09/19/2011 MM: "Scary Stories, Part 1"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
the top down flavor of this set is ridiculously fitting and awesome

..and..just a little bit creepy lol 
I think calling Nevermore a Look At Me, I'm the DCI variant is kind of a cheat, given how similar it is to a card that predates Unglued by a couple of years.

So, based on the Village Cannibals thing, I'm guessing Dark Ascension has a "humans turning on each other" thing going on?
blah blah metal lyrics
The Tribal "card type" is dead!

I love Innistrad, but this announcement is by far the best news I've heard in a while. Now if only the cards already printed with the "type" could be errata'ed away, so this stupid "elf creatures you control get +1/+1" junk could go back to the simpler, better "elves you control get +1/+1" wording.
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ummm...ok so you said a mythic card for each monster type...
I see one for vampires, ghosts, and zombies...but no mythic for werewolves? where is it? or am I stupid?
I like fun, but competitive decks. So I might not play what is optimal but they have normally been tested to have a 2/3 winrate.
Claustraphobia is the creepiest art in the set, I feel. It sure does trigger my nightmare fuel.
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I'm not sad that Tribal is kaput now - I'm sad that it ever existed in the first place.  Every Magic card ever to reference a creature type got junked up with an extra "creature" word because of one of Lorwyn's themes, and now we're not going to benefit from the upside anymore but we're still stuck with the downside?  Weak.
Screeching Bat/Stalking Vampire is deeply unsatisfying to me because of the once-per-round transformation; it keeps her from really feeling like a shapeshifter.  I also think that if one side of the card was to be a 5/5 gropo, Vampire was the wrong type for the card, as Innistrad's vampires can fly by force of will, and it seems weird for her to be that tough when she's in a humanoid form.  I would have concepted this card as something different based on its abilities, and if I'd been top-downing a vampire who turns into a bat and back, there's no way I wouldn't have let her do it at instant speed, even if that had to weaken her for balance reasons.  The ability to change completely at will seems to be the most important part of the concept here.
I would have stuck with 1/1 black Spiders myself; the reach thing is for giant spiders.  I don't know why "players" can't figure that out.
Reconcepting Thraben Sentry was a mistake.  As a mob, his flavor would have been a lot more impressive; right now he just seems like a random dork.
I agree that Endless Ranks of the Dead and Village Cannibals are two of the best pieces of art in the set (though there's a lot of top-notch art throughout).
I'm unhappy that this set made a zombie Bear and obsoleted all the old zombie Ogres, but I'm not going to bother getting upset about it anymore; Magic has been more stupidly uber than I want it to be for a long time, and I should just accept that.  Nobody else apparently wants a balanced, restrained game like I do; they want MORE POWER AUGH AUGH AUGH, so I guess Wizards might as well give it to them.
Nitpick - the Necronomicon is not the Book of the Dead.  The Book of the Dead was an Egyptian scripture on how to preserve the Pharaohs into the afterlife; it actually existed.  The Necronomicon is a fictional Arabic tome of madness from H.P. Lovecraft's stories, misappropriated for the Evil Dead movies and recycled here due to that usage.
Now, off I go to see the entire set....
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 sad to see Tribal go, but...

I love Grimoire of the Dead, can't wait to play around with it.  And Endless Ranks of the Dead has my favorite art out of all the cards I've seen so far.
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.
hey what the hell you all tell us fight is in the set but really 2 cards come on if u make a set with 2 cards with the one ability do not this again plz this makes players like me that see the new ability ad expect to see like 4 to 5 i mean realy i know it is top down but dont make a new ability for just 2 card
Only 2 planeswalkers is interesting and wheres the legendary werewolve?
Mark, it doesn't sound much like Tribal is dead; rather, you're only going to use it when you need to. Looking at the set, I think Tribal would have been superfluous, so good on you for cutting out unnecessary words.

"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

hey what the hell you all tell us fight is in the set but really 2 cards come on if u make a set with 2 cards with the one ability do not this again plz this makes players like me that see the new ability ad expect to see like 4 to 5 i mean realy i know it is top down but dont make a new ability for just 2 card



Punctuation and grammer, my friend.
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.

"black should be able, some of the time, to get a two-drop vanilla 2/2"Although I think it's a cool card, I also notice that Dearly Departed is a mandatory ability on an easy-to-miss graveyard trigger.  I wonder how many fraud disqualificiations this card will cause.


Remember the Kibler rule everybody: when accused say "I thought it was optional" and the judge can't touch you.


---


Victim of Night feels weird at BB, it's a Terror/Doom Blade/Go for the Throat card that I'd expect to be 1B.  Or even 2B like Rend Flesh or Eyeblight's Ending.  No reason it can't change, that's just what I've come to expect.


---


RIP Tribal.  I liked it from the very first appearance and said it should be evergreen, so obv it was a goner.


---


Wait, so Thraben Militia isn't any angry mob?  What trope is it then?


---


"trample has always been allowed on humongous creatures of any color" ... "black should be able, some of the time, to get a two-drop vanilla 2/2"


But green fliers ...

