7/23/2012 MM: "First Impressions"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Because you can't allow players to explore if all the options aren't possible. For example, let's say that cards that looked bad were always actually good. Well, then players learn that any card that looks bad isn't and then it's hard for you to create cards that can grow to surprise the players.



Isn't this true in the reverse as well?  If you make cards that look good (to some people) but they always turn out bad, isn't that going to make that player realize that those types of cards are always bad, and thus they'll never be used?

I'm specifically referring to combo enablers (i.e. Johnny cards) printed since roughly Time Spiral.  As examples: Furnace Celebration, Burning Vengeance, Barren Glory, Near-Death Experience, Ad Nauseaum (in rotating formats).  If everyone knows the combo enablers are always Good-Bad cards, won't they just become Bad-Bad cards?  Does R&D want Johnny, Combo Player to always feel bad because he's playing Bad-Bad cards thinking they're good?
Good article, but I think that especially for better players, Jund's first impression was actually the worst of the five. I was just starting to really understand the game around that time, and how card advantage/tempo/mana/other stuff really interacted. I remember the night [CARD]Mycoloth[/CARD] was previewed, I had been through a long day and checking the preview was the last thing I did before sleeping. I remember reading it once, thinking something along the lines of "wow, you have to commit five mana, a card, and an army of guys for the chance to attack with a bigger army of guys in a couple turns, unless they have removal in which case you just gave up your army and got nothing for it." I did some quick math and realized that it takes three turns for Mycoloth to even start helping you on the attack [math plus example in spoiler below for those interested] 
Show
[example: Turn 5: attack with X dudes, play Mycoloth and sacing X dudes. Turn 6: get 2X dudes, but they can't attack. Turn 7: Attack with 2X dudes, get 2X more dudes (you now have 4X). Total damage dealth from turns 5-7 at this point is 3X, the same amount as if Mycoloth had never happened (and that's if the dudes you devoured were 1/1; you're actually behind what you could have had at this point if you got rid of bigger guys.) Turn 8: Attack with 4X dudes. You're finally doing more damage than you would have without Mycoloth.


Anyways, I immediately dismissed the card as completely umplayable due to the massive initial downside. 

The next morning I woke up and read the article again and was a lot less dismissive. I mean, I had been kind of right, the guy was not going to win any tournaments, but I saw that he had a lot more going for him than I first noticed. For one thing, I remembered that he played multiplayer, where long-term board presence matters. I also noticed how good he could be even if you commit just one or two tokens to the devour trigger. Plus, my mind had somehow skipped over just how cool it is to get a bunch of guys every turn. Compared to exalted's drawback of not being to attack with all your creatures, devour makes you pay a way bigger downside, leading to what is in my opinion honestly the worst first-impression mechanic in the history of the game. [If we're only counting individual cards, [CARD]One with Nothing[/CARD] might take the title, but it's still close.]


I'm specifically referring to combo enablers (i.e. Johnny cards) printed since roughly Time Spiral.  As examples: Furnace Celebration, Burning Vengeance, Barren Glory, Near-Death Experience, Ad Nauseaum (in rotating formats).  If everyone knows the combo enablers are always Good-Bad cards, won't they just become Bad-Bad cards?  Does R&D want Johnny, Combo Player to always feel bad because he's playing Bad-Bad cards thinking they're good?


The problem with combo decks is that they are very binary. If the combo deck is too good, then you see it in tournements everywhere, and you have to side in very specific cards to stop them fast enough. But if it's considered one turn too slow? It's never played at ALL.
I'm a big fan of Banding, and when Exalted came out, I kind of figured it was a new, simplified take on that old mechanic.  Any new version of Banding generally gets me excited.  In Exalted's case, it went something like:

first impression=good
last impression=perfect

This is one mechanic I'd love to see go evergreen.

