11/12/2012 MM: "Designing for Izzet"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
You'll note that the Limited game has less of that creative feel and the reason is that it's a lot harder to get a Johnny sensibility when you have so much less control over what cards you get.


Okay, nice to know that you don't even want me to care about Limited.

We solved this problem by deciding that we didn't want overload to ever be downside (well, at least not most of the time).


Is there anything where you consider downside to be acceptable these days? The game environment has the potential to be much richer and volatile when cards' valuations can fluctuate from wildly profitable to all the way into negatives, compared to the "New World Order" game vision in which each card has the predictable and monotonic overall effect of "increase my Win Probability by some amount," where that amount doesn't have nearly as much room to adjust based on player handling as the effects of cards in years past did? Sure, Win Probability hasn't yet been realized as an actual, computable stat in this game except in select near-endgame situations, but it makes sense to think of it as the idealized guiding force behind game actions.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />On an even more theoretical note, what do you think 2002 R&D's reaction would be if they saw the cards of 2012?
Blue-red wants to do things where things interact with other things and the end result is something bigger than the sum of its parts.



Ironically, Green-white also cares about creating something bigger than the sum of its parts. I love how opposing colors (or color pairs) are more similar than they'd like to admit.
We solved this problem by deciding that we didn't want overload to ever be downside (well, at least not most of the time).


Is there anything where you consider downside to be acceptable these days? The game environment has the potential to be much richer and volatile when cards' valuations can fluctuate from wildly profitable to all the way into negatives, compared to the "New World Order" game vision in which each card has the predictable and monotonic overall effect of "increase my Win Probability by some amount," where that amount doesn't have nearly as much room to adjust based on player handling as the effects of cards in years past did? Sure, Win Probability hasn't yet been realized as an actual, computable stat in this game except in select near-endgame situations, but it makes sense to think of it as the idealized guiding force behind game actions.


The reason why overload was made to always be one-sided is pretty simple.  These are the spells that could make sense as symmetrical effects.
Mizzium Mortars, Electrickery, Street Spasm, Cyclonic Rift, Vandalblast, Blustersquall (sort of)
And these are the ones that couldn't
Chemister's Trick, Teleportal, Mizzium Skin, Downsize, Dynacharge, Counterflux

Is anything really gained here by making the first ones symmetrical?  Blustersquall is essentially the same, and all the others would be effects we've seen before.  Many of which are currently in standard.  It's really just adding complexity for complexity's sake.
I've said this before, but I'm going to say it again: I feel that mr Neagle kind of forced Overload on the design team and never gave anyone the chance to come up with something else. I'm not saying it's terrible or that other designers could definitely do better, but Overload IS the weakest mechanic of RTR and it really just feels like Neagle got his pet design in and it never had a chance of it coming out, him being the lead of RTR design.

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192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
You'll note that the Limited game has less of that creative feel and the reason is that it's a lot harder to get a Johnny sensibility when you have so much less control over what cards you get.


Okay, nice to know that you don't even want me to care about Limited.

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Johnny and my favourite colour-pair is RU or UW, but I played Selesnya at the prerelease, as populate is far more of a Johnny mechanic than any of the others'.

You'll note that the Limited game has less of that creative feel and the reason is that it's a lot harder to get a Johnny sensibility when you have so much less control over what cards you get.


Okay, nice to know that you don't even want me to care about Limited.

We solved this problem by deciding that we didn't want overload to ever be downside (well, at least not most of the time).


Is there anything where you consider downside to be acceptable these days? The game environment has the potential to be much richer and volatile when cards' valuations can fluctuate from wildly profitable to all the way into negatives, compared to the "New World Order" game vision in which each card has the predictable and monotonic overall effect of "increase my Win Probability by some amount," where that amount doesn't have nearly as much room to adjust based on player handling as the effects of cards in years past did? Sure, Win Probability hasn't yet been realized as an actual, computable stat in this game except in select near-endgame situations, but it makes sense to think of it as the idealized guiding force behind game actions.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />On an even more theoretical note, what do you think 2002 R&D's reaction would be if they saw the cards of 2012?


There are plenty of build-around cards in Limited. But the "try to build your own Combo" archetype isn't really a mechanic they can do.

And overload is a lot better being all upside. It makes the card a lot easier to understand. Slagstorm is fine hitting you, too, for example, but that's one rare card. Having an entire mechanic that hurts you when you try to use it creates less feel-bad moments.
The thing I dislike the most about red-blue in general and the Izzet in particular is that they seem to have a very high proportion of cards that try to squeeze sci-fi art and flavor concepts into what is still ostensibly a fantasy product. I'd have liked to see some mention of that among the 'design challenges' for Izzet.
I've said this before, but I'm going to say it again: I feel that mr Neagle kind of forced Overload on the design team and never gave anyone the chance to come up with something else. I'm not saying it's terrible or that other designers could definitely do better, but Overload IS the weakest mechanic of RTR and it really just feels like Neagle got his pet design in and it never had a chance of it coming out, him being the lead of RTR design.



