12/02/11 LD: "Zone Change"

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

Zac, good first article. I enjoy the "voice" you give to your writing. There are ways certain authors write that either engage or disengage me. You engaged me. And I like your view of the Level up cards.

"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

I see what you guys did there.

Transform.

Hehehe  
well written first article, you gave us some interesting insights.

In other notes, I am glad to see Tom going to D&D, not because I want him out of Magic, but because D&D def. needs some quality control right now (well, actually, about 1 1/2 years ago would have been better, but, better now then never).  Good luck with the move!
Sengir nosferatu is a damn sight more elegant than using the back of a card. 
Just to make a point here:

1. The "design space" that is "opened up" by "Transformers"TM (you know, 'cause Mattel owns you guys) is limited, if any different from other mechanics. Apart from flip cards, consider that cards that constantly toggle between two states, or have upkeep effects (such as flip-a-coin effects) that alter the effect of the card. The actual quality of the "Transformers" that is unique to the game has nothing to do with actual gameplay, and is based on the transition of turning the card over (in which case this was achieved before to a different extent by Morph). So ... nothing really new!

2. The "subtle" dissing of the mechanic of Sengir Nosferatu, deriding the transformation it acheived through exiling itself or the token to acquire its alternate, is a design space also explored by Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang. Certainly, these could be acheived in interesting ways with DFCs. It is also true that ANY creature that has a temporary effect based on a triggered or activated ability could operate as a DFC or "Transformer."

3. Despite this, you guys wasted this design on a number of cards which cannot actually "go back" to the other side, effectively wasting this mechanic (two faces) for the sake of the novelty, and sold it as platinum shill.

4. Interestingly, the inverse could also be true. One could make several of the "Transformers" work just as well using older technology, but with 1/3rd the confusion or mechanical problems of dealing with the physical cards themselves, including but not limited to the clunkiness of removal/reinsertion in sleeves, or the use of checklist cards. No player should have to be forced to use something that isn't their card to "enjoy" it. This simply demonstrates that things were lost as a result of that design, and that is simply elegance. The cards are not elegant in the fullness of their deisgn. Ludevic's Test Subject is a big example of a card that works just as well in one face, one frame, non-flipper, by using the "becomes" terminology that appears on cards like Snakeform and Turn to Frog. The only disadvantage? Those cards aren't flipped over to gain new art and frame, a visual design that has no mechanical value.
"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 dunno. As one of the only players who actually plays Ludevic's Test Subject (Seriously, everybody else in my group keeps talking about how they "might use it eventually, but not right now) I think the flip aesthetic is critical to the card being as fun to play as it is. Sure it could work as a single faced card, but not only would the art get worse, it would have significantly less impact when you finally set it off.

Plus it makes the board state significantly easier to read. In game with 4+ players, being able to easily see if you're dealing with a 0/3 or a 13/13 is kind of important.

I honestly enjoy using the DFCs, and I don't think they've caused as much trouble as everybody predicted they would. They aren't doing much now, but this is the first set with them. In the next sets I expect to see some more interesting ways of taking advantage of the two faces. I mean, most mechanics get boring cards when they first come out. (Or just ones that make no sense with the mechanic.

That said, I already enjoy Ludevic's Abomination and Delver of Secrets, (Although I'm not sure how much is due to the second one just being good) and I like the Werewolves for all they're useless.

Not overly fond of Screeching Bat though. It's just too much mana to flip. If it could flip at any time or if the flip cost was only BB I would like it a lot more.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
Fortunately, these formats tend to be robust enough to adapt to a creature that, for all its power, simply attacks and blocks.



Yeah...No...Ye...No 
Do we really need to go there again:

When we pushed off the planeswalkers, Tarmogoyf got stuck back into the file. Mike Turian, Future Sight's lead developer, recreated the card from memory and just assumed it had */*+1 because it was copying Lhurgoyf. Mike also dropped the card from 2G to 1G because he felt as it was "just a beater without evasion" it didn't need to cost three mana. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

So ... nothing really new!

[...]

The only disadvantage? Those cards aren't flipped over to gain new art and frame, a visual design that has no mechanical value.



So there is something new, and that makes all the difference. See also MaRo's interview with SCG: www.starcitygames.com/magic/standard/231...

They're pushing Magic, or at least Innistrad, to put greater emphasis on that emotional response than in the past, and thus lesser on the math/mechanics.

Welcome Zac! Good article.


Obligatory mention of the utter flavour fail on Screeching Bat. "The vampire who can turn into a bat, and back again"... at a very specific point on your turn. After all, we all know how vampires only get to transform at certain particular times. Perhaps moonrise? Oh no, wait, that's not vampires at all!


