10/29/2012 MM: "Designing for Azorius"

23 posts / 0 new
Last post
This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.

I know WotC likes to be all secrety-secret about anything that isn't released.  But so often we hear this same story from Mark "there was this mechanic idea, but it had a problem we couldn't solve, so I won't tell you anything about it."  First, it's really not a very good anecdote.  But more importantly, it's a missed opportunity for crowdsourcing.  There are thousands of very smart Magic players reading this column.  Odds are decent that someone would have an inspirational twist.  


And the idea that you can't share a design because some version of it might be used somewhere, somehow, someday makes no sense.  You specifically recycle mechanics now, but somehow think players won't buy Gatecrash if a mechanic there seems somewhat similar to something that was vaguely referenced once?


On another note, man the Infernal Spawn of Evil is really bad on today's creature curve.  I know Unglued rarely pushed the power limits anyway, but the idea that a flying 7/7 for 9 mana is "big and scary in play" is kind of silly now.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

Certainly a step up from Mold Demon.
Dress this up however you want, Detain is a bad mechanic.   UW doesn't want to play weenies that delay the inevitable, they want to set the pace.   And ironically enough, Forecast was a good one -- plays into UW's strengths and game plan by letting them get small effects while waiting for the big effects to be useful.
Detain would have been fine if there had been at least one more creature that granted it when they attacked. Detain is horrible because there isn't enough of it that is reusable.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/0a90721d221e50e5755af156c179fe51.jpg?v=90000)
I got the Infernal Spawn of Evil test. Gotta love the Spawn.

I liked Forecast. There are some nice combos (I personally feel Plumes of Peace is the best forecast card, since it fit so nicely into the Azorius strategy), and it gives some interesting choices. I play basically every forecast card in some deck somewhere. It's also a mechanic that combines well with the wisdom mechanic from Saviors (I know that was a very poorly-received mechanic, but I still find it interesting to play around with it).

Detain...is nice. It feels very Azorius. The only problem I have with it is the same problem as Kensan_Oni describes: I just don't think there's enough of it to build a good, workable deck around.
76125763 wrote:
Zindaras' meta is like a fossil, ancient and its secrets yet to be uncovered. Only men of yore, long dead, knew of it.
Detain is very flavourful, certainly. It focuses Azorius on being a tempo guild rather than Forecast's long-game-control feel... when this was the set you were trying to make Azorius more of a long-game-control guild rather than a tempo guild. Oops?

Nonetheless, Azorius tempo is a lot of fun to play (from my rather limited experience with it). Although people do seem to hate Martial Law / New Prahv Guildmage a lot more than I'd expect. It's just a Prison Term, but man does it draw the frowns.
Detain is very flavourful, certainly. It focuses Azorius on being a tempo guild rather than Forecast's long-game-control feel... when this was the set you were trying to make Azorius more of a long-game-control guild rather than a tempo guild. Oops?

Nonetheless, Azorius tempo is a lot of fun to play (from my rather limited experience with it). Although people do seem to hate Martial Law / New Prahv Guildmage a lot more than I'd expect. It's just a Prison Term, but man does it draw the frowns.

Well, first of all, Prison Term is extremely good. Second, it's more like Prison Term except it survives if you sacrifice the creature, plus you can move it back to previous creatures if the board state changes (such as with an aura, Scavenge, a change in the "race" dynamics, just a different set of blockers, etc). It (Martial Law) is actually significantly better than a Prison Term, which as I said is already extremely good. And of course Martial Law survives the Wraths a deck playing Martial Law will hope to be packing, rendering the NEXT creature obsolete as well. 

UW Guildmage is only the 4th or 5th best RTR Guildmage in Limited, which still makes him quite strong also, although he still just dies to any removal and he costs a lot of mana which doesn't actually develop the board, so he's not so bad. 
I think Detain is a very flavorful mechanic.  Now, I don't know how viable Detain is in Constructed, but it plays great in Limited.  If you're playing lots of fliers, the Detain guys come in to lock down any Towering Indriks or sunspire griffins that your opponents can try to stop you with.  I also really like that it can be used to slow down your opponent's attack so you can survive longer while you establish your board for the long game. 

