05/04/2012 LD: "Mixed Bag, Part 1"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Honestly, I find that gushing over Archangel a little odd. I think people have come to expect more from their rares than 5/5 vigilance and flying for 7 and would not have been impressed to open it and see Archangel in the rare slot. The flavor also seems a bit off, as Archangel sounds like it should be top of the food chain and in this set it's a mediocre angel at best.
I don't like one-upmanship in cards. It just feels underwhelming and uncreative, and it makes those original cards a lot less special. It's like "Hey, this card is cool, let's make another version of this card that's even cooler!" I don't think Angel of Glory's Rise is overpowered or anything, nor is it "better" than its Black counterpart, but its mere existence makes Zombie Apocalypse feel much less flavorful when a near-flavorless and strict mechanical opposite is made in the very next set.

If you want to compare how they feel, just look at the rules text. "Destroy all Humans" is a powerful line that inspires fear; "exile all Zombies" sounds like you're kicking the Zombies out of your country. One is flavorfully driven, the other is mechanically driven.

As for the article, I love card-by-card analysis articles, since they offer a unique perspective.
I love Rosewater's card-by-card articles, and Zac's hit the same notes that I like (individual comments on the cards with development anecdotes), while offering a different perspective.

It's more of something that I love, with enough differences to make it not feel like "more of the same." Can't wait for Part II, and I hope Zac makes this a regular thing!
Honestly, I find that gushing over Archangel a little odd. I think people have come to expect more from their rares than 5/5 vigilance and flying for 7 and would not have been impressed to open it and see Archangel in the rare slot. The flavor also seems a bit off, as Archangel sounds like it should be top of the food chain and in this set it's a mediocre angel at best.



Indeed.  I think it's a completely bland card.  The name would indicate some really powerful Angel, not something you'd see at uncommon.  At the same time, it's completely generic (no "of such-and-such" at the end).  And the design is just "Serra Angel with +1/+1 for more".  It feels completely out of place among the other Angels of the set, with their much more interesting designs.
We've done this a few times, and frequently it's controversial. 
Blightsteel Colossus, for example, was and is a very polarizing card—but it does for sure convey the "turning" of one of Mirrodin's most iconic forces. A similar motivation drove the design of this card, too.


Er.  What?  Blightsteel Colossus is a polarizing card, but not, to my knowledge, because how dare you invert my beloved Darksteel Colossus or anything.  I honestly can't think of any "reversals" that are controversial strictly because they're reversals.  Did you have something in mind here?  I really doubt people are going to be rioting against Angel of Glory's Rise, either.

(I'm of the BSC-was-a-bad-idea camp, mind, but sure, there's some passing coolness in adding infect to something from Mirrodin, that isn't in dispute anymore than Shadowmoor's many reversals of Lorwyn cards.  It's a bad card for the same reason that printing any 22/11 trampling indestructible "creature" is a bad idea, no matter the flavor excuse.)
I actually never knew it was called Crypt Creeper. I have always glossed over the second word in my mind subconciously and called it Crypt Keeper. And it's not like I haven't played the card either....
Grow old or die trying.
I hope everybody enjoyed your Avacyn Restored Prerelease and managed to escape with some cool goodies courtesy of the Helvault.


nope, mine contained only suck that is worth $1, like most of the others too. thx for the needless hype.
Abbot Pheldy OSM Mafia Awards 2010 Most Unique Playstyle Designer of Game of the Year 2010 Designer of Most Flavorful Game My achievements random hum
Cool stories I also hope this stays a regular feature =)


Oh Blood Artist is a he? On card size I thought it was a she... 
Luckily I was too busy drooling over Bruna, Light of Alabaster

I actually never knew it was called Crypt Creeper. I have always glossed over the second word in my mind subconciously and called it Crypt Keeper. And it's not like I haven't played the card either....



