10/13/2011 LD: "When Cards Go Bad, Part 2"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.
i was glad to see big garruk showing up in constructed as well,

Couldn't vote in the poll. I don't care because your cube draft packs are pointless on any meaningful level. Props for stating that limited means cards should suck, but that still describes how good you are at your job.

I liked this article. Tom is really filling the frankness niche lately, for everyone's benefit. Part 2 falls short of its predecessor, but "When Cards Go Bad" is my favorite Magic article of all time, so, ya know, not a fair fight.

As far as I'm concerned, Recurring Nightmare is an easy pick in the cube pack.
Yeah.  Card advantage still matters in Cube Draft, for all that it's faster.  Chrome Mox is certainly playable and it is noncommital (good!), but I'd definitely take the Recurring Nightmare if I thought the Cube supported it at all.  Insane fatties are usually a dime a dozen as well.  Splashable, too, if black doesn't go your way (unlike Necropotence).
Recurring Nightmare is the slam dunk first pick.  A pack would have to be very weak before I'd take Chrome Mox p1p1, even though I agree with the idea of drafting mana highly because you will always have 23 playable spells in cube.
Venser, Shaper Savant, simply because I have a bias towards "stylish gameplay" cards. What, you're going to commit all your mana to Last Word/Time Stop my kill spell? Haha, nope.
Amused to see that Cube - a  format agreed by pretty much everyone who's ever played it to be awesome - is used as an example of the dire consequences of not having bad cards!
The problem with them using "isn't strong enough" to disable annoying strategies is that it cannot help people who find AGGRO to be annoying, as I do.  Aggro, pretty much by definition, consists of playing the strongest cards.  I know lots of people like bashing with undercosted fatties and winning on turn 4, but I have always hated it, and Wizards is unlikely to ever print another set which spares me this problem.
Also it is hilarious that their example of a "bad card" which isn't actually bad is a mythic rare.  Show me a common card which looks like Defensive Stance and turns out to be the new Stoneforge Mystic.
And the human-processable excuse is just insulting to me.  Magic is supposed to be a game for smart people.  If all the cards in your pack are equally strong, you take the one you personally like best, even if strictly for aesthetic reasons, without sacrificing all hope of winning the game.  That is exactly how I want it to be, and it's bad enough if they disregard such logic for a depressing but reasonable purpose like making more money.  This is worse; they not only make more money but insult their most devoted fans in order to pander to the LCD (which, admittedly, does help them make money, but so would selling ultra-premium cards at ridiculous prices to their most diehard following, something that they do only a very poor approximation of with committee-designed products like FTV Legends).
Oh, and I would like to see Tom find some way of backing up his "guarantee" that replacing those particular Limited cards with slightly more useful ones (say replacing Evil Presence with a combined Evil Presence and Cursed Land at 2 or 3 mana) would measurably decrease the fun "you" had.  As if fun is measurable anyway.
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
Big random red effects like Scrambleverse work much better on MTGO. That card particularly reminds me of the Astral set in Shandalar. Ah, sweet memories...

Oh, and if I was able to vote I would pick Phantom Centaur. I just love that card.
Big random red effects like Scrambleverse work much better on MTGO. That card particularly reminds me of the Astral set in Shandalar. Ah, sweet memories...



Hey, totally understand what you're talking about. Every time I see Scrambleverse or, say Confusion in the Ranks, in my mind I hear that rattling metallic sound that Power Struggle (2UUU, Enchantment, At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player exchanges control of random target artifact, creature or land he or she controls, for control of random target permanent of the same type that a random opponent controls.) made.
Oh yes, those sound effects were sweet. I once had the tune from Goblin Polka Band set as system sound for Windows shutdown. :-)
While normally I agree with Aaron Forsythe, this is one time I definitely don't.  Defensive Stance and Evil Presence practically serve no purpose.  If there were a bunch of man-lands in the set or rare lands like in Innistrad, okay, then maybe Evil Presence could belong.  But Defensive Stance is just plain bad.  Cards that are that bad shouldn't exist.  They need to be good enough that you sideboard them often enough.

