04/16/2012 MM: "Avacyn-gle Ladies, Part 1"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
That ... that's quite the pun, there!  Sire Rosewater, my hat's off to you already!
That ... that's quite the pun, there!  Sire Rosewater, my hat's off to you already!



If you like it so much, you should put a ring on it.

This card was originally designed for Innistrad. At the time, we weren't quite sure where the third set was going, so the idea of an Angel-making card didn't seem all that odd.


What???


We're in this New Magic Order of 6-year plans, flavor-defined blocks and top-down design, and now you're telling us you committed to a Large/Small/Large block structure without even knowing what the basis of the third set would be?


We've been told that theme precedes the mechanics, mechanics dictate the block structure, and the sets' layouts are the starting point for card design.  So how is it possible to be designing cards for a block and not know what the whole theme is yet?  This just seems so contradictory to everything you keep telling us.  


Which is not to say it's a badly-designed set, Mark.  I'm just wondering if your plans and principles are, like my desk, organized in theory but extremely disheveled in practice.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

Oh also, I like what you said about Looting.  A lot of us were concerned that red would be "all random, all the time".  Discard as a cost is just fine, and clearly Tibalt just wouldn't work with that because PWs don't like additional costs.  (Although I guess he could have gotten the "if you do..." rider.)

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

I've talked numerous times about how human brains seek out pattern completions and that if you start creating a pattern, you have to finish it—otherwise, you create negative feelings in the audience, which expects the pattern to finish.

Mikaeus, the Lunarch; Geist of Saint Traft; Grimgrin, Corpse-Born; Olivia Voldaren... ... Legendary Werewolf.

One of Dave's goals was to fit in as many flavorful repeats as he could.

This irritates me. Actively making it a goal to design fewer new cards.

Regarding Cloudshift:
I think from the outside it might be surprising what cards the designers are most excited to see printed, but this card is in my Top 5.

We agree here. This is the card that has me the most excited in this set. Of course, this is at least in part because there is very little in this set that excites me, but it's definitely also because I like simple, elegant designs that haven't been done before.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
@Amarsir IIRC, MaRo told a story in a previous article about how Innistrad/Dark Ascension was originally going to be a completely seperate world from the third set, playing with the normal block structure a bit, but as they went on, the story of the world of Innistraad grew. I believe the spirit of Avacyn Restored was also originally the first set (plot-wise), going the typical "things are good, then they go bad" route we've seen so often lately. So yeah, they had some plan, but it got changed around.
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I've talked numerous times about how human brains seek out pattern completions and that if you start creating a pattern, you have to finish it—otherwise, you create negative feelings in the audience, which expects the pattern to finish.



so true.  if every set has a dragon, just to appease dragon fans, I think u have just failed us in this regard, maro.  not printing a legendary werewolf is a subtle admittance that the werewolf mechanic failed.  People will remember mistakes and failures more than success and perfections.  like you said, maro.  "YOU HAVE TO FINISH IT."

One of Dave's goals was to fit in as many flavorful repeats as he could.



the set will sell because of the angels, not because cards have "angel" in their names.  buck up wizards.


Oh also, I like what you said about Looting.  A lot of us were concerned that red would be "all random, all the time".  Discard as a cost is just fine, and clearly Tibalt just wouldn't work with that because PWs don't like additional costs.  (Although I guess he could have gotten the "if you do..." rider.)




The only reason Tibalt has 'random' is because he would be too strong at 2CMC otherwise. 
On any other walker, they could've worded it however they wanted.

This irritates me. Actively making it a goal to design fewer new cards



Reprints are cute. They're nostalgic. We get hundreds of new cards every year. Many of them forgettable. A few reprints here and there bring more emotional connection. 
 
This card was originally designed for Innistrad. At the time, we weren't quite sure where the third set was going, so the idea of an Angel-making card didn't seem all that odd.

What???

We're in this New Magic Order of 6-year plans, flavor-defined blocks and top-down design, and now you're telling us you committed to a Large/Small/Large block structure without even knowing what the basis of the third set would be?


We've been told that theme precedes the mechanics, mechanics dictate the block structure, and the sets' layouts are the starting point for card design.  So how is it possible to be designing cards for a block and not know what the whole theme is yet?  This just seems so contradictory to everything you keep telling us.  


Which is not to say it's a badly-designed set, Mark.  I'm just wondering if your plans and principles are, like my desk, organized in theory but extremely disheveled in practice.


Isn't this exactly what he keeps telling us?  "Restrictions breed creativity."  There are many possible stories they could tell, so having a Large/Small/Large block structure just gives them some guidance in that regard.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
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These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
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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've talked numerous times about how human brains seek out pattern completions and that if you start creating a pattern, you have to finish it—otherwise, you create negative feelings in the audience, which expects the pattern to finish.

Mikaeus, the Lunarch; Geist of Saint Traft; Grimgrin, Corpse-Born; Olivia Voldaren... ... Legendary Werewolf.



I personally have really liked all of the Innistrad block and the new Avacyn Restored cards have me excited, but...

