08/15/2011 Feature: "Revenge of Ask Wizards"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Feature Article, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
That seemed good but not great. For one thing it felt a little short; I feel like there have to have been more questions that could have been included, especially given the multiple authors, and thus the reduced time committment from each of them.

It didn't help that the first question was one anyone who's been paying attention to this site already knew the answer to, and I'm pretty sure the last has been discussed before too (in fact, I'm sure it's been answered in almost those same words before somewhere). These factors made the article feel a little thinner than it might have if those questions had been replaced, or even appeared in less prominent positions, say a third and two thirds of the way through.

I'd like to see more of these sorts of columns, even though I was not entirely happy with how this one was executed.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011

FOR THE NEXT ASK WIZARDS, PLEASE:

About 10 years ago Randy B. revised the "Reserved list", removing some commons/uncommons, adding more rares from different sets and overhauling. What would need to happen for us (Magic Players) to get a voice in any possible additions/changes to the list. As modern design standards change, the concept of what should or should not be printable does change too.

By Modern design standards:

Lands almost always make mana or have some mana ability.
Dual color or tri-lands are never printed at Mythic
Legends are generally printed at rare/mythic
Cards that truly hold the weight of making an expansion special are less likely to get reprinted.

For example, does anyone truly think: Braingeyser or Fork should be on the reserve list?

With Legacy doing a number on the secondary market with it's massive growth in popularity, should Wizards' hands continued to be tied with the very limited number of cards like Tropical Island in the marketplace? At what point can Wizards say X hundred dollar dual lands to be competetive in Legacy is no longer considered healthy for the format or game as a whole and reprinting would be better? Mind you,this from a guy who just spent $650 on 6 lands TODAY!!



Internal and external frustration over the Reserve List is rather obvious and well documented. The promise has been modified before and as players, I feel we deserve the RIGHT to at least have a voice in the list, and it's obvious effect on this game.
old quotes from the Worldwake talk: Mike Turian: While Mark Rosewater made Tarmogoyf, I made Tarmogoyf what he is today Mark Rosewater: Would we ever reprint Tarmogoyf? Maybe.

I am Blue/Green


whatcolor_isblue.jpg

174 How many of your friendships have lasted more than ten years? Which of your current friendships do you still feel will be important to you ten years from now?
Ask Wizards was always one of my favorite columns, even though they often contained questions for much more inexpierienced players.

I would love a Legendary Wall. I have  no idea what type of abilities it would have, though. But, so long as they don't try to be tame with it, I think a Legendary Wall could become a great card people would want to play. 

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.

2 things:

- first, a legendary wall do exist: Opal-Eye, Konda's Kojimbo. I used it as a Commander general for LOT of fun, would it only be for the face of the opponent when you spil your GG.  :-)

- Second, I think that if the numbers of cards in the deck proved to work well, as Maro said, it s also because all the subsequent design & developpement was done in reguard to these numbers.

i have one set idea make a unset of cards that are copies of cards that are broke but the un cards fixed to be average strength  the set could be like the time spiral (block) hindsight    lol

@Ong

I think the only 'fair' way to abolish or revise the reserved list is to give it a 5+ year lead time.

I think the Model T was an amazing car when it first premiered, but to a modern eye it would seem very outdated. I feel the same way about Arabian Nights. I do believe, though, that a set with a strong resonant theme and new design explorations would do well today, so in that regard, I think Arabian Nights (by its model rather than its execution) would do well today.


Agreed. It's kind of too bad that the set Arabian Nights is already out there, because that makes it very unlikely that they will ever do another set in that kind of setting, but it's fertile ground for one, just like Kamigawa and Mirage. You could make all those named characters like Aladdin legends, and actually make them playable... You could make some cards and mechanics based closely on the stories and some with more tenuous connections and some completely new things that fit in the setting but are made for Magic and leave it to us to figure out... You could make a Shahrezade-inspired effect that doesn't break the game...


