07/03/2012 Feature Article: "Encounters"

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

I enjoyed reading about this.  Evolved versions of the Magic "goldfish" are an old standby for solitaire play, and it's cool that this official form worked out so well.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...
I'm really curious n if they plan to make a new MTG game other than Duels, one not so focused on newer players, but for more experienced players interested in digital formats, but unfortuante enough to not be able to play/afford Magic Online. 
If I were to get DotP, the Puzzles and Encounters would be the main reason. Articles like this help convince me. So, er, good marketing, I guess.
Encounters are great, they don't represent the variability of TCGs as they represent the journey of an RPG. On the road to Viridian City, you come into contact with several Pidgey. You may make it through them, you may not. If you don't, you keep your levels on your Bulbasaur and go back to the start. Except this time you're more prepared. RPGs have tough spots, some even seemingly impossible. But all of them have a secret-- they are all beatable. Eventually, through your new-found experience, skill, and some luck, you make it through whatever challenge is thrown at you, and you feel better for it as you have grown stronger in the process. That's the kind of incentive that makes you feel like you're advancing and keeps you playing.
I enjoyed encounters, but honestly I still think the Planeswalker battles didn't really feel 'special'. Part of it was the lack of any real story, but a lot of it was also the fact that the final battle against Bolas felt so anti-climactic. Bolas just kind of rolled over and died without putting up much of a fight, which was kind of pathetic. I found the Lightning Helix encounter more challenging than Bolas himself.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
I enjoyed encounters, but honestly I still think the Planeswalker battles didn't really feel 'special'. Part of it was the lack of any real story, but a lot of it was also the fact that the final battle against Bolas felt so anti-climactic. Bolas just kind of rolled over and died without putting up much of a fight, which was kind of pathetic. I found the Lightning Helix encounter more challenging than Bolas himself.


The Lightning Helix encounter was hard. (I was playing Chandra's deck... burn vs. burn + lifegain is not fun.) But Bolas was easy? Cruel Ultimatum broke my back more times than I can count. And in Revenge mode, where he has Titans? Forget about it.
I haven't seen the Titans, so I have to agree that he is positively undeserving of his deck's stats. By all means, that deck should wreck, it has so much money dropped into it, foil and all. But he's truly awful. Honestly, the Nicol Bolas duel deck has similar issues: they just don't outfit UBR with great creatures to seal games. However, I would prefer the DD incarnation, which has some consistent early game interaction, and sports... arguably better rares!? How does a DD beat a final boss deck?
The Lightning Helix encounter was hard. (I was playing Chandra's deck... burn vs. burn + lifegain is not fun.) But Bolas was easy? Cruel Ultimatum broke my back more times than I can count. And in Revenge mode, where he has Titans? Forget about it.


How was it easy? Because he takes forever to actually cast anything. Even with those moxes, by the time he actually casts a titan or an ultimatum he's so close to dead it can't save him. Plus the fact that he doesn't do anything else interesting means that you should still be holding your removal when he finally gets around to casting a Titan. It's not like you were going to use it on the Augur of Bolas he used to find yet another Compulsive Research.

Heck, when I played against him he even got rid of his own Grave Titan by sacrificing it to that creature that lets him draw X cards and gain X life where X is the power of the creature. It would have been more menacing if he didn't have 12 cards left in his deck at that point thanks to Jace's mill deck.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
I found it trivially easy to mill Bolas to death with Jace's deck. Not even too many upgrades to it either. So I agree that that was really anti-climactic. Seemed like he was playing a new player's idea of a killer deck, hugely expensive spells with no way to respond to anything happening the first five turns.
The first DotP was a disappointment, and I have no intention of looking at this one.

However, have you guys thought of trying to make it follow a story of you, a new planeswalker, learns how the ropes from a fellow planeswalker? Possibly a classic one from the old days? Along the way, you face the other planeswalkers who have a bone to pick with you or your mentor. As you play, you "learn" more spells.
It could even set up an interesting Two-Headed Giant match. 

MaRo: One of the classic R&D stories happened during a Scars of Mirrodin draft. Erik Lauer was sitting to my right (meaning that he passed to me in the first and third packs). At the end of the draft, Erik was upset because I was in his colors (black-green).

He said, "Didn't you see the signals? I went into black-green in pack one."

I replied, "Didn't you see my signals? I started drafting infect six drafts ago." ************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************MaRo: During a playtest, I played a Reaper from the Abyss. I attacked each turn, while my opponent would chump block (he had a lot of fliers), and then I killed a second creature. This happened until he had only one creature left. I attack, he blocked, and then the following dialogue occurred:

Him: Kill your demon. Me: What? Him: My guy died so you have to kill a creature.

Me: Yeah, but why would a demon kill himself?

Him: I don't know. He's depressed there's no one left to kill.

Me: That doesn't make any sense. Him: I don't care. It's what the card says. I then take out my pen, and wrote "non-Demon" on it.

Him: You can't do that.

Me: I redesigned him while the effect was on the stack.

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