11/18/11 LD: "Graveyard Shifts"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.

Bye, Tom.   Pop in from time to time and play some Classic on mtgo.
I'll miss you, Tom. Under your authorship, Latest Developments was one of my favorite articles on the site. I wish you luck in D&D R&D (heh).
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Replies re: a few cards, quibbles, and concerns, Tom.

Armored Skaab / Deranged Assistant:  I was glad to see these cards.  I think one of the key steps in a newbie learning Magic strategy is the "aha" moment when they finally realize that, especially vs. a deck full of four-ofs, milling is more or less irrelevant until/unless it actually kills you.  Until then,  it's as likely to vault you past mana gluts / droughts as it is to harm you.  (Caveat being that control decks with few finishers and few tutors, and combo decks with only one win-con, can be royally screwed by a fluke early mill trigger.)  Aggro decks just shrug and turn men sideways until mill dies.  The "mill is frustrating" problem is similar to the "remove soul is more annoying than terminate" problem:  both are cured when the newbie graduates to truly understanding Magic.

Back to Basics:  I am an EDH fanatic.  I am a diehard blue favoritist.  I am a graveyard recursion *fiend*.  And I love to clone stuff.  Yet I won't run this card in any EDH deck.  Two words:  six mana.  >_<  Just as with Unearth, you guys "fixed" this one so good that no one wants it.  Ugly baby.

Dearly Departed:  Now if only any of the self-mill cards actually worked in a tribal humans archetype!  :P  When my opponent is paying 6 for Consecrated Sphinx or Grave Titan, I'm not going to pay 6 for a downgrade from Baneslayer.  So obviously you're not meant to cast this bad boy.  OK, that's fine.  But...  what does the Humans deck have for self-mill?  Just Ghoulcaller's Bell, Forbidden Alchemy, and Deranged Assistant.  I just don't see it.  :\

(And P.S., WotC, please stop letting Ken talk you guys out of making interesting cards "because it might break Commander".  Are you kidding me?  Commander is utterly broken.  Want examples?  Saffi Eriksdotter, Reveillark, any 187-trigger weenie, any sac outlet.  Have an infinite combo.  Intruder Alarm, Sprout Swarm, anything that uses creatures as sac fodder or to generate triggers (Warstorm Surge)?  There, have another.  Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and...  well, just about ANYthing.  :P  I could go on all day.  The brokenness of any given group's Commander "format" is based entirely on that group's willingness to tolerate its constituent Johnnies.  We are already policing ourselves - I don't put Saffi and Reveillark in the same deck any more, because if I did no one would play with me.  Problems of Commander power level are self-correcting.  We don't need WotC R&D policing Commander.  Print interesting cards instead.)

Dissipate:  I cry BS, Tom.  Rank BS at that.  You justify the continued reprint of weaksauce like Cancel thusly:
"As long as strong players are willing to play the weaker versions of an effect, we're likely to keep making them that way."


I really don't buy this.  Are you trying to imply that if tournament players began a boycott of Cancel (one pictures picket lines and signs saying "Bring Back Counterspell" and "We Demand Remand"), that WotC would look out from their tower and say, "Oh noes!  Quick, minion, fetch me a sheet of two-mana hard counters for our next set!  Cancel's no longer in demand so we must make counterspells better!"

Nonsense.  You guys would say, "SEE?  We told you so:  Counterspells are just no fun.  The players have spoken; it's out of our hands now.  No more counterspells of any kind, since they're clearly so not fun."

You're cherry-picking reality to fit your biases.  The real fact is, good (ie., reasonably cheap and hard or nearly-hard) counterspells make irrational newbies whine, and their dollars matter more to you than the quality of the game from a strategic standpoint.  You could at least be honest about it, instead of this slick and unconvincing blather.

Ghoulraiser:  I really don't see where this couldn't have just returned a Zombie of choice.  It's not like it would have broken the universe.  You talk about Gravedigger recursion like it's a bad thing.  I remember beating a green player once whose highly aura-pumped Spined Wurm couldn't get past my two diggers.  After he lost I showed him a miraculous thing called "trample", green's answer.  :P  Every color has an easy answer to the two-gravediggers problem.  And if there's one thing I disagree with Dr. Garfield about, it's that adding randomness to Magic requires a very light touch, as a little too much easily spoils the game's fun.

Gutter Grime:  You guys are constantly saying why you couldn't do this or that cool thing because it would be too complicated for new players.  I *still* have to reread this thing carefully every time one is played on me.  @_@

Mirror-Mad:  *This* Johnny knows what to do with it.  Phantasmal Image it, then activate the Image's copy of the Phantasm's ability.  Without, of course, any other Mirror-Mads in your library.  Instant, total self-mill.  Just keep a Gitaxian Probe handy and proceed to win with Laboratory Maniac.  

Anyway, I wish you luck on the D&D team, Tom.  Hint:  The more like 3.5 it is, the more likely I am to go back to buying that product line.  Ideally you should change the copyright date and the version number on the cover to 5.0, and nothing else.  We'll let bygones be bygones and forget that anything that rhymes with "Horse Sedition" ever happened...  :P
All I can say is...Can Richard Garfield please design more cards? I love wierd designs, and I've always been sad that I didn't get into this game during time spiral block. That block would have been so fun to draft!
There was a problem with Gravedigger? It sounds like the people who hate him for being 'overcosted' are the same ones who like Craw Wurm (or whatever the current version may be) 'for some reason'. What bugs me about this is that I now detect a 3/3 Gravedigger for 2BB in the future, and I do so hate it when Wizards obsolete the cards in my decks. I know a lot of people saw Exsanguinate and thought 'great, a Drain Life that hits everyone', but I thought 'uh okay, Drain Life was more interesting and is now inexcusably suboptimal'. I'm almost definitely in the minority there, though.

