11/16/2011 Stf: "It's Not a Discard Pile"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Savor the Flavor, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Makes you wonder how the game would be different if the graveyard had been called something else.  It's strange that I think people readily think of a literal graveyard when it comes to playing the game, but I would be hesistant to imagine an actual library when I draw a card, unless I'm indexing or something.

I wonder what the game would be like if EVERYTHING was in flavor terms...

Mind Rot
Sorcery

Target enemy forgets two ideas.

 
Yeah, you pull on the assistance of a Planeswalker from the moment in which the spell was made, so specifically from another dimension, another time in which that planeswalker was exactly that planeswalker. He's not necessarily the same guy today. Anyway, why did he let you put him in spell form? You decide that yourself, and keep a close eye on his loyalty, that says something in general about how much he trusts you with his assitance. He wouldn't let you create the spell if he didn't think it was beneficial to him (or had no control over whether you sealed a version of him in the spell or not).

Anyway, once the loyalty is out, that version of him no longer sees it beneficial to assist you, and leaves. The spell form of him that proves you cast him remains, however. Something like a seal or pendant, some essence of him that you can sometimes restore back to full magic with Sun Titan or something similar. Losing loyalty requires him to use abilities or take damage, and in either case he's going to leave behind a trace of his essence, and that's what Sun Titan's ridiculous restoration magic targets.

A real bonus question is the legendary rule and Planeswalkers. The basic idea is that you can have multiple Necropedes in play, but you can't have multiple Jaces running around, whether it be his past forms of Beleren, mind sculpter, or not. And deciding why it is he can't interact with himself, recall that I said he's from a different dimension, a different time. Magic plays with the notion of this time travel with the grandfather paradox. Put simply, Jace can't find himself from years ago or from years forward, it's impossible for the two to exist at the same time and possibly kill one another. So calling out another cancels the first version and puts an essence of this interaction into both graveyards.

Then what your concern is who will be the first to call upon him next?

Of course this is all just personal logic on the matter.

Mind Rot
Sorcery

Target enemy forgets two ideas.

That's almost the exact terminology my playgroup has adopted and it's awesome.

We don't draw to put cards into our hands, we study in our libraries to bring thoughts to our minds.

I was overjoyed when Wizards chose to transition to "the battlefield," "exile," and "dies, " and I've always hoped that they would come to adopt new terminology around the hand and drawing as well. On the whole, using the word "thought" for a card in the hand and "forget" for discard would save them card real estate and, even though it's not shorter, I just think "studying" for drawing is so much more flavorful.

Mind Rot
Sorcery

Target enemy forgets two ideas.

That's almost the exact terminology my playgroup has adopted and it's awesome.

We don't draw to put cards into our hands, we study in our libraries to bring thoughts to our minds.

I was overjoyed when Wizards chose to transition to "the battlefield," "exile," and "dies, " and I've always hoped that they would come to adopt new terminology around the hand and drawing as well. On the whole, using the word "thought" for a card in the hand and "forget" for discard would save them card real estate and, even though it's not shorter, I just think "studying" for drawing is so much more flavorful.


As much fun as that would be... No. Please no. This is not a simple game, and it already has a steep learning curve. Calling your discard pile the graveyard and play the battlefield is fairly intuitive. Library for deck is less so, but still pretty basic. Making discard "forget" and your hand "current ideas"? That's going to push the game further into an area where before you can start teaching you have to explain why everything has weird names. It's still a game, and sometimes the ability to figure out what's going on trumps flavor.

Plus, getting some players to understand when something is a spell and when it's a card and when it's just a permanent is complex enough. Extra terminology would just lead to even more confused new players insisting that a card does something weird just because they don't understand the terminology. Especially at this point, renaming entire zones should only happen when it is absolutely necessary since doing so changes the oracle wording on thousands of older cards, which in turn means that new players have to learn two sets of terms in order to play effectively.

As a final note: You can't make it all make sense anyways. The game has thousands and thousands of cards, and trying to get all of them to make sense within the rules is impossible. Now if you'll excuse me, I have an armor wearing, sword wielding,  and zombified wall to deal with. Please get back to me when you've managed to justify that flavorfully.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
Dragon Nut, I definitely see what you're saying and agree with it to an extent. At the same time, I've taught a lot of people, a number of whom haven't really had much prior gaming experience aside from traditional card games and stuff like Monopoly, to play Magic and most of them haven't had any more trouble with the concept of drawing cards as studying or of cards-in-hand as thoughts than they had coming to terms with calling a card a creature or a discard pile a graveyard.

