of it. Sure it's somewhat flavorful, but it's incredibly boring.



I suspect that answer will come later in the week, but I imagine it will be a combination of "Flavourful, simple... And helps new players learn that they can use the second main phase to cast stuff." [Seriously. I'm yet to figure out a way of teaching new players that they can/should use it... No matter how much I emphasise its existence and use it myself while teaching them the game. Bloodthirst rewards you for casting creatures after doing damage to the opponant, which is going to help new players with the 'use the second main phase' hurdle.]
Remember that, shocking as it is these days, MaRo wasn't on the M12 design team. I'd imagine Tom will talk about why bloodthirst was chosen if anyone will.
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The only thing I dislike is the "overabundance" of new core set + needed mechanics. Bloodthirst, Scry (M11) would be nice subthemes for future expert sets but having the need of a new base set every year takes a lot of design space imo...I hope they know what they do here.



Scry was already used in Future Sight as well, mechanics like these show they have no problem bringing back a mechanic multiple times, so appearing in a core set doesn't impede the possibility to return in future sets =)
I also wouldn't worry about design space, as the core set only takes the most simple form. Future Sight's scry is way more advanced than M11's one. If there's an advanced version of Bloodthirst, M12's one isn't in its way =)



I disagree - I think the presence of cards with a mechanic will impede it being part of another set/block that will be in the same standard environment, simply because it will either become two powerful to combine the two sets that share the mechanic, or the mechanic won't have enough juice in the later of the two sets.

Now, this isn't certain, but it's definitely a thing to consider imho. There might be some masterstroke that combines with "advanced bloodthirst" without combining with our Core Set bloodthirst so that it will be a viable but not overpowered strategy both within the new block and in a general standard environment.

If they can manage to pull this off, I'm going to be impressed (that's a chance to prove restrictions breed creativity - get on it, MaRo ).

This is all just hypothetical of course. I'm pretty sure they're not using bloodthirst in Innistrad block, it'd be kind of underwhelming since it's just been in M12...
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I disagree - I think the presence of cards with a mechanic will impede it being part of another set/block that will be in the same standard environment, simply because it will either become two powerful to combine the two sets that share the mechanic, or the mechanic won't have enough juice in the later of the two sets.



I disagree - while what you say is true, expansion sets are made way before core sets are made; by the time a core set is looking for a mechanic to reuse, the set coming after it will be already well-defined. If Innistrad wanted bloodthirst, it was there already way before M12 started experimenting with it.
I disagree - I think the presence of cards with a mechanic will impede it being part of another set/block that will be in the same standard environment, simply because it will either become two powerful to combine the two sets that share the mechanic, or the mechanic won't have enough juice in the later of the two sets.



I disagree - while what you say is true, expansion sets are made way before core sets are made; by the time a core set is looking for a mechanic to reuse, the set coming after it will be already well-defined. If Innistrad wanted bloodthirst, it was there already way before M12 started experimenting with it.



Probably, but then I think they would've found another keyword for M12. No use in stressing this particular point, though, we just have to wait a month to find out...
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I hope that the next core set brings back more than one mechanic. Possibly have a mechanic that is only in a few colors and the other in the remaining colors.

MaRo: One of the classic R&D stories happened during a Scars of Mirrodin draft. Erik Lauer was sitting to my right (meaning that he passed to me in the first and third packs). At the end of the draft, Erik was upset because I was in his colors (black-green). He said, "Didn't you see the signals? I went into black-green in pack one." I replied, "Didn't you see my signals? I started drafting infect six drafts ago." ******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** MaRo: During a playtest, I played a Reaper from the Abyss. I attacked each turn, while my opponent would chump block (he had a lot of fliers), and then I killed a second creature. This happened until he had only one creature left. I attack, he blocked, and then the following dialogue occurred: Him: Kill your demon. Me: What? Him: My guy died so you have to kill a creature. Me: Yeah, but why would a demon kill himself? Him: I don't know. He's depressed there's no one left to kill. Me: That doesn't make any sense. Him: I don't care. It's what the card says. I then take out my pen, and wrote "non-Demon" on it. Him: You can't do that. Me: I redesigned him while the effect was on the stack.