For example, M11's Dryad's Favor is another one of those crappy cards.  You won't include it in your deck, not even most of the time if playing against a green player.  The card could have given reach and +0/+1 as well as forestwalk, for the same mana, and it still wouldn't be included in a maindeck.  But you'd sideboard it in more often, as it would give you an answer to flyers.  Bad card, but useful enough that it would see play more than rarely.

To say "we need it to balance the colors" is laughable.  If the other cards are stronger, the weaker card isn't going to get played anyway, even if it is borderline playable.  How does that really solve anything?  Wouldn't the proper solution be to, oh, I don't know, maybe trim from the top part of the color, the part that makes it too powerful, rather than the bottom part, which players will trim themselves anyway?  And wouldn't it make more sense to just print one less card of that color, to print another card of a color that is considered underpowered, and thereby help that color?

The human processible bit falls flat as well.  When there's lots of cards, you pick the best in your color.  You don't need bad cards to help you with that, as you eliminate most of the average cards as well.  And once you trim those out, your colors become key, which eliminates a good chunk.  Matter of fact, by having basically worthless cards in the pack, it hurts things, since rather than picking the black card because you are in black, you pick a card of a color you aren't playing because Evil Presence is not going to get played anyway.

Now, I'm not saying that all cards need to be constructed playable power levels.  I don't believe that, that would just lead to more potential for broken cards, for power creep.  Most cards should be limited playable.  But every set has cards that are pretty obviously complete junk, the ones left for last in every draft, the ones people pick lands or checklist cards over, that aren't useful in limited or constructed.  And design knows what they are if they've tested the sets at all.  And it is those cards that should be given some love, so that the last card in a pack is not always one of the same couple of cards.

Overall, some pretty foolish logic on WotC's part.
I'm happy for Scrambleverse and Omen Machine to be expensive so they don't make Constructed silly. That's fine. 

But I'd like to add my voice to those in favour of flatter power curves. Cube is hilarious fun and the same pack can play out very differently, based on people's preferences and varying card evaluations. This is a good thing. Bizarrely, the flatter power curve was one of the (somewhat few) good things Coldsnap did right. I certainly recognise that not every card is going to appeal to everyone, but packs of cards that are unplayable in both Limited and Constructed just make everyone feel bad.
Amused to see that Cube - a  format agreed by pretty much everyone who's ever played it to be awesome - is used as an example of the dire consequences of not having bad cards!


Put it this way, then - do you want everything to be, or feel like, Cube?
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Axterix, you need to look at the bigger picture. There's a design skeleton for every set wherein each color gets an equal amount of commons and uncommons at specific costs and card types. If playtests showed that blue/black was inherently better than any other combination in limited, they needed to change something lest these colors would be cannibalizing drafts.

Putting in some bad cards nobody really wants to play helps this matter, simply because the frequency of otherwise good blue or black cards drops to a more reasonable level. I know it's not pretty when you look at these specific cards, but I rather take this chaff 14th pick than everybody struggling for the same colors every time.
Tom

You've come under some heavy scorn for some of your recent articles, but you deserve credit for this one. It was a refreshingly honest read and I suspect pretty much speaks the truth of the matter.

Couple of observations:

1) You mention warp world and scrambleverse in the same breath, but I find warp world has a far better design. By all means make these cards, but note that there is still room for good and bad within that category.

2) I think any exposition of 'bad cards' also needs to examine 'relative bad cards' - cards which are bad when compared to other cards. Eg. Inferno Titan vs Flameborn Viron. The bigger the gap between mythic power and the rest of the card stock, the more cards will seem crap. Of course we understand that swingy cards need to be at higher rarity in order that limited functions, but that doesn't fully explain the rarity power creep of the last few years.

Bizarrely, the flatter power curve was one of the (somewhat few) good things Coldsnap did right.

Interesting. I thought Coldsnap drafts were generally considered atrocious because of that.
So cumbersome effects like the randomization in Scrambleverse and, to a lesser extent, Warp World are generally avoided.

