10/17/2011 Feature Article: "Greetings from the Future Future"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Feature Article by Zac Hill, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
I think it's really depressing and unfair when R&D members just flat-out state "We don't like good control decks, good combo decks, or resource denial/lock strategies. The dynamic of the game should be about fast aggro decks with small creatures versus midrange aggro decks with medium creatures versus "control" decks with ridiculously powerful (Titan) creatures."

Some people like to think more when they play magic. 
I think it's really depressing and unfair when R&D members just flat-out state "We don't like good control decks, good combo decks, or resource denial/lock strategies. The dynamic of the game should be about fast aggro decks with small creatures versus midrange aggro decks with medium creatures versus "control" decks with ridiculously powerful (Titan) creatures."

Some people like to think more when they play magic. 



That's not what he said.

I know there's no way to prevent seven to ten pages of comments like this; but I hope at least some fraction of this article's readers will pay attention to what the author actually wrote.  He wrote it well and thoughtfully, explaining in very professional and polite terms how hard this team works to create the game we love.

Would have been a good idea to not include duel lands in every freaking color combination so people don't play the same exact cards in every deck.  Would also be a good idea to stop pre-determining decks in development and let people sort it out themselves.  Walking up and down the rows of nerds at states it went something like this...

Solar Flare, Solar Flare,Solar Flare,Solar Flare,Wolf Run Ramp,Solar Flare,Solar Flare,Illusions,Solar Flare,Mono Red, Solar Flare,Solar Flare,Solar Flare, Wolf Run Ramp, Wolf Run Ramp, Solar Flare,Solar Flare, Wolf Run Ramp, Solar Flare,Mono Red, Mono Red, Solar Flare,Solar Flare,Solar Flare,Tempered Steel,Solar Flare,Solar Flare,Solar Flare,Solar Flare, Wolf Run Ramp, Solar Flare, Wolf Run Ramp, Solar Flare,Solar Flare,Wolf Run Ramp, Solar Flare, Wolf Run Ramp, Mono Red,Solar Flare,Solar Flare,Solar Flare

Fun! 
The key passage for me was this (in regard to why decks like Draw-Go are no longer made viable):

All of these decks share a common root: they eliminate the dynamism and excitement that comes with constructive interaction between cards, largely because their goal is to ignore as much of the rules text on the opponent's cards as possible.



Two reasons for this jump out immediately:
1. Magic has always been cast as a battle between wizards, where the object is to defeat your foe(s). Given such a destructive metric for success, expecting cooperation between the players seems little more than a pipe dream. Could a cooperatively-metrized variant of Magic take off? Possibly, but due to the fundamental concepts that make Magic Magic, I doubt such a thing would even remain interesting for long.
2. With the idea of drawbacks becoming all but extinct in recent years, all the rules text on all the cards amounts to pretty much the same fundamental thing: "Add 5% to your win probability" or "Add 30% to your win probability" (the latter on cards deemed "swingy" enough to need a red expansion symbol). When you're pretty much assured that every one of your opponent's cards is strictly positive for them (and thus strictly negative value for you), preemptively shutting them down gives you a pretty good idea of what you're gaining. Granted, if a card has negative value, it probably isn't going to go in a deck to begin with, but the combination of competitively-costed cards with drawbacks can be crafted so that the value fluctuates, possibly including both negative value and a value high enough to earn a spot in the deck, which would help to create the environment of "using the opponent's cards against them" that R&D seemingly wants as an answer to the question "Why would I want my opponent to even be able to get their cards out, if each of those cards is just going to help me lose?"
The thing is, the game has elements that are designed to help adapt to any threat. Draw-go decks too big in the future league? Don't cut them because you have this idealized view of Magic as creatures smashing into each other. Simply make room for a more viable aggro deck with creatures at one and two mana to sneak under counterspells. Or make a creature like Thrun, the Last Troll. If land destruction is too viable, decent aggro decks will still be competitive vs. the land denial strategies. As will the draw-go decks. If combo is too good, the draw-go control builds will hate them out. It's a mark of a very good game when every strategy has a counter-strategy such that no one strategy becomes optimal. But artificially hamstringing that process because of some preconceived notion of "fun" is not what people want in a strategy game.

To clarify my thinking here: what's the point in making so diverse of a game engine if you're going to limit people artificially? Just like the article earlier about "bad cards" and how pretty much everyone hates them (and Mr. LaPille didn't give one substantial reason why these cards HAVE to exist, he merely gave his support for why current philosophy wants them to), by creating environments and altering design to fit this notion of "fun" you are in effect creating "bad cards" in context.

What exactly are players to do with their 20 copies of Melt Terrain or Into the Maw of Hell when R&D has specifically designed these cards to suck in standard? They could be amazing. If either or both of them cost 1 less, or there was simply a critical mass of these sorts of effects, or a Terravore or Knight of the Reliquary it might be more viable. But someone at Wizards decided it wasn't fun, so even people who DO find it fun can't succeed with it. (For the last few months of last rotation I played land destruction in Standard to some FNM success. So this is one instance where I can talk! :P)

 It's one thing to weaken strategies you dislike to discourage their use. It's another entirely to shape a format such that there is literally no support for an archetype many players enjoy.
The key passage for me was this (in regard to why decks like Draw-Go are no longer made viable):

All of these decks share a common root: they eliminate the dynamism and excitement that comes with constructive interaction between cards, largely because their goal is to ignore as much of the rules text on the opponent's cards as possible.



Two reasons for this jump out immediately:
1. Magic has always been cast as a battle between wizards, where the object is to defeat your foe(s). Given such a destructive metric for success, expecting cooperation between the players seems little more than a pipe dream. Could a cooperatively-metrized variant of Magic take off? Possibly, but due to the fundamental concepts that make Magic Magic, I doubt such a thing would even remain interesting for long.
2. With the idea of drawbacks becoming all but extinct in recent years, all the rules text on all the cards amounts to pretty much the same fundamental thing: "Add 5% to your win probability" or "Add 30% to your win probability" (the latter on cards deemed "swingy" enough to need a red expansion symbol). When you're pretty much assured that every one of your opponent's cards is strictly positive for them (and thus strictly negative value for you), preemptively shutting them down gives you a pretty good idea of what you're gaining. Granted, if a card has negative value, it probably isn't going to go in a deck to begin with, but the combination of competitively-costed cards with drawbacks can be crafted so that the value fluctuates, possibly including both negative value and a value high enough to earn a spot in the deck, which would help to create the environment of "using the opponent's cards against them" that R&D seemingly wants as an answer to the question "Why would I want my opponent to even be able to get their cards out, if each of those cards is just going to help me lose?"

