10/03/2011 MM: "Were the Wild Things Are"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Gee, Mark,  you don't get Lesser Werewolf?  I don't see how it could be more obvious - his bite never heals.  Maybe not spot-on for werewolfness, but at least sort of fitting; I imagine the wound getting infected with the same dark magic that turns human to wolf, which on a smaller scale prevents the bite victim's human shape from regenerating through the natural healing process.  Considering it was Legends, they didn't do too bad.
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Not really relevant to the article, but I just realized something. Pale Moon prevents werewolf transformation. This is doubly counterintuitive, because it also means that Pale Moon is capable of doing something useful. 

We now return you to your regularly scheduled comment thread.  
It really bugs me that, in a set so built on flavour, Moonmist and Full Moon's Rise have exactly the wrong names. They should be the other way round, dammit.
I think Greater Werewolf's ability is a compromise between keeping the 'shout-out' to Lesser Werewolf's 2/4 stats while still allowing it to play as though it was 4/4.  Or something like that.  It's hard to tell what the Homelands design team was thinking most of the time.
I was all set to come rant on the forums about the obvious grammar mistake in the title. It took me about half the article to realize that it was just another really lame pun.
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It really bugs me that, in a set so built on flavour, Moonmist and Full Moon's Rise have exactly the wrong names. They should be the other way round, dammit.


Well, sort of.  Yes, Full Moon's Rise should transform humans into werewolves, but that's only half of that card.  The fog portion of the card is captured pretty well by the name Moonmist, though.  In the end, though, I think you're right.  Transforming werewolves is the more important part of the card and should be reflected in the name, and Moonmist would work just fine describing something that pumps up your werewolves.

As for the article, I have a comment on them making the human side of the werewolf card have the werewolf creature type as well.
"The flavor of the decision is that a werewolf always has some werewolf in it, even when in human form."
That does make some sense, but it also introduces a flavor clash.  They might still have a werewolf's weaknesses when in human form, but it's also clear that in at least some cases, nobody else knows that they're a werewolf!  I mean come on, would the Mayor of Avabruck hold his office for very long if the townsfolk knew he went on a murderous rampage every time the full moon showed up?  I'm sure Slayer of the Wicked would love to slay the hell out of every werewolf while they were in human form, but how would he know who to target?

Oh, and one last thing.  I'm surprised Maro didn't even mention the fact that Werebear has the best pun in the history of Magic. 
Gee, Mark,  you don't get Lesser Werewolf?  I don't see how it could be more obvious - his bite never heals.  Maybe not spot-on for werewolfness, but at least sort of fitting; I imagine the wound getting infected with the same dark magic that turns human to wolf, which on a smaller scale prevents the bite victim's human shape from regenerating through the natural healing process.  Considering it was Legends, they didn't do too bad.

Okay, but why does it make the Werefolf weaker?

Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Gee, Mark,  you don't get Lesser Werewolf?  I don't see how it could be more obvious - his bite never heals.  Maybe not spot-on for werewolfness, but at least sort of fitting; I imagine the wound getting infected with the same dark magic that turns human to wolf, which on a smaller scale prevents the bite victim's human shape from regenerating through the natural healing process.  Considering it was Legends, they didn't do too bad.

Okay, but why does it make the Werefolf weaker?


If you're engaging an enemy in hand-to-hand combat, with natural weaponry of fangs and teeth, you have two choices. Fight all-out lethal with claws, which is easier and more damaging in the short run, or go in close for a bite, which is riskier, weaker, but more damaging long-term (infection). So when the werewolf bites (-0/-1 counters) it does less damage (sort of).
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Gee, Mark,  you don't get Lesser Werewolf?  I don't see how it could be more obvious - his bite never heals.  Maybe not spot-on for werewolfness, but at least sort of fitting; I imagine the wound getting infected with the same dark magic that turns human to wolf, which on a smaller scale prevents the bite victim's human shape from regenerating through the natural healing process.  Considering it was Legends, they didn't do too bad.

Okay, but why does it make the Werefolf weaker?




It's not getting weaker.  It's dealing the damage wither style.  I attack with a Lesser Werewolf, you block with a 4/4, I activate the ability twice, and you now have a 4/2 with 0 damage on it rather than a 4/4 with 2 damage on it (damage that will go away at end of turn).

It's still a terrible card, and never-healing bite is a weird thing to pick as iconic to werewolves.  If I was doing old-style design of "give me a cool card related to werewolves, I don't care about tiny text," I'd do something like "Spend mana: this creature becomes huge and fights a random creature on the battlefield."  The werewolf rages and kills something!  Maybe his buddy but too bad.
I suppose you figure it out if you think about it for awhile, faster if you connect the pieces.

But here's what I think Mark forgot to explicitly say to explain the only question I have had for 5 weeks:

—When it is night: most planeswalkers are holed up somewhere asleep; very few casting any spells.
—When it is day: planeswalkers are out travelling and getting into duels; many casting spells frequently.
If restrictions breed creativity, why didn't you restrict yourself to one side of the card?

