02/13/2011 MM: "Old vs. New"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.

Could someone please translate this to English, from the Maro-ese?
I feel like he writes this article every other week.
another maro article that doesnt say anything. please write more articles pertaining to specifics about design and the recent sets and cards. how about some multiverse comments. I used to love coming on every monday to read your articles but that was years ago, maybe half a decade at this point. Its just stale. Im being serious too i wish there was interesting and useful stuff in this column but there isnt. the whole flashback moving the other way around the wheel doesnt matter. Its something you wont see and wont jump out at people as they just open packs. there wasnt alot of flashback and it wasnt interesting in the way it was in innistrad or oddysey or time spiral.

and maro if you read this i really want to hear more about the design specifics of innistrad. its a format that got stale really quick. flashback is just a card advantage mechanic. And it seems like its mostly on removal spells. part of what made oddysey special was that threshold typically meant losing cards to gain it quickly. there wasnt anything like forbidden alchemy at common to just bin 4 cards. flashback was a little more interesting in that sense. so was madness. That block and innistrad feel very similar yet oddysey feels better packaged in the end. You even made an homage to it in cards like the 1/2 cat for W.

This is an article comparing old and new yet it felt like it was three paragraphs. You hardly scratched the surface. Lets compare some old and new things. How about power level. Creatures are typically better now than in oddysey and onslaught though not to the degree people make it out to be. I want to really look at the power level between iconic rares then and now. How about inferno titan to khamal pit fighter. He was a very popular card in his day. His power level was pretty good and He had flavor. The titan is almost just unabashed power creep. Vampiric dragon vs Olivia Voldaren. I mean just off the top of my head. Exalted Angel vs Baneslayer Angel. Though as i said there isnt as much power creep, and the games mostly going in the right direction. rampant growth has been strong ever since mirage as its a secret time walk. pretty borderline too powerful.

Maybe this post is too rambely
Man, MaRo, what did Planeshift do to you to deserve the "we don't recognize you as an actual set" treatment?! I know he's not the best set out there, but he tries, man, he tries! You's stone cold, MaRo...
Man, MaRo, what did Planeshift do to you to deserve the "we don't recognize you as an actual set" treatment?! I know he's not the best set out there, but he tries, man, he tries! You's stone cold, MaRo...



I think he meant Planechase.  Although what that was was creating multiset theme decks and creating the plane cards to work with them.
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)
and maro if you read this i really want to hear more about the design specifics of innistrad. its a format that got stale really quick. flashback is just a card advantage mechanic. And it seems like its mostly on removal spells. part of what made oddysey special was that threshold typically meant losing cards to gain it quickly. there wasnt anything like forbidden alchemy at common to just bin 4 cards. flashback was a little more interesting in that sense. so was madness. That block and innistrad feel very similar yet oddysey feels better packaged in the end. You even made an homage to it in cards like the 1/2 cat for W.



Innistrad limited is by many seen as one of the greatest limited formats of all time (up there with Rise of the Eldrazi and Ravnica) so if you find it stale you're in a tiny minority.

You're also in a minority if you liked oddysey, but that's a relatively big minority.

Editing is pretty bad this article: "Planeshift" should be "Planechase" (Planeshift was a regular expert expansion); there's also a typo in the link to "Death's Carres" (should be "Death's Caress"); and "sleight" should be "slight".

I'm looking forward to the new Nuts & Bolts article, but then as the admin of a website for custom card set design, I would be :P 

I don't feel like Dark Ascension's tweaks to the Innistrad mechanics made any difference. If all the Innistrad DFCs had been creatures, then sure, Dark Ascension's DFCs might have felt a bit more innovative, but Garruk the Relentless is still the most unusual / innovative DFC out there, so you showed your hand too soon there. And as a diehard Melvin I certainly did notice the off-colour flashback cycles going the other way to Innistrad, but that's really not a "new tweak on Flashback"; it doesn't do anything new that Innistrad didn't. Most other second sets have had better "evolutions" of the large set's cycles / mechanics than Dark Ascension did: Planeshift (the expert expansion :P) had nonmana kicker costs, Torment had nonmana madness costs, Planar Chaos's Magi felt different to the Time Spiral Magi because they were ports of a different card type, and so on and so on. Clockwise vs anticlockwise doesn't make any difference even to a diehard Melvin. 

...Actually, now that I come to think about it, recent second sets have made far less evolutions of the large set's mechanics than they used to. At least Worldwake had landfall instants/sorceries and multikicker. But Mirrodin Besieged didn't do anything with infect or metalcraft that Scars didn't, and Conflux didn't do anything with 5-power-matters, unearth, exalted and friends that Shards didn't. That's quite a worrying trend. (I'm not claiming those small sets didn't do anything new - of course they did. But they were new mechanics like battle cry and living weapon, domain, and fateful hour; not evolutions of the previous large set's mechanics.)

That's quite a worrying trend. Evolutions of the large set's mechanics - even if they're obvious things like off-colour or nonmana costs - are an important part of what a small set should do, to me.

