04/27/2012 LD: "Size Matters"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.
I fully expect to see a 1-set block at some point soon.

I appreciated where you came from even if I didn't agree until this article. WOTC rewrote draft and the definition of Magic cards for werewolves and now you claim they are too boring to support 3 sets? They were boring because you crammed them into red/green when that was too narrow. If you can't make DFCs interesting for all of 3 sets, you suck at your job. This is as big a lie as glossing over you all rubber stamped Snapcaster without knowing it interacted with mana leak. You like Big/small/big because it forces people to buy more cards not because you care about us. (content removed)



(ORC_Chaos: Edited-Personal Attacks are against the Code of Conduct)

I fully expect to see a 1-set block at some point soon.

Homelands?

It's not that you can't display a fundamental transformation without adding cards to a set. It's just that doing so makes it feel a lot more like an afterthought, rather than a wholly-realized evolution.

I assure you, Avacyn Restored feels more like an afterthought than any Magic set I've ever seen, both mechanically and story-wise. "Monsters vs. humans... scarier monsters vs. fewer humans... Oh look, now it's angels vs. demons". Changing the theme of a block like that is not a good thing, guys. Not to mention the fact that the story's such a mess that it feels like you slapped it together in ten minutes.

Yes, we need to debut more mechanics, but we get to eliminate most of the residue of the previous two sets.

That "residue" is what makes the third set feel like it belongs in the block at all. Also, eliminating it really upsets the people who liked that stuff.

Look, I like the fact that you're designing more cards than your baseline, but making the third set of a block nearly completely disconnected is not cool. If you want to make a two-set block and a separate one-set block, more power to you, but the way you're currently doing large-small-large is in some kind of limbo between a cohesive block and two separate blocks.

Taking Avacyn Restored for example: The only connection with the previous two sets is Undying and a handful of creatures that have a tribal creature type. That's not enough. It feels like you established a cool block with a cool theme, and then yanked the rug out from under your fans. "Are you enjoying this horror world block? Too bad, now you get angels."

The story is no better. I'm not saying a third-set-twist is impossible, but it has to be more complicated than a sudden Deus Ex Machina like Avacyn's return was. Had her return given humankind a fighting chance once more, allowing them to begin to turn the tides slowly back in their favor, that could have made an interesting plot event and a good third block. Instead, you simply use her return to sweep everything from the first two thirds of the story under the rug. That's lazy, shoddy work and does not make for an exciting tale.

So going forward, if you're going to make a Large-Small-Large structure, please make sure that A) the set still feels like it belongs in the block and fits in the established world; and B) the twist enhances the story rather than detracts from it.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
Perhaps the cards are too interconnected within any given block. Ice Age good, Kamigawa bad.
It seems to me you could create more of an evolving play experience across a block by rolling the sets into each other more.

Taking this block as an example, you could start with Innistrad / Innistrad / Innistrad, move into Dark Ascension / Dark Ascension / Innistrad and finally Avacyn Restored / Avacyn Restored / Dark Ascension.

This makes the new set the focus of each draft experience whilst retaining the link. Alternatively, the composition of the second draft environment could be tweaked based on the story. If the change was gradual, this could be reinforced by running only one pack of the new set, if the change occuring in the story was meant to be more quickly approaching, or the changes between sets more stark, you could run two packs of the new set. You could even go to the extreme and have the story be about a cataclysmic event at the end of the first set so the second draft environment is just three packs of the new set to hammer home the sudden change. 

I think a lot of people have looked at Avacyn Restored and bemoaned the lack of opportunity to play with various block interactions within a limited environment.  The current Eldrazi style approach being repeated with Avacyn Restored creates such a weird disconnect with the rest of the set. Its pretty safe to say you could easily create, for example, an Avacyn Restored / Avacyn Restored / Dark Ascension limited environment that played totally differently to the first two limited environments which gives you a fresher experience without the disconnect.
It's not that you can't display a fundamental transformation without adding cards to a set. It's just that doing so makes it feel a lot more like an afterthought, rather than a wholly-realized evolution.

I assure you, Avacyn Restored feels more like an afterthought than any Magic set I've ever seen, both mechanically and story-wise. "Monsters vs. humans... scarier monsters vs. fewer humans... Oh look, now it's angels vs. demons". Changing the theme of a block like that is not a good thing, guys. Not to mention the fact that the story's such a mess that it feels like you slapped it together in ten minutes.

Yes, we need to debut more mechanics, but we get to eliminate most of the residue of the previous two sets.

That "residue" is what makes the third set feel like it belongs in the block at all. Also, eliminating it really upsets the people who liked that stuff.

Look, I like the fact that you're designing more cards than your baseline, but making the third set of a block nearly completely disconnected is not cool. If you want to make a two-set block and a separate one-set block, more power to you, but the way you're currently doing large-small-large is in some kind of limbo between a cohesive block and two separate blocks.

Taking Avacyn Restored for example: The only connection with the previous two sets is Undying and a handful of creatures that have a tribal creature type. That's not enough. It feels like you established a cool block with a cool theme, and then yanked the rug out from under your fans. "Are you enjoying this horror world block? Too bad, now you get angels."

The story is no better. I'm not saying a third-set-twist is impossible, but it has to be more complicated than a sudden Deus Ex Machina like Avacyn's return was. Had her return given humankind a fighting chance once more, allowing them to begin to turn the tides slowly back in their favor, that could have made an interesting plot event and a good third block. Instead, you simply use her return to sweep everything from the first two thirds of the story under the rug. That's lazy, shoddy work and does not make for an exciting tale.

So going forward, if you're going to make a Large-Small-Large structure, please make sure that A) the set still feels like it belongs in the block and fits in the established world; and B) the twist enhances the story rather than detracts from it. Stop patting yourselves on the back and learn from this mistake.