Seems like a very natural restriction that has always been there in the game.
my new deck: Bears with Weapons
I've played a Legends Rotisserie draft a while ago, and Lesser Werewolf is actually a very solid creature, relative to the set =p
I was very excited for Werewolves from the get-go, even if I was a little skeptical about double-faced cards.  Now that I've had the chance to play with them, I think they're amazing.  So much fun!
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At the end of the prerelease, I went around trading for as many werewolves as I could. I came away and built a red-green-blue werewolf casual deck (blue for Arcane Laboratory, obviously!).

The interesting thing is that I dislike the DFC mechanic a lot. (I've already ranted about this several times, so I'll try to leave it aside for this post.) I think my reason for trading-for-and-building a deck built around the mechanic I hate most about the set may be one part "suck it up and make sure", one part believing MaRo when he says it's the most interesting part of the set.

So my thoughts on werewolves:

1) The transformation flavour is certainly captured. I mean, you sacrificed a heck of a lot of deckbuilding integrity and long-term... anyway, curtailing that rant, the point is giving up the card back lets you get the transformation flavour just fine. (Although it's a pain not to be able to see the two pieces of art side-by-side, especially when they're mirrored.)

2) The casting-spells trigger works pretty well. It achieves the aims you set out for it.

3) The vanillicity of the commons is entirely sensible.

4) The mirrored abilities on the rares and uncommons are very pleasing. I love looking at each uncommon and looking for the mirrored ability - the flavour of "defender" becoming "must attack" is very satisfying even as the wolf suicides himself into a 6/6. I'm sad about cases like Ulvenwald Mystics where the mirror is lost. (Also, Instigator Pack is a stupidly strong beating in limited.)

5) It's great having the sun/moon symbols on werewolves. What's a massive fail is having them on other transform cards, especially the vampires.

6) The number of support cards feels exactly right. Moonmist as a common and Full Moon's Rise as an uncommon (even though the names are wrong) just feel like the frequencies are right. My casual deck wants 3 Moonmist and 1 FMR.

7) It's really irritating that if you cast a sun-side-up werewolf and then Moonmist in the same turn, the weres all flip back in the next upkeep.

8) Howlpack Alpha's token-creation time is really fiddly. I would have preferred it at the beginning of my draw step or precombat main phase. As it is you can't do anything with the token like giving it equipment or moving a Demonmail Hauberk until it's been around a full turn, which is really irritating.
...Okay, I will allow myself to talk about the DFC issue a bit. I'll try to remain constructive though.
I'd really like to see MaRo elaborate on a few things from the previous DFC article. Most of all:

1) What was the problem with having the sorceries that summon DFCs that restricted it to 90% success rate? Is it really impossible for the printers to ensure corresponding cards from two sheets end up in the same booster?

This is what I most want to know; the biggest glaring question about DFCs. But some other lesser points I'd really like to see elaborated on are:

2) The first DFC article made it sound like the mechanic was slipped through initial design reviews with the far more sensible sorcery-token approach, and only switched to using genuine double-faced cards after a lot of the opportunity to rein in the idea had already passed. Is that accurate?

3) In what way are flip cards "hard to get the essential dual qualities of the card"? They've got two text boxes, two type lines, two P/T boxes...

4) What proportion of the audience during Kamigawa block does your market research show tapped cards to the left? I.e. for what proportion of people is the "can't tell flip state while tapped" "problem" an issue? My feeling is it must be tiny, well under 1%, but I'd be interested to see if I'm wrong.


Other points that I'm not really expecting an elaboration on include the claim that Wizards "couldn't fit the werewolves as we envisioned them on a flip card" (all the common and uncommon werewolves' text boxes fit fine on a flip card, as a brief play in MSE will easily demonstrate); the utter fiddliness of all the current "solutions" (pulling cards in and out of sleeves, etc); and whether any focus groups / playtest groups using the final "solution" printed out their own proxies to slip in front of the checklist card.

(In case it's not blindingly obvious: despite having an entire deck of Werewolf cards, having "held one in my hand" as MaRo said in that article, I'm pretty confident that Wizards did not make "the right call". I'm interested to see what the overall worldwide opinion is; I suspect dailymtg ain't going to be the right place to find that, though, because I can't really imagine what's basically a marketing site saying "Yeah, turns out people don't like our new product".)
I'm a bit unhappy with how werewolf transformation turned out in terms of flavour. Saying it's up to the player to use their imaginations just feels lazy. I know it's probably lamer in a gameplay perspective but couldn't Humans have been made to transform to Werewolves on their controller's turn? Something like "At the beginning of your upkeep, transform Mayor of Avabruck" and "At the beginning of your opponent's upkeep, transform Howlpack alpha". This way humans turn into werewolves when they are on the attack, capturing the feral nature of werewolves (also it's cool that werewolves are unable block. werewolves don't block). It also creates a better feel for the day/night cycle, where the shift of day to night is the passing of each turn. And it makes it easier to keep track of than the number of spells per turn (and probably a bit less frustrating too, I'd be tearing out my hair every time my opponent casts a second spell).