The clockwise vs. counterclockwise thing is just really insignificant.  If the flashback is going to make any difference at all, you're going to play the card in a deck that has both colors.  And if your deck has white and blue, does it really make that huge a difference if you cast it for blue and then cast it again for white instead of the other way around?

When they "evolve" a mechanic from allied colors to enemy colors, that at least makes a difference.
I never respond to your articles, and now im doing so to tell you this was the worst article in a long while. Sometimes it is not my taste, like the one with the shirts, but that is not a problem. This one was just repetative (to past but also recent articles) and boring.

But please take it as a compliment, i love by far most of your articles and read them every week, thanks
and maro if you read this i really want to hear more about the design specifics of innistrad. its a format that got stale really quick. flashback is just a card advantage mechanic. And it seems like its mostly on removal spells. part of what made oddysey special was that threshold typically meant losing cards to gain it quickly. there wasnt anything like forbidden alchemy at common to just bin 4 cards. flashback was a little more interesting in that sense. so was madness. That block and innistrad feel very similar yet oddysey feels better packaged in the end. You even made an homage to it in cards like the 1/2 cat for W. 


This is an article comparing old and new yet it felt like it was three paragraphs. You hardly scratched the surface. Lets compare some old and new things. How about power level. Creatures are typically better now than in oddysey and onslaught though not to the degree people make it out to be. I want to really look at the power level between iconic rares then and now. How about inferno titan to khamal pit fighter. He was a very popular card in his day. His power level was pretty good and He had flavor. The titan is almost just unabashed power creep. Vampiric dragon vs Olivia Voldaren. I mean just off the top of my head. Exalted Angel vs Baneslayer Angel. Though as i said there isnt as much power creep, and the games mostly going in the right direction. rampant growth has been strong ever since mirage as its a secret time walk. pretty borderline too powerful.


As Toby said, Innistrad is generally very well-regarded.  I wonder why you found it stale?  Conversely, Odyssey Limited was okay, but the fact that everyone played Green in sealed because Green was the only color with guys bigger than a 2/2 got a little tiresome.  (I exaggerate for effect, but certainly the size issue was there.)  In general the cards felt awkward and frustrating compared to Invasion block, which was full of cool stuff (and just about every rare in Apocalypse was awesome).

There is definitely power creep in creatures recently, particularly more expensive ones.  On the other hand, it's not like Vampiric Dragon was very good in Constructed, so there was a bit of room for improvement... Exalted Angel did not need to become Baneslayer Angel, however (even if it did get to swing on turn 4, while Baneslayer can't attack until turn 6).  The titans, of course, are completely over the top.  Even the other power-creeped creatures generally can't compete with them.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...
I really liked this article (and I gather I'm in the minority there.)

Many, many "sequels" really stink. Even when the first few are good, there's often decay after a certain point, where everything falls down a hole of suck. There's always a risk of a story or idea continuing on past your own ability to tell/create more of it.

Magic's done an amazing job of not dying to its own sequelitis, and it's interesting to read about why. I've got some of my own long-running projects, so it's useful to read how someone else strives to keep them fresh and vibrant.

And in brief defense of the "other way around the wheel": I agree with those who say he's mentioned this too many times now. It's not splashy or impressive.

But I think that's part of the point he's making: that sometimes, continuity is about small little details that make everything feel cohesive, like going the other way around the wheel. That's never gonna wowie-zowie anybody, no... but creating continuity is as much about those little nuggets of building as it is about showing off the next new thing that fits with the old thing in a dazzling, "Wow, they hit the mark straight on with that," awe-inspiring kind of way.

So... liked the article. I don't know if it's your best, MaRo, but I can see it becoming one of the ones that has a never-quite-gone home in my browser history, given how often I'm working on ongoing stuff myself.

Thanks for the tools -- they're endlessly useful. :-)
...Actually, now that I come to think about it, recent second sets have made far less evolutions of the large set's mechanics than they used to. At least Worldwake had landfall instants/sorceries and multikicker. But Mirrodin Besieged didn't do anything with infect or metalcraft that Scars didn't, and Conflux didn't do anything with 5-power-matters, unearth, exalted and friends that Shards didn't. That's quite a worrying trend. (I'm not claiming those small sets didn't do anything new - of course they did. But they were new mechanics like battle cry and living weapon, domain, and fateful hour; not evolutions of the previous large set's mechanics.)



Interesting point, I wonder if this has to do with that new stage of design (fifth we are at now?)
Instead of evolving the sets in a block mechanically, sets are evolved flavorfully. So instead of Mirrodin Besieged and Dark Ascension evolving the mechanics from the large set, we get things like Infect in new colors, more cards with the Phyrexian watermark, missing WG cards from the cycles of multicolored cards, transform cards that show humans transforming into the major tribes, etc.
So I wonder whether this is the default now.
The article contained this as a minor point, but it strikes me as odd as written: "That said, early Magic made it too easy to get both fast and colored mana (much of the early broken stuff revolves around mana). Plus, it had mana burn which, while flavorful, added needless complexity."