I think Detain appears about the right amount so that it's not too frustrating to play against. 

Overload was the only mechanic I think was a flop.  When I play Izzet, I tend to avoid the non-rare overload cards, whereas every other guild I want as many cards with their mechanic as possible.   
I think Detain is a very flavorful mechanic.  Now, I don't know how viable Detain is in Constructed, but it plays great in Limited.  If you're playing lots of fliers, the Detain guys come in to lock down any Towering Indriks or sunspire griffins that your opponents can try to stop you with.  I also really like that it can be used to slow down your opponent's attack so you can survive longer while you establish your board for the long game. 

I think Detain appears about the right amount so that it's not too frustrating to play against. 

Overload was the only mechanic I think was a flop.  When I play Izzet, I tend to avoid the non-rare overload cards, whereas every other guild I want as many cards with their mechanic as possible.   

I know you specifically said non-rare Overload, but it really should be noted that the rare Overload cards are incredibly strong.

Overload cards just seem to work better individually, unlike the other mechanics which all work well together and individually. You can have 1 Detain guy or 10 (and it gets better). 1 Unleash guy or 10 (probably better), 1 Scavenge guy or 10. But you can really only have 1 Overload spell (or a couple), not an Overload deck. The first Teleportal in your deck is probably really good; the second one is bad, the third is unplayable. 
I like Detain as a mechanic. Not sure this article really dug into how this mechanic came up but...that's OK. Contrasting the difficulty in coming up with this mechanic and Forecast did make for some interesting reading.

I do agree with Amarsir, though: baiting the hook with future unnamed mechanics really don't provide good talking points, unless you're going to specifically reference them later on. 

And I don't know that it's interesting enough for people to go back to, in order to prove you fulfilled your promise to talk about later on. 
I agree with the irony that Forecast cards were constructed playable, but most Detain cards really aren't, despite MaRo stating that Forecast was a mistake, but Detain isn't.

That said, in limited Detain is very good.  If you get enough Detain in your deck, it isn't too difficult to out-tempo the opponent, and basically make it impossible for them to win.  It's very difficult for the opponent to win if you can play a Detain creature every turn.  It also is very Azorius flavorwise.  

I feel that Detain could have been a constructed viable mechanic in a deck sort of like faeries that relied on tempo.  As the cards are built, it isn't viable though.  I just wish the individual detain cards were better.      

 
I agree with the irony that Forecast cards were constructed playable, but most Detain cards really aren't, despite MaRo stating that Forecast was a mistake, but Detain isn't.

That said, in limited Detain is very good.  If you get enough Detain in your deck, it isn't too difficult to out-tempo the opponent, and basically make it impossible for them to win.  It's very difficult for the opponent to win if you can play a Detain creature every turn.  It also is very Azorius flavorwise.  

I feel that Detain could have been a constructed viable mechanic in a deck sort of like faeries that relied on tempo.  As the cards are built, it isn't viable though.  I just wish the individual detain cards were better.      

 

I really disagree about Forecast being more constructed playable than Detain. What Forecast card is at the power level of Lyev Skyknight? 3/1 flying detain for 3 is definitely costed to be good enough for Standard; whether it actually finds a deck is another matter. 
I, for one, like the feel of Detain. I too note the absence of an attack-triggered Detain at a rarity below "rare," but maybe there will be one in "Sinker."

Azorious Frenzied Goblin
W
1/1
When Azorious Frenzied Goblin attacks, you may pay W. If you do, detain target creature.

Frenzied Goblin saw play, so this is probably too powerful, but maybe!

Detain is blah -- dry and boring.  It fits just fine, although I agree it's more of a "tempo" ability than a control freak ability like you were going for.  It plays more like I'd expect a Boros mechanic to.  The big flier at the prerelease did a fair job of locking things up if the game went long enough, and Martial Law was thoroughly annoying, but most of my descriptions of the mechanic are "annoying" rather than "fun".


Looking forward to Rakdos week.