Nothing compared to how EVERYONE on the ChannelFireball crew calls the Hollowhenge cards 'Guardian'. Hollowhenge Scavenger is called Hollowhenge Guardian. Hollowhenge Spirit is called Hollowhenge Guardian. Hollowhenge Beast is called Hollowhenge Guardian.

Or how I really thought Curse of Oblivion was costed for weeks and casted it as such.
'I want a t-shirt that declares, simply, "I hate angels."'

Don't worry - after everyone's been drafting the set for a couple of weeks, I'm pretty sure you won't be short of volunteers to make you one!

I also like moonlight giest and searchlight geist.  I love cards that I can play for a reasonable cost (2/1 flying for 3 is solid but not rediculous) that have high costed activated abilities that I can use later on.  For one thing it somewhat deceptively forces a player to decide between trading it now or waiting until you can get full value out of it.  Great job on those two.
I love how the new Crypt Creeper art has massive boobs. It subverts the demand for massive boobs.
I really don't see how Griselbrand would be too powerful at 7 cost.  90% of the time he's going to be 'cheated' into play anyway (reanimate, quicksilver amulet, etc.).  I got him in my sealed and cast him twice at the prerelease.
Anyone else remember when a column like this would have had excerpts from multiverse? I've got nothing against seeing Zac's personal take, but it was kinda nice getting (selctions from) the combined comments of all of R&D on the card-file...
M:tG Rules Advisor
I'm with Zac on the t-shirt matter; I'd wear a shirt with "I hate Angels." quote marks and period or not. And perhaps even especially with the art of Killing Wave on it. Especially new art for it. :D

And yeah. I miss the Multiverse comments, too, and looking at the comments here, I think Archangel does have some of the problems listed. Too weak for its name and supposed flavor, I think, not to mention not being Rare despite said name and flavour. I understand and respect its role and function in the set, but I think, here, this would've been a good place to do a "Castle-to-Builder's Blessing" as I'd call it.

And finally: I know you guys keep saying that you tested him at 7 mana, but that's just a converted mana cost. Did they test Griselbrand costed at 1BBBBBB? He's a demon, so 6 black mana. Or, since his theme is 7, even at BBBBBBB?
Great article, so don't take my two comments negatively.

So we wanted to experiment with putting cards on the bottom of your library rather than directly into your graveyard, where you have to part with them entirely.


I'm certain that development is aware how inaccurate this statement is; especially considering all the graveyard love from the previous set. Despite its flavorful roots, the graveyard has turned into a resource where cards are easy to access and the library has turned into the one place you can put a card that is the hardest to get it back from. I'm curious why this sentence is in here. Perhaps he was talking about flavorfully more than mechanically in some way?

Killing Wave is still my favorite card from the set, and I wish there had been more commentary on it. It's such a unique twist on a standard idea, and I'm surprised nobody is talking about it. I'm kind of bummed that all you had to say was that you want a t-shirt.



Honestly, I find that gushing over Archangel a little odd. I think people have come to expect more from their rares than 5/5 vigilance and flying for 7 and would not have been impressed to open it and see Archangel in the rare slot. The flavor also seems a bit off, as Archangel sounds like it should be top of the food chain and in this set it's a mediocre angel at best.



Indeed.  I think it's a completely bland card.  The name would indicate some really powerful Angel, not something you'd see at uncommon.  At the same time, it's completely generic (no "of such-and-such" at the end).  And the design is just "Serra Angel with +1/+1 for more".  It feels completely out of place among the other Angels of the set, with their much more interesting designs.





I think there is some confusion here. Archangel is currently printed as an uncommon, but is a reprint that was traditionally a rare. This is what he is remarking on; the fact that it's appropriate now to be placed at uncommon, and in fact wouldn't have been printed in this environment if it were a rare.


We've done this a few times, and frequently it's controversial. 
Blightsteel Colossus, for example, was and is a very polarizing card—but it does for sure convey the "turning" of one of Mirrodin's most iconic forces. A similar motivation drove the design of this card, too.