In closing, are we now designing around the threat of infinite Gravedigger recursion? Because if that's 'the worst possible situation' I don't really see the threat. I guess maybe it's an efficient sacrifice target with Heartless Summoning.
Replies re: a few cards, quibbles, and concerns, Tom.


Mirror-Mad:  *This* Johnny knows what to do with it.  Phantasmal Image it, then activate the Image's copy of the Phantasm's ability.  Without, of course, any other Mirror-Mads in your library.  Instant, total self-mill.  Just keep a Gitaxian Probe handy and proceed to win with Laboratory Maniac.  



You could also toss in a Necrotic Ooze and Civilized Scholar for some more consistency. You toss in some Merfolk Looters amd maybe a few Diabolic Tutors and you might, actually, have something...
The "mill is frustrating" problem is similar to the "remove soul is more annoying than terminate" problem:  both are cured when the newbie graduates to truly understanding Magic.



Here are reasons Essence Scatter is more annoying than Doom Blade:

  1. Acidic Slime

  2. Wurmcoil Engine

  3. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

  4. Mogg Fanatic

  5. Cudgel Troll (note how "can't regenerated" is no more on staples like Doom Blade and Day of Judgment)

  6. Sacred Wolf/Ranger's Guile

  7. Mindless Null

  8. Urabrask the Hidden

  9. Unsummon/Lantern Spirit

  10. Momentary Blink 



Also, think about the actual gameplay. The player holding Doom Blade can tap out on his own turn to Blade on the next turn. So maybe he plays a beater himself. The Craw Wurm will then see 2, maybe 3 end steps before it's Bladed to either let an attack through or because it was attacking itself. Either way, game states are changing, things are happening. As opposed to Essence Scatter, where nothing happens, the game state is preserved. 

There are many real reasons why Essence Scatter is more annoying than Doom Blade.  


Back to Basics:  I am an EDH fanatic.  I am a diehard blue favoritist.  I am a graveyard recursion *fiend*.  And I love to clone stuff.  Yet I won't run this card in any EDH deck.  Two words:  six mana.  >_<  Just as with Unearth, you guys "fixed" this one so good that no one wants it.  Ugly baby.



Then you don't play EDH in the way it was originally intended, as a format where you can play crappy 6+ costing cards. Not saying there's anothing wrong with that, just saying this means that there will be a lot of people who are happy with it in their EDH decks =p 

(And P.S., WotC, please stop letting Ken talk you guys out of making interesting cards "because it might break Commander".  Are you kidding me?  Commander is utterly broken.



Fully agreed here =( 

Are you trying to imply that if tournament players began a boycott of Cancel (one pictures picket lines and signs saying "Bring Back Counterspell" and "We Demand Remand"), that WotC would look out from their tower and say, "Oh noes!  Quick, minion, fetch me a sheet of two-mana hard counters for our next set!  Cancel's no longer in demand so we must make counterspells better!"



No, it's not about a 'deliberate' boycot. That they're strong players means they can look at cards objectively, so when they are 'willing' to play a card, that means it has acceptable power level. Thus, as long as Cancel keeps showing up in competitive decks, it's power level is not too far off. 

Ghoulraiser:  I really don't see where this couldn't have just returned a Zombie of choice.  It's not like it would have broken the universe.  You talk about Gravedigger recursion like it's a bad thing.  I remember beating a green player once whose highly aura-pumped Spined Wurm couldn't get past my two diggers.  After he lost I showed him a miraculous thing called "trample", green's answer.  :P  Every color has an easy answer to the two-gravediggers problem.  And if there's one thing I disagree with Dr. Garfield about, it's that adding randomness to Magic requires a very light touch, as a little too much easily spoils the game's fun.



There was a problem with Gravedigger? It sounds like the people who hate him for being 'overcosted' are the same ones who like Craw Wurm (or whatever the current version may be) 'for some reason'. What bugs me about this is that I now detect a 3/3 Gravedigger for 2BB in the future, and I do so hate it when Wizards obsolete the cards in my decks. I know a lot of people saw Exsanguinate and thought 'great, a Drain Life that hits everyone', but I thought 'uh okay, Drain Life was more interesting and is now inexcusably suboptimal'. I'm almost definitely in the minority there, though.

In closing, are we now designing around the threat of infinite Gravedigger recursion? Because if that's 'the worst possible situation' I don't really see the threat. I guess maybe it's an efficient sacrifice target with Heartless Summoning.



The infinite gravediggers thing is just a Limited concern, being common, they have to make sure it doesn't warp the format there.  

Btw, Drain Life can still hit creatures =D
Arrivederci, Tom.  You've been my favorite LD author to date (not that LD is really my column).  Good luck on D&D.
Dearly Departed as printed is much better from a flavor perspective than a version that works with non-Humans.  And Back from the Brink is a gorgeous card whose steep casting cost is perfectly appropriate.
Ghoulraiser and its random-graveyard siblings, however, are annoying.
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I agree with TobyornotToby on more or less everything.

On Back from the Brink, I don't know why it didn't get templated the way I'll play it anyway:

"Pay the mana cost of a creature card in your graveyard: Return that creature card to the battlefield with a brink counter on it. If that creature would leave the battlefield, exile it instead."


