9/21/2012 LD: "Recalibration"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.
I do have interest in learning more about the Vapor Ops test....

As for the card....

it doesnt surprise me....

1 for a 2/2 (at least to me) looks kind of tame compared to other cards that are in the set....
Yeah, creatures have been pushed so heavily that a 2/2 can't block for R is now pretty much too WEAK to be impressive. I mean, we've had 2 mana 6/7's, and 1 mana 2/2 haste with no real drawback. Jade Leech had a drawback in Invasion. Now we're mostly indifferent to the 4 mana 5/5 with upside.

What I'd love to see is a SPELL that would have been considered pushing the power curve in 2000. Or even merely BELOW the power curve, as opposed to laughably bad. Seriously. Haven't had one since PtE, and that's a creature kill spell.
Part of me would be happier if this was mono-red, especially if it was a goblin.
"In making a card like Rakdos Cackler, we are not trying to obsolete similar past cards, but instead trying to revive these archetypes, possibly even allowing cards of similar kinds to see more play since they have compatriots."

Give me a break. "Obsolet[ing] similar past cards" happens constantly.

Tell me about . When is the last time he was considered good?

How about Rumbling Slum and Giant Solifuge? Highlights of the first Ravnica block's tournament scene, dollar rares now.

How long did it take for Baneslayer Angel to go from the epitome of a midrange creature to garbage?

Woolly Thoctar and Leatherback Baloth are just about as efficient as cards can be without being named "Tarmogoyf," and have never been appreciated as such.

I think it's time for you to admit that you've concluded that the majority of your audience is some kind of powergamer, whether tournament or casual, and all this power creep (yes, I said power creep) is just marketing. Actually, it's past time.
@crimson_sunrise
He didn't say that it doesn't happen all the time. He said they don't do it for the sake of doing it, and try to give a good reason why CARDNAME should be pushed in this particular environment.

"Power Creep" as you put it, is something that had to happen. Spells were so OP back in the day that creatures were just too undervalued to play. Which doesn't make sense when you consider that 48-54% of all sets are creatures and 2 or 3 of them saw constructed play. I think creatures are where they need to be now, pushing them any further will probably be overkill.

As for those cards you mentioned. A lot of those are still great cards, but what made them great was how useful they were in their environments. Not everyone can be a all-format-all-star like Tarmogoyf.
Guessed it right in one :D
I would definitely love to see an updated Vapor Ops test.

Also this was a fine article, one that was overdue given ho high-profile those Lazy Goblin comments had become.   But it wasn't the burn in 2003 that would have made Lazy Goblin too good.  It was the goblin tribal.  Perhaps you're thinking of the burn from 1998.

This card's not that exciting but it's only Uncommon so I don't think they were expecting much "wow". 

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I'm a control player and I actually like it when you print really good creatures that makes my life hard. What I have a problem with is idiotic cards like Cavern of Souls which is just a big **** you.

Also I hope you are aware of how many things you ruin by printing insane creatures like Wolfir Silverheart, Thragtusk and the new 2x5/5 selsnya wurm. (Hint: they are NOT delver decks nor control decks)

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

192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
Could we perhaps have an article addressing what Development considers to be recent 'fair' cards at various costs?  And also how far they're comfortable pushing beyond that point?

Because quite frankly, I can't tell what's 'fair' and what's over powered anymore...
@crimson_sunrise He didn't say that it doesn't happen all the time. He said they don't do it for the sake of doing it, and try to give a good reason why CARDNAME should be pushed in this particular environment. "Power Creep" as you put it, is something that had to happen. Spells were so OP back in the day that creatures were just too undervalued to play. Which doesn't make sense when you consider that 48-54% of all sets are creatures and 2 or 3 of them saw constructed play. I think creatures are where they need to be now, pushing them any further will probably be overkill. As for those cards you mentioned. A lot of those are still great cards, but what made them great was how useful they were in their environments. Not everyone can be a all-format-all-star like Tarmogoyf.


Let's look at Mike Flores' article about the decks that were "breaking" Standard:

www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.a...