 
Er.  What?  Blightsteel Colossus is a polarizing card, but not, to my knowledge, because how dare you invert my beloved Darksteel Colossus or anything.  I honestly can't think of any "reversals" that are controversial strictly because they're reversals.  Did you have something in mind here?  I really doubt people are going to be rioting against Angel of Glory's Rise, either.

(I'm of the BSC-was-a-bad-idea camp, mind, but sure, there's some passing coolness in adding infect to something from Mirrodin, that isn't in dispute anymore than Shadowmoor's many reversals of Lorwyn cards.  It's a bad card for the same reason that printing any 22/11 trampling indestructible "creature" is a bad idea, no matter the flavor excuse.)



I think you misread his comment. He was saying exactly what you said: that it was controversial for mechanical reasons but interesting for flavorful reasons.

I was surprised Zac didn't mention more about Misthollow Griffin. Specifically, nothing was said to assuage fears that Exile will become 'the other Graveyard'. Don't get me wrong--I like the griffin, and don't mind seeing cards that push boundaries in such a way, every so often. But the response across the interwebs was  leading me to believe this was a highly contentious issue, and would warrant more of a response from Wizards. 


I guess, more than anything, I'm curious to hear Zac's take on the griffin's indifference to Exile.

Griselbrand is going to be cheated onto the battlefield most of the time. But it matters for Birthing Pod or for casting it. Wait, who casts seven-mana creatures? Well, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite has been cast a few times as a backup plan thanks to Avacyn's Pilgrim. The difference is huge between seven and eight mana (especially with four black mana), but the difference between "I kill your small guys and make your board suck in combat forever and win in five turns until you have a Doom Blade" and "I'll just draw seven or fourteen cards even if you have an answer" is also huge.

Also think about formats where it matters. Sure, Commander already has some broken-y things at seven mana, but I'm just saying it isn't a matter of "Anything expensive is the same, so seven is okay." Especially if the reason is just accomodate the 7's in the card. If Emrakul, the Aeons Torn had a 9-theme, would you have cost it at ?

By the way, discourages almost everybody to ever cast it, unlike
I think there is some confusion here. Archangel is currently printed as an uncommon, but is a reprint that was traditionally a rare. This is what he is remarking on; the fact that it's appropriate now to be placed at uncommon, and in fact wouldn't have been printed in this environment if it were a rare.



I'm aware that it was a rare and that it's now an uncommon.  I agree that the states better fit on an uncommon.  However, I think the name doesn't fit an uncommon or its stats, and I think it's out of place in modern design, especially in a set that seems to highlights its blandness.
Great article, so don't take my two comments negatively.

So we wanted to experiment with putting cards on the bottom of your library rather than directly into your graveyard, where you have to part with them entirely.


I'm certain that development is aware how inaccurate this statement is; especially considering all the graveyard love from the previous set. 


Yeah, he's aware. A second later he sarcastically says, "until you draw your Unburial Rites." He's talking about flavor, which is why he used the book analogy.




I was surprised Zac didn't mention more about Misthollow Griffin. Specifically, nothing was said to assuage fears that Exile will become 'the other Graveyard'



It's barely got it's foot in the door. Specifically, it is an enabled card by exile mechanics... there aren't many exile mechanics in the entire game. As a yugi player, I can assure you MtG is no where close to turning exile into a second grave.



I'm aware that it was a rare and that it's now an uncommon.  I agree that the states better fit on an uncommon.  However, I think the name doesn't fit an uncommon or its stats, and I think it's out of place in modern design, especially in a set that seems to highlights its blandness.


You're right, it's bland. It was bland when it was printed, too. It's just a shameless reprint whose flavor is out of whack, but whose key devices (being an uncommon angel bomb) make the set's angel theme really apparent.
Anyone else remember when a column like this would have had excerpts from multiverse? I've got nothing against seeing Zac's personal take, but it was kinda nice getting (selctions from) the combined comments of all of R&D on the card-file...