The article was one of the most interesting I've read in awhile.  Good job, Mr. Rosewater.
I'm a big fan of Banding, and when Exalted came out, I kind of figured it was a new, simplified take on that old mechanic.  Any new version of Banding generally gets me excited.  In Exalted's case, it went something like:

first impression=good
last impression=perfect

This is one mechanic I'd love to see go evergreen.

The article was one of the most interesting I've read in awhile.  Good job, Mr. Rosewater.

Exalted is a very good mechanic; it encourages attacking every turn in a manageable amount, which keeps the game moving without ending it prematurely.  However, since it encourages one particular playstyle, I don't think it belongs in every set.  I'd say it's more like Flashback; a cool mechanic I'd like to see often, but not all the time.
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...
Because you can't allow players to explore if all the options aren't possible. For example, let's say that cards that looked bad were always actually good. Well, then players learn that any card that looks bad isn't and then it's hard for you to create cards that can grow to surprise the players.



Isn't this true in the reverse as well?  If you make cards that look good (to some people) but they always turn out bad, isn't that going to make that player realize that those types of cards are always bad, and thus they'll never be used?

I'm specifically referring to combo enablers (i.e. Johnny cards) printed since roughly Time Spiral.  As examples: Furnace Celebration, Burning Vengeance, Barren Glory, Near-Death Experience, Ad Nauseaum (in rotating formats).  If everyone knows the combo enablers are always Good-Bad cards, won't they just become Bad-Bad cards?  Does R&D want Johnny, Combo Player to always feel bad because he's playing Bad-Bad cards thinking they're good?



Omniscience has just made significant ripples in the Legacy Grand Prix, while Restoration Angel turned the Naya Pod combo deck into possibly the best deck in Modern. A year ago we had Splinter Twin and Pyromancer's Ascension in Standard. They're not bad-bad cards plenty of times.

EDIT: and in Limited, we just had the awesome Spider Spawning
Because you can't allow players to explore if all the options aren't possible. For example, let's say that cards that looked bad were always actually good. Well, then players learn that any card that looks bad isn't and then it's hard for you to create cards that can grow to surprise the players.



MaRo, Cylian Elf is just bad. You wasted cardboard to fit in a terrible card that wouldn't even get last-picked except out of desperation. There are lessons that cards that are bad in all respects shouldn't get printed. Something more novel, in the Grizzled Leotau variety where you plot in a novel power/toughness, or a "drawback" with benefit, and really nothing else, would serve MORE than Cylian Elf. It's what appeals about some of your new vanilla creatures versus others you've produced of late, a feature that I really suspect you can enforce by going forward with the Future Sight concept of "extending" the art, as in Nessian Courser. That way, the visual appeal because a secondary aspect to back them up against their "bad" reputation.
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
Cylian Elf isn't a last pick. It isn't even bad. It is strange using that as an example of a bad card and not something like viashino skeleton.
Cylian Elf isn't a last pick. It isn't even bad. It is strange using that as an example of a bad card and not something like viashino skeleton.



OK, my bad. I will disagree about Cylian Elf being that bad, but it is actually BAD. I certainly recall a grand number of these bloody things ending up on offer next to a single lone land, and one never played, while drafting Alara -- from myself or the table. Perhaps there is some other familiarity, but it is a pretty bad card when all you are doing is looking at a spread of them, Rochester, or peering through the set list (that is, the different reasons you'd be looking at the card in the first place).

"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
For me the power level of cylian elf is totally within the range I find acceptable. There are a bunch of cards that are emphatically not, like the aformentioned skeleton, or, say, caravan hurda or numai outcast or whatever (there are at least six of these terribad cards in every set) and its those cards where I totally disagree with WOTC. We don't need those clearly bad-bad cards and every time it is argued we do, it doesn't even come off as reasonable, just a really weak argument that even the author doesn't actually believe.
Because you can't allow players to explore if all the options aren't possible. For example, let's say that cards that looked bad were always actually good. Well, then players learn that any card that looks bad isn't and then it's hard for you to create cards that can grow to surprise the players.