Cawblade had only two or three creatures, depending on what you called Batterskull. It was also the strongest deck ever in Standard, compared to the field.
Jund ran more creatures than noncreature spells.
Faeries ran slightly less creatures than noncreatures.
Tooth and Nail required a fairly wide variety of creatures to win.
Ravager Affinity was a deck based on a ton of VERY strong creatures.
Psychatog had only two creatures, but one of them was absolutely ridiculous.
Fires of Yavimaya is a creature deck. No, really, it's a CREATURE deck. Loaded with 'em, and they're all good.
Academy had no creatures. It was also part of the most broken block known to the game.
Deadguy Red and other RDW variants are very creature-heavy.
Necropotence, surprisingly, had a healthy complement of creatures.

So you see, there were ALWAYS a solid amount of creatures used in Constructed. Occasionally it would flicker back and forth between more creatures and less creatures, but it would often swing back to a balance around where Jund and Faeries lie. Some decks would be on one side, some decks on the other. Limited would give a chance for all the creatures that couldn't make Constructed play to shine, along with some of the spells that had the same problem. Outside of a couple of EXTREMELY rare situations that involved unbelievably broken cards, there was never a situation where creatures wre unseen. In our current modern metagame, we are now starting to see situations where there are viable tournament-level decks that only run four non-creature spells (RG Aggro). Those four non-creature spells are used solely to kill enemy creatures. In my opinion, this is an unhealthy focus on creatures nearly as harmful as Academy's complete disregard of them. Creatures previously held a balanced position in the metagame, with the immediate impact of a creature being much less than that of a spell because the creature gets to have a persistent impact over time. Now, as creatures gain much higher impact and become much more resistant to spell-based disruption, that balance is being disrupted, perhaps permanently. Things ARE changing, and I'm not all happy about it.
@Acritter

I like your post. I was thinking pre-modern vs modern in terms of spell power vs creatures. It was gross.

I see no problem with some decks being able to hold their own with just creatures and few support spells, but only so long as other decks can exist as well. I want there to be variance when I go to FMA whether it be with Rakdos aggro/burn or something that gets wins out of nowhere like a Pyromancer Ascension deck. Like I said I think creatures are at a good place now. But I think people should stop the creature power creep hate and instead focus on getting spells a bit more power again. It seems WotC are making spells to generic these days for the sake of being safe. And burn has taken a huge nerf ( bonfire aside ) we don't even have shock anymore, and people cried when lightning bolt was taken away.

The game seems to still be in a state of hyper evolution since it was kick started in M10 and WotC hasn't quite found their new formula yet. I hope for a day when there can be creature based decks and spell based decks and everything inbetween in the same environment. But creatures did need the buff, now it's time for spells to find their new power level, and quite frankly they are hurting now.
I would absolutely love to see a more recent version of the Vapor Ops test. Design challenges, critiquing and puzzles, are some of my favourite parts about running a Multiverse for custom cards, and I'd love to see how I (and my friends) measure up against the one used by R&D.

I do find it interesting that a 2/1 can't block for 1 mana in black has actually been in print for a year, and one with a scary recursive ability to boot. I guess black removal isn't as useful as red removal for hyperaggressive decks (because it can't be pointed at the face), so black 1-drops can be better?
So you see, there were ALWAYS a solid amount of creatures used in Constructed. Occasionally it would flicker back and forth between more creatures and less creatures, but it would often swing back to a balance around where Jund and Faeries lie. Some decks would be on one side, some decks on the other. Limited would give a chance for all the creatures that couldn't make Constructed play to shine, along with some of the spells that had the same problem. Outside of a couple of EXTREMELY rare situations that involved unbelievably broken cards, there was never a situation where creatures wre unseen. In our current modern metagame, we are now starting to see situations where there are viable tournament-level decks that only run four non-creature spells (RG Aggro). Those four non-creature spells are used solely to kill enemy creatures. In my opinion, this is an unhealthy focus on creatures nearly as harmful as Academy's complete disregard of them.