Basically this.  RoE was cool because ZEN and WWK were all about "LET'S MAKE ALL THE LAND DROPS" and then RoE was about "HEY WE HAVE LOTS OF MANA LET'S CAST BIG DUDES".  That makes sense.  Also, the storyline worked quite well.  The whole "Ula/Cosi/Emeria" thing going on throughout the block made it feel right.  AVR doesn't have any of that.  We know who Avacyn is.  We know her origin story.  We know about the humans of Gavony and the monsters and the conflict between them.  On the storyline side, it just falls flat.  It's just like retelling Pandora's Box again.  We all know the story of Pandora's Box, and we've grown tired of it by now.

Mechanically, WTF?  I mean, seriously, WTF?  You come off a Graveyard block, and what do you go into?  Uh...creatures with flying?  Angel-tribal?  I don't know if this made sense to you guys, but it doesn't make sense to us.
I have to agree with what everyone has said. Innistrad has been my favourite block up until avacyn restored because all the good mechanics were taken out. Even undying is only on like 7 or 8 out of 144 creatures and none of them are even any good (in fact one of the demons is better for your oppenent and it is a rare!), there is something a miss when the last set has nothing to do with the block. Not even the new loner mechanic is very good. The lone revenenant isn't bad but the rest are horrible.
I certainly am hoping to find a few players who are willing to boldly go and set up a draft with a pack of Innistrad, Dark Ascension, Avacyn Restored. Is it the way Wizards wants us to do it? Apparently not. But we were doing double Dark with Innistrad.  Heck, we even did Triple Pherexia.  It was weird, but weird is good sometimes.
I appreciated where you came from even if I didn't agree until this article. WOTC rewrote draft and the definition of Magic cards for werewolves and now you claim they are too boring to support 3 sets? They were boring because you crammed them into red/green when that was too narrow. If you can't make DFCs interesting for all of 3 sets, you suck at your job. This is as big a lie as glossing over you all rubber stamped Snapcaster without knowing it interacted with mana leak. You like Big/small/big because it forces people to buy more cards not because you care about us. You are a scumbag mouthpeice and nothing you say I will ever take as serious again.

Wow... yes, Wizards has a long history of lying to their customers and screwing them over for money, because their business model is based upon short term gain rather than building a large, loyal fanbase through the development of an awesome game. Oh, wait, that's not true at all.

The rest of your post is filled with strawmanning and nonsensical statements. They never said anything about werewolves being too boring for three sets - as Maro said, they felt that a horror top-down design would only be rich enough for two sets. Could they have pushed it to three? I'm sure they could have. Would it have been fun? More than likely. Would it have been as rich and amazing as Innistrad and Dark Ascension? Highly unlikely.

As for your statement that big/small/big forces people to buy more cards... um, what? Where is your logic behind this? Are you going to claim that, because there are more cards, you need to buy more singles/boosters to get what you want? There are some amazingly huge issues with that logic - so much so that I can only gape in wonder, and will touch briefly upon some of the most obvious flaws. First and foremost, because we are drafting triple big set, we get more of those cards into circulation than if it were a small set, thus increasing the availability of those cards. Yes, the middle set is negatively affected, but it would be a big stretch to say that it is forcing people to buy more cards in any way. Looking at history, is there any indication that more cards printed causes players to buy more cards? Was this the case in Time Spiral? I would love to see data to back up your claims. Additionally, Wizards has drastically reduced the number of cards printed in recent years, and, even with these increased card amounts, are still far below former thresholds, so it makes little sense to complain about the slight increases in card printing...

Finally, I know this is the internet and thus filled with a rich history of insulting people from behind an anonymous screenname, but are you seriously calling one of the developers of this game you play a lying scumbag? Why do you even play Magic if you think so little of the company and people that create it? Is it not possibly to raise your concerns without resorting to such blatant rudeness?
Jeez Miksal, shills are no more useful than trolls. 
Wow, lots of juicy stuff in this article to agree/disagree with.  I'm going to mull it over before responding though.

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I'm dissappointed that they got rid of werewolves completely. I think they could have made werewolf creatures that weren't double-faced if they really wanted to avoid using the dfcs. Its a shame, just like the lack of allies in Rise. And I thought that they had said they had learned from their mistake.
"nor can you release a set where black's core mechanic is countering spells while putting 7/7 Unicorn tokens with trample onto the battlefield."

... I MUST HAVE THIS CARD! If I can't have a Unicorn or Pegasus Tribal Leader, I want this, instead!
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/0a90721d221e50e5755af156c179fe51.jpg?v=90000)
I fully expect to see a 1-set block at some point soon.

A resurgance of a Chronicles like set for Modern would be nice.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/0a90721d221e50e5755af156c179fe51.jpg?v=90000)
I don't necessarily approve of this approach (I like the classic Large/Small/Small block structure), but if you're going to break things up, why not take the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor approach? Don't have a Core Set, and release 2 blocks of Large/Small sets a year. Make the Spring/Summer block more newbie friendly to compensate for no Core Set.

"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

As for the draft formats for 2nd sets in the block, i believe if you did it:

LARGE/LARGE/LARGE
SMALL(A)/SMALL(A)/LARGE
 SMALL(B)/SMALL(A)/LARGE

Draft would be more engaging, and less of the "large" set is opened versus more of the small set (to one, sell morepacks of the newest set) and 2 (to get more cards of the newer set into the masses) thus making everyone happier, and still selling product. and it also lessens the draft stale-ness over time.

It also, for one; makes harder to come by cards, (such as Jace the mind sculptor) easier to obtain, thus lessening the secondary market price, but yes. i'm aware that WotC policy doesn't inherently "care" about the secondary market, and yet you artificially "seed" it and thus make it hard for players to obtain and thus make the constructed formats harder to enter and play it as well.

Say you were to release the sets Innistrad/Dark Ascension/Avacyn Restored the way i just stated. One, dark ascension cards would see more play and thus light of day. and 2, your customer base is happier by a margin because they get to play with more of the new cards for the release.  Just do this for draft, as sealed deck is fine.

Imagine October rolls around, and Return to ravnica sets up a major awesomeness factor (and i know it will), then that Febuary rolls and you decide to come out with "return of the guilds" or whatever, If the draft format then looks like RoG/RTR/RTR, many of the return to ravnica packs have been opened, and the draft format is staler as a result. So, my suggestion is go RTR/ROG/ROG. this way more of the newest set cards are being played with, and the format is far less stale for when the final set "Guilds disbanded" comes out. 

