09/12/2011 MM: "C'mon Innistrad, Part 2"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
No mention of the fact that this is the most beautiful card name ever?
blah blah metal lyrics
FLAVOOOOOOOOOR FLAVVVVVVVVVVVV! Cellar Door really hits a home run for flavour cards being useful!


And God bless Richard Garfield! That guy oozes insight of the game. I'm not sure what he's doing right now, but if they could, WotC should hire him to wander through the different offices, stop at random intervals, deliver little nuggets of enlightenment to someone nearby, and then walk over to the breakroom for a coffee.   

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought Otaria was a poor match for a graveyard block.
I like the Cellar Door card, very thematic. I think it might have big problems with scry, but that rotates out when this comes in. Generally, it's efficient for randomness, and because it's "dealing off the bottom" it saves a time wasting shuffle step. One of those never before but obvious designs.. why hasn't there been a card that lets you deal from the bottom of the library before?
Eh...  I thought the whole reason to not spoil all the cards too early was to create excitement and anticipation for the new set.  So why do they insist on previewing completely uninteresting cards?
I agree with the above astonishment that there has never been a "deal from the bottom" style card, although I wouldn't call this dealing from the bottom. I think you'd have to draw it from the bottom, instead of another draw, to be dealt from the bottom.

I'm even more astonished that this was compared as being the same as taking from the top. While I agree the aesthetic argument is a good one, I'm far more interested in the actual play mechanic difference between the two. There are plenty of things that manipulate the top, and since you draw from them so often, they are powered accordingly. Since you never draw from the bottom, and until now only tutors or shuggle mechanics allowed you to reach the bottom, ever card here is going to provide for unbefore unseen opportunities. I guarantee there are strong combos lurking in there somewhere.

Edit: First idea is Hideaway lands, maybe in dredge, but it might not need the extra digging.
Apparently Jenna is a fan of Donnie Darko....
I'm a little nervous about the idea that all (or even most) graveyard recursion in this block might be random.  Shuffling the graveyard, let alone sifting all the creatures out of the graveyard and shuffling them and dumping them back in, seems like less than awesome as a thing to do many times per game.  I hope when Mark says this went on "a few" cards, he really means it.
I didn't notice at first when I was seeing the card, but Wooden Stake is really hard to justify playing outside of Innistrad Block.  About the only way you could use it would be with Artificial Evolution, and even there the timing means you would have to turn every potential blocker into a Vampire just to kill at most one of them.  Sadly, not a great card.  I think it should have given +2/+0, making it comparable to Darksteel Axe in playability.  Or have it equip for 0; then it would be a Shuko that costs 1 more to play, which wouldn't be a big loss even if the vampire bit never came up.
Nitpick - Carnage was a mechanic from the Alara shard of Jund, not Grixis.  Jund cared about what was going to the graveyard (or "dying"), while Grixis was a land where almost everything was already dead centuries ago and hadn't rotted yet, so stuff kept coming out of the graveyard or having an effect while in it.  (I would have liked them to explore that theme a lot more than they did.)
Very excited about that sarcophagus art at the top of the article.  Looks like a really badass ancient vampire waking up from a nice 300-year nap, feeling a mite peckish, wondering if someone has a small town they aren't eating.  Randy Gallegos has been awesome ever since Legend of the Five Rings; I was very happy when he jumped into Magic and he's continuing to rock the casbah.
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
I'm glad you fought for the card coming from the bottom of the deck. To me, that adds a lot of flavor and makes the card much more memorable. I think many players will be confused about whether they are allowed to look at the bottom card of their deck. Honestly, I'm not certain myself; I feel confident that it's not allowed, but I would have to do a quick google search before playing the card.

I'm addicted to this set, I can hardly wait to get my hands on a box. 

The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform.

From GDS2:


CU10
Now and Then
[Past and Future - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
U
Sorcery
Look at the top card and bottom card of your library. Put one in your hand and one in your graveyard.


KEN: We have a "blue develop enabler" as it's a cheap cantrip. I'm expecting another cheap cantrip in another blue spell slot.

I found this one difficult to operate as I lack a third hand. Sure, Now and Then is easier than


Superstition
U
Sorcery
Look at the 13th card from the top of your library and the 13th card from the bottom of your library. You may swap their places in your library.
Draw a card.