This article was a pleasant surprise!

But still, by MaRo's star metric I have to limit it to ****, missing the coveted fifth by not having the courage to touch on future stages of a game's evolution which Magic hasn't yet reached.

Stage #7: Design Dogma Impedes Set Design

The constant need to find new design space eventually subjects all of the design team's sacred cows to more intense scrutiny. Inevitably those design rules which have little or no basis in fact are stripped away to open up new options.

Stage #8: Near Duplicate Environments Become Unavoidable

Eventually it becomes almost impossible for the design team to produce a fresh play experience every time. Veteran players will recognise the play style of entire environments and "solve" them increasingly rapidly. Because of the rapid spread of information via the internet, this phenomenon also impacts newer players.

Stage #9: Competition Becomes Impossible

Inevitably there comes a point where the game can no longer really achieve anything it hasn't done before. Under these circumstances, retaining market share becomes a job not for the design team, but for the marketing team. Experienced designers leave the product and the design team gets fewer in number and on average younger until first it's only one guy and then eventually no full-time staff at all. At some point during this process, the average quality level of newer sets will start to drop significantly. Only a small hardcore of long term players will care much.

Stage #10: No More New Sets

Economic reality bites and the game's corporate owner du jour decides it no longer makes financial sense to create more sets. They reprint some old sets to mark the game's 50th anniversary. I regale my grandchildren with talk of how great RGD draft was before the M10 rules changes. They nod and smile, hoping I haven't noticed they weren't really listening.

"...since then, every set has reused an old mechanic. Shards of Alara had cycling. Zendikar had kicker. Scars of Mirrodin didn't have a straight-up repeat, but that was because metalcraft was a new kind of "artifact matters" and infect was a mixing of poison with wither. Innistrad has... well, you'll see."

Scars of Mirrodin had Imprint. 
"...since then, every set has reused an old mechanic. Shards of Alara had cycling. Zendikar had kicker. Scars of Mirrodin didn't have a straight-up repeat, but that was because metalcraft was a new kind of "artifact matters" and infect was a mixing of poison with wither. Innistrad has... well, you'll see."

Scars of Mirrodin had Imprint. 



You're not the first to say that, I bet MaRo's going to apologize to the mechanic in next week's coloumn intro...
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!

Stage #7: Design Dogma Impedes Set Design
[...]
Stage #8: Near Duplicate Environments Become Unavoidable
[...]
Stage #9: Competition Becomes Impossible
[...]
Stage #10: No More New Sets


I largely disagree with this prediction, and Scars is actually the perfect example of the new direction they're just now unveiling. I think that Mark's State of Design column next month will include something about multiple block themes, layered themes, or combined themes, whatever he wants to call it. The fundamental change that I think makes Scars a great block and positive sign of what's to come is that it's an artifact block, a poison block, AND a nostalgia block.

The reason that Mark always seems optimistic about design renewability is that at some point in the last few years they learned that monopolar block themes aren't the way to go. For instance, their "tentpole" renewable themes, multicolor and tribal, both suffered big setbacks when Shards was much less well-received than Ravnica and Lorwyn (following on the heels of Kamigawa, arguably a tribal block) seems to have been a dud block. The fact that this came right after Time Spiral, which was supposed to make nostalgia the new tentpole, fell flat with non-veteran audiences, must have brought them to the point of re-examining everything.

Zendikar and M10 were the first wave, hitting a new main block theme at the same time they hit the "back to basics"/simplicity approach hard. Scars, though, is an even more important landmark, because of the multiple themes. They intend to create a neverending supply of designs by crossing elements against each other that haven't been done before, and elevating the storytelling aspect to make each block feel more different (see, for instance, "adventure world" followed by the Mirran vs. Phyrexian story followed by the emphasis on Innistrad being a horror block rather than something mechanical as most blocks have been teased before).