Isn't mana burn supposed to be a penalty attached to cards like mana flare or basalt monolith that generated all that extra mana? Had mana burn done 2 damage per extra mana generated, would it have better served its role? I think this statement takes for granted that mana burn wasn't an important enough concept to be a rule. I played a lot of EDH when mana burn was a rule, and it did rarely come up. Now that it is gone, it would have occurred at least a few times each session if not multiple times per game. Mana burn didn't show up in play because decks were designed to avoid it.  

I am not saying mana burn needs to be back, but this statement takes for granted that the initial design of the game thought there was a need the rule. I've heard the 7-card handsize rule mentioned as a rule Magic does not need. Reliquary tower indicates it clearly matters to some segment of the player base. Otherwise people wouldn't be paying more for reliquary tower than they do creeping tar pit. It would have been interesting to see how a Reliquary tower variant for the mana burn rule would have been received. Perhaps then you'd have had a better understanding of the role of that rule to the people. Either you are right or not, but at least you wouldn't have taken it for granted that the rules was of little value. 
I am not saying mana burn needs to be back, but this statement takes for granted that the initial design of the game thought there was a need the rule. I've heard the 7-card handsize rule mentioned as a rule Magic does not need. Reliquary tower indicates it clearly matters to some segment of the player base. Otherwise people wouldn't be paying more for reliquary tower than they do creeping tar pit. It would have been interesting to see how a Reliquary tower variant for the mana burn rule would have been received. Perhaps then you'd have had a better understanding of the role of that rule to the people. Either you are right or not, but at least you wouldn't have taken it for granted that the rules was of little value. 



Reliquary Tower's popularity is actually in favor of removing the 7-card handsize. If it would be removed, everyone would have a perpetual Reliquary Tower.
I am not saying mana burn needs to be back, but this statement takes for granted that the initial design of the game thought there was a need the rule. I've heard the 7-card handsize rule mentioned as a rule Magic does not need. Reliquary tower indicates it clearly matters to some segment of the player base. Otherwise people wouldn't be paying more for reliquary tower than they do creeping tar pit. It would have been interesting to see how a Reliquary tower variant for the mana burn rule would have been received. Perhaps then you'd have had a better understanding of the role of that rule to the people. Either you are right or not, but at least you wouldn't have taken it for granted that the rules was of little value. 



Reliquary Tower's popularity is actually in favor of removing the 7-card handsize. If it would be removed, everyone would have a perpetual Reliquary Tower.



This is insane. Exploration is really expensive. Should we all just play 2 lands a turn now? Same with howling mine or any other popular card that breaks the rules? The point is that the handsize rule matters because people are very willing to try and break it. If no one cares about breaking the rule that a card that asks so little in return as reliquary tower does to break the rule, then the rule is probably not needed.  

I don't think MaRo gave mana burn a fair shake other than calling it flavorful but was too complex to be worth it. I thought it seemed like it was intended to be a rule to try and control cards that produce lots of mana, but are hard to control. that isn't just flavorful. If you want to play mana flare, how do you cast odd cmc cards without taking mana burn? That question is most often answered at deckbuilding, not during game play. During game play, is there something interesting about the risk that comes with a gaea's cradle that taps for 12 if you have no safety valve yet? Maybe that isn't worth it, but I think this quote shows it was taken for granted that the answer is 'no'.    
innistrad was stale quick because there wasnt much room for discovery imo. all the cards were easily evaluated and certain strategys were just better than others. werewolfs didnt mesh well with the set or magic in general and this is my opinion but being able to see peoples picks is a terrible addition especially when you cant replicate that on mtgo. oddysey was great because the flavor was better, there was more strategy and maybe just a higher skill cap. innistrad was like hey look vampires again but not in a good way. reminds me of an avgn video forget which one but he has this clipart he cuts away to thats just boo haunted house. RoE was also something i disliked but thats because i dislike eldrazi and i dislike the whole unfinished block thing. as maro says people like things to be the same and the 3 set block shouldnt be messed with.

but ya with innistrad my draft strategy hasnt changed from when it came out. because there just wasnt room for discovery. its one of the few sets i feel you can draft from a pick order. contrast to triple SoM where there were many underdrafted archtypes and also room for discover. SoM had many flaws sure but it always felt like a good format. Innistrad i tried really hard to like and did for a week or two.
This is insane. Exploration is really expensive. Should we all just play 2 lands a turn now? Same with howling mine or any other popular card that breaks the rules? The point is that the handsize rule matters because people are very willing to try and break it. If no one cares about breaking the rule that a card that asks so little in return as reliquary tower does to break the rule, then the rule is probably not needed.



Sure if in some future metagame people mostly build decks without any lands, perhaps we can do away with the 1 land a turn rule. The point is, playing lands and drawing cards is important every single game, whereas mana burn and maximum hand size are niche. 
I am not saying mana burn needs to be back, but this statement takes for granted that the initial design of the game thought there was a need the rule. I've heard the 7-card handsize rule mentioned as a rule Magic does not need. Reliquary tower indicates it clearly matters to some segment of the player base. Otherwise people wouldn't be paying more for reliquary tower than they do creeping tar pit. It would have been interesting to see how a Reliquary tower variant for the mana burn rule would have been received. Perhaps then you'd have had a better understanding of the role of that rule to the people. Either you are right or not, but at least you wouldn't have taken it for granted that the rules was of little value. 