Rune-Scarred Demon and Sphinx of Uthuun are both large rare creatures with ETB abilities that mimic older, powerful spells. Were they originally part of a cycle of five (one in each color)? If so, why wasn't the cycle printed in it's entirety?


Count Garruk's Horde as another 7-mana, original rather than reprinted, rare fatty with a card-advantage ability, and it's looking more and more like a cycle. We all demand to know why the white and red ones were cut.


With storm, almost every card you can design is either really bad or really overpowered. That's dangerous ground to tread, and it's why we don't intend to return to the mechanic in the future.


The problem with storm cards is the environment. Storm spells could be aggressively costed and still not be overpowered at all if the environment lacked too much card-drawing, spell-based mana acceleration (like Seething Song), free or sorta-free spells, and things like that.


Also, an inability to target players would help storm a lot. With Tendrils of Agony or Grapeshot or Ignite Memories, you can just go infinite and burn your opponent from 20 life to zero in one turn. But if they could only target creatures, then you could just use them to clear the board, and if you've got a deck built around storm you'd be less likely to be able to take advantage of a cleared board.

I've got a question for the next ask wizards too:

What ever happened to the Saturday School series of articles written during the summer? That was basically how I was able to learn a lot of the finer points of the game. Those articles were extremely helpful and informative! Near the end of its run there were a lot of repeats, but if you only did it during the summer every year, wouldn't that be ok? The rules have changed a lot since those articles were made!
- first, a legendary wall do exist: Opal-Eye, Konda's Kojimbo. I used it as a Commander general for LOT of fun, would it only be for the face of the opponent when you spil your GG.  :-)

Despite having Defender, Opal-Eye, Konda's Yojimbo is a Fox Samurai, not a wall.
Scry removed from the core set - Yes we understand the idea of keeping things fresh, but I have seen a *lot* of questions regarding this. Mayhaps yall should reconsider its evergreen status? 



Deck size and card limitation - Is there ever any thought given to doing card specific modifiers to certain cards? Like "Unique", a deck may only contain one Unique card. Or doing more things like Relentless Rats? How about errata'ing Plague Rats to work like Relentless as they were so obviously designed to do?

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
Scry removed from the core set - Yes we understand the idea of keeping things fresh, but I have seen a *lot* of questions regarding this. Mayhaps yall should reconsider its evergreen status? 



Deck size and card limitation - Is there ever any thought given to doing card specific modifiers to certain cards? Like "Unique", a deck may only contain one Unique card. Or doing more things like Relentless Rats? How about errata'ing Plague Rats to work like Relentless as they were so obviously designed to do?




I do sometimes wonder why they put "May put as many as you like into your deck" on Relentless Rats when a look through the comp rules indicates it wouldn't be all that much revision required to make Basic Creatures work that way under them... Might need reminder text, mind, but that's basically ignored once someone figures out what the relevent rules text means.

...Apart from The land continues to burn, obviously.
Deck size and card limitation - Is there ever any thought given to doing card specific modifiers to certain cards? Like "Unique", a deck may only contain one Unique card. Or doing more things like Relentless Rats? How about errata'ing Plague Rats to work like Relentless as they were so obviously designed to do?



Both of these ideas seem very unlikely to me. As for "unique", by itself it's all-downside, which they have said recently they like to avoid. And presumably you'd put it on good, or at least big, creatures or effects, which would make it swingy, and few people like that either. And also, it dumbs down deckbuilding in a way that I suspect the designers want to avoid. Right now you have to think about how many copies of each and every card to include. You generally want all four copies of your best cards, but then again there isn't room in a 60-card deck for every good card in your general theme, but then again tutoring effects like Stoneforge Mystic make it easier to find single cards... but "unique" cards take all that away. You can only put one of them in your deck, and if it's as good or at least big as they'd probably be, you'd have to include one. How simple. Boring. Mindless.