Yeah... I am with you there... Would have been really nice to have had a Legendary Werewolf to round out that tribe, and go along with all the other Legendary Creatures for each tribe... So what are EDH players supposed to do with the werewolf decks (he says and then realizes he doesn't entirely understand EDH yet, but feels the sentiment is valid, and leaves it... Undecided). And heck, they could have just changed the wording on Mayor of Avabruck or Huntmaster of the Fells and avoided this frustration from fans... that would have been simple enough.

But really, there were plently of perfect opportunities for a Legendary Werewolf with any one of the three pack alphas, as well as justifications for them remaining even after Avacyn spread Cursemute across the land.

Tovolar would have been a perfect choice to include for this set since he doesn't change back to human form, is the most referenced in flavor, and his pack had generally stayed away from larger populations – a habit which they/he could have returned to upon Avacyn's restoration and the cursemute. Depict him standing on a hill, observing the cursemute spreading out over the land, mute as ever looking on as his Howlpack is mostly converted. Include some flavor about the fate of his howlpack and what his new purpose will be... perhaps to seek out any other remaining werewolves and build a new howlpack, vowing never to become human again nor give into lure of becoming one of the Wolfir.

Or choose Skaharra of the Leeraug, and since she and her pack are particularly viscious with their killing of entire lineages, she'd be the perfect one to make a pact reflecting the opposite of Avacyn's cursemute. Whereas (most) other werewolfs became the Wolfir, she could have made a pact with a devil or demon to remain in wolf form at all times, always wild, always hungry, pursuing her murderous rampages. She'd likely be a red-aligned Werewolf even with the pact-with-the-devil aspect (I could also see a R/B version, but that's a whole different bag of donuts and would introduce too much stuff that was never present.)

Or choose Ulrich of the Krallenhorde pack, depict him traveling by boat as a human to another land where it's rumored there are still Werewolves (as per cursemute section of Wold of Avacyn Restored). The human form would also keep in line with the "converted" flavor of this set, and also reference his tendency to run with his Howlpack even when in human form. (Yes, he'd be a Legendary Human Werewolf, but hey, I would have taken it over nothing.
 
Or even give us Legendary Wolf Warrior / Wolfir, and people wouldn't be frustrated... it'd be flavorfully off, but it would be something.

OR you have Garruk currently more conscious and have him featured in the Wild Defiance card, complete with a PERFECT quote to counter the whole cursemute story and justify a wild Legendary Werewolf remaining on Innistrad. Maybe he sees one of the Wolfir bound from their enjoying their wild ways, and does a little Planewalker magic (i.e., Wild Defiance), and lets them remain wild instead of in control. I mean, c'mon that card gives you a perfect excuse to do this... and where is this wolf represented but here...?



I dunno, those all seem like creative, viable options to me, and I don't think it'd be too out of place in a set like this, even with Green, Red, and Blue a little more "well-behaved" since Avacyn's return. And besides, with all these humans Revolting, Rioting, Striking, and Malcontent...ing, they need some more creatures to rail against. We've still got some vampires, devils, zombies, and geists after all... what's one last werewolf? 

And if that werewolf is one of the last hold-outs that would certainly make them Legen... (wait for it) ...dary.
This irritates me. Actively making it a goal to design fewer new cards



Reprints are cute. They're nostalgic. We get hundreds of new cards every year. Many of them forgettable. A few reprints here and there bring more emotional connection. 
 



I agree with TobyornotToby.  When I was first getting into Magic, I had a roommate who refused to play with any cards printed after Revised.  Thanks to all the reprints in Time Spiral, though, some of his cards were actually legal in Standard.  I borrowed his copies of Bad Moon for my Mono-Black Rogues deck.  =)  It's also nice to see certain cards reimagined for different settings, with new flavor text and possibly new art.  Mirrodin's Atog, Shadowmoor's Torture, and Tenth Edition's Bog Wraith are good examples of this.  (Incidentally, is there a way to autocard a particular version of a card?)  Sometimes selecting reprints fall into that "fill the pattern" thinking mentioned in the article--if I had been familiar with Harrow before Zendikar, I definitely would have expected it to show up in that block.

All that being said, though, I think the reprint choices mentioned in the article are pretty weak.  They most certainly are not "dripping with angel flavor;" they just draw attention to how bland the angel theme is.  Like Guest872980744 suggested, it's like they just searched Gatherer for cards with "angel" in their names.

Regarding the legendary werewolf issue, I think the problem there is the fact that they introduced Werewolf as a new creature type.  This doesn't make sense to me, since "werewolf" means "man-wolf"--the creature type should just have been represented as Human Wolf.  (I vaguely remember an article that went into the reasoning behind this decision, but I can't remember what it said.)  As a result, the relevant tribal stuff for werewolves always had the awkward "Werewolves and Wolves" wording, and the legendary creature ended up being a wolf instead of a werewolf.  Oh well, at least there's always Mistform Ultimus.
I like reprints, but I think Archangel is really out of place.  It's just much too bland and doesn't fit in with all the new, interesting designs.
Regarding Red getting "aggressively-costed" looting: Mad Prophet is CLEARLY not a good example of this.  :/
Dangerous Wager is damn good.
I was a little confused by how little similarity Flowering Lumberknot has with Lumberknot.  Makes me wonder how they come up with a balace between flavor and mechanics when creating (or not creating) tribes. 