But at some point there's a line crossed. I'll admit that Telling Time reads like a poem.


The designers are pressured for new cards, pressured for crowd-sourced cards.




ZH: This is a weird operation to execute, but I like that you have an "Opt"-type common to help out with develop (though, again, develop should probably not be called "develop"). Actually casting this card is very awkward, though, I will say. This might ought to just be a cantrip reprint or some other variant that doesn't involve me having to pick my deck up and secure the bottom card without revealing extra information to myself, or my opponent. As a Pro Tour player, I could see a lot of people receiving warnings for messing this up.



MR: This card feels like a tweak just for the sake of a tweak. While I don't dislike the card in a vacuum, it doesn't particularly feel connected to the set. The one connection I do see is that your blue evolve mechanic needs cheap spells.



Seems MaRo is the only person in Wizards liking this kind of action =p 
Why does MaRo always champion and pride himself in the stupidest crap?  Recently it was Infect, and now we have yet another card in the set that forces players to perform a physical action that requires more time and care than others, all for a random effect.  Do people realize that it's more difficult to effectively take the bottom card from the deck without revealing any others?  This and the design of double-faced cards is really counterintuitive to the actual handling of cards during gameplay.

Add to that the fact that the card is atrocious.  Nice work, MaRo!  Glad to know your arrogance pays off!
Maybe I haven't watched enough horror movies, but there's really very little flavour to me about a "Cellar Door". It's like printing a creepy card with the name "Bathroom Mat" or "Laundry Basket". It's just... mundane. Bit of a miss for me.

The card reminds me of Wirefly Hive. Unreliable making of a 2/2 token for {3} mana a time. Not exactly exciting either. At least with Wirefly Hive you could do Artificial Evolution tricks to get unpredictable Extinctions (before the GCTU killed that combo).

I agree that Wooden Stake is pretty unplayable outside of Innistrad. Okay, every set has quite a few cards like that, but it's still a pity. I suppose it opens the way for us Johnnies to start Donating Xenografts or break out the old Unnatural Selections.

(I wonder if the forum software has been fixed to let Xenograft autocard correctly yet. Ha ha ha! Pardon my little joke. As if that's going to happen.)

Richard Garfield is great for just that kind of observation.  If you don't want your game to feel repetitive, add randomness.  Though I would counter that randomness isn't the only way.  When play involves interaction with the opponent and their decisions, that's a non-random source of variance that many would say is even better.


I've had card ideas that play with the bottom of the library too, but there is a technical problem with it.  (I'm sure this is what Development didn't like, but Mark didn't relate.)  When you pull the top card off and see what's behind it, you see a card back.  When you pull the bottom card off and see what's behind it, you see a card face.  The bottom of the library is therefore open to extra information.  Also since the action of taking the bottom card is more involved than just picking one off the top, bottom of the library has always been reknowned for slight of hand manipulation.


In short, cards that pull from the bottom of the library open up avenues to cheaters.  Fortunately, Wizards addressed this here by making Cellar Door fairly weak.  Which leads to my next point.


Top-down design sometimes seems like an excuse to make narrow, linear, or outright bad cards.  Wooden stake, yeah yeah I get it, but I also get that I play against people with elf decks and metalcraft decks and control decks and burn decks and storm decks against which this card is pure crap.  It's a card that's linear with your opponent's decks, which makes it a sideboard-intended "hate" card, but A) I'm not sure it's good enough outside Limited and B) isn't top-down flavor largely intended for people who play casually without sideboards, anyway?


And then yes, bad cards have merit because they teach people to evaluate, but you can overdo that.  I'm not saying the card shouldn't exist.  But let's not be so overwhelmed with our top-down design cleverness that we forget to make cards people like in their decks.

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.

Can someone explain the flavor of this card to me?

The bottom card is put into a graveyard and I get a zombie. How is this connected to a cellar door?

This isn't sarcasm or rant, I honestly don't get it. 
Everybody watches the front, but monsters are sneaking in the back door.

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.

Can someone explain the flavor of this card to me?

The bottom card is put into a graveyard and I get a zombie. How is this connected to a cellar door?

This isn't sarcasm or rant, I honestly don't get it. 