I too prefer seeing Multiverse comments in this sort of article.

Here, however, I don't mind so much because the set as a whole bores me, and I just want to stop reading about it. Multiverse comments would just make these articles take longer.
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I'm certain that development is aware how inaccurate this statement is; especially considering all the graveyard love from the previous set. Despite its flavorful roots, the graveyard has turned into a resource where cards are easy to access and the library has turned into the one place you can put a card that is the hardest to get it back from. I'm curious why this sentence is in here. Perhaps he was talking about flavorfully more than mechanically in some way?



Or limited, where the graveyard is the last place most of the time. 
I just feel that Archangel is... Meh... It is too expensive to justify it ever being used in standard. Serra Angel may be 1 less power and toughness but it comes out two turns earlier. I can easily get a 6 cost creature in green/white in turn 3. Heck Sigarda in turn 3 is common... That is a 5/5 flying hex proof and more for less mana. Granted, it is a rare, but this should have been a 5 cost card.
As I mentioned earlier, if you're going to make an "Angel Set,"



While I understand the sentiment, I'm still left with my original question: but why? Why an angel set?

I understand that the story changed direction a bit when it was decided that you had to resolve Avacyn's story rather than "fade out" on another doomed world (a good decision, by the way). I get that the direction of the block was mechanically up in the air for a while, what with the sudden change from a "woe to humans" set to a "monsters rock" set in Dark Ascension. I can even appreciate the desire to flesh out what had been a rather niche tribe. (Heck, any time you get the urge to toss out a Serpent lord, I'll be more than happy to give it a spin.) But despite all that, you started with a gothic horror block. Or at the very least a gothic horror set. Where did that go?

The Eldrazi were a strange enough capstone to "D&D adventure world," even with the addition of ever-shifting terrain and floating monoliths to clue players in on the plane's innate weirdness. But going from werewolves, vampires, and Dr. Jekyll to angels vs. demons in one block? That's a pretty hard left turn.
I don't like one-upmanship in cards. It just feels underwhelming and uncreative, and it makes those original cards a lot less special. It's like "Hey, this card is cool, let's make another version of this card that's even cooler!" I don't think Angel of Glory's Rise is overpowered or anything, nor is it "better" than its Black counterpart, but its mere existence makes Zombie Apocalypse feel much less flavorful when a near-flavorless and strict mechanical opposite is made in the very next set.

If you want to compare how they feel, just look at the rules text. "Destroy all Humans" is a powerful line that inspires fear; "exile all Zombies" sounds like you're kicking the Zombies out of your country. One is flavorfully driven, the other is mechanically driven.


I agree with you. As someone that loved Zombie Apocalypse, I find Angel of Glory's Rise to be depressively oppressive. I know you wanted to one-up Zombie-Apocalypse, but you basicaly shat on it. The angel is even more splashable. It's a shame really.

Or how I really thought Curse of Oblivion was costed for weeks and casted it as such.


Why would you want to cast that card either way?

IMAGE(http://i1.minus.com/jbcBXM4z66fMtK.jpg)

192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
Or how I really thought Curse of Oblivion was costed for weeks and casted it as such.


Why would you want to cast that card either way?



Spider Spawning and Burning Vengeance.

I just feel that Archangel is... Meh... It is too expensive to justify it ever being used in standard. Serra Angel may be 1 less power and toughness but it comes out two turns earlier. I can easily get a 6 cost creature in green/white in turn 3. Heck Sigarda in turn 3 is common... That is a 5/5 flying hex proof and more for less mana. Granted, it is a rare, but this should have been a 5 cost card.



It is supposed to be meh and not be used in Standard, They're cards for Limited.  
Most of the shown cards are pretty awful. It's hard to care about the background of cards that are just skimmed over and shoved into Jank Boxes to be forgotten about for all eternity. Why not something like Lightning Mauler? I guess all the good cards were talked about during Previews week so this is what we're left with.