"Dynamic and constructive interaction between cards" does not mean "cooperative" AT ALL.  It means that the cards simply MATTER to each other, not that the two players are trying to make their cards be friends.

Think about the current crop of black removal.  No single spell is Terminate, because Terminate is too good for monocolor.  Terminate is boring.  Instead each spell has its own weakness to their targets, so a deck playing different targets INTERACTS with the other causing interesting play situations, or in another word: Fun.

What I think is interesting is that while R&D has the goal of game balance and funness, competitive magic players/Spikes have the absolute opposite goals.  They look for the most unbalanced, advantageous cards, fun be damnned.  It is neither group's fault to have diametrically oppossing goals, and try to succeed at both.

As a thought experiment, I imagined what would happen if they printed a sorcery that said: "You tie the game."  Not a very fun card I would hope, by anyone's metric.  You simply stop playing Magic, when you sat down to play Magic.  But it would totally see competitive play, because if you get ahead in a match there would be great incentive to tie out every other game.  Of course you play less Magic this way, but that's not the point.  The point is to win.

But WOTC's point is to PLAY not win.  So I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you feel like they're being unfair to us by setting goals that we don't share, it's not their fault. 
Whoa, what card is this?

media.wizards.com/images/magic/daily/fea...

I'm disappointed by the policy of putting cards that are vital to a set's archetypes in a previous set, just so they'll rotate 3 months faster, because it completely wrecks Block Constructed, which is what I tend to prefer.  I don't like being forced to include an m11 card in what is intended to be an all-Mirrodin deck.  3 more months of the artifact-creature deck running on all cylinders might be a little less interesting than having that time be a window when you debate running the deck without Overseers, but ultimately it's not that long a time and not a very meaningful choice.

Also, on the subject of archetypes that they identify as unfun, I'm disappointed that they mentioned "Resoruce-advantage decks that aim to make Magic a contest of raw attrition", which I've never heard of anyone having a problem with, yet doesn't mention the painfully unfun and massively dominant strategy which constantly ruins my day - aggro.  Wizards seems to think that it doesn't suck when you get steamrolled on turn 4 or 5, but it does.  I shouldn't get flattened before I've even started to play my game.  It takes less time than getting in a prison or LD lock and waiting until you deck, but it's not like you can't concede in those cases when you're sure that you're stuck.  Aggro on the other hand is essentially a "time destruction" strategy, and I find it almost as horrible as LD or HD.
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
"That does kind of beg a question, though."

AAARGH! No, it doesn't. It raises the question. Begging the question is something else entirely, and if you're doing it, you probably don't want to admit it.
[/petpeeve]
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Whoa, what card is this?

media.wizards.com/images/magic/daily/fea...




That's the FNM artwork for Ghostly Prison, later reprinted in the Political Puppets Commander deck.
What exactly are players to do with their 20 copies of Melt Terrain or Into the Maw of Hell when R&D has specifically designed these cards to suck in standard? They could be amazing. If either or both of them cost 1 less, or there was simply a critical mass of these sorts of effects, or a Terravore or Knight of the Reliquary it might be more viable. But someone at Wizards decided it wasn't fun, so even people who DO find it fun can't succeed with it. (For the last few months of last rotation I played land destruction in Standard to some FNM success. So this is one instance where I can talk! :P)

You're missing the point entirely. It's not that Wizards considers such decks unfun to play, it's that such decks aren't fun to play against. I know not everyone agrees, but there are quite a few people who, when they sit down to play a game of Magic, want to actually play a game of Magic. Land destruction prevents you from playing because you can't cast any spells without lands. Draw-Go counterspelling prevents you from playing because you can't resolve a spell. Prison decks make sure you can't actually use any of your cards, even if they do let you cast them. All of the archetypes listed in this article had that one thing in common: they prevent the opponent from actually playing the game.

Also, on the subject of archetypes that they identify as unfun, I'm disappointed that they mentioned "Resoruce-advantage decks that aim to make Magic a contest of raw attrition", which I've never heard of anyone having a problem with, yet doesn't mention the painfully unfun and massively dominant strategy which constantly ruins my day - aggro.  Wizards seems to think that it doesn't suck when you get steamrolled on turn 4 or 5, but it does.  I shouldn't get flattened before I've even started to play my game.  It takes less time than getting in a prison or LD lock and waiting until you deck, but it's not like you can't concede in those cases when you're sure that you're stuck.  Aggro on the other hand is essentially a "time destruction" strategy, and I find it almost as horrible as LD or HD.

I'm sorry, willpell, that aggro ruins your day. However, there are quite a few ways to survive the first few turns of aggro until you stabilize, and after you've stabilized you can play however you want, rather than having terms dictated to you by your aggro opponent. It's not that the strategy is unbeatable, it's that you haven't yet found a way to beat it.
You may counter-argue that you don't want to change the way you play to be able to handle aggro rush. That's a fair argument. However, what you're asking Wizards to do is change the way a lot of people enjoy playing by taking their favorite strategy - aggro - out of the picture entirely. If they slow down aggro at all, then the good control decks will absolutely mop the floor with it in every match.
So I'm sorry, you may not like it, but aggro is the way it is because it's balanced with the other archetypes out there.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
I'm sorry, willpell, that aggro ruins your day. However, there are quite a few ways to survive the first few turns of aggro until you stabilize, and after you've stabilized you can play however you want, rather than having terms dictated to you by your aggro opponent. It's not that the strategy is unbeatable, it's that you haven't yet found a way to beat it.

Also, on the subject of archetypes that they identify as unfun, I'm disappointed that they mentioned "Resoruce-advantage decks that aim to make Magic a contest of raw attrition", which I've never heard of anyone having a problem with, yet doesn't mention the painfully unfun and massively dominant strategy which constantly ruins my day - aggro.  Wizards seems to think that it doesn't suck when you get steamrolled on turn 4 or 5, but it does.


I wouldn't worry about his opinion here.  Aggro is generally considered the worst archetype as it relies on the shortest game, the opening hand and requires the most deck slots to execute the plan (leading to the smallest number of sideboard options as well).

Meanwhile, control simply seeks to extend the game as long as possible so it can win with what is, generally, a small portion of it's actual deck (using time to find it) leaving more slots for adaptation and thus wins.  You actually highlighted part of Willpell's issue very well: He simply doesn't want to adapt nor believes he should have to do so.
This thread is for discussion of this week's Feature Article by Zac Hill, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.

Also, fan-freaking-tastic article.  Despite my possibly cold/callous response to Willpell, this sort of thing is exactly what I find interesting about Magic and games in general.
Zac is a smart dude, and I generally like his viewpoints, so it pains me to call this how I see it.

Bunch of propaganda bs.