Oh come on, there are always control decks that play only 1 or 2 creatures. What's so bad about aggro decks that play only 1 or 2 spells? As long as they're not the norm, both of those decks existing is healthy.

Creatures previously held a balanced position in the metagame, with the immediate impact of a creature being much less than that of a spell because the creature gets to have a persistent impact over time. Now, as creatures gain much higher impact and become much more resistant to spell-based disruption, that balance is being disrupted, perhaps permanently. Things ARE changing, and I'm not all happy about it.

 

Thing is, more people are happy about it than not.

What I'd love to see is a SPELL that would have been considered pushing the power curve in 2000. Or even merely BELOW the power curve, as opposed to laughably bad. Seriously. Haven't had one since PtE, and that's a creature kill spell.



Read the article. Creatures were not good enough, spells were too good. It makes sense to push one, not to push the other. 
I'm happy that this card is a devil. Very happy. I was worried that when we left Innistrad, the devils would leave with it, but it appears that they are here to stay.
I'm happy that this card is a devil. Very happy. I was worried that when we left Innistrad, the devils would leave with it, but it appears that they are here to stay.



Not so sure about that. The original Ravnica had the original modern devil in Squealing Devil, so this might just be a throwback to that.
 In our current modern metagame, we are now starting to see situations where there are viable tournament-level decks that only run four non-creature spells (RG Aggro). Those four non-creature spells are used solely to kill enemy creatures. In my opinion, this is an unhealthy focus on creatures nearly as harmful as Academy's complete disregard of them.



No, academys is a problem because those non-creature decks are inherantly non-interactive decks, the vast vast majority of potentiol decks cannot interact with them at all.

Decks that run almost entirely creatures are extremely interactive decks, both in their ability to interact with their opponent, and enabling the opponent to interact with them. 
Well, I know most of the people around here are torunament players and see far more than I about matagame and tier 1 decks who see more game in Standard than others.

But, talking more about "casual" play (not saying that these people don't play casual too) and flavor (yeah that's the thing I like most in Magic), some deck (guilds) are far more overpowered than anothers.

And for me, that's not the case of Rakdos.

I really know that Wizards wanted to do a creature-based deck with a creature based keywords (same apply on Scavenge, Detain and Populate), but Unleash, even thought has everything to do with Rakdos, seems a bit unfair compared to other decks, considering the costs of creatures with Unleash ant their habilities and cost/real pow/res.

Mean... nice, we have a 1 drop that can be turned 2/2, cool. But the fact it can't block (as almost everyone in Rakdos) is not the great shot. Even thought the deck focus on offensive through creatures, it's vulnerable and Rakdos creatures don't seem strong enought to trade punches with a 3 drop, 4/4 elephant... or a 3 drop, 3/3 with haste, scavenge and that can actually, stop your offensive.

I loved Rakdos, Lord of Riots, but... the guild decks seems to rely totaly on him. Mean... if Rakdos die, you'll have a hard time to play the really powerfull creatures of your deck in comparission to the other guilds hability to play as powerfull creatures as yours and with less (if NO) drawback.

The old Rakdos deck, at least as I had played before, was offensive and reckless too... but far more resourcefull, and this one almost have no spells to support the gameplay and the cards don't have the same synergy as the other guilds have. Ok, this mean that Rakdos don't care about themselves or helping each other... but yet, they're a guild, a group and seek a common goal.

And before people say I'm a "crying Rakdos lover", I'll tell that I like to play blue/black decks (Dimir) since I had begun to play Magic. BUT, I like to see fair play around every colors and decks, so I don't think is unfair to want to see all guilds playing in equal terms based on their own mechanics.

And sorry for the long post.... xP
@Chris_Ferreia

All of my friends have been lamenting the shaft Rakdos has been getting while anything Blue related is awesome.

If only Snapcaster had been Red...
Vapor Ops test please!  I'd love to see it.

@Acritter: Yes, Necro ran plenty of creatures.  However, the cards that made Necro win were Necropotence, Dark Ritual, and Hymn to Tourach- it wasn't getting there on the raw strength of Knight of Stromgald.  The spells were what defined the deck; the creatures were just kinda there, mandatory the way lands are mandatory.