I can tell that they've solved how to come up with new sets and have all-but-mastered Limited development. I think now their biggest concerns are revealed by Forsythe's comments following the Standard bans that they're struggling to keep Constructed routinely fresh, and to perfect planeswalker development so they're popular without being the next JTMS.

I've got my share of gripes with the status quo, but there's every reason to be optimistic about Magic's future.
and have all-but-mastered Limited development

After raising my eyebrows somewhat at the earlier part of your post this really made me laugh. I've worked it out! You are the anti-me! Have you come from a parallel dimension to destroy me in single combat?

@bateleur_: Obviously, yes, that's why I'm here.

The reason I say that is because of the positive reception for almost every draft environment post-ZZW. Rise is apparently quite beloved (I've only done it once, so I don't have much opinion); M11 has gotten high reviews, especially for a core set; full block and SSM versions of Scars drafting are seen as deep and interesting. Only triple-Scars really got harsh reviews, at least as far as I've seen, due to its bipolarity between the one or two drafters getting great infect decks and everyone else.

Current Limited is definitely very bomby, but the playable card pool is deeper than ever, and they're paying constant attention to making all colors relevant. The bombs frequently offset each other or at least give opponents a chance to come back. M12 Overrun is the poster-child counterexample, but after drafting M12, I see how much green needed something good, and understand why they did it. I even like the subtleties implied by Tom's passing mention of Youthful Knight being cut from M12; that plus the absence of White & Black Knights limits first strike's presence on the board, encouraging attacks, without having the profusion of early evasive creatures that made Zendikar so absurd. I just find myself in tons of interesting games, some where I think I can't lose but then face an opponent coming back unexpectedly. It's mostly a subset of rare and mythic cards that are all but unbeatable which ruin some matches.

On my main point: You don't think the multiple-themes approach has significant promise? I can't help but think I'm way more likely to enjoy a block that has a diversity of themes. Compare that to something like Lorwyn, which, as I tweeted to Mark when he was quashing the rumor that Innistrad would be heavy-tribal, was so upsettingly bad in preview weeks that I was out of the game for roughly three years because of disinterest in that set.
For what it's worth, much of what you're saying resonates with how I feel the game is doing, DrSylvan.
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!
the positive reception for almost every draft environment post-ZZW

Fair enough. We just have different definitions of "all but mastered" then. Every time a new set comes out I'm a little sad to see they've repeated so many of their usual errors (removal too good, broken cards at Uncommon, archetypes too linear, too many archetype-critical cards being high picks, too few decisions in early turns, etc.). And even then, that's assuming that criticism of rares in Limited isn't relevant, which isn't 100% true.

I just find myself in tons of interesting games

That's definitely good!

On my main point: You don't think the multiple-themes approach has significant promise?

It's a real option, if that's what you mean, but I don't think it changes the nature of a game's evolution even though it clearly extends it.

I can't help but think I'm way more likely to enjoy a block that has a diversity of themes. Compare that to something like Lorwyn

All this means is that you like modular play. I do too, but WotC have made it clear that they will vary between linear and modular sets (I'm assuming you're familiar with MaRo's terms - "linear" to WotC actually means the exact opposite of what the word normally means).

Incidentally, for a tribal set Lorwyn was actually pretty good for Limited. Once everyone worked out how good Merfolk were the draft format ended up pretty healthy. (Which is not to say you would have liked it, but they've done a lot worse.)

. Not to mention that Magic has been around so long that some of it's players are younger then the game itself!



I was waiting for an acknowledgement of this also. Like a comment I saw not long ago that there are kids in college, for whom The Simpsons has never not been on TV. And I'm *almost* old enough to have a theoretical kid in college myself. (I have a 4 year old though, I can't tell you how eager I am for him to be old enough to start learning Magic. )


A little short, as mentioned already, but still nice to see these ideas put down for the record. And for the record, I was saying years ago that they should reuse previously proven mechanics instead of constantly trying something new. It even goes with Maro's old standby story of how he has cards that have been sitting in design files for years, just waiting for the right set. I believe that can apply to mechanics also, for both the mechanics that worked and the ones that didn't quite click the first time, as new design philosophies may reveal a different facet of the mechanic that makes it work. 