I have aired my opinions, and i would greatly appreciate them if they were to somehow come true, but i also know that i'm not likely the only person who wished limited events were held in this manner. But, that's up to you to take this suggestion/and post to heart.
They never said anything about werewolves being too boring for three sets - as Maro said, they felt that a horror top-down design would only be rich enough for two sets. Could they have pushed it to three? I'm sure they could have. Would it have been fun? More than likely. Would it have been as rich and amazing as Innistrad and Dark Ascension? Highly unlikely.

I don't believe that for a minute; I have more respect for the designers and developers than that.  And I speak as someone who still doesn't like DFCs except online where they actually work.  But the concept is still brilliant.  I was actually half-expecting some Angel/Demon transformations, or perhaps some rescues/reversions (an Aberration becoming a Delver again) rather than more werewolves, but it's possible that having only one-way transforms would have felt a bit flat.

I do think they've got themselves into a bit of a bind with structures though.  The issues with their formats can clearly be traced to the decision to make the Core Set an annual event.  This removes quite a bit of space for experiments and focuses attention more on the block sets.  But the block sets can't experiment as much because the format of blocks doesn't allow that.  Personally, I think that the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor experiment was great, and I wish the Alara set had been a bit more radical, but I am aware that I am in a minority here (in that I am a game designer rather than a player at heart.) The last few sets have felt rather, well, traditional actually.
I didnt like Innistrad/Dark Ascension at all (I also hated time spiral block at one point for the same reason) because it was all to dark. I am not saying lorwyn-happy-happy-joy-joy, but everything was just..dead and depressing. So I was happy to see Avacyn Restored. I remember saying when Innistrad was announced ''well that sucks... 3 sets of horror.. BORING!''

BUT!

I also understand there are alot of people who loved innistrad and dark ascension, and I can totaly get behind the argument ''erm what just happened to the set/block I loved?''

The wherewolf thingy also feels a bit weird. You went through all that trouble to get it through development, only to restrict it to 2 of the 3 sets. I fail to see the logic. Do it good, or dont do it, im sure the people would have survived a thirth set as well.. Just as I would have surived (but not liked!) a thirth zombie set.

Then again, maybe its just an in between. Im not sure if thats the good solution, but at least not everyone is insanily pissed?..

On a side note about the large, small, large: stoneforge and jace got extremely expansive because of this moddel.. So dont print stuff like that in the middle set (at least not at mythic) if what you say is true (''we want you to be able to get all the cards'')

As a final note: I am very exited about the upcoming pre-release, and feel like this is going to be one of the most fun sealed formats, so if anything else, you made me happy with Avacyn Restored Ignite the Dawn!
It's not that you can't display a fundamental transformation without adding cards to a set. It's just that doing so makes it feel a lot more like an afterthought, rather than a wholly-realized evolution.

I assure you, Avacyn Restored feels more like an afterthought than any Magic set I've ever seen, both mechanically and story-wise. "Monsters vs. humans... scarier monsters vs. fewer humans... Oh look, now it's angels vs. demons". Changing the theme of a block like that is not a good thing, guys. Not to mention the fact that the story's such a mess that it feels like you slapped it together in ten minutes.

Yes, we need to debut more mechanics, but we get to eliminate most of the residue of the previous two sets.

That "residue" is what makes the third set feel like it belongs in the block at all. Also, eliminating it really upsets the people who liked that stuff.

Look, I like the fact that you're designing more cards than your baseline, but making the third set of a block nearly completely disconnected is not cool. If you want to make a two-set block and a separate one-set block, more power to you, but the way you're currently doing large-small-large is in some kind of limbo between a cohesive block and two separate blocks.

Taking Avacyn Restored for example: The only connection with the previous two sets is Undying and a handful of creatures that have a tribal creature type. That's not enough. It feels like you established a cool block with a cool theme, and then yanked the rug out from under your fans. "Are you enjoying this horror world block? Too bad, now you get angels."

The story is no better. I'm not saying a third-set-twist is impossible, but it has to be more complicated than a sudden Deus Ex Machina like Avacyn's return was. Had her return given humankind a fighting chance once more, allowing them to begin to turn the tides slowly back in their favor, that could have made an interesting plot event and a good third block. Instead, you simply use her return to sweep everything from the first two thirds of the story under the rug. That's lazy, shoddy work and does not make for an exciting tale.

So going forward, if you're going to make a Large-Small-Large structure, please make sure that A) the set still feels like it belongs in the block and fits in the established world; and B) the twist enhances the story rather than detracts from it.

I have to agree.  According to the story, the Gryff are rare creatures that represent Acacyn... They appear as the logo for two sets...And we get only two cards?  Same with the Wolfir. There is some story behind the DFC going away... But there are only two Wolfir in the set? and no explanation.

Looking at the preview cards, where is the other HALF of the set? The CARDS in this set don't resolve anything! Thematically it's just not a full set.

I think the point the dev team is trying to make is valid, but they are suffering some serious tunnel vision if this article represents their opinion. I think the real disconnect is between blocks 2 & 3 of the set. That always seems to be the weakest link. They need to focus on being able to draft 1, 1&2, 2&3, and 3.  In this set, Avacyn is restored, which is the perfect situation to run around cleaning up monsters from the last set... But they wrote that out. 

The big problem I see is having to have the second and third sets as a big release. In Scars it would have made sense to split the sets up into boosters so that drafting represented the flow of battle.  Release 30 cards at a time so some weeks each side was winning more than the other. In the same way with Avacyn... Launch DA in two parts that get Worse and Worse... Then launch half AR At just the point the Helvault breaks... One Angel versus All the big nasty Demons! Then release a second wave where all the humans and Angels rally. 

