10/31/2011 MM: "A Modern Sensibility"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Too bad all we seem to get out of "flavor, dammit!" is added complexity - you know, for flavor.
The last third or so of the article (where it discusses top-down edicts for whole blocks) is the same sort of build-decks-for-them mentality that made Balduvian Shaman's textbox a small novel.

Let's take a look at Rise from the Grave.   If we whack away the complexity of turning stuff into black zombies, it becomes a much simpler card to understand and correctly play, and only loses the edge-cases of Fear and the corner case of the small hanful of cards that reference Zombie. 
It would still be functionally nigh-identical in its practical purpose (reanimation), and not have the added "memory issues" (I thought those are "bad", aren't they?).
Well, half the card face is text box, one might as well fill it up. Good stuff, Takkelmaggot and co.
Too bad all we seem to get out of "flavor, dammit!" is added complexity - you know, for flavor.
The last third or so of the article (where it discusses top-down edicts for whole blocks) is the same sort of build-decks-for-them mentality that made Balduvian Shaman's textbox a small novel.

Let's take a look at Rise from the Grave.   If we whack away the complexity of turning stuff into black zombies, it becomes a much simpler card to understand and correctly play, and only loses the edge-cases of Fear and the corner case of the small hanful of cards that reference Zombie. 
It would still be functionally nigh-identical in its practical purpose (reanimation), and not have the added "memory issues" (I thought those are "bad", aren't they?).



The interesting thing about that is that Innistrad is supposed to be all about flavor but I've seen people on the forums complaining that limited is too vanilla. And there are a lot of vanilla commons, but I think it still works. And I really appreciate the cards that add a few words for flavor, like Rise from the Dead, and recently Olivia. I can turn my opponents creatures into vampires by sucking their blood and then get them to work for me. How cool is that? Seriously. Vorthos matters.

Also, turning a creature black like Rise does will never really be a corner case as long as Doom Blade and the like are around.
More vanilla cards in a flavor block means less negative impact from being distracted by pictures/flavor text/names on cards. :P

If we whack away the complexity of turning stuff into black zombies, it becomes a much simpler card to understand and correctly play, and only loses the edge-cases of Fear and the corner case of the small hanful of cards that reference Zombie.



What the extra text does is avoid giving black access to a card that can get around black's inherent weakness of being black. You can't just dig up an answer to a White Night or Northern Paladin. It's subtle, but it feels "right" to me. YMMV. 

 

The last third or so of the article (where it discusses top-down edicts for whole blocks) is the same sort of build-decks-for-them mentality that made Balduvian Shaman's textbox a small novel.



I figured you were probably referencing some other white enchantment in the Ice Age block that worked nicely with the shaman, but I couldn't recall the card. Which is weird, because I remember puzzling over the Shaman and figuring there was probably an enchantment out there that worked with it. Then I realized that Ice Age came out before I (or most of the other people in my home town) were on the Internet, and I couldn't just look up a spoiler and figure it out ... the card remained a mystery to me. Ye gods, Magic has been around for a long time.

~ Patch 
Balduvian Shaman was meant to change the color your Circle of Protection protected against, in case your opponent was playing a different color than what you brought, or you didn't draw the right one.

Apparently, that was too "brokenly powerful" an effect, so they added the cumulative upkeep cost. 

I've also heard Shaman was meant to be rare but was printed on the wrong sheet.
The "change a color word" card that is printed in about every other set is one I'd be happy to see the end of.  I always seem to open them as my rare.  I agree with Qmark's statement - not necessarily that those things are bad - but that they are contradictory.  You can't take away words that create balance, add words that create flavor, and end up with a simpler set.

Off Topic: It would be nice to get a topic to discuss the Event Coverage in - the fact that Geist of Saint Traft was O-ringed twice in feature matches annoyed me to no end.
While we're going off topic: The example of Stone Rain reminded me of the beautifully elegant cards with three-words-text like Time Stop and Divination, and I wondered about the smallest possible number of words on a spell.

Then I found a perfectly playable but nonexistent one-word spell. Can you guess it?
While we're going off topic: The example of Stone Rain reminded me of the beautifully elegant cards with three-words-text like Time Stop and Divination, and I wondered about the smallest possible number of words on a spell.

Then I found a perfectly playable but nonexistent one-word spell. Can you guess it?


"Proliferate."
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Then I found a perfectly playable but nonexistent one-word spell. Can you guess it?