Solves all the "bits of paper" problems at a stroke, and feels more like flashback/unearth anyway. The differences from the printed version are pretty much all to do with the token not "really" being the same as the creature card, and surely it's more flavourful and more like "your creatures have flashback" if the Brinked version really is the creature card?

I agree with TobyornotToby on more or less everything.

On Back from the Brink, I don't know why it didn't get templated the way I'll play it anyway:

"Pay the mana cost of a creature card in your graveyard: Return that creature card to the battlefield with a brink counter on it. If that creature would leave the battlefield, exile it instead."


Solves all the "bits of paper" problems at a stroke, and feels more like flashback/unearth anyway. The differences from the printed version are pretty much all to do with the token not "really" being the same as the creature card, and surely it's more flavourful and more like "your creatures have flashback" if the Brinked version really is the creature card?



So in this version, what does the brink counter do? Nothing, really, it's just there. People could skip that step without any problems, and so, many people would. On the other hand, if they phrased it "If a creature with a brink counter on it would leave the battlefield, exile it instead", then that would set up infinite recursion of creatures with Hex Parasite.

If I ever play with Back from the Brink, I probably will play it the way you're suggesting, because using a certain counter (different-colored glass beads or something) to keep track of the "this creature is really a token copy of something that was exiled" trait seems much easier than any way I can think of to keep track of "this token is 3/2 and has flying, this token is 6/6, this token is a Moldgraf Monstrosity..." But mechanically, tokens seem less problematic than anything else.
I was a D&D player before Magic: The Gathering was invented. Over the years, I played more and more Magic, and less and less D&D. One of the most important reasons for that shift was just how much better-crafted Magic is as a game. I hope this move will allow Tom to inject some of that high-quality, high-skill Magic-style development work into the D&D side of things.
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Noooooooo!

I was hopeful with the future of D&D, until now. laPille working in the 5E is very bad news.

I like Tom as an author, but as a developer, he is the the one I think don't really get the game as a whole. Many time he came with "I really don't like this very cool card, tried to kill, but crazy coworker overruled me". Just this article we have the gravedigger/ghoulcaller and mirror-mad.

Can you send Tom to a game I don't care, so I can give him good luck?
I was recently given the opportunity to move over to Dungeons & Dragons R&D. While the decision about whether or not to do so took some soul-searching, it felt right at the time, and it still does. It's going to be strange for a bit, but this way I'll be working on the kind of thing that I care most about.




Good.  I bet MaRo is going to hate retaking the mantle of Community Whipping Post from LaPille!  But man, LaPille's contributions both in writing and development always seemed sub-par to me.  
Tom -

I'll miss your articles; they were one of my favorites of the week.  You provided good insight into development of the game, as well as providing some interesting opinions.  I hope you enjoy your new job working on D&D.
I've enjoyed your articles, Tom.  It's nice to hear you've got a new thing to be excited about.

I guess this is more of a Zac comment now, but:  You really could print Arc Slogger style cards again - why should only Blue mages get interesting cards?  Once again Blue is defined as the only "interesting" color - I don't think that's fair.  You could argue that throwing away your future (library) is very in-flavor for Red.

MaRo is always saying that some card in the set has to be the "bad card".  If that's going to happen anyway, why not let it be a card that's at least interesting and useful to some players?
D&D needs you.  Hopefully Wizards will see your comming as proof that not all players are 13 year- olds, and that the rules of D&D should not be centered around preventing 13 year- olds from quibbling. 
Poll needs a "maybe" option. Whether I do depends on several factors, including who's in the top eight, what else I could do with that time, and how good my internet connection decides to be today.
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Farewell, Tom. I think you did a fantastic job. Maybe you were the kind of guy who "tries to kill crazy cards", but a development team needs that as much, if not more as other kinds of personalities. I'm sure you'll do great for D&D too.


In Innistrad Design, Richard Garfield came up with the idea of returning random cards from one's graveyard to one's hand. That lets us make Gravedigger-like cards cost less because they're weaker, and also reduces the likelihood of infinite recursion. While this was a fine idea, I'm not sure it plays out that randomly in practice. Two Saturdays ago, I drafted a blue-black Zombie deck with two Makeshift Maulers, a Skaab Goliath, and a Corpse Lunge, and there were very few circumstances when I could not sculpt exactly which Zombie I would get back. I was fine with that, of course, since it meant that my Grimgrin, Corpse-Born got to make several encore performances.

I have seen several clever and high-minded Design attempts to fix problems morph into minor hoops for players to jump through to achieve the thing Design was trying to avoid. This instance was extra-weird for me because I was subverting myself. I still don't know if I was supposed to feel guilty or not.


I love those designs because they do succeed, at least in part, at their first goal of making the card weaker, AND their restriction motivates people to jump through hoops to have more control over them. Jumping through hoops is fun !!!

More narrowly, I also like that these abilities allow you to respond to them by putting things in the graveyard that they can return. Effects like Gravedigger's that target ask you to choose the target as soon they are placed on the stack, which prevents that. A Gravedigger cannot return itself to your hand with its ability unless it went to the graveyard as a state-based action as soon as it entered (for example, because you control two Heartless Summonings), but a Ghoulraiser can return itself if you sacrifice it to something in response to its ability. I suppose this somewhat augments the risk of infinite recursion, so that does fight the purpose a little...  :P

On Back from the Brink, I don't know why it didn't get templated the way I'll play it anyway:

"Pay the mana cost of a creature card in your graveyard: Return that creature card to the battlefield with a brink counter on it. If that creature would leave the battlefield, exile it instead."