I've seen developers (Forsythe, LaPille, Hill) comment at length about not wanting to encourage degenerate strategies that lack interaction, but over the last three years I have seen nothing but a continual shift into those territories.

Landfall was completely non-interactive. Oh, you just hit me for how much? Just because you played a fetchland and sac'ed it?  On turn 2/3? Awesome.

Infect is awful. Halve the required damage to win, give no way to "heal" that damage, put it in an environment via tons of cheap efficient creatures and couple it with a good amount of pump and proliferate. Oh, also, lets make it the worst kind of grindy attrition aggro as well, so if they do have blockers, you essentially 2 for 1 automatically, or at least profit on attrition.

Latest culprit? Hexproof. Lets keyword troll-shroud and put it on EVERYTHING. Now lets print insane enchantments and equipment that make it a degenerate, non-interactive strategy.  

Next step, lets print less counters, and make the ones we do print more situational. So that when our opponents tap out to cast a titan on turn 4/5, they definetly get all that tasty degenerate value out of them. Let's also reprint Wrath without the regen clause, cuz being able to kill those hexproof guys with regenerate shouldn't be an option. 

Lets print a "free mana" mechanic, and use it to print silver bullets for certain formats. Lets even make a super cheap removal spell that can be played in ANY color. Lets also make it good enough to dominate the early game at no real cost, but lets make sure it doesn't kill any of the truly busted bombs like titans, and praetors. While we're at it we can throw in a Survival variant that is "fixed". Maybe it will allow people to chain into land destruction, followed by ramp/recursion, followed by an insane legend. 


Yeah...Magic is really interactive and FUN.


That being said, I love it. I'm not actually complaining, I'm just pointing out that like most corporations, WotC has it's goons out there saying one thing while doing the exact opposite. I enjoy the game the way it is, even the feel bad times. I'm pretty sure casuals don't like it though.
I think it's really depressing and unfair when R&D members just flat-out state "We don't like good control decks, good combo decks, or resource denial/lock strategies. The dynamic of the game should be about fast aggro decks with small creatures versus midrange aggro decks with medium creatures versus "control" decks with ridiculously powerful (Titan) creatures."

Some people like to think more when they play magic. 



That's the problem. Some people like that, but they're just a vocal minority.

The thing is, the game has elements that are designed to help adapt to any threat. Draw-go decks too big in the future league? Don't cut them because you have this idealized view of Magic as creatures smashing into each other. Simply make room for a more viable aggro deck with creatures at one and two mana to sneak under counterspells. Or make a creature like Thrun, the Last Troll. If land destruction is too viable, decent aggro decks will still be competitive vs. the land denial strategies. As will the draw-go decks. If combo is too good, the draw-go control builds will hate them out. It's a mark of a very good game when every strategy has a counter-strategy such that no one strategy becomes optimal. But artificially hamstringing that process because of some preconceived notion of "fun" is not what people want in a strategy game.



This is how it was, and I think the problem was there's no place for midrange there. They want creatures of all sizes to matter, not just the 1 and 2 mana ones.

Zac is a smart dude, and I generally like his viewpoints, so it pains me to call this how I see it.

Bunch of propaganda bs.


I've seen developers (Forsythe, LaPille, Hill) comment at length about not wanting to encourage degenerate strategies that lack interaction, but over the last three years I have seen nothing but a continual shift into those territories.

Landfall was completely non-interactive. Oh, you just hit me for how much? Just because you played a fetchland and sac'ed it?  On turn 2/3? Awesome.

Infect is awful. Halve the required damage to win, give no way to "heal" that damage, put it in an environment via tons of cheap efficient creatures and couple it with a good amount of pump and proliferate. Oh, also, lets make it the worst kind of grindy attrition aggro as well, so if they do have blockers, you essentially 2 for 1 automatically, or at least profit on attrition.

Latest culprit? Hexproof. Lets keyword troll-shroud and put it on EVERYTHING. Now lets print insane enchantments and equipment that make it a degenerate, non-interactive strategy.  

Next step, lets print less counters, and make the ones we do print more situational. So that when our opponents tap out to cast a titan on turn 4/5, they definetly get all that tasty degenerate value out of them. Let's also reprint Wrath without the regen clause, cuz being able to kill those hexproof guys with regenerate shouldn't be an option. 

Lets print a "free mana" mechanic, and use it to print silver bullets for certain formats. Lets even make a super cheap removal spell that can be played in ANY color. Lets also make it good enough to dominate the early game at no real cost, but lets make sure it doesn't kill any of the truly busted bombs like titans, and praetors. While we're at it we can throw in a Survival variant that is "fixed". Maybe it will allow people to chain into land destruction, followed by ramp/recursion, followed by an insane legend. 


Yeah...Magic is really interactive and FUN.


That being said, I love it. I'm not actually complaining, I'm just pointing out that like most corporations, WotC has it's goons out there saying one thing while doing the exact opposite. I enjoy the game the way it is, even the feel bad times. I'm pretty sure casuals don't like it though.



Most of those examples either aren't degenerate or don't lack interaction. Note that they have less problems with things that lack interaction or things that dominate, but they absolutely don't want those 2 to overlap.
The maxim went something like, "Design's in charge of making Magic fun, and Development's in charge of making Magic balanced." We've learned a lot since then, though. Specifically, we learned that sacrificing fun in the name of balance misses the point entirely.

This implies that Development has released unbalanced yet fun mechanics/themes etc.

I call bs.  I'd love for Zac Hill to name one thing that's been released that was both completely unbalanced and deemed fun by the majority of magic players.  Cause I sure can't think of any.

Cawblade?  Unbalanced and NOT fun
Jund?  Unbalanced and NOT fun
Faeries during their height?  Unbalanced and NOT fun
Affinity?  Unbalanced and NOT fun

Again I grant some people enjoyed these things but some people enjoyed Necro summer and Combo winter as well but they sure weren't majorities or even large enough chunks of people to overcome/balance the damage these things have done.

So please, if you're going to make a claim like you did there, back it up with something.

Zac Hill or anyone else who actually works in WotC Development.

Until then I'm just going to say Design is indeed in charge of making it fun and Development is indeed in charge of keeping it balanced (and fun too sure).  It seems like that is as it should be anyway so I'm not sure why you made that ridiculous statement without any proof.

I have a slight suspicion that what you meant to say was that if you have the choice between unbalanced and fun or balanced and unfun you go with neither and look for a balanced AND fun solution, but then you certainly could have phrased it better as your current statement really doesn't imply just that.  And if that is what you mean then the original statement of Design making fun and Dev making it balanced is still true.

What jumps out at me is a lack of appreciation for and understanding of answers.


What is it that made Draw-Go overpowered?  The fact that its answers were pretty much 100% universal.  I like what has been happening with counterspells recently, where they are pretty good against only some of your opponents.