I suppose it's entirely possible that they just knew they wanted a card with Flowering Lumberknot's ability, and just happened to have an extra piece of treefolk art lying around.
I was a little confused by how little similarity Flowering Lumberknot has with Lumberknot.  Makes me wonder how they come up with a balace between flavor and mechanics when creating (or not creating) tribes. 

I suppose it's entirely possible that they just knew they wanted a card with Flowering Lumberknot's ability, and just happened to have an extra piece of treefolk art lying around.



My guess is that they started with the mechanic (can't attack/block alone) then looked for a creature type that fits being immobile (treefolk) then realized they could make a reference to an innistrad card. Which fits with the basic lands that do the same.
Hey MaRo, how come no Halo Hunter?

I know white's angels have gotta win, but with Avacyn on the board they do just that. I figured the helvault ought to have released at least a couple of other badass demons.

Seemed like a missed opportunity to do an atog (when reprinted in mirrodin). Seriously, when are you getting a better chance for this guy to shine?
Reprints are cute. They're nostalgic. We get hundreds of new cards every year. Many of them forgettable. A few reprints here and there bring more emotional connection.


Mirrodin's Atog, Shadowmoor's Torture, and Tenth Edition's Bog Wraith are good examples of this.  (Incidentally, is there a way to autocard a particular version of a card?)  Sometimes selecting reprints fall into that "fill the pattern" thinking mentioned in the article--if I had been familiar with Harrow before Zendikar, I definitely would have expected it to show up in that block.

Some reprints are okay. I, too, like seeing the perfect reprint for a set, such as Harrow in Zendikar.

The problem here is the "as many as possible". One in twenty cards in this set is a reprint. To me, that's downright ridiculous. And for many of them, the only reason they're here is that they have "Angel" in the name...

I also take issue with them reprinting cards such as Naturalize or Demolish, which we see every core set.
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Reprints are cute. They're nostalgic. We get hundreds of new cards every year. Many of them forgettable. A few reprints here and there bring more emotional connection.


Mirrodin's Atog, Shadowmoor's Torture, and Tenth Edition's Bog Wraith are good examples of this.  (Incidentally, is there a way to autocard a particular version of a card?)  Sometimes selecting reprints fall into that "fill the pattern" thinking mentioned in the article--if I had been familiar with Harrow before Zendikar, I definitely would have expected it to show up in that block.

Some reprints are okay. I, too, like seeing the perfect reprint for a set, such as Harrow in Zendikar.

The problem here is the "as many as possible". One in twenty cards in this set is a reprint. To me, that's downright ridiculous. And for many of them, the only reason they're here is that they have "Angel" in the name...

I also take issue with them reprinting cards such as Naturalize or Demolish, which we see every core set.



I like the reprints-especially for the basics. Some cards just get it right. Plus, there are limited numbers of window dressings to put on it. The black reprints have solid art, which is one of my favorite things about reprints. I might be wrong, but isn't this the first foil version of Archangel? 

Regarding this as a larger issue, I'd like to hear the story behind Vessel of Endless Rest. I don't get it. It is a Darksteel ingot variant. The ingot has a simple, relevent rider, but this one seems out of left field. Darksteel Ingot would be out of place as a reprint, but how did this ETB end up there? 

Also, for cards not covered in this article, I'd like to hear something about how you all view these enchantments like Cathars’ Crusade and Exquisite Blood. Both have powerful synergies with older cards, but nothing quite as insane in the standard setting. Do you know Sanguin bond and Exquisite Blood are really good together and actively like that, or just don't care? The last one I wondered about was Descent Into Madness. Obviously it is a fixed Smokestack, but what was the motivation in trying to do that?    

I just wanted to say that I was unaware of the "Powerpuff Girls" joke until I read this article.  That is hilarious and awesome.

...

I need to go build a Powerpuff Girls deck...

Casual Magic player since 2003 (Onslaught Block). 60% Johnny, 40% Timmy. Want a free, graphics-based, collection database to inventory your cards? I made one! Feedback welcome. Program runs offline, includes powerful search options, art, Oracle text, data import/export, and a rigorously updated list of every card ever printed. Version 5.13 (Theros) now available!

So. Green needs an iconic creature type, eh? How about wurms!

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I really like the new set. As I sit down, and look through the mythics and rares, there are only 2 mythics out of 15, and only 25% of the rares, where I want to throw them into a fire. That's actually really good! I see a lot of cards for my Standard, Commander, and other casual decks.

I like where the colors are at now, except red. I like that it's going in a new direction, but it feels really weak. Fervent Cathar is good, but everything that is decent in red, aside from Stromkirk Noble, is a three drop. Let's face it: werewolves and curses really stink. Great flavor, but are just awful to play with, and red felt the brunt of both. The entire block flies or makes chump-blocking tokens, which is not a great environment for double-striking, ground-pounders that have to do combat damage to a player.

Lastly, although I mentioned the rares, I feel that uncommons and commons make the block. This block has a feel of Torment/Judgement, with the other colors along for the ride. That said, Standard was ruled by commons and uncommons from non-featured colors in Blue/Green Madness. I look at my friends' favorite cards...they aren't Jace, the Mind Sculptors. They're Rancor, Sakura-tribe Elder, Lightning Bolt, Watchwolf--cards everyone got to play with. And, this is where Innistrad block has largely fell-flat.
I like where the colors are at now, except red.

