11/26/2012 MM: "Designing for Golgari"

30 posts / 0 new
Last post
This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
"Rock beats scissors, paper beats rock, scissors beat paper, rock beats scissors..." I'm not interested in what card beats what. That's a circular discussion.

Mark double-dips on his analogy.  Either the "Carapace" draws a card, or it "magically appears for free" from the 4cc 5/5.  It's a free bonus, but only once.


While it's true that Sorcery speed forces the player to plan in advance, and that is more interesting, you also have to consider the meta effect.  Especially when you're using that argument for a whole mechanic.  The last time we heard this was for "leveling up", and the reaction from the constructed community was no thanks, we're good.  The only leveler to make any constructed impact at all was the mono-blue sliver.


Maybe Scavenge will find some Standard use.  Technically that's something you can always force through via raw power if you want to.  (As occurred when the merfolk leveler was recontextualized via other Lords.)  But to be honest, I don't like a game where players tap out too much.  It turns Magic into a boring board game where you take your turn, then go get a drink and say "call me when it's my turn again."  If I wanted to play Monopoly I would.

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.

Scavenge is very powerful in limited, especially with the lifelink imp.

What amuses me the most is they clearly mocked up deadbridge carapace on Magic Set Editor. Wizards of the Coasts official website uses second hand software. Kind of makes you wonder.
I have to say Scavenge is one of my least favorite mechanics, but I do admire the thought that went into it.

I really wanted to like Golgari - I love Black, I like Green - Graveyard shenagains? I'm in! Right? .... well not so much.

Most of the decks I've played against failed to do anything useful before they were taken out. 
Decks using Grisly Salvage with Ghoultree and/or Splinterfright seem cool, but usually can't deliver the goods or get a reserved MurderGnaw to the Bone CAN be a saving grace for these decks giving them another shot IF they have enough creatures down there.
- ALUCARDAFK | IT'S MAGIC
Part of the reason blue is so consistantly over powered in every format is because it gets all the instants worth playing. I loved noxious revival, when you give one color all the best instants the choice of what to play becomes easy, play blue. Your choice to make mechanics socery speed usually means they are not constructed worthy. You would rather have the decks be "obvious" like unburial rites
Socery speed is definitely the right choice for scavenge. Even at that speed I still sometimes lose to a scavenge card I forgot about. And I'm pretty sure people would have hit the roof during spoiler season if Drudge Beetle cost seven to scavenge and Korozda Monitor cost eight (the standard Divination to Inspiration transformation cost).
 It turns Magic into a boring board game where you take your turn, then go get a drink and say "call me when it's my turn again."  If I wanted to play Monopoly I would.

If you want to play Monopoly that way, that's fine with me.  You're unlikely to ever win if you're not around to make deals or trade, but hey, that's your problem.   Sorry, that sounds a bit rude.  While I agree with your point that non-interactive multiplayer games are generally a bad thing, there are very few of them (well, in the board and card game arena anyway) and Monopoly doesn't even come close, except in the popular mythology version of it being a game where you just roll dice.
Two points:

First, Occam's Razor (not a statement from Ockham himself) is an attempt at qualifying what logicians (and scientists) now refer to as "parsimony," which is the process by which a subject is reduced to its smallest particulars, then each is placed into context; that which doesn't fit into the context provided is excluded; when you have a cohesive subject or explanation for the included particulars, but cannot reduce this further without incoherency, you have the "simplest explanation." As Doyle wrote, this explanation -- no matter how inconceivable -- should be the best explanation to work with (but this doesn't mean it is the best explanation). Occam's Razor is an attempt at this, but it's not the whole statement. Further, parsimony doesn't always get the subject RIGHT: it merely provides a standing point from which to test hypotheses. Further, parsimony in this manner is applied continuously, including to the end result. MaRo stopped as soon as he got to his desired results, but dredge in its playing has proven itself dangerous powerful, and as such could have been made even simpler by restricting when it could work (such as stalling or turning off Life from the Loam + cycling lands). The quality of its abusiveness was, to a degree, ignored. Thus, parsimony wasn't fully applied to this problem.