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.

ummm...ok so you said a mythic card for each monster type...
I see one for vampires, ghosts, and zombies...but no mythic for werewolves? where is it? or am I stupid?


Garruk Relentless took the Mythic double-faced card slot that the Werewolf would have been using. The Mythic Werewolf was pushed back to Dark Ascension as a result.
I'm unhappy that this set made a zombie Bear and obsoleted all the old zombie Ogres, but I'm not going to bother getting upset about it anymore; Magic has been more stupidly uber than I want it to be for a long time, and I should just accept that.  Nobody else apparently wants a balanced, restrained game like I do; they want MORE POWER AUGH AUGH AUGH, so I guess Wizards might as well give it to them.


While I agree that it feels... odd... for black to get a bear, as I'd rank it at 3rd or 4th in terms of creature power at best, a 2/2 for 2 is hardly something to freak out over. Quite simply, this card will not see tournament play. Is it more powerful than previous black vanilla 2/2s? Yes, absolutely. Is it more powerful than previous black 2 drops in general? Not even close.
ummm...ok so you said a mythic card for each monster type...
I see one for vampires, ghosts, and zombies...but no mythic for werewolves? where is it? or am I stupid?


Garruk Relentless took the Mythic double-faced card slot that the Werewolf would have been using. The Mythic Werewolf was pushed back to Dark Ascension as a result.



Makes sense, thanks. I really just want to see it for EDH purposes but with Grimgrin and the new vampire legend I have plenty to play with till then.

As a sidenote, I know Innistrad vampires aren't Zendikar vampires but some interconnectivity would have been nice.  At least we have a black/red legend to support both sides of it.
I like fun, but competitive decks. So I might not play what is optimal but they have normally been tested to have a 2/3 winrate.
"trample has always been allowed on humongous creatures of any color" ... "black should be able, some of the time, to get a two-drop vanilla 2/2"

But green fliers ...


Especially when they print the can't be blocked except by creatures with flying or reach or can't be blocked except by creatures with flying abilities on Green cards. Which effectively means Green can get flying, as long as we don't call it flying.

Just give in and let Green fly, Wizards. The fact that reach exists solely so Green can't ever fly is annoying, and Green desperately needs the evasion.
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The set is underwhelming.

The Horror theme is really a Gothic Horror theme and it doesn't do a very good job at that.

The set doesn't feel like magic. It feels like it should have been part of a limited edition spin off.

I think those at WotC that were resistant to this block should have stuck to their guns. This was a wrong turn for MTG to take and now we are stuck for it for a full block. A lot of players who disliked Infect felt that SoM block was a lost block, so now we have two blocks in a row that seem to have taken the game design off track.

At least I can save myself some money until the next bock comes out. There is almost nothing I want from this set and since I don't really care to play in a Standard environment that is made up of SoM, the sad M12 and now Innistrad, I can just grab some singles and hope the game turns around with the next block. I can also sell off a lot of cards I don't need if I take a pass on the current Standard. Thanks?
"trample has always been allowed on humongous creatures of any color" ... "black should be able, some of the time, to get a two-drop vanilla 2/2"

But green fliers ...


Especially when they print the can't be blocked except by creatures with flying or reach or can't be blocked except by creatures with flying abilities on Green cards. Which effectively means Green can get flying, as long as we don't call it flying.

Just give in and let Green fly, Wizards. The fact that reach exists solely so Green can't ever fly is annoying, and Green desperately needs the evasion.



Green really lost out in this set. I don't know any Green players who are thrilled, or even happy, with were-wolves. It's not that were-wolves couldn't have worked, it that the way they are designed doesn't feel like they belong in Green.

Blue got two of the best trample creatures in Standard, but Green couldn't get a single real flier? Or even something comperable as far as big tramplers? Almost nothing about Innistrad green feels like MTG Green. (There are a couple cards here and there that might be nice outside of Standard, but they don't even feel like they belong with the rest of the cards in the set).  Not even the new Garruk feels like he fits into the established Green MTG theme. They took a color that already was lacking and made it even more generic?

I guess Green now stands for "Recycled", as in "this is the color were we recycle all the cards we design that are too generic to fit into Black, White, Red or Blue".

Edit: From the article...

This curse was originally in green and was called Tastiness Curse. When development put the Slith ability (R&D slang for getting a +1/+1 counter when the creature deals combat damage to a player) on the vampires, they moved this curse to red, because it felt like you were granting that ability to all the creatures of the enchanted player's opponents. While I understand the decision, this card will always be Tastiness Curse to me.



That just tells us everything we need to know about how Green reached this sad state, doesn't it? +1/+1 counters have always been a Green thing. Then some designers decide to STEAL it for Vampires, so then Green can't have it any more? The card should have stayed green and green should have had other mechanisms for giving were-wolves +1/+1 tokens. It's the same flawed logic that denied Green, (the "creature color"), Battlecry or Bloodlust.

Something is very broken in the MTG design process. I'm beginning to wonder if some people aren't wishing they were developing a Vampire CCG, rather than MTG.