The weakest? How?

Is there anything where you consider downside to be acceptable these days? The game environment has the potential to be much richer and volatile when cards' valuations can fluctuate from wildly profitable to all the way into negatives, compared to the "New World Order" game vision in which each card has the predictable and monotonic overall effect of "increase my Win Probability by some amount," where that amount doesn't have nearly as much room to adjust based on player handling as the effects of cards in years past did? Sure, Win Probability hasn't yet been realized as an actual, computable stat in this game except in select near-endgame situations, but it makes sense to think of it as the idealized guiding force behind game actions.



Maybe you missed Rakdos, Lord of Riots. 
The thing I dislike the most about red-blue in general and the Izzet in particular is that they seem to have a very high proportion of cards that try to squeeze sci-fi art and flavor concepts into what is still ostensibly a fantasy product. I'd have liked to see some mention of that among the 'design challenges' for Izzet.


It's less sci-fi and more steampunk.  Actually, strictly speaking, it's more gaslamp fantasy.  But either way, I think that's still reasonably acceptable in a fantasy universe.

I wonder if they could get Phil and Kaja Folgio back for some art.  The Izzet stuff is strongly reminiscent of their work in Girl Genius.
I've said this before, but I'm going to say it again: I feel that mr Neagle kind of forced Overload on the design team and never gave anyone the chance to come up with something else. I'm not saying it's terrible or that other designers could definitely do better, but Overload IS the weakest mechanic of RTR and it really just feels like Neagle got his pet design in and it never had a chance of it coming out, him being the lead of RTR design.



The weakest? How?


All the other guild mechanics make the guild play very distinctively, but Overload doesn't. Selesnya with the token populating, Rakdos with the all-out aggressiveness of Unleash, Golgari with the slow crawl of squeezing out value out of your dead creatures with Scavenge, and Azorius with the tempo-providing cards with detain that lets your fliers finish the opponent off. What about Izzet? You can't make an overload deck. The design is too limited so there is no continuity with Overload, just some small effects getting bigger.

Which is also why Izzet is the weakest guild in Limited, it's best cards like Mizzium Mortars and Cyclonic Rift are easily splashed and it is left with just a bunch of sub-par cards with no identity.

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

192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
The thing I dislike the most about red-blue in general and the Izzet in particular is that they seem to have a very high proportion of cards that try to squeeze sci-fi art and flavor concepts into what is still ostensibly a fantasy product. I'd have liked to see some mention of that among the 'design challenges' for Izzet.


It's less sci-fi and more steampunk.  Actually, strictly speaking, it's more gaslamp fantasy.  But either way, I think that's still reasonably acceptable in a fantasy universe.

I wonder if they could get Phil and Kaja Folgio back for some art.  The Izzet stuff is strongly reminiscent of their work in Girl Genius.



It's explicitly NOT steampunk indeed, as that was one of their design goals: www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/Article.a...

"We wanted to move closer to magically powered devices and experiments and nudge away from steampunk, which a lot of original Izzet was really close to." 

I'd say the current incarnation of Izzet is closer to the magitech settings that JRPGs toy with. And I agree that the current Izzet is also further pushing the boundaries of what's within the setting of Magic. Personally I'd love a Steampunk block though.

Which is also why Izzet is the weakest guild in Limited, it's best cards like Mizzium Mortars and Cyclonic Rift are easily splashed and it is left with just a bunch of sub-par cards with no identity.

 

Not so much weakest, but hardest to draft. The Izzet aggro deck is one of the strongest decks to draft, although that is in part because the guild is underdrafted atm.

Is there anything where you consider downside to be acceptable these days?



Unleash.

And seeing how much negative press that got before people played with it, they kinda have a point in shying away from it.

The game environment has the potential to be much richer [...]



Multiple members of Wizards have stated that it is not their goal to make the 'best' game possible. The metaphor used is that they are in the business of making Hollywood blockbusters, not to make arthouse movies with critical acclaim.
Shame about Hellbent not coming back - I thought it was the best mechanic of the lot - maybe it read terrible, but it was a blast to play with.
Are the podcasts available on iTunes Podcasts? Also, I can't get the player to work.
That's funny, I thought of Simic as the "Johnny guild". (As much as you can say even two Johnnies have something in common...) But copying has its Johnny moments.
139359831 wrote:
Clever deduction Watson! Maybe you can explain why Supergirl is trying to kill me.
---- Autocard is your friend. Lightning Bolt = Lightning Bolt
Unleash.

