03/19/2012 MM: "Lord of the Things"

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

Weren't there actually six of the Onslaught 'Lords'? White had one for Clerics and one for Soldiers.
The lords in alpha didn't have the lord creature type. At least, not in alpha.
One of the questions I keep getting about this card was why it made black Zombies rather than blue Zombies. After all, aren't these supposed to be more of Frankenstein-monster-style Zombies? What gives? The answer is a pretty mundane one. The 2/2 Zombie token in Innistrad block is black. There's only one, meaning any Zombie token maker only has one choice of the token to use. I'm sure few of you think about things such as token resources (we try hard to reuse what we have as to keep from making too many tokens), but R&D does.



REALLY? There's 3 different black zombie tokens and a blue 2/2 homonculus token (used for only 1 card, I might add), but you couldn't make a 2/2 blue zombie token? I call shennanigans. 

"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

One of the questions I keep getting about this card was why it made black Zombies rather than blue Zombies. After all, aren't these supposed to be more of Frankenstein-monster-style Zombies? What gives? The answer is a pretty mundane one. The 2/2 Zombie token in Innistrad block is black. There's only one, meaning any Zombie token maker only has one choice of the token to use. I'm sure few of you think about things such as token resources (we try hard to reuse what we have as to keep from making too many tokens), but R&D does.



REALLY? There's 3 different black zombie tokens and a blue 2/2 homonculus token (used for only 1 card, I might add), but you couldn't make a 2/2 blue zombie token? I call shennanigans. 




Eh, adding blue 2/2 Homunculi, Vampires, Vampires with Lifelink, Humans, and :B: Wolves with Deathtouch was a bit of a stretch as far as token adding to the token resevoir goes. Really, it's better for the game to remain conservative about the types of tokens and counters available to avoid confusion. Soldier Token and Soldier Ally Token are the same token when not using Ally triggers- for example.

Also, interestingly enough, the Titans are all "lords" in some regard that when they enter the battlefield and attack they can often break control, making them strong in several different deck types.
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Also, interestingly enough, the Titans are all "lords" in some regard that when they enter the battlefield and attack they can often break control, making them strong in several different deck types.

That's... not at all what being a Lord is about.
Weren't there actually six of the Onslaught 'Lords'? White had one for Clerics and one for Soldiers.


You're right. This is why we have Gatherer.
I assume you just wanted to point out that Maro said "4 others" when talking about Skirk Fire Marshal


The lords in alpha didn't have the lord creature type. At least, not in alpha.



You're absolutely right about Goblin King, Lord of Atlantis was "Summon Lord of Atlantis," and maybe that doesn't count, but Zombie Master was always "Summon Lord."

Anyway, regarding Cemetery Reaper, I'm curious how Maro would like to improve it, as zombie tokens have always been 2/2s. I suppose it makes Reaper particularly strong, especially since you can exile opponents' graveyard creatures, which is what I think is the strongest part, but not too powerful. The easiest way to improve it would be the art. Or just reprint Lord of the Undead.

Also, interestingly enough, the Titans are all "lords" in some regard that when they enter the battlefield and attack they can often break control, making them strong in several different deck types.

That's... not at all what being a Lord is about.



I think you missed what I meant.
A titan is a "lord" in the sense that a traditional "lord" is to a tribe, a titan is to it's patron color. They carry very "lord"-like abilities, but have no subtype affiliation other than Giant. Or rather, the Titans carry lord-like effects, because they may well have evolved from lords- save that rather than make a tribe better, they generate card advantage.
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Since normally Maro says that's it's bad design having a card being multi-color for no actual reason, I would be interested to what makes Diregraf Captain  being blue, apart from belonging to a set where there are blue zombies... Is it just flavour?
Since normally Maro says that's it's bad design having a card being multi-color for no actual reason, I would be interested to what makes Diregraf Captain  being blue, apart from belonging to a set where there are blue zombies... Is it just flavour?



Actually, it's the Watchwolf effect. 2 weighted mana in the same color usually equates to "half a mana" more than a single weighted mana. 2 weighted mana in different colors makes the spell effectively harder to cast, and thus able to round up it's abilities to be similars to that of a spell that cost a whole mana more. In the Captain's case, it has 3 great abilities, even if they are all "black flavored", it needed a second color in it's casting cost to not cost 4 or 5.
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Since normally Maro says that's it's bad design having a card being multi-color for no actual reason, I would be interested to what makes Diregraf Captain  being blue, apart from belonging to a set where there are blue zombies... Is it just flavour?