And as for errataing Plague Rats, what you call obvious isn't. For example, see Aaron Forsythe's comments on Ivory Guardians. We often don't know what people intended way back in Legends and earlier sets. And even if we were clear, they very rarely errata cards just to make things make sense. All those named characters in Arabian Nights should be legendary, but they weren't printed that way and so it hasn't been changed. Fireball is a massive headache for templating, but they keep trying to find a clear way to say what it does rather than errataing the card to change what it does to something simpler. Any merfolk that don't have feet in their art should have islandhome because clearly they can't attack outside water, but that has never been errataed. Fixing all that would come before errataing Plague Rats to work they way you think it should, which is, after all, one single card, and not a particularly memorable one at that.
I like the idea of playing with rarities. I always thought a format that followed the 10, 3, 1 rule like the 60 card starters would be interesting. Of course now that would be compacted to enforce. I think the "tickets" cost in M:tG online is a good approach, but hard to implement in paper.

I would like a legendary wall. Sounds like a cool design problem. Being evil, I would make it the Forth Eldrazi and steal some thematics from Evangellion's Angels. Making an OFFENSIVE creature that cannot ever lose defender sounds interesting, and Ledendary.

FOR THE NEXT ASK WIZARDS, PLEASE:
(Extensive commentary on the Reserved List clipped)


You misunderstand, or perhaps you understand but want to fundamentally change, the purpose of the Reserved List. It has nothing to do with design standards, power level, or any of the various other considerations people tend to mention when the subject comes up. The only reason it exists is because of complaints from collectors, mostly about Chronicles, that reprinting hurt the value of their collections. The goal was to maintain the value of then-existing collections.

I think people both in and out of WotC have since collectively come to their senses about the fact that this was (a) a goal WotC should not have adopted in the first place and (b) a short-sighted and sometimes even counterproductive way of trying to achieve said goal. But at this point, WotC nevertheless continues to feel bound by this promise, the reason they've given publicly being that they want to be seen as trustworthy.

WotC, rightly or wrongly, would seem to be claiming this point about trustworthiness outweighs (a) the fact that it was a promise they now recognize as one they shouldn't have made, (b) the potential benefit to the game of breaking it, (c) the fact that the circumstances under which it was made have changed in ways that undermine the original point of it, and even (d) the fact that on the whole the people they made that promise to no longer want them to keep it.

I couldn't disagree more, but any attempt to persuade WotC to change course on this must address the above points. No amount of discussion about changes in design standards over the years bears the faintest relevance to the topic.

Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
It's fear of litigation.  Nothing more.
It's fear of litigation.  Nothing more.


Do you have a source for that, and/or can you elaborate? Because I'm not a lawyer, but I can't think of any case there that wouldn't be laughed out of court. Wizards has no legal obligation to protect the secondary market value of old collections, and an announcement by a company of what they plan to do is not a legally binding contract, certainly not without the signature of the second party and all that. If Wizards was going around selling those cards on the reserve list, there might be a false advertising concern, but they aren't.
Do you have a source for that, and/or can you elaborate?

No, it's just (fairly obvious) speculation from the weeks of buildup with Wizards asking around various websites and outlets, followed by a sudden "we're not disusing it" silence.

Something spooked someone very high up in the company, and all the information we got after the sudden lockdown strongly implied that it wasn't Hasbro meddling, which suggests it's not a profit-driven decision.
I'm more with cybishop than with QMark, but I do admit WotC's behaviour around this topic has been very strange. I did speak very advisedly above of "the reason they've given publicly"; for reasons I outlined in the next paragraph after saying that, this reason, noble though it sounds, stands up to scrutiny so poorly that it almost can't be the truth. But I don't know what is. Fear of litigation makes just as little sense as the "we're inflexibly honour-bound" story, because I can't imagine what kind of actionable complaint there could be.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Quickly-dimissed actions still require paying a lawyer long enough to get a judge to dismiss it.