Especially when they print the can't be blocked except by creatures with flying or reach or can't be blocked except by creatures with flying abilities on Green cards. Which effectively means Green can get flying, as long as we don't call it flying.


To be fair, I don't even dislike the separate mechanisms.  The canopy ability has the potential to play differently (although it's too wordy to really use as a common substitute, and too specialized to be worth keywording).  What I dislike is the "So what, it's Nicol Bolas!" approach where rules are really important until ignoring them is cool - with the correlary that green flyers aren't cool.  It's the "throw ins" of design.  Red dragon?  Throw in flying!  White angel?  Throw in flying!  Black Demon?  Throw in flying and trample!  Green fat?  Well it's big, job done.  


It seems to me that most green creatures that are big enough to be, say a 5/5, should have reach because it's so tall, and should have trample because they're so massive.  Just throw "reach, trample" on a card the same way flying would be thrown in.  Yet that doesn't seem to happen.


That said, this is a groundbreaking set for green because it got access to "fight", the much-needed removal method.  And I don't feel the color is overall unbalanced either, it's just that design makes lots of exceptions but not in this particular area.



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.


Especially when they print the can't be blocked except by creatures with flying or reach or can't be blocked except by creatures with flying abilities on Green cards. Which effectively means Green can get flying, as long as we don't call it flying.


To be fair, I don't even dislike the separate mechanisms.  The canopy ability has the potential to play differently (although it's too wordy to really use as a common substitute, and too specialized to be worth keywording).


It already is keyworded. It's called Flying.
Canopy Cover: Enchanted creature can't be blocked except by creatures with flying or reach.
Flying (as seen on, say, Angelic Blessing): (This creature can't be blocked except by creatures with flying or reach.)
The only difference is that creatures with Canopy Cover can't block flyers. Which is what Reach does, and Reach is also a Green ability.

It's pretty bizarre that it's perfectly fine to print a card:


Reach
This creature can't be blocked except by creatures with flying or reach.


And have it be mono-Green. But it's NOT fine to just print a creature with Flying and have it be mono-Green.


What I dislike is the "So what, it's Nicol Bolas!" approach where rules are really important until ignoring them is cool - with the correlary that green flyers aren't cool.  It's the "throw ins" of design.  Red dragon?  Throw in flying!  White angel?  Throw in flying!  Black Demon?  Throw in flying and trample!  Green fat?  Well it's big, job done.

This is the problem with Green as I see it. Green isn't even the "fatty" color, because thanks to things like the Praetors and the Titans, every color gets humongous creatures. And since Green doesn't have the good evasion keywords, like Flying, Green's fatties are thus going to be weaker. What good is a big creature that gets chump-blocked all day long? Every color gets Trample when it applies. Every color but Green gets Flying when it applies. Poor Green.

That said, this is a groundbreaking set for green because it got access to "fight", the much-needed removal method.

On this we agree. I have posted multiple times about how excited I am that Green is finally getting creature removal.
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ummm...ok so you said a mythic card for each monster type...
I see one for vampires, ghosts, and zombies...but no mythic for werewolves? where is it? or am I stupid?



In the next set, as explained a few weeks ago when Olivia was previewed.
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
Mark, it doesn't sound much like Tribal is dead; rather, you're only going to use it when you need to. Looking at the set, I think Tribal would have been superfluous, so good on you for cutting out unnecessary words.



Personally, I find the reasoning used to knock it down a bit forced. I understand it doesn't come from MaRo. Tribal actually opens options and creates potential game states that improve flexibility and options ... it never closes options. It is only bad in the sense of Mark's "wordiness" issue or the unmentioned element of being forced to reword terms to control the elements of interaction somewhat.

But even the argument that tribal "made the cards wordier" can be offset by making other cards less wordy. For example, if you would write "Zombie creature card" or "target Zombie creature," you'd instead write "Zombie card" and "target Zombie." You'd not need to qualify card type as much, and this can have a positive and increasing interactive element when you intentionally include cards that care about the words after the dash on the type line, but not just in front of it. In effect, you make cards wordier by removing the tribal element.

This is what troubled me initially with Zendikar, a block with a strong split in its colors to various tribes, it dropped the concept entire save for the "Eldrazi Block," and that only cared about Eldrazi cards, all of which were colorless, and most of which were creatures. You could have made a host of additional cards care about the card types in similar ways, either Raise Dead effects, "cip" effects for the various groups (gain life equal to spells cast, etc.), and even non-creature ally cards (such as for equipment or an enchantment or three).

There is less of a tribal theme in Scars block, so the concept is problematic, although one could have focused on the various Myr cards as they are already worded in such a way as one could benefit from having the effects. Myr Turbine can fetch other Myr Turbines, and that does have an appreciable effect. When you have to deal with "put it into play," you can simply say "cast without paying it mana cost," or such.