And it may be that that's fine with you, but you're definitely in the minority.

 

Goblin Artisans
a Magic: the Gathering design blog
@Acritter I like your post. I was thinking pre-modern vs modern in terms of spell power vs creatures. It was gross. I see no problem with some decks being able to hold their own with just creatures and few support spells, but only so long as other decks can exist as well. I want there to be variance when I go to FMA whether it be with Rakdos aggro/burn or something that gets wins out of nowhere like a Pyromancer Ascension deck. Like I said I think creatures are at a good place now. But I think people should stop the creature power creep hate and instead focus on getting spells a bit more power again. It seems WotC are making spells to generic these days for the sake of being safe. And burn has taken a huge nerf ( bonfire aside ) we don't even have shock anymore, and people cried when lightning bolt was taken away. The game seems to still be in a state of hyper evolution since it was kick started in M10 and WotC hasn't quite found their new formula yet. I hope for a day when there can be creature based decks and spell based decks and everything inbetween in the same environment. But creatures did need the buff, now it's time for spells to find their new power level, and quite frankly they are hurting now.


I don't think that the correct solution is to give noncreature spells power creep as well. If the entire game goes up in power by a significant amount, all it does is negate player skill. The stronger cards are (especially threats such as creatures), the less time your opponent has to find an answer. The less time your opponent has to find an answer, the more coin-flippy the game becomes. We're already seeing this effect with the aggressively designed spells in the metagame, such as Bonfire of the Damned, but it also happens on a smaller scale with cards like Delver. We're currently having a problem where the threats we have are very hard to answer and leave relatively few ways to get back from an unfavorable position. I don't think the solution to that problem is to make answers so ridiculously strong that they can take you from a highly unfavorable position and hand you a win. I think we should stop printing aggressive creatures AND aggressive answers, bring the game back down to a slower but reasonable speed, and then work our way back up from there to something acceptable.

@the other replies above:
Creatures are a central part of every Magic deck that isn't broken combo (and some that are), because they're simply the best way to get your opponent from 20 to 0. The problem is, creatures are not very deep or complex. Because of the way creatures are played (you cast them, and then your opponent knows everything about the board state), they don't leave much room for intense decisionmaking. The only consideration in a creature-heavy board is "what will I lose if I make this attack", and that's just an elementary-grade math exercise. What makes creature combat interesting is when you start mixing in spells (for the sake of this discussion, let's talk about creatures like Ambush Viper as if they were spells). Suddenly, in addition to what is on the table, you have to consider what you're holding in your grip and what your opponent's holding. Much of the strategy and skill of magic is based on hidden knowledge. It's based on what you have in your hand, and occasionally things like Morph creatures. By observing your opponent, you try to figure out what their hidden knowledge is while keeping yours secret. Creatures are at the lowest level of hidden knowledge, tied with artifacts. As Magic focuses more and more on creatures, the intelligent decisions that players can make will just keep going down. If you want a couple of quick examples, both Cawblade and Alexander Hayne's Block Miracles were extremely skill-intensive decks, and they both relied on relatively few creatures. This is no coincidence. Creatures are always going to be important in Magic, but they are best suited to a role where it is the spells that let the creatures do their job. Having the creatures handle everything just lowers skill. Magic is, after all, a game about two wizards casting spells to overcome one another. It's not a game about military strategy. Perhaps if the game had more combat beyond attack and retreat (a gridded gameboard, for example, with maneuvering and tactics), then I would love to see creatures have a more prominent role. But as it stands, overemphasis on creatures reduces the intelligent input that players can have upon the game.
I support the idea of improving creatures, but only up to a point. Creatures sucked in the past and spells were too good in comparison. So, has that goal been achieved? Looking at the creatures we get nowadays, I'd say yes. Definitely. To go on and keep on pushing creatures to even further heights would probably make them overpowered. I'm not even entirely sure if they aren't a tad bit too good nowadays. Either way, pretty much every block in the past few years has featured creatures that became staples in eternal formats. That's saying something.