I liked Sengir Nosferatu, and indeed still do. I much prefer it to Screeching Bat, both from gameplay (dodging removal but only if you've kept the mana up) and logistics (...yeah, the post listing the 15 logistical problems with DFCs is still there and still relevant).


But nonetheless, welcome Zac, and I look forward to many interesting dev articles from you!

I agree that Screeching Bat's upkeep trigger makes the transformation somewhat disappointing, by removing its spontaneity.  Instead of "Vampire that can temporarily turn into a bat to avoid your defences, intercept a flying attacker, or escape Earthquakes" it's "creature that's either a Vampire or Bat, and you have to decide what it'll be for that turn cycle before you even draw your card, paying if it's something different from last time".
I'd definitely agree that Sengir Nosferatu, while not perfect, is a much better implementation of "Vampire who can turn into a bat". It actually feels like a Vampire transforming into a bat in an emergency situation in order to get away/escape trouble. Screeching Bat feels like some sort of weird Vampire who plans his transformation cycles ahead of time for some reason.
I also agree Sengir Nosferatu is the better, more evocative, more interesting card.

I think sometimes designers and developers suffer from their own sets of limitations and lose, ironically, the key point in this article, the ability to make cards that grok as a cohesive whole. Nosferatu is much less elegant to the maker of cards, but it's much better to the player.
Can't say I'm upset about losing Lapille. And hearing that he led Dark Ascension doesn't fill me with hope (I've thought M12 has been the weakest of the three new core sets). Nosferatu is a much better card flavorwise (and strengthwise) than Schreeching Bat. I'm not sure if everyone at Wizards believes these cards are better/good, or if they just can't bash the company's newest set.
I'm not sure if everyone at Wizards believes these cards are better/good, or if they just can't bash the company's newest set.

Everything Wizards does is perfect, until at least two years later (or sometimes eighteen months, if they have to ban something).
Both articles were just fine in my book, but what had me giggling was the transform button at the bottom of the article that rolled up the current article like a long spring loaded scroll and then whipped out the new article like slinging out a scroll onto an open table.

I had to click the transform buttons multiple times. =D

I'm so easily entertained.

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From Mark Rosewater's Tumblr: the0uroboros asked: How in the same set can we have a hexproof, unsacrificable(not a word) creature AND a land that makes it uncounterable. How does this lead to interactive play? I believe I’m able to play my creature and you have to deal with it is much more interactive than you counter my creature.

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Post #777

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MaRo: One of the classic R&D stories happened during a Scars of Mirrodin draft. Erik Lauer was sitting to my right (meaning that he passed to me in the first and third packs). At the end of the draft, Erik was upset because I was in his colors (black-green). He said, "Didn't you see the signals? I went into black-green in pack one." I replied, "Didn't you see my signals? I started drafting infect six drafts ago."

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MaRo: I redesigned him while the effect was on the stack.

Nosferatu is dumb, I don't know what his batform looks like, and escaping a Lightning Bolt by turning into a bat makes no sense.

That being said, I do think Screeching Bat should be able to flip at instant speed for that ridiculous mana cost... I honestly wonder if that's what they intended, but somebody decided to poke on Upkeep... That's just too much mana. 
Nosferatu is dumb, I don't know what his batform looks like, and escaping a Lightning Bolt by turning into a bat makes no sense.


His bat form looks like a bat.

Perhaps he can dodge a bolt this way because a bat is much smaller than a man. 
We have higher standards for Magic sets now than we ever have before. Innistrad is a perfect example of this. We've never made a non-core set with mechanics and flavor this integrated before. There are classic horror tropes all over the place, with faithful expressions of those tropes in text boxes. The feel of each allied color pair's tribe is an attempt to express the way that creatures of that type act when they appear in the source material. Our standards were just as high on the development side. The draft environment is intricate, balanced, and awesome.



*

“…the occupational hazard of the creative arts: self-doubt. ‘We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have,’ wrote Henry James. ‘Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.’ The better the artist, the more keenly he knows that whatever he does falls short of what he might have done or what his chosen medium is capable of. Unsullied confidence in the excellence of one’s work is usually a sign of failing powers.” 


from Night by A. Alvarez





Nosferatu is dumb, I don't know what his batform looks like, and escaping a Lightning Bolt by turning into a bat makes no sense.


His bat form looks like a bat.

Perhaps he can dodge a bolt this way because a bat is much smaller than a man. 


Have you ever tried dodging a Lightning Bolt? Or a Maelstrom Pulse? Has anyone tried to Unmake you? How'd turning into a bat help you out there?
Since no one explicitly pointed out the obvious here, I'd guess attacking with your flying 2/2 and then landing and hitting for 5 (i.e. transforming whenever you felt like it) was not the desired power level for this card.
snip



Well I agree with what you're trying to say, you can't forget that it's his job to speak highly about the development process.