Solves all the "bits of paper" problems at a stroke, and feels more like flashback/unearth anyway. The differences from the printed version are pretty much all to do with the token not "really" being the same as the creature card, and surely it's more flavourful and more like "your creatures have flashback" if the Brinked version really is the creature card?


Note that this would also modify the interaction with Transform cards. Tokens cannot transform, which is not something everyone knows; I'm sure many a paper match has been misplayed because a player transformed a Back from the Brink token that's a copy of a transfrom card.

The thing is, I'm not sure the template you propose would actually work under current templating rules. Can you really link the same object in a cost and in the effect of an ability (pay the mana cost of a creature : return that creature)? Also, a wording such as yours could cause a bit of confusion as to whether the creature card is cast; you're paying the mana cost... Also, your wording implies that the exile effect is independent from the counter and the counter is just a reminder, but some would think you can remove the effect by removing the counter...

Really, I think they tried to implement it with the same starting idea as yours and then decided that the token thing was the best compromise for all their constraints. I see many people using the actual cards from their graveyards like you and I think it's fine; like you, I just suggest to them that they put some marker on the cards that doesn't count as an actual counter recognized by the game to indicate their status. 
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What bugs me about this is that I now detect a 3/3 Gravedigger for 2BB in the future, and I do so hate it when Wizards obsolete the cards in my decks.


Ugh.  It's even worse when they add to mana cost and try to combine "utility dude" and "beater" in the same body.  I call this the "Skyshroud Troopers Dilemma" - the resultant creature is overcosted if you want a beater, but overcosted if you just want it for an ability.  (Green can do much better than 3/3 for 4, even back in the days of Tempest, and obviously Llanowar Elves is a better mana-dude.)  In the end, it winds up sucking at both.  Recent sets have been egregiously full of this kind of annoyance.

In closing, are we now designing around the threat of infinite Gravedigger recursion? Because if that's 'the worst possible situation' I don't really see the threat. I guess maybe it's an efficient sacrifice target with Heartless Summoning.


Yeah, I really didn't get that either.  I think Tom's overreacting wildly to the terrifying, cosmic power of the universally-dreaded GRAVEDIGGER.  *gasp*  ^_^

Also, think about the actual gameplay. The player holding Doom Blade can tap out on his own turn to Blade on the next turn. So maybe he plays a beater himself. The Craw Wurm will then see 2, maybe 3 end steps before it's Bladed to either let an attack through or because it was attacking itself. Either way, game states are changing, things are happening. As opposed to Essence Scatter, where nothing happens, the game state is preserved.



You just listed a reason why Doom Blade is stronger than a counter, not weaker.  Take this situation:  It is my turn 2.  I am holding Mana Leak.  I could play an Azure Mage or a Ponder, but I choose not to.  (My planned turn 3 play is a Tumble Magnet, let's say, and I'm absolutely certain that vs. your deck, I want to be dropping Magnet on 3 no matter what.)  I pass without casting anything.  You just play a land, turn your one-drop sideways at me, and pass without casting anything.  (And not because you were afraid of a counter - let's just say you had nothing to cast.)  I have just tempo-screwed myself out of two mana and a turn, and maybe out of potentially blocking your one-drop with Azure Mage.  I can't even play catch-up since I still have to spend t3 on my Magnet.  That is the downside of counters.  They are like Doom Blades, but they have a VERY narrow window in which you can use them.  They force not only the opponent, but the counter caster, to play a guessing game where a wrong guess = crushing tempo loss.

This drawback balances out the apparent power of counters quite nicely.  I maintain firmly that anyone who finds counters annoying to play around or too warping to the game has never really sat down and tried to pilot a serious permission deck.  When they learn how challenging that is to do well, their attitude should become more accepting of the power level of counters.  Strong counters, and the guessing game of playing with or around them, provide one of Magic's few ways for true skill to beat "who can afford the more expensive deck".  Don't we want Magic to be more about outplaying the opponent than outspending them?  It honestly confuses me why we're even having this debate.  :\


Then you don't play EDH in the way it was originally intended, as a format where you can play crappy 6+ costing cards. Not saying there's anothing wrong with that, just saying this means that there will be a lot of people who are happy with it in their EDH decks =p


I play all sorts of crappy 6-10 mana cards in EDH that never made the grade in Standard.  Lurking Predators, Rune-Scarred Demon, True Conviction, etc.  Back to Basics just sucks, is all.  :P  I'm saying WotC should take care that when they design a rare to be essentially EDH fodder, they ought to make sure it's not so weak no one will run it in that format either.  B2B is bulk box chaff that won't even get an occasional spot in someone's Riku deck.  What a waste of a rare slot.

No, it's not about a 'deliberate' boycot. That they're strong players means they can look at cards objectively, so when they are 'willing' to play a card, that means it has acceptable power level. Thus, as long as Cancel keeps showing up in competitive decks, it's power level is not too far off.


I get what Tom *claimed* he was saying, but I feel his argument is disingenuous.  I'm saying strong players understand that the game needs to have counters as part of its strategy, and the fact that they're willing to stoop to using bad counters since WotC won't print good ones, is an indicator that the game badly needs *better* counters (and not, as Tom blithely claims, that the current counter power level is OK).  Tom's argument is analogous to saying that you've decided to feed your kid one slice of bread per day and that you've deemed that this is acceptable, because the kid sure jumps on that one slice and gobbles it all up; since the kid hasn't  turned up his nose at this tiny meal yet, clearly it must be all he needs.  Ie., acceptance of a pittance somehow equates to approval of merely getting a pittance.  :P

Magic's need for strong counters can't be measured unless WotC actually prints some again.  I predict they will be used with gusto, utterly demolishing Tom's argument that cancel is all we deserve.

