11/28/2011 MM: "Eighteen Years"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
With all the evolution within Magic R&D being a great thing, even though I'm not very fond of where it's heading, I think many players would be delighted to have some Magic sets designed with left-brained logic and maths in mind.

I know Time Spiral block was a very complex thing. It was possibly the most difficult block to grok ever in magic history, but it was a heaven for those left-brained people. Those infinitely long limited games when a single spell can shift the whole board state are really really complex, but there's possibly no better experience in Magic for the hardcore audience.

Moreover, there's no problem for those 'logic' blocks to have some good resonance. Ravnica did it the best way, and it's possibly the pinnacle of good design. Innistrad struggles to be there too, but it's not quite there yet in my opinion.

Thanks for changing, R&D. I just hope that you'll keep changing forever no matter what. Keeps the game alive and kicking.
With all the evolution within Magic R&D being a great thing, even though I'm not very fond of where it's heading, I think many players would be delighted to have some Magic sets designed with left-brained logic and maths in mind.

I know Time Spiral block was a very complex thing. It was possibly the most difficult block to grok ever in magic history, but it was a heaven for those left-brained people. Those infinitely long limited games when a single spell can shift the whole board state are really really complex, but there's possibly no better experience in Magic for the hardcore audience.

I started the game during Time Spiral, and can honestly say that I loved learning the game with that block. Was it complex? Yes. Did it have a lot of things I had to keep in mind constantly? Definitely. But that just pushed me to learn faster, and learn better, than if I'd been introduced to the game during a block filled with vanilla chaff and french vanilla limited fodder. I love Innistrad, but if I'd started the game this year, I seriously doubt I'd ever be even halfway to understanding the rules as well as I do now. Cards are no longer allowed to reference or mess with the stack, so how are people supposed to learn stack manipulation skills? Cards are no longer allowed to have downsides, so how are people supposed to learn that sometimes a little pain is worth it to get ahead in the long game? And when the power level disparity is as huge as it is now with mythic rares, players learn that money, not skill, is what wins them games. What incentive is there to get better when you can just spend more to win?
Yes, the game is more accessible these days. I'd argue that this is not a good thing, though, as it's only serving to stunt the growth of people picking up the game in recent times. Unless you have a more experienced friend to teach you all the intricacies, you'll never be as good a player as someone who played in the days of complexity.

I don't mean to be so negative. I love Magic: the Gathering. It's still one of the most intellectually stimulating games around, even with the downward slide in complexity of late. Also, I understand why Wizards is making the decisions they are: it all comes down to making money. They're a business first. This is not a bad thing in any way; if they weren't putting money first, they'd not be able to keep making the game we all love so much. So keep up the good work, Wizards. Just because I don't personally like how things are going doesn't mean I don't approve of the changes.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
Indeed, Time Spiral sold poorly so we're not going to get another. 

Mentioning the stack was never common. It's still allowed as much now as ever, it's just only used when it absolutely had to. 
Downsides have greatly decreased, but we still have a few. M12's phantasmals, or phyrexian mana.

As always, I'm curious to get your feedback on what you thought of today's article.

With all the different names and titles, I had a very hard time processing it all.
I think it would've greatly helped if you had a graphic accompanying each dynasty (in-theme, maybe some royal family tree or something)  
I thought today's article mostly repeated points Mark has addressed earlier about the different epochs of Magic history, and even about these specific individuals' routes into R&D. They're good, insightful things to say; I've just heard them before, minus a few personnel notes.

For Transformation Week, given that he wanted to talk about R&D members, I would've been very interested to hear about the evolution of one or more designers who've been on multiple teams over the years. Maybe even illustrating their growth across the Ages of Design structure he's outlined before. Like a more thorough version of: "Tinsman designed Scourge and Saviors of Kamigawa [this way] because he was hemmed in by pre-Ravnica design structure, and Rise of the Eldrazi [this way] because of [X]."
I am new to the forums/responses on the online world, but have been playing MTG for too many years.  R&D needs to look at EDH and sealed/drafting formats more when developing new cards in each set.  Its more fun due to the randomness of play.  Please consider more "randomness" effects in cards like Timespiral block (very random set of cards in a block).  Lorwyn's card effect "clash" and Shard's "cascade" effects are interesting and fun.  Poison counters getting out of control with "infect" ruined cards like Blazing Shoul or Stonewood Invocation. I know R&D is trying follow the Theme of set phases, but the R&D teams maybe trying to hard to make a set or card that sells at a high rate # and price.  Sets and cards need to be developed to keep the poor-middle income client interested in playing. Are the teams building a number of cards from a set to maintain standard format play costs with a few cards benefitting modern or legacy? Or, are the R&D teams developing sets to maintain player's replay values in all the formats for consistant fun for lower income individuals.

Learning about the R&D teams is interesting, but that is for the folks who like the behind the scenes news. Do you all hit your head on the toilet to generate ideas like the professor did to create the flux capacitor or like I do. Eating meals among friends while watching re-runs of Stargate SG-1?    


Thanks to all the teams hard work in developing sets and listening to the players.       
I read the theme of this week, then the title of this article, then the first paragraph outlining the structure of the article, and I swear I thought at the end, MaRo would pop up and say something about 'end of my dynasty' and announce his moving somewhere else.