I'd also like to point out a giant untapped resource for new ideas. You can run all the new developer searches you want, but that's only going to skim the surface of the community. WOTC needs to lock a team of lawyers in a room and not let them out until they come up with a way for the community to submit cards in a simple, legal fashion. Set aside a subsection of the forum, and let them loose. Whenever R&D gets stuck on something, just wade in there and start plucking goodies. 
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
Congrats on 500 articles!

I love reading this kind of big-picture introspective look at the game (from time to time). Since I started my own Multiverse database for custom cards almost a year ago, I've seen a lot of designs by new designers (as well as many extremely good designs by impressively competent amateur designers). One of the points I'm really appreciating these days is the value of simplicity, as MaRo mentions in Stage 3:

"What is the least you could put on a card and have it still be cool? What is the least amount of things you could put in a set and have it still work? This is the stage where a designer starts to appreciate the value of doing more with less." 

Finding the simplest way to do things is such a skill, one that takes a lot of work, but R&D are getting extremely good at it. Sure, there are occasional exceptions such as Cathedral Membrane (how many games will that play any differently to a 6/3 defender with no other rules text?), but the fact that I'm able to cite one or two exceptions itself proves the rule is generally doing very well. 
Every time a new set comes out I'm a little sad to see they've repeated so many of their usual errors (removal too good, broken cards at Uncommon, archetypes too linear, too many archetype-critical cards being high picks, too few decisions in early turns, etc.).


There are reasons that all those phenomena exist in their set designs, though. Removal keeps the board from getting clogged, which controls complexity as well as reducing the swinginess of global effects (Guardians' Pledge, Fog); it also provides answers to bomby stuff (Doom Blade on Flameblast Dragon). Uncommons getting better is, to me, positive, because it puts less weight on which rares get opened and, again, deepens the playable cardpool while varying the experience because they show up less often than commons.

If something is "archetype-critical", it must have a valuable effect on the board, so I'd think by definition it's usually a high pick within a color. There's a reason the Dampen Thought archetype is a rarity---Splice happened to promote a low/no-creature archetype, but few sets support that, so Limited decks often converge on creatures+removal. I agree that build-around Limited cards are among the coolest things in each set; I just think it's hard to make ones that most decks won't want. Do you have an example of something you wish had been different? Am I misunderstanding?

On my main point: You don't think the multiple-themes approach has significant promise?

It's a real option, if that's what you mean, but I don't think it changes the nature of a game's evolution even though it clearly extends it.


If it extends it to the point where environments are only similar to ones from a decade or more in the past, or creates enough combinations that the environment has at least some nuances, it'll be a different experience given the many knobs developers have on each card. Even if someday there are lots more players like us who remember ancient metas, recombining them differently and experiencing them at a different point in life provide a very different feel for each player. I'm not concerned that Standard 2112 might be very similar to Standard 2080 and 2052, because metagame choices and possible bannings add variance even if the cardpool is miraculously close.

Thought experiment: If only Ice Age through Scars blocks could be printed ever again, and the only things they could change were bannings and what order they released the blocks on a neverending loop, they could still make dozens of different Standard environments, and variant draft formats (my LGS in Urbana, IL just last week did M12/NPH/ROE draft) would create unique Limited experiences. Considering that R&D has hardly run out of ideas, even this pure-recycling worst-case scenario is an underestimate of the diversity Magic will have to offer in the long term.
I just wanted to say that I loved the article, it was very insightful and somewhat touching...
Every time a new set comes out I'm a little sad to see they've repeated so many of their usual errors (removal too good, broken cards at Uncommon, archetypes too linear, too many archetype-critical cards being high picks, too few decisions in early turns, etc.).


There are reasons that all those phenomena exist in their set designs, though. Removal keeps the board from getting clogged, which controls complexity as well as reducing the swinginess of global effects (Guardians' Pledge, Fog); it also provides answers to bomby stuff (Doom Blade on Flameblast Dragon). Uncommons getting better is, to me, positive, because it puts less weight on which rares get opened and, again, deepens the playable cardpool while varying the experience because they show up less often than commons.