There's a zombie in the basement, just behind the cellar door.  Everyone's concerned about the main entrance, the top of the library, but now they're coming from the bottom of the library.

Also, I think the most obvious application for this card is to use it witrh Condemn.
Top-down design sometimes seems like an excuse to make narrow, linear, or outright bad cards.  Wooden stake, yeah yeah I get it, but I also get that I play against people with elf decks and metalcraft decks and control decks and burn decks and storm decks against which this card is pure crap.  It's a card that's linear with your opponent's decks, which makes it a sideboard-intended "hate" card, but A) I'm not sure it's good enough outside Limited and B) isn't top-down flavor largely intended for people who play casually without sideboards, anyway?



Innistrad is supposed to be 100% top-down, this block is the big experiment to see if that can also carry the preferences of all the others.

Maybe I haven't watched enough horror movies, but there's really very little flavour to me about a "Cellar Door". It's like printing a creepy card with the name "Bathroom Mat" or "Laundry Basket". It's just... mundane. Bit of a miss for me.



Not so much horror movies, but gothic horror stories. Stories from Lovecraft, or the Eternal Darkness video game, the Cellar Door is where it's at =p
Maybe I haven't watched enough horror movies, but there's really very little flavour to me about a "Cellar Door". It's like printing a creepy card with the name "Bathroom Mat" or "Laundry Basket". It's just... mundane. Bit of a miss for me.

I was going to say much the same. While I can sort of see why a cellar door might belong in a horror set if I think about it...well, it's just that: I have to think about it. The mechanic doesn't really help, either. Okay, sometimes there's something in the cellar, sometimes there's not...meh? Overall the card just doesn't work for me.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.



(I wonder if the forum software has been fixed to let Xenograft autocard correctly yet. Ha ha ha! Pardon my little joke. As if that's going to happen.)


Well using a space in front of the x seems to work: xenograft! But yeah, they should fix it, so: Mark, could you pass that on to the people at wizards that fix stuff like that?

On cellar door: Yes, it opens doors for cheaters I guess. But to me the flavor of the card outweighs this problem in this specific case. Basically I like the card and I don't think it is on the power level to see play in constructed tournaments. Plus people that cheat (especially in casual games) just need to learn that Magic is just a game, in other words Magic is meant for people to just have some fun, cheating is just so pointless in that scenario. Or maybe I just don't care enough about winning to see why people would cheat.

On wooden stake: Not every card is meant to be playable outside the block they are printed in, and this has been the case for a long time; City in a bottle would be the first example that jumps to my mind although back then....maybe .... well I don't know; just ask people that were already playing back then. But seen from a 2011 point of view I think the argument holds. Anyway, wooden stake to me is just such a card and since it also has great flavor I like it. Also I think this is a good thing; if every card in every set would have to be on a constructed playable level design space would probably be just a small percentage of what it is now, and making magic would be a lot less interesting for a company. Simply putt: filler stuff like this helps wizards make money. 

Can someone explain the flavor of this card to me?

The bottom card is put into a graveyard and I get a zombie. How is this connected to a cellar door?

This isn't sarcasm or rant, I honestly don't get it. 


There's a zombie in the basement, just behind the cellar door.  Everyone's concerned about the main entrance, the top of the library, but now they're coming from the bottom of the library.

Also, I think the most obvious application for this card is to use it witrh Condemn.



Thank you for explaining that, I too had no idea why he was insisting it had to be from the bottom.
I was going to say much the same. While I can sort of see why a cellar door might belong in a horror set if I think about it...well, it's just that: I have to think about it.



Again, Innistrad is not just about horror, it's about gothic horror specifically, and Cellar Door fits right in there =p
I prefer it a 1000 times over those stupid dragon and wurm.
Just the name 'cellar door' makes me think 1950's horror flick, rather than Victorian / colonial village.  Yes, I'm aware cellars existed back then.  It still reads as an anachronism.

On wooden stake: Not every card is meant to be playable outside the block they are printed in, and this has been the case for a long time; City in a bottle would be the first example that jumps to my mind although back then....maybe .... well I don't know; just ask people that were already playing back then. But seen from a 2011 point of view I think the argument holds. Anyway, wooden stake to me is just such a card and since it also has great flavor I like it. Also I think this is a good thing; if every card in every set would have to be on a constructed playable level design space would probably be just a small percentage of what it is now, and making magic would be a lot less interesting for a company. Simply putt: filler stuff like this helps wizards make money. 