The biggest problem the third set (and second too) suffers from is that "bam" you're done problem. The story gets ran over by the full set coming out and players instantly zipping straight to the best cards.... Storytelling ( and game evolving) is pretty much over when the set hits the store.  Leaving 4-5 months of ???? For the story and marketing team. 
I appreciated where you came from even if I didn't agree until this article. WOTC rewrote draft and the definition of Magic cards for werewolves and now you claim they are too boring to support 3 sets? They were boring because you crammed them into red/green when that was too narrow. If you can't make DFCs interesting for all of 3 sets, you suck at your job. This is as big a lie as glossing over you all rubber stamped Snapcaster without knowing it interacted with mana leak. You like Big/small/big because it forces people to buy more cards not because you care about us. You are a scumbag mouthpeice and nothing you say I will ever take as serious again.

Wow... yes, Wizards has a long history of lying to their customers and screwing them over for money, because their business model is based upon short term gain rather than building a large, loyal fanbase through the development of an awesome game. Oh, wait, that's not true at all.

The rest of your post is filled with strawmanning and nonsensical statements. They never said anything about werewolves being too boring for three sets - as Maro said, they felt that a horror top-down design would only be rich enough for two sets. Could they have pushed it to three? I'm sure they could have. Would it have been fun? More than likely. Would it have been as rich and amazing as Innistrad and Dark Ascension? Highly unlikely.

As for your statement that big/small/big forces people to buy more cards... um, what? Where is your logic behind this? Are you going to claim that, because there are more cards, you need to buy more singles/boosters to get what you want? There are some amazingly huge issues with that logic - so much so that I can only gape in wonder, and will touch briefly upon some of the most obvious flaws. First and foremost, because we are drafting triple big set, we get more of those cards into circulation than if it were a small set, thus increasing the availability of those cards. Yes, the middle set is negatively affected, but it would be a big stretch to say that it is forcing people to buy more cards in any way. Looking at history, is there any indication that more cards printed causes players to buy more cards? Was this the case in Time Spiral? I would love to see data to back up your claims. Additionally, Wizards has drastically reduced the number of cards printed in recent years, and, even with these increased card amounts, are still far below former thresholds, so it makes little sense to complain about the slight increases in card printing...

Finally, I know this is the internet and thus filled with a rich history of insulting people from behind an anonymous screenname, but are you seriously calling one of the developers of this game you play a lying scumbag? Why do you even play Magic if you think so little of the company and people that create it? Is it not possibly to raise your concerns without resorting to such blatant rudeness?



The Big/small/Big model is all about selling cards because it compresses draft seasons. DKA had a short draft window so its supply of cards being opened is short. That happens with 3rd sets usually and puts pressure there before MXX is released, but it is one set that is compressed. Now we have a big set, which will be drafted 3x, has a window that starts to close when another big set, M13, comes out. That is three sets in a row with compressed releases. I was ready to quit this game during Lorwyn because they threw so much at me it felt like I wasn't able to tread water anymore. They pushed the limits of what made us sink. They changed it up and it was easier to stay afloat, but now they are back to testing how much they can throw at us until our heads go under. That is what they are doing, and this article is full of it otherwise.

As to saying Horror is too narrow to do 3 sets? Come on. They could do 2 blocks of this stuff. Cabin in the Woods had tons of cool stuff they didn't touch. I could do a block of vampires that are actually vampires. Most of this stuff is devils in vampire nobility clothing. People love this block because of what they wanted it to be more than what it was because this stuff is the richest flavor they have access to. Again, no one makes movies about Phyrexians. They make Cabin in the Woods. This article is spin trying to encourage us to keep going. They decided to use this model before they even knew their storyline as other posters pointed out. I am not buying the reasons here. People draft a lot and will be bored of our stuff if we don't? Adjust ways to draft as others have pointed out.

And I do think very little of the people currently making the game. Magic is great because everything has answers. Other games have come and gone where it was possible to build a deck that won't lose. That gets boring. I too was a noob and hated counterspells and discard and wraths, but then I learned they are what makes Magic worth playing. Unfortunately, the current crop of people at WOTC are making up new card types like planeswalkers that have to be countered to be answered evenly if they aren't discarded first, make hexproof that invalidates doom blades, and weakens answers in general. Then they tell me mana leak is really good because they have made it the only even answer to what they are doing. They are tying to go after new players that get frustrated at not easily winning at the expense of what keeps people coming back. The game isn't solvable. Or at least it shouldn't be. And they made miracle. I am indifferent to the mechanic, but the only answer to it is to literally counterspell it because discard is out of play on top decks.       

You will not convince me it is easier to make 3 sets based on phyrexians and mirrans than it is to make 3 sets based on the most popular horror tribes in existance. One, werewolves, was introduced for the first time as more than an afterthought, with its own mechanic, and they couldn't fill 3 sets with it? Save huntsman, most don't see play unfortunately and they couldn't make a legendary one for the people that would otherwise play these things. As far as AVR, they could fill 3 sets with angels and demons. Yet another low hanging fruit of flavor far easier to harvest than mirrans v phyrexians. I can see that Eldrazi are a one set flavor problem, but angels and demons? Lord of the Pit and Serra Angel are two of the most iconic creatures in this game. If the flavor is the easy part, what else besides selling cards is this really about? I don't buy what Zac is selling in this article, and I may not buy what Zac is selling on game store shelves anymore.      

A casual observation:


It's no secret that Magic is doing well right now. We've spent a lot of time trying to figure out why that is.



You then happen to mention later...


Magic Online wasn't a thing [back in the day]... Magic Online means thousands upon thousands of users will have drafted the same format thirty or forty times.



You may have answered your own question. What's the profit margin on magic online?

Such venomous responses! 


I really don’t care too much all about yearly “structure”.  Just keep making cards and releasing them every 3-4 months; that seems to be just fine.

I think everything they have been doing over the past few years has been excellent.  Drafting has been great!

I think the best suggestion in here so far has been to shift the draft formats to Large/Large/Large; SmallA/SmallA/Large; SmallB/SmallB/SmallA. If that's a problem with relative cardpool sizes...just make the large set a bit less so and the small sets a bit less so.

/shrug - it's nice when things get mixed around a bit, but when it happens TOO often, then it's just hohum whether it happens or not...
Everyone's coming up with ideas based on large sets vs small sets... why not break away from that binary dichotomy and meet in the middle?