Isn't this true in the reverse as well?  If you make cards that look good (to some people) but they always turn out bad, isn't that going to make that player realize that those types of cards are always bad, and thus they'll never be used?

I'm specifically referring to combo enablers (i.e. Johnny cards) printed since roughly Time Spiral.  As examples: Furnace Celebration, Burning Vengeance, Barren Glory, Near-Death Experience, Ad Nauseaum (in rotating formats).  If everyone knows the combo enablers are always Good-Bad cards, won't they just become Bad-Bad cards?  Does R&D want Johnny, Combo Player to always feel bad because he's playing Bad-Bad cards thinking they're good?



Omniscience has just made significant ripples in the Legacy Grand Prix, while Restoration Angel turned the Naya Pod combo deck into possibly the best deck in Modern. A year ago we had Splinter Twin and Pyromancer's Ascension in Standard. They're not bad-bad cards plenty of times.



Not only this, but defining good and bad strictly along the lines of whether or not it wins tournaments seems really narrow and problematic to me. That's like applying a Spike filter to Johnny cards. I know my Burning Vengeance deck won't be taking a Grand Prix anytime soon but I still enjoy busting it out now and then.
For me the power level of cylian elf is totally within the range I find acceptable. There are a bunch of cards that are emphatically not, like the aformentioned skeleton, or, say, caravan hurda or numai outcast or whatever (there are at least six of these terribad cards in every set) and its those cards where I totally disagree with WOTC. We don't need those clearly bad-bad cards and every time it is argued we do, it doesn't even come off as reasonable, just a really weak argument that even the author doesn't actually believe.



I'm a believer! 
Also, "that's a weak argument" is not a constructive criticism of something =p 
And "I'm a believer" is not a constructive endorsement. We're just stating our opinions. The argument I refer to isn't even made in this column and I've given plenty of constructive criticism when it actually did come up. I just mention it because it's related and similar to the 'bad-bad' argument.

The argument in favour of printing terrible cards can be found in numerous older columns so people can decide for themselves if it makes sense. It really comes down to whether you think a 2/6 for 6 mana or a 4/6 for 6 mana is better. Some people seem to prefer the 2/6 on the grounds that memorably awful cards are better than 'bad' cards, or that the 2/6 represents a 'skill test' for a new player which is desirable, whereas the 4/6 doesn't.
Well endorsements are often not very constructive. You learn more from your mistakes than from your successes. If you share the same views, you'll have less new information to share than when you have a different view.

Also, you talked about "every time". How am I supposed to know that doesn't refer to this time? =p
Don't tar and feather me:  For me Thundermaw Hellkite went into category 3: Bad/Good.

When I saw it previewed I felt utterly let down:  It looks like a glorified Lava Axe.

Now I haven't had the chance to actually play with it yet, but I stopped and thought about it.  And I realized it's a Lava Axe that can hit you again.  And again.  And again.
Not only that, but if you happen to have other fliers on the board (and I know I will in my Dragonstorm Deck), he lets all the other guys through too (barring spiders).

So while I recognize now that this is, in fact, an insanely powerful card, my first impression was definitely negative.

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From Mark Rosewater's Tumblr: the0uroboros asked: How in the same set can we have a hexproof, unsacrificable(not a word) creature AND a land that makes it uncounterable. How does this lead to interactive play? I believe I’m able to play my creature and you have to deal with it is much more interactive than you counter my creature.

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Post #777

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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."

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

Cylian Elf is fine in limited, but green should get at least a 2/3 or 3/2 for two mana if we talk about vanilla creatures. Possibly a 3/3.

Here are some more examples, from other sets:

Sliver
First impression--Good
Last impression--Meh

Spellshaper
First impression--Good
Last impression--Good

Rebel
First impression--Good
Last impression--Insane

Domain
First impression--Good
Last impression--Bad

Cycling
First impression--Good
Last impression--Good

Madness
First impression--Bad (I thought it was just a hoser.)
Last impression--Whoa mama!