I kind of miss cards like City in a bottle...butI don't think cards like that fit into what Magic is today.
My thought on Cellar Door is it's flavorful, I'm sure I'll find a casual deck I would use it in.

I've been playing (with some gaps) since the late 90's. Land Destruction can be fun! I really don't get the Command Tower backlash.
I don't think Wooden Stake is such a great top-down design.

Sure, driving a wooden stake through the heart of a vampire kills it.  Or so I've heard.  Driving a wooden stake through the heart of a human has the same effect.  The advantage to using a wooden stake against a vampire is that vampires are difficult or impossible to kill otherwise.  If driving a sword through the heart of a vampire killed it, nobody with access to a sword would bother with wooden stakes.

The flavor of Wooden Stake would make more sense if Innistrad's vampires had a regeneration ability (or some other ability making them hard to kill) and Wooden Stake stopped that ability from working.  It would also make more sense if it triggered on combat damage rather than blocking.  (Note that I'm not talking about what's best for the set mechanically - there's no way anyone could know that without seeing the whole set first - but what would make the most sense as a top-down design.)
I don't think Wooden Stake The flavor of Wooden Stake would make more sense if Innistrad's vampires had a regeneration ability (or some other ability making them hard to kill) and Wooden Stake stopped that ability from working.  It would also make more sense if it triggered on combat damage rather than blocking.



Now that you mention it, the wooden stake does sort of act like "damage before real combat." There are other mechanics like that though, such as flanking. In fact, that also makes them seem somewhat similar in flavor to me.  In flanking, you start combat in a stronger position, your opponent is hit slightly off guard (gets -1/-1) and that initial flanking maneuver can be damaging enough that it completely crush smaller enemies. Sneakiness and position matter.

You don't usually come at a vampire head-on: you track him to his lair, and stake him in his sleep. Here, the equipped creature is sneaking up on the vampire, striking first, and making it count. The weakness to wood means it's "destroy" not "deal X damage to," and the sneaking/timing is why your puny human lives through the encounter.

As for the cellar door itself, I'm not familiar with a specific cellar door from literature, the way there's only one Phantom of the Opera or Jekyll/Hyde. However, "the mysterious door we never open and we're not going to talk about anymore," comes up pretty regularly. Like Creepy Doll, Cellar Door seems to be a more generic trope. Just as Creepy Doll is also (in addition to the obvious) "the cursed object that you want to destroy or get rid of but that keeps coming back," so too is teh Cellar Door every mysterious door holding back an unknown horror. Unless someone else is familiar with something more specific, I'd guess that 2/2 zombies just fit well into the set with the rest of the 2/2 zombie tokens.
I wonder if anyone else thought of using Scry effects in combination with this card...sure, it won't work in Standard, with Scry rotating out, but there's a place for it in modern...and it seems like a good combo for Reanimation decks in general, as one more thing in their arsenal to get those huge monsters away from the hand and into the graveyard where they're supposed to be.
56816218 wrote:
What I find most frustrating about 4E is that I can see it includes the D&D game I've always wanted to play, but the game is so lathered in tatical combat rules that I have thus far been unable to coax the game I want out.
When the Cat's a Stray, the Mice will Pray


 On wooden stake: Not every card is meant to be playable outside the block they are printed in, and this has been the case for a long time; City in a bottle would be the first example that jumps to my mind although back then....maybe .... well I don't know; just ask people that were already playing back then. But seen from a 2011 point of view I think the argument holds.


City in a Bottle is not seen as particularly good design these days though.  It was in fact a set hoser, and a flavorful one, but more than a little clumsy.  It was forgiveable on the first expansion.  By the time Apocalypse Chime came around, that sort of thing was rather frowned upon.  (Though again, flavorful.)  So if that's the best go-to, it doesn't exactly weaken my argument.  Smile

To be fair, I'm criticizing from a design perspective.  Had Latest Developments mentioned it in an article about sideboard cards with modest shifts, or Limited Information about the power of drafting Vampires, or From the Lab about a combo with Imagecrafter, I'd be responding differently.  My concern is that Mark, and Design in general, might get a sense of hyperopia and forget that someone who rips packs is looking for cards he can put in a deck, not a thematic experience.