Please explain the random graveyard effects in Innistrad, the idiotic "flavor first" Cellar Door (bottom of the library is relatively cumbersome as well), and the development of Werewolves, in terms of the annoyance of desleeving or sideboard consultations mid-game.
So cumbersome effects like the randomization in Scrambleverse and, to a lesser extent, Warp World are generally avoided.

Please explain the random graveyard effects in Innistrad, the idiotic "flavor first" Cellar Door (bottom of the library is relatively cumbersome as well), and the development of Werewolves, in terms of the annoyance of desleeving or sideboard consultations mid-game.




Excellent points. This is my biggest problem with Innistrad - the DFCs actively break rules which are there for a good reason and they really are very cumbersome. I don't mind that wizards did this - it is good to explore new things and to innovate, what I do mind is the way it is brushed under the carpet on the articles on this site. They will mention that they thought about it, but not really go into any detail about it. They talk about the asthetic superiority of DFCs over flip cards without mentioning the incredible asthetic nastiness of the checklists.

And no, I don't play with solid backed card sleeves. I have like 60 decks, that would cost an absurd amount. But if I did I would still be pissed at having to take the card out and fiddle around with it.

Amused to see that Cube - a  format agreed by pretty much everyone who's ever played it to be awesome - is used as an example of the dire consequences of not having bad cards!




  Cube is fun if and only if you enjoy the way the person built the cube. I played with one guy who had a cube, and he and all his friends liked it, but it didn't speak to me.  It's clearly a good cube because he and his friends like it, but it never sat well with me.


Of course, I'm working on my own cube of 15th pick reject-chaff, since (as pointed out in this article), the fun of the cube is having a flat power level where card evaluations are hard.  Some friends of mine ran a "bad card draft", and the only thing that really spoiled the fun is that the removal was a little too good (I guess they under value it?).

I do want to respond to the stratefied power levels, though.  I've noticed a very powerful skew upward in rarity/power-level.  That seems like a problem to me.  Limited gets recked by rares not because they're "over powered" but because the removal which you would normally have access to is not available as readily.  I feel like limited and constructed have drifted too far apart.


As for Scrambleverse, I'm trying to figure out how to make it back-breaking (or rather, statistically likely to be back breaking).  My response to the card was "Thanks for finally fixing Thieve's Auction" with the untap effect.

While normally I agree with Aaron Forsythe, this is one time I definitely don't.  Defensive Stance and Evil Presence practically serve no purpose.  If there were a bunch of man-lands in the set or rare lands like in Innistrad, okay, then maybe Evil Presence could belong.  But Defensive Stance is just plain bad.  Cards that are that bad shouldn't exist.  They need to be good enough that you sideboard them often enough.

For example, M11's Dryad's Favor is another one of those crappy cards.  You won't include it in your deck, not even most of the time if playing against a green player.  The card could have given reach and +0/+1 as well as forestwalk, for the same mana, and it still wouldn't be included in a maindeck.  But you'd sideboard it in more often, as it would give you an answer to flyers.  Bad card, but useful enough that it would see play more than rarely.

To say "we need it to balance the colors" is laughable.  If the other cards are stronger, the weaker card isn't going to get played anyway, even if it is borderline playable.  How does that really solve anything?  Wouldn't the proper solution be to, oh, I don't know, maybe trim from the top part of the color, the part that makes it too powerful, rather than the bottom part, which players will trim themselves anyway?  And wouldn't it make more sense to just print one less card of that color, to print another card of a color that is considered underpowered, and thereby help that color?

The human processible bit falls flat as well.  When there's lots of cards, you pick the best in your color.  You don't need bad cards to help you with that, as you eliminate most of the average cards as well.  And once you trim those out, your colors become key, which eliminates a good chunk.  Matter of fact, by having basically worthless cards in the pack, it hurts things, since rather than picking the black card because you are in black, you pick a card of a color you aren't playing because Evil Presence is not going to get played anyway.

