2/18/2013 MM: "Designing for Simic"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.

The Simic don't line up as easily. They're not after either growth or knowledge, exactly. The way I like to explain it is they want to "improve upon nature." They're trying to make a better world. Neither color leads but they blend together.

Really? This always seemed basically pure-blue to me. The Simic are after progress, altering reality to achieve their aims. That's blue through and through. They're trying to "make" a better world in the literal sense that they're artificially creating / manipulating lifeforms. Just like blue's necromancers in Innistrad did, making artificial zombies in a Frankenstein style.

Letting nature do its own thing is green. Improving upon nature is blue, blue, blue. It's like the Etherium wielders from Esper, a very blue concept (like most of the shards of Alara, the concept of Esper is monocoloured, in this case blue).


Now, the modern take on the Simic is making them a bit more green, in that they're no longer quite so focused on scientific progress as in Vig's day, and slightly more "stewards of nature", protecting it. That's green. But one gets the distinct impression that for all their words, the new Simic are actually just as focused on artificial evolution, unnatural selection, and unstable mutation, controlling and directing the changes they enact to creatures; making the superficial greenness a thin veneer over a pure-blue core.


Just to clarify, I'm purely quibbling the flavour. In gameplay terms, evolve seems great.


The Simic don't line up as easily. They're not after either growth or knowledge, exactly. The way I like to explain it is they want to "improve upon nature." They're trying to make a better world. Neither color leads but they blend together.

Really? This always seemed basically pure-blue to me. The Simic are after progress, altering reality to achieve their aims. That's blue through and through. They're trying to "make" a better world in the literal sense that they're artificially creating / manipulating lifeforms. Just like blue's necromancers in Innistrad did, making artificial zombies in a Frankenstein style.

Letting nature do its own thing is green. Improving upon nature is blue, blue, blue. It's like the Etherium wielders from Esper, a very blue concept (like most of the shards of Alara, the concept of Esper is monocoloured, in this case blue).


Now, the modern take on the Simic is making them a bit more green, in that they're no longer quite so focused on scientific progress as in Vig's day, and slightly more "stewards of nature", protecting it. That's green. But one gets the distinct impression that for all their words, the new Simic are actually just as focused on artificial evolution, unnatural selection, and unstable mutation, controlling and directing the changes they enact to creatures; making the superficial greenness a thin veneer over a pure-blue core.


Just to clarify, I'm purely quibbling the flavour. In gameplay terms, evolve seems great.




Blue is not about 'improving nature' though. Blue rather creates an improvement that replaces nature itself. Both Esper and Frankenstein are purely unnatural, whereas Frog Crocodiles is just a sped up/enhanced version of natural evolution. On its own, blue discards the values of green and enhances alternatives. Together, blue enchances the values of green.
A lot of the overlap listed here are one-of cards from Shadowmoor. I mean, green cloning hasn't been seen since Spitting Image (which probably should have said "you control", by the way), and it's unlikely that we will ever see it again. We also saw Bifurcate in Mercadian Masques and Pack Hunt in Nemesis, but nothing more until Doubling Chant in Magic 2012, and I doubt we'll see the same effect for quite some time.

If we're talking about an every-set thing, that's as useful as mentioning that white and blue overlap at making creatures 1/1, white because of mantaining an equal status and blue because it can transform creatures' power and toughness. But it's not like Godhead of Awe shows every set, and I don't expect this to be in the Azorius article (and it's not).

On the other hand, the recent moving of flash and untapping tricks have given the colors a lot more overlap. I just wish they emphasized a bit more that both colors are the big creature colors. People often miss that blue is supposed to get them more easily.
A lot of the overlap listed here are one-of cards from Shadowmoor. I mean, green cloning hasn't been seen since Spitting Image (which probably should have said "you control", by the way), and it's unlikely that we will ever see it again. We also saw Bifurcate in Mercadian Masques and Pack Hunt in Nemesis, but nothing more until Doubling Chant in Magic 2012, and I doubt we'll see the same effect for quite some time.