As long as the people working on the game remain critical of themselves and each other within the office, there's nothing to worry about.
Official Speaker of the Expanded Multiverse Project, Step into Dominia-Embrace the infinite Magic of the Planes. This -> is my favorite smiley, I will use it often and without reason. You have been warned.
The Story of My Love
79035425 wrote:
BURSTING WITH VIGOR!
Trolljuju wiped the sweat from his brow as he continued his slow trudge up the snowy mountain. The wind was strong and fiercely cold, but he pressed against it. Juju knew Beast Engine was somewhere at the peak, waiting for him. But this was not a matter of confronting the forces of nature themselves; that had been accomplished long before, and was now too easy to maintain the manly man's interest. Today, Beast Engine was here waiting for a friend. Trolljuju's mind drifted from his appointment to thoughts of Beast Engine's manliness. The only man in history to punch the fossilized remains of a dinosaur back to life just to punch it to death again. The man who deflected bullets with his pectoral muscles during his daily assassination attempts. The man who cured cancer with a serum made from pure crystalized virility. The man who burst with vigor. Not just a man but a Man- the manliest of all men. A god of masculinity in physical form. Trolljuju's heart fluttered at the memory of him and lightened his steps as he pressed on. Suddenly, he was shaken from his reverie by a deep, powerful rumble in the mountain that shook him to his core. Instinctively, he threw himself to the ground just before the slope ahead of him exploded in a fiery wall of light and heat. So great was the force that the entire upper section of the mountain was vaproized. It scorched Juju's coat, then rose on the air to drift far away, a plume of white-hot ash. When Trolljuju lifted his head to see what was left behind, he beheld a wide, perfectly flat stone plateau, and in the distance he could see a muscular figure, his foot still held up from the kick. There was no doubt it was Beast Engine. As soon as the ground beneath him cooled, Juju cast his heavy pack aside and ran. As the figure grew with closeness, he could see Beast Engine was nude, as was expected. The snow that fell near him turned to a thin wall of steam, looking to Trolljuju's eyes like a barrier. Engine was too strong, too manly to occupy the same space as the ordinary universe. He lived in a world all his own. But fortunately for Juju, it was only an illusion. He ran at full speed into Engine, who caught him with both arms and effortlessly twirled with him, resting with Juju dipped low to the ground in Engine's arms. "Beast Engine, my love," Trolljuju breathed, sturck with awe at Engine's masculine beauty despite the familiarity of his face. Engine just smiled, radiating from every inch of him with incredible strength, yet gentle warmth. "It's been so long, Juju. I've missed you." "Forgive me. I lost contact with you while you were boxing with Death to win back and consume the soul of Theodore Roosevelt. But now I'm here..." Juju lifted one tentative hand to Engine's face, but he pulled away. "You know I cannot give you what you seek. Were we to make love, your body would be destroyed by the force." "I know, of course I would," Juju responded, tears in his eyes. "May I have, at least, one kiss?" "Very well. For you, my friend." Slowly, gingerly, they came closer. But the moment their lips met, a flood of unbridled manliness rushed into Trolljuju, body and soul, and every cell in his body exploded. Beast Engine fell to his knees, and in his grief, he wept. The tears that fell from his face burned deep into the rock beneath him. But slowly, his sorrow turned to conviction. He beat the crap out of Death once. He could do it again.
I love the voice, too. And I thought the idea of scripting the article to "transform" was clever.

I like the flavor of transformation. I like how some of it (Garruk Relentless, Civilized Scholar) seems unhealthy, while others (Bloodline Keeper) are clearly healthy and voluntary. I love the "No, John, you are the demons" aspect of Hanweir Watchkeep. I even love that they put Gojira in Innistrad, even if it's the wrong kind of B-movie.

Right now, I think Ludevic's Test Subject wants to be in my deck. I was playing some sealed deck with some friends the other day, and I got three of it. Not so good in limited, but in Standard, I can proliferate, and I really only need to pay over time to get the Abomination.
139359831 wrote:
Clever deduction Watson! Maybe you can explain why Supergirl is trying to kill me.
---- Autocard is your friend. Lightning Bolt = Lightning Bolt
Nosferatu is dumb, I don't know what his batform looks like, and escaping a Lightning Bolt by turning into a bat makes no sense.


His bat form looks like a bat.

Perhaps he can dodge a bolt this way because a bat is much smaller than a man. 



His bat form looks like a penny (or bead, or paperclip, or whatever else you use as tokens).  