If something is "archetype-critical", it must have a valuable effect on the board, so I'd think by definition it's usually a high pick within a color. There's a reason the Dampen Thought archetype is a rarity---Splice happened to promote a low/no-creature archetype, but few sets support that, so Limited decks often converge on creatures+removal. I agree that build-around Limited cards are among the coolest things in each set; I just think it's hard to make ones that most decks won't want. Do you have an example of something you wish had been different? Am I misunderstanding?

On my main point: You don't think the multiple-themes approach has significant promise?

It's a real option, if that's what you mean, but I don't think it changes the nature of a game's evolution even though it clearly extends it.


If it extends it to the point where environments are only similar to ones from a decade or more in the past, or creates enough combinations that the environment has at least some nuances, it'll be a different experience given the many knobs developers have on each card. Even if someday there are lots more players like us who remember ancient metas, recombining them differently and experiencing them at a different point in life provide a very different feel for each player. I'm not concerned that Standard 2112 might be very similar to Standard 2080 and 2052, because metagame choices and possible bannings add variance even if the cardpool is miraculously close.

Thought experiment: If only Ice Age through Scars blocks could be printed ever again, and the only things they could change were bannings and what order they released the blocks on a neverending loop, they could still make dozens of different Standard environments



Ignoring the bannings, the fact blocks are released set by set rather than all at once, the core sets, and the hypothetical of them deciding to release Mirrodin block twice consecutively and taking Lorwyn/Shadomoor as 1 block rather than 2...

...I make it 91. (14 blocks if I'm counting correctly, each Standard contains 2 blocks, so if I'm remembering my formulae right that makes the relevent equation 14!/(2!*12!)) - Not entirely convinced all of those standard environments would be good standard environments, mind.

and variant draft formats (my LGS in Urbana, IL just last week did M12/NPH/ROE draft) would create unique Limited experiences. Considering that R&D has hardly run out of ideas, even this pure-recycling worst-case scenario is an underestimate of the diversity Magic will have to offer in the long term.



Mm, and while MaRo is right that the design space of any single game is finite (If you want to keep the core of the game rather than a complete overhall, that is), Magic's seems to be expanding over time - Unglued was originally things Magic can't do... And quite a few of them have wound up in real sets (The Cheese Stands Alone being the poster child for that seeing as it got what basically amounts to a functional reprint in Time Spiral), and we keep hearing how some things, such as Split Cards, were originally going to be in Unglued II before it was put on hiatus. Which approximates to infinite, provided you use them slower than they can get created... Though I presume the rate they can get created slows down over time...
I totally agree with bateleur_.

It just a pitty that MaRo hasn't mentioned step 7 to 10, since these stages can be seen on other games quite well. This doesn't mean that magic is anywhere close to it, but it's still logical. And it would be quite interesting, if it's possible to prevent the "fate" of a game once you know the facts or if the only hope is a delay or like MaRo has mentioned it a "ration something".

In my opinion, it's a personal thing, a mental state. For me, I am in stage 7 or even 8, since I the last set that made me create a new deck was Shadowmoor. No shards had thrilled me, nor did Zendikar or Scars. The last card I owned is Emrakul - the prerelease promo card that I got after the event.

Maybe you define it in some other ways and limited seems to be the main issue for DrSylvan. If I look at the limited tournaments I've played, I noticed the never changing formular. Although keywords and abilities change, it's the fundamental way that bothers me.

As MaRo has described it, a set has to contain a certain number of common cards. Each color also needs spells in every mana slot and many keywords are printed in every set. So you can expect a creature with haste, some with flying, and so on. And as MaRo said, he tries to find "room" for all of them. But what this means is that he randomly distributes them in the hope to find a new constellation.

Therefore, it doesn't matter to me, if it's a Welkin Tern, a Storm Pegasus or a Gust-Skimmer. It doesn't matter to me, if the cmc 3 flyer is plain 2/2, a 1/1 ally that gets +1/+1, a 2/2 with multikicker, a Dawnglare Invoker, a Gloomhunter or a Kathari Screecher. For me, It's the cmc3 flyer. Likewise it doesn't matter to me, if Loxodon Convert is in white now and not a black Nether Horror, it's just the usual power-focus creature. I could continue with many other cards as well.