There are more green cards in the vein of making copies, even ignoring all the populate cards. Wild Pair, Parallel Evolution, Cytoshape, Dual Nature, Essence of the Wild, Riku of Two Reflections, Rhys the Redeemed, Sprouting Phytohydra. I get what you're saying and no, it's not as common for green as it is for blue, but it's not super weird.
There's also the whole Llanowar Sentinel/Skyshroud Sentinel thing.
"Green is king of landwalk and gets all five basic land types"

That sound you hear is me laughing at all the plainswalk creatures Green has.

As for the ability itself: it's probably the one I think is coolest, as there are roots that tie quite strongly back into the previous Simic mechanic.
One asterisk about Graft is that it's a mechanic that plays poorly on Magic Online, with many extraneous triggers that at the time required careful clicking not to hand over your counters to your opponent accidentally.  This is MTGO's problem, not development's, of course.  I can't imagine ever taking a Graft creature into a multiplayer game, or into decks where it'd be possible to have multiple friendly creatures come into play at once ("Do you want to use the ability?"  "Depends on which creature this trigger is referring to...").  Way too late now, but it'd have been nice if there was a setting in MTGO for various "don't offer to do idiotic stuff, yes I know I will be mad if the 0.0001% situation comes up where this is desired" things, such as "never place Graft counters on opponent's creatues in decks that don't have Simic Manipulator" or the like.
"Green is king of landwalk and gets all five basic land types"

That sound you hear is me laughing at all the plainswalk creatures Green has.



Between Old Fogey, Zodiac Rooster and Magnigoth Treefolk, it is tied for #1 with White =)


The Simic don't line up as easily. They're not after either growth or knowledge, exactly. The way I like to explain it is they want to "improve upon nature." They're trying to make a better world. Neither color leads but they blend together.

Really? This always seemed basically pure-blue to me. The Simic are after progress, altering reality to achieve their aims. That's blue through and through. They're trying to "make" a better world in the literal sense that they're artificially creating / manipulating lifeforms. Just like blue's necromancers in Innistrad did, making artificial zombies in a Frankenstein style.

Letting nature do its own thing is green. Improving upon nature is blue, blue, blue. It's like the Etherium wielders from Esper, a very blue concept (like most of the shards of Alara, the concept of Esper is monocoloured, in this case blue).


Now, the modern take on the Simic is making them a bit more green, in that they're no longer quite so focused on scientific progress as in Vig's day, and slightly more "stewards of nature", protecting it. That's green. But one gets the distinct impression that for all their words, the new Simic are actually just as focused on artificial evolution, unnatural selection, and unstable mutation, controlling and directing the changes they enact to creatures; making the superficial greenness a thin veneer over a pure-blue core.


Just to clarify, I'm purely quibbling the flavour. In gameplay terms, evolve seems great.




The new Simic are just as focused on hollism and it's pretty much outright stated that their Holdfast/Upwelling gimmick is spiritual in nature, both of which being aspects. In fact, given this, one might see the Simic interested in "improving upon nature" in both a rational way (pragmatically enhancing creatures' attributes), and an irrational way (mixing pure life essences because it is "right" or "their duty").

Evolve is pretty much an expression of this. Whereas Graft is indeed cold and detached, Evolve is pretty damn hollistic.
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The Simic don't line up as easily. They're not after either growth or knowledge, exactly. The way I like to explain it is they want to "improve upon nature." They're trying to make a better world. Neither color leads but they blend together.

Really? This always seemed basically pure-blue to me. The Simic are after progress, altering reality to achieve their aims. That's blue through and through. They're trying to "make" a better world in the literal sense that they're artificially creating / manipulating lifeforms. Just like blue's necromancers in Innistrad did, making artificial zombies in a Frankenstein style.

Letting nature do its own thing is green. Improving upon nature is blue, blue, blue. It's like the Etherium wielders from Esper, a very blue concept (like most of the shards of Alara, the concept of Esper is monocoloured, in this case blue).


Now, the modern take on the Simic is making them a bit more green, in that they're no longer quite so focused on scientific progress as in Vig's day, and slightly more "stewards of nature", protecting it. That's green. But one gets the distinct impression that for all their words, the new Simic are actually just as focused on artificial evolution, unnatural selection, and unstable mutation, controlling and directing the changes they enact to creatures; making the superficial greenness a thin veneer over a pure-blue core.