Reliquary Tower's popularity is actually in favor of removing the 7-card handsize. If it would be removed, everyone would have a perpetual Reliquary Tower.



First, Reliquary Tower is popular because it is powerful. Now that mana burn is gone, a card with "{T}: Add {R}{R}{R}{R}{R}{R} to your mana pool" would be popular too. It's not because people hate the hand limit, it's because superceding the hand limit is powerful. And I'm surprised that they would explore this as one of the rules that they think might be unnecessary, especially given Maro's lessons to his daughter's class on the importance of things like catch-up mechanics. Remove the hand size and it suddenly becomes much easier to combo into huge threats. One turn to combo and draw a ton of cards, another turn to use all those cards to win. If a control deck draws three cards, that may as well be three spells you can't cast. If a contorl deck has 10 cards in hand, you very well could be looking at a lock. Neihter of these are particularly fun states. The obvious solution is more aggressive discard ("Target player discards his hand. That player may draw 4 cards"), which is also not fun in most situations, or to make nearly every future card draw card a looter so it restores a de facto hand limit.  This might be worth exploring if it helped advance the game by stripping away an unintuitive rule. But how many games actually allow a hand of unlimited size? Most traditional card games, such as poker, don't even let hand size vary at all.

In a lot of ways, the hand size rule is the opposite of mana burn. Mana burn was something that you didn't think of at all until it bit you, didn't add much to the game, and most of the time didn't serve much of a purpose. Plus, it was unintuitive to the game (What do you mean I have too many resources?) and not very flavorful. The hand size, on the other hand, is intuitive, found in many such games, comes up fairly regularly, and serves a purpose in keeping players closer to a similar power level despite whatever archetypes they're playing.

And to touch again on mana burn, I know some will disagree with me when I say it isn't flavorful. "You can't control the mana that you're drawing and it burns you; how is that not flavorful?" It's not a rule to simulate flavor, it's a rule that keeps people from going off the deep end all at once, like the hand size rule. It was ther since day one (before the four-of rule) to reign in Black Lotuses and Dark Rituals a little. It's a melvin-ish hack.  You can't justify it with flavor, but that doesn't make it flavorful. It's similar to the way Vancian spellcasting in D&D is there to restrict the usage of powerful spells, and even might make sense to you if you really love Jack Vance's ideas on spellcasting, but does not make a lot of sense in the general, its flavor is more of an unnecessarily distracting rider than an integral part of the system. Most new players didn't get it specifically because it seems out of flavor. "Wait, why is having too many resources bad? I can accept that I can't store it, but can't I just throw what I don't need away? If I don't need that much, why am i drawing that much? I am I playing an incompetent wizard?"
Mana burn was something that you didn't think of at all until it bit you, didn't add much to the game, and most of the time didn't serve much of a purpose. Plus, it was unintuitive to the game (What do you mean I have too many resources?) and not very flavorful. The hand size, on the other hand, is intuitive, found in many such games, comes up fairly regularly, and serves a purpose in keeping players closer to a similar power level despite whatever archetypes they're playing.

Just to chime in on this point:

The most common occasion on which the hand size limit comes up, by far, is in situations of mana screw. In games where one player is manascrewed, each turn they're being asked to discard a card. This is actually a very bad thing for the game, because the decision is (a) likely irrelevant (they're very likely to lose anyway), (b) painful and unpleasant (I have to choose which of these great cards to give up, usually permanently), and (c) feels like it's making an already unlikely-to-win game that much harder to win (by making the player who's screwed have to discard). It focuses the screwed player's attention on the unpleasantness of having to discard.

Outside of mana-screw situations, it's only a small number of combo decks and a fairly small proportion of control decks (remembering that MBC, MWC, and mono-red control exist) that would ever hit the hand size limit. But any deck can and will get mana-screwed. 

I think this is actually one of the best arguments for removing the hand size limit. It's the opposite of what you claim; it doesn't "keep players closer to a similar power level", but rather makes it such that a player who's already been disadvantaged by the luck of the draw is further punished by the rules.
...Actually, now that I come to think about it, recent second sets have made far less evolutions of the large set's mechanics than they used to. At least Worldwake had landfall instants/sorceries and multikicker. But Mirrodin Besieged didn't do anything with infect or metalcraft that Scars didn't, and Conflux didn't do anything with 5-power-matters, unearth, exalted and friends that Shards didn't. That's quite a worrying trend. (I'm not claiming those small sets didn't do anything new - of course they did. But they were new mechanics like battle cry and living weapon, domain, and fateful hour; not evolutions of the previous large set's mechanics.)


That's quite a worrying trend. Evolutions of the large set's mechanics - even if they're obvious things like off-colour or nonmana costs - are an important part of what a small set should do, to me.



Infect did evolve in that it appeared in white, and proliferate went in black and green. There was also the "poisoned player" thing, which I'm not sure is an evolution of infect per se, but infect is pretty much tied to poison. (Disappointly, though, it only appears on Septic Rats.) New Phyrexia also made the "play infect and non-infect" aspect with Mycosynth Fiend and Viridian Betrayers, plus expanding infect to blue and red, and proliferate to red.