Second, I find it both humorous and sad that MaRo used MSE on this site, but then compounded this error -- instead of having Creative throw him a mock-up -- by ignoring the Aura keyword, "enchant [X]." This man designs cards, folks.
"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've been trying repeatedly to get a Golgari scavenge deck to work. Scavenge may be fine in Limited, but in standard, I'm finding it far too mana-hungry and slow to build a deck around. Six mana is great for +5/+5... but unless you can get that out by turn 4 consistantly (along with a creature you can use it on) then you'll be overrun. My latest (still untested) attempt uses Lotleth Trolls, which can (sort of) scavenge twice, but I hate to have to resort to such a rare and expensive card just to get the deck to work.
You are Red/Blue!
You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what I create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.
Ironically, my reaction to Scavenge has been the opposite of what Maro describes. When I first saw it, I thought, "Wow, look at all that value! Sign me up!"

In practice, I've found that you almost never have time to scavenge in triple RTR draft. Maybe it will get better when you're drafting all three sets and everyone's clunking around with three- and four-color mana bases. But for now it's a big disappointment.
Second, I find it both humorous and sad that MaRo used MSE on this site, but then compounded this error -- instead of having Creative throw him a mock-up -- by ignoring the Aura keyword, "enchant [X]." This man designs cards, folks.


Templating isn't something he's good at, nor is it something you need to design good cards. If you've designed cards yourself, and especially if you're rushing a bit, you'll know it's incredibly easy to forget some obvious things, the enchant keyword among them.
Logic fail: Occam's Razor means "One need not add excess entities.", not "The simplest answer is the best one." You can, for example, say "Matter bends space, and this bending of space causes falling, and the planets are essentially falling into the sun but missing every time." (This is, of course, a simplistic version of gravity.) Or you can say "Matter bends space, and this bending of space causes falling, and the planets are essentially falling into the sun but missing every time. This warping of space is controlled by powerful aliens." (lolwut)

Golgari is the most fun guild to design for, I must admit. The other way is like the incarnation cycle from Judgment: Make the card have an ability that is only relevant in the graveyard. And the idea of self-mill as a pseudo-Ponder (dredge) is appealing. Death triggers combined with token generation, green and black being 1 and 3 for token generation and 2 and 1 for death triggers, is a useful combination. And green and black cover each other's blind spots in removal quite well.
139359831 wrote:
Clever deduction Watson! Maybe you can explain why Supergirl is trying to kill me.
---- Autocard is your friend. Lightning Bolt = Lightning Bolt
Two points:

First, Occam's Razor (not a statement from Ockham himself) is an attempt at qualifying what logicians (and scientists) now refer to as "parsimony," which is the process by which a subject is reduced to its smallest particulars, then each is placed into context; that which doesn't fit into the context provided is excluded; when you have a cohesive subject or explanation for the included particulars, but cannot reduce this further without incoherency, you have the "simplest explanation." As Doyle wrote, this explanation -- no matter how inconceivable -- should be the best explanation to work with (but this doesn't mean it is the best explanation). Occam's Razor is an attempt at this, but it's not the whole statement. Further, parsimony doesn't always get the subject RIGHT: it merely provides a standing point from which to test hypotheses. Further, parsimony in this manner is applied continuously, including to the end result. MaRo stopped as soon as he got to his desired results, but dredge in its playing has proven itself dangerous powerful, and as such could have been made even simpler by restricting when it could work (such as stalling or turning off Life from the Loam + cycling lands). The quality of its abusiveness was, to a degree, ignored. Thus, parsimony wasn't fully applied to this problem.

Second, I find it both humorous and sad that MaRo used MSE on this site, but then compounded this error -- instead of having Creative throw him a mock-up -- by ignoring the Aura keyword, "enchant [X]." This man designs cards, folks.

autist spotted  
The biggest issue with critiquing the quality of the mechanics in this set, I've come to realize, is that they are incomplete. 

Since they will all be making an appearance in Dragon's Maze, it is difficult to properly evaluate these mechanics beyond Limited: the critical mass or WOW cards needed to really construct a deck around them are all clearly being saved for last. 