Just to clarify, I'm purely quibbling the flavour. In gameplay terms, evolve seems great.




Good points, but I think the setting should be considered as well. Simic was tasked with finding away to preserve wild spaces as the plane became more urban.... and failed horribly. They want some sustainable form of wilderness, but they felt that in order for that to be possible, they would have to re-engineer life to survive in an "urban wilderness"... in the cracks of civilization surrounded by sentients. In other words, they have green aims and blue tools. This why I was a bit surprised by Mark's comment:

You'll notice that the Simic, creatively, were the guild most overhauled between original Ravnica and Return to Ravnica. That reflects a theme seen in mechanics as well, which is that the identity of the overlap is an odd one. Most of the other enemy pairings find a clean way to bring the opposites together. They tend to make one color the goal and the other color the means to achieve it. For example, the Boros want peace but they use their strong impulses to guide them. The Orzhov want power and their tool to achieve it is order.



While I've never thought of the guilds in this way, it surprised me that he would without immediately thinking "Simic is green goals and blue means".

The flavor insight about Esper is also good: the shard is blue-centric, and improving on nature through science is definitely blue. I think there's also insight to be gained by coming at it sideways via New Phyrexia. Both Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur and Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger want to effect the "improvement" of phyresis upon their world, but but one prefers the controlled process of continuous testing, and the other prefers creating a plane of predators that evolve naturally through struggle. Simic sort of splits the difference: it uses controlled experiments to create the first samples with the tools to flourish, then releases them to evolve and spread from there.
"Green is king of landwalk and gets all five basic land types"

That sound you hear is me laughing at all the plainswalk creatures Green has.



Between Old Fogey, Zodiac Rooster and Magnigoth Treefolk, it is tied for #1 with White =)


Touche!

But. STILL.
I actually think I took to Simic's method of mixing green and blue TOO well. Every time I work on a custom set or setting where green meets blue the only theme I can think of is "mad biology."
I'm almost half-convinced that there isn't really any other way to marry green and blue. It's sort of a pet project of mine to consider alternate (i.e. non-Ravnican) philosophies of the ten color pairs, but for , all I can think of is biology. It's the only thing they can both care about positively. (They can't even both care about it negatively: if green rejects the scientific aspects of biology, its implicit rejecting the blue aspects and if blue rejects the natural aspects of biology its implicitly rejecting the green aspects -- either case means the the philosophy collapses).

"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

"Green is king of landwalk and gets all five basic land types"

That sound you hear is me laughing at all the plainswalk creatures Green has.



Between Old Fogey, Zodiac Rooster and Magnigoth Treefolk, it is tied for #1 with White =)


Touche!

But. STILL.



They just don't like letting creatures planeswalk...I mean plainswalk. They're afraid it'll cause confusion when we say the word (also, I think mechanically it's okay because white is the defensive colour, so it works that it's not that easy to landwalk past it).

Also, I love Vigean Hydropon. It's not a very good card, but it's so much fun and I just love weird creatures like that. Simic is by far my favourite guild because the play patterns are so interesting. Moving around +1/+1 counters and growing stuff is fun. And then you add Doubling Season and I barely even understand how things work anymore.
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I'm almost half-convinced that there isn't really any other way to marry green and blue. It's sort of a pet project of mine to consider alternate (i.e. non-Ravnican) philosophies of the ten color pairs, but for , all I can think of is biology. It's the only thing they can both care about positively. (They can't even both care about it negatively: if green rejects the scientific aspects of biology, its implicit rejecting the blue aspects and if blue rejects the natural aspects of biology its implicitly rejecting the green aspects -- either case means the the philosophy collapses).


How about the Buddhist concept of enlightenment? Ultimate wisdom through letting go of the self, living in the moment, in the now.
That's not really the best explainantion of it, but it's a blue goal (knowledge) through green means (away from conscious thought, basically back to the instinctual). It's also very much about personal growth (blue).
:U::G: can, next to the biological philosophy, have a more spiritual philosophy. Meditation, nirvana, back to nature, holism, things like that.
Maybe there's also some things in Taoism to look for this? My knowledge on that is a bit rusty.


And how about a "Naya but with sea creatures". I mean, if you already revere the gargantuans you find on land, wait until you see what's in the ocean =p
This time, a green philosophy (bigger = better) through blue means (the ocean).