Now, I'm not saying that all cards need to be constructed playable power levels.  I don't believe that, that would just lead to more potential for broken cards, for power creep.  Most cards should be limited playable.  But every set has cards that are pretty obviously complete junk, the ones left for last in every draft, the ones people pick lands or checklist cards over, that aren't useful in limited or constructed.  And design knows what they are if they've tested the sets at all.  And it is those cards that should be given some love, so that the last card in a pack is not always one of the same couple of cards.

Overall, some pretty foolish logic on WotC's part.




I entirely agree. Defensive stance is the perfect example of a bad card which has equally bad logic behind it. It is a pure junk card and there is literally no reason to print those. I don't buy for a second that it balances the colours in limited in any meaningful way - if you wanted to do that then adding a garbage card in the common slot is no way to do it because a weak but not trash card would have the exact same effect and realistically shouldn't the balance come from the other cards that are making the given colour too good being toned down,... or the colours which are being outclassed getting tweaked? I understand that this card was part of numerous changes to balance out the colours in limited, but the main effect it has on the game is to annoy people, I would argue, because it's so obviously a waste of cardboard.

There are weak cards and conditional cards that I will very happily use, but whenever I run into a real trash card, ESPECIALLY in a modern set, it leaves a really bad taste in my mouth because there is no need for it to exist. Defensive stance could have come back to your hand for a single blue mana,... or netted you a card if it went in the graveyard,.. or ANYTHING to make it less awful and it would still be a bad card, just less offensively so.

The other insulting thing in this article is that in an article about bad cards that turn out to be good you point out frigging Garruk. Anyone who claims Garruk is a bad card is being ridiculous or is using an extremely, extremely narrow context. It doesn't belong in this article at all and it absolutely doesn't help you make the point that sometimes these 'bad' cards are being improperly evaluated by the players.
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I've been finding the whole Innistrad flavour pretty dull and passe, what with the big Vampire/Werewolf supernatural craze being last years story. I think you can blame the 2 year R&D for magic sets for that. So with just 942 votes for last weeks poll it looks like most of the other voters did what I did and abstained. I mean really, why would I have a favourite werewolf in magic anyway?

On another subject, the articles on this site have been really uninteresting lately, and they've all started to look the same, with overuse of card images. I can barely be botherred to scan the text any more. Yawn.
I have a cube.  It's all uncommons, so the power distribution is very flat, even compared to a regular cube.  I like playing it, but it's a different experience entirely from drafting a real set.
The problem with them using "isn't strong enough" to disable annoying strategies is that it cannot help people who find AGGRO to be annoying, as I do.  Aggro, pretty much by definition, consists of playing the strongest cards.  I know lots of people like bashing with undercosted fatties and winning on turn 4, but I have always hated it, and Wizards is unlikely to ever print another set which spares me this problem.
Also it is hilarious that their example of a "bad card" which isn't actually bad is a mythic rare.  Show me a common card which looks like Defensive Stance and turns out to be the new Stoneforge Mystic.
And the human-processable excuse is just insulting to me.  Magic is supposed to be a game for smart people.  If all the cards in your pack are equally strong, you take the one you personally like best, even if strictly for aesthetic reasons, without sacrificing all hope of winning the game.  That is exactly how I want it to be, and it's bad enough if they disregard such logic for a depressing but reasonable purpose like making more money.  This is worse; they not only make more money but insult their most devoted fans in order to pander to the LCD (which, admittedly, does help them make money, but so would selling ultra-premium cards at ridiculous prices to their most diehard following, something that they do only a very poor approximation of with committee-designed products like FTV Legends).
Oh, and I would like to see Tom find some way of backing up his "guarantee" that replacing those particular Limited cards with slightly more useful ones (say replacing Evil Presence with a combined Evil Presence and Cursed Land at 2 or 3 mana) would measurably decrease the fun "you" had.  As if fun is measurable anyway.