That is one point where DFCs are better than the Nosferatu transformation.  The fact that you have an actual picture of the creature that the original transformed to looks way better than having the transformed state represented by some random object.  While something like the bat token is fine to represent as a penny, it just doesn't look as good when you have a card that tuns into something much stronger and have that stronger form represented by a penny.

I feel that Ludevic's Test Subject is the best example of this issue.  While mechanically you can have the card be removed from the game and replaced by a token that is supposed to represent the 13/13 Trampler that is Ludevic's Abomination, the fact of the matter is that you are replacing a card showing a 0/3 egg with... a penny.  Not nearly as intimidating as staring down the card showing a 13/13 lizard that just ransacked the lab in which it was made.  Also, having the transformed state represented by a card allows for flavor text.

One thing that is in Sengir Nosferatu's favor is that it's transform ability allows it to avoid removal.  DFCs remain the same object when they transform so a removal spell heading it's way will affect it regardless of the face it is on.
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)


Welcome Zac, nice article.  I have a question which maybe you can answer.

I booster drafted Innistrad for the first time at Worlds and had a good time. One of the drafts had me collecting Vampires and I got two Screeching Bat/Stalking Vampire cards.  Obviously this is no ordinary bat, but the Screeching Bat typeline reads only "Bat".  As I realized this, I found it annoying both as unflavorful and unsynergistic.  Its seems to me that somewhere along the line, probably in development , somebody must have wondered why the typeline doesn't read "Vampire Bat".  If it did, it would be consistent with how werewolves are handled:  transforming from "Human Werewolf" to simply "Werewolf".  Looking at the relevant cards it doesn't seem like it would be THAT major of a play balance issue.  In bat form it would be boosted by Vampiric Fury, but would also become subject to: Wooden Stake, Slayer of the Wicked, Elite Inquisitor, and Blazing Torch. 

So can you tell the story behind how it ended up as only type "Bat"?

Since no one explicitly pointed out the obvious here, I'd guess attacking with your flying 2/2 and then landing and hitting for 5 (i.e. transforming whenever you felt like it) was not the desired power level for this card.

Nobody seemed to care when Ninjas or morph dudes did pretty much this.

Since no one explicitly pointed out the obvious here, I'd guess attacking with your flying 2/2 and then landing and hitting for 5 (i.e. transforming whenever you felt like it) was not the desired power level for this card.



But the execution was not the heralded "fix" that is being implied with comparison to Sengir Nosferatu. I agree that Nosferatu is not a perfect execution for transforming into another thing for some level of ability, but only in the examples used. In many ways, consider the animated escapades of Dracula-type vampires: You try to hit them, and instead they explode into a cloud of bats; you try to capture the bats and they evade your grasp, your levinbolts or whatever miss them because they are just too small to reliably hit, and then when you least expect they coalesce back into the vampire behind you and ... you're dead ... or a thrall.

In fact, Stoker's vampire could become a cloud of fog, or a swarm of rats. It's not necessary to use the bat analogy to describe how one can somehow avoid a lightning bolt to the face. It is possible, if a bolt is not an actual bolt of lightning but a charge energy bolt which would have a specific destination (much like an electromagnetically-confined charged plasma beam), meaning it is avoidable. And anything that does not hit an actual target if it's so discerning would be "countered" in effect.

So Nosferatu could work in flavor, and the exceptional case would be in keeping with the horror aspects of the unkillable vampire.

So while the combat "trick" was avoided, you made a clunkier, and ultimately uglier, card. Perfect!

"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)
Since no one explicitly pointed out the obvious here, I'd guess attacking with your flying 2/2 and then landing and hitting for 5 (i.e. transforming whenever you felt like it) was not the desired power level for this card.

Nobody seemed to care when Ninjas or morph dudes did pretty much this.




Correct. Different cards behave differently. ;-P This Vampire is not all about the element of surprise.
I love the voice, too. And I thought the idea of scripting the article to "transform" was clever.

I like the flavor of transformation. I like how some of it (Garruk Relentless, Civilized Scholar) seems unhealthy, while others (Bloodline Keeper) are clearly healthy and voluntary. I love the "No, John, you are the demons" aspect of Hanweir Watchkeep. I even love that they put Gojira in Innistrad, even if it's the wrong kind of B-movie.

Right now, I think Ludevic's Test Subject wants to be in my deck. I was playing some sealed deck with some friends the other day, and I got three of it. Not so good in limited, but in Standard, I can proliferate, and I really only need to pay over time to get the Abomination.



Gojira is not a B movie. Especially not to its original intended audience, the Japanese, shortly after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They were literally horrified. It was meant to be, in the light of Shelley's Frankenstein, an exposition on the horrors that mankind could wreak. While it is more a product of human nature than the inner human nature that gothic horror is meant to address, it is still more horror than B movie material like Scream.
"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 don't suppose you have an answer to the creature type thing?