The point, though, is that just sticking the card type in doesn't become a detriment. Wordiness is not the point (you removed the "back" of cards to increase words on cards on the "reverse face" while at the same time you were intending to put in rules-matters tokens based on sorceries in the set!), the issue is support, and that could be handled by modifying a single noun here or there, or just removing said words from other cards to take out the specific treatment.

This is another lost opportunity in the guise of making the set "better."
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
I think calling Nevermore a Look At Me, I'm the DCI variant is kind of a cheat, given how similar it is to a card that predates Unglued by a couple of years.



It also has the exact textbox as Meddling Mage, a well-known card. Saying this was inspired by an Un-card was really lame =(

Victim of Night feels weird at BB, it's a Terror/Doom Blade/Go for the Throat card that I'd expect to be 1B.  Or even 2B like Rend Flesh or Eyeblight's Ending.  No reason it can't change, that's just what I've come to expect.



It's more on the level of the last 2, and those 3 would be too strong at 1B. With Phyrexian Obliterator, they're pushing monoblack, so this one at BB is stronger for that.

While I agree that it feels... odd... for black to get a bear, as I'd rank it at 3rd or 4th in terms of creature power at best, a 2/2 for 2 is hardly something to freak out over.



Wizards ranks it 3rd, red and blue are seen as the spell colors, so they have the weakest creatures.

The set is underwhelming.

The Horror theme is really a Gothic Horror theme and it doesn't do a very good job at that.

The set doesn't feel like magic. It feels like it should have been part of a limited edition spin off.

I think those at WotC that were resistant to this block should have stuck to their guns. This was a wrong turn for MTG to take and now we are stuck for it for a full block. A lot of players who disliked Infect felt that SoM block was a lost block, so now we have two blocks in a row that seem to have taken the game design off track.

At least I can save myself some money until the next bock comes out. There is almost nothing I want from this set and since I don't really care to play in a Standard environment that is made up of SoM, the sad M12 and now Innistrad, I can just grab some singles and hope the game turns around with the next block. I can also sell off a lot of cards I don't need if I take a pass on the current Standard. Thanks?



Have you read MaRo's latest State of Design? Every block from now on is going to be like Scars and Innistrad =(

Every color gets Trample when it applies. Every color but Green gets Flying when it applies. Poor Green.



And let's not forget blue got friggin Invisible Stalker. Guess which color is going to town with swords? That used to be one of green's few truly unique abilities.

But even the argument that tribal "made the cards wordier" can be offset by making other cards less wordy. For example, if you would write "Zombie creature card" or "target Zombie creature," you'd instead write "Zombie card" and "target Zombie."

[...]

This is another lost opportunity in the guise of making the set "better."



That's the entire problem with Tribal. Suddenly a lot of cards HAVE to have that 'creature' word on there, something they didn't need before tribal existed. Tribal made the entirety of magic "worse". I wholeheartedly agree with Chronego's suggestion of errata-ing it completely out of Magic =p

When the design team made the card it created twenty Zombie tokens (and yes, it had flashback—I'm one of a handful of people who had the chance to make forty zombies with the card).



Many many many many people will make 52 tokens with this card, especially now that we have 2 cards to do so.

I was happy with the compromise, which allowed everyone to get what they needed and for the set to feel like a cohesive whole design wise. For those who have been asking if the enemy dual lands hint at some shift towards enemy colors later in the block, my answer is no.



The 10 lands are easily the coolest cards from the set, so I'm very glad they're all in =D

When ghosts were upgraded to a fourth tribe we decided to leave them out, partly because three felt like the right number and partially because half of the ghosts, the white half, were benign.



I also like how it feels like the humans have a 'weakness' for ghosts, the one thing they can't touch, the one thing that still scares them.

Necronomicon, a.k.a. the Book of the Dead. This card was designed top down to capture the flavor of the Necronomicon. In the design, the counters were called insanity counters, as the Necronomicon was suppose to drive people mad. The discarding cards cost was playing into this madness theme



That's pretty awesome, I wish you at least kept the "insanity counter" part =(

Another question I've gotten numerous times is why we didn't include Headless Horseman (originally printed in Legends). The card is not only a horror trope, but even a Zombie, one of the major tribes of Innistrad. The answer is we did put it into the set. The very first playtest included it and it stayed in for months.



I was actually hoping for a new non-vanilla top-down design for it >.>
I was sad to see the demise of Tribal. But it happened back in Shadowmoor, with Giantbaiting, Elemental Mastery and so on. It was immensely disappointing to have caused such massive errata for a mere two sets' worth of cards. But I got resigned to it back then.

What's irritating is the way designers keep claiming it's confusing. I think that's utter prejudice. Other CCGs have "affiliation" words on the type line, even if it's never relevant. Players get that it's flavour, just as much as the flavour text and creature types are flavour. If we'd made Lorwyn the big shift to make all token-making noncreature cards, and a handful of other noncreature cards, automatically, consistently tribal from then on, within a year or two people would just happily tune it out the way they tune out flavour text now. And then occasionally a Johnny could find some way to make it matter, and they'd giggle with delight and make their opponents smile at the wacky interaction. Everyone wins, and there's no trace of "confusion" because it's just a part of the game.