You make some really good points. However, many Magic players aren't all that smart, and it is important to keep them in the fold. Unfortunately, no small percentage are also cheaters and crooks. All Scrambleverse is good for is allowing people to steal other people's cards. WOTC needs to do a much better job of not giving cheaters and crooks tools to do their dirty work. Like not changing the rules of draft and printing official proxies that lead to 3 DFCs in a card pool and 6 checklist cards in a deck.  

So cumbersome effects like the randomization in Scrambleverse and, to a lesser extent, Warp World are generally avoided.

Please explain the random graveyard effects in Innistrad, the idiotic "flavor first" Cellar Door (bottom of the library is relatively cumbersome as well), and the development of Werewolves, in terms of the annoyance of desleeving or sideboard consultations mid-game.

1) Resolving a scrambleverse takes much longer than any of these other things.

2) Being cumbersome was not the only problem he identified with scrambleverse - perhaps not even the main one. It also makes the gameplay unfun if you have to play against it too often (similarly to cards like Armageddon). The same can't be said about these other things. 

Let's say you're a cabinet maker. Would you make bad cabinets so that your good cabinets look better in comparison therefore making it easier for customers to figure out which cabinet they want to buy? Then just throwing your purposefully poor cabinets in a junk heap out back for burning? Probably not. Instead you give your customers a bunch of quality choices so that their personal taste becomes the deciding factor in their purchase.

Printing cards that .00001% of the population ever even attempts to play is a waste of money, time, resources and effort. Why should some cards have no purpose? It's like blowing a glass vase then smashing it and saying 'at least these other ones are great'. The fact that you bring up looking toward the big picture seems borderline wacky considering the biggest picture is that you produce interest and fun whenever possible. What else is R&D supposed to be doing but generating interest and purpose for each card? Any card that has next to no chance at enticing someone to play with it is a missed opportunity in an already very tight window. We're having to pay for broken vases so we can have access to the good ones. Vase extortion! Money mouth

I respect, appreciate and enjoy what R&D does, but maybe it's time to 'next level' the general thinking behind printing straight-to-landfill material that actually costs money on both ends. I assure you we can properly value cards without seeing cards like '2R, Sorcery, Do nothing until end of turn.' We all know that cards this bad are possible and yet you continue to print them again and again as if we're incapable of grasping the simplest of concepts. You really don't have to spend the time and money to print this harrowing possibility multiple times each set.

We get it, cards can be bad. Fire - hot, ice - cold, me want pudding.
The problem isn't exactly bad cards.... it's UNINTERESTING cards. I don't mind things like scrambleverse or "timmy" rares that don't see constructed tournament play.

What I hate is filler chaff that is literally printed not to be used (as admitted in this article). I'm sorry but if you're doing that, take a step back and think about it.

Believe it or not, this is not a necessary practice. I've played other card games where there is no "filler", and draft works fine. There are still better and worse cards but there are no utterly pointless cards.

If two colors are too strong... how about STRENGHTHENING the other colors???? Ever think of that?? Why do you have to take the Harrison Bergeron route of dumbing down everything?
The main problem, I think, is the whole idea that there should BE specific "right answers", as though Magic were ever meant to be a solvable or potentially-solvable game, in the same vein that chess and checkers are solvable. Whether we're talking Limited or Constructed. (At least, I don't think Garfield was trying to create a solvable game. I don't know what Rosewater and Forsythe's views on whether Magic should approach solvability are, though.)

Admittedly, I have no use for Limited. Too expensive over the long-term, and more importantly, TOO luck-based, whether fixed or draft. Which is why I'm kind of bothered that Limited is one of the current most important precepts for what to assign to which rarities. I much prefer what Iron Crown said to Scrye about how they were allocating rarities in Middle-Earth: The Wizards. Basically, the cards that one would depend on most often were usually allocated to UNCOMMON (common would result in supersaturation), rather than rare (it shouldn't be THAT hard to get three copies of the important card in question). While important cards did find their way into rare, more often than not that was doable because they had the Unique flag--only one copy per deck permitted (not as bad as it sounds, since the game rules included that you cycled through your deck THREE times, not just once, so you were a lot more likely to find the single copy of The One Ring or Galadriel in question), and that was solely for flavor purposes, akin to why Legends were originally only-one-per-deck.