"I mention all of this because the flavor text for Killing Wave elicited a bigger reaction than any other card I can remember seeing. It's just awesome, and so is Liliana."

Lol no. Absolutely not.
Spider Spawning and Burning Vengeance.


I assume the format was ISD block limited? Cause Nihil Spellbomb is such a superior card it's funny. Actually, even if you manage to cast Curse of Oblivion they are not hosed, as they can exile lands and other useless things they have milled in their graveyards. Curse of Oblivion is sooooo bad .

Most of the shown cards are pretty awful. It's hard to care about the background of cards that are just skimmed over and shoved into Jank Boxes to be forgotten about for all eternity. Why not something like Lightning Mauler? I guess all the good cards were talked about during Previews week so this is what we're left with.

"I mention all of this because the flavor text for Killing Wave elicited a bigger reaction than any other card I can remember seeing. It's just awesome, and so is Liliana."

Lol no. Absolutely not.


Zac Hill said "is so Liliana", not "so is Liliana" and he's absolutely right. Learn to read.

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192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
Or how I really thought Curse of Oblivion was costed for weeks and casted it as such.


Why would you want to cast that card either way?



Spider Spawning and Burning Vengeance.

I just feel that Archangel is... Meh... It is too expensive to justify it ever being used in standard. Serra Angel may be 1 less power and toughness but it comes out two turns earlier. I can easily get a 6 cost creature in green/white in turn 3. Heck Sigarda in turn 3 is common... That is a 5/5 flying hex proof and more for less mana. Granted, it is a rare, but this should have been a 5 cost card.



It is supposed to be meh and not be used in Standard, They're cards for Limited.  





You can't excuse bad design with, "Well it is for limited."

All cards should be good in some way.
Angel of Glory's Rise exiles zombies and reanimates humans because she is turning the zombies back into humans. It's not as obvious as ZomApoc, but it's there on the flavour text. 

It's interesting that Zac admits that he loves to put expensive activated abilities on his card. In the debate with MaRo, did he make a fake creature card with an expensive activated ability and said that people in WotC like to do that, and it was poor design?  

"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

Human Frailty was once called Homicide. Why the hell did they change it? At least "Homicide" describes what the spell does, like a good instant or sorcery name should.
It's interesting that Zac admits that he loves to put expensive activated abilities on his card. In the debate with MaRo, did he make a fake creature card with an expensive activated ability and said that people in WotC like to do that, and it was poor design?  

No, what he did was put an expensive activated ability you'd never want to activate on a creature and say it was bad design. His point was that giving the player options they'd never use is something to avoid.
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Or how I really thought Curse of Oblivion was costed for weeks and casted it as such.


Why would you want to cast that card either way?



Spider Spawning and Burning Vengeance.

I just feel that Archangel is... Meh... It is too expensive to justify it ever being used in standard. Serra Angel may be 1 less power and toughness but it comes out two turns earlier. I can easily get a 6 cost creature in green/white in turn 3. Heck Sigarda in turn 3 is common... That is a 5/5 flying hex proof and more for less mana. Granted, it is a rare, but this should have been a 5 cost card.



It is supposed to be meh and not be used in Standard, They're cards for Limited.  



You can't excuse bad design with, "Well it is for limited." All cards should be good in some way.


Well in Curse of Oblivion's case, I think it had the right to exist. Innistrad was a graveyard-heavy block and printing a graveyard hoser ala relic of progenitus or nihil spellbomb would be kind of counterproductive.

IMAGE(http://i1.minus.com/jbcBXM4z66fMtK.jpg)

192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
You can't excuse bad design with, "Well it is for limited." All cards should be good in some way.



Limited is "some way". 
In fact, I'm pretty sure more than half of the time Wizards spends on designing sets is spent on Limited, so it isn't just 'some way' it is a very important way.