In the same way, over-powered creatues and spells (like Planeswalkers) need answers.  Without them, the cards take over the game by themselves, and "Wait for them to go away" is not a good idea.  I know the point "Let them kill your darlings" touches on this, but I feel that overall the importance of answers was left out.


 

You're missing the point entirely. It's not that Wizards considers such decks unfun to play, it's that such decks aren't fun to play against. I know not everyone agrees, but there are quite a few people who, when they sit down to play a game of Magic, want to actually play a game of Magic. Land destruction prevents you from playing because you can't cast any spells without lands. Draw-Go counterspelling prevents you from playing because you can't resolve a spell. Prison decks make sure you can't actually use any of your cards, even if they do let you cast them. All of the archetypes listed in this article had that one thing in common: they prevent the opponent from actually playing the game. html_removed



Fast combos were quite high on the list, not because they actually stop people from playing but because effectively it makes whatever is played irrelevant - they just win and possibly you slowed them down with some disruption. And the real point is that it doesn't really matter if you lose fast against a combo or against a fast aggro deck. If they just win on an early turn regardless then whatever you played early was mostly irrelevant, maybe you slowed them down with some disruption. The difference is just what the disruption was (the combo deck is often more fragile but requires specific disruption, whereas aggro's creatures are mostly replaceable by any other efficient creature).
Burn decks are typically as interactive as "true combo" decks, and creature-based aggro decks aren't that much different either. It is even frequent that all of these decks - including creature-based aggro are play-tested initially against a goldfish to determine their raw speed - I think that is a clear sign they are basically the same deck.  All these decks are effectively "clocks" (in Magic lingo, an X-turn clock).

Depending on semantics one could argue that when someone plays a game of Magic against any of those strategies (LD, fast combo, permission, attritrion) that allegedly don't let people play they are still playing a game of magic *by definition*. All of these strategies are part of the game and get cards explicitly designed for.
Or I could instead argue that it is not really about playing your cards (which technically you are playing against permission, they just get countered): what is that different between getting a creature countered or having it resolve and dying? Technicalities for the most part (such as CIP triggers etc.)! The fact is that removal can be played even if the "control player" had tapped out previously (the major drawback with permission and a big part of what actually does make it balanced)... Whether countered or dismembered they end up in the graveyard anyway, often without dealing any damage or leaving anything behind.

What really matters in the end is the power level. If you get Zoo at a power level that it dominates it can easily be much more oppressive than whatever fast combo, LD or permission deck is in the format (Modern is probably in such a situation right now).


html_removed
 (...) there are quite a few ways to survive the first few turns of aggro until you stabilize, and after you've stabilized you can play however you want, rather than having terms dictated to you by your aggro opponent. It's not that the strategy is unbeatable, it's that you haven't yet found a way to beat it.
You may counter-argue that you don't want to change the way you play to be able to handle aggro rush. That's a fair argument. However, what you're asking Wizards to do is change the way a lot of people enjoy playing by taking their favorite strategy - aggro - out of the picture entirely. If they slow down aggro at all, then the good control decks will absolutely mop the floor with it in every match.
So I'm sorry, you may not like it, but aggro is the way it is because it's balanced with the other archetypes out there.



There are also quite a few ways to win against LD, permission and fast combos - provided they aren't actually unbalanced.
It is false to say that after you stabilize against aggro you can play however you want. Very likely you are at low life total and so on, and those ways to survive are just as disruptive to the core strategy of the deck as the ways to win against LD, permission and fast combos can be. You need to dedicate a good part of your deck to not losing instead of winning. Except aggro decks and combo decks itself, which use "win quickly" as their main "disruption" plan!
It seems to me that the ones that aren't willing to change the way they play are not at all the control players. In addition to what I presented above, control by definition needs to adapt to whatever threats are around. So the implicit claim that control players are the ones not wanting to change the way they play does not hold. The control players may very well have a valid complaint when there are not enough powerful permission tools to do it - and that isn't even that good for aggro as Aggro naturally tend to prey on permission decks. Look at Modern's debut for what happens when permission control gets weakened. Although now after further bans (of a high number of cards) we will see what happens in the PTQ (although legacy-level Zoo is quite obviously the gauntlet right now).

Ivo.
Any deck can become overly dominant, but we've noticed that certain kinds of strategies really damage game play at any level. These tend to be, in descending order of frustration:

  • "Prison" control decks, which aim to lock players out of the resources to cast their spells, while grinding out a slow, gradual long game

  • Land destruction decks that never let the opponent get off the ground

  • Lightning-fast combination decks that end the game as quickly, and noninteractively, as possible

  • "Draw-Go" style counterspell decks that do nothing except counter the opponent's spells

  • Resource-advantage decks that aim to make Magic a contest of raw attrition



Here's my problem with this, as a *really* long-time player: All of the above strategies should, at least some of the time, be viable.  You should be able to punish ridiculously greedy mana bases, you should be able to grind out games against excessively aggressive opponents, and you should be able to counter or combo someone out of the game.  But at the same time, you should have the tools to defeat any or all of those strategies.  The one thing the article doesn't mention is how quickly the game adapts to the latest "hot" strategy, unless it is something truly absurd, such as Ravager/Affinity or CawBlade.

I love this game, but it can't be a coincidence that I cannot go one night of Magic-playing without hearing a variation of "WotC just wants us to play 'their way' and just bash dudes against one another.  I don't really find that all that interesting."  I am not saying it's completely justified - and the truth is I love Limited best, and that's normally all that format is - but I hear this complaint often enough to at least suggest there's a grain of truth there.

With the new shift in design to a top down approach, how does FFL step back from flavor and just look at the cards? I get what design was thinking on dismember for instance. However, it looks like FTK, and it plays like it. Did you draw that same link?

I'm not saying dismember is a horrible mistake. FTK was widely regarded as an unfun card at the time so if the job is to maximize fun, shouldn't cards that are strong reminders of past unfun cards send up red flags? Did you all just say 'it's been 10 years. We can have this effect again.'?
I call bs.  I'd love for Zac Hill to name one thing that's been released that was both completely unbalanced and deemed fun by the majority of magic players.  Cause I sure can't think of any.

[...]

I have a slight suspicion that what you meant to say was that if you have the choice between unbalanced and fun or balanced and unfun you go with neither and look for a balanced AND fun solution, but then you certainly could have phrased it better as your current statement really doesn't imply just that.  And if that is what you mean then the original statement of Design making fun and Dev making it balanced is still true.



Aaron talked about this a few times. They rather make mistakes like Jace, the Mind Sculptor once in a while than play it safe all the time. Dev doesn't have perfect knowledge about a format. What he's talking about is releasing cards they weren't exactly sure were balanced. It might be they turn out just fine in the bigger world.