Detain is blah -- dry and boring.  It fits just fine, although I agree it's more of a "tempo" ability than a control freak ability like you were going for.  It plays more like I'd expect a Boros mechanic to.  The big flier at the prerelease did a fair job of locking things up if the game went long enough, and Martial Law was thoroughly annoying, but most of my descriptions of the mechanic are "annoying" rather than "fun".


Looking forward to Rakdos week.




Think about what we would've gotten if that wasn't such a high priority for them =p

I know WotC likes to be all secrety-secret about anything that isn't released.  But so often we hear this same story from Mark "there was this mechanic idea, but it had a problem we couldn't solve, so I won't tell you anything about it."  First, it's really not a very good anecdote.  But more importantly, it's a missed opportunity for crowdsourcing.  There are thousands of very smart Magic players reading this column.  Odds are decent that someone would have an inspirational twist.  


And the idea that you can't share a design because some version of it might be used somewhere, somehow, someday makes no sense.  You specifically recycle mechanics now, but somehow think players won't buy Gatecrash if a mechanic there seems somewhat similar to something that was vaguely referenced once?


On another note, man the Infernal Spawn of Evil is really bad on today's creature curve.  I know Unglued rarely pushed the power limits anyway, but the idea that a flying 7/7 for 9 mana is "big and scary in play" is kind of silly now.




I understand to a certain extent why they do this, as aparently WotC designers aren't supposed to look at player made cards and such.  There's also the 'Giant Solifuge' issue (for those who don't know, before Guildpact was officially released there was a spoiler that depicted Giant Solifuge as being stronger than it actually is, which led many to be disappointed about it's actual stats) so if he hypes up this cool mechanic they couldn't get right, then 'fix' it by making it weaker or just too different it might upset people who were excited about the way he initially describes it.  Though I do think Maro is being pretty vague whenever he talks about mechanics that didn't get made, it would be nice to have SOME idea of what the original mechanic was like.  Even something like 'it worked on cards in exile' or 'was inspired by a card in Homelands' would leave it vague but still leave us guessing in a fun way.

As for detain, it's an interesting mechanic.  I didn't realize the monocolor/multicolor creature/permanent difference until you mentioned it (I thought it was just a rarity thing).  I'm also a fan of keyword actions like clash and scry, so it's always good to see more.  I can't say anything about whether it's constructed worthy or not, I'm not a pro by any means, but it does play well in limited without simply blowing the opponent away.
I found it funny how Maro said that they have done Azorius wrong the first time because U/W control was too strong. But now that they supposedly had the chance to make them "right", they have no "slow control" feel. Just a bunch of aggresive costed creatures with detain. The new Azorius feels more like Boros to me, just keep dropping aggressive creatures until you run out of steam, which happens fairly quickly because there arent a lot of re-useable detain cards. In fact there are only two and one of them is an overcosted flyer.

Like people above me said, strong in limited but bad in constructed. Unlike red aggro decks you dont have any burn to finish your opponent off. I really wished for Azorious control to be better. Fall of the gavel is a joke spell really, and its uncommon for some odd reason.

I really wonder which keyword the boros will have, and how they will be different from Azorius, becasue right now they seem so similar to me.

 
I'm sure Boros has an ability that affects creature combat itself. Detain is all about circumventing it, whereas red and white are the kings of winning creature combat.
I found it funny how Maro said that they have done Azorius wrong the first time because U/W control was too strong. But now that they supposedly had the chance to make them "right", they have no "slow control" feel. Just a bunch of aggresive costed creatures with detain. The new Azorius feels more like Boros to me, just keep dropping aggressive creatures until you run out of steam, 

Isn't that sort of how they want all Magic to be now? They want to focus on the creatures, not the spells, so that means making creatures matter early and often. Thus, even "control" decks are more "aggro control" or "tempo".

It amused me in the article when MaRo said this:
Controlling the game is a good strategy but it doesn't tend to win. Part of having a focus is having a route to victory. For white-blue, this route is through creatures

In current Magic, what color combination isn't all about creatures? Blue/Red, and that's about it.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)

I know WotC likes to be all secrety-secret about anything that isn't released.  But so often we hear this same story from Mark "there was this mechanic idea, but it had a problem we couldn't solve, so I won't tell you anything about it."  First, it's really not a very good anecdote.  But more importantly, it's a missed opportunity for crowdsourcing.  There are thousands of very smart Magic players reading this column.  Odds are decent that someone would have an inspirational twist.  