About Conflux, I think it's okay that they went slow (as in, it did more of the same). The fact that one set brought five big themes meant there wasn't a lot of space for any. Also, because Alara Reborn was going to be 100% gold, they did have to hold some design tricks.

You're right that theme evolutions aren't that big, but Planar Chaos having echo not being the same as the mana cost, Planeshift having nonmana kicker costs, Legions having "When you turn this face up" triggers and Fifth Dawn equipping at instant speed aren't bigger than the double-flashback cards or in my opinion. Theme evolution has never been that big or radical.
I think the maximum hand size should be scrapped.

As alextfish pointed out, the main time it happens is when a player is mana-screwed.  In this case, the player needs to make a painful, meaningless decision when they're already in trouble.  Removing the maximum hand size wouldn't really unbalance things here.  If the player finally draws another land and can start to work on their ten-card hand, they've still spent several turns doing nothing, they still won't be able to cast many of those spells, and they'll probably still lose.

Another cases where it matters is with the "on the draw, discard your big creature card, then reanimate it" trick.  This seems rather like the "use mana burn to drop your life total, then use cards that want your life total to be low" trick.  In both cases, it's a legitimate strategy while the relevant rule exists, but it's not what the rules are there for, and it's not a reason to keep the rule aroud.

Finally, there's the case where you're generating ridiculous amounts of card advantage and thus has more cards than they can deal with.  In this case, they're probably already winning.  Needing to then discard cards isn't a big deal.  Among the cards in their hand, there are probably some they don't need, especially if they can continue to draw more cards next turn.  There's no sense in keeping lands if you've already got enough on the battlefield or if it's more than the one per turn you can play.  And putting cards in your graveyard can often be nearly as good as (or, in some cases, better than) having them in your hand.  And, of course, while card advantage is great, card selection is often nearly as good.  Cards like Ponder, Brainstorm, and Faithless Looting don't give any card advantage, but they're still useful for the selection.

Neither mana burn nor the maximum hand size can actually serve to balance cards.  Something like that ": Add to your mana pool" would be a ridiculously powerful ability, both with mana burn and without it.  Players who generate lots of mana probably have some use for it, or they have a way to sink what they don't need, or the portion that they do need is important enough that they won't mind taking some mana burn on the rest.  Similarly, players who draw ridiculous numbers of cards probably have a use for them (e.g. they can then play those cards), or they have a way to discard what they don't need, or drawing the specific cards they do need is important enought that they don't mind discarding the rest.  Removing mana burn did affect what kinds of tangentially-related cards they could print (fateful hour wouldn't have been possible with mana burn, while cards like Citadel of Pain just look silly without it).  It didn't affect what kind of actual mana production they could print, and removing the maximum hand size wouldn't affect what kind of card draw they could print.

I see only two meaningful reasons why the maximum hand size should stay.  One is that it makes it easier to hold and keep track of your hand if it's kept at a reasonable size.  The other is that there are cards that specifically interact with it (what would Spellbook's wording need to be if there was no maximum hand size rule?).
The color wheel—You only need to look through early Magic cards to see how out-of-whack the color pie was. Blue did direct damage, green countered spells, red could destroy enchantments. All the basic philosophical tenets were there, but Richard allowed flavor to overrun color consistency.



Ok, I was a little confused when Maro said that red could destroy enchantments, but I quickly realized that he was talking about Active Volcano, Red Elemental Blast, and kin. Thank god that we stopped being able to get rid of all of those important blue enchantments (well, i guess Stasis counts . . .), and stopped printing ways to destroy / disable enchantments.



Ooopsie!
One turn to combo and draw a ton of cards, another turn to use all those cards to win. If a control deck draws three cards, that may as well be three spells you can't cast. If a contorl deck has 10 cards in hand, you very well could be looking at a lock.



This has been said before, but a control player camping on 7 counterspells isn't really different from a control player camping on 4 counterspells. I guess it's important if you plan on playing a lot of Dralnu mirror matches, but how often does that happen?

As for the combo part, I'm assuming you're talking about something like a storm combo deck, but it's really the same case as with the control deck. The goal isn't necessarily to have lots of cards in hand, but instead to chain through cantrips/card draws until you find what you need to win. Assuming you have the mana to cast it, having a single Ill-gotten gains or Ad Nauseum in hand isn't really different from having a hand of 10 cards.

Alextfish and Adeyke have it right; maximum hand size's main accomplishment is punishing players who are already losing. It's lame.


Alextfish and Adeyke have it right; maximum hand size's main accomplishment is punishing players who are already losing. It's lame.



I'm still going to disagree here. Usually when I'm mana screwed, the choice of discard is prety easy: the big spell that I have no chance of casting in the next 3 turns. Or if that's a cornerstone of my strategy, the weenie that's effectively the same as the other three weenies I have. Calling it a painful decision is like calling looting a painful decision. I'm not angry that I have to get rid of something, I'm angry that I can't cast what I kept.