Depending on semantics one could argue that when someone plays a game of Magic against any of those strategies (LD, fast combo, permission, attritrion) that allegedly don't let people play they are still playing a game of magic *by definition*. All of these strategies are part of the game and get cards explicitly designed for.

[...]

There are also quite a few ways to win against LD, permission and fast combos - provided they aren't actually unbalanced.



The problem lies in where that interaction is. It's mostly on a whole different level. It ignores the battlefield, and that is where Wizards wants the interaction to be.

Or I could instead argue that it is not really about playing your cards (which technically you are playing against permission, they just get countered): what is that different between getting a creature countered or having it resolve and dying? Technicalities for the most part (such as CIP triggers etc.)! The fact is that removal can be played even if the "control player" had tapped out previously (the major drawback with permission and a big part of what actually does make it balanced)... Whether countered or dismembered they end up in the graveyard anyway, often without dealing any damage or leaving anything behind.



'Often'? Those technicalities add up to a huge list. Removal has to take into account this little technicality counterspells ignore: the textbox.

What really matters in the end is the power level. If you get Zoo at a power level that it dominates it can easily be much more oppressive than whatever fast combo, LD or permission deck is in the format (Modern is probably in such a situation right now).



You mean like how it was in such a situation after the previous bannings?

I love this game, but it can't be a coincidence that I cannot go one night of Magic-playing without hearing a variation of "WotC just wants us to play 'their way' and just bash dudes against one another.  I don't really find that all that interesting."  I am not saying it's completely justified - and the truth is I love Limited best, and that's normally all that format is - but I hear this complaint often enough to at least suggest there's a grain of truth there.



Problem is, those players are a minority.
Great article. I found it to be very interesting. But it failed to answer my biggest question: has it ever surprised the FFL that players in a given Standard format didn't find a strategy or interaction that they did find and purposely leave in?
Great article. I found it to be very interesting. But it failed to answer my biggest question: has it ever surprised the FFL that players in a given Standard format didn't find a strategy or interaction that they did find and purposely leave in?



Somebody (can't remember who) said that they missed the Deciever Exarch/Splinter Twin combo.

And I am sadly in the boat of not liking the current way standard is. I started playing in Odessy, and I have never been a huge fan of creatures that just attack. I hate the Titans with the passion of a thousand suns, because it has boiled the format down very much to "have Titans or plan to win before turn 6."
While I agree that counterspells can be somewhat degenerate, I am a fan of draw-go strategies, I am a fan of midrange creature decks, and my favorite decks are the attrition style decks. I don't like taking creatures and going "hurr-durr sideways to your face" constantly, and that is how I feel standard is now. And modern too. 

I'd rant some more, but I have to get to class, and just wanted to point out that I'm another person who doesn't think the current standard is too fun. Titans and partially Praeators are killing the game for me. 

(at)MrEnglish22

Great article. I found it to be very interesting. But it failed to answer my biggest question: has it ever surprised the FFL that players in a given Standard format didn't find a strategy or interaction that they did find and purposely leave in?



Based on Zac's previous article about making event decks and comments made by Tom in the Friday columns, it looks like they thought mono-green infect using Overgrown battlement was a good deck. It turned out to not be a player in reality.

I thought that was a good article, and I agreed with almost all of it, but one thing jumped out at me as really strange. In the list of "unfun for many opponents" deck types, along with the expected LD and draw-go and too-fast combo, was:

"Resource-advantage decks that aim to make Magic a contest of raw attrition"

What the heck? What kind of decks is he talking about? Isn't the goal of many/most midrange decks or control decks to try to gain resource advantage so you end up on top of the war of attrition? Isn't that really just another description of how Magic is supposed to be? What am I misunderstanding here?

To fight against a standard fast beatdown deck, what choice is there but to win via "raw attrition"? You need to kill their creatures so you don't die, and eventually play larger threats of your own to win. The usual way to do this is to play a mix of spot removal and sweepers, backed up by card drawing. You shoot something, dig through a few extra cards, wrath the board, then win with threats which are more powerful than the small beatdown creatures.

I feel that there must be some deck archetypes or strategies he is referring to that I don't know about, but I've been playing for 13 years and I can't figure out what tournament decks in what format would qualify as "unfun war of attrition" decks. Can anyone point to any examples of what is being referred to with that phrase?
Some people like to think more when they play magic. 



This gets said a lot, and I don't think that it's true. A more accurate comment would be:

"some players like to be safer when they play magic"

Draw-Go, Prison and LD are all very safe strategies. They're based around stopping the opponent from affecting the game in a dangerous way. The decisions to be made when playing them are simple: "is the thing that my opponent is trying to do right now a threat? If so, I stop it; if not, I ignore it." This is a very comforting and reassuring way to play Magic -- you feel in complete control, and can mock the opponent for playing something "stupid" and weak. 

But it's not "smarter"; the decisions one makes when countering a spell aren't more intellectually intimidating than the choices one makes when planning a combat step. And the game in general is more fun when it's less safe, just simply in terms the variety of paths an individual game can take. 


I feel that there must be some deck archetypes or strategies he is referring to that I don't know about, but I've been playing for 13 years and I can't figure out what tournament decks in what format would qualify as "unfun war of attrition" decks.



I _think_ that he's talking about Cascade, where it's less about individual card power, and more about each crappy card in the deck actually being 2+ crappy cards ... which is pretty useful for winning wars of attrition. :-)

~ Patch

 


 i'll go and join the apparently "few" players and say i find any of those strategies fun. i will bet that anyone who plays one of those types of decks and wins will find it "fun".  and we can also grant that losing to any of those decks is unfun. that doesn't mean there aren't ways to stop them.


 why shouldn't fast aggro be there either.. i dont think turn 3 wins are fun or interactive. i bet the person playing them finds it fun though. and don't chime in with but you can stabalize against aggro thing, you sure can, aggro also can wipe the floor with ld or draw/go.. or many of those strategies up there.. the point is to have viable counter-strategies available.


 on the person above me... your wrong.. there's much more to it than is that a threat or not/counter or ignore. much like you said theres more to a combat step.. this can be argued the same way as well. i can boil an aggro deck down to all it does is play dudes and swing for the fence but we both know there's more to it than that just like the above decks have more to them than what you said.


all that aside what really struck me was..


 Why go out and create your own deck when it doesnt stand a chance against the elephant in the room? Whats the point of selecting between thousands of cool, unique cards when none of them really matter?


   On the first question this happens all the time. I wont really blame wizards i think it's the internet in general that causes this. Why should one bother making a cool new deck when deck:A has proven results against every other deck. etc.. ramble ramble netdecking ramble.