All the DKA lords are the two colors of their tribe. None of them need to be mechanically.
Since normally Maro says that's it's bad design having a card being multi-color for no actual reason, I would be interested to what makes Diregraf Captain  being blue, apart from belonging to a set where there are blue zombies... Is it just flavour?



The actual reason is to encourage certain multicolor decks in limited.
Also, interestingly enough, the Titans are all "lords" in some regard that when they enter the battlefield and attack they can often break control, making them strong in several different deck types.

That's... not at all what being a Lord is about.



I think you missed what I meant.
A titan is a "lord" in the sense that a traditional "lord" is to a tribe, a titan is to it's patron color. They carry very "lord"-like abilities, but have no subtype affiliation other than Giant. Or rather, the Titans carry lord-like effects, because they may well have evolved from lords- save that rather than make a tribe better, they generate card advantage.



While I can follow your first sentence (a titan being a reason to play a color just as a lord is a reason to play a tribe (unless that's not what it means then I missed everything)), everything after that still makes no sense at all to be. The last line is like saying "a car may well have evolved from an apple- save that rather than be a fruit it's a construct." Lords and titans have mechanically nothing to do with each other whatsoever. If you substract "making a tribe better" from a lord, what is left?
Since normally Maro says that's it's bad design having a card being multi-color for no actual reason, I would be interested to what makes Diregraf Captain  being blue, apart from belonging to a set where there are blue zombies... Is it just flavour?



It's meant to be the zombie lord in the set and zombies are black and blue in Innistrad.  Does there need to be any other reason for it to be multicolored?

I agree that if there were no blue zombies in the block this card could become all black without any issue. 
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I always thought it'd be awesome to have keyword lords.
Like "Other creatures with haste you control get +1/+1."
They would fit nicely in a Core Set and would explore a new design space.

I think Exalted experimented with that to some extend.
Archon of Redemption is sort of a flying lord. I agree that this would be an interesting design space to explore more; the problem is that you have to either make the effect pretty weak or worry about the power level of everything with that keyword...
I think the article gave an interesting view into how the perspective of a designer differs from mine.  MaRo first gave a definition of his term and then provided examples that, in my mind, don't at all fit it.

By "creatures that boost all the creatures (nowadays usually ones you control) of one or more creature types", I'd count creatures that give a positive P/T boost and/or beneficial abilities to members of their tribe.  MaRo is instead also counting those that have an activated ability that involve tapping a member of the tribe, those that have a triggered ability somehow involving a member of the tribe, those that modify the rules in a way that benefits a tribe, and (in an admittedly gray area) those that boost only a single member of the tribe.

I wonder, then, why the following don't count:
Boggart Mob
Flamestick Courier
Goblin Taskmaster
Goblin Wizard
Skirk Drill Sergeant

Lullmage Mentor

Frightshroud Courier
Zombie Trailblazer

Personally, I think the concept of a lord his no longer useful.  No matter how you define the term, you either end up including or omitting cards you shouldn't, or you need to stretch the definition in order to make the list you want.   In Lorwyn block, they completely abandoned the idea of a tribe as "one or two lords and a bunch of tribe members", instead going for "a bunch of tribe members who have different degrees of tribal interactions".
I always thought it'd be awesome to have keyword lords.
Like "Other creatures with haste you control get +1/+1."
They would fit nicely in a Core Set and would explore a new design space.

I think Exalted experimented with that to some extend.


There's also Sprite Noble; understandably forgotten, but not too bad in a heavy-flyers deck. Stonebrow, Krosan Hero and Cavalry Master do similar things for flying and flanking too. And you could see Stronghold Overseer as a shadow lord.

And Diamond Faerie is probably the only supertype lord!
I always thought it'd be awesome to have keyword lords.
Like "Other creatures with haste you control get +1/+1."
They would fit nicely in a Core Set and would explore a new design space.

I think Exalted experimented with that to some extend.


There's also Sprite Noble; understandably forgotten, but not too bad in a heavy-flyers deck. Stonebrow, Krosan Hero and Cavalry Master do similar things for flying and flanking too. And you could see Stronghold Overseer as a shadow lord.

And Diamond Faerie is probably the only supertype lord!



Well, I even knew some of those cards. I guess market research revealed that players are not too interested in this mechanic and thus they never put it in a set as a bigger theme. Sadly.
I was quite surprised by the comments on Goblin Warchief. I always thought that card was one of those mistakes that happen when you make cycles of cards. That one pushed goblins more than they needed to be pushed and resulted in a goblins vs anti-goblins metagame. That metagame then appeared to result in Mirrodin being pushed more than it should have and people fleeing the game with bannings behind them. I guess a designer would say fast, aggressive cards would like to be faster and more aggressive. But designers get into trouble a lot when they cheat mana costs. Haste to some degree cheats mana costs, and the way the goblins the warchief was meant to lead were costed, a 1R that gets huge when attacking in a pack, the warchief is much more likely than others to account for multiple mana per turn.