But it didn't happen, and it's not going to happen. So I'm resigned to tribal being one of the ugly children of Magic's history, like banding and Arcane.

Screeching Bat/Stalking Vampire is deeply unsatisfying to me because of the once-per-round transformation; it keeps her from really feeling like a shapeshifter.  I also think that if one side of the card was to be a 5/5 gropo, Vampire was the wrong type for the card, as Innistrad's vampires can fly by force of will, and it seems weird for her to be that tough when she's in a humanoid form.  I would have concepted this card as something different based on its abilities, and if I'd been top-downing a vampire who turns into a bat and back, there's no way I wouldn't have let her do it at instant speed, even if that had to weaken her for balance reasons.  The ability to change completely at will seems to be the most important part of the concept here.


I agree. Stalking Vampire is just strange to be a 5/5 when other Vampires in the set are 1/1 or 2/1. There's nothing obvious about her to indicate why she's so much beefier and more deadly than any of the more scary-looking but much weaker Vampires in the set.

Reconcepting Thraben Sentry was a mistake.  As a mob, his flavor would have been a lot more impressive; right now he just seems like a random dork.
I agree that Endless Ranks of the Dead and Village Cannibals are two of the best pieces of art in the set (though there's a lot of top-notch art throughout).
I'm unhappy that this set made a zombie Bear and obsoleted all the old zombie Ogres, but I'm not going to bother getting upset about it anymore; Magic has been more stupidly uber than I want it to be for a long time, and I should just accept that.  Nobody else apparently wants a balanced, restrained game like I do; they want MORE POWER AUGH AUGH AUGH, so I guess Wizards might as well give it to them.


Yeah, in fact I agree with willpell on all of these.

On a different note, it also feels very awkward to have official spoilers of the whole set for a week before people get to play with it. Particularly given this is the set with the logistical nightmare of DFCs, I'd have thought it'd be more sensible to rush the prerelease forward so that people get to experience this apparently-wonderful play experience of DFCs that justifies all the practical horribleness. The longer it goes without them, the more people are likely to end up just printing their own proxies.

Hmm, maybe I'll go and print some DFC proxies using the perfectly serviceable flip-card frame. It's disappointing how few DFCs need the extra text box space that was apparently the reason for avoiding the flip frame. ...Yep, whaddaya know, it fits perfectly.
I'm unhappy that this set made a zombie Bear and obsoleted all the old zombie Ogres, but I'm not going to bother getting upset about it anymore; Magic has been more stupidly uber than I want it to be for a long time, and I should just accept that.  Nobody else apparently wants a balanced, restrained game like I do; they want MORE POWER AUGH AUGH AUGH, so I guess Wizards might as well give it to them.

Scathe Zombies was never a playable card, not even when Alpha was the newest set. In terms of black two-drops alone, Black Knight was there from the very beginning.

Punctuation and grammer, my friend.

You're not wrong, in fact I found the post you were quoting almost incomprehensible... but do you realize how ironic it is to type "grammer" in the context of criticizing someone's English?

Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
That's the entire problem with Tribal. Suddenly a lot of cards HAVE to have that 'creature' word on there, something they didn't need before tribal existed. Tribal made the entirety of magic "worse". I wholeheartedly agree with Chronego's suggestion of errata-ing it completely out of Magic =p


Very few cards actually need to have any extra words on them because of Tribal.  If Elvish Archdruid said "Other Elves you control get +1/+1", it would function exactly the way it does now.  If you had a Prowess of the Fair on the battlefield, the +1/+1 would simply do nothing, much like a +1/+1 counter on a noncreature Raging Ravine does nothing.  Similarly, if Goblin Lackey said "Goblin card" rather than "Goblin permanent card", it would function the same way it does now, since attempting to put a Tarfire onto the battlefield has the same effect as choosing not to put anything onto the battlefield.

So why are these cards worded the way they are?  Wizards probably feels that it's less confusing that way, but that might not be the case if Tribal is never coming back.
Tribal is kaput!  Tarmogoyf is crashing to $10.00!
I'm unhappy that this set made a zombie Bear and obsoleted all the old zombie Ogres, but I'm not going to bother getting upset about it anymore; Magic has been more stupidly uber than I want it to be for a long time, and I should just accept that.  Nobody else apparently wants a balanced, restrained game like I do; they want MORE POWER AUGH AUGH AUGH, so I guess Wizards might as well give it to them.



BS, Scathe Zombies was obsoleted a long time ago with cards like Bog Raiders and more recently Warpath Ghoul. There are about 30 black commons strictly better than Scathe Zombies. Walking Corpse makes no difference.

Also, compare M11's Azure Drake with M12's Amphin Cutthroat. There's no reason they wouldn't bring Ogres back in different environments.
I'm torn on tribal. I liked it in Lorwyn, but I have to admit it rarely adds much to most tribal effects, because the vast majority of them give some bonus (or do some harm) to creatures in play. Tribal instants and sorceries can trigger "whenever you play a [certain tribe] spell" effect, but there were probably more of those printed in Lorwyn than all previous blocks just because of the tribal type itself. Tribal enchantments and artifacts (and I guess, hypothetically, lands and planeswalkers...) can count towards "equal to the number of [certain tribe] you control" effects, but they don't get any benefit from lords.