Have three "medium-sized" sets in a row. Make all of them a bit smaller than a regular large set - just big enough to avoid the Coldsnap problem - and draft each of them as standalones. So Limited gets to focus on a completely different thing every three months, and Constructed gets to be where the cards from between the sets meet. New Phyrexia shows that WotC are fine with larger small sets, and Shards of Alara shows that they're fine with smaller large sets, so why not just meet in the middle?
The size of the sets never mattered to me....

Its whether or not the story that they represent makes sense....

but then again I am a casual playing Vorthos
Wow... yes, Wizards has a long history of lying to their customers and screwing them over for money, because their business model is based upon short term gain rather than building a large, loyal fanbase through the development of an awesome game. Oh, wait, that's not true at all.



Two words: Mythic Rare. Was anybody saying "I wish cards were harder to acquire and more expensive!" No, just an utterly transparent ploy to sell more packs. Even better (for WotC) is that they can aggressively push the power of them so that they become tournament staples and claim that they have to, because they're Mythic. They repeatedly claim they're "reducing the barrier to entry" when the biggest barrier to entry is money, not complexity.
I didn't think people had such vehement opinions on block size!  0.o

It really makes no difference to me, and I don't mind them changing it up.
I appreciated where you came from even if I didn't agree until this article. WOTC rewrote draft and the definition of Magic cards for werewolves and now you claim they are too boring to support 3 sets? They were boring because you crammed them into red/green when that was too narrow. If you can't make DFCs interesting for all of 3 sets, you suck at your job. This is as big a lie as glossing over you all rubber stamped Snapcaster without knowing it interacted with mana leak. You like Big/small/big because it forces people to buy more cards not because you care about us. You are a scumbag mouthpeice and nothing you say I will ever take as serious again.

Wow... yes, Wizards has a long history of lying to their customers and screwing them over for money, because their business model is based upon short term gain rather than building a large, loyal fanbase through the development of an awesome game. Oh, wait, that's not true at all.

The rest of your post is filled with strawmanning and nonsensical statements. They never said anything about werewolves being too boring for three sets - as Maro said, they felt that a horror top-down design would only be rich enough for two sets. Could they have pushed it to three? I'm sure they could have. Would it have been fun? More than likely. Would it have been as rich and amazing as Innistrad and Dark Ascension? Highly unlikely.

As for your statement that big/small/big forces people to buy more cards... um, what? Where is your logic behind this? Are you going to claim that, because there are more cards, you need to buy more singles/boosters to get what you want? There are some amazingly huge issues with that logic - so much so that I can only gape in wonder, and will touch briefly upon some of the most obvious flaws. First and foremost, because we are drafting triple big set, we get more of those cards into circulation than if it were a small set, thus increasing the availability of those cards. Yes, the middle set is negatively affected, but it would be a big stretch to say that it is forcing people to buy more cards in any way. Looking at history, is there any indication that more cards printed causes players to buy more cards? Was this the case in Time Spiral? I would love to see data to back up your claims. Additionally, Wizards has drastically reduced the number of cards printed in recent years, and, even with these increased card amounts, are still far below former thresholds, so it makes little sense to complain about the slight increases in card printing...

Finally, I know this is the internet and thus filled with a rich history of insulting people from behind an anonymous screenname, but are you seriously calling one of the developers of this game you play a lying scumbag? Why do you even play Magic if you think so little of the company and people that create it? Is it not possibly to raise your concerns without resorting to such blatant rudeness?



The Big/small/Big model is all about selling cards because it compresses draft seasons. DKA had a short draft window so its supply of cards being opened is short. That happens with 3rd sets usually and puts pressure there before MXX is released, but it is one set that is compressed. Now we have a big set, which will be drafted 3x, has a window that starts to close when another big set, M13, comes out. That is three sets in a row with compressed releases. I was ready to quit this game during Lorwyn because they threw so much at me it felt like I wasn't able to tread water anymore. They pushed the limits of what made us sink. They changed it up and it was easier to stay afloat, but now they are back to testing how much they can throw at us until our heads go under. That is what they are doing, and this article is full of it otherwise.

As to saying Horror is too narrow to do 3 sets? Come on. They could do 2 blocks of this stuff. Cabin in the Woods had tons of cool stuff they didn't touch. I could do a block of vampires that are actually vampires. Most of this stuff is devils in vampire nobility clothing. People love this block because of what they wanted it to be more than what it was because this stuff is the richest flavor they have access to. Again, no one makes movies about Phyrexians. They make Cabin in the Woods. This article is spin trying to encourage us to keep going. They decided to use this model before they even knew their storyline as other posters pointed out. I am not buying the reasons here. People draft a lot and will be bored of our stuff if we don't? Adjust ways to draft as others have pointed out.

And I do think very little of the people currently making the game. Magic is great because everything has answers. Other games have come and gone where it was possible to build a deck that won't lose. That gets boring. I too was a noob and hated counterspells and discard and wraths, but then I learned they are what makes Magic worth playing. Unfortunately, the current crop of people at WOTC are making up new card types like planeswalkers that have to be countered to be answered evenly if they aren't discarded first, make hexproof that invalidates doom blades, and weakens answers in general. Then they tell me mana leak is really good because they have made it the only even answer to what they are doing. They are tying to go after new players that get frustrated at not easily winning at the expense of what keeps people coming back. The game isn't solvable. Or at least it shouldn't be. And they made miracle. I am indifferent to the mechanic, but the only answer to it is to literally counterspell it because discard is out of play on top decks.       

You will not convince me it is easier to make 3 sets based on phyrexians and mirrans than it is to make 3 sets based on the most popular horror tribes in existance. One, werewolves, was introduced for the first time as more than an afterthought, with its own mechanic, and they couldn't fill 3 sets with it? Save huntsman, most don't see play unfortunately and they couldn't make a legendary one for the people that would otherwise play these things. As far as AVR, they could fill 3 sets with angels and demons. Yet another low hanging fruit of flavor far easier to harvest than mirrans v phyrexians. I can see that Eldrazi are a one set flavor problem, but angels and demons? Lord of the Pit and Serra Angel are two of the most iconic creatures in this game. If the flavor is the easy part, what else besides selling cards is this really about? I don't buy what Zac is selling in this article, and I may not buy what Zac is selling on game store shelves anymore.      