On Back from the Brink, I don't know why it didn't get templated the way I'll play it anyway:

"Pay the mana cost of a creature card in your graveyard: Return that creature card to the battlefield with a brink counter on it. If that creature would leave the battlefield, exile it instead."



Well, that would allow them all to have Flash as well.  Better to have it be templated, 'You may cast creature cards in your graveyard as though they were in your hand.  If you do, those spells have "This creature enters the battlefield with a Brink counter on it.  If it would leave the battlefield, exile it instead."'

This would allow flash and nonflash creatures to be recast appropriately while still maintaining the game's polite fiction that a creature card, a creature spell, and a creature (permanent) are three different things.

Noooooooo!

I was hopeful with the future of D&D, until now. laPille working in the 5E is very bad news.

I like Tom as an author, but as a developer, he is the the one I think don't really get the game as a whole. Many time he came with "I really don't like this very cool card, tried to kill, but crazy coworker overruled me". Just this article we have the gravedigger/ghoulcaller and mirror-mad.

Can you send Tom to a game I don't care, so I can give him good luck?


I hate to agree with something stated so bluntly, but...  Tom did have a bit of a wet blanket rep in Magic.  Just try to remember to put the fun factor first, Tom.  (And of course, you could always just reprint 3.5 with new art in the book and call it a day.  ^_^)
After reading this article, it seems rather clear that Tom didn't really like to work with Richard Garfield.
Either way, good luck, Tom! Wish you the best in your new area!
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Now, now. 1994 doesn't quite qualify as "ancient".
56734518 wrote:
Oh, it's a brilliant plan. You see, Bolas was travelling through shadowmoor, causing trouble, when he saw a Wickerbough Elder with its stylin' dead scarecrow hat. Now, Bolas being Bolas took the awesome hat and he put it on his head, but even with all his titanic powers of magic he couldn't make it fit. He grabbed some more scarecrows, but then a little kithkin girl asked if he was trying to build a toupee. "BY ALL THE POWERS IN THE MULTIVERSE!" he roared, "I WILL HAVE A HAT WORTHY OF MY GLORY." and so he went through his Dark Lore of Doom (tm) looking for something he could make into a hat that would look as stylish on him as a scarecrow does on a treefolk. He thought about the Phyrexians, but they were covered in goopy oil that would make his nonexistant hair greasy. He Tried out angels for a while but they didn't sit quite right. Then, he looked under "e" (because in the Elder Draconic alphabet, "e" for Eldrazi is right next to "h" for Hat) in his Dark Lore of Doom and saw depictions of the Eldrazi, and all their forms. "THIS SHALL BE MY HAT!" he declared, poking a picture of Emrakul, "AND WITH IT I WILL USHER IN A NEW AGE OF DARKNESS -- ER, I MEAN A NEW AGE OF FASHION!" And so Nicol Bolas masterminded the release of the Eldrazi.
57864098 wrote:
Rhox War Monk just flips pancakes, and if games have told us anything, it's that food = life.
56747598 wrote:
76973988 wrote:
This thread has gotten creepy. XP
Really? Really? The last couple days have been roughly every perverse fetish imaginable, but it only got "creepy" when speculation on Mother of Runes's mob affiliation came up?
76672808 wrote:
57864098 wrote:
57531048 wrote:
Nice mana base. Not really.
Yeah, really. If my deck was going to cost $1000+, I'd at least make it good.
99812049 wrote:
I like to think up what I consider clever names for my decks, only later to be laughed at by my wife. It kills me a little on the inside, but thats what marriage is about.
56816728 wrote:
56854588 wrote:
Of course, the best use [of tolaria west] is transmuting for the real Tolaria. ;)
Absolutely. I used to loose to my buddy's Banding deck for ages, it was then that I found out about Tolaria, and I was finally able win my first game.
70246459 wrote:
WOAH wait wait wait
56957928 wrote:
You know, being shallow and jusdgmental aside, "I later found out that Jon infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people"
56957928 wrote:
"I later found out that Jon infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people"
56957928 wrote:
Jon infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates
56957928 wrote:
OH MY GOD
109874309 wrote:
The only way I'd cast this card is into a bonfire.
82032421 wrote:
The short answer is that there's no rule barring annoying people from posting, but there a rule barring us from harassing them about it.
56747598 wrote:
Browbeat is a card that is an appropriate deck choice when there's no better idea available. "No better idea available" was pretty much the running theme of Odyssey era.
56874518 wrote:
Or perhaps it was a more straightforward comment indicating a wish for you to be bitten (Perhaps repeatedly) by a small yet highly venomous arachnid.
70246459 wrote:
58280208 wrote:
You're an idiot, and I'm in no mood for silliness.
57817638 wrote:
57145078 wrote:
You just... Vektor it.
That's the answer to everything.
70246459 wrote:
58347268 wrote:
I think the problem is that you don't exist.
This would sound great out of context!
56965458 wrote:
Modern is like playing a new tournament every time : you build a deck, you win with it, don't bother keeping it. Just build another, its key pieces will get banned.
57864098 wrote:
57309598 wrote:
I specifically remember posting a thread when I was just a witty bitty noob.
You make it sound like that's still not the case.
58325628 wrote:
Rap is what happens when the c from crap is taken away.
Doug Beyer:
But sometimes it's also challenging. Because sometimes OH MY GOD, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS THING?
141434757 wrote:
Flashforward five thousand years (Click for atmosphere) :
57927608 wrote:
to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum, Vektor finds a way.
58347268 wrote:
when in rome **** AND PILLAGE
143229641 wrote:
I always find it helpful when im angry to dress up in an owl costume and rub pennies all over my body in front of a full body mirror next to the window.
Dymecoar:
Playing Magic without Blue is like sleeping without any sheets or blankets. You can do it...but why?
Omega137:
Me: "I love the moment when a control deck stabilizes. It feels so... right." Omega137: "I like the life drop part until you get there, it's the MtG variant of bungee jumping"
Zigeif777:
Just do it like Yu-Gi-Oh or monkeys: throw all the crap you got at them and hope it works or else the by-standers (or opponents) just get dirty and pissed.
57471038 wrote:
58258708 wrote:
It's true that Alpha and Beta didn't contain any cards like Tarmogoyf, Darksteel Colossus, or Platinum Angel. It just contained weak, insignificant cards like Black Lotus, Mox Sapphire, and Time Walk.
Normally it's difficult to pick up on your jokes/sarcasm. But this one's pretty much out there. Good progress. You have moved up to Humanoid. You'll be Human in no time.
91893448 wrote:
94618431 wrote:
I didn't know Samurai were known to be able to cut down whole armies...
They can when they're using lightsabers!
57129358 wrote:
97980259 wrote:
My wife brought home a baby black squirrel they found on a horse track and cared for it for a few days. We named it Grixis, but it died.
Unearth it!
70246459 wrote:
[/spoiler] And I'm on Magic Arcana. How about you? Oh, by the way, I'm also on From the Lab now. Twice, actually. And now with my own submited decklist!
There is a huge difference between Arc-Slogger and this set of cards. Arc-Slogger exiled cards instead of milling them, which is a huge change, and the "drawbacks" of Deranged Assistand and Armored Skaab are very obviously useful, which is also why they're not costed as drawbacks. That's not that difficult to understand. I enjoy these cards a lot and will be playing with them.