I can understand the decisions behind pretty much everything else about the card, but making it so it's not a vampire on it's day side feels like a huge oversight. Especially compaired to the werewolves.
Official Speaker of the Expanded Multiverse Project, Step into Dominia-Embrace the infinite Magic of the Planes. This -> is my favorite smiley, I will use it often and without reason. You have been warned.
The Story of My Love
79035425 wrote:
BURSTING WITH VIGOR!
Trolljuju wiped the sweat from his brow as he continued his slow trudge up the snowy mountain. The wind was strong and fiercely cold, but he pressed against it. Juju knew Beast Engine was somewhere at the peak, waiting for him. But this was not a matter of confronting the forces of nature themselves; that had been accomplished long before, and was now too easy to maintain the manly man's interest. Today, Beast Engine was here waiting for a friend. Trolljuju's mind drifted from his appointment to thoughts of Beast Engine's manliness. The only man in history to punch the fossilized remains of a dinosaur back to life just to punch it to death again. The man who deflected bullets with his pectoral muscles during his daily assassination attempts. The man who cured cancer with a serum made from pure crystalized virility. The man who burst with vigor. Not just a man but a Man- the manliest of all men. A god of masculinity in physical form. Trolljuju's heart fluttered at the memory of him and lightened his steps as he pressed on. Suddenly, he was shaken from his reverie by a deep, powerful rumble in the mountain that shook him to his core. Instinctively, he threw himself to the ground just before the slope ahead of him exploded in a fiery wall of light and heat. So great was the force that the entire upper section of the mountain was vaproized. It scorched Juju's coat, then rose on the air to drift far away, a plume of white-hot ash. When Trolljuju lifted his head to see what was left behind, he beheld a wide, perfectly flat stone plateau, and in the distance he could see a muscular figure, his foot still held up from the kick. There was no doubt it was Beast Engine. As soon as the ground beneath him cooled, Juju cast his heavy pack aside and ran. As the figure grew with closeness, he could see Beast Engine was nude, as was expected. The snow that fell near him turned to a thin wall of steam, looking to Trolljuju's eyes like a barrier. Engine was too strong, too manly to occupy the same space as the ordinary universe. He lived in a world all his own. But fortunately for Juju, it was only an illusion. He ran at full speed into Engine, who caught him with both arms and effortlessly twirled with him, resting with Juju dipped low to the ground in Engine's arms. "Beast Engine, my love," Trolljuju breathed, sturck with awe at Engine's masculine beauty despite the familiarity of his face. Engine just smiled, radiating from every inch of him with incredible strength, yet gentle warmth. "It's been so long, Juju. I've missed you." "Forgive me. I lost contact with you while you were boxing with Death to win back and consume the soul of Theodore Roosevelt. But now I'm here..." Juju lifted one tentative hand to Engine's face, but he pulled away. "You know I cannot give you what you seek. Were we to make love, your body would be destroyed by the force." "I know, of course I would," Juju responded, tears in his eyes. "May I have, at least, one kiss?" "Very well. For you, my friend." Slowly, gingerly, they came closer. But the moment their lips met, a flood of unbridled manliness rushed into Trolljuju, body and soul, and every cell in his body exploded. Beast Engine fell to his knees, and in his grief, he wept. The tears that fell from his face burned deep into the rock beneath him. But slowly, his sorrow turned to conviction. He beat the crap out of Death once. He could do it again.
snip



Well I agree with what you're trying to say, you can't forget that it's his job to speak highly about the development process. As long as the people working on the game remain critical of themselves and each other within the office, there's nothing to worry about.



If what you're saying is true, then what is the point in reading his articles? Are we served at all by reading self-indulgent fluff?

I tend to think that his job is not to speak highly about the development process, but rather, to write interestingly about the development process in a way that doesn't make WOTC look like clueless Polyannas who are out to insult the intelligence of their customers.

Since no one explicitly pointed out the obvious here, I'd guess attacking with your flying 2/2 and then landing and hitting for 5 (i.e. transforming whenever you felt like it) was not the desired power level for this card.

Nobody seemed to care when Ninjas or morph dudes did pretty much this.




Correct. Different cards behave differently. ;-P This Vampire is not all about the element of surprise.

Okay, Matt.
I'm sure I'm the only one out here who considers you more or less "our guy on the inside", so please, enlighten me on why someone would design a card that intentionally sucks.

I'm aware Rosewater apparently thinks "decisions" is an important aspect of the game, but more often than not, that "decision" is just not use the card at all.  Is this what has happened?
Hi Zac,

Good first article, fun to read and on topic. I like how you give your opinion rather than apolagize for something.