First, I would like to thank you for your less insulting tone - you do raise some interesting points, and far too often such things are lost beneath rudeness.

I understand your concern with the shortened draft window, but I don't really buy what you claim will result. Dark Ascension faces exactly the same problem that every other third set would face, so the real thing to consider is whether or not Avacyn Restored is worse off than a second set would normally be in a Large-Small-Small structure. Considering the second set would be opened as one booster pack per draft for approximately twice the length that Avacyn Restored will be opening 3 booster packs per draft means that we are opening approximately 2/3rds the number of packs of the second small set than a third large set via drafting. Now, working from a base line of 155 cards in a second set, this is approximately 63% the size of Avacyn Restored - so, really, the difference in terms of individual card availability should not be very large. Looking at RoE, I'm pretty sure it didn't have card availability issues, although I don't have specific data to back that up. Going back to Invasion and Oddysey block era, they had around 636 cards per block, compared to Innistrad's 676, with about 100 more cards in the core sets. So, excepting Scars and Shards block, I'm pretty sure this is some of the lowest numbers we have seen. I know Magic can be overwhelming in terms of cards to acquire, but I really don't think this is some sudden and huge increase.

Could they have done 3 sets of horror? Definitely. Could they have done two blocks? Certainly. Is it true that, by taking 3 sets worth of horror, taking the best 2 sets worth out of that, and releasing only two sets we get a stronger concentration of good design? I think so. If they are not short of block ideas, why not do the absolute best job they can on each idea? I would have liked to see three sets worth of Innistrad-style horror. And, admittedly, it is a bit disappointing to see that the decision to restrict it to two sets was made, in part, due to an apparent lack of confidence. However, I recongize the fact that I expect 3 sets of a Large-Small-Small variety only because that is basically all I have ever known in Magic, and it seems very natural and comfortable. Obviously it has been successful, but that fact alone does not mean that it is necessarily the best or only way to release sets, and I like that they are exploring other options. Rise of the Eldrazi was an incredible limited format, and I think that that was in part due to the fact that it could exist as its own draft entity and not have to worry about other sets entering the picture afterwards.

As you point out, there are other solutions to the issue of draft formats growing stale that work within a Large-Small-Small structure, many of which have been suggested on these boards. I certainly hope that Wizards considers these as things to try out, but I also do not think that these alternate solutions make the Large-Small-Large structure a bad solution. I think it would be good to work with both, and that it is largely a fear of change that makes us irrationally attached to the Large-Small-Small structure.

As for your comments about the current creators of the game - I do not pretend to be a design expert, but I think that we can extend your statement; Magic is not only great because everything has answers, but because different things can require different answers. You see things like planeswalkers and hexproof making counterspells more relevant (which is true), but I see it as also making creature combat more relevant, through attacking and blocking respectively. There is definitely a fine line to walk, and it is not an easy thing to do, but I think the game would be worse if targeted removal was an answer to every creature. Don't get me wrong, it is not as though R&D is without errors - in my personal opinion, Unblockable and Hexproof do not belong on the same card, particularly in a limited environment, which to me is one of the more egragrious errors made recently. However, it is true that Magic's popularity is at its height, not only in growing the player base, but also in retention and even the return of former players. That, combined with the fact that those at the top have been around for quite a long time and have yet to successfully kill Magic make me feel fairly confident in the direction that design and development are going. I don't really believe the are catering to new players at the expense of player retention - at least, that has not been my experience nor, from what I've heard, has that been represented via statistics. From my perspective, what keeps players coming back is the strategic depth that can be found in even the most innocuous situations; as a basic example, my friend who has been playing for less than a year realizing the different levels surrounding whether to attack with a 2/2 into a 4/4 when your opponent knows you have a good morbid creature in your deck, and how your decision may change depending on your evaluation of your opponent's play skill. Magic has not lost this strategic depth, and I find it difficult to believe that it ever will, even if R&D actively tried to stomp out everything that makes Magic fun.

Finally, in addition to striving to create a good game, Wizards does have to turn a profit and sell cards - if they don't manage to do that, they can't continue to put money towards creating a good game in the first place. I don't have particularly strong opinions on Mythic Rares one way or another - they've likely made my financial life easier, as I can more readily aquire the rares I need, and it is definitely exciting to open most mythics. On the other hand, one does run into the circumstances where it's frustrating to not be able to justify building the deck you want because of a mythic or two - so, I'm largely indifferent towards them. Thus, from my perspective, if they help Wizards financially and thus enable them to continue to create a game I love, they're alright by me. 
Wow... yes, Wizards has a long history of lying to their customers and screwing them over for money, because their business model is based upon short term gain rather than building a large, loyal fanbase through the development of an awesome game. Oh, wait, that's not true at all.



Two words: Mythic Rare. Was anybody saying "I wish cards were harder to acquire and more expensive!" No, just an utterly transparent ploy to sell more packs. Even better (for WotC) is that they can aggressively push the power of them so that they become tournament staples and claim that they have to, because they're Mythic. They repeatedly claim they're "reducing the barrier to entry" when the biggest barrier to entry is money, not complexity.

I'm not really sure how the biggest barrier to entry is money... typically, if a card costs a lot of money it is due to its popularity as a tournament staple. In my experience, new players are not concerned with aquiring the latest tournament winning deck list - in fact, many of the cards that excite them, if they are in the deck building phase, are cards that would not appeal to a great many tournament players.

New players are those that are still learning the rules of the game - the ones that have to be reminded to draw a card at the beginning of their turn, or who forget to attack when you are tapped out and have no creatures in play. They are not particularly concerned with obtaining the most powerful cards, as they haven't even worked out which are the most or least powerful. They just want fun, interactive games where they feel like they have half a chance - which likely means NOT playing with tournament lists for either player. 
Don't assume that just because a player is new they don't want to be competitive, or that they're underskilled. Not to mention fun is relative.
Wow... yes, Wizards has a long history of lying to their customers and screwing them over for money, because their business model is based upon short term gain rather than building a large, loyal fanbase through the development of an awesome game. Oh, wait, that's not true at all.