However there's the problem if your opponent also has werewolves, lol
I still kinda like lesser and greater werewolf sure they could b 3/3 but i think the lessers flavor is like close quarter combat say its double blocked its using one of its claws to inflict a permanent wound first strike style and the greater doesnt require anymana . If only there was a way you could fit all the txt in one box and possibly make alternate art versions like homelands and avoided the whole doublesided card thing its annoying staring at a hand of checklists and you opponent laughing wonder whats in his hand
I know it's probably lamer in a gameplay perspective but couldn't Humans have been made to transform to Werewolves on their controller's turn? Something like "At the beginning of your upkeep, transform Mayor of Avabruck" and "At the beginning of your opponent's upkeep, transform Howlpack alpha". This way humans turn into werewolves when they are on the attack, capturing the feral nature of werewolves (also it's cool that werewolves are unable block. werewolves don't block).


The best reason not to do this is Zendikar Limited---mechanics that make creatures often/always bigger only on the controller's turn, like landfall, can tilt the environment heavily to attacking, and make blocking consistently unprofitable. With creatures as big as werewolves, that could be pretty rough.

Having tried DFCs, the mechanic is painless, and they're simply so much cooler than the hideous flip cards that I think it's well worth it. The only issue I have is with the development of the uncommon and rare werewolves, which are all really good in Limited and made Sealed pretty hard to enjoy, especially with the reduced removal in the set. I mean, Nightfall Predator is better than Royal Assassin a large portion of the time, and Royal Assassin is one of the poster children of unfun Limited rares.

My FNM draft a few days ago was much more enjoyable than the Prerelease, which, by the end, left me really disliking Innistrad (primarily werewolves and hexproof). I'm hoping for more experiences like Friday and fewer like the prerelease.
At the end of the prerelease, I went around trading for as many werewolves as I could. I came away and built a red-green-blue werewolf casual deck (blue for Arcane Laboratory, obviously!).

Wouldn't Rule of Law be easier?
8) Howlpack Alpha's token-creation time is really fiddly. I would have preferred it at the beginning of my draw step or precombat main phase. As it is you can't do anything with the token like giving it equipment or moving a Demonmail Hauberk until it's been around a full turn, which is really irritating.



But upkeep and end step triggers are the most commonly used. Upkeep is out as many players would play them wrong, and end step is consistent with Cloistered Youth and likely others to come. As MaRo always says, design around the focus of your card. The Mayor is the first human lord and the first werewolf lord, the token producing is just an added bonus. Giving it an unusual trigger would pull too much focus.

4) What proportion of the audience during Kamigawa block does your market research show tapped cards to the left? I.e. for what proportion of people is the "can't tell flip state while tapped" "problem" an issue? My feeling is it must be tiny, well under 1%, but I'd be interested to see if I'm wrong.



In multiplayer, in combat I always tap towards the player I'm attacking =p
I suppose you figure it out if you think about it for awhile, faster if you connect the pieces.

But here's what I think Mark forgot to explicitly say to explain the only question I have had for 5 weeks:

—When it is night: most planeswalkers are holed up somewhere asleep; very few casting any spells.
—When it is day: planeswalkers are out travelling and getting into duels; many casting spells frequently.




The way I see it, is that whenever you're done casting spells (no spells played last turn) you wait for Day to turn into Night (ie, have nothing left to do, so you go rest or something?). Then, whenever you wake up/get up whatever, you have a lot to do, so you start casting a bunch of spells again (2+ spells cast last turn). It's a bit awkward to express, but it's what I've come up with
At the end of the prerelease, I went around trading for as many werewolves as I could. I came away and built a red-green-blue werewolf casual deck (blue for Arcane Laboratory, obviously!).

Wouldn't Rule of Law be easier?



why?
Aren't they exactly the same?
Are you saying white is a better color for a werewolf deck than blue?
Then I'd have to disagree. Blue's ability to play many of its spells during the opponent's turn (instants, counterspells) is very useful when you are trying not to play more than 1 spell (or no spell at all) during your own turn.

edit: Oh, now that I think about it, I guess you only meant that white mana is easier to produce because of Jungle Shrine.
But that really also depends on alextfish's collection.
my new deck: Bears with Weapons
At the end of the prerelease, I went around trading for as many werewolves as I could. I came away and built a red-green-blue werewolf casual deck (blue for Arcane Laboratory, obviously!).

Wouldn't Rule of Law be easier?


It would, but I seem to have managed to not acquire any, while I had 3 Arcane Lab sitting in my binder. Rather than spend money ordering some singles and waiting for the cards to arrive, I wanted to build the deck with what I had available. I hadn't realised Rule of Law was an uncommon in 10th Ed, though - I thought it was always rare. The uncommon ought to be pretty cheap to pick up, so thanks for pointing this out - I'll add some to my next singles order and remake the deck in WRG, which should indeed work better.

@Brusko: I think it'd work better because I'm using the blue for counterspells, focused on Power Sink-type spells, which I thought would work well with the theme because if the opponent can pay the mana, at least they're not casting another spell that turn. But white would give me removal like O-Ring that I can use even if I happen to have tapped out for a Grizzled Outcasts the turn when my opponent cast her must-kill spell.
From the article:
"Treacherous Werewolf showed up in the last set of the block, Judgment. It had the transformation flavor using threshold, but the overall flavor beyond that was weak. Why exactly do you, the Planeswalker, lose 4 life when your creature dies in werewolf form?"

Didn't you work for WOTC during this time? Shouldn't you already know the answer? Didn't you play the game then and understood how cards were made well enough to know?