Keeo uo the good work

and I like to think that we make fewer cards like ..."OpenTip(event, this)" onclick="autoCardWindow(this)" href="...:void()">Cloudchaser Kestrel or ..."OpenTip(event,
this)" onclick="autoCardWindow(this)" href="...:void()">Windwright Mage these days than we used to partially because of me.



Thanks a lot, Tom; I like both of those cards a lot and see no flavor disconnect inherent in either of them.  If you're trying to make fewer baffling cards then why can you Bramblecrush a Glorious Anthem?  Why do we have a Brimstone Volley that burns hotter if someone died that turn?  A Falkenrath Noble that gets to drain an opponent of life after you kill him, or after you kill someone else in his presence?  A group of Dearly Departed who is happy to help out all Humans, including the Village Cannibals that probably killed them in the first place?  Why does Unburial Rites cost black mana to play and white mana to flashback, when black is the color that is supposed to do things that are disturbing and wrong, such as milling itself of ten cards and then bringing a creature from among them back with a spell also from among them, while mono-white which normally plays by the rules can NEVER cast this Resurrection straight but MUST resort to blue or black discarding and milling to get the spell to where it can be played?  Why does the Geist of St. Traft manufacture a brand-new Angel on every attack, which you can sacrifice to a Carnage Altar for a card every turn, instead of a single specific Angel who wanders in and out of the exile zone but stays in the graveyard if actually killed?  And don't even get me started on Creeping Renaissance, Delver of Secrets, Geist-Honored Monk, and more.

You're doing a bit better at making cards make sense, but you're still nowhere near perfect at it, because it's not your highest priority.  IT SHOULD BE.  When I wrote flavor text for you, I turned in my absolute best work, and got told to make it shorter.  You're not prioritizing quality, at least not as your #1, so quit pretending that everything is awesome; you're still busy catering to the lowest common denominator, and the resulting profit margins are all the accolade you deserve, you don't get to pat yourself on the back besides that.  Praise has to be earned, and you get when you have mine when you've sweat blood to achieve unimpeachable excellence, which is very seldom.

Since no one explicitly pointed out the obvious here, I'd guess attacking with your flying 2/2 and then landing and hitting for 5 (i.e. transforming whenever you felt like it) was not the desired power level for this card.



It is perfectly in flavor for a vampire to fly over the walls of the castle, then land inside the castle, turn into human, and walk up to the king and tear off his head (and then turn into a bat again and fly away).  That is what this card should have done, and it should have been costed accordingly to produce its "desired" power level.  This card is not being upheld (by anyone outside the company) as a stellar example of either mechanics OR flavor.  It's mediocre, and it could have been excellent.  Mediocrity pays the bills and is quickly forgotten; excellence goes down in history.

The correct flavor for Sengir Nosferatu would have been to use a dedicated token card which always comes in the booster pack with him.  Just as the correct solution for DFCs would have been a separate "alternate form" card for each one, so the front face could use a normal card back, and every booster pack contains a DFC and its corresponding back.  But rather than go to a slight effort to revise your factory process and make this work, you go with an obviously inferior solution and expect that the public will cough up enough money in spite of the flaw that you can afford to fix the flaw later - while simultaneously committing some new flaw which you will also fix five years too late.

Additionally I agree strongly with Gwendlyn diCorci.  Corporate glad-handing and the speak-no-evil mindset are exactly what's turned American capitalism into such a cesspool of hypocrisy.  Wizards is one of the least corporate corporations out there, but they're backsliding rapidly into the same old "we dare not defy the will of the shareholders" nonsense that turns every successful company into an Old Boys Club sooner or later.  Ben and Jerry's sold out a while ago; they used to stand for something, now they just grind out profit like everyone else.  This drift into entropy must be fought with tooth and nail whenever it appears.  Never settle for less, or that's all you'll be.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
You're doing a bit better at making cards make sense, but you're still nowhere near perfect at it, because it's not your highest priority.  IT SHOULD BE.

Hell no. The highest priority should always be to keep the gameplay great. Part of that is making simple, elegant cards like Bramblecrush instead of restricting them with a whole bunch of special cases. Another part is allowing players to do clever mechanical tricks like sacrificing Geist of Saint Traft's token to Carnage Altar, or letting a goat wield two swords and a hammer. And if that causes a (hilarious) flavour disconnect then too bad for flavour.

When I wrote flavor text for you, I turned in my absolute best work, and got told to make it shorter.

Longer is not always better, especially on flavour text for a Magic card. Of course I cannot judge for your case, since I do not know what your version looked like.