The other card I found interesting is Diregraf Captain. In this day and age, creatures are typically worded to better support multiplayer, yet this guy targets one player. Vengeful Dead is probably the better zombie lord for a multiplayer deck than the Captain is. Why make this one target?

Lastly, on tokens, I have a box of over 100 token creature cards I use. I have a pile of even more I sub in and out from what I carry depending on what I know can come up. Being able to use one token card for multiple token-producing cards is really really nice. I am glad you didn't make a blue zombie token, but did you consider re-using the blue/black zombie wizard token from Alara block?  It might have split the difference a little better.     
So, speculation on what we'll see next week when we "see the point"?

AVR lords?

a special set of just lords?



Maro claims that it is easier to "keep track of".

I respectfully disagree. This may be true for that one creature. But as soon as I have multiple lord in play (which is the point usually) I have a bigger problem to keep track of.

example:

I have 6 Zombie tokens and 3 zombie lords. Instead of adding up all the values on my creatures and then adding 3 to each. I have to caculate each one seperately. 

In my expierence it is easier to add up Undead Warchief rather than Lord of the Undead.
And Diamond Faerie is probably the only supertype lord!



That may well be the case, if you mean a [supertype] creature that boosts other [supertype] creatures.  There are, however, quite a few legendary cards that boost the "legendary" tribe, such as Day of Destiny and Reki, the History of Kamigawa.

Skirk Fire Marshal is good example of the conspiratorial ability. For me, the first is still one of the best: the Hand of Justice from Fallen Empires's ability to call a tribunal and execute a creature. There are quite a few abilities like that now, of course.

As for "ability lords" like Hand of the Praetors, some abilities are easier to pull off than others. For example, there are very few cards that grant infect, so there's not much risk of a creature getting it then having a player forget about the interaction when it deal damage. Trample and flying can be granted, but since you have bear those in mind every time oyu attack or block, Idon't see a lot of risk in forgetting about the interaction (especially when the boost is in the form of a single activated or triggered ability).

Giving abilities based on haste or flash seems a little chancier. I can see forgetting that Act of Aggression also makes the stolen creature applicable for a boost, or splitting hairs over phrases like "as though they had flash"in gatherer text. On the other hand, creatures with flash and haste are generally vanilla after the first turn, so it would be interesting to see them get a boost.

Hand of the Praetors, Diamond Faerie, and Day of Destiny are also pretty special in that they exist almost completely to boost "block creatures". They're intended to offset the riskiness of building a deck around infect, snow, and ~100% legendary creatures that the themes or their block ask you to try out.




Maro claims that it is easier to "keep track of".

I respectfully disagree. This may be true for that one creature. But as soon as I have multiple lord in play (which is the point usually) I have a bigger problem to keep track of.

example:

I have 6 Zombie tokens and 3 zombie lords. Instead of adding up all the values on my creatures and then adding 3 to each. I have to caculate each one seperately. 

In my expierence it is easier to add up Undead Warchief rather than Lord of the Undead.




I would say there are some situations that are easier for each, although it is also a bit of a memory thing. From my perspective, though, it is also about looking good: Undead Warchief would look a lot better as a 3/2 for 4 mana that does stuff than a 1/1 for 4 mana that does stuff, even though it it is actually just a 3/2 whenever it is on the battlefield. These sorts of things matter, particularly for newer players, and lords are very popular among newer players.
I was quite surprised by the comments on Goblin Warchief. I always thought that card was one of those mistakes that happen when you make cycles of cards. That one pushed goblins more than they needed to be pushed and resulted in a goblins vs anti-goblins metagame.


If Goblin Warchief is a mistake, it's (primarily) a development one and not a design one. Competitive metagames are not in Maro's scope.
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I was quite surprised by the comments on Goblin Warchief. I always thought that card was one of those mistakes that happen when you make cycles of cards. That one pushed goblins more than they needed to be pushed and resulted in a goblins vs anti-goblins metagame.


If Goblin Warchief is a mistake, it's (primarily) a development one and not a design one. Competitive metagames are not in Maro's scope.