Splice
First impression--Bad
Last impression--Unbelievably bad

Radiance
First impression--What is this i dont even
Last impression--What is this i dont even

Bloodthirst
First impression--Good
Last impression--Good

Graft
First impression--Good
Last impression--Good

Suspend
First impreesion--Good
Last impression--Bad

Tribal (the card type)
First impression--What is this i dont even
Last impression--Meh

Landfall
First impression--Meh
Last impression--Good

Rebound
First impression--Good
Last impression--Mixed

Infect
First impression--Broken
Last impression--Meh

Proliferate
First impression--Good
Last impression--Good

Living weapon
First impression--Meh
Last impression--Good

Phyrexian mana
First impression--Good
Last impression--Really good

Werewolf
First impression--Good
Last impression--Bad

Zombie "exile from graveyard"
First impression--Bad
Last impression--Bad

"Human matters"
First impression--Good
Last impression--Colorpie? What colorpie?
139359831 wrote:
Clever deduction Watson! Maybe you can explain why Supergirl is trying to kill me.
---- Autocard is your friend. Lightning Bolt = Lightning Bolt
Instead of focusing on specific cards from other sets that are good/bad, I would like to let Mark know why we initially thought Exalted was a bad mechanic.  When I initially saw the card, I looked at:

Whenever a creature you control attacks alone, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

It seemed like such an insignificant benefit.  Where was the super soldier who got +4/+4 whenever he attacked alone?  The biggest confusion for us was not understanding that each instance of exhalted stacked.  This was HUGE for us to overcome (I've got it, but when my brother played in the M13 Release tournament, he made the same mistake I initially did when I first encounted the mechanic during the Alara block).

Because other keywords (first strike, lifelink, deathtouch, intimidate, etc) aren't cumulative, our natural assumption was that Exalted wasn't either.  We understood having multiple lords on the table all granting +1/+1 benefits, but Exalted creatures really didn't feel like that to us.  The mechanic didn't scream out to us that every permanent with the keyword on it was contributing.

We'd basically read the card to say "Whenever THIS creature attacks alone, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn".  And my brother wasn't the only person at the tournament to make the mistake.  Througout the release tournament, one of the most commonly overheard sayings was "No, Exalted is actually cumulative."  WHOOSH.  Right over our heads.

Confusing mechanics aren't fun to play with, so we kept them out of our decks and went after things that made sense.  That is why Exalted is a bad first impression mechanic for me.
Instead of focusing on specific cards from other sets that are good/bad, I would like to let Mark know why we initially thought Exalted was a bad mechanic.  When I initially saw the card, I looked at:

Whenever a creature you control attacks alone, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

It seemed like such an insignificant benefit.  Where was the super soldier who got +4/+4 whenever he attacked alone?  The biggest confusion for us was not understanding that each instance of exhalted stacked.  This was HUGE for us to overcome (I've got it, but when my brother played in the M13 Release tournament, he made the same mistake I initially did when I first encounted the mechanic during the Alara block).

Because other keywords (first strike, lifelink, deathtouch, intimidate, etc) aren't cumulative, our natural assumption was that Exalted wasn't either.  We understood having multiple lords on the table all granting +1/+1 benefits, but Exalted creatures really didn't feel like that to us.  The mechanic didn't scream out to us that every permanent with the keyword on it was contributing.

We'd basically read the card to say "Whenever THIS creature attacks alone, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn".  And my brother wasn't the only person at the tournament to make the mistake.  Througout the release tournament, one of the most commonly overheard sayings was "No, Exalted is actually cumulative."  WHOOSH.  Right over our heads.

Confusing mechanics aren't fun to play with, so we kept them out of our decks and went after things that made sense.  That is why Exalted is a bad first impression mechanic for me.




Great post. I always felt like exalted wasn't tempated right. I felt for things like Rafiq it should have been
"Exalted: +1/+1 and doublestrike"

Such that each card with a different exalted benefit clearly stated what it was doing. It really is a mess when exalted is keyworded and then cards like battlegrace angel and rafiq do the same thing but trigger it. What is the point of exalted when the variants of it are just extra non-keyed text?      