The flavor of the card is quite simple. If you, the planeswalker, want to control a wild beast with little investment, it will bite its master if treated poorly. They didn't make a whole block where werewolves were the point of the block. They didn't need to go over the top here. It was one card, and drawbacks on things that had more power/toughness than their cmc were a regular part of the game before everything had to be all upside all the time. How can you have the job title that you do and not know this or pretend to be ignorant on the subject?
Well, sort of.  Yes, Full Moon's Rise should transform humans into werewolves, but that's only half of that card.  The fog portion of the card is captured pretty well by the name Moonmist, though.  In the end, though, I think you're right.  Transforming werewolves is the more important part of the card and should be reflected in the name, and Moonmist would work just fine describing something that pumps up your werewolves.


Exactly.

As for the article, I have a comment on them making the human side of the werewolf card have the werewolf creature type as well.
"The flavor of the decision is that a werewolf always has some werewolf in it, even when in human form."
That does make some sense, but it also introduces a flavor clash.  They might still have a werewolf's weaknesses when in human form, but it's also clear that in at least some cases, nobody else knows that they're a werewolf!  I mean come on, would the Mayor of Avabruck hold his office for very long if the townsfolk knew he went on a murderous rampage every time the full moon showed up?  I'm sure Slayer of the Wicked would love to slay the hell out of every werewolf while they were in human form, but how would he know who to target?


Well, Slayer of the Wicked probably has enough experience battling werewolves to tell which people are secretly werewolves.  I'm sure he's an expert Mafia player.  =P

Actually, not paying attention to the creature type screwed me over a couple of times at the Prerelease.  In one match, I didn't realize I could play Slayer of the Wicked to kill Ulvenwald Mystics before it transformed and gained the ability to regenerate.  In a different match, I tried to play Spare from Evil to protect my creature from a werewolf...who happened to also be human at the time.  >_<  So, I guess untransformed werewolves are "wicked" but not "evil."  Whatever.

It's not getting weaker.  It's dealing the damage wither style.  I attack with a Lesser Werewolf, you block with a 4/4, I activate the ability twice, and you now have a 4/2 with 0 damage on it rather than a 4/4 with 2 damage on it (damage that will go away at end of turn).  It's still a terrible card, and never-healing bite is a weird thing to pick as iconic to werewolves.


Like Rosewater, I didn't understand the flavor behind the mechanic until willpell explained it.  I'd agree that never-healing bite is a weird way to represent werewolves (obviously the transformation aspect is key), but Houndoom has a similar flavor in Pokémon.  According to some of its Pokédex entries, the pain from burns inflicted by its flames never goes away.  I could see the never-healing bite mechanic working for hellhounds in Magic, but they usually just get the firebreathing ability.

If I was doing old-style design of "give me a cool card related to werewolves, I don't care about tiny text," I'd do something like "Spend mana: this creature becomes huge and fights a random creature on the battlefield."  The werewolf rages and kills something!  Maybe his buddy but too bad.


I like that idea.  It captures the "feral nature" of werewolves a lot better than the level-up mechanic they got in this set.  In almost every case, the werewolf form is strictly better than the human form.

But here's what I think Mark forgot to explicitly say to explain the only question I have had for 5 weeks:

—When it is night: most planeswalkers are holed up somewhere asleep; very few casting any spells.
—When it is day: planeswalkers are out travelling and getting into duels; many casting spells frequently.


I was hoping Rosewater would have explained the flavor behind the werewolf rule a bit better.  It does seem like this implementation best fit their design goals, but my Vorthos still doesn't get it.  Am I taking a nap in the middle of a duel?  Why do I need to cast two spells in order to wake up?  I think the major problem is that in the game, whether it's day or night depends on what the planeswalkers are doing, when flavorwise it should be the other way around.

The mirrored abilities on the rares and uncommons are very pleasing. I love looking at each uncommon and looking for the mirrored ability - the flavour of "defender" becoming "must attack" is very satisfying even as the wolf suicides himself into a 6/6. I'm sad about cases like Ulvenwald Mystics where the mirror is lost.


Hm, the mirrored abilities are so intuitive that it didn't even occur to me to be impressed by them.  I'm not quite sure how you'd mirror regeneration, though--perhaps by giving Ulvenwald Mystics a toughness of 1?  But its toughness would probably increase when it transformed, making that pointless.

It's great having the sun/moon symbols on werewolves. What's a massive fail is having them on other transform cards, especially the vampires.


Yeah, it's definitely weird having the sun/moon symbols on the vampires (especially considering Vampire Nocturnus's mechanic).  But it also would have been weird to have the symbols on just the werewolves.  I guess it was a lose-lose situation.

It's really irritating that if you cast a sun-side-up werewolf and then Moonmist in the same turn, the weres all flip back in the next upkeep.


One of my opponents at the Prerelease complained about a similar situation (casting Moonmist and then Prey Upon).  It's a strange property of the werewolf rule, but I don't think it's all that bothersome.

In what way are flip cards "hard to get the essential dual qualities of the card"? They've got two text boxes, two type lines, two P/T boxes...What proportion of the audience during Kamigawa block does your market research show tapped cards to the left? I.e. for what proportion of people is the "can't tell flip state while tapped" "problem" an issue? My feeling is it must be tiny, well under 1%, but I'd be interested to see if I'm wrong.