And seeing how much negative press that got before people played with it, they kinda have a point in shying away from it.

Well, except that the complaints about Unleash are not that there is a downside, but that the upside isn't good enough. And, above about 1.5 mana creatures, they're basically right (for Constructed). 
I noticed that there is an error in the "What's the hardest thong about about this color pairing?" where it lists flying as "Flying (White-Blue-Black)" both Red and Green should also be in the Brackets because of dragon's.  Flying is shared by ALL colors.

MaRo was identifying the colors in which the ability is used routinely (in his words, the primary and secondary colors) on a set-by-set basis. That flying appeared on the chart at all speaks more to the weakness of the mechanical links in the white-blue and blue-black pairings than to anything else.

"Proc" stands for "Programmed Random OCcurance". It does not even vaguely apply to anything Magic cards do. Don't use it.

Level 1 Judge as of 09/26/2013

Zammm = Batman

"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman

I noticed that there is an error in the "What's the hardest thong about about this color pairing?" where it lists flying as "Flying (White-Blue-Black)" both Red and Green should also be in the Brackets because of dragon's.  Flying is shared by ALL colors.




That list is about what can appear at common. Haste for example is tertiary in green, meaning it can appear on high profile tournament cards (Vengevine, Craterhoof Behemoth, Strangleroot Geist) but it's not on the list. Same with trample.  
I noticed that there is an error in the "What's the hardest thong about about this color pairing?" where it lists flying as "Flying (White-Blue-Black)" both Red and Green should also be in the Brackets because of dragon's.  Flying is shared by ALL colors.




That list is about what can appear at common. Haste for example is tertiary in green, meaning it can appear on high profile tournament cards (Vengevine, Craterhoof Behemoth, Strangleroot Geist) but it's not on the list. Same with trample.  



Trample is primary in Green, so it should appear on commons, and does. Korozda Monitor, for example. Flying is primary in White, then secondary in Blue; it comes in on a lot of commons on both, and some on Black. The difference here is that Trample is more powerful in many circumstances than Flying is, as it allows A creature to potentially kill MANY without the use of extra cards; it acts as damage and removal and a beatstick, all in one. Also, deathtouch + trample is far more powerful than any other ability + deathtouch, save a Tim.
"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)
I mean trample in black and blue
I mean trample in black and blue



Ah, well, that seems to come up pretty regularly, anyways. Trample is secondary in Red, and I think tertiary in Black, or secondary in both, teriary in Blue (and only on huge stuff). RTR doesn't seem to break this, with the lion's share of cards with "trample" on them in Mono or Part Green, while also getting all but one common with "trample" on them.

"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)
I mean trample in black and blue



Ah, well, that seems to come up pretty regularly, anyways. Trample is secondary in Red, and I think tertiary in Black, or secondary in both, teriary in Blue (and only on huge stuff). RTR doesn't seem to break this, with the lion's share of cards with "trample" on them in Mono or Part Green, while also getting all but one common with "trample" on them.




I don't understand what your point is. I replied to dusty who said flying should also list red (because of dragons), so I'm naming mechanics that appear in colors at rare but not in the list from maro's article. I don't understand what you're adding.

Also that list shows that trample is not secondary in black so I also don't get your uncertainty there.
Right now the most shocking article in this cycle:

Let me rephrase Mark:

Forecast (Azorius): Fail
Haunt (Orzhov): Fail
Radiance (Boros): Fail
Hellbent (Rakdos): Fail
Dredge (Golgari): Fail
Transmute (Dimir): We don't want to

Replicate (Izzet): Ok
Bloodthirst (Gruul): Ok
Convoke (Selesnya): Ok

Graft (Simic): We have no idea

The funny thing: This is a point, where I agree with Mark in most cases.

Forcast was stupid as it was limited to your upkeep step, Haunt was "This enters, Affected leaves" ability... quite stupid. A simple on death effect would have been better. Radiance affected ALL creatures, not just your creatures.

Although I like blue to have search effects, I also want to limit them to the minimum. Nothing is more annoying than to play a EDH game where your opponent uses fetch lands, search spells every other turn and 60% of the total duration of the game, you've watch him shuffling his deck. THAT's the incarnation of fun.

I do prefer Commune with Nature over Worldly Tutor for that reason.

I've already commented Convoke. The only issue with convoke was the additional mana cost. But that's a matter of development and not design. Bloodthirst was great ability, but a bit underwhelming imho. It helps new players to stick to the "attack first", then cast creature spells order.