And the idea that you can't share a design because some version of it might be used somewhere, somehow, someday makes no sense.  You specifically recycle mechanics now, but somehow think players won't buy Gatecrash if a mechanic there seems somewhat similar to something that was vaguely referenced once?







I understand to a certain extent why they do this, as aparently WotC designers aren't supposed to look at player made cards and such.  There's also the 'Giant Solifuge' issue (for those who don't know, before Guildpact was officially released there was a spoiler that depicted Giant Solifuge as being stronger than it actually is, which led many to be disappointed about it's actual stats) so if he hypes up this cool mechanic they couldn't get right, then 'fix' it by making it weaker or just too different it might upset people who were excited about the way he initially describes it.  Though I do think Maro is being pretty vague whenever he talks about mechanics that didn't get made, it would be nice to have SOME idea of what the original mechanic was like.  Even something like 'it worked on cards in exile' or 'was inspired by a card in Homelands' would leave it vague but still leave us guessing in a fun way.




I've always assumed this was for legal reasons - to avoid not really a threat but a headache.  If MaRo tells us what the mechanic is that had a problem, then some player posts a fix to his obscure blog somewhere (or even to these forums), that fix is now off limits to WotC because it's the intellectual property of the player who first proposed it.  Not that that legal argument would stick (I don't know, I'm not a lawyer) but it could cause an uncomfortable situation if Wizards used that fix (developed independently) in a set and the player cried foul.

It's not the idea that players won't like a set or mechanic because they've seen a similar thing in a forum, it's the issue of someone claiming they "have not been properly and duly compensated for the use of their creative talents and intellectual property."
I really disagree about Forecast being more constructed playable than Detain. What Forecast card is at the power level of Lyev Skyknight? 3/1 flying detain for 3 is definitely costed to be good enough for Standard; whether it actually finds a deck is another matter. 



Lyev Skyknight was my thought too. It's a good card. Gains you tempo and then beats insanely when soulbonded to a Silverblade Paladin.
What's the Mechanical Heart of This Color Pair?

First of all, white isn't about order, it's blue.

"Order" means "giving things a (static) place". You can widen this definition and say: "giving things some (static) attributes". An 'ordered set' is a collection where every entry/item has a fixed position. A list is a colection where every entry has fixed attributes for predecessor and/or sucessor.

F.e: You have an orderly room, if every item has a given place.

An essential part comes into account if you add causality. Which means an ordered timeline. Or in other words, assigning an action with fixed predecessor actions.

If you order your meal, this means you expect a fixed, causally chain-of-reaction. The same is true, if your boss gives you an order.

That's why law and order are closely linked together. Law means that there is a fixed cause-of-action in case something happens... often written down. This is why law is basically neutral, i.e. free of a particular value. The context makes it good or evil.

So if blue is about order and law, there can be different subforms of order. If there is a shift towards black, it's the abusal of laws. A dictatorship or a mafia dictates strict rules/laws, have a strict hierarchy... but only for the good of a few. White on contrast uses another drifted version of order/law in forms of agreements or commandments. Good examples are mentors or teacher. It expects that you submit yourself freely to a fixed course or a fixed behaviour. it's still optional or your own free will to do so and serves for the better of all.

The causality part makes it quite obvious why white isn't about order, but blue. White believes in Miracles.

As usual, if you combine two befriended color, look at their common enemy and do the opposite.

This is the way to find the "mechanical heart" of blue-white... look what red is doing and do the opposite.

From a color-pie philosophy, white and blue are the two colors that plan ahead most, white with its orderly strategizing and blue with its thoughtful reflection. This means that the key to white-blue is control of the game. Note that I mean control in the broader sense and just not counterspells (although that is one of the things blue brings to the white-blue table). White and blue want to take control of every facet of the game they can. They want to dictate what the things on the battlefield can and cannot do. They want to control how and what gets played. They want to grant themselves options while taking away options from the opponent.