I wasn't around during Kamigawa, but I did pick up a few Kamigawa cards and preconstructed decks on sale.  I mostly dislike the flip cards for aesthetic reasons, and I imagine the "can't tell flip state while tapped" problem would have been problematic for me.

(In case it's not blindingly obvious: despite having an entire deck of Werewolf cards, having "held one in my hand" as MaRo said in that article, I'm pretty confident that Wizards did not make "the right call". I'm interested to see what the overall worldwide opinion is; I suspect dailymtg ain't going to be the right place to find that, though, because I can't really imagine what's basically a marketing site saying "Yeah, turns out people don't like our new product".)


Hm, the physicality of the double-faced cards was pretty much a non-issue for me at the Prerelease, but I guess it might be different for Drafts than it is for Sealed.  I mostly disliked the double-faced cards because they tended to represent strict upgrades for my opponent's creatures that I often couldn't do anything about.

I'm a bit unhappy with how werewolf transformation turned out in terms of flavour. Saying it's up to the player to use their imaginations just feels lazy. I know it's probably lamer in a gameplay perspective but couldn't Humans have been made to transform to Werewolves on their controller's turn? Something like "At the beginning of your upkeep, transform Mayor of Avabruck" and "At the beginning of your opponent's upkeep, transform Howlpack alpha". This way humans turn into werewolves when they are on the attack, capturing the feral nature of werewolves (also it's cool that werewolves are unable block. werewolves don't block). It also creates a better feel for the day/night cycle, where the shift of day to night is the passing of each turn. And it makes it easier to keep track of than the number of spells per turn (and probably a bit less frustrating too, I'd be tearing out my hair every time my opponent casts a second spell).

However there's the problem if your opponent also has werewolves, lol


Right.  I feel like the passing of each turn would have been a more natural way to do the transformation mechanic, but it would be weird if both sides had werewolves and they were transforming at different times.  (Although, maybe that's not so bad either.  I mean, Hanweir Watchkeep should have a chance to encounter an opposing werewolf from time to time, no?)  I do think it would have captured the "duality" of lycanthropy if the cards tended to transform back and form more often than they do now.  Right now it just feels like the human side upgrades into the werewolf side and stays that way.

The other thing I don't like about the werewolf mechanic is that everyone knows who the werewolves are in advance.  Isn't not knowing who may or may not be a werewolf an important part of werewolf stories?  I wonder if Wizards could have tried reworking the ninjutsu mechanic to represent this mechanically, e.g. "Return an unblocked Human creature you control to hand: Put this card onto the battlefield from your hand tapped and attacking."

But here's what I think Mark forgot to explicitly say to explain the only question I have had for 5 weeks:

—When it is night: most planeswalkers are holed up somewhere asleep; very few casting any spells.
—When it is day: planeswalkers are out travelling and getting into duels; many casting spells frequently.


I was hoping Rosewater would have explained the flavor behind the werewolf rule a bit better.  It does seem like this implementation best fit their design goals, but my Vorthos still doesn't get it.  Am I taking a nap in the middle of a duel?  Why do I need to cast two spells in order to wake up?  I think the major problem is that in the game, whether it's day or night depends on what the planeswalkers are doing, when flavorwise it should be the other way around.



What I actually see happening flavor-wise is a battle so epic, it spans multiple days story-wise. As a result, you don't really get time to sleep, but at night you have less energy and as a result cast fewer spells. As a result, night indirectly causes you to cast fewer spells, which then allows the werewolves to transform mechanically.
56965458 wrote:
As long as it's random, I really can't see where's the problem. Anyway, there's already a few standard ways for doing this. We listed them in this thread. If someone does the bogey-bogey, eats the cards, waits until they come out, look out the approximate order, place replacements in the same order, calls the president to ask him to give him a string of numbers, puts the card in the given order, then pick the cards in the order given by taking the date of birth of his opponent, reversed, and taking only every other number, then a judge can clearly declare that he's random enough.
56874518 wrote:
The beauty of sarcasm is that when the person using it is totally incorrect, you can just remove the sarcasm and end up with a post that is actually correct.
From the article:
"Treacherous Werewolf showed up in the last set of the block, Judgment. It had the transformation flavor using threshold, but the overall flavor beyond that was weak. Why exactly do you, the Planeswalker, lose 4 life when your creature dies in werewolf form?"

Didn't you work for WOTC during this time? Shouldn't you already know the answer? Didn't you play the game then and understood how cards were made well enough to know?

The flavor of the card is quite simple. If you, the planeswalker, want to control a wild beast with little investment, it will bite its master if treated poorly. They didn't make a whole block where werewolves were the point of the block. They didn't need to go over the top here. It was one card, and drawbacks on things that had more power/toughness than their cmc were a regular part of the game before everything had to be all upside all the time. How can you have the job title that you do and not know this or pretend to be ignorant on the subject?