There are many ways to mix :

- Enlightment based philosophies and religions (already explained)

- Sea life (already explained and showed partly in the Simic)

- Air ( and are both the colours that now have wind spells, and they both fit Air's traditional role in the elemental system, with being the life giving aspect and the mental aspect)

- Metamagic ( and are the colours that most easily work with the mana suplies, after all).
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Blue is not about 'improving nature' though. Blue rather creates an improvement that replaces nature itself. Both Esper and Frankenstein are purely unnatural, whereas Frog Crocodiles is just a sped up/enhanced version of natural evolution. On its own, blue discards the values of green and enhances alternatives. Together, blue enchances the values of green.



Plus, Phyrexia. Green doesn't mind an improvement, as long as you don't wipe the slate clean.

Also, nature-nurture is a false dichotomy and has been discarded as such for over 40 years now.
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How about the Buddhist concept of enlightenment? Ultimate wisdom through letting go of the self, living in the moment, in the now.

Actually, that feels to me like pure green. In my interpretation, blue isn't about to waste its time trying to "find the answer inside one's self" when it could just read all of the books instead. Moreover, blue is very much about the concrete, the solid and the real. On the other hand, green would be wholy accepting of enlightenment achieved through study of ancient texts, and discussion amongst members (in addition to meditation), as long as the goal was spiritual growth.

I guess I'm saying that I don't see the blue in Buddhism.

Also, nature-nurture is a false dichotomy and has been discarded as such for over 40 years now.

You said that elsewhere. And it's not true. Genetics vs. Upbringing is a false dichotomy, and has been for 40 years. But Genetics vs. Upbringing is small subaspect of Nature/Nurtue. The fundamental kernal of Nature/Nurtue is whether intervening in any process is ultimately helpful or harmful to the subject. Do things (and people) come into being equipped with all that is necessary for them to be what they are supposed to be, or must they be wrought and shaped and molded and adapted to what use and experience suggest is their proper task?

Do we exist to serve the universe, or does the universe exist to serve us?

"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

The reason the color pie is screwed is that, even putting aside the lumped-together piles of contradictions that some of the PHILOSOPHIES of the colors are, they also have an entirely different set of baggage that comes from their physical associations. The color of balance, harmony and tranquility is also, by its fundamental nature, the color of trees and gorillas and wood. Blue is supposed to be defined by cunning and knowledge, but it's also a clearing house for guys in wizard robes and huge sea creatures.

Every color is a seemingly random mishmash of "things that this color believes" (red is chaos, rebellion and hedonism) and "things that literally are this color" (fire, devils, lightning for some reason, which isn't actually red). We're trying to make sense of a completely arbitrary system that basically comes from a conflation of the classical elements and the four humours and hold it to a realistic conception of the world even though it's clearly irreconsilable with that. 

Also, I love Vigean Hydropon. It's not a very good card, but it's so much fun and I just love weird creatures like that. Simic is by far my favourite guild because the play patterns are so interesting. Moving around +1/+1 counters and growing stuff is fun. And then you add Doubling Season and I barely even understand how things work anymore.

Vigean Hydropon is super-cool and the classiest of the Graft creatures. I love that guy so much. Although I loathe Doubling Season, it's one of my five least favorite Magic cards. 

We're trying to make sense of a completely arbitrary system...and hold it to a realistic conception of the world even though it's clearly irreconsilable [sic] with that. 

Isn't that the definition of, well, philosophy?

Also, you're weirdly conflating the colors' motivations (hedonism, choas, freedom in red) with the colors' tools (fire, lightning, devils, also in red). I...don't know how to respond to that.

"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 wonder if you could make some kind of 'Matrix' world in :U::G:.
Where everyone's conscious thoughts are being supressed by mind control Magic, so all normally-sentient beings would behave like pure instinctual animals.

Also, you're weirdly conflating the colors' motivations (hedonism, choas, freedom in red) with the colors' tools (fire, lightning, devils, also in red). I...don't know how to respond to that.


My point was that it makes no sense to inextricably link those tools with those goals via a system like the five colors. It's a useful abstraction for a game but it's not something we can pick apart at the level we keep trying to.
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