 


 On the 2nd question... seriously? they made tons of really cool creatures lately that won't see play because they dont measure up to the grand ol' titan test...


 bottom line that whole article to me read like:  our team doesn't think these things are fun so you shouldn't either.


 


 


 


 bottom line that whole article to me read like:  our team doesn't think these things are fun so you shouldn't either.




OK, back from class. I quoted this guy's tidbit because I feel that is what the article is about. But, at the same time, I notice that a lot of the cards printed lately are contradictory to the statements made here.
Take Titans for example. I remember when thrun got spoiled the big sentement was "he isn't as good as a Titan, he won't see much play." The same thing is said for a lot of creatures. Then you have the "It dies to dismember" adage, which while is similar to the terrible "Dies to Doom Blade" argument, is at the same time different, because Titans pass this test.
You are hard pressed to find a deck that doesn't run a Titan in it that will still be successful in the next coming months.


Here's a  tip for R&D- stop printing free spells. Phyrexian mana is the only thing I would be okay with, and even then I feel some of the spells shouldn't have been printed. But Mental Misstep is another argument entirely. Affinity turned out being absurdly broken, and Cascade was borderline (the only reason I don't think BBE should have been banned is because it was the only reason JTMS took so long to get banned). You guys are sacrificing balance for fun, but when you create imbalance you create less fun. I would be fine if everything were a little weaker but balanced. We don't need super blowout spells that push the envelope every set like there has been. INN has very few blatantly powerful spells so far, so I have hope you guys are wising up.

Now, back to classes. 

(at)MrEnglish22

And I am sadly in the boat of not liking the current way standard is. I started playing in Odessy, and I have never been a huge fan of creatures that just attack. I hate the Titans with the passion of a thousand suns, because it has boiled the format down very much to "have Titans or plan to win before turn 6."
While I agree that counterspells can be somewhat degenerate, I am a fan of draw-go strategies, I am a fan of midrange creature decks, and my favorite decks are the attrition style decks. I don't like taking creatures and going "hurr-durr sideways to your face" constantly, and that is how I feel standard is now. And modern too.



I feel the same. The answer is pretty much always "You're the minority," though, so I wouldn't expect anything to change.

I still love this game, but I really miss exactly those strategies that the majority supposedly hates. Magic is a game about resources, at it's core -- it's really weird to me that resource denial is such a problem for so many. Maybe I'm unfair for feeling people are a bit intentionally dull if they don't want to learn how to play under it or counter it, but sometimes I really do wonder where all the stupid came from.



I feel that there must be some deck archetypes or strategies he is referring to that I don't know about, but I've been playing for 13 years and I can't figure out what tournament decks in what format would qualify as "unfun war of attrition" decks.



I _think_ that he's talking about Cascade, where it's less about individual card power, and more about each crappy card in the deck actually being 2+ crappy cards ... which is pretty useful for winning wars of attrition. :-)




I'm pretty sure he's actually referring to Rock-style attrition that use hand disruption (like Duress or Cranial Extraction), 2-for-1 type creatures (Ravenous Rats, Mesmeric Fiend, Sakura Tribe Elder), and recursion (Eternal Witness, or Life from the Loam) to slowly grind out wins. Patch is right that these strategies aren't smart, or even necessarily overpowered. It's that they're safe to play, and boring and unfun to play against.

It's also wrong to assume that just because there's no Prison or Draw-Go top deck, that there aren't powerful control decks supported in Standard. The big difference is that current control decks need to tap mana during their turn midgame, which creates opportunities for the other player to interact.
A few points I didn't cover in my previous post:

1.) Some people like to think more when playing Magic / All aggro is is casting dudes and turning them sideways.

All of the archetypes he listed in the article require very little actual thought to play.
 -Prison control aims to block or pacify every creature the opponent plays. You don't have to think much to go "He played a creature. Answer it."
 -Land destruction (by which he means decks that seek to destroy ALL of the opponent's lands) is by far the most mindless way to play. Blow up their lands until they stop drawing them, then win. You never, ever have to mix it up.
 -Fast combo decks completely ignore what the opponent is doing; all they have to do is get together two or three cards which, when assembled, win for you.
 -"Draw Go" counterspelling is not the same as control in general. What Zac means, I'm sure, is decks which seek to counter every spell the opponent casts, which doesn't require thought at all. "He's tapping mana for a spell, so I'll tap islands for a counter." Most control requires a lot of thinking and strategy, but this variant does not.
 -I think what he means by resource-advantage attrition decks are decks that aim to kill as many creatures as they can, typically in two-for-ones (or even more efficient than that). In this case, again, all you have to do is let your opponent get some creatures on the field, then kill them. When your goal is to kill everything there's no need to think "should I kill this?".

Wizards hasn't chosen to make land destruction, or counterspelling, or "prison" cards unplayable. They've just chosen not to give a critical mass which allows universal-answer decks to arise, as those are both thoughtless and not fun to play against.

As for aggro decks, they are not as thoughtless as people seem to think. A properly built aggro deck chooses which one-, two- and three-drops to play based on the opponent's strategy, and every single combat requires some thinking (properly analyzing opponent's tells to know what tricks he has; doing the combat math to figure out how much damage you can get through in various attacking scenarios; risk assessment on which creatures you can safely lose to a blocker; etc.) Saying that "all aggro is is playing dudes and turning them sideways" is like saying "all control is is tapping islands and playing counterspells". Well-built decks in both archetypes are so much more than that.

2.) Fast aggro is just as bad as fast combo.

In some ways, yes. Both decks put the opponent on a clock. The difference, of course, is that almost every deck by default includes ways to answer aggro: creatures. Combo frequently requires very specific cards to stop it, and you have to either maindeck those cards if the combo is common enough, or sideboard and hope you draw your sideboarded answers in games two and three both because you just lost game one when they comboed out unhindered.

Yes, aggro can have opening hands that are just as explosive as some of the most degenerate combos out there, but they're less consistent (you need the perfect one-, two-, three- and usually four- drops in your opening hand, and lands to play them all, versus the combos he means in the article, which only need two cards, and run many ways to find them if not drawn). Also, where a combo is one-sided once it gets started, aggro strategies require attacking, which is the most interactive part of the game: you choose what attacks, your opponent chooses what blocks, both play any tricks.

Again, this isn't Wizards saying they hate combo. It's Wizards saying they hate combos that are so consistent and fast that the opponent loses before they can even start to answer it.

3.) Of course it's not fun to lose to the listed archetypes; losing is never fun.