You're not prioritizing quality, at least not as your #1, so quit pretending that everything is awesome; you're still busy catering to the lowest common denominator, and the resulting profit margins are all the accolade you deserve, you don't get to pat yourself on the back besides that.  Praise has to be earned, and you get when you have mine when you've sweat blood to achieve unimpeachable excellence, which is very seldom.

From what I can gather of your idea of "unimpeachable excellence", I'm very glad you're nothing more than a freelance flavour text writer. I'm actually a little surprised you still have that job after you decided to insult a large part of your audience on a public forum.

Since no one explicitly pointed out the obvious here, I'd guess attacking with your flying 2/2 and then landing and hitting for 5 (i.e. transforming whenever you felt like it) was not the desired power level for this card.

It is perfectly in flavor for a vampire to fly over the walls of the castle, then land inside the castle, turn into human, and walk up to the king and tear off his head (and then turn into a bat again and fly away).  That is what this card should have done, and it should have been costed accordingly to produce its "desired" power level.

I actually agree with you there.
Hell no. The highest priority should always be to keep the gameplay great.



I disagree.  Gameplay will be great if you have good people to play with and a chance to build a deck you like and play it against decks that are fair against it.  The cards are the medium; you can't play a good game with bad cards anymore than you can write a good novel with a broken pen (okay bad example in the digital age, but you see what I'm getting at).  Players can always compensate for other players, come up with house rules and ban cards they think are unfun and such, but they can't change how the cards work once the cards are printed, that is why each card needs to be crafted to perfection before it sees print.  Besides, as MaRo or Tom, I forget which, pointed out in a recent article, you spend a lot more time thinking about the game than you do actually playing it.  Aesthetic appreciation doesn't require an opponent or the logistics of arranging a time and place to meet, therefore it should take a higher priority.

Part of that is making simple, elegant cards like Bramblecrush instead of restricting them with a whole bunch of special cases. Another part is allowing players to do clever mechanical tricks like sacrificing Geist of Saint Traft's token to Carnage Altar, or letting a goat wield two swords and a hammer. And if that causes a (hilarious) flavour disconnect then too bad for flavour.



I'm fine with the goat thing, that just proves the swords and the hammer are really good magic.  But St. Traft is a Legend, a storyline character; to have a flavor-breaking glitch in his execution is particularly irritating.  At the very least they could have had Doug write the flavor article about him to explicitly specify that he's guarded by a series of different angels who only show up at one time, but no, canonically it's the same angel in every case.  Just like, canonically, Naboo is a planet with water in the center instead of lava.

Longer is not always better, especially on flavour text for a Magic card. Of course I cannot judge for your case, since I do not know what your version looked like.



Admittedly it wasn't always excellent, but hundreds of cards in the sets I worked on came out far worse.  Just today I saw Rusted Golem, whose flavor text suggests that he's thinking about how to hurt you, when he's a ROBOT and shouldn't be thinking anything.  My version of the text for this unfathomably boring and forgettable card was a parable along the lines of "The Picture of Dorian Gray", which ended by saying something like "The golem still stands in the wizard's castle, but the wizard has long since rusted away".  Tell me that wouldn't have made the card more interesting.

From what I can gather of your idea of "unimpeachable excellence", I'm very glad you're nothing more than a freelance flavour text writer. I'm actually a little surprised you still have that job after you decided to insult a large part of your audience on a public forum.



As far as I can tell I don't have that job anymore; theoretically they said they might call me someday, but it was long enough ago that I've assumed they're just taking advantage of the fact that a freelancer need never be notified when he's fired.  I take this as proof that they would rather have yes-men who'll tell them what they want to hear while things go straight to pot from their obliviousness, rather than intelligent and quality-driven people who will shake things up for them and kick them out of their comfort zone.  Which is clearly a place they spend far too much time, in view of the way they keep congratulating themselves on how awesome they are while ignoring the complaints of their audience.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi

Windwright Mage & Cloudchaser Kestrel are fantastic cards. They are oozing with flavor.

The mage is a Mage so mechanically it can do just about anything. The art and flavor text tie everything together beautifully. Why does she fly when the Planeswalker (player) she is working for has lost an artifact? Because she's Esper, the Artifact masters, and they can find use for artifacts that everyday planeswalkers don't.

The bird is just a bird, true, so why does it have these powers? Because the planeswalker controlling it gave it them. Because it's a Foot-soldier in Radiant, Archangel's EDH army. Because it's infinitely better than Disenchant in a bird-theme deck. Because use your imagination.

Magic players are creative people.

While we enjoy the stories a card may tell us, we also like to use the cards as pieces in stories WE tell through the decks we build and the games we play.