As for the devil, I don't think he's even all that strong. There are better examples of creatures that really push the boundaries. They typically involve slapping a ton of abilities on it.

I generally agree with the above post in that WotC really likes to push interactive creature combat, but honestly, creature combat isn't all that complex and may sometimes have the adverse effect. Once everything is laid out on the table, the optimal way to attack and block usually becomes apparent in short order. At a glance a game state of seven to eight creatures might seem difficult to grasp, but it's often times very straightforward. When you add abilities that somehow interfere with what your opponents can do anyway (Hexproof, or get-a-token-when-this-dies or other such effects), the amount of viable options lowers still.

For example, Walking Corpsespawned many internal discussions. Were we at a place where black received a

2/2 without downside? While cards like Child of Night might be better in most scenarios, there is something about directly comparing cards and having "strictly betters." There's significance to that second point of toughness when comparing to a history of Spineless Thugs, Exiled Boggarts, Filthy Curs, and Krovikan Scoundrels.



Yes, and let's not forget how many copies of Spineless Thug, Exiled Boggart, Filthy Cur, and Krovikan Scoundrel have ever made the top 8 of a constructed Pro Tour.  Too many to count.  Hell, let's include constructed Grand Prixes too.

I support the idea of improving creatures, but only up to a point. Creatures sucked in the past and spells were too good in comparison. So, has that goal been achieved? Looking at the creatures we get nowadays, I'd say yes. Definitely. To go on and keep on pushing creatures to even further heights would probably make them overpowered. I'm not even entirely sure if they aren't a tad bit too good nowadays. Either way, pretty much every block in the past few years has featured creatures that became staples in eternal formats. That's saying something.

Exactly this.

I supported them pushing creatures, at first. But they've gone too far with it now. It would be nice to see them find an actual balance, rather than swing it the complete opposite direction of early Magic. At this rate, in five, ten years they'll probably be saying "For the last decade, creatures have been overpowered and spells underpowered. We've decided it's time to push spells, to bring them up to the same power level as creatures..."
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
On the note of power creepy creatures, Radkos Cackler isn't even on the radar.  Bad Isamarus like Cackler and Diregraf Ghoul... who cares about them?  They've long been printing cards better than Isamaru like Kird Ape, Loam Lion, Steppe Lynx, and so on.  At 1 mana, the real issue is cards that are way better than that, like Goblin Guide, Gravecrawler, Delver of Secrets, etc..  I mean, 2/2 that can't block, or 3/2 flyer, one of these is radically superior to the other.  2/2 that comes into play tapped, or 2/1 that keeps coming back over and over and over, probably about 7 times over the course of the game, making it the equivalent of 7 2/1's.  They've been pushing the limit way too much lately at every mana cost.  At one point, Watchwolf was like groundbreaking as a 3/3 with no drawback for 2.  Qasali Pridemage is like a 3/3 attacker that can crucially also blow-up an artifact or enchantment, that's about as much of an upgrade over Watchwolf as Viridian Zealot is over Goblin Piker.  Or to make a different comparison, Qasali Pridemage is like taking Viridian Zealot (which received constructed play) and adding an additional point of toughness and exalted and shaving G off the activation cost.  Tarmogoyf was effectively a 4/5 for 1G most of the time.  Knight of the Reliquary is like a 7/7 for 1GW that can fix your colors, get you manlands, combo with other Knights of the Reliquary, tap to get you a mana, and so on.  Restoration Angel has a lot of radical uses; if it blinks a Huntmaster, it's effectively a 3/4 flash flyer, a 2/2 token, gaining 2 life, and potentially rescuing your Huntmaster all for 4 mana.  How much is a 3/4 flash flyer, a 2/2 token, 2 life, and rescuing a creature supposed to cost?  Maybe 6.  It can blink your Blade Splicer and effectively be a 3/4 flash flyer and a 3/3 token for 4 mana, how much mana are you supposed to pay for all of that?  Maybe 6.  Bloodbraid Elf is a 2-for-1 that can't be stopped by a single counter, a 3/2 haste and a 3-drop (which may also be undercosted at 3) for 4 mana.  How much is that supposed to cost?  About 6.  Wolfir Silverheart is effectively 12 power and 12 toughness for 5 mana.  How much is that supposed to cost?  Maybe 8.  Primeval Titan is a 6/6 Trampler a 5/1 flying infect trampler, and the upside of possible additional lands for 4GG.  How much is that supposed to cost?  8 or 9 maybe.
There have been plenty of limited formats where combat was incredibly difficult. Combat math was often among the most complicated parts of playing this game. Figuring out when you can attack profitably to beat your opponents troubled healer in masques, or which of the million morphs your opponent could have in Time Spiral/Onslaught, or even just how you and your opponent uses the 5 or 6 possible activated abilities you each have access too in any number of formats was one of, if not the most skill intensive part of the game for a very long time.