I wouldn't mind seeing future sets take that same tack, where uncommon, not rare or mythic, gets the most vital cards (probably a bit much to expect planeswalkers below rare, admittedly). Keep in mind that this should not come at the expense of common getting vital cards (it isn't unprecedented; consider Momentary Blink and Mystical Teachings, which were both common. Admittedly, neither one could do much all by themselves...). But it doesn't seem likely, if WotC is depending as much as it seems on rapid retailer order (they need to replace salable stock they de-salabled by opening boosters for singles...).
I gotta say that I strongly disagreed with with the whole "Defensive Stance/Evil Presence" thing. If Black and Blue are too strong, then make the RWG BETTER. There is absolutely no reason to not just bump up the power level of those colors. Hell, NMS draft is already more about synergy than anything else (excluding back-breaking bombs), so bumping the general power level doesn't make it "too flat."

IMAGE(http://i1101.photobucket.com/albums/g424/syreal94/SIGS1AL.png) Sig by zpikduM.

You make some really good points. However, many Magic players aren't all that smart, and it is important to keep them in the fold. Unfortunately, no small percentage are also cheaters and crooks. All Scrambleverse is good for is allowing people to steal other people's cards. 


You keep saying that. But I think it really is a rather small percentage. There's some well-worn advice for if you find out someone you play with has an unsavoury habit like that: don't play with them any more

I'm kinda curious where you're finding to play Magic that people manage to cast Scrambleverse and yet doesn't have the natural social consequences for people doing something like stealing that is so clearly breaking the social contract of people you play games with.
@tom: why haven't you posted/updated your cube in such a long time? i remember reading that you weren't allowed to because of your job at the company, but that can't be right if you're posting sample packs.
I love bad cards, I agree that they need to exist, and I am always happy to see their purpose explained. Good article. It is certainly possible to go overboard on bad cards, and not all bad cards are well-done, even as bad cards.

I think one of the most important reasons for the necessity of bad cards is rarely mentioned: artistic contrast and variety. The game would be bland and boring if the power band was very narrow. You couldn't really print much - a grizzly bear with vigilance for white, first strike for red, regen for black, hexproof for blue, trample for green. Can't make a flyer for blue, that would be overpowered relative to the others. Nothing like Kargan Dragonlord could ever be printed, you are stuck with 5 bland grizzly bears you can never change because anything else would be too weak or too strong.

The power level of magic cards is, and should be, distributed more or less in standard bell-curve distribution. Many cards printed are "grizzly bears with an ability" but the abilities can vary pretty widely in power level. Then you have a small number of cards which are much stronger (Tarmogoyf) and some which are much weaker (Shelkin Brownie) and this variety creates interest and excitement. The fun of both and limited and constructed depend on this kind of Gaussian distribution of power.
isnt blue always the best color in limited? it gets the best common fliers, the best combat tricks, and card advantage and its removal isnt even too shabby. to people saying buff rwg, it would really just create an even higher power level set and too high power sets tend to be less fun. but ya i agree that printing 2 bad cards in ub isnt balancing the set. now even though i did a ton of SMN draft i dont think u/b were particularly overpowered in draft. looking at common blighted agent was strong, and black had grim affliction but beyond that nothing too spicy. maybe they had some strong uncommon/rares but that was just a problem with SMN in general.

and garruk was a bad card and was a dissapointment. he wasnt playable in modern or standard. but if internal said he was going to be good come innistrad couldnt you have told us that? its not about discovery when your playing with 25 dollar+ cards. as a planeswalker it already had a ton of casual appeal anyways. especially since you must have gotten months of complaint about big garruk.

a flat powercurve was fine for draft. like in coldsnap it wasnt hard to get a drop you needed for your curve just because of how flat it was. in cube its much less flat. in that pack for instance the necro is obviously the most powerful card but if its like most cubes its really between chrome mox and counterspell. id probably even take recurring before necro. just because its more fun and its more splashable. though i suppose i wouldnt nessecarily fault you for forcing black and taking the necro.

also i knew a guy who used to play that also loved his obnoxious red spells. radiate and grip of chaos were his favorite.
For those who'd rather cards like Defensive Stance be more playable ("Just make everything playable!") -- There's actually a whole range of separate problems created by having too many playable cards in a Limited environment, and it's something that Cube also brings to the forefront.