In your quest to tell us epic tales please don't hog up all the imagination space.



PS:


For the Record Liquimetal Coating + Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas + Xenograft set to humans +Moonmist will transform any DFC.


Windwright Mage & Cloudchaser Kestrel are fantastic cards. They are oozing with flavor.

The mage is a Mage so mechanically it can do just about anything. The art and flavor text tie everything together beautifully. Why does she fly when the Planeswalker (player) she is working for has lost an artifact? Because she's Esper, the Artifact masters, and they can find use for artifacts that everyday planeswalkers don't.

The bird is just a bird, true, so why does it have these powers? Because the planeswalker controlling it gave it them. Because it's a Foot-soldier in Radiant, Archangel's EDH army. Because it's infinitely better than Disenchant in a bird-theme deck. Because use your imagination.




Understand the complexity versus flavor issue involving these two cards is how the abilities necessarily interact with the cards upfront. WHY does the Windwright needs an artifact in a graveyard to Jump? The accusation on complexity for Cloudchaser is actually the third ability, not the first two, which you don't acknowledge. "Why" is because it is a mechanic blend of two creatures, one of which was used to fight colorhosers -- it was less relevant in Time Spiral, but a throwback to something that *cough* resonated with older players' memories of bygone blocks.

For the Record Liquimetal Coating + Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas + Xenograft set to humans +Moonmist will transform any DFC.



Or, Artificial Evolution + Moonmist. And unless it's set to Werewolf or Wolf, that Mist won't fog your "Humans" worth anything. It's only when both align that the "Transform all, then Fog your opponent's damage" becomes aweome, otherwise it's much thunder about nothing.
"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)
Since no one explicitly pointed out the obvious here, I'd guess attacking with your flying 2/2 and then landing and hitting for 5 (i.e. transforming whenever you felt like it) was not the desired power level for this card.

Nobody seemed to care when Ninjas or morph dudes did pretty much this.




Correct. Different cards behave differently. ;-P This Vampire is not all about the element of surprise.

Okay, Matt.
I'm sure I'm the only one out here who considers you more or less "our guy on the inside", so please, enlighten me on why someone would design a card that intentionally sucks.

I'm aware Rosewater apparently thinks "decisions" is an important aspect of the game, but more often than not, that "decision" is just not use the card at all.  Is this what has happened?



Qmark: re: "man on the inside" Thanks. I appreciate that thought. It may not be entirely correct, but I do appreciate it.

Unfortunately, I'm not the best guy to explain design and development decisions to you, especially on a card with no rules problems. I see it as kind of a workhorse card: good in limited, playable on casual level. I've certainly see it pop up once in a while on Magic Online, albeit rarely. I think Nosferatu's a bit of a cluster, but I certainly enjoyed playing with it as well.

Quick aside: As a Magic editor, I deal with a lot of flavor text. I can tell you: length is really important. If it doesn't fit on the card, it doesn't get on the card. I love great flavor text. It adds a lot to every card. That being said, I rarely cut rules text for space. I cut flavor text for space all the time.

I was just nitpicking the guy who said there was no way switch back some of the DF cards. Obviously the combination I mentioned would likely never hapen unless someone made a deck just to do so. Nontheless the exersise of figuring out how it could be done was rewarding for me, even if the play itself is horrible.


As to the discussion about the cards in particular I wrote my post in responce to the article without reading teh thread so i'm not up to speed.


The reason they print bad cards, though, is to reward people for being able to tell the difference. Think of how much less interesting poker would be if a pare of Kings vs a pair of Eights was a split pot.   

Windwright Mage & Cloudchaser Kestrel are fantastic cards. They are oozing with flavor.




I want to write my support for the unjustly maligned Cloudchaser Kestrel. I really like it, and found myself surprising agitated by the Tom's pride in reducing the number of cards like it. I think of it as some kind of herald of white magic at the common level. It has in its cost, it's a bird, it flies, it destroys an enchantment, it even converts others into white too. Although I don't consider myself a Vorthos at all, far more of a Melvin, this card still resonates with me as the crature that a True Neutral, justice enthused ruler would summon or train to help patrol his realm.

I don't care that there is no obvious mechanical connection between the two, in fact, I find it charming and intriguing. When cards specifically spell out exactly what you should do with them, I find it boring. Even supposed Johnny cards (ex: Laboratory Maniac) do this often and it gets boring.

Also, I agree with you Zauzich that the same thing can apply to flavor, like in these cases. When the card is so explicit in its flavor, or it tells a story so well that there can be no other interpretation, there's no work left to be done our end. I feel left out of the creative process.

PS  I didn't discuss Windwright Mage not out of any dislike, just that I didn't play during Alara and have no strong opinions on it.