Ultimately, they're all just mnemonic metaphors for those who are willing to use their imagination while learning to play and, in an even more abstract sense, they're just labels, the same way that a certain set of black and red dots on a series of cards just happens to be arbitrarily called a flush sometimes. It would just be another part of the game and would help with immersion for many. But, as I said, I can see where you're coming from. At a certain point immersion should take a back seat to ease of entry into the game. I just think the bar for immersion can be set higher than it already is without scaring off any more players.

The kind of person who's already committed enough to learn how to play an, admittedly very complex, game that pretends cardboard rectangles are minotaurs is also going to be committed enough to pretend that those minotaurs are just thoughts in a fictional wizard's brain if they happen to be holding them in their hand.
The problem, as hinted above, is that the "graveyard" only works in context to creatures. And while creatures are the game's bread and butter, it doesn't tell you anything about how you have to treat other cards that end up in "the bin." A sorcery card doesn't go to a graveyard, because why, flavoristically, would a mage try to find a convenient cemetary to cast his knowledge spell, or Bribery his opponent? This just deals with the fact that each card type is essentially competing with each other for its own flavor when dealing with zones, with the exception of "hand," which remains consistent in all aspects in [virtually] all card games.

A graveyard only works when referring to creatures.

"Forget" only works when dealing with a spell that somehow represents a scroll or summoning element, a thing that actually makes sense when referring to how Magic originally flavored and conceptualized the cards in art, including having a parchment-like text-box.

This somehow shifted to having the cards "represent" the things they were connected to, with summon cards becoming the creatures in all zones, while instant and sorcery cards did not. Enchantments and lands have all pretty much represented objects of one sort or another, and could be recovered as objects, but not so instants and sorceries, whose effects were esoteric. Certainly, cards like Merchant Scroll blur the line, and may lead to the illusion that the cards themselves represent the spells and vice versa.

I think that there was an effort at rebranding that only went so far because at the time, it could only go so far. One cannot rebrand other aspects of the game without slipping down the Gerry's Game slope of over-fantasizing the reality of the structure. Your top tourney goers do not care what the zones are called, and they are the guys who represent the game to other games, and make the biggest bucks (as it were). Sometimes, you have to stop yourself and allow the discard, hand, and draw piles be precisely what they are.
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
But when you clothe those zones in flavor, suddenly new mechanics occur to you that were not apparent from just tweaking the nonrepresentational card-manipulation mechanics. The flavor of the graveyard allows a door to creak open to new ways of thinking about those cards, ways that focus on particular types of card manipulations and might even be inelegant to express in the rules. The flavor of the graveyard, for its part, has given rise to abilities like unearth, recover, flashback, delve, soulshift, and more indirectly, to haunt, retrace, offering, and madness.



I beg to differ. MaRo explained in his monday article how Flashback was created from a purely mechanical perspective. I'm pretty sure 90% of all mechanics can be created as 'generic and abstract' mechanics. They just get a flavor coating.

The flavor helps extend the designer's brain past what's simple or obvious to do within the rules. Sometimes it even forces rules text into strange contortions in order to fit the flavor intended. For example, haunt, the Orzhov guild's keyword ability in Guildpact, is not exactly easy to represent in rules terms (although its reminder text is much cleaner these days given the advent of "dies" and "exile"). But haunt's flavor of dead creatures haunting the living is nicely graspable, and it adds a cool, spectral angle to a guild led by a council of ghosts.



Really??? Haunt is one of the worst mechanics in Magic, right up there with Bands with others and Substance...

I think that there was an effort at rebranding that only went so far because at the time, it could only go so far. One cannot rebrand other aspects of the game without slipping down the Gerry's Game slope of over-fantasizing the reality of the structure. Your top tourney goers do not care what the zones are called, and they are the guys who represent the game to other games, and make the biggest bucks (as it were).



Not true. Magic's competitive scene only amounts for a small part of its revenue.


Mind Rot
Sorcery

Target enemy forgets two ideas.

That's almost the exact terminology my playgroup has adopted and it's awesome.

We don't draw to put cards into our hands, we study in our libraries to bring thoughts to our minds.

I was overjoyed when Wizards chose to transition to "the battlefield," "exile," and "dies, " and I've always hoped that they would come to adopt new terminology around the hand and drawing as well. On the whole, using the word "thought" for a card in the hand and "forget" for discard would save them card real estate and, even though it's not shorter, I just think "studying" for drawing is so much more flavorful.