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.

" I felt very strongly that having the cards come from the bottom of the library really mattered for the aesthetic and flavor of the card."


Yup. 


++++++++++++++++++++


Regarding Wooden Stake:  It's a good DESIGN card.


Now, the 'weakness' of it comes from playtesting.  If the card said +7/+0 you guys wouldn't be singing the same tune.


 

Regarding Wooden Stake:  It's a good DESIGN card.

Now, the 'weakness' of it comes from playtesting.  If the card said +7/+0 you guys wouldn't be singing the same tune.


If the card said +7/+0 he wouldn't be selling it on flavor.  My point is that if the name had been "Mitraxia's Rightous Staff" they wouldn't be putting a spotlight on it, and while a good name is important playability should still be primary.

AND I'm not specifically attacking Wooden Stake.  I said - broadly - that top-down design can become an excuse for printing cards that don't play well because too much focus was on concept.  They used to design cards for an environment and then attach flavor.  Now that top-down is the rule I think it's very relevant to pay attention to playability since the methods have changed.


For example, Star Wars CCG wanted to be top-down design.  There's a card called "Come Back, Luke".  Guess what it does?  It gets a card named "Luke" back from the "Lost pile".  Not any rebel, just Luke.  It's so narrow that over a decade later I still remember people complaining that it was worthless because they weren't playing with, or didn't even own a "Luke".  But it was pretty good top-down design for a card called "Come Back, Luke", no?


Wizards R&D is miles ahead of there, but since the design method has changed I think it's worth keeping an eye on.

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.


I didn't notice at first when I was seeing the card, but Wooden Stake is really hard to justify playing outside of Innistrad Block.  About the only way you could use it would be with Artificial Evolution, and even there the timing means you would have to turn every potential blocker into a Vampire just to kill at most one of them.  Sadly, not a great card.  I think it should have given +2/+0, making it comparable to Darksteel Axe in playability.  Or have it equip for 0; then it would be a Shuko that costs 1 more to play, which wouldn't be a big loss even if the vampire bit never came up.



There are more applications for wooden stake than you might think, Amoeboid Changeling comes to mind. (as well as the velis veil cycle). It might also help if you're playing vampires in an environment where everyone's always stealing your permanents.


Nitpick - Carnage was a mechanic from the Alara shard of Jund, not Grixis.  Jund cared about what was going to the graveyard (or "dying"), while Grixis was a land where almost everything was already dead centuries ago and hadn't rotted yet, so stuff kept coming out of the graveyard or having an effect while in it.  (I would have liked them to explore that theme a lot more than they did.)



As I understand it "carnage" was originally going to be Grixis' mechanic, but R&D decided that it worked too well with Devour so all but a few cards were taken out. Those cards were re-flavored as jund cards, but I think Mark still thinks of them as Grixis cards, because that's what they were originally.
City in a Bottle is not seen as particularly good design these days though.  It was in fact a set hoser, and a flavorful one, but more than a little clumsy.  It was forgiveable on the first expansion.  By the time Apocalypse Chime came around, that sort of thing was rather frowned upon.  (Though again, flavorful.)  So if that's the best go-to, it doesn't exactly weaken my argument.  Smile



To nit-pick: pretty much every set before Sixth Edition was part of one big, rolling "block".  Set hosers were one thought on how you could keep a 12-set environment manageable. In the end, they decided that dividing sets up into blocks and creating a new format (now called Standard) was a better way to go about it than creating a hoser for every set. Arabian Nights and Antinquities both had one, and Homelands was created (parallel to a lot of other sets that hit the shelves before it) drawing off of only those two sets.

Perhaps the issue with Wooden Stake is that exiling the vampire(s) would make more sense. If you kill a human with a wooden stake, it can be brought back as an undead creature, if you kill a vampire with one, it's supposed to be gone for good, right?
In older literature a wooden stake didn't actually destroy vampires, it just disabled them so they couldn't rise from their coffin--the stake literally nailed them to the bottom of the coffin. If the stake was removed, the vampire could rise again.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.