I dunno.  This block has turned out pretty damn odd, in that it's giving colors things they just don't get.
Blue got aggro, and red got gas.  I'm surprised white didn't end up with mana acceleration.

I think I understand what went wrong with AVR. Now, before I explain my theory, please note that there is nothing really wrong with AVR itself, it really has more to do with its connection to the rest of Innistrad. I think what happened here was that, as previously stated, they were making the third set of the year stand alone and leaving Innistrad with two sets to work with. At some point in time, they decided that this plan was not going to work out for whatever reason. So, being as for into design/development as they were, they decided that, instead of scrapping the idea for the stand alone set, they would simply incorporate it into Innistrad. The stand alone set must have originally been some sort of angels vs. demons set (note:neither of which is very prevalent in gothic horror, but the latter makes a bit more sense), so when they tried to combine the two (each of which already having some sort of story of its own) they immediately noticed that flavorfully, this was not going to work. Knowing that they were too pressed for time to make a real third set for the original Innistrad story, they realized they would have to unfortunately settle for a dramatically less flavorfully third act to the flavor effusion of Innistrad. To keep from players seeing this set as a complete failure, they had to place as many flashy elements into the set as possible. Things such as vexing devil, a 2cmc p-walker, and time walk 2.0 were ment to draw attention away from things such as the lack of a  legendary werewolf, zero story completion for sorin, Garruk, and somewhat liliana, and a comeplete rejection of graveyard centered ideas (save for a couple of cards). I beleive AVR has found itself flavorfully and mechanically confused and torn between what it was to be and what it was made to be. Odds are, many of the cards in AVR that are being complained about were designed prior to the conversion of Angels vs. Demons into Gothic horror no more Innistrad. Frankly, I bet Avacyn wasn't even originally a part of Innistrad, but was simply a pretty creative way to deepen Innistrad's story while setting up or the link to AVR. If I may say one thing to Wizards: I know it must have been very difficult to even get the two completely different ideas as connected as you did and I applaud you for your effort (given my theory is correct), but NEVER allow this to happen again. I'm sure AVR will remain very successful based off of card sales, but know that it has nearly shattered the love for Innistrad that so many players held when it came out last fall. The story has resulted in endless confusion and anticlimactic endings. If you are going to try to mess with block structures, be 110% sure that you know the end result is what you AND the players want and like. I may only hope that RTR doesn't fall to a similar fate. 
About the "powerpuff girls" trio of angels.  One of my favorite types of creatures are sphinxes as anyone can see by my icon.  With angels in every color now, are we going to see some more multi colored sphinxes in future sets?  Also, if angels are supposed to be anti black, does that imply sphinxes are anti red or can't be colored part red?  I've never seen a sphinx that said anything like all red creatures without flying get -/- or red spells cost more to cast etc.

There was the Angel of Despair as well who was part black, so I find that a little confusing.  Maybe it's only in this particular set.


Hoping Return to Ravnica has some sweet sphinxes in it. 

I also wanted to say my favorite cards for this set are easily Craterhoof behemoth, the duo of Harvester of Souls and Soul of the Harvest (situationally better Garruk's Packleader ftw), Wild Defiance, Triumph of Ferocity, Gryff Vanguard, and Griselbrand (who I would argue is one of the most well designed demons I've seen in years).

One worry I have about this set though is it feels like that even with Bruna (who looks like she would make an awesome commander for EDH) now that we have a lot of equipment and soulbound, and creatures who generally do things just by having other creatures in play (all humans, zombies, etc) what reason do we have to want to play aura/enchantments anymore?  It seems like creature enchantments are becomming an obsoleted part of magic.  No one ever plays them in constructed formats where better options exist.  Very few creature auras will ever surpass any of the swords, and there's not much point in playing a pacifism or in this set we have the spectral prison rather than just destroying that creature altogether which it seems like every color is capable of doing (especially accounting for phyrexian mana).  Does this mean we won't be seeing many enchant creature cards in the future?
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About the "powerpuff girls" trio of angels.  One of my favorite types of creatures are sphinxes as anyone can see by my icon.  With angels in every color now, are we going to see some more multi colored sphinxes in future sets?  Also, if angels are supposed to be anti black, does that imply sphinxes are anti red or can't be colored part red?  I've never seen a sphinx that said anything like all red creatures without flying get -/- or red spells cost more to cast etc.

There was the Angel of Despair as well who was part black, so I find that a little confusing.  Maybe it's only in this particular set.



Yes it's only this set, where the black-white conflict is heavily emphasized. 

Also, they don't go multicolored often, mostly just when they're a central piece of the setting. Dragons were a big deal in Kamigawa, so they made one in every color. This set is about Angels, so they make one in the other colors. 

I'm sure once we go to an Egyptian-themed set, we will see Sphinxes in every color =)

Hoping Return to Ravnica has some sweet sphinxes in it.