The real problem in these situations is the existence of manascrew. That's why a number of games since Magic was introduced decided to separate resources and actions (essentially keeping a "lands only" deck to draw from right beside a "spells only deck" of things you actually want to play).

And I'm still not convinced that if you remove the hand limit limit you'll be able to avoid awkward design situations where you have to skew the power/cost ratio on draw spells even more than you already do.
@Kemev: Maximum hand size does not necessarily punish losing players. It can, but may not necessarily be, a game changer. For example, say you want certain cards for a combo to cast in the same turn. You may be doing just fine in the game, but lack what you want to cast. Maximum hand size may prevent a "chain through cantrips/card draws until you find what you need to win."

The graveyard mechanic in Innistrad block seems to be a way to work around the necessity to discard a card if one has 7 cards in hand. This may help the cantrips you mention in your post.

The problem with the red cards Fuxorfly mentioned was that they're too cheap. Maybe that's why WotC decided to rotate out Lightning Bolt in Standard.

I like Mental Mistep and the other cards that offer the choice to pay life instead of mana. They make the game much more interesting and challenging. I'd like to see a creature or planeswalker that can be cast either by paying mana or life, but not both.

For example:
Griselbrand, ArchDemon of the Helvault
Creature-Demon

You may cast this spell either by paying its mana cost or 10 life. Each upkeep, pay or Griselbrand ArchDemon of the Helvault deals 5 damage to you and is exiled.
Flying, trample, deathtouch
5/5
The example of this in Dark Ascension was our evolving of the mechanics from Innistrad. Double-faced cards are back, but now they aren't just creatures (or a planeswalker). Flashback returns, but its off-color cycle goes the other way around the color wheel and there's a rare cycle that does something splashy (double the flashbacked effect) the audience hasn't seen before. The tribes all return, but now there are new tools for them and tweaks to their strategies.

None of this felt like real innovation to me, sadly. As has been pointed out, the existence of Garruk Relentless makes the whole "now they're not all creatures" innovation a non-point; the real innovation in DFCs was abilities that trigger on transformation, but that was only done on two cards. The flasback cycle that now goes in the opposite direction is just laughable; I didn't even realize there was a cycle in Innistrad, let alone that you "went the other way" in Dark Ascension. To innovate on flasback, you need to make it actually do something new, not just change the costs from one color to another. The "doubled if flashbacked" cycle is new, certainly, but didn't really seem innovative to me; that's just my personal opinion though. And other than spirits getting tapping effects, and each tribe now having a standard lord (which is the furthest from a new thing you can get, as lords have existed for even longer than tribal themes have), I don't really see any innovation in the tribes.

In each case, the mechanics were brand new,

Neither Undying nor Fateful Hour is actually brand new at all. Undying is just an inversion on Persist, and Fateful Hour is just a tweak on Avatar of Hope, or on the bloodied mechanic from Innistrad vampires, changing "less than ten life" to five and opponent to controller. It's just a life threshold, which has definitely been done before.
That's not to say these two mechanics aren't new; they are. They just are not even close to "brand new".

A common question I often get is "People really seem to like Thing X. Why don't you make Thing X an evergreen thing like you always do?" The answer is this very point. The way you keep a thing exciting is by not making it readily available. Having sets chock full of multicolor cards every year, for example, would only make players take multicolor for granted and lessen their overall desire for it. Holding back when players get a particular popular thing makes its return a cause for celebration and excites people.

I agree with this in every instance except the full art lands from Zendikar. Holding off on mechanics makes a lot of sense, as it allows you to stretch design space over time, keeps individual sets from being too complex, and doesn't strain set density by requiring you to make at least one card for every evergreen mechanic every single set. Holding off on full-art lands so that when you do return to them for a year they feel special is stupid. Unlike mechanics, you lose nothing by making them evergreen; unlike mechanics, they won't get stale; unlike mechanics, they won't tie your hands in design.

I, too, was disappointed in this article. It felt like we didn't really cover any new ground, at all. Everything said here has been said in previous MaRo articles. There is some value in bringing everything together in one place, sure, but that doesn't make for an exciting read.
However, this isn't MaRo's fault. I've read every one of his articles, so of course it's going to be nearly impossible for him to cover ground I haven't seen him cover before. This is why his card-by-card design stories articles are my favorite these days: when he's talking about specifics, it's fresh content.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
Ok, about mana burn.  It is both flavorful and simple.  How is it flavorful?  Well, when you gather engery and don't use it, it hurts you.  It was suggested that you throw it away but how would you do that?  Through a spell perhaps?  Oh, that's how it already works?  And what if you don't have a spell?  It hurts you.

How is it simple?  Well, when you empty your mana pools any mana (energy)  left over hurts you.  Done.  Easy.  Not complex.