But it isn't a mistake, it makes goblins a super fast aggressive deck, and the strongest deck of it's standard was Storm Blue, the Goblin deck happened to have near free Goblins and the silver bullet Goblin Piledriver, so it solved the dominant deck of the day. The card was and remains well designed in what it does.
 
That's like saying Squadron Hawk is a mistake because it enabled an oppressive deck to keep up with RDW, Kuldotha Red and WW. But it was the rest of the deck that was competitive with Valakut.
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I was quite surprised by the comments on Goblin Warchief. I always thought that card was one of those mistakes that happen when you make cycles of cards. That one pushed goblins more than they needed to be pushed and resulted in a goblins vs anti-goblins metagame.


If Goblin Warchief is a mistake, it's (primarily) a development one and not a design one. Competitive metagames are not in Maro's scope.


But it isn't a mistake, it makes goblins a super fast aggressive deck, and the strongest deck of it's standard was Storm Blue, the Goblin deck happened to have near free Goblins and the silver bullet Goblin Piledriver, so it solved the dominant deck of the day. The card was and remains well designed in what it does.
 
That's like saying Squadron Hawk is a mistake because it enabled an oppressive deck to keep up with RDW, Kuldotha Red and WW. But it was the rest of the deck that was competitive with Valakut.



The decks of the day were goblins against white astral slide decks/rift slide. The pro blue on piledriver was because they thought wizards would be good but weren't. 

My original point is that it is design's job to know that on a cycle of cards where 5 tribes get 'this tribe's guys cost 1 less' that the nature of beasts means this effect is likely to happen once per turn, but the nature of goblins means it can happen 2 or 3 times in a turn.  While WOTC was acused of building our decks for us back then, WOTC didn't have bidding in their build. If I am not mistaken, this was around the time they first started keying 'haste' specifically, and that ability combined w/ bidding made for a potent combo. White could wrath, but the entire army just came back with haste. I think if they had goblin warchief to do over again, something might have been different, but whatever. Some people like games to be over before they really begin.     
I'm confused. Merfolk are fish people, right? Biologically fish, socially people. Fish don't produce milk, last I checked. So why do all female merfolk have prominent breasts? (I want a flavorful reason; I know the real reason is because the core demographic is young men.)
I'm confused. Merfolk are fish people, right? Biologically fish, socially people. Fish don't produce milk, last I checked. So why do all female merfolk have prominent breasts? (I want a flavorful reason; I know the real reason is because the core demographic is young men.)


Front-loading egg sacs. Done and done.
I'm confused. Merfolk are fish people, right? Biologically fish, socially people. Fish don't produce milk, last I checked. So why do all female merfolk have prominent breasts? (I want a flavorful reason; I know the real reason is because the core demographic is young men.)

Merfolk are creatures of magic. Either they were created directly by magic, or magic had a hand in their evolution into their current form. Either way, this explanation works:

Merfolk are the magical merger of fish and human. They have physical traits from both, as well as natural abilities (speech and sentience from the human side, underwater breathing and faster swimming from the fish side). The breasts may or may not serve a purpose, for who's to say whether they count as fish or mammal? However, even if they don't actually function anymore, that doesn't mean they shouldn't exist. They're a vestigal trait, carried over from the human half of their physiology.
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The pro blue on piledriver was because they thought wizards would be good but weren't.



Wasn't it because of Psychatog?
Weren't there actually six of the Onslaught 'Lords'? White had one for Clerics and one for Soldiers.



Most people also define "lord" more loosely, as "any creature which helps creatures of a certain creature type". This would include, for instance, Seahunter, which can search for a Rootwater Thief, and then destroy any combo deck that has so far failed to fire off, filling the merfolk's tribal identity as the "control" weenies.

Tribal mechanics are everywhere, though. Besides giving zombies a new lord, the Invasion block also gave three green races ones.

Perhaps the oddest lords are in New Phyrexia. You get six "splicers", golem lords that produce golem tokens and give them (+1/+1, trample, flying, vigilance, first strike, regenerate). Scars also gave us a precursor with, well, Precursor Golem, but that one's a bit of a double-edged sword, but amazing if it works.

The flip side is tribal hosers. This was first seen in Arabian Nights with King Suleiman. (And admittedly, Juzam and Serendib need it.) Then came Tivadar's Crusade in The Dark. Prophecy failed at this, like so much else. But by far, the best of these, hosing not only humans but infect, is Mikaeus, the Unhallowed.
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The flip side is tribal hosers. This was first seen in Arabian Nights with King Suleiman.



Alpha did have cards like Dwarven Demolition Team and Tunnel, though I can see why you wouldn't count those.