What I won't comment now are replicate, dredge, graft and hellbent, but some of them later.

What's the Hardest Thing About This Color Pairing?

There is no hard thing here. The problem comes more from the fact that other enemy color combinations are messed up and already mixed too much. So it seems unfair that this isn't the case with red & blue.

But there is hope: There is a seemingly endless discussion, if deflection effects are either red or blue. The same is true for copying effects. So it is wise to stick to this part.

So if both red and blue are centered around spells rather than creatures, it is REALLY, REALLY wise for Mark to reference a list creature abilities.

But let's look at the keywords and how I would contribute them:

Flying (White-Blue) => IMO spiders (reach) = black. (Demons shouldn't always fly and there is nothing else)
Haste (Red+Green) => right now I would switch haste with flash in case of black
Flash (Blue+Black) => flash is just too "intelligent" for green. It should get haste instead
Hexproof (White) => In the middle of blue and green.
Shroud (Green) => It prevents equipments... which fits well
Protection (Blue+black+white) => depends on "color", "mana cost" or "card type"
First Strike/Double Strike (Red-Black) => It simply makes damage prevention useless if used in white
Archery(Green+Red) => This is "deals damage to combatants [attacking or blocking creatures]"
Lifelink (Black+Green) => It's power-based & allows to attack without the fear for counterattacks
Deathtouch (Black+Green) => mainly because red got most of the destruction spells and this is a "limitation".
Trample (big creatures) => not assigned to colors. Even common for colorless creatures
Regeneration (Green+white) => black should use reanimation effects instead (see undying / persist)
Vigilance (Green)  => red also have other forms to untap creatures.
Provoke (Red+Green+Black)
Shadow (blue+black)
Defender (white+green+blue)
Intimidate (black)
Landwalk (white+blue+green)

Vigilance suffers from the fact that it has a certain flavor. I would love to see black creatures with "restless" or "relentless" attacks (meaning the same). Right now, I shifted blink effects towards blue-black.

What's the Mechanical Heart of This Color Pair?

Spells. We do agree on that.

However, blue likes to be able to cast the most situational, but efficient spell. And it actuially pays the cost for it... (maybe even more to buyback the spell). Red on the opposite, wastes spells and likes to cast as many spells as possible. It uses flashback in case of emergency (which is simply a delayed copy). Red also accepts side-effects to reduce the casting cost.

Generally spoken, red and green are the colors for instantaneous spells. However red tends to cast spells with "haste" (or sorceries with flash), whereas green concentrates on creatures with haste. Black should uses flash more often. So instead of a Terror, simply develop an assassin with flash. White uses enchantments instead, which are basically enduring sorceries (or sorceries with abide).

Another issue: Blue likes well defined targets, whereas red also accepts random targets (or sacrifice effects) and global effects. To give red sorceries is just an easy way to prevent reactive-shenanigans.

Replicate

It was ok, but it wasn't that good, Most of the spells felt like another approach for X-spells (spells with a casting cost that includes X) or spells with multikicker. It didn't really fit towards blue... or let's say, my approach to blue.

Most spells weren't great: Mana progress isn't linear, that's why replicate or kicker shouldn't be linear either. It requires 6 mana to return two creatures with Vacuumelt or just 3 mana with Undo or 4 mana with Aven Augur. Likewise, it takes 6 mana to hit three different targets with Pyromatics, but only 3 mana with Arc Lightning.

The advantage of replicate is also the biggest disadvantage: The copy stupidness messes with the stack, as every part is processed / handled seperately.

So let's compare it with this:



It's not linear, so if you spend 7 mana you can deal 8 damage. If you spend 10 mana, you deal 16 damage. Remember this is the category of Kozilek, Butcher of Truth and the like. This is neither balanced nor playtested (I use the rarity to show this), but it's a very good example that mana progress isn't linear and if you manage to reach 10 mana, you should do more than just 5 damage with Pyromatics.

Overload

Well, overload is basically another ability that replaces a verbose kicher effect. The alternative handles it with text replacement..... whoooo.... that's a thing I wouldn't touch too often.

A Blustersquall is basically the same to this card:



Izzet Over?

Well, I would have liked to see a red version of Future Sight or Recycle. Red's dream is to create an endless stream of spells and both cards achieve this. Both cards have drawbacks:

Future Sight shows the top card of your library to all players.
I could see the following flavor text:
"I can read your mind like an open book" - said the wizard shorttly before he burned to ashes.
"Well, I'm fine with that" - ansered Chandra

Recycle is even better. It reduces your hand size, which actually means "spontaneity".

All in all, both cards would perfectly fit to Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind as he seems to create infinite draw+damage combos as well.