Proliferate. Perhaps the card name and card text could even be the same?
Bingo. Now I know why Proliferate always looked strange to me as a keyword.
Depending on how you count, "Proliferate" might not even take the title for shortest text box...
IMAGE(http://gatherer.wizards.com/Handlers/Image.ashx?multiverseid=1332&type=card)
Depending on how you count, "Proliferate" might not even take the title for shortest text box...


Yeah, but that only works because of it being an older Aura and thus having "Enchant Creature" on the typeline instead of the text. Plus the lack of description on the ability. It may have a shorter text box, but the gatherer text is much longer.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
Depending on how you count, "Proliferate" might not even take the title for shortest text box...


Yeah, but that only works because of it being an older Aura and thus having "Enchant Creature" on the typeline instead of the text. Plus the lack of description on the ability. It may have a shorter text box, but the gatherer text is much longer.

See also Ardent Plea. Either of that card's two rules-text words could stand alone as an interesting enchantment card on its own; the latter could also go on a sorcery, which would be fewer characters than "Proliferate".
...the latter could also go on a sorcery, which would be fewer characters than "Proliferate".

True, but what good would the spell do other than raising the Storm count? Ok, could be an instant in a creature deck to flash some critters onto the table, but still...
...the latter could also go on a sorcery, which would be fewer characters than "Proliferate".

True, but what good would the spell do other than raising the Storm count? Ok, could be an instant in a creature deck to flash some critters onto the table, but still...


Enchantment with sack effects around ?
Alara Reborn development actually had a 2-cost spell whose sole effect was to cascade, but it was canned after they realized it made the Hypergenesis deck far too easy.
That space played up our transformation theme but left plenty of future design for double-faced cards if we chose to use them again. (Early reports, by the way, say their return is looking pretty good—although not for a number of years.)



I have to wonder who you're talking to that always seems to think so highly of DFCs, because I'm not hearing it among any of my local players, or in any online forums either for that matter.

An interesting thing about this shift is that we came to realize that vast majority of the players actually enjoy having material come back. One of the most common questions I get about Innistrad, for instance, is: Why didn't     (fill in the blank)     come back? Nostalgia has proven to be a very potent force for design, one that R&D has learned to tap.



I'll definitely agree with this - I always enjoy the nostalgia of older cards.  Here's an idea:  how about printing a new compilation set like Chronicles, putting together a lot of past favorites.  With players' penchant for nostalgia and the rise of the new Modern format, it's sure to be a big hit.  Maybe printing a small set like this (outside of the usual blocks of course) in order to supplement Modern, Commander, and Vintage/Legacy could become an annual event?  I'd certainly look forward to it.
Here's an idea:  how about printing a new compilation set like Chronicles, putting together a lot of past favorites.

Due to the obsession of "you know know, for Limited" and the continued existence of the Reprint Policy, any such set would be terrible.  It would essentially be Masters Edition without any of the cards we really want - likely even worse than Chronicles overall.
I have to wonder who you're talking to that always seems to think so highly of DFCs, because I'm not hearing it among any of my local players, or in any online forums either for that matter.

Mybe they're just not telling you.
I have to wonder who you're talking to that always seems to think so highly of DFCs, because I'm not hearing it among any of my local players, or in any online forums either for that matter.

Here's one!

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

I have to wonder who you're talking to that always seems to think so highly of DFCs, because I'm not hearing it among any of my local players, or in any online forums either for that matter.



Likely a more diverse sample that is on avarage less enfranchised.
I was interested in the discussion of "conservation of design space".  I understand that going to far down the mechanical resource mine could damage the game in the long term, but if I as a player exhaust all of the mechanical resources in the set (by playing with them all), then I will quickly become bored of the set.  If I do that through too many sets I will become bored of the game.

As a limited player, I can't say that I've felt compelled to play a lot of games with any set since Alara (and even Alara was pretty shaky), with the noted exception of Rise of the Eldrazi.  Perhaps it's due to the economic downturn, but I just don't feel as compelled to play Magic.  It just seems that each set has a dominant strategy and playstyle, and you either play that or lose.  For Zendikar it was landfall, and for Scars it was poison.  I get that in Innistrad you want me to play with Warewolves.  If you don't find that dominant way fun, you will quickly lose interest in the set.

I'm becoming more discerning in what sets I will play with.  In this economy, I'm not going to throw money at Magic just because it's there.  I have not yet touched Innistrad because it didn't look compelling to me. 