New limited design (~post lorwyn), with its increased focus on archetypes and curving out, and decreased focus on activated abilities has significantly decreased the difficulty of combat math. To pretend that only a mathematician could play Tog or Draw Go, but any 5 year old could make the right attacks in CBS limited is absurd. You all aren't giving creature combat anywhere near enough credit for how difficult and skill testing it can be.
I support the idea of improving creatures, but only up to a point. Creatures sucked in the past and spells were too good in comparison. So, has that goal been achieved? Looking at the creatures we get nowadays, I'd say yes. Definitely. To go on and keep on pushing creatures to even further heights would probably make them overpowered. I'm not even entirely sure if they aren't a tad bit too good nowadays. Either way, pretty much every block in the past few years has featured creatures that became staples in eternal formats. That's saying something.

Exactly this.

I supported them pushing creatures, at first. But they've gone too far with it now. It would be nice to see them find an actual balance, rather than swing it the complete opposite direction of early Magic. At this rate, in five, ten years they'll probably be saying "For the last decade, creatures have been overpowered and spells underpowered. We've decided it's time to push spells, to bring them up to the same power level as creatures..."



One can apply a few metrics to examine whether there is an overt component of new creatures becoming "overpowered," and thus test the idea that R&D is going "too far." This is not intended as a defense of R&D, however:

1. Measure the amount of creature cards versus noncreature cards, or specifically creatures versus instants/sorceries, entering Eternal formats from Limited.
    1a. Calibrate this against the time spend in those formats, so that cards like Mental Misstep may be calculated, but not measured against a card with longer Eternal lifetime.

2. Measure the amount of creature cards versus noncreature cards that receive the "always in" end of the spectrum when evaluating them in a Draft between inclusion of that card in Limited, and in an Eternal Cube Draft.

3. Measure the performance of creature versus noncreature cards in tournaments where the card's appearance and frequency in said tournament is distinctly different bewteen Standard/Limited and Eternal.
"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)

So you see, there were ALWAYS a solid amount of creatures used in Constructed. Occasionally it would flicker back and forth between more creatures and less creatures, but it would often swing back to a balance around where Jund and Faeries lie... In my opinion, this is an unhealthy focus on creatures nearly as harmful as Academy's complete disregard of them. Creatures previously held a balanced position in the metagame, with the immediate impact of a creature being much less than that of a spell because the creature gets to have a persistent impact over time. Now, as creatures gain much higher impact and become much more resistant to spell-based disruption, that balance is being disrupted, perhaps permanently. Things ARE changing, and I'm not all happy about it.



I'm just thinknig about getting back into Magic, I played heavily back between Onslaught through Ravnica, though when Goblin Charbelcher from Mirroden rotated out, and all the shock lands appeared, my type 2 combo decks died off, and were replaced with nothing but derivatives of aggro decks or control decks. Now I'm thinking of returning to magic, and looking for fun yet somewhat competitive decks I could play, and there doesn't really seem to be anything out there. If I want to be competitive, there seems to be a few creature focused decks that fair very well, and then not much else. magic.tcgplayer.com/standard_deck_hq.asp" title="magic.tcgplayer.com/standard_deck_hq.asp">the frequency of winning.

I wonder what the average turn of winning is compared to 2-6 years ago.
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