11/14/2011 MM: "Grave Consequences, Part 1"

14 posts / 0 new
Last post
This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
On the Hell's Caretaker balance, I think you might have thought that Recurring Nightmare being unable to sacrifice itself was some kind of balancing factor. The fact that the Caretaker can sacrifice itself to get a creature is kind of a good thing, although not as good as what Recurring does.

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

Imagine if the same logic were applied to say,... a sorceress queen?
The funny thing about Mark's Relentless Assault flavour text is that it's goddamned horrible.

I wonder if he realizes that now? 
In case you were wondering, the rest of the gold atog cycle were: Sarcatog, Lithatog and Thaumatog. And Atogatog to rule them all.

"End of the line." 
Moral of this story - Thank god for modern R&D's quality developing team, keeping MaRo's broken card ideas from seeing print...
I rather have MaRo's crazy ideas and questionable thought process to LaPille and others' ideas of what a Magic game is about. I can't recall MaRo stating Magic is all about creature combat. Rather, he often says he tries to design engine cards and free spells more than to make reanimation targets and aggressively-costed Mythics.

Heck, this article even was all about this philosophy: ETB effecs were supposed to be free in MaRo's initial take on it. Flashback the mechanic and Recurring Nightmare were intended as some kind of engine. Squee itself was an engine card that enabled, among other cards and strategies, Forbid and Survival of the Fittest, rather than just being an hard-to-kill creature.

Do you rather have senseless power creep of the likes of (now obsolete) Baneslayer Angel, the Titans, Jitte, Skullclamp, Ravager and most Planeswalkers? I myself like the subtler nuances, the interactions between cards, that Magic has to offer.
I certainly hate the power level of recent mythics (most notably the Titans). And I certainly like engine cards. But some engine cards, particularly those that bypass mana costs, actually get me very frustrated too. I'm particularly thinking of things like Master Transmuter, who looked really fun until you realised she would just drop things like Inkwell Leviathan and Sphinx of the Steel Wind and then sit there defending them and herself, ready to bounce whatever you target as a cost so you can't even use a second kill spell in response.

So I think I'd most like development as of about 4-6 years ago. Lorwyn/Shadowmoor were lots of fun, and Time Spiral's irritating elements weren't development-related (except perhaps Time Spiral); and obviously Ravnica was just awesome. The stupidly broken engine cards were reined in, and there was a fun balance of possible strategies. After Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, mythic rares appeared, the quality of commons dropped to make up for it, core sets started bringing stupid things like Baneslayer Angel, and the development team basically started acting a lot more like cash-grabbers. 
I too think the period from Kamigawa to Eventide was the best for Standard. We had Faeries dominating at the end of those times, but overall the environment was varied enough.

After that, Alara brought the Mythic rarity and we had a case of an 8-year old boy winning a tournament with a Jund deck, so the block failed hard in my book... Zendikar made Caw-Blade the only deck to play, and Scars feels somewhat bland.

But I do like Innistrad. Sometimes I think it is The Darks and Odyssey done right. I hope it will provide the foundatins for some more awesome years down the road.

Anyway, to the point: Master Transmuter may be annoying, but the Titans and some Planeswalkers are plain outrageous. Transmuter and other engine cards need some commitment, some deck-building decisions in order to bring their best to the table, so it feels rewarding when you manage to get that board state (Transmuter + Leviathan + Sphinx, for example). The Titans or the likes of Jace the Mind Sculptor, on the other hand, are just a matter of resolving them and see them stealing the game , all the while forcing the prices of competitive decks upwards and leaving poor JVL unable to provide good, on-Budget, decks.
Gravedigger came along because we were trying to do something much trickier: draw triggers. During the design I came up with the idea of cards that did something when you drew them. The idea was that the cost of the spell balanced the free spell effect you got upon drawing it (more expensive for a positive effect and cheaper for a negative one). One of the spells was an expensive 2/2 that allowed you to return a creature card from your graveyard when you drew it.