It should have, it was the first set to feature them as the signature blue fattie.
I think I understand what went wrong with AVR. Now, before I explain my theory, please note that there is nothing really wrong with AVR itself, it really has more to do with its connection to the rest of Innistrad. I think what happened here was that, as previously stated, they were making the third set of the year stand alone and leaving Innistrad with two sets to work with. At some point in time, they decided that this plan was not going to work out for whatever reason. So, being as for into design/development as they were, they decided that, instead of scrapping the idea for the stand alone set, they would simply incorporate it into Innistrad. The stand alone set must have originally been some sort of angels vs. demons set (note:neither of which is very prevalent in gothic horror, but the latter makes a bit more sense), so when they tried to combine the two (each of which already having some sort of story of its own) they immediately noticed that flavorfully, this was not going to work. Knowing that they were too pressed for time to make a real third set for the original Innistrad story, they realized they would have to unfortunately settle for a dramatically less flavorfully third act to the flavor effusion of Innistrad. To keep from players seeing this set as a complete failure, they had to place as many flashy elements into the set as possible. Things such as vexing devil, a 2cmc p-walker, and time walk 2.0 were ment to draw attention away from things such as the lack of a  legendary werewolf, zero story completion for sorin, Garruk, and somewhat liliana, and a comeplete rejection of graveyard centered ideas (save for a couple of cards). I beleive AVR has found itself flavorfully and mechanically confused and torn between what it was to be and what it was made to be. Odds are, many of the cards in AVR that are being complained about were designed prior to the conversion of Angels vs. Demons into Gothic horror no more Innistrad. Frankly, I bet Avacyn wasn't even originally a part of Innistrad, but was simply a pretty creative way to deepen Innistrad's story while setting up or the link to AVR. If I may say one thing to Wizards: I know it must have been very difficult to even get the two completely different ideas as connected as you did and I applaud you for your effort (given my theory is correct), but NEVER allow this to happen again. I'm sure AVR will remain very successful based off of card sales, but know that it has nearly shattered the love for Innistrad that so many players held when it came out last fall. The story has resulted in endless confusion and anticlimactic endings. If you are going to try to mess with block structures, be 110% sure that you know the end result is what you AND the players want and like. I may only hope that RTR doesn't fall to a similar fate. 

I like reading people's opinions, but you've got to break down that Great Wall of Text. I flew right by it.
I'm sure once we go to an Egyptian-themed set, we will see Sphinxes in every color =)



I don't think sphinxes (flavor-wise) really work well in red or green...they'd have to be splashed with blue. Your Egyptian theme had me thinking though. Arabian was a very well crafted set. It was a flavor set, like Kamigawa or Innistrad, and because of its age, the cards fall a little flat today. However, it mixed elements of Arabian Nights that the leyman knew, plus some more complex themes from other parts of the fable. It's a true travesty that people in that part of the world didn't see the flattery. Also, Mirage/Visions had a deep African vibe, quickly departed to begin the Weatherlight cycle.

Here's my point: I would love for them to play with the basic set a bit. Certainly not every year, just on occasion, when it needs a little revival. Make it a one-off setting, like Coldsnap was (I'm discounting Ice Age/Alliances impact on Standard Magic at Coldsnap's release here), but don't limit it to the confines of mechanics or gimmicks. Just make it an "M" set within a theme, like an Arabian redux. They really shouldn't be reprints, but rather, similar names with modern abilities and finish.

Lastly, I'll say the time would be right for it now. Obviously, that's not going to happen. I started playing in Weatherlight, and M2010 and M2011 were sets that I was just really excited about. M2012-- not so much. I can't really say why, but there didn't seem to be any originality. It felt like they were just deciding which version of Ponder to use this time. Adaptive Automaton and Grand Abolisher were the main stand-outs for me.

I anticipate 2013 will have a huge overhaul, with nearly all of the mythics being replaced, as well as the multi-colored lands. This is the first time (that I recall) where Wizards has spoiled the setting of the next block before the current one wraps up. I think they'll use this wave of anticipation to make M2013 a primer for a really great standard environment.

I don't think sphinxes (flavor-wise) really work well in red or green...they'd have to be splashed with blue.



Sphinx, just like Dragon and Angel, just means 'big flying thing' these days. There's things like Goliath Sphinx and Sphinx of Steel Wind. Just like Jugan, the Rising Star, I'm sure they can make green and red Sphinxes that might not stand alone that well, but make sense as part of a cycle. 

Or yeah, multicolored. It's not like Angels are a good fit for Blue or Green.

This is the first time (that I recall) where Wizards has spoiled the setting of the next block before the current one wraps up. I think they'll use this wave of anticipation to make M2013 a primer for a really great standard environment.



No they've always done this =)
Or at least for a long time.  
              I think I understand what went wrong with AVR. Now, before I explain my theory, please note that there is nothing really wrong with AVR itself, it really has more to do with its connection to the rest of Innistrad. I think what happened here was that, as previously stated, they were making the third set of the year stand alone and leaving Innistrad with two sets to work with. At some point in time, they decided that this plan was not going to work out for whatever reason. So, being as for into design/development as they were, they decided that, instead of scrapping the idea for the stand alone set, they would simply incorporate it into Innistrad.
               