I'm actually working on a cube article with this topic as one piece (not sure where it'll go up), but for one thing, everything-playable makes mono-color decks too easy. To oversimplify, 42 cards opened per player split evenly, rounded down, is 8 cards per color per player, or 64 per 8-person draft pod. If eight people are drafting two-color decks, most colors have three drafters, but if all the cards are playable, those three could each be looking at 18-20 playables in one color. If the cards are truly playable, there are a lot of benefits to mono-color consistency, so it pays to attempt to get those last few cards.

The issue is that the more players do this, the fewer average drafters each color has, so the more incentive there is to keep going mono! Viable monocolor strategies are automatically less diverse in gameplay and drafting than two-color strategies, so pretty soon your format is boring and awful.

Thanks to Tom, Aaron, et al, for saving us from this fate. :-)


1) You mention warp world and scrambleverse in the same breath, but I find warp world has a far better design. By all means make these cards, but note that there is still room for good and bad within that category.




Agreed completely.  There is almost no way to build around Scrambleverse to make it better.  (Generate more weak permanents?)  Compare to Warp World.  There's the inherent advantage from deck design, like Scrambleverse: just play mostly permanents, and you'll get an advantage when it resolves.  But Warp World was more of a Johnny card.  Two strategies:

Warp World pre-M10 rules change: Hunted Troll, Forbidden Orchard, Heartbeat of Spring, Anarchist, with the goal of endlessly looping Warp Worlds, constantly generating an advantage in permanents owned with the cards that give your opponents tokens.

Warp World post-M10 rules change: Ob Nixilis, the Fallen and landfall for the instant win.
Recurring Nightmare is the slam dunk first pick.  A pack would have to be very weak before I'd take Chrome Mox p1p1, even though I agree with the idea of drafting mana highly because you will always have 23 playable spells in cube.



Agreed. I don't think the pick is particularly close.

Amused to see that Cube - a  format agreed by pretty much everyone who's ever played it to be awesome - is used as an example of the dire consequences of not having bad cards!



In my experience the people who love cube draft are people who have been playing Magic for a long time and are good drafters.  Newer players tend to get frustrated by Cube drafts because of the unfamiliar cards and flatter power levels, even if they have some draft experience.
In my experience the people who love cube draft are people who have been playing Magic for a long time and are good drafters.  Newer players tend to get frustrated by Cube drafts because of the unfamiliar cards and flatter power levels, even if they have some draft experience.



plenty of casual players cube, i cubed pretty much entirely with casual players myself, and have successfully introduced new players to it as well.
I like the article.  I don't think Scrambleverse should cost 8, but I don't know.  It's definitely too high for me to play at that cost, and I'm one of the only people I know who would consider the card.  I'd love to see a one-off feature from Tom on cubing: how working at Wizards has changed his perspective on it, what kinds of cards he considers should be or shouldn't be in a cube, or what newer cards he's put in his since the old cube list from before he started at Wizards.
It's important to remember: WotC is a business that is trying to turn a profit. They have decided to make money by producing collectible card games (among other products) like Magic. Making Magic is the means to acheiving their goal, not the goal itself.

If every card in every booster pack was "good" and playable, you wouldn't have to purchase as many packs to find cards that you want to play with. By putting useless filler cards in at each rarity, it lets WotC sell you booster packs of 14-15 cards (so you feel like you "got your money's worth" of cardboard) while still making it just difficult enough to collect playable cards.

Think about it: How many of you would you buy fatpacks or a booster boxes if there wasn't so much "chaff" to sift through to get good cards?