About counters: 1UU is simply the fairest price for a counterspell. Reprinting Counterspell would lead to the Lightning Bolt dilemma: the standard is set so high that no other comparable card could possibly compete. Bolt was a standard 4-of in every single Red deck, and Counterspell would be a standard 4-of in every single Blue deck. This is dangerous ground to tread on. Besides, we still get Mana Leak and Blue decks all over the world still get to play permission. The fact that draw-go is dead is not really a bad thing.

Also, the huge difference between Doom Blade and Counterspell is that black cannot play draw-go because its instants just aren't as good. Blue would generate inevitable victories simply by playing instant-speed draw spells at the end of the opponent's turn, guaranteeing victory. Black cannot play this game. Face it, the only way in which Counterspell is reprintable is in a format which lacks instant-speed blue card draw. And man, do Blue fans get angry when they have to draw cards at sorcery speed.

I really dislike the random Gravediggers. I understand their use in Innistrad because there would otherwise be too much recursion, but please let this be a one-time appearance. They're just not nearly as much fun to play with, and it feels like the game is not in your hands, but in the hands of randomness (recur a Grimgrin means victory, recur a Walking Corpse means loss). I play Gravedigger in quite a few decks because they give me a cheap way to recur creatures. I doubt I'll play Ghoulraiser anywhere, except maybe in a deck where it's the only Zombie.

Also, Tom doesn't criticise Mirror-Mad Phantasm at all. To say otherwise is a bit unfair.

To close: thank you, Tom, for writing these articles for so many years. I've disagreed with you on a lot of things in these days, but I enjoyed reading what you wrote anyway, and that counts for a lot. Good luck.
76125763 wrote:
Zindaras' meta is like a fossil, ancient and its secrets yet to be uncovered. Only men of yore, long dead, knew of it.

You just listed a reason why Doom Blade is stronger than a counter, not weaker. Take this situation: It is my turn 2. I am holding Mana Leak. I could play an Azure Mage or a Ponder, but I choose not to. (My planned turn 3 play is a Tumble Magnet, let's say, and I'm absolutely certain that vs. your deck, I want to be dropping Magnet on 3 no matter what.) I pass without casting anything. You just play a land, turn your one-drop sideways at me, and pass without casting anything. (And not because you were afraid of a counter - let's just say you had nothing to cast.) I have just tempo-screwed myself out of two mana and a turn, and maybe out of potentially blocking your one-drop with Azure Mage. I can't even play catch-up since I still have to spend t3 on my Magnet. That is the downside of counters. They are like Doom Blades, but they have a VERY narrow window in which you can use them. They force not only the opponent, but the counter caster, to play a guessing game where a wrong guess = crushing tempo loss.

This drawback balances out the apparent power of counters quite nicely. I maintain firmly that anyone who finds counters annoying to play around or too warping to the game has never really sat down and tried to pilot a serious permission deck. When they learn how challenging that is to do well, their attitude should become more accepting of the power level of counters. Strong counters, and the guessing game of playing with or around them, provide one of Magic's few ways for true skill to beat "who can afford the more expensive deck". Don't we want Magic to be more about outplaying the opponent than outspending them? It honestly confuses me why we're even having this debate. :\



Because you're throwing out the baby with the bath water. It might be about outplaying, but it has turned in a boring game for many.