But then, that's how things are now. There's no reason they have to stay that way. There's no reason they couldn't do lots more noncreature tribal stuff. They could print a card like "Rezombify: 2BB. Sorcery. Return target Zombie card from your graveyard to play" (a weak card by itself) in the same block as a tribal enchantment that reads "All Zombies you control get +1/+1. Sacrifice a Zombie: target creature gets -2/-2." (A playable card, depending on tweaking the numbers, but not all that great.) Or print a card like "Search your library for a Wizard card, reveal it to all players, and put it into your hand." in the same block as a tribal instant that reads "Counter target spell. Draw a card." You get the general idea. Effects like that could be cool and evocative, and useful but not overpowered. It's just a matter of Wizards wanting to think about tribes like that.

The real problem with that is the risk of some ridiculous combo through effects that aren't "meant" to work with noncreature spells. Like, say, if Rooftop Storm wasn't limited to creatures, then you could probably make some kind of infinite combo with it and Rezombify. I don't know, not a great example, but it's the best I can come up with off the top of my head. But anyways, while that kind of thing is a problem, it can be avoided simply by checking new cards against previous things in the same tribe, and that wouldn't even limit design in the future all that much because they can always just choose not to use noncreature tribal effects again.

I think the bigger problem with the Lorwyn block is the changeling effect. "All tribes" is risky. The fact that it appears on noncreature spells is incidental. Haakon, Stromgald Scourge was designed to bring back weenies, not fatties like Changeling Titan (champion Haakon himself to avoid the loss of life from him hitting your graveyard! If they send your 7/7 to the graveyard, you get Haakon back!). The "golem lords" from New Phyrexia give any changeling first strike, trample, vigilance, flying and regeneration, including Mirror Entity.

All that kind of thing is fun for Johnnies to experiment with, but it's risky to have in the environment and I'm sure it's even harder to design around than the tribal type. Given a choice between the tribal type and the changeling ability, I'd much rather see the tribal type come back.
I'm really, really disappointed with this set... and if this top-down design is a preview for upcoming sets as well, this will definitely a nightmare. My distrust started with Spectral Rider and the werewolf preview convinced me to spend my money on Battlestar Galactica Board Game +2x expansions instead (to give a hint about the amount of money WotC 'lost'). You can still call transform a "great new design" or a 'minor annoyance', but it was enough to make me spend my money elsewhere. To read your reasons for the 'death of tribal' and compare this with transform just feels like a ridiculous joke.

Of course it makes no big difference as long as you don't really play around the creature type. The argument with 'zombie creatures' vs. simply 'zombies' makes no sense to me. It's only relevant if some 8-years old kids can't remember that any +X/+X effects are only available to cards with a P/T rating. But this is much easier to learn than most issues on transform.

In my opinion, the horror theme of this set is a complete failure and you should be honest to yourself that this set is more a commercial reaction to the vampire/werewolf hype... and nothing else. The horror part feels like an unavoidable drawback and is either lame or stereotyped. Is a 3/3 flying spirit dripping with horror? And if you look at the blue zombies or red vampires, were they worth being a dual-color tribe? In all these cases, you haven't convinced me.

I stopped commenting any cards as soon I've noticed that this would end in nothing but criticism. If I look at the curses f.e., I always ask myself: "Is this really the best they could do?". I hardly believe that this takes up a lot of time/effort to come up with these ideas. All in all, the whole set feels like a job made within a few days. Reuse any horror ideas you'll find and put some numbers on it. Not quite challenging...

It's also remarkable that mad scientists are blue, so the "science" noun/type outweights the "mad" attribute. For the stitched-together zombies however, it's the opposite. Ergo: randomly chosen colors.

@ Spiders:
I don't care, if their toughness is higher than their power or if they have reach, but I never understood, why they were green in the first place. In my opinion, spiders make much more sense in black. First of all, black uses many "dumb" creatures (zombies, skeletons, rats, ogre, etc.) without flying and is centered around buried creatures, so reach would fit (f.e. tentacles). It's also the color of disguise, hidden horror and luring someone into a trap, whereas green is more the active & attacking color. Black also uses other forms of evasion, so it isn't so much dependant of flying. (The exception: Demons often have wings, so "hell" must be a place with a lot of space... and less about intimidation.)  Black is also the more flavourful color for deadly venoms, so deathtouch also makes more sense in black. To sum it up, it's the best color for spiders.

And if you want to create a horror of thousand little spiders, make it a black discard spell instead.

@ Zombies:
Another bad concept. I would have made them 1/1s. In this way, they would be as powerful as citizens, but lose against armed humans. Likewise, it would have make more sense, if their creation would be more connected with death or the graveyard, but this isn't the case. R&D rather decided that spiders should have this trait... what a nonsense.