Not true. In most games, when you lose, it's not because you never had a chance from the start. You can usually pinpoint a bad decision you made, or in the worst case scenario, blame not drawing the card you needed to win/stabliize; the cards that would let you win, however, are at least in your deck so every time you flip a card from your deck into your hand, there's a chance you can gain a victory. That ever-present chance is enough to make the game tense and thus, for most people, fun. I'd rather lose in a close game than win in a blow-out, personally.

Against the listed archetypes, it never matters what you draw. Once your opponent has hit critical mass for his strategy, you're no longer playing the game at all. Anything you draw, with very few exceptions, will be immediately answered without having any impact on the game. You're not dueling, at that point, you're sitting there watching your opponent goldfish until he draws his bomb finisher and finally delivers the coup de grace. Some people may find this fun; they are in the vast minority.

4.) Kill spells are the same as counterspells.

No. A counterspell stops your card before you can even use it. A kill spell, though it can do the same if it is cast the very turn your creature is cast, typically offers a window of use for the card it answers before killing it. When kill spells are too good, and they are killing your every creature before you get to do anything, well, if I'm right then that's what he means by attrition decks on his list. Wizards no more wants universal kill-spell decks than they want universal counterspell decks. The difference is, they can print far more kill spells than counterspells, because kill spells are more conditional, and creatures in need of killing more commonplace.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
One question: after the list of 'unfun' archetypes what're we left with? Basically, aggro? Just.....aggro......
According to Zac not even the current 'control' or 'midrange' decks (which are increasingly becoming the same thing) qualify as fun since they're based on attritioning into 6 drops. And even the 6 drops are an attrition war unto themselves Undecided

How far are they going to take this philosophy? It feels like they're gradually taking more and more crayons out of the box until we're left with only the 'fun' colors. How fun of them!
A few points I didn't cover in my previous post:

1.) Some people like to think more when playing Magic / All aggro is is casting dudes and turning them sideways.

All of the archetypes he listed in the article require very little actual thought to play.
 -Prison control aims to block or pacify every creature the opponent plays. You don't have to think much to go "He played a creature. Answer it."
 -Land destruction (by which he means decks that seek to destroy ALL of the opponent's lands) is by far the most mindless way to play. Blow up their lands until they stop drawing them, then win. You never, ever have to mix it up.
 -Fast combo decks completely ignore what the opponent is doing; all they have to do is get together two or three cards which, when assembled, win for you.
 -"Draw Go" counterspelling is not the same as control in general. What Zac means, I'm sure, is decks which seek to counter every spell the opponent casts, which doesn't require thought at all. "He's tapping mana for a spell, so I'll tap islands for a counter." Most control requires a lot of thinking and strategy, but this variant does not.
 -I think what he means by resource-advantage attrition decks are decks that aim to kill as many creatures as they can, typically in two-for-ones (or even more efficient than that). In this case, again, all you have to do is let your opponent get some creatures on the field, then kill them. When your goal is to kill everything there's no need to think "should I kill this?".

Wizards hasn't chosen to make land destruction, or counterspelling, or "prison" cards unplayable. They've just chosen not to give a critical mass which allows universal-answer decks to arise, as those are both thoughtless and not fun to play against.

As for aggro decks, they are not as thoughtless as people seem to think. A properly built aggro deck chooses which one-, two- and three-drops to play based on the opponent's strategy, and every single combat requires some thinking (properly analyzing opponent's tells to know what tricks he has; doing the combat math to figure out how much damage you can get through in various attacking scenarios; risk assessment on which creatures you can safely lose to a blocker; etc.) Saying that "all aggro is is playing dudes and turning them sideways" is like saying "all control is is tapping islands and playing counterspells". Well-built decks in both archetypes are so much more than that.

2.) Fast aggro is just as bad as fast combo.

In some ways, yes. Both decks put the opponent on a clock. The difference, of course, is that almost every deck by default includes ways to answer aggro: creatures. Combo frequently requires very specific cards to stop it, and you have to either maindeck those cards if the combo is common enough, or sideboard and hope you draw your sideboarded answers in games two and three both because you just lost game one when they comboed out unhindered.

Yes, aggro can have opening hands that are just as explosive as some of the most degenerate combos out there, but they're less consistent (you need the perfect one-, two-, three- and usually four- drops in your opening hand, and lands to play them all, versus the combos he means in the article, which only need two cards, and run many ways to find them if not drawn). Also, where a combo is one-sided once it gets started, aggro strategies require attacking, which is the most interactive part of the game: you choose what attacks, your opponent chooses what blocks, both play any tricks.

Again, this isn't Wizards saying they hate combo. It's Wizards saying they hate combos that are so consistent and fast that the opponent loses before they can even start to answer it.

3.) Of course it's not fun to lose to the listed archetypes; losing is never fun.

Not true. In most games, when you lose, it's not because you never had a chance from the start. You can usually pinpoint a bad decision you made, or in the worst case scenario, blame not drawing the card you needed to win/stabliize; the cards that would let you win, however, are at least in your deck so every time you flip a card from your deck into your hand, there's a chance you can gain a victory. That ever-present chance is enough to make the game tense and thus, for most people, fun. I'd rather lose in a close game than win in a blow-out, personally.

Against the listed archetypes, it never matters what you draw. Once your opponent has hit critical mass for his strategy, you're no longer playing the game at all. Anything you draw, with very few exceptions, will be immediately answered without having any impact on the game. You're not dueling, at that point, you're sitting there watching your opponent goldfish until he draws his bomb finisher and finally delivers the coup de grace. Some people may find this fun; they are in the vast minority.

4.) Kill spells are the same as counterspells.

No. A counterspell stops your card before you can even use it. A kill spell, though it can do the same if it is cast the very turn your creature is cast, typically offers a window of use for the card it answers before killing it. When kill spells are too good, and they are killing your every creature before you get to do anything, well, if I'm right then that's what he means by attrition decks on his list. Wizards no more wants universal kill-spell decks than they want universal counterspell decks. The difference is, they can print far more kill spells than counterspells, because kill spells are more conditional, and creatures in need of killing more commonplace.

Chronego -- I can't really answer all of your points right now, but please understand I think you argued very well.

That said, for me it's not so much that I think aggro is mindless and dumb (it's not -- I'd've figured out how to play it effectively a long time ago if it were) as that I think making the No-No Strategies he lists unplayable (and they are right now -- an LD deck, for example, would just fall over and die, unless I've missed something huge) means rewarding one kind of thinking and one kind of thinker over other kinds of thinking and thinkers.

That's what saddens me. This idea that whole ways of playing -- big ways of playing in the olden days, actually, and how exactly could Magic have survived if it was all a ball of un-fun? -- are automatically "meanie griefers being mean, so we don't like you."
Between Beast Within and Acidic Slime, there are plenty of good cards that incidentally also hit lands. A lot of the green decks I've built lately run some of both, it's actually pretty easy to land destruction something like solar flare out of the game. All of their answers cost 3 or less mana, which means they still usually get to do some stuff, but all of their game winning threats cost 6, so there is a lot of wiggle room there. Plus, you could just colorscrew them out of one of their three colors pretty easily, especially since the best spells cost either WW or BB.