Yes counters have their drawbacks. But history has shown that the ability to ignore the textbox is enough of an upside to be worth it.


I play all sorts of crappy 6-10 mana cards in EDH that never made the grade in Standard. Lurking Predators, Rune-Scarred Demon, True Conviction, etc. Back to Basics just sucks, is all. :P I'm saying WotC should take care that when they design a rare to be essentially EDH fodder, they ought to make sure it's not so weak no one will run it in that format either. B2B is bulk box chaff that won't even get an occasional spot in someone's Riku deck.


Yes it will. I'll bet you anything on it =p
Within EDH, there are all shades of casual-competitive too.


I get what Tom *claimed* he was saying, but I feel his argument is disingenuous. I'm saying strong players understand that the game needs to have counters as part of its strategy, and the fact that they're willing to stoop to using bad counters since WotC won't print good ones, is an indicator that the game badly needs *better* counters (and not, as Tom blithely claims, that the current counter power level is OK). Tom's argument is analogous to saying that you've decided to feed your kid one slice of bread per day and that you've deemed that this is acceptable, because the kid sure jumps on that one slice and gobbles it all up; since the kid hasn't turned up his nose at this tiny meal yet, clearly it must be all he needs. Ie., acceptance of a pittance somehow equates to approval of merely getting a pittance. :P


All of magic's cards are pieces of food, and the kid can choose between all of them. Your analogy is about quantity, not quality.


Besides, good and bad are relative, otherwise we could say that all draw spells are bad and them being used is no reason not to reprint Ancestral Recall. A deck does not need counterspells in the way that it needs mana sources or a wincon. If counterspells really weren't good enough, competitve players would not make decks with them. As long as they do, they really are not bad.


Only the top quarter of cards ever get played in serious Constructed. If Cancel gets played then it must be better than at least 75% of the cards in the format. And it does get played. Arguing that 'people only play it because they need counterspells' is like arguing that people would play Lightning Elemental in their red decks because they need a creature with haste, but that is not the case. If there's not a good enough haste creature in the format then they wouldn't play any creature with haste - they'd only play Lightning Elemental if it was in fact stronger than any other card they could replace it with.

It's nice to see that 74% of people who've played the current Standard either like it or love it. 
If Cancel gets played then it must be better than at least 75% of the cards in the format. And it does get played.

Volcanic Hammer was played quite extensively back in its day, but it never was an actual desirable card.  You've proven nothing.
It's nice to see that 74% of people who've played the current Standard either like it or love it. 

Because, the Real Truth™ is, it's not some arbitrary percent of cards that are "playable".  What actually gets heavilly played are the very best cards and cards that support those very best cards to make them even more overwhelming.   Now that the $80 mythic menace has gone away, Titans are in decline, and the most expensive thing out there is Snapcaster, it's possible to build a winnable deck without having to starve for a week or two.

Flat powercurves are what the game needs more than aything else.  It's just too bad that these flat power curves only seem to happen when terrible sets are around.
I use mirror-mad to put cards in my graveyard just before I let garruk relentless's ultimate pump it to a 20/16 trampling flyer to attack ftw.
I play Eric: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA823318E42AA7CBA
Flat powercurves are what the game needs more than aything else.  It's just too bad that these flat power curves only seem to happen when terrible sets are around.



'Terrible' in what way? I didn't like Kamigawa from a design perspective, but I think Scars and Innistrad have enough ups.
Flat powercurves are what the game needs more than aything else.  It's just too bad that these flat power curves only seem to happen when terrible sets are around.



'Terrible' in what way? I didn't like Kamigawa from a design perspective, but I think Scars and Innistrad have enough ups.


Okay, you got me.
"Terrible" as in "why the hell should I bother with this set?"

The only other times I explicitly remember Flat Power Curve are Alliances, where everything was either "I think this is awesome" or "huh?" and Mirrodin (before Darksteel broke the format) when equipment was new &amp; awesome.
If Cancel gets played then it must be better than at least 75% of the cards in the format. And it does get played.

Volcanic Hammer was played quite extensively back in its day, but it never was an actual desirable card.  You've proven nothing.



What do you mean with 'desirable' =)
If Cancel gets played then it must be better than at least 75% of the cards in the format. And it does get played.

Volcanic Hammer was played quite extensively back in its day, but it never was an actual desirable card.  You've proven nothing.



What do you mean with 'desirable' =)

Really, Toby? Really?
Are you picking me apart on purpose?

Volcanic Hammer is the Toyota Civic of Magic cards.  It does what it needs to do, but you'd rather be driving a Ford Mustang while doing it.
It's really that simple.

Really, Toby? Really?
Are you picking me apart on purpose?

Volcanic Hammer is the Toyota Civic of Magic cards.  It does what it needs to do, but you'd rather be driving a Ford Mustang while doing it.
It's really that simple.



No, haha, only after the second post I realized they were both from the same thread =p

But that would make Ancestral Recall what? Or a Dark Ritual or Strip Mine. For the health of the game, we shouldn't get the objects of our desires all the time =p


Okay, you got me.
"Terrible" as in "why the hell should I bother with this set?"

The only other times I explicitly remember Flat Power Curve are Alliances, where everything was either "I think this is awesome" or "huh?" and Mirrodin (before Darksteel broke the format) when equipment was new &amp; awesome.



Oh I thought about Kamigawa/Ravnica or Ravnica/Time Spiral. They're flat.
And while Kamigawa can be described as 'terrible', what's wrong with RAV/TSP?
But that would make Ancestral Recall what? Or a Dark Ritual or Strip Mine. For the health of the game, we shouldn't get the objects of our desires all the time =p

You have a point here. The desire of any given player is to make the opponent be completely irrelevant.
what's wrong with RAV/TSP? 