You have to remember, for Wizards, it's now a problem for them to put drawbacks on cards. So the mentality is to look at cards with all upsides. Thus, cards with downsides are "bad," and "unfitting." MaRo's comments on the old 'Wolves is a perfect fit to the concept of redesigning ones' thoughts and comments to fit the New Way: The company line is "drawbacks are unfun for players -> unfun = fewer players getting into the game -> remove drawbacks = more players getting into the game -> profit!" This is something that should be obvious to many people, even if you're not a cynic.

---

On the greater note, I spent some time at the Inn Release Party, because I wanted to see how players were adapting to the cards. There were several things I wanted to know:

1. Were there issues with the DFCs?

2. Were people having issues "grokking" the werewolf mechanic?

3. Were people overall happy or unhappy with the set?

First, note that I'm a scientist, and I take the objectivity thing pretty seriously. I also understand that biases (as in my signature) are pretty omnipresent, and so I try to eliminate them from my observations, although it is impossible to eradicate them entire.

A1: There were issues with the DFCs. Most players played with sleeves with opaque backs, using many of the Ultra-Pro sleeves available. When dealing with transformations, players would then remove the card, then side it back in, or simply place it back-up on top of the sleeve. Some enterprising folk didn't use sleeves, although I did not have an opportunity to see if they were playing "transformers." One or two people were using the checklists. The "hassle" of manipulating the cards was not really too omnipresent, and most players seemed to enjoy the mechanics. Thraben Sentry was, in particular, extremely fun to use with Elder Cathar, and I saw that combo quite a bit. In constructed, a well-times attack-sac can produce a "vigilant" 7/6 trampler very early in the game, and that's nothing to sneeze at.

A2. There WERE issues with the mechanic for 'Wolves: The ability on the Night side reads "if a player cast two or more spells last turn." Because of this, people were simply tracking spells, but some few had issues, and some started tracking merely ONE player's spells. That if you cast a spell, and they cast a spell, caused the cards to flip, people weren't reading these correctly. Perhaps the ability should have been more clear, especially as these abilities appear on commons.

Perhaps there is a lesson to consider on letting one's pride get in the way, although MaRo says he understands this -- I disagree, as MaRo has shown an overriding tendency to continually submit cards that are rejected "until they find a home," meaning MaRo keeps pushing and doesn't "learn" that maybe the mechanic has a problem. You can't always pull rank and get your way, and wonky Johnny cards haven't been appearing that much lately (Rooftop Storm and Parallel Lives are pretty simple and ordinary, and not so "Johnny" -- they're obvious).

A3. Most players were enjoying the set. It didn't even need to involve the 'Wolves, players were having fun in the setting. I should expect to ask this question again a few months in, after the "Release Glow" has died down, to gain more objective self-questioning from various players.
"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)
But here's what I think Mark forgot to explicitly say to explain the only question I have had for 5 weeks:

—When it is night: most planeswalkers are holed up somewhere asleep; very few casting any spells.
—When it is day: planeswalkers are out travelling and getting into duels; many casting spells frequently.


I was hoping Rosewater would have explained the flavor behind the werewolf rule a bit better.  It does seem like this implementation best fit their design goals, but my Vorthos still doesn't get it.  Am I taking a nap in the middle of a duel?  Why do I need to cast two spells in order to wake up?  I think the major problem is that in the game, whether it's day or night depends on what the planeswalkers are doing, when flavorwise it should be the other way around.



What I actually see happening flavor-wise is a battle so epic, it spans multiple days story-wise. As a result, you don't really get time to sleep, but at night you have less energy and as a result cast fewer spells. As a result, night indirectly causes you to cast fewer spells, which then allows the werewolves to transform mechanically.


Flavorfully, battles probably are, and usually have been, large scale wars of planeswalkers roaming, drawing energy from the land while queuing up spells from their library to send into their opponent's area.

So yeah, duels flavorfully could last who knows how long. But it seems obvious it's night-time when there's few spells being cast on a plane.

Another element is how it is not known how long a turn lasts in game, it is not defined. In D&D, a round is 6 seconds; in MtG, who knows?

If an assault lasts over a day yet there's little activity, perhaps it lasted a good while while the planeswalkers moved gathering mana. So when that little activity is present, night time makes for Werewolves.

We have to fill in a lot of the pieces to make the flavor work, but admittedly Werewolves are one of the most difficult pieces of it yet. It's hard as hell to come up with a perfect idea that fits all dozen parameters. 
I was all set to come rant on the forums about the obvious grammar mistake in the title. It took me about half the article to realize that it was just another really lame pun.



I did that exact same thing. //facepalm.exe

 
If restrictions breed creativity, why didn't you restrict yourself to one side of the card?

Seems like a very natural restriction that has always been there in the game.



Epic remark, sir. //tipofthehat.jpg
I don't particularly care about the flavor of the transformation trigger.  It's quiet, so it's night; it's active, so it's day.  Okay flavor, but I was more than happy to activate Nightfall Predator's fight ability in my upkeep in response to the de-transform trigger, even though that turn was "day".

I didn't have any problem with the werewolf mechanic, other than needing to confirm with my opponent how many spells he cast.  For the dual faced cards, I pulled them out of the sleeves when they transformed, and put them back in when they died.  If I play a Constructed deck with werewolves, I may use the checklist cards and put the werewolves in clear sleeves.  In any case, I won't be worried too much about it.
I will also add that I liked the front face of werewolves being human werewolves.  Protection from Victim of Night, trampling from Full Moon's Rise, and able to wield a Butcher's Cleaver for value?  Sign me up!