Also, as a reprint, it's easier to forgive 'bad design'. It invokes nostalgia, and that's why people will like it. 
The problem is bad design like that is what destroys standard.

You ever wonder why there are usually only 6 or so decks in any block? Bad design.

Ravnica (the first one) had so many good and playable cards that we saw many different decks at tournaments. Printing crap "limited only" cards encourages net decking and format stagnation. Wizards should try to make as many cards as possible in a set good in constructed. They will still be good in limited but it will keep a more healthy format.
The problem is bad design like that is what destroys standard. You ever wonder why there are usually only 6 or so decks in any block? Bad design. Ravnica (the first one) had so many good and playable cards that we saw many different decks at tournaments. Printing crap "limited only" cards encourages net decking and format stagnation. Wizards should try to make as many cards as possible in a set good in constructed. They will still be good in limited but it will keep a more healthy format.


I have trouble believing this is true. Its not like Ravnica had a super flat power level or even had a much lower percentage of limited filler than other sets. I can't imagine that pushing the power level even more on most cards would reduce the likelihood of there being a few dominant decks in standard. It seems like it increases the likelihood of there being a card they miss.

Besides, they've already ruined limited by turning it into constructed. They don't need to ruin it even more to appease people who are convinced that Ravnica wasn't full of for-limited commons that you wouldn't play in a million years in constructed.
The problem is bad design like that is what destroys standard. You ever wonder why there are usually only 6 or so decks in any block? Bad design. Ravnica (the first one) had so many good and playable cards that we saw many different decks at tournaments. Printing crap "limited only" cards encourages net decking and format stagnation. Wizards should try to make as many cards as possible in a set good in constructed. They will still be good in limited but it will keep a more healthy format.


I have trouble believing this is true. Its not like Ravnica had a super flat power level or even had a much lower percentage of limited filler than other sets. I can't imagine that pushing the power level even more on most cards would reduce the likelihood of there being a few dominant decks in standard. It seems like it increases the likelihood of there being a card they miss.

Besides, they've already ruined limited by turning it into constructed. They don't need to ruin it even more to appease people who are convinced that Ravnica wasn't full of for-limited commons that you wouldn't play in a million years in constructed.





You accomplish a lot by thinking of the set in a logical manner.

Here is what we know: (in constructed)

1. As far as creatures go anything that is a common and doesn't do something useful isn't worth it.

For example Birds of Paradise is an awesome card, the common version lacks flying and can only produce one color of mana, but if someone is only doing a mono or dual colored deck the elf is a good fill in. It probably wouldn't be the make and break of your deck, Squadron Hawk was great too. Making the "common trash" useful is helpful to the format.

2. If a card is just another card with a slight change that change needs to be cost efficient.

This is the archangel thing. Archangel costs too much. Serra Angel is 2 cost less, but only 1/1 smaller. That accounts for 1 of the 2 cost. They (Wizards) should have given us something to justify that extra cost. First Strike? Trample? Haste? Flash? Hexproof? Yeah a hexproof flying vigilance 5/5 for 6 suddenly becomes VERY good. Not as good as Sigarda but certainly more playable than it is now. Someone at Wizards is just getting lazy.
2. If a card is just another card with a slight change that change needs to be cost efficient. This is the archangel thing. Archangel costs too much. Serra Angel is 2 cost less, but only 1/1 smaller. That accounts for 1 of the 2 cost. They (Wizards) should have given us something to justify that extra cost. First Strike? Trample? Haste? Flash? Hexproof? Yeah a hexproof flying vigilance 5/5 for 6 suddenly becomes VERY good. Not as good as Sigarda but certainly more playable than it is now. Someone at Wizards is just getting lazy.



Azure Drake versus Amphin Cutthroat. That is not Wizards getting lazy, that is Wizards understanding how they can keep Limited fresh for years. A LOT of cards could be costed less. That doesn't mean all of them should. 
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