But let's ignore this and move on to the next statement: "Magic is better, since they design blocks around stories and themes, even formin even inter-block connections, rather than focussing on the mechanical part: Well, it matters. Stories are good, if they are told wisely. Therefore promoting a story doesn't tell anything about the actual print. For me, Shards failed, since R&D doesn't get close to what I would call true color identity and a triple color shard overdoes the mixture. Therefore I am glad that WotC decided to put "wedge" colors for the EDH format and haven't tried to do a block.

Zendikar was a try. A totally new direction. I can't tell if it was a selling success, but for me, it had too many cool aspects wasted. Traps and Quests could have been MUCH cooler and with the right support, they made have formed something similar to the new "planeswalker" card type.

The level creatures were a nice idea, some alternative form of a planeswalker, but for me it didn't work. The Eldrazi were a new limited experience since noone had ever played a cmc9 creature before. Colorless as a color was a wonderful flavor and I would have hoped for it to be someting that could fill the space of R&Ds "purple" color, but it didn't.

Infect from Scars had made things worse in my opinion, not better. Poison counters are still the second life-total and the inability to combine infect with non-infect creatures makes it even worse than wither to me. The only hope was the phyrexian mana. This really got my interest and I included it instantaneously within my own world (but it's limited to black).

What I need to get me to stage 5 or 6, would be a totally new concept of how you design common cards, a more mono-colored oriented design and maybe something more drastical. My suggestions are a new "card type" (f.e. an "ability" card that is imprinted on a card a bit like auras do), using the "outside of the game" more excessivly, putting sorceries and instants together forming a card type "spell", more leyline effects to get somewhere similar to Vanguard cards, etc.

If this isn't the case, I can't wait to see Innistrat reprinting flashback or unearth....

Last but not least, I think it is a sign that no member of R&D had the guts to change the rules of bloodthirst into "if an opponent has lost life this turn" instead. Wouldn't have changed the beavior of the old cards and would have solved most of the issues in the current M12 Vampire theme.
Yes, they could have made Cathedral Membrane a 6/3 but that would greatly change the card. As it is now, it does not care about First Strike (on it on the opponent), something that's pretty important with Equipment everywhere. Also, it makes Echo Circlet somewhat playable.
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Yes, they could have made Cathedral Membrane a 6/3 but that would greatly change the card. As it is now, it does not care about First Strike (on it on the opponent), something that's pretty important with Equipment everywhere. Also, it makes Echo Circlet somewhat playable.



Not to mention, it'd play totally differently against 1/1s and 2/2s.

Yes, they could have made Cathedral Membrane a 6/3 but that would greatly change the card. As it is now, it does not care about First Strike (on it on the opponent), something that's pretty important with Equipment everywhere. Also, it makes Echo Circlet somewhat playable.



Not to mention, it'd play totally differently against 1/1s and 2/2s.




That too, obviously
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I totally agree with bateleur_.
Last but not least, I think it is a sign that no member of R&D had the guts to change the rules of bloodthirst into "if an opponent has lost life this turn" instead. Wouldn't have changed the beavior of the old cards and would have solved most of the issues in the current M12 Vampire theme.



This is not a question of guts. With a few exceptions due to rules issues, we don't change the functionality of existing mechanics. For example, we didn't just change the rules of shroud because we wanted hexproof to exist. We created hexproof.
It's not like people need more endorsement to play vampires, in my opinion.
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!
Not to mention that such a change would necessitate "damage causes loss of life" reminder text all over the place.
A solid article.

You mentioned the reserved list, which of course reminds me of the recent 180-degree change in attitude by wotc towards its abolishment. I hope it will eventually be possible for someone to give a straight answer explaining what led you to the decision that keeping around the reserved list is good for the longterm health of the game -- even if the lawyers won't let you get into too much detail.