Their ARE solid land destruction spells and greedy mana bases in standard, you just can't rely ONLY on getting a hard lock on your opponent anymore.  
Chronego

I agree with everything you've said. You've put into words some of my experiences playing Magic and the difference in terms of what those strategies entail for opponents facing them. Those strategies listed in the article today prevent the other person from interacting in the game, either through not being allowed to, or by their plays not having any meaning. What it has created is a situation where decks are designed simply to beat other decks or other cards. If there is deemed no viable solution for a card in a format, the card is deemed overpowered and banned. If there are solutions to it, then it forces players to rework their decks to include those solutions.

Building a deck to defeat a powerful deck such as "cawblade, affinity, solar flare, etc" is not my idea of fun and I would wager not many player's ideas of fun. Everybody likes to build a deck that does something but having certain deck strategies out there force decks to conform or build around a smaller selection of cards. For example, hexproof/uncounterable creatures have been way more common recently simply because they are ways around these frustrating strategies listed. However, it's also limiting because it means I need to build my deck with certain creatures to overcome my opponents. Other cool creatures simply cannot win in a standard competitive environment.

While I feel I'm in the vocal minority, I always hate winning a lopsided game due to my opponent having no mana, etc. The interaction dynamic mentioned in the article is the back and forth a good game of magic ideally should have. The strategies outlined today simply turn the game into a one sided affair/goldfishing experiement.

Does anybody remember the world finals back when Mirari's Wake decks were popular? They were apparently the most boring games ever witnessed since they involved cycling decrees to make soldiers and then killing your opponent. Attrition decks at their finest.

I'm pretty sure he's actually referring to Rock-style attrition that use hand disruption (like Duress or Cranial Extraction), 2-for-1 type creatures (Ravenous Rats, Mesmeric Fiend, Sakura Tribe Elder), and recursion (Eternal Witness, or Life from the Loam) to slowly grind out wins. Patch is right that these strategies aren't smart, or even necessarily overpowered. It's that they're safe to play, and boring and unfun to play against.



I can see those decks qualifying as "war of attrition resource superiority" but I am really surprised that Rock-related deck styles would be regarded as unfun or something to avoid. Those decks are very interactive, with a lot of play and counterplay, and I thought they were actually beloved by players. I thought interactive struggles for board control were what r&d wanted the environment to be like!

That's why I'm confused, because I haven't really seen references to this style of deck as "unfun" previously. There have been a lot of explanations of why countermagic is held in check so draw-go doesn't dominate, and why there arent 12 different playable Stone Rain effects in standard anymore, and how Tolarian Academy + Time Spiral decks drove players away, and how Stasis is not really a barrel of monkeys  - but I don't recall ever seeing "resource advantage" or "war of attrition" called out as un-fun previously, and it is really hard for me to grasp what they could mean.

At it's core, the game of mtg is a "war of attrition" in the sense that creatures trade with each other in combat, we constantly trade Doom Blades for creatures in play, we use board sweepers to try to gain card advantage, etc. Obviously they can't get rid of that element of the game! When you boil away the flavor and really look at the nuts and bolts of the mechanics, a game of magic is two players throwing cards at each other and whoever has the last threat that the opponent can't answer, wins. Trading "answers" with "threats" is absolutely fundamental, as is the concept of "resource advantage". I mean, the whole point of card drawing spells, land farming spells, 187 creatures, everything is to gain resource advantage.

That is why I can't really take that comment at face value, and I'd be shocked if archetypes like "the Rock" are now regarded as unfun by development.


i hate hard-locks, but it is long time since we last saw nice soft-lock.
How to Autocard
card: [c]cardname[/c]-> [c]Vampire Nighthawk[/c] -> Vampire Nighthawk
I still love this game, but I really miss exactly those strategies that the majority supposedly hates. Magic is a game about resources, at it's core -- it's really weird to me that resource denial is such a problem for so many. Maybe I'm unfair for feeling people are a bit intentionally dull if they don't want to learn how to play under it or counter it, but sometimes I really do wonder where all the stupid came from.



This is also part of the recent top-down push. From that point of view, Magic is a game about fantasy creatures battling it out, at it's core, and Wizards wants tournament play to reflect that. If Magic didn't had art or flavor, it would have only a fraction of its current playerbase, but it would still have those strategies. That's where the stupid comes from.

Although draw-go is fundamentally flawed on a game design level already.
 @chronego     while i agree with alot of that... my main gripe is that they've deemed these whole archtypes to be unfun because of past experience.. (and hence have been not supporting them... sort of)

while i agree that all those archtypes can be bad if their made into degenerate powerhouses but so can any other archtype. theres nothing wrong with them being allowed to compete as long as they learn from past mistakes and dont make them so powerfull they don't allow that window to beat them.  getting a diversified meta is good for everyone.


 


 

 

 @chronego     while i agree with alot of that... my main gripe is that they've deemed these whole archtypes to be unfun because of past experience.. (and hence have been not supporting them... sort of)

while i agree that all those archtypes can be bad if their made into degenerate powerhouses but so can any other archtype. theres nothing wrong with them being allowed to compete as long as they learn from past mistakes and dont make them so powerfull they don't allow that window to beat them.  getting a diversified meta is good for everyone.


The point made in the article isn't that they're not going to support the archetypes at all, it's that they won't print enough cards for them to allow a critical mass, which leads to the degenerate, unfun decks like pure land denial. We recently got Dissipate and Mana Leak, both of which are rather strong counterspells for control decks. They still do print land destruction (like Acidic Slime); it's essential to answer weird land-based combo decks such as Valakut, or cards like Inkmoth Nexus and Kessig Wolf Run. They're just not printing it at cheap enough costs that you can start blowing up lands on turn two or three, nor in enough numbers to build a deck entirely around it.

Those who love the archetypes can still play them; they just won't be able to rely purely on the one method of choice to win. It's diversity on an individual deck level, as well as at a meta level.

IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
Here's my problem with this, as a *really* long-time player: All of the above strategies should, at least some of the time, be viable.  You should be able to punish ridiculously greedy mana bases, you should be able to grind out games against excessively aggressive opponents, and you should be able to counter or combo someone out of the game.  But at the same time, you should have the tools to defeat any or all of those strategies.  The one thing the article doesn't mention is how quickly the game adapts to the latest "hot" strategy, unless it is something truly absurd, such as Ravager/Affinity or CawBlade.



Amen.  This is exactly the problem with Magic.