              The stand alone set must have originally been some sort of angels vs. demons set (note:neither of which is very prevalent in gothic horror, but the latter makes a bit more sense), so when they tried to combine the two (each of which already having some sort of story of its own) they immediately noticed that flavorfully, this was not going to work. Knowing that they were too pressed for time to make a real third set for the original Innistrad story, they realized they would have to unfortunately settle for a dramatically less flavorfully third act to the flavor effusion of Innistrad. To keep from players seeing this set as a complete failure, they had to place as many flashy elements into the set as possible. Things such as vexing devil, a 2cmc p-walker, and time walk 2.0 were ment to draw attention away from things such as the lack of a  legendary werewolf, zero story completion for sorin, Garruk, and somewhat liliana, and a comeplete rejection of graveyard centered ideas (save for a couple of cards).

               I beleive AVR has found itself flavorfully and mechanically confused and torn between what it was to be and what it was made to be. Odds are, many of the cards in AVR that are being complained about were designed prior to the conversion of Angels vs. Demons into Gothic horror no more Innistrad. Frankly, I bet Avacyn wasn't even originally a part of Innistrad, but was simply a pretty creative way to deepen Innistrad's story while setting up or the link to AVR. If I may say one thing to Wizards: I know it must have been very difficult to even get the two completely different ideas as connected as you did and I applaud you for your effort (given my theory is correct), but NEVER allow this to happen again. I'm sure AVR will remain very successful based off of card sales, but know that it has nearly shattered the love for Innistrad that so many players held when it came out last fall. The story has resulted in endless confusion and anticlimactic endings. If you are going to try to mess with block structures, be 110% sure that you know the end result is what you AND the players want and like.

               We may only hope that RTR doesn't fall to a similar fate. 

(that easier to read?) 
No, you shouldn't use both line breaks and indents. That's a bit double. I suggest losing the indents. 
No, you shouldn't use both line breaks and indents. That's a bit double. I suggest losing the indents. 



I think I understand what went wrong with AVR. Now, before I explain my theory, please note that there is nothing really wrong with AVR itself, it really has more to do with its connection to the rest of Innistrad. I think what happened here was that, as previously stated, they were making the third set of the year stand alone and leaving Innistrad with two sets to work with. At some point in time, they decided that this plan was not going to work out for whatever reason. So, being as for into design/development as they were, they decided that, instead of scrapping the idea for the stand alone set, they would simply incorporate it into Innistrad. 
             
The stand alone set must have originally been some sort of angels vs. demons set (note:neither of which is very prevalent in gothic horror, but the latter makes a bit more sense), so when they tried to combine the two (each of which already having some sort of story of its own) they immediately noticed that flavorfully, this was not going to work. Knowing that they were too pressed for time to make a real third set for the original Innistrad story, they realized they would have to unfortunately settle for a dramatically less flavorfully third act to the flavor effusion of Innistrad. To keep from players seeing this set as a complete failure, they had to place as many flashy elements into the set as possible. Things such as vexing devil, a 2cmc p-walker, and time walk 2.0 were ment to draw attention away from things such as the lack of a  legendary werewolf, zero story completion for sorin, Garruk, and somewhat liliana, and a comeplete rejection of graveyard centered ideas (save for a couple of cards).

I beleive AVR has found itself flavorfully and mechanically confused and torn between what it was to be and what it was made to be. Odds are, many of the cards in AVR that are being complained about were designed prior to the conversion of Angels vs. Demons into Gothic horror no more Innistrad. Frankly, I bet Avacyn wasn't even originally a part of Innistrad, but was simply a pretty creative way to deepen Innistrad's story while setting up or the link to AVR.

If I may say one thing to Wizards: I know it must have been very difficult to even get the two completely different ideas as connected as you did and I applaud you for your effort (given my theory is correct), but NEVER allow this to happen again. I'm sure AVR will remain very successful based off of card sales, but know that it has nearly shattered the love for Innistrad that so many players held when it came out last fall. The story has resulted in endless confusion and anticlimactic endings. If you are going to try to mess with block structures, be 110% sure that you know the end result is what you AND the players want and like. 

We may only hope that RTR doesn't fall to a similar fate. 

(that easier to read?)
I think what happened here was that, as previously stated, they were making the third set of the year stand alone and leaving Innistrad with two sets to work with. At some point in time, they decided that this plan was not going to work out for whatever reason.

I'd imagine the reason they had to change it was because, at that point, they'd finally started getting the feedback for Rise of Eldrazi, and realized that people didn't LIKE disconnected third sets.

Your theory does seem likely. Hopefully, going forward, when next they do this Large-Small-Large they'll actually make it connected from the very beginning. Taking two disparate concepts and jamming them together doesn't really work.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
It actually looked really nice with the indents, Leo-tech.  You were just making the rest of us look bad.   Wink  The third way is fine.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

(I honestly thought it looked bad)


(that easier to read?) 



Yes =) 
I'd advice another line break in the last paragraph between "the link to AVR." and "If I may say".

(I actually read it the first time around but I can understand why people would feel TL;DR)
So to get more in-depth on a part of it:

To keep from players seeing this set as a complete failure, they had to place as many flashy elements into the set as possible. Things such as vexing devil, a 2cmc p-walker, and time walk 2.0 were ment to draw attention away from things such as the lack of a  legendary werewolf, zero story completion for sorin, Garruk, and somewhat liliana, and a comeplete rejection of graveyard centered ideas (save for a couple of cards).