Two words: Mythic Rare. Was anybody saying "I wish cards were harder to acquire and more expensive!" No, just an utterly transparent ploy to sell more packs. Even better (for WotC) is that they can aggressively push the power of them so that they become tournament staples and claim that they have to, because they're Mythic. They repeatedly claim they're "reducing the barrier to entry" when the biggest barrier to entry is money, not complexity.

I'm not really sure how the biggest barrier to entry is money... typically, if a card costs a lot of money it is due to its popularity as a tournament staple. In my experience, new players are not concerned with aquiring the latest tournament winning deck list - in fact, many of the cards that excite them, if they are in the deck building phase, are cards that would not appeal to a great many tournament players.

New players are those that are still learning the rules of the game - the ones that have to be reminded to draw a card at the beginning of their turn, or who forget to attack when you are tapped out and have no creatures in play. They are not particularly concerned with obtaining the most powerful cards, as they haven't even worked out which are the most or least powerful. They just want fun, interactive games where they feel like they have half a chance - which likely means NOT playing with tournament lists for either player. 


I'm pretty sure youre wrong. Even if the barrier to entry isnt money, since magic has become a lot pricier last years, im very very close to stop with it at all. Since the invention of mythics, planeswalker (wich flavorwise suck like hell*) and their 'New World Order' magic is no longer affordable compared to my other gaming options.
For example look at the BoaB collums, long age they were about casual play with a max price per deck of 30$, now these prices easy hits 100$. If budget decks are 100$ then price is going to be the most important factor to start/keep playing magic.


* The game says: Im a planeswalker and i battle other planeswalkers. Yet there are extremly powerfull planeswalkers  (like Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker]Bolas) i can fully control in this battle with other planeswalkers (my brother for example).
I'm not really sure how the biggest barrier to entry is money... typically, if a card costs a lot of money it is due to its popularity as a tournament staple. In my experience, new players are not concerned with aquiring the latest tournament winning deck list - in fact, many of the cards that excite them, if they are in the deck building phase, are cards that would not appeal to a great many tournament players.

If a new player wants to mix things up a bit, play with different people than his close friends, with whom he probably plays all the time, where does he go? Friday Night Magic. Which is dominated by netdeck copies of the tournament-winning decks. The new player loses game after game against these hundreds-of-dollars decks, and takes away a lesson: If you don't spend hundreds of dollars on this game to get, not even the best, but the PLAYAYBLE cards, you don't win, period.

What their "New World Order" does is place the majority of the Constructed power level in Rare and Mythic Rare, which limits the number of cards that see Constructed play, leading to fewer variety of competitive decks and thus more expensive competitive decks (as everyone is buying the same cards, pushing the demand much higher than the supply). It also means that decks that don't run these more expensive cards just plain can't compete, because the majority of affordable cards are now Limited junk. Sure, a newer player is expected to lose more often than he wins at first, but with such a sharp division in power level between the expensive decks and the budget decks, he won't just lose, he'll be crushed. And that is not fun.

Price is definitely a barrier to entry, just one that prevents new players from ever wanting to move up from casual play.

(Note to anyone whose first reaction to this is to post "You're wrong! Delver of Secrets is a common, and it's the best card in Standard right now!": I said the majority, not all. Obviously there are still some powerful cards in the lower rarities. The difference now is that there are fewer of them, and there tends to be a much wider gap between the commons and the mythics.)
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
Price is certainly not the biggest barrier for the majority of new players.
I mean, the majority of established players are not interested in playing tournaments. The amount of new players that are competitive right away is similary small.
What confounds me most about the response to Avacyn Restored is the implicit notion that Dark Acension 2.0 would've been strictly better, somehow. Wouldn't you have the same complaints that Double-Faced Cards and Undying were gone after that set? Every set's mechanics have to end at some point. What leads you to believe three sets of those mechanics would be necessarily better than two? The fact is, if they continued every set's mechanics until we were completely satisfied, they'd be failing in their jobs - one of the most important principles in entertainment (and Magic is an entertainment medium) is to always leave your audience wanting more. The fact that you're complaining that there isn't more Innistrad mechanics is an indicator of overwhelming success.

Where did the notion that players are somehow entitled to three sets of every mechanic they like come from? If Innistrad/Dark Ascension and Acavyn Restored were individual blocks that took simply took place on the same plane, would you be this upset that the first one is only two sets? What about the first two sets made people feel they were entitled to a third? I thought Innistrad and Dark Ascension were pretty great as well, and I think it'd continue to be great if they made more of it; but that hardly justifies throwing a fit because it's over.

And as for the notion that they're just not connected enough, I don't see it. They included Wolves in most Werewolf tribal effects specifically because they knew this was coming. 'Flickering' interacts in an interesting way with both Undying and Double-Faced Cards, and is a major set theme. Conceptually, the human v. monsters fight has simply escalated - humans were always driven by the power of Avacyn and her angels, and it's been made clear all block that demons were the ultimate monsters of Innistrad. Angels v. Demons is the same premise as the rest of the block, just pushed to its logical extremes. I can see how one might argue that the story moved too fast, but the notion that it's as utterly senseless as has been implied is hard to buy...
I can see how one might argue that the story moved too fast, but the notion that it's as utterly senseless as has been implied is hard to buy...

Avacyn, before her imprisonment, had more humans on her side, fewer monsters to fight, and most of the demons sealed away. All she and humanity were managing was to coexist, neither winning nor losing against the monsters. Avacyn gets imprisoned. Humanity suffers severe losses, monters grow in number. Avacyn is freed, and with her every demon that had been sealed up from even before her imprisonment, yet somehow she has the power to start WINNING now. Plot hole.

Before, werewolves were an ever-present threat. Many of them wished they could be changed back to human, but they couldn't. Now, suddenly, Avacyn is able to grant that wish and turn almost every single werewolf in the world into a wolfir, when she obviously couldn't before. Plot hole.

Sorin, who previously created Avacyn, came to this world and found her missing. He was established as being here to search for her and restore her. He is never mentioned again. Dropped plot thread.