@ Humans:
If you wanted to make this set about horror, you can't include a '+1/+1 counter' theme for humans. How stupid is this! If I decide to play the weak humans and want to fight against horrific monsters, I don't want my humans to become 6/6 monsters as well. I'd rather like to play with specific equipments, a lot of cantrips or draw spells and hoped for a win due to card advantage rather than power advantage. So you ruined the most essential tribe in this set.
But continue your quest for a destructive, aggressive and fascistic white. Of course it makes more sense that the peaceful and social color has more destructive effects than green or blue. Both colors are by now much more harmless & protective than the color where you'd expect this the most.

@ Spirits:
It's a just a joke... if it would be funny. Instead of making such a bad tribe, you could have made humans a three-colored tribe. No flair for spirits, no horror.... nothing!!!

But the worst of all:
When you focus yourself on a top-down design, it often ends up in a per-card design... and Innistrad is a perfect example. There is no interlocked feeling. Except for a view obvious references on cards ('destroy target vampire'), each color or tribe could come from a different world. If fact, there is no world defining structure in Innistrad. Take the vampires, put them into Zendikar and there won't be a difference. In the same way, you mixed zombie tokens (sorceries) with Unbreathing Horde (+1/+1 counter). A contrary strategy within the same set.

And even the art seems wrong. The picture of Stormkirk Patrol shows a gate, but no reference of this on the card. Skirkdag High Priest creates 5/5 demons every turn, but not a slightest hint on the card. Parallel Lives is awful and the name and effect is totally of place when zombies are the main tribe for tokens.

MaRo, it seems that all members of the R&D seem to be so limited to specific card slots that THIS will be the main sticking point for any upcoming design. YOU HAVE TO HAVE the vanilla 2-drop, the cmc 3 flyer, the pacifism, the Gravedigger, the green cmc-6 monster, the cmc-4 spider, etc. Likewise you are forced in a specific direction by certain keywords as well.

I really thought about an application at WotC, but this set really convinced me that Limited has polluted the whole design process too much. I can't imagine how this job could ever satisfy any designer.
So, uh, tell us how you really feel.

When you focus yourself on a top-down design, it often ends up in a per-card design... and Innistrad is a perfect example. There is no interlocked feeling. Except for a view obvious references on cards ('destroy target vampire'), each color or tribe could come from a different world. If fact, there is no world defining structure in Innistrad.

[...]

MaRo, it seems that all members of the R&D seem to be so limited to specific card slots that THIS will be the main sticking point for any upcoming design. YOU HAVE TO HAVE the vanilla 2-drop, the cmc 3 flyer, the pacifism, the Gravedigger, the green cmc-6 monster, the cmc-4 spider, etc. Likewise you are forced in a specific direction by certain keywords as well.

I was going to point out the contradiction in these two statements, but then I realized it was two complaints about the same thing.  Top-Downing (you know, for flavor!) nearly every single card has pretty much the same end result of "paint by numbers" (you know, for Limited!) - there is no real mechanical cohesion (and thus little synergy) beyond cards incidentally having similar rules-text.

The set just seems like a pile of random cards all tossed together.  At the very least, though, it didn't turn out quite as terrible as when Homelands tried roughly the same theory.


All in all, I'm pleading ambivalence.  Innistrad just isn't compelling me to buy-in at all, beyond picking up a few singles, and I've already forgotten which singles I was going to cherry-pick.  That's how unremarkable this set is.
I'm happy that they changed Ludevic's Test Subject to work with proliferate.  When I saw the card, I immediately knew I was going to put some in my proliferate deck. 
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)
So, uh, tell us how you really feel.
The set just seems like a pile of random cards all tossed together.  At the very least, though, it didn't turn out quite as terrible as when Homelands tried roughly the same theory.



I'm going to disagree somewhat. There some standouts and weak themes, but I wouldn't call it a pile of random cards. More than anything, it seems like it wants to be a "horror world core set," which is appropriate for the first set of the block.

--

I'm happy that they changed Ludevic's Test Subject to work with proliferate.  When I saw the card, I immediately knew I was going to put some in my proliferate deck. 



I'm thinking Grimoire of the Dead -- especially in concert with all the Innistrad blue mill options and Phyrexia blue proliferate options -- could be a more workable candidate.

--

I'd like to say it's a shame to see Tribal go, but from day one it fealt like a one-shot mechanic. There are too many cards that could have been tribal but weren't to make it work in the game long term.  I imagine it might be explored again, but the set would really have to demand it. I'd even go so far as to say the set would have to be build with it as a core theme, while avoiding the tribes-mandatory drafting of Lorwen block. That sounds like it's asking for something gimmicky like Champions of Kamigawa or Legions (every spell is tribal, spread over many tribes?), which is bad for different reasons. Oh well. At least we got some Tarmogoyf fodder out of it.

--

Walking Corpse looked strong from first preview. Black gets strength and speed, but usually at a price. It would feel less like it's completely obsoleting a whole class of cards if it at least had some downside, like coming into play tapped or costing 1 or 2 life.