What I'm trying to say is that while beating face is very fun, I also want the option to with with a slower, yet viable faction.  I'd also like to win with a weaker, yet slippery faction.  The color pie should represent not just mechanical restrictions (my Blue warewolves fly while my Green ones cannot), but also play style delineations.
Here's an idea:  how about printing a new compilation set like Chronicles, putting together a lot of past favorites.

Due to the obsession of "you know know, for Limited" and the continued existence of the Reprint Policy, any such set would be terrible.  It would essentially be Masters Edition without any of the cards we really want - likely even worse than Chronicles overall.



If it's done outside the normal block sets, it can be done separately as something that doesn't take limited into account, but it could be a product printed purely to support other formats.  Draft events and the like could still focus on the usual block sets that come out every three months, with the compilation sets being more akin to Archenemy/Commander/Planechase decks, Duel Decks, From the Vault, etc., just sell it in booster or some other collectible form.  In printing unique cards just for Commander, WotC has already opened the door a crack to the idea of printing cards or sets that are not designed with limited in mind, they just need to be willing to wedge the door a little further.

I agree that the Reprint Policy does create some limitations; personally I would prefer to see the whole policy just go away.  I've been playing magic since the early days (Unlimited), and I personally would not feel any devaluation of my collection if new versions of the cards were printed.  What is more important to me is the health and life of the game, and part of that is the eternal formats.  MaRo admitted that nostalgia is an important part of the game, but with each passing year, as paper products degrade and the player base grows, it gets more difficult for players to get access to the popular cards for these nostalgic formats. 

I know that when it comes to the Reprint Policy, Wizards makes a big deal about keeping their word, but frankly I think we've reached a point in time where the policy is outdated and does more harm than good, and most of the customers don't really care if this particular promise is kept.  Maybe I'm way off base in thinking that, but that's just been my casual observation.  At the very least, the policy needs an expiration clause, such as not having any of the cards on the list reprinted within X years.  If you make X long enough (maybe 10 years?) than it won't matter if you reprint the cards; there will be a significant difference between the older and newer printings, and the older ones will be in such short supply that they will still hold a decent value among collectors, while not impacting other players' access to functional versions of these cards for eternal formats.
At the very least, the policy needs an expiration clause, such as not having any of the cards on the list reprinted within X years.  If you make X long enough (maybe 10 years?) than it won't matter if you reprint the cards; there will be a significant difference between the older and newer printings, and the older ones will be in such short supply that they will still hold a decent value among collectors, while not impacting other players' access to functional versions of these cards for eternal formats.

The reprint policy has already existed for sixteen years, and hasn't added any cards to itself for a dozen years.
At the very least, the policy needs an expiration clause, such as not having any of the cards on the list reprinted within X years.  If you make X long enough (maybe 10 years?) than it won't matter if you reprint the cards; there will be a significant difference between the older and newer printings, and the older ones will be in such short supply that they will still hold a decent value among collectors, while not impacting other players' access to functional versions of these cards for eternal formats.

The reprint policy has already existed for sixteen years, and hasn't added any cards to itself for a dozen years.



Exactly my point.  Since they haven't been adding any more cards to the list in that time, WotC is basically admitting that the policy is a bad idea, because it ties their hands for future products and limits options and card availability.  The only reason I'm aware of that the policy is still in effect is their stubborn desire to keep a promise which (I would presume) most of their customers would prefer that they didn't.

Maybe I'm wrong about this; there could easily be a good chunk of Magic players who think that the Reprint Policy as it stands is a good thing.  But at the very least, it deserves a little bit of research to determine whether that is actually the case!
Exactly my point.  Since they haven't been adding any more cards to the list in that time, WotC is basically admitting that the policy is a bad idea, because it ties their hands for future products and limits options and card availability.  The only reason I'm aware of that the policy is still in effect is their stubborn desire to keep a promise which (I would presume) most of their customers would prefer that they didn't.

Maybe I'm wrong about this; there could easily be a good chunk of Magic players who think that the Reprint Policy as it stands is a good thing.  But at the very least, it deserves a little bit of research to determine whether that is actually the case!



The way more open people (like Aaron Forsythe) talk about the Reprint Policy makes me believe as a company they really want to do away with it, but it would have serious consequences, like getting sued for billions. It's shrouded in mystery, but they're not happy about it, and they know the larger playerbase is not happy about it.
They have definitely implied that breaking the reprint policy would be extremely bad for them as a company. But yeah, it isn't actually clear why and they have made oblique reference to being unhappy with it as a policy.

So I would assume it's something like they'd be hit with lawsuits. It took them a long time to even start using promo sets to get around it so clearly it's serious stuff.