Griselbrand, Liliana's ultimate motivation for everything she's done up to this point, dies to her in seconds. Anticlimax.

Garruk, who's been hunting Liliana this whole time, that being his entire purpose for being here, fights her and gets nothing more than a glorified "He was strong, but she was stronger." Anticlimax.

The angels who went into hiding when Avacyn was imprisoned have all apparently been fighting the good fight all this time, since we were clearly told in the first AVR Planeswalker's Guide what each of the three groups were doing, with many of them having "redoubled their efforts since Avacyn's disappearance". Plot hole.

You may not agree that the set should have been a continuation of the themes. Fine, we each have our own opinions, and none are more valid than any other. However, there's no denying that the story is a senseless mess.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
Wow... yes, Wizards has a long history of lying to their customers and screwing them over for money, because their business model is based upon short term gain rather than building a large, loyal fanbase through the development of an awesome game. Oh, wait, that's not true at all.



Two words: Mythic Rare. Was anybody saying "I wish cards were harder to acquire and more expensive!" No, just an utterly transparent ploy to sell more packs. Even better (for WotC) is that they can aggressively push the power of them so that they become tournament staples and claim that they have to, because they're Mythic. They repeatedly claim they're "reducing the barrier to entry" when the biggest barrier to entry is money, not complexity.

I'm not really sure how the biggest barrier to entry is money... typically, if a card costs a lot of money it is due to its popularity as a tournament staple. In my experience, new players are not concerned with aquiring the latest tournament winning deck list - in fact, many of the cards that excite them, if they are in the deck building phase, are cards that would not appeal to a great many tournament players.

New players are those that are still learning the rules of the game - the ones that have to be reminded to draw a card at the beginning of their turn, or who forget to attack when you are tapped out and have no creatures in play. They are not particularly concerned with obtaining the most powerful cards, as they haven't even worked out which are the most or least powerful. They just want fun, interactive games where they feel like they have half a chance - which likely means NOT playing with tournament lists for either player. 



I think players would much rather lose because they were outsmarted because they didn't catch every trick and fully understand every interaction than to lose because they didn't spend enough money. New players are going to have their Pathbreaker Wurm and Howlgeist and Soul of the Harvest and lose because sorry, if you wanted to actually win games, you should've paid the extra $60 for a set of Primeval Titans. It's far easier for people to practice and get better than to get a tremendously higher amount of disposable income. Wizards has bought whole heartedly in to Rarity = Power, it became blatantly obvious the day Baneslayer Angel was printed and they have not dialed it back from that at all.
What confounds me most about the response to Avacyn Restored is the implicit notion that Dark Acension 2.0 would've been strictly better, somehow. Wouldn't you have the same complaints that Double-Faced Cards and Undying were gone after that set? Every set's mechanics have to end at some point. What leads you to believe three sets of those mechanics would be necessarily better than two? The fact is, if they continued every set's mechanics until we were completely satisfied, they'd be failing in their jobs - one of the most important principles in entertainment (and Magic is an entertainment medium) is to always leave your audience wanting more. The fact that you're complaining that there isn't more Innistrad mechanics is an indicator of overwhelming success.

Where did the notion that players are somehow entitled to three sets of every mechanic they like come from? If Innistrad/Dark Ascension and Acavyn Restored were individual blocks that took simply took place on the same plane, would you be this upset that the first one is only two sets? What about the first two sets made people feel they were entitled to a third? I thought Innistrad and Dark Ascension were pretty great as well, and I think it'd continue to be great if they made more of it; but that hardly justifies throwing a fit because it's over.


I'm disappointed because I grew up on three set blocks, and one of the best things for me was seeing how the third set would mix things up. The "third set complexity" problem Zac refers to was what made the third set typically fun and weird.

Now we only get two sets, and a lot of the mechanics end up feeling under-explored in the first two. Werewolves and Curses were the big ones in Innistrad; Curses never really got a push, and many of the werewolves in Innistrad/Dark Ascension were vanilla filler. If the removal of a connected third set leaves us with better first and second sets, why are we getting so many french vanilla and vanilla werewolves instead of more interesting stuff like Werewolf Ransacker?

Big third set mechanics also tend to feel "weak" because they're only in one set; for example, Miracle is very limited for a signature set ability that got a new frame. There are no Miracle creatures, enchantments, artifacts, or planeswalkers. There are not many cards in the set that interact with Miracle (For example, changing the order of the top cards in your library). It feels like the mechanic needed more room to breathe.

And as for the notion that they're just not connected enough, I don't see it. They included Wolves in most Werewolf tribal effects specifically because they knew this was coming.


There are four new wolves in Avacyn Restored, only two of which are flavorfully Werewolves, and none of them are Red.

I saw better tribal continuation between Kamigawa and Ravnica, which were two different blocks.

'Flickering' interacts in an interesting way with both Undying and Double-Faced Cards, and is a major set theme.


The problem with the flickering effects is that they flicker your own creatures. This interacts positively with Undying, yes, but it interacts negatively with most transformers, the signature mechanic of Innistrad.

That's like printing a self-inflicted Tsabo's Decree after Lorwyn block.

Conceptually, the human v. monsters fight has simply escalated - humans were always driven by the power of Avacyn and her angels, and it's been made clear all block that demons were the ultimate monsters of Innistrad. Angels v. Demons is the same premise as the rest of the block, just pushed to its logical extremes. I can see how one might argue that the story moved too fast, but the notion that it's as utterly senseless as has been implied is hard to buy...


Compare to the Scars of Mirrodin block: Scars was primarily Mirran, with some Phyrexian, to represent Phyrexia being a growing threat. Besieged was 50/50, to represent how the two sides are now at all-out war. New Phyrexia was mostly Phyrexian, to represent their victory. There was a sense of progression in everything, including the mechanics. Infect progressed to all the colors from just being Black/Green.

Avacyn Restored lacks that sense of progression (Except in Undying, since it at least tested the boundaries of that mechanic with Treacherous Pit-Dweller). I mean, at least Rise of the Eldrazi's "big stuff" mechanics fit the land ramp of the previous two sets.
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