As a result I temper my disappointment with them. Salvage is an interesting idea that is overcosted in all but one case, on creatures that are for the most part, adequate at best. Which means I do not find this mechanic to be a false negative but an actual one. I do understand the Sorcery speed of it (as with Level Up, it makes sense) but in G/B, colors that traditionally use creatures to win, making Salvage instant actually becomes MORE interesting because creatures generally cannot be cast as instants. So do you cast a creature or do you hold off and use your graveyard? Let's swing and find out! That choice is gone: the opponent knows what you're going to do and I believe that contributes negatively to the mechanic.

That's fine, actually. I think that Magic could do with the occasional negative mechanic because it gets people's brains working; it's challenging! Most of the time, anyway.  I don't think that's the case here, whereas Overload makes for some interesting choices and Populate can have some interactions with the larger game (I play casual Legacy.)  

Still, while I cannot say I am impressed with this set's mechanics I am trying to remember to withold judgment until the whole has been revealed.  
Ironically, my reaction to Scavenge has been the opposite of what Maro describes. When I first saw it, I thought, "Wow, look at all that value! Sign me up!"

In practice, I've found that you almost never have time to scavenge in triple RTR draft. Maybe it will get better when you're drafting all three sets and everyone's clunking around with three- and four-color mana bases. But for now it's a big disappointment.



Then you're not picking Axebane Guardian high enough =p

Also more Trestle Troll, Gatecreeper Vine, Ogre Jailbreaker, Towering Indrik
Two points:

First, Occam's Razor (not a statement from Ockham himself) is an attempt at qualifying what logicians (and scientists) now refer to as "parsimony," which is the process by which a subject is reduced to its smallest particulars, then each is placed into context; that which doesn't fit into the context provided is excluded; when you have a cohesive subject or explanation for the included particulars, but cannot reduce this further without incoherency, you have the "simplest explanation." As Doyle wrote, this explanation -- no matter how inconceivable -- should be the best explanation to work with (but this doesn't mean it is the best explanation). Occam's Razor is an attempt at this, but it's not the whole statement. Further, parsimony doesn't always get the subject RIGHT: it merely provides a standing point from which to test hypotheses. Further, parsimony in this manner is applied continuously, including to the end result. MaRo stopped as soon as he got to his desired results, but dredge in its playing has proven itself dangerous powerful, and as such could have been made even simpler by restricting when it could work (such as stalling or turning off Life from the Loam + cycling lands). The quality of its abusiveness was, to a degree, ignored. Thus, parsimony wasn't fully applied to this problem.



My thoughts exactly! 

I didn't think it was worth pointing out, but you stole the words right from my lips, lol

- ALUCARDAFK | IT'S MAGIC
I imagine one of the headaches of designing a game for nerds is that your target audience is a bunch of nerds. 

We many times feel the need to show our own perceived mental superiority by latching on to an innocent comment made in passing, or to illustrate a larger point, and nit-pick it to death, completely disregarding the larger point being made.

  I wonder if this is a result of our usual place in society as "less-than".  We aren't generally good at sports, or social interaction (see previous), or other things determined to be "worthwhile" by our so-called peers so we feel we MUST take every opportunity to display our mental acumen, thus ruining a pleasant stroll through the forest by categorizing and classifying each and every tree we pass.

Mark wasn't trying to philosophize on the nature of logic.  He was merely simplifying a common and well-known concept to illustrate and illuminate a point.  He wanted to make a very simple graveyard mechanic because he thought that simplifying his designs would aid him in coming up with a sleek and appealing mechanic. 

We aren't all philosophy majors.  We didn't all do LD and CrossEx.  We just want some cool behind-the-scenes magic design stories. 

ALUCARDAFK was right.  It wasn't worth pointing out.
lol he tried to fix his mock up now it says enchant creature, and he got rid of the square expansion symbol. Still begs the question of why wizards uses MSE.

And why wasnt dredge tested? I really hope they thought of dredge when they made miracle, because dredge would have been hardly as broken if it could only replace the first draw of the turn.
We aren't all philosophy majors.  We didn't all do LD and CrossEx.  We just want some cool behind-the-scenes magic design stories.



This wasn't about philosophy, it was about logic. It's like him getting 2+2=4 wrong, but not explaining that he's not using base-10, or whatever. When you fail to that degree, when WotC is filled with programmers and math heads and some of that MUST be rubbing off onto MaRo -- unless he exists in his own little existential bubble -- you have no excuse. Speed and timing of dredge could have been restricted, and it would have retained the utility but restricted the power of the ability, made it less broken -- but that's not what happened.