A1: There were issues with the DFCs. Most players played with sleeves with opaque backs, using many of the Ultra-Pro sleeves available. When dealing with transformations, players would then remove the card, then side it back in, or simply place it back-up on top of the sleeve. Some enterprising folk didn't use sleeves, although I did not have an opportunity to see if they were playing "transformers." One or two people were using the checklists. The "hassle" of manipulating the cards was not really too omnipresent, and most players seemed to enjoy the mechanics.



I would never have guessed that at a casual-focused Limited event, so many people would use sleeves at all.  I guess that's a sign of how long it's been since I played with paper, but my impression is still that casual players thought sleeves were overkill.  Especially for Limited. where the deck will just be disassembled in a few hours.  But I'm happy to be wrong about that.



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.

One quote from this article:
The biggest strike against them is the threshold mechanic itself, which turned out to be problematic in how it worked across the board.


Another quote from this same article:
This meant that all the Werewolf cards needed to have the same trigger


Feeling a bit contradictory?


(Side note: Personally, I loved threshold - probably one of my favorite block mechanics in the game.)
I think they explained sometime the problem with Threshold is that it requires you to keep track of something you normally don't have to pay much attention, creating more busywork than it's worth. Kinda the same as with a day/night cycle working independently from werewolves.
I haven't had a chance to play with the set yet, as I only play MTGO and it hasn't released online yet (really, when will they start syncing the paper and online release - why the delay?).  Anyway, so far everything looks like it will be interesting and the flavor looks excellent.  My only concern is how the Werewolf mechanic will play out in Multi-player.  I'm a fan of Tribal FFA and EDH, but I can't see a 3-6 person game having many (if any) spell-less (MaRo isn't the only one who can mimic the immortal playwright and make his own words) turns - esp after turn 2 or 3.   

It would have been nice if, instead of a set 0 spells cast vs 2 spells cast (per player), it had been an odd number of spells cast vs even number of spells cast per turn.  This might have sacrificed flavor a bit more (even harder to equate an odd/even mechanic to day/night) but would have made a much more interesting "subgame" of players trying to make sure the turn ended with the best number of spells cast to improve their board position.  (Very similar to the "subgame" back in Alliances when people were trying to make sure Death Spark  and similar cards had a creature above it in the GY).

I'm holding a final opinion until I get to try playing these cards, but I don't expect them to see much flip time without Moonmist or playing RGW to add Grand Abolisher, Rule of Law, Angelic Arbiter etc.    Oddly enough, you can't even use Silence on the opp's turn to get a flip for your turn to attack, the spell cast to stop them from casting prevents the transformation. But the Arbiter makes their turn a hard choice between attacking and allowing the transformation, or not attacking to prevent the transformation (though horrible for Tribal decks - no angels in the Werewolf deck please).      

Can't wait for the Mythic Legend Werewolf - wish it hadn't been bumped for Garruk this set.  I only hope WotC remembered to make it Legendary on both sides, so EDH can use it as a General. 



As for the article, I have a comment on them making the human side of the werewolf card have the werewolf creature type as well.
"The flavor of the decision is that a werewolf always has some werewolf in it, even when in human form."
That does make some sense, but it also introduces a flavor clash.  They might still have a werewolf's weaknesses when in human form, but it's also clear that in at least some cases, nobody else knows that they're a werewolf!  I mean come on, would the Mayor of Avabruck hold his office for very long if the townsfolk knew he went on a murderous rampage every time the full moon showed up?  I'm sure Slayer of the Wicked would love to slay the hell out of every werewolf while they were in human form, but how would he know who to target?


Well, Slayer of the Wicked probably has enough experience battling werewolves to tell which people are secretly werewolves. 



Well, people like the Slayer would naturally prefer to kill the threat when it's weakest (Slaying vampires during the day, killing a werewolf in human form before he can transform etc) and I can see this leading to a "Witch Trial" type inquisition in the next 2 expansions, where some people are persecuted because they "might be" monsters too.  Also, there is the Superman/Spiderman effect (ever notice the Mayor is never around when the Howlpack is rampaging around the town?) which could lead to hunters deducing who the werewolves "might" be in human form.  Mostly I think it's a function trumps flavor mechanic, you can't ignore the back and have wolf/werewolf pumps affect the human side if the human side doesn't have werewolf in the type line.  Also, there are all the "old wives' tales" of having a unibrow or other human characteristics that give away the true werewolf nature in human form.     
 
V/R

HK     

V/R

Treamayne

Commander Wiki - Casual Format Wiki (once they work again - link pending update)

Personally, for me, the biggest problem I've got with WWs flavorwise is that they encourage you to play them as a pack, just so that when you don't play spells for a turn, you get as much benefit as possible.  In horror movies, especially the gothic ones, WWs are almost always singular creatures.  Guess I don't like them getting tribed.  That's more Whitewolf than gothic werewolf.