While I could agree with most of your theory, not this part. 

First of all, every set has flashy elements. We just got back from double-faced-cards-land. I don't see this set being extraordinarily flashy. 

Second of all, products are made waaaaaay in advance. By the time Innistrad was released, this set was likely locked in already, so things like a legendary werewolf weren't on their minds yet. 

The set is stand-alone, so it doesn't have to share themes with Innistrad. It shouldn't be a complete disconnect like Rise, but what graveyard deck in standard is now not getting new things from AR?
The set is stand-alone, so it doesn't have to share themes with Innistrad. It shouldn't be a complete disconnect like Rise, but what graveyard deck in standard is now not getting new things from AR?

I disagree. I think that any set in a block, Large or Small, should share the same themes as the rest of the sets in that block. The only exception would be if the world itself undergoes a radical change, like Shadowmoor did, or the Phyrexians taking over Mirrodin. (I find it ironic that the set best suited for being a Large set in the last three years, New Phyrexia, which is literally a new world compared to Mirrodin, is the only one that WASN'T third-set-large...)

Innistrad is the same world now, in Avacyn Restored, as it was in the previous two sets. Unlike Shadowmoor, where every creature in the world fundamentally changed, the creatures in Avacyn Restored are all more or less the exact same as they were before; the sole exception is the Wolfir. Unlike New Phyrexia, where the world itself is fundamentally altered as it's rebuilt by a new set of rulers, Innistrad remains the same, with human cities and monster-ruled wilderness.

I see no reason Avacyn Restored should have dropped all of the themes of the world and replaced them with new ones. It's the same creatures in the same world; the only change is that there are more active angels and demons.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)

(I honestly thought it looked bad)


(that easier to read?) 



Yes =) 
I'd advice another line break in the last paragraph between "the link to AVR." and "If I may say".

(I actually read it the first time around but I can understand why people would feel TL;DR)
So to get more in-depth on a part of it:

To keep from players seeing this set as a complete failure, they had to place as many flashy elements into the set as possible. Things such as vexing devil, a 2cmc p-walker, and time walk 2.0 were ment to draw attention away from things such as the lack of a  legendary werewolf, zero story completion for sorin, Garruk, and somewhat liliana, and a comeplete rejection of graveyard centered ideas (save for a couple of cards).



While I could agree with most of your theory, not this part. 

First of all, every set has flashy elements. We just got back from double-faced-cards-land. I don't see this set being extraordinarily flashy. 

Second of all, products are made waaaaaay in advance. By the time Innistrad was released, this set was likely locked in already, so things like a legendary werewolf weren't on their minds yet. 

The set is stand-alone, so it doesn't have to share themes with Innistrad. It shouldn't be a complete disconnect like Rise, but what graveyard deck in standard is now not getting new things from AR?




Really, when I mentioned flashy elements, I knew every set had cool stuff, but I just felt like things in AVR (cough temporal mastery cough) really stood out as nearly broken along with frankly the whole miracle mechanic in general. now that I look back on my original thinking, I do realize I had been a bit off mark (not entirely mind you). AVR isn't completely game-breaking, it jus has cards that stand out in very new ways. Yes, there have been broken flashy cards in the past, but since I've only been playing since Easter 2011, I haven't really seen anything more terrible than the key cards of the accursed caw-blade. Once WotC banned JTMS and stone forge, I kind of figured that stuff like this would just never happen again and that it was just some freak accident . Keep in mind I was and still am relatively new to the game. So of course when I saw temporal mastery, the miracle mechanic, and some other crazy stuff coming out of this set that EVERYONE was talking about, I got the vibe that this just doesn't and shouldn't happen, causing my initial reaction to be "too many things are broken, some of which beyond belief. I still feel this set is doing some pretty wacky stuff compared to what I've seen so far, but I'm not going to run around as the player who cried broken.

As for the lack of certain things that players were hoping for in AVR. I still stand by my statement that these things should have and could have been done. Obviously, R&D makes sets months in advance of their release, and comes up with ideas for them even earlier. So when caught in the middle of having to throw two completely unrelated sets/blocks together, they should've done more to make the third set closer to what players would expect after ISD and DKA, knowing that the third set would be the final act of Innistrad. It's true that their time was limited far more than usual, but the least they could've done was complete the cycle of legends, if only for the EDH players. Just slapping legendary on huntmaster probably would've sufficed. As for slacking off on the story:just unacceptable. Why bother making a story if it just fails? I suppose Avacyn Restored was always going to be less graveyard centered than its preceders, but I personally would've liked to see the zombies or vampires or someone get some more monstery action. I'm sure a lot of other players would like that too. 

Really though, the set isn't perfect, but it isn't terrible either. I just haven't talked up the awesome things you can use in this disconnected set.

Edit:sorry, I have a tendancy to break into full on rant when no one can interrupt me. 
stuff



stuff



Okay you guys are mixing 2 things up here. 

First is Wizards' philosophy regarding multiple large sets in a block. We've see Shadowmoor, Rise of the Eldrazi and Avacyn Restored so far (It's a shame New Phyrexia wasn't a large set). They always get a mechanical overhaul. You can disagree with that, but that's how they do it currently. 