As for MaRo as a storyteller ... no. MaRo tells stories about himself, or what he's done, and very little about what others have or could or should do. This is why you get constant references to his time on a little-known television show, or how he single-handedly designed Tempest. This is MaRo's framework. It's fine for a storyteller to work with what he (or she) knows, but not so much when that is all you ever do, and your articles becomes predictable and stale, filled with the same consistent references, idioms, etc. (e.g., "Let me explain[period]"). It's like reading a form letter. MaRo hasn't built up from his ability to tell tales on MTG.com since the first few years.

"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 imagine one of the headaches of designing a game for nerds is that your target audience is a bunch of nerds. 

I think the problem is entirely different - Maro et al aren't designing a game for nerds, they're trying to design a game for a larger audience than that, as he keeps trying to tell his Tumblr followers as well.  It's just that we (and yes, I clearly count myself in the "nerd" camp) keep wanting the game to be only for us - perhaps because we resent the idea that something we have embraced because it seemed to have reached out to us specifically appears to be continually compromised or dumbed down.  
When you fail to that degree, when WotC is filled with programmers and math heads and some of that MUST be rubbing off onto MaRo -- unless he exists in his own little existential bubble -- you have no excuse.



What you have affinity with is hardwired in your brain so no, it doesn't matter what kind of environment you are in. It's just who we are.
Once upon a time, something like Occam's Razor was actually used to shave with. The implement shown on the British Museum's website below looks like a shortened gardening tool.

www.ancientegypt.co.uk/life/story/main.h...
We aren't all philosophy majors.  We didn't all do LD and CrossEx.  We just want some cool behind-the-scenes magic design stories.



This wasn't about philosophy, it was about logic. It's like him getting 2+2=4 wrong, but not explaining that he's not using base-10, or whatever.

No. He used the layman's form of Occam's Razor, a form that the average person can understand. The average reader of this column either isn't familiar enough with logic, or doesn't care enough, to wade through your gigantic wall of text to understand what Occam's Razor really is. Had Mark "gotten it right", it would have detracted from his point.

What he did was simplify it to a form that can be understood at a glance, and then use it to make a larger point: Simpler is often better in game design. You can insult him for this all you want, but it doesn't mean he's made a mistake.

And no, "getting 2+2=4 wrong" is not an apt comparison, as 2+2=4 is something (almost) everyone knows. A better comparison would be "saying pi is equal to 3.14". Yes, you could jump on him for saying that, tell him he's wrong, that it's 3.14159...., but honestly, the average person only cares to go as far as 3.14, so that's as far as Mark needs to go.

IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
lol he tried to fix his mock up now it says enchant creature, and he got rid of the square expansion symbol. Still begs the question of why wizards uses MSE.

Because why not? If such a tool is available, why not use it? They don't use it when creating actual cards because presumably they need greater control over all the nitpicky details that MSE glosses over or automates like where to put line breaks and so forth, but there's no need for that kind of attention to detail when mocking up a one-off image for an article, so why not?

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

When you fail to that degree, when WotC is filled with programmers and math heads and some of that MUST be rubbing off onto MaRo -- unless he exists in his own little existential bubble -- you have no excuse.



What you have affinity with is hardwired in your brain so no, it doesn't matter what kind of environment you are in. It's just who we are.



Ah ... nature vs. nurture, and their relative components in human behavior; or, genes vs. environment. Are we really sure we wanna go down this discussion path?
"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)
No. He used the layman's form of Occam's Razor, a form that the average person can understand. The average reader of this column either isn't familiar enough with logic, or doesn't care enough, to wade through your gigantic wall of text to understand what Occam's Razor really is. Had Mark "gotten it right", it would have detracted from his point.



I disagree, and quite strongly. One doesn't go for "approximately" right when dealing with the qualifications of logic, parsimony, and their applications to what it would seem were MaRo's major points with this story: that they went through mutliple iterations of a graveyard mechanic and tested it to bring it down to a point at which it would be functional, useful, and pleasing. That fact is, they did not apply Occam's Razor, they didn't apply parsimony, etc.; they made a passing attempt to satisfy some part of the parsimony analysis, but stopped when it became useful for them to do so: Others liked it as it was, and they went no further. What they did not do was use parsimony analysis rigorously, if at all.