From the pre-release, one other area I felt was a big time fail was Full Moon's Rise.  Since in sealed you get 6 DFCs and most of the time some will be non-WWs, FMR just doesn't impact enough cards.  It really needed to have impacted both WWs and wolves.  Too narrow as an uncommon, which plenty of people wound up with 2 of.

Overall, I'm not a big fan of WWs for limited play either, mostly due to the commons.  The front side of these have pretty standard stats for limited playable cards of their rarity.  3 mana for 2/3, 5 mana for a 4/4, that sort of thing.  But the back side on those commons exceeds that by quite a bit.

My favorite WW remains the Lesser WW.  Cool art, fun ability (which captures not only the infectious natures of WW bites, but also discourages things from wanting to tangle with a WW), and, yeah, its stats aren't the best, but then, that's pretty much par for the course for older cards.
It would be silly to deny that werewolves were fun to play..
. once. Don't get me wrong, transforming a human and start beating with suddenly high stats into a helpless opponent that has to start using his creatures as chump blockers was the nuts and the power rush of doing it is one the reasons I like to play green.

That said, I'm not playing with werewolves again. As exciting as they could be, they are immensely and inherently weak. I lost the majority of my matches for trying to go Timmy, and in the end, there's nothing more unfun than losing most of your matches.

The transformation mechanism (playing no spells-playing two spells) is my main beef with werewolves. It doesn't fit with competitive play at all:

The transform mechanism requires your opponent to play along, aka play no spells, which is a really unlikely scenario barring turn one. If they are not playing spells because they are manascrewed then it is typical win moar.
It takes the usual "if would be good if you could only untap and attack with it" weakness to the nth degree. If I play my Gatstaf Shepherd on turn two, I need to do nothing on turn three and by turn four a 3 / 3 intimidate is quite underwhelming and opponent can still undo all the work with an Incinerate. Werewolves are the "time walk myself" tribe.
Werewolves are incompatible with the usual tribal play. Each additional werewolf I play keeps the previous one from transforming, so dropping them on a row means having a bunch of mediocre creatures in play.
Instants and flash creatures are the best way of exploiting werewolves... yeah there's no werewolves with flash or even major green or red instant shenanigans in the block. 

My best fix for werewolves would have been this:
Transform human into werewolf if no cards went to graveyards this turn.
Transform werewolves back if two or more cards went to graveyards this turn.

Overall, the actual werewolves are something that Development shouldn't have allowed to see the light of day for being helplessly bad. It will be interesting to hear their story on Friday. Was this another blatant imposition from Maro or did development agree to create a bad mechanic on purpose? The only thing sure is that if a werewolf gets played in tournaments it was a mistake.
If Limited gets in the way of printing good Constructed cards... Screw limited

I'll go 180 of the comments so far and tip my hat to your design skill. This article raised my appreciation of the process and WOTC teamwork. I dig the DFC's and werewolves.

The transformation mechanism (playing no spells-playing two spells) is my main beef with werewolves. It doesn't fit with competitive play at all... Werewolves are the "time walk myself" tribe.



I agree that Werewolves will probably not see competitive play, at least in the next 3 months. I am not sure why you are complaining about this, as it is quite normal:

1) The majority of mechanics, particularly when a block is only 1 set old, do not translate immediately into viable competitive decks. See, for example, Allies, Levellers, Metalcraft and Poison .dec. In all these cases only the most suitable, powerful cards utilising the mechanic were adopted into Tier 1 decks, e.g Kargan Dragonlord into Red, Mox Opal.

2) Even the most powerful tribal/mechanical decks generally take 2 or more sets to become established, e.g. Fairies (c/o Bitterblossom in Morningtide) and Jund (Bloodbraid Elf in Alara Reborn). These decks became deeply unpopular with players as a result of their dominance. I'm quite glad that we weren't given Jund 2.0 in the first set of this block!

Moving on to your issue that Werewolves are the "time walk myself" tribe, I agree that this will be the case if your deck isn't designed to work around this obvious drawback. I'm pretty sure that most players will recognise this problem (maybe not at once, but certainly after playing their deck a few times) and then build their decks accordingly, with mana-sinks, instants, Moonmist and cards that can recur Moonmist. The deck wont be taking down Pro Tours, but it will be enough fun for some folks to take to FNM (if your meta isn't cribbed from the latest SCG Open results or whatever). That is good enough for me, and all most mechanics ever aspire to or achieve. Not every mechanic needs to lead directly to a T1 deck.

I don't like your idea of tracking cards going to the graveyard for 2 reasons:

1) It is a massive flavour miss. I think most players can rationalise the "spells cast" trigger as day/night = activity/inactivity. Stuff being buried/stuff not being buried does not relate to day/night or phases of the moon in any obvious way.

2) It is much harded to reliably kill stuff, particularly in limited, than it is to cast spells. This makes it harded to interact with the trigger, and you aren't always going to be killing their creatures. I don't think "double-chump block your dudes, hope one of us kills something next turn otherwise I'm going to have to lose another 2 dudes or lose the game" is a very fun game state. Even less fun than clutching one spell and praying that I draw another.
Turn 2: Mask of Avacyn
Turn 3: Daybreak Ranger
Turn 4: Equip Mask to Ranger.  Opponent has no instants to play
Opponent's Turn 4: Transform Ranger.  Win.