Now most people don't care about  mana burn.  I however feel that it is indicative of the failure of Magic.  The people at wizards has set the precedent that they can make changes for no good reason, and if they did think they were good reasons then Magic is in trouble because the people running it have questionable intelligence.  The part that is most frustrating is how the magic community didn't bat an eyelash because they were too upset over a rules change that at least could be defended (combat damage) even if you didn't agree with the change.
My thoughts:
I miss manaburn, or at least it was part of the game when I learned to play it so I still have the mindset of being careful about mana. I thought it was flavorful too. (But I also miss the days when land destruction started at cmc 3, so there we are)

If we did away with a maximum hand size, where is the incentive for players to learn how to mulligan? Tossing a bad 7 card hand in favor of 6 cards that could give you a better start and more of a chance of winning took me a while to grasp (but if I draw a land the next 2 or 3 turns I'm good!), but I think I was a better player once I did. The max hand rule forced me to learn that skill, which is my arguement toward it being something that should be held onto.
I've been playing (with some gaps) since the late 90's. Land Destruction can be fun! I really don't get the Command Tower backlash.
Reliquary tower is an uncommon that taps for colorless and has an extra ability. It retails for more than Kessig wolf run, which is a rare, taps for a colorless mana, and is in the name of the deck that took 1st and 2nd in the last PT. Personally, that tells me Reliquary tower matters to a very large playerbase. Personally, I see it used by people with howling mines, consecrated sphinx, or that plan to dump Kozilek into play off quicksilver amulet or something like that. I also see those Reliquary Towers get hit by strip mine.

This is obviously just anecodal, but it seems like a large segment of players must really be impacted by the max handsize in the casual setting given its secondary value. There are certainly valid reasons why its existance outside casual may make it a negative rule overall, but simply removing it because it fuels reanimator sometimes ignores that it supresses the above strategies in casual.

To that end, the only place I have personally observed mana burn being a functional part of the game on a regular basis was also in casual Magic. To that end, was it assumed that 'since it doesn't come up' at the PT or even FNM, that mana burn didn't play an important role to casual Magic? And if it actually did, was its role taken for granted and not weighed well?   
The real reason Manaburn had to go was because it was regularly leverage into an advantage, when it was intended to be a punishment.
Reliquary tower is an uncommon that taps for colorless and has an extra ability. It retails for more than Kessig wolf run, which is a rare, taps for a colorless mana, and is in the name of the deck that took 1st and 2nd in the last PT. Personally, that tells me Reliquary tower matters to a very large playerbase. Personally, I see it used by people with howling mines, consecrated sphinx, or that plan to dump Kozilek into play off quicksilver amulet or something like that. I also see those Reliquary Towers get hit by strip mine.

This is obviously just anecodal, but it seems like a large segment of players must really be impacted by the max handsize in the casual setting given its secondary value. There are certainly valid reasons why its existance outside casual may make it a negative rule overall, but simply removing it because it fuels reanimator sometimes ignores that it supresses the above strategies in casual.



No, the only valid reason to remove it, just like with Mana Burn, would be because it doesn't pull its weight as a rule. It doesn't make the game a better game. 


The part that is most frustrating is how the magic community didn't bat an eyelash because they were too upset over a rules change that at least could be defended (combat damage) even if you didn't agree with the change.



Or maybe they just agreed with the removal of mana burn? 

If we did away with a maximum hand size, where is the incentive for players to learn how to mulligan? Tossing a bad 7 card hand in favor of 6 cards that could give you a better start and more of a chance of winning took me a while to grasp (but if I draw a land the next 2 or 3 turns I'm good!), but I think I was a better player once I did. The max hand rule forced me to learn that skill, which is my arguement toward it being something that should be held onto.

 

'Learning skills' is not automatically always a positive. Spikes are very interested in it, Timmies not so much. Oddysey block learned skills about using your hand and graveyard as a resource, but it wasn't received well by many. 
After reading Maro's articles for just over a year, I've been gradually getting more and more frustrated by his style. Whether he or anyone else cares isn't all that important to me, I just need to at least voice the annoyances, and quite possibly the reason I will stop reading them from today. I don't want this to come across as trolling. Maro says he reads every mail he gets and takes what people say on board. So here goes.

Maro comes across sometimes as incredibly arrogant, but also seemingly with a bit of insecurity. I'll get right to the point, with an example from this article, and a more general example of something I've seen him write in many, many articles (I'd almost be willing to bet that some varient of it appears in every single one). 

"Total freedom can often be very intimidating to an artist (connected to my whole "restrictions breed creativity" belief)"

The implication here is that Mark Rosewater is an artist. That's as it may be; anyone can be an artist, and art can effectively be anything. Games, like films and other media, can be art (I don't want to start a games-as-art debate here), but clearly not all of them are. This is no bad thing, most games aren't striving to be art. I think it's a fairly sure-fire thing to say that Magic: The Gathering is not art. What artistic statements does it make? It's a game, pure and simple (and good for it). Making Magic does not make you an artist. For Mark to talk about himself in these kinds of lofty terms comes across arrogant, and frankly a little bit ridiculous. 

The next is the more general way he refers to himself; to illustrate, here's a quote from his Dark Shadows, Part 2 article:

"That I, Mark Rosewater, Head Designer of Magic and lead designer of both Innistrad and Dark Ascension love Oozes." 