And no, "getting 2+2=4 wrong" is not an apt comparison, as 2+2=4 is something (almost) everyone knows. A better comparison would be "saying pi is equal to 3.14". Yes, you could jump on him for saying that, tell him he's wrong, that it's 3.14159...., but honestly, the average person only cares to go as far as 3.14, so that's as far as Mark needs to go.



Fine, here's a better example:

Saying that pi = 3 is "good enough," because it approximates the number. In the beginning of the last century, some schmuck in Indiana tried (continuously) to have the value of pi set to 3.2 or so. Then there's the Bible, which claimed the value is "3" (I Kings 7:23-26), although both were based on attempts to square the dimensions of the circle, not divide the circumference by its radius. Math is hard. These are attempts by such people to only go so far, or to try to "simplify" the value for the sake of digestion, but rather than tackle the hard truth push it as fact. Approximating a value like this, which has a hard and fast calculation (c/r=pi) is essential for many things, but its use in some realms was not; technogical advancement when low would not require it, but when high, would, so its value increases as technology becomes more integrated in life.

So too for logic. If you are going to be discussing iterative refinements of design, and mention parsimony, then you are going to have to consider that you will have to extend the analysis to its conclusion. Dredge's history shows that this did not occur: like many things before it that were broken beyond repair (e.g., standard-bearer Skullclamp), Dredge wasn't rigorously tested. The design was modified until it was pleasing, but I doubt the designers/developers actually performed an analysis in which the functions of Dredge were broken down and reduced to their component parts, then assembled towards a simpler, simpler, simpler means of attaining what they were trying to accomplish. In part, this is because what they wanted required a cost, and they had to step up from the "simplest" execution -- and it was still broke.

Parsimony just doesn't work in Magic, though, and that's also the problem. All things are not equal. Some effects in the game "cost" more than others do (draw a card versus 1 damage have strategically different costs and speed, especially when applied in numbers).
"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)
When you fail to that degree, when WotC is filled with programmers and math heads and some of that MUST be rubbing off onto MaRo -- unless he exists in his own little existential bubble -- you have no excuse.



What you have affinity with is hardwired in your brain so no, it doesn't matter what kind of environment you are in. It's just who we are.



Ah ... nature vs. nurture, and their relative components in human behavior; or, genes vs. environment. Are we really sure we wanna go down this discussion path?



I certainly want to if it could help you not make needless insults.
No. He used the layman's form of Occam's Razor, a form that the average person can understand. The average reader of this column either isn't familiar enough with logic, or doesn't care enough, to wade through your gigantic wall of text to understand what Occam's Razor really is. Had Mark "gotten it right", it would have detracted from his point.




And no, "getting 2+2=4 wrong" is not an apt comparison, as 2+2=4 is something (almost) everyone knows. A better comparison would be "saying pi is equal to 3.14". Yes, you could jump on him for saying that, tell him he's wrong, that it's 3.14159...., but honestly, the average person only cares to go as far as 3.14, so that's as far as Mark needs to go.



Fine, here's a better example:

Saying that pi = 3 is "good enough," because it approximates the number. In the beginning of the last century, some schmuck in Indiana tried (continuously) to have the value of pi set to 3.2 or so. Then there's the Bible, which claimed the value is "3" (I Kings 7:23-26), although both were based on attempts to square the dimensions of the circle, not divide the circumference by its radius. Math is hard. These are attempts by such people to only go so far, or to try to "simplify" the value for the sake of digestion, but rather than tackle the hard truth push it as fact. Approximating a value like this, which has a hard and fast calculation (c/r=pi) is essential for many things, but its use in some realms was not; technogical advancement when low would not require it, but when high, would, so its value increases as technology becomes more integrated in life.



My point isn't that he was "right" or "accurate" in what he said; my point was that he doesn't need to be in this case.  Sure, if you're writing code, or building missiles, or whatever, the difference between 3, or 3.2, or 3.14, or 3.14159...., etc. is significant.  But if you're just telling a story to people who have no need for strict accuracy, you would be better served by simplifying the concpet to appeal to your mass audience.  There is no need to "extend the analysis to its conclusion".  You but need to extend the analysis to the point at which your audience groks what you're driving at.
First of all, there is a thesis of simplicity. It says "Of all possibility, the simpliest is the most likely". That's it! It neither says "the right one" nor "it's the truth". (And it doesn't says anything about iteration.)

"Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem!"

To translate this sentence: Entities should not be 'added' or 'created' unnecessarily.

To describe what entities are: The easiest explanation is "a thing"; another is "the essential part". In the context above it's maybe better to call it 'preassumptions' or 'propertiies' or 'speculations'. What is the "simpliest" possibility? - Well, it's the one with the least preconditions or assumptions.  So to rephrase this sentence again:

"Do not add unnesserary speculations, but keep to the facts"
.

Qillong isn't strictly right with his statement about "the process by which a subject is reduced to its smallest particulars", but it refers to the "stay to the facts" part. His comment about Doyle is also about a completely different thing. Doyle is about the fact that if all other possibilities have proven wrong, the last possibility ought to be considered. In some way, it includes the strategy to find the right answer by eliminating all other possibilities.

These two phrases have not much in common. The first one states: "If there is no way to prove multiple possibilities as either true or false, and you HAVE to choose a good candidate nonetheless, pick the one that seems to be the easiest". The second phrase is about: "Believe it or not, but if there is only one option left (all others were proven wrong), it's your best - and by the way only - choice".

Quilong is wrong however, when he says: "Further, parsimony in this manner is applied continuously, including to the end result. MaRo stopped as soon as he got to his desired results, but dredge in its playing has proven itself dangerous powerful, and as such could have been made even simpler by restricting when it could work."

That's wrong. You CAN repeat the phrase again and again, but it's not a part of it. It only describes the fact that the simpliest option seems the right one in most situations. (it has a higher percentage to be right).

An example: You have 3 buttons (left, center, right) and you see 3 lights in front of you (left, center, right), you should press the left button to activate the left light. This comes from the fact that "horizontal orientation" is an easy explanation or logic behind this task. Although you might be wrong, it's still the most appealing choice.

That brings me to Mr. Rosewater: Mark had multiple options to choose from. And now he tries to guess what players would like most (or by a different criteria). Since there is no way to prove either option as better or worse, he uses the guideline above to pick one: The easiest one.

In some other circumstances, you could also apply this guideline: "Your first thought is/was most likely the right one, cause all the others are/will be more complex or more speculative"
________________________________

What's the Hardest Thing About This Color Pairing?

Well, to understand my statement, you have to keep in mind that humans are lazy and repetative beings. So if someone designs a keyword like "regeneration", he will add it to multiple cards, especially if they do similar things. => The essential part here: the cards do similar things, not the same thing.

Black and green share regeneration... that's true. But does it mean the same in both colors and is regeneration the only way to express the things they do?

For example, both Drudge Skeletons and Will-o'-the-Wisp have regeneration. But what happens, if the Wisp would rather be a recurring 0/1 flying creature token? It could be similar to a Kher Keep card, limited to a maximum of one token.
If an Armada Wurm puts a token onto the battlefield, does this mean that there will be a second wurm or is it just the other end of the same wurrm? And if it's a second wurm, isn't a token mechanism just a simple way to avoid "search the cards you own for another card named ~ and put it onto the battlefield"?

With this in mind, which card is more suitable for green: Activating Centaur Glade or using a Citanul Flute and cast that creature. Choose again - which is the best: Regeneration, undying, persist or Verdant Succession?

Regeneration or token creation is simple, but the graveyard is ignored this way. You can't reanimate a dead Centaur that was put onto the battlefield with Centaur Glade. But why not?

When I design Magic cards, I stick to the following guideline:

Befriended colors do similar things, enemy colors do the opposite.


White, green and black share a common concept: Returning threats. White heals badly wounded soldiers, so they can return to the battlefield later. Green has regenerating trolls and a seemingly endless pool of creatures. Black has magically reanimated creatures or magically renewed/restored creatures.

So, with my own guideline in mind, I try to differentiate these things to make the colors unique.

To do so, I also discern between tokens and nontoken creatures. There is one essential part about tokens: They have converted mana cost 0. In my opinion, this means that they are mindless//soulless. And this is the reason, why token creation is mostly black flavored (except for 0/1 tokens) in my opinion.