I have no objections to Ravnica or Time Spiral blocks.
(apart from Ravnica not being the Removal Renaissance, but that's entirely a subjective issue)

WotC will not print a 2-mana flat counterspell (yet) because it is too good in the format. Retaining most, if not all flat countermagic to three-mana restrains the control paradigm away from Fish-Control formats, which is currently viable IF there were such countermagic available. In the "Old Days" (such as when Lorwyn-Alara was in Standard, when the game was FUN) two mana counter control wasn't that heavy even given the presence of Countersquall due to the fact that it was two colors, couldn't hit a popular card type at the time, etc. Players want flat counters, and they want them at two mana, which is why Mana Leak is so popular, for even though it gives an out, you have to be careful. But if it is the only countermagic of its kind in this position, then it gets taken. As noted above, some players took Volcanic Hammer simply because it was available, regardless of its inflexibility. There was a time people played Char, and loved it - Char doesn't make it in any format where Lightning Bolt is available.

It's because of this that Cancel is used, not because it is good, but because there is little better. That said, Dissipate being available gives a good strong position over Cancel ... unless you want that card to hit the bin. In this case, that's bad. For Reanimator decks wanting their opponent's graveyard, exiling it is a bad thing. This is what also keeps the card out of people's hands: They want to at least have the option.
"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)
what's wrong with RAV/TSP? 

I have no objections to Ravnica or Time Spiral blocks.
(apart from Ravnica not being the Removal Renaissance, but that's entirely a subjective issue)



And it had a Flat Power Curve right? So, going back to your original comment ("Flat powercurves are what the game needs more than aything else.  It's just too bad that these flat power curves only seem to happen when terrible sets are around."), RAV/TSP would be an ideal to strive for then?
Ravnica was good block.
I wish it had more/better removal, but that's true of every set.
what's wrong with RAV/TSP? 

I have no objections to Ravnica or Time Spiral blocks.
(apart from Ravnica not being the Removal Renaissance, but that's entirely a subjective issue)



And it had a Flat Power Curve right? So, going back to your original comment ("Flat powercurves are what the game needs more than aything else.  It's just too bad that these flat power curves only seem to happen when terrible sets are around."), RAV/TSP would be an ideal to strive for then?



I have to agree completely with Qmark.  I've always thought that the key to designing good magic was to give everyone access to a good curve and give aggro good tools to fight against control.  As a control player I miss the days of Odyssey block when I would go down to 3 or 4 life while playing cunning wish before either stabilizing or losing.  However if you did stabilize then it was very difficult for the aggro player to luck their way into a win (as opposed to making good plays in order to win which I fully support).  Now we have the problem that creatures are so powerful that the low cc critters aren't worth playing because all you need to win is for one titan to hit the board.  On top of that Blue is getting such good creatures that draw go is even more viable now (just counter everythign until you drop concecrated sphinx and suddenly your hand refills and you have a win condition down).  When your late game is as devestating as blues is, you don't need anything but counterspells and draw. (obviously this is a little more general than the actual situation but the concept still applies)
If we take a hypothetical set, and rank the cards from 1 (garbage) to 10 (holy crap!), it seems that Wizards's idea of "flat power curve" is to simply chop off the 9's and 10's (and sometimes the 8's).  That's all my "only when the sets are terrible" point is, really.

The inverse of this is the "typical" set, which seems to omit 8's and 9's and jumps straight from 7's to 10's.
If you have a massive, massive gulf between 1 and 10 on your power scale within a set then in my opinion you have a problem. That said there have been great blocks and sets which still had this problem (like ravnica, compare the very best 10 cards with the very worst 10).

Wizards seems to think it is necessary. I have no idea why. Certainly their explanations as to why it is necessary don't make sense to me.

I agree we now appear to be in the world of jumping from 7 straight to 10.

Innistrad does actually have less garbage cards than most other sets I have played though. It's almost like they weren't trying to make flat out terrible cards this time. Very odd.
Wizards seems to think it is necessary. I have no idea why. Certainly their explanations as to why it is necessary don't make sense to me.



Why bad cards exist or why good cards exist? Or both? =p
Why highly overpowered and highly underpowered cards have to exist.

Not really the same thing as good and bad. Good and bad cards will exist by defnition. Jacesculptor/Baneslayer and Scourge of Numai/Viashino Skeleton have equally little reason to exist as they are though.
Why highly overpowered and highly underpowered cards have to exist.

Not really the same thing as good and bad. Good and bad cards will exist by defnition. Jacesculptor/Baneslayer and Scourge of Numai/Viashino Skeleton have equally little reason to exist as they are though.




As for Viashino Skeleton, my answer is that they make the game less bland. I personally am a big fan of them. Mindless Null and its ilk are a thousand times more memorable than whatever is in the lower end of the middle pack. Contrast makes things fun, distinguishable, memorable. If everything was bland, this would be lessened. Are they a waste of cardboard? As a durable product, yes, but as a non-durable product, they provide a valueable experience. 

As for Baneslayer Angel, I'd say those ones are purely to drive pack sales and bring in more money. But perhaps the model with a flat power curve just doesn't cut it anymore, so it's a necessary evil?  

I would rejoice if Wizards would stop printing Baneslayer/Titans. I would protest if they'd stop printing Viashino Skeleton.  
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