That's wrong. White is about avoiding losses, destruction or disadvantages. Right now, white doesn't plan ahead (it neither has search spells nor draw spells). White doesn't want to dictate... that's the black ideology (in forms of discard, search spells and destuction).

This is the main reason, why black-&-blue should be the slowest, most control-based color combination. I have a black deck with tons of mass removal or targeted destruction to ensure that no creature stays on the board for more than 1 turn. I had a black discard deck (with The Rack) that prevented you from casting spells... and I have a blue control deck that uses tons of counterspells.

So you see Mark, you got it wrong. And that's one part why detain, the cool new ability is mainly blue and even more flavorful if combined with black.

What's the Easiest Thing About This Color Pairing?

Basically, the easiest thing is that both colors use counterspells and tap abilities although they shouldn't.

To repeat myself again: A counterspell is a general (non-specific) answer at the latest possoible moment. Does this sound like control? No. It sounds like an act of despair... because you failed to see this one coming. If you would know that your opponent is gonna play such a card and you feel like prevention is the only choice, why didn't you discarded it or removed it from that player's library in the first place??? - Oh, I forgot, because you don't have the cards to do so... It's much easier to reprint the 101 copy of a counterspell than to think about whether or not counterspells are the right way to prevent spells.

That's the reason why in my opinion, Extract and similar spells should be blue. In general, every card effect with the "name a card" phrase should be blue. Likewise, search spells like Diabolic Tutor should be blue as well. IT SEARCHES THE LIBRARY!!! Black seeks answer or power through other more direct methods => simply steal it from your opponent.

And last but not least: Scry is a wonderful white-blue flavored keyword, while fateseal feels much more like a blue-black ability.

What's the Hardest Thing About This Color Pairing?

The hardest thing is, that blue and white are messed up. Whereas blue should have search spells, Tutor effects and library ordering, white should be about drawing cards. The latter represents hope, renewal, sunshine, happyness and spirituality. All the things that makes you more positive, outgoing and constructive.

As a side effect, you would draw more land cards, more creatures and more spells.

more lands = An inherited mana acceleration for the late game. Symbolizes community.
more creatures = no need for weenies, etc. The 'white army' part happens by itselfs.
more spells = more options and therefore a good way to express "preparation" or so called "strategic planning"

Blue on the other hand has search spells and library ordering

search for land cards = get the Urza Land Combo up faster
search for creatures = represents scholarship and a secret task force
search for spells = Mark's "thoughtful reflection" comment

Forecast

On a 1 to 10 scale, forecast was a 4 for me. The worst part was the "only during your upkeep" limitation. This happened even before the draw step. This isn't my understanding of control. It felt like decide yourself before you know all options what you could do. I never had a "forcast" deck,

The "minor effect" group felt stupid. Instead of a Writ of Passage, give me the same card with a "U: return it to your hand" ability. The forecast option on Proclamation of Rebirth just felt like the worst possible alternative form of buyback.

Forecast wasn't reactive, it was stupidly proactive.. welll "pro" and "active" doesn't feel right in this context either. With Spirit en-Dal f.e., I couldn't create a blocking creature with shadow or react if my opponent uses the same card.

The Sky Hussar was the only exception. It grants card advantage and usually, you knew which creatures ought to attack that turn and which one you can use for forecast. But still, if you don't add white creature tokens, it's still a bad card (unless combined with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker).

Detain

Although the effect is essentially similar to Arrest, I didn't see a point not to use tap effects or blink. Where is the advantage?

Somnomancer vs. Azorius Arrester
Niveous Wisps vs. Inaction Injunction
Flickerwisp vs. Lyev Skyknight

It must have taken months, if not years to develop these cards, right?!?! This is the most ridiculous ability ever designed as it only replaces an automatic & fundamental game mechanic with a keyword. It would have been the same to introduced something similar to "target creature has summoning sickness" for creatures that are already on the battlefield.... something like "confuse" or "exhaust". That wouldn't be different to blink without "enters the battlefield" and "leaves the battlefield" abilities.

Any Final Thoughts?

Well, in the end we have two useless abilities and still no clue what to do with blue-white.