To replace creature tokens in other colors, I introduced another concept - basic creatures:



It combines the concept behind basic lands and Relentless Rats. There is also a hidden part: You can add as many basic cards to your sideboard (or they can exceed the usual number [treated as a second sideboard]). That's quite similar to tokens, but you're actually able to add them to your deck if you want to.

With these type of creatures, I can design cards that replace the concept behind Centaur Glade. Similar to a Living Wish limited to basic creatures, you can seek & pick basic creatures even if they are currently in your sideboard.

In this way, you can create tokens that actually go to the graveyard, have a casting cost, are considered cards and so on.
______

But to return to the original question: What's the hardest thing about this color pairing? - It's the different approach to regenerate.


What's the Mechanical Heart of This Color Pair?


It the cycle of life. New life is created "out of nothing", dies eventually and makes room for another life.

Whereas a black mage would seek for magical ways to stay alive indefinitely, a green-black mage would seek for ways to be reborn again and again. A transferation into a new body.

So if I were to design a Golgari keyword, it would have been something a creature-based imprint (see Death-Mask Duplicant) or something like a "kinship in death", a soulshift or "creature-cascade".

Dredge

I really, really like this ability and I do not blame anyone at R&D about this concept. Its an A+ in my opinion. I do however chide all of them for Bridge from Below in this way. This was the most ridiculous card ever designed and you really need to be punished physically! To create a card that has a mana cost and NO effect at all while on the battlefield... how could you expect this card not to be broken?

Dredge has a minor inherited issue. Is a higher dredge number worse or better? If the number is lower, it feels like no additional drawback at all and you could have skipped it completely. If it has a higher value, it feels like a tutor effect for other dredge cards and therefore more like an advantage.

This is the only concern I have about dredge.

Two of my favorate black cards (beside Duress) is Tortured Existance and Haakon, Stromgald Scourge. Both cards can produce an easy way to generate a returning or endless stream of the creatures, without the disadvantages of dredge.

F.e. you could have made dredge dependant of the card type you draw each turn. If you draw a creature => put that card into your graveyard to return a creature with dredge instead. That would have worked well together with mill effects and library reordering (that's what I do with tortured existence).

And if you look at Gravebane Zombie, where is the need for such a mill drawback at all? To keep the normal mana cost low, you could have introduced a mana cost to use dredge during your draw step.

Scavenge

To understand why this ability was introduced you have to understand that the designers forced themself to stay close to the original Ravnica flavor for all guilds. Beside dredge, the Golgari were about +1/+1 counter.... so it was obvious that there will be a combination of dredge with these sort of counters in RTR. (see Shambling Shell, Golgari Guildmage and Vulturous Zombie).

Basically, this mechanic fills the gap between "enters the battlefield" abilities, "when ~ dies" abilities and reinforce (discard) when we talk about +1/+1 counter. (Kinship was used for "on card draw") trigger.

The restriction to sorcery speed is necessary to avoid the flashback feeling from the Odyssey cycle, where players where constantly looking at their opponents graveyard to make sure they didn't miss a possible flashback. This game ought to be fun for new players too. And to ensure this, avoid additional complexity that is "hidden".

So to all the crybabies out there: Be happy that it isn't like forecast!!!

Grave Concerns

Personally, I don't like Scavenge that much. Even an Epochrasite keyword would have been more fun. Any creature returns sooner or later with additional +1/+1 counters on it.

A semi-suddenly powerboost to any creature (without any other cool effects) feels dull. As a designer, I shy away from accumulation counter on a creature. I neither print a spell or ability that is able to place masses of +1/+1 counter on a variable target, no do I allow creatures like Vulturous Zombie or Champion of the Parish to happen. Persist or Undying is ok, but I wouldn't go much further. It messes around with alternative concepts like auras and equipments and I don't want competition of concepts.

So even if Mark's Aura made with the Magic Set Editor isn't of such a great design (with the "destroy" stuff and such), I would prefer that one over Scavenge.

And by the way, Mark: That you use the MSE makes you my friend. It allows you to quickly "save" your ideas without considering license problems with "official" or "professional" software. I wish I had a mobile version though.