Great post. I always felt like exalted wasn't tempated right. I felt for things like Rafiq it should have been
"Exalted: +1/+1 and doublestrike"

Such that each card with a different exalted benefit clearly stated what it was doing. It really is a mess when exalted is keyworded and then cards like battlegrace angel and rafiq do the same thing but trigger it. What is the point of exalted when the variants of it are just extra non-keyed text?      




Yes!  Thank you for helping me articulate that. 
Don't tar and feather me:  For me Thundermaw Hellkite went into category 3: Bad/Good.

When I saw it previewed I felt utterly let down:  It looks like a glorified Lava Axe.

Now I haven't had the chance to actually play with it yet, but I stopped and thought about it.  And I realized it's a Lava Axe that can hit you again.  And again.  And again.
Not only that, but if you happen to have other fliers on the board (and I know I will in my Dragonstorm Deck), he lets all the other guys through too (barring spiders).

So while I recognize now that this is, in fact, an insanely powerful card, my first impression was definitely negative.


The Hellkite went into the category Jesus why?/Jesus why? right off the bat for me. I hate it.

Let me clarify, I too greatly dislike the repetitve unplayable 6+ CMC dragons we've been geetting every set, ala Moonveil Dragon, and I liked Archwing Dragon a lot.

But Thundermaw Hellkite is so inelegant, so obviously in your face with its abilities (I read its ability as 'protection from lingering souls') and so over the curve. It is the cardification of everything that's wrong with Mythic Rare cards. There is NOTHING mythic about this card, it just has a or shaved from it's casting cost.

I love red dragons, playable ones even more so, but I can't do anything but hate the Hellkite.

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

192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
Exalted can be really fun to play with, but it can be really oppressive to play against. You know how frustrating it was to watch an Invisible Stalker with Silver-Inlaid Dagger or Butcher's Cleaver destroy you, while trying to figure how on earth to race? Yeah, it can be like that, except Ajani's Sunstriker is coming in for six every turn and you can't do anything but chump. Losing your rescources can feel even worse than just being dead in a few turns.

Sometimes it's only worth 1 or 2 power, which makes it create some very interesting game states, but I don't think it's something that should be turned "evergreen". Sometimes upside is TOO much upside. (*cough* TITANS *cough*)
Exalted can be really fun to play with, but it can be really oppressive to play against. You know how frustrating it was to watch an Invisible Stalker with Silver-Inlaid Dagger or Butcher's Cleaver destroy you, while trying to figure how on earth to race? Yeah, it can be like that, except Ajani's Sunstriker is coming in for six every turn and you can't do anything but chump. Losing your rescources can feel even worse than just being dead in a few turns.

Sometimes it's only worth 1 or 2 power, which makes it create some very interesting game states, but I don't think it's something that should be turned "evergreen". Sometimes upside is TOO much upside. (*cough* TITANS *cough*)



That has more to do with one of the reasons why Invisible Stalker was a mistake to print (as it is), rather than a problem with exalted. My favorite creature to race with limited exalted was Sighted-Caste Sorcerer. It was correctly costed or the ability and activating your protection instead of having it innate made you invest in it a bit.

"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
*shrugs*  I never had an issue understanding exalted.  It may have helped that I played in a time where lifelink DID accumulate as well before they changed it, but I could understand why abilities like Flying, First Strike, or Deathtouch didn't (because it was a redundant statement).   

Those who fear the darkness have never seen what the light can do.

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights. But you yourself are nothing so divine. Just next in line.

191752181 wrote:
All I'm saying is, I don't really see how she goes around petrifying swords and boots and especially mirrors. How the heck does she beat a Panoptic Mirror? It makes no sense for artifacts either. Or enchantments, for that matter. "Well, you see, Jimmy cast this spell to flood the mountain, but then the gorgon just looked at the water really hard and it went away."
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