While I like the more flavorful approach Wizards is taking, here are some problems I see:
1. 'Draw' and 'Hand' are such iconic words for card games, they feel hard to replace. Then again, isn't 'Discard Pile' somewhat iconic too...
2. 'Library' and 'Hand' are both somewhat abstract, vague and overlapping subjects. Many discard and mill cards both show 'mind attacks'. I'm not sure if you give them both concrete flavor whether you can separate them enough in a satisfying way. Or maybe it's actually a good thing to separate them more.
3. Alright, maybe I should make a point I don't rebut myself, if you'd call 'draw' 'study', it really becomes a Blue thing. Historically the flavor has already proven problematic; Blue has been a very strong color and had 90% of all mechanics, because the flavor of the color is almost like the flavor of the game itself. When Black or Blue are summoning a creature, they're both sending it to the Battlefield. When Black, Green or Red are drawing cards, they're not studying though.
4. It might get messy. 'Dies', for example, if I'm building a casual Greater Gargadon deck, and I want to look for cards that have effect if I sacrifice them, I now have to look up both 'dies' for specific instances and the more general 'when is put into a graveyard from the battefield'. If your lingo is too much flavorful and too little techincal, it might become too much of a mess.

That said, I love how they're experimenting with this lately and I do think they have room for more =)
For example, haunt, the Orzhov guild's keyword ability in Guildpact, is not exactly easy to represent in rules terms (although its reminder text is much cleaner these days given the advent of "dies" and "exile").



Since haunt refers to card and not creature, since it is not a creature specific mechanic, the addition of dies does nothing to its reminder text. 

At least, not until dies gets to apply to anything going from the Battlefield to the GY, something that will inevitably happen.  Something that should just have been done from the get go, actually, if flavor hadn't interfered with common sense.
"morality-defying dark arts"

And mortality-defying!
I have never played a card game that has a zone called the discard pile, and when I was introduced to Magic several years ago graveyard made 100% complete sense to me as a general name for where dead things go, even counting the non-creature spells. Discard pile sounds awful and I'm glad Magic didn't use that.
I have never played a card game that has a zone called the discard pile, and when I was introduced to Magic several years ago graveyard made 100% complete sense to me as a general name for where dead things go, even counting the non-creature spells. Discard pile sounds awful and I'm glad Magic didn't use that.



Didn't Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh use it?

Also, for regular card games with a normal pack of playing cards, what do you call it in English? Discard Pile, or Trash Pile, or? 
In regular card games it's (usually) officially the discard pile, but no-one calls it that. In fact no-one calls it much of anything because the interaction with it is lmited to 'shuffle it back into the deck'.

In my experience people just call it the bin, or a pile of cards that are 'done with' or 'out of the way' or something.


On haunt: I believe haunt is the worst mechanic after banding (and all its variations). It is unintuitive, hard to remember and most damningly for a 'flavour' mechanic it makes no sense if you try to imagine what's actually happening. The card goes to the grave, sure, comes back haunting something else, sure, that makes flavour sense. Then when that thing that's being haunted dies, the haunty thing does the same thing it does when it first came into play when it was alive,... huh,.. what?

It would make more sense if it just came back as a sort of enchantment which could give a bonus or malus. A creature that dies then comes back in spirit form to haunt another creature and scare it (make it so it can't block maybe) or to protect it (giving +2+2 or protection from X or something). That would make sense. Of course it would be a rules nightmare (see licids). But how they actually implimented haunt is horrible.
For example, haunt, the Orzhov guild's keyword ability in Guildpact, is not exactly easy to represent in rules terms (although its reminder text is much cleaner these days given the advent of "dies" and "exile").



Since haunt refers to card and not creature, since it is not a creature specific mechanic, the addition of dies does nothing to its reminder text. 

At least, not until dies gets to apply to anything going from the Battlefield to the GY, something that will inevitably happen.  Something that should just have been done from the get go, actually, if flavor hadn't interfered with common sense.

Looks like you should look up Haunt again. Noncreature example: Cry of Contrition. Creature example: Blind Hunter.
"When the creature Cry of Contrition haunts is put into a graveyard" has already been errataed to "When the creature Cry of Contrition haunts dies".

And Blind Hunter gets to use the new terminology twice:
"Haunt (When this creature dies, exile it haunting target creature.)
When Blind Hunter enters the battlefield or the creature it haunts dies, target player loses 2 life and you gain 2 life."
I have never played a card game that has a zone called the discard pile, and when I was introduced to Magic several years ago graveyard made 100% complete sense to me as a general name for where dead things go, even counting the non-creature spells. Discard pile sounds awful and I'm glad Magic didn't use that.


I have 150 board games. A good proportion of them, somewhere between 25% and 50%, have cards. Of those games which use cards, virtually all of them use the words "discard pile". From big-name games like Dominion, Race for the Galaxy, San Juan and Alien Frontiers, to obscurities like Alexandros and Cat Attack, "discard pile" is extremely standard terminology.

That said, I like that Magic uses "graveyard" instead.  
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