He constantly refers to himself as Magic's Head Designer; set X's lead designer; Head of Magic Design and Magic Lead Designer of Designing Magic HEAD OF DESIGN. Seriously, is there anyone here who doesn't already know this? How about putting a short little bio at the top of his articles guys, so newcomers can find out that Mark Rosewater is MAGIC'S HEAD OF DESIGN. Then Mark can stop plastering this on everything he writes (he even does it interviews!), and we can get on with reading whatever it is he's writing about. 

This general tone is also all over the rest of his articles. He'll constantly refer to a card "I" designed, how "I" came up with a solution to a problem, etc. It's just so lacking in any kind of humbleness or humility, and whilst I'm sure he does do an awful lot in the design process, he takes focus away from all the other people who make Magic when he talks like this. You could be forgiven for thinking Mark Rosewater is the soul creator of Magic. Heck even when he refers to Richard Garfield I feel like I can see him struggling, because here he clearly has to put someone above himself.

So yeah. This stuff really is annoying for me; I really dislike seeing people trying to make themselves look better. Mark, you have an impressive job, career history, and whatever else; so just let that be! Nobody likes a show-off.

I'm done. I hope my post wasn't too inflammatory. I wouldn't dare to imagine Maro will actually change his style on account of this (I can't imagine this is the first time it's been raised), but I will dare to hope it will. 

Thanks. 
I wonder how much this has to do with MaRo's belief that everything is about people, not about things. 

He has said once that Making Magic isn't actually about Magic Design, but about a person, Mark Rosewater.

This leads to him telling all the stories about his designs, and not telling us any stories about how others are designing, solving problems, coming up with interesting stuff.

(I disagree with his beliefs, as this differs from person to person. Some will be more interested in people, others will be more interested in things)

As for the art discussion, I would like to add the difference between fine arts and applied arts. Many things like the ones you named, film, games, etc, can be either. Magic is clearly applied arts, but that still makes its creators artists.
The color wheel—You only need to look through early Magic cards to see how out-of-whack the color pie was. Blue did direct damage, green countered spells, red could destroy enchantments. All the basic philosophical tenets were there, but Richard allowed flavor to overrun color consistency.



Ok, I was a little confused when Maro said that red could destroy enchantments, but I quickly realized that he was talking about Active Volcano, Red Elemental Blast, and kin. Thank god that we stopped being able to get rid of all of those important blue enchantments (well, i guess Stasis counts . . .), and stopped printing ways to destroy / disable enchantments.



Ooopsie!



well it's the thing I really like about the earlier part of magic and make them feel more like enemy colours...

blue (ice) doing damage was also great prodigal sorcerer and flavourfull...Psionic blast is too strong...

removing mana burn is still a stupid mistake !!

@TobyornotToby: yeah, that's a fair point, re- the applied/fine arts thing. But generally in the field of applied arts, the creators aren't referred to as artists. In the case of games they're designers, which in this case fits perfectly. Either way though, even if he could be considered an artist, to refer to yourself in those terms the way he does is just plain arrogant-sounding.

Heck even when he refers to Richard Garfield I feel like I can see him struggling, because here he clearly has to put someone above himself.



Haha amazing, thanks for that
If we did away with a maximum hand size, where is the incentive for players to learn how to mulligan? Tossing a bad 7 card hand in favor of 6 cards that could give you a better start and more of a chance of winning took me a while to grasp (but if I draw a land the next 2 or 3 turns I'm good!), but I think I was a better player once I did. The max hand rule forced me to learn that skill, which is my arguement toward it being something that should be held onto.

 

'Learning skills' is not automatically always a positive. Spikes are very interested in it, Timmies not so much. Oddysey block learned skills about using your hand and graveyard as a resource, but it wasn't received well by many. 




True. I don't think I got my intended point across though. One of the arguements about max hand size is players don't like tossing spells because they won't get to play them. Keeping bad hands because they don't have to worry about discarding down to 7 doesn't mean they'll be able to play those spells because there's a good chance they'll be killed before drawing into the needed mana.

I think in this I am more Spike than Timmy, keeping a bad hand and trying to draw into mana is less fun then mulling for a hand I can do something with.
I've been playing (with some gaps) since the late 90's. Land Destruction can be fun! I really don't get the Command Tower backlash.
The implication here is that Mark Rosewater is an artist. That's as it may be; anyone can be an artist, and art can effectively be anything. Games, like films and other media, can be art (I don't want to start a games-as-art debate here), but clearly not all of them are. This is no bad thing, most games aren't striving to be art. I think it's a fairly sure-fire thing to say that Magic: The Gathering is not art. What artistic statements does it make? It's a game, pure and simple (and good for it). Making Magic does not make you an artist. For Mark to talk about himself in these kinds of lofty terms comes across arrogant, and frankly a little bit ridiculous.



As someone who writes, I didn't really see that bit as arrogant. I thought of that more as, well, the phenomenon he's talking about is common to designers and artists. Think how much something like the Star Wars prequels sucked -- it's something that often happens when a story's truly interesting arc is over but its creators keep going back to mine it for more stuff. Whether their motive is $$$ or even the more benign "wouldn't more be neat," they're not going to succeed at sequels (or prequels that are created later in time) unless they know the pitfalls and are invested in avoiding them.

I do think Maro can be arrogant, but I don't think that sentence was an example of it.