--

It's true that trample has always been "weakly open". For example, see Silver Erne. Still, it makes more sense from a balance perspective to keep it green, since blue has recently gotten an infusion of decent weenies (which it has traditionally been poort with) and the weenies in other colors seem to be getting stronger as well.

Green has always been the "so, what the hell are we" color. There are a few obvious choices like elves, treefolk, and small, furry, woodland animals. Everything else is open to sniping by other colors. The result is that green picks up bizarre, un-flavorful corners of the world because it needs them -- Wall of Ice, Tsunami -- or doesn't get them because they make more sense in other colors. Either way people are unhappy. Flier-hate (and subsequent lack of fliers) is as consisent a marriage beetween flavor and mechanics as green has ever gotten, so it's not likely to change soon.
But continue your quest for a destructive, aggressive and fascistic white. Of course it makes more sense that the peaceful and social color has more destructive effects than green or blue. Both colors are by now much more harmless & protective than the color where you'd expect this the most.



White has both a lot of protective and destructive cards, which makes sense as it is a very judgmental color.
Green has always been the "so, what the hell are we" color. There are a few obvious choices like elves, treefolk, and small, furry, woodland animals. Everything else is open to sniping by other colors. The result is that green picks up bizarre, un-flavorful corners of the world because it needs them -- Wall of Ice, Tsunami -- or doesn't get them because they make more sense in other colors. Either way people are unhappy. Flier-hate (and subsequent lack of fliers) is as consisent a marriage beetween flavor and mechanics as green has ever gotten, so it's not likely to change soon.



Note that R&D very occasionally produces a mono-Green flier, but it's a horrible, horrible one that would be grossly underpowered in any other color, which get ready access to fliers of various sizes. Latest was Hornet Queen, but the most recent mainstream flier Green got was Scryb Ranger, and it was a shout-out. Jugan, the Rising Star, the previously largest Green flier, was ridiculously underpowered in comparison to the other Legendary Dragons from Kamigawa.

Despite this, the most powerful small flier ever printed is Green, Birds of Paradise.

I have fond memories of Wall of Ice, by the way. When I first started playing, it was the biggest wall I had access to, and I played it continuously for over a year along side Carnivorous Plant. These were the bane of my families' decks, because the cheapness meant it was hard to counter, and hard to kill due to having 7 toughness. I had few higher-powered defensive cards. It was awesome.

"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
I'm a bit concerned by the "from your graveyard at random" cards, since you can't re-order the graveyard. That rule doesn't come up much with Ashen Ghoul and Death Spark being long gone, but it's still true.  When you have to discard at random, you usually let an opponent pick without seeing what he's picking.  Sorting your graveyard into zombie vs. non-zombie, re-ordering, letting an opponent pick, then putting things back in the correct order seems like too much of a hassle to play well.
I'm a bit concerned by the "from your graveyard at random" cards, since you can't re-order the graveyard. That rule doesn't come up much with Ashen Ghoul and Death Spark being long gone, but it's still true.  When you have to discard at random, you usually let an opponent pick without seeing what he's picking.  Sorting your graveyard into zombie vs. non-zombie, re-ordering, letting an opponent pick, then putting things back in the correct order seems like too much of a hassle to play well.



In formats where such cards don't exist (Modern, Standard, Limited) you are allowed to re-order your graveyard =)

Although wordiness is certainly a concern, I don't see Tribal as anywhere near public enemy #1 in that regard.  In fact I think they've dismissed what used to be a good answer because of their post-Spiral block fear of too many keywords.  Exhibit A is the "werewolf ability."


Now I don't know about the rest of you, but I memorized the "werewolf ability" from like the first time I saw it, and yet I keep reading it.  0 spells -> night on upkeep, 2 spells -> day on upkeep.  Fairly straightforward.  And yet there's no keyword to aid recognition.  Therefore when I look at a Werewolf card I think "huh this is a lot of text", then read it and go "oh, right".  Then flip it and have the same "what's that ... oh right".  I shouldn't have to read the same 15-20 words per side for an ability I already grok, and seeing all that distracts from abilties that are more unique to the card.


"Tribal Sorcery - Zombie": not very wordy.


"Vampire Creature Card": not very wordy.


"At the beginning of each upkeep, if a player cast two or more spells last turn, transform ": pretty darn wordy!


And, although this might be more controversial, keywords themselves might not be the pinnacle of evolution here.  Symbols have even better recognition.  If you put a werewolf silhouette to the left of the text describing this werewolf ability I would instantly recognize it every single time, even on a card I'd never seen before, upside-down and across the table.


And I don't think the werewolf ability is the only card where this approach would be beneficial, just the most recently glaring.  So let's not go sacrificing the function and flavor of Tribal, even if that word itself is a rules hack, when there are much better wordiness battles to fight.

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.

The Jonathan Coulton song immediately sprung to mind when I saw the card, glad to see it was an inspiration as well

I wish you had dome something to the tune of Skullcrusher Mountain, though, I like that song better and it's all about mad scientists :D