Second is the theory we're discussing here, that AVR was changed too late in design to become the 3rd set on Innistrad. For this, the mechanical disconnect is no proof, as even if Wizards had 10 years to make the block, they would still have this disconnect, because that's their intent. 

So when I say "AVR isn't supposed to have graveyard cards" I'm saying that to refute that it is proof of the theory, I'm not saying I agree with that stance. I actually don't, I also prefer more mechanical overlap. 


As for the legendary werewolf specifically, when AVR was finished, the commander precons hadn't even been released yet, and Wizards simply didn't know how big that audience was. It's not just "if only for the EDH players" it's "only for the EDH players". For most others, legendary is a downside that is better left off a card.

As for the story specifically, yeah that one fell flat on so many levels. It's such a mess...
stuff



stuff



Okay you guys are mixing 2 things up here. 

First is Wizards' philosophy regarding multiple large sets in a block. We've see Shadowmoor, Rise of the Eldrazi and Avacyn Restored so far (It's a shame New Phyrexia wasn't a large set). They always get a mechanical overhaul. You can disagree with that, but that's how they do it currently. 

Second is the theory we're discussing here, that AVR was changed too late in design to become the 3rd set on Innistrad. For this, the mechanical disconnect is no proof, as even if Wizards had 10 years to make the block, they would still have this disconnect, because that's their intent. 

So when I say "AVR isn't supposed to have graveyard cards" I'm saying that to refute that it is proof of the theory, I'm not saying I agree with that stance. I actually don't, I also prefer more mechanical overlap. 


As for the legendary werewolf specifically, when AVR was finished, the commander precons hadn't even been released yet, and Wizards simply didn't know how big that audience was. It's not just "if only for the EDH players" it's "only for the EDH players". For most others, legendary is a downside that is better left off a card.

As for the story specifically, yeah that one fell flat on so many levels. It's such a mess...




Well...yeah, you're probably right I suppose. I hadn't thought of how Wizards didn't even realize how huge commander was until the precons were released. I also did look over the mechanical disconnect between the third sets for each large small large plan, but I simply don't agree with it (glad to see the feeling is mutual) except in the case of completely different worlds (like NPH and SHM somewhat). And, just to make it clear to any wizards employee who reads this, the complete mess of a story that was made:NOT OK.

I want to start by thanking Maro for explaining the order of of mana symbols on gold cards.  I was one of the people who asked about it as soon as I saw the first two angels.  I understand how the system works, although I would prefer the simpler WUBRG order.  But having that answer only raises a new question. 

The rules Maro provided talk about color pairs.  What about three or four color cards?

Oros, the Avenger is 3WBR (in WUBRG order) on the card, but the rules provided in the article seem like it should be BRW (since B is closer to R, than W is to B or R is to W).   So what explains Oros?

Numot, the Devestator is 3RWU (not WUBRG order) and the rules indicate that it should be WBR (since W is closer to U than U is to R or R is to W).  What about Numot?

However, on the original Invasion dragons (e.g. Crosis, the Purger and Darigaaz, the Igniter), the color associated with the activated ability was placed in the middle.  But not always in WUBRG order  Crosis and Darigaaz are in WUBRG order, but Rith isn't because the symbols follow the rules Maro provided.  Rith is 3RGW because R is closer to G than G is to W or W is to R.   

It's important to note that both Oros and Numot (and the other Planar Chaos Dragons) have an activated ability using only one of those colors.  The mana symbol of that ability is always listed first.  They are also "wedge" cards, so maybe for those the off color is listed first.  

THinking about wedge and shard cards, I suppose some concession can be made so the mana symbols visually express the "shard".   RWG looks like W with it's neighbors on either side.  WRG does not. For wedges, the mana symbols on Numot are RWU, which reads like a R with some W an U.  But any wedge is more accurately a color pair with an off-color splash and should be WUR.

If we follow the "visual appeal" line of thinking, how do you interpret a card when there are unequal mana symbols, like the new angels.  Should the double symbol come first, so that all three are W with a splash of R, G or U?  That's how I think of them. 

Ultimately, I think WUBRG order is simpler.  The confusion, even subconscious confusion, of the varying different rules creates more dissonance, than the visual benefit of giving wedge and shard cards a specific order.




Ultimately, I think WUBRG order is simpler.  The confusion, even subconscious confusion, of the varying different rules creates more dissonance, than the visual benefit of giving wedge and shard cards a specific order.



No way! It isn't called a color wheel for nothing. It's supposed to have no beginning or end. By saying comes always first and comes always last, you destroy all elegance the system has. 

If we follow the "visual appeal" line of thinking, how do you interpret a card when there are unequal mana symbols, like the new angels.  Should the double symbol come first, so that all three are W with a splash of R, G or U?  That's how I think of them.



I do agree that in the case of cycles, all cards should look the same. I would've preferred to angels to all have the either in front or behind the other color.

THinking about wedge and shard cards, I suppose some concession can be made so the mana symbols visually express the "shard".   RWG looks like W with it's neighbors on either side.  WRG does not. For wedges, the mana symbols on Numot are RWU, which reads like a R with some W an U.  But any wedge is more accurately a color pair with an off-color splash and should be WUR.



Btw, this is answered in the full text from the link from the article:

www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.a...