Yes, that card was broken. Yes, we never were able to make draw triggers work.

That's actually a bit of a shame. It sounds like a really interesting idea.

Negative effects would have been pretty much impossible, since there would always be the suspicion that your opponent tried to sneak a draw by you without announcing the negative effect.  ("That?  No, I never drew that.  It was in my opening hand.  I just didn't cast it right away because I was holding it as a backup.")

Between scry, cycling, and other smoothing mechanics, positive effects would almost assuredly be broken today. But back then? Everything that let you draw a card 1) triggered off of other, pricier events, 2) required at least 2 mana, or 3) actually gave you the card at the beginning of your next upkeep.  If the effects were all on the level of Shock at the worst, it might have been workable.  Sure, you would see some decks that just cast cantrips three times a turn, burned for 1 or 2 on each draw, then repeated next turn. But isn't that just another bad version of Sligh?

Oh well. What might have been.
What? No mention of Nemesis or Prophecy? Why those two?

Nemesis gave us Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero. Rebel decks actually inspired me to make tribal commander decks because it was possible to use this. Removal just becomes

Alice: Dark Banishing/Shock on your *insert rebel here*
Bob: Okay, that's fine. Pay , tap Lin Sivvi, he's back.

Or Bob could just crack Lightbringer or Lawbringer and pay and a tap to get him back. You don't even really have to pay all at once, just on one turn and on another.

For Prophecy, Avatar of Woe. I actually had a deck called "Woe and Will" focused on using discard and mill effects to get the avatars in question in play. The discard effects also helped me get Avatar of Woe in play, of course. ;) After that, it's recursion.

In addition, the whole Masques block had creatures called spellshapers, which were just insane in terms of filling up your graveyard. Also on the list of insane graveyard cards was Scandalmonger, which a clever player could use with recursion cards. Or weenies.

The other atrocity in a "history of the graveyard" article is not mentioning Yawgmoth's Will. Generally regarded as the most broken card in Magic, this card (with a little ramp, a real little since this was the same set that gave us the three most broken lands of all time) gets everything out of your graveyard but Phage.
139359831 wrote:
Clever deduction Watson! Maybe you can explain why Supergirl is trying to kill me.
---- Autocard is your friend. Lightning Bolt = Lightning Bolt
Oh, Mark, when will you realize that whenever you've tried to "fix" a broken card, you've made it worse? I mean, Intuition into Gifts Ungiven? Necropotence into Yawgmoth's Will? What the Hey, man? Increasing the mana cost won't actually fix it, and removing drawbacks certainly won't. Laboratory Maniac is fine, and I'm not sure, but I don't think that's your creation.

Personally, however, I'd like to go back to a design philosophy where Limited wasn't the primary constraint on design, where one didn't have to balance drafting and sealed at what would eventually be a "controlled" Constructed environment. You make mistakes like this, such as peppering cards for the sake of spice, while printing so much crap that only works in Limited, the few diamonds become all there is to the set. In many ways, I'd rather prefer an environment like Tempest, with design being basically fun and driven by the sense of "new" and "cool," and you can constraint power by costs and drawbacks. I am sure, of course, that you like to say "players don't like drawbacks," but that leads to problems of just costing the cards as-is, but with removal of said drawbacks, which is like given Blastoderm hexproof instead of shroud. BROKEN.

Honestly, though, it's good you are willing to point our your ridiculous mistakes, but I'd prefer them over the boring that is the 80% filler material in every set now.
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
I'd rather prefer an environment like Tempest, with design being basically fun and driven by the sense of "new" and "cool," and you can constraint power by costs and drawbacks.

Sorry, that can't be.

They used to view design space as an infinite resource and as a result they surely made many cool cards back then. But, 13 years later, one can't expect that many new and cool concepts to be put into every set. They gotta save some ideas for later.

I must agree that drawbacks could be put back into the game though.
Sign In to post comments