I'm not sure if I've been next-leveled or simply reading too much into the OBVIOUS classic narrative that was being used. :D
1. I absolutely detest the concept of using a mechanic to define the block. It's like having your planes become the planets of the Star Wars universe. As parodied by Robot Chicken:

"What kind of cruel god would decree a whole planet defined by just one topographical feature? It would be just as ridiculous as a whole world made of nothing but ice, lava, or forest!"

It's the type of thinking that lead us to Mirrodin, and then its return, in the first place, and that type of thinking that tells us the mechanics of the world should somehow all relate in a way (e.g., too much synergy can be a bad thing).

2. This is by far the smallest number of comments the day after the post goes up for any MaRo article I have ever seen. It is usually the most busy aside from the monthly Arcana, etc., threads.
"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)
Indeed, Time Spiral sold poorly so we're not going to get another.



Yeah, it's a grave shame.

I do wonder if Wizards intend to ramp up the complexity some time as a part of the cycle of acquisition, retention and reacquisiton that has been mentioned before. World of Warcraft seems to be suffering the ills of relentless simplification; while it's true that everything that's been altered is in the name of 'streamlining' and 'quality of life', it turns out that ridding the game of its minor barriers and inconveniences (and, I suppose, the emergent gameplay they produce) leaves the experience rather hollow for a significant number of players, and subscription numbers are dropping fast enough for Blizzard to be worried. While Magic is currently suffering no such problem, I do hope R&D's current deathly allergy to complexity and downsides doesn't remain long enough to send them down a similar path.
Just for the record Double faced cards are complete garbage.  They are innelegant card design (break rules for the sake of breaking rules) and a waste of time when playing (as well as damaging to the incredibly expensive cards you have created).  You really need to quit breaking your arm patting yourself on the back for them as it's sickening to read from the consumer perspective.  Hopefully your 10th dynasty (or whatever) are less self masturbatory about their mediocre ideas than you are Mark.
Indeed, Time Spiral sold poorly so we're not going to get another.



Yeah, it's a grave shame.

I do wonder if Wizards intend to ramp up the complexity some time as a part of the cycle of acquisition, retention and reacquisiton that has been mentioned before. World of Warcraft seems to be suffering the ills of relentless simplification; while it's true that everything that's been altered is in the name of 'streamlining' and 'quality of life', it turns out that ridding the game of its minor barriers and inconveniences (and, I suppose, the emergent gameplay they produce) leaves the experience rather hollow for a significant number of players, and subscription numbers are dropping fast enough for Blizzard to be worried. While Magic is currently suffering no such problem, I do hope R&D's current deathly allergy to complexity and downsides doesn't remain long enough to send them down a similar path.



Very true, and the changes to OP might affect that process.
Although I have faith in them because of Innistrad, which is next to its Vorthos appeal also a fan favorite for draft, so Wizards still 'got game'.
Just for the record Double faced cards are complete garbage.  They are innelegant card design (break rules for the sake of breaking rules) and a waste of time when playing (as well as damaging to the incredibly expensive cards you have created).  You really need to quit breaking your arm patting yourself on the back for them as it's sickening to read from the consumer perspective.  Hopefully your 10th dynasty (or whatever) are less self masturbatory about their mediocre ideas than you are Mark.




I just want to add I am also thoroughly sick of how amazed Wizards appear to be with their new, inelegant idea. I wouldn't mind DFCs so much if they weren't pre-emptively treating them like a great success story. I like them slightly less than regular cards and I haven't run into anyone who really loves them, unlike for example split cards.
They are innelegant card design (break rules for the sake of breaking rules) and a waste of time when playing (as well as damaging to the incredibly expensive cards you have created). 



Online you don't even notice. And they create some new decisions for the limited player, which is all that matters.

Go draft, young man, go draft!

I thought today's article mostly repeated points Mark has addressed earlier about the different epochs of Magic history, and even about these specific individuals' routes into R&D. They're good, insightful things to say; I've just heard them before, minus a few personnel notes.



This is exactly what I wanted to say.  Over the last couple years, it seems like he has often started off an article by linking to one or two older articles that have the same content as the new one.  It's just been rearranged to fit a theme week.
I also hope the complexity level comes back up at some point. I'm really not very impressed with Innistrad, in several different ways. I asked MaRo a few months back whether complexity is a pendulum that spends a couple of years swinging one way, then swings back. I hope it is.

I've been in Magic for a long time (since Invasion), and I've mostly been very impressed with the way R&D have developed. But the past few years it feels like R&D have somewhat lost their way (or perhaps been forced by outside forces into some bad decisions). The Titans and their reprinting (even though I'm not against mythic rares per se), and DFCs, seem like two spectacularly bad choices that are somewhat iconic of the dubious recent direction.

I'm watching somewhat anxiously to see if later sets in Innistrad block can redeem it, like they've managed with the past couple of boring sets. Shards of Alara was horribly dull and Scars of Mirrodin was irritating, but Conflux, Alara Reborn and New Phyrexia were good sets that went some way to redeeming their blocks (even if not exactly making the bad first sets worth it).

I've ranted before about DFCs, so I won't reprise those arguments here. 
TSP was and still remains the most expensive boosters post 8E in my local store. I haven't looked exactly but I can only say the urza boosters outprice them atm.

I unfortunately restarted in Kamigawa, so it took me a while to get up to speed on proper card power levels, but the RAV-TSP days were godly, probably the only T2 I enjoyed ever.