3/12/2013 Feature: "The Creation of Magic: The Gathering"

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This thread is for discussion of the feature article "The Creation of Magic: The Gathering", which goes live Tuesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Really? Really? They couldn't have gotten Garfield to write an article about the history of Magic for the game's twentieth anniversary?
I enjoyed the read, though the comments about rares vs commons in terms of power level vs cost made me sigh as I look at today's market. :P

Still I thought it was interesting how a game of aliens and a baseball card game helped inspire Magic.
I wonder how Garfield feels about the "rich kid syndrome" becoming true.
I haven't read this before and found it interesting, even illuminating.

Shame the "rich kid syndrome" became true. Of course, it didn't help that at some point Garfield himself thought that degenerate decks were ok, and that the community itself would sort it out. I started playing in Unlimited, but stopped after playing against too many Mountain + Black Lotus -> Channel -> Fireball decks and other equally silly decks with completely non-interactive games. I realised the game was degenerate and stopped playing for many, many years. If he had from the start decided to cut out the degenerate decks (power nine mainly) from the published version, Magic would have had a much better footing from the start.

Moving the broken stuff to rare was actually just worse, since only few kids could afford making those silly decks, and those who could, held onto them more dearly. If all of the power nine had actually been printed at common, there would have been more chance of the community self-regulating itself back then, saying "Don't play these" because the degenerate decks would have been obvious to everyone. But then again, degenerate cards should never have been printed, at any rarity.

[The same could be said of the original dual lands, which were rare and pretty much strictly better than basics.]

But coming back to today, stuff like mythic rares don't alleviate the "rich kid syndrome". I just pointed out that it was integral to Magic from the start.

The article did take me way back down Nostalgia Lane to the time of trading cards in a bubble, without internet to tell you what it was worth, or when you didn't even know all the cards that existed. It was interesting, for a while. Until it got too popular and broke down. Luckily modern Magic designers know the lengths people will go to in order to make degenerate decks and design their cards appropriately.
I didn't actually see the article by Peter Adkison yesterday, where was it?
I haven't read this before and found it interesting, even illuminating.

Shame the "rich kid syndrome" became true. Of course, it didn't help that at some point Garfield himself thought that degenerate decks were ok, and that the community itself would sort it out. I started playing in Unlimited, but stopped after playing against too many Mountain + Black Lotus -> Channel -> Fireball decks and other equally silly decks with completely non-interactive games. I realised the game was degenerate and stopped playing for many, many years. If he had from the start decided to cut out the degenerate decks (power nine mainly) from the published version, Magic would have had a much better footing from the start.

Moving the broken stuff to rare was actually just worse, since only few kids could afford making those silly decks, and those who could, held onto them more dearly. If all of the power nine had actually been printed at common, there would have been more chance of the community self-regulating itself back then, saying "Don't play these" because the degenerate decks would have been obvious to everyone. But then again, degenerate cards should never have been printed, at any rarity.

[The same could be said of the original dual lands, which were rare and pretty much strictly better than basics.]

But coming back to today, stuff like mythic rares don't alleviate the "rich kid syndrome". I just pointed out that it was integral to Magic from the start.

The article did take me way back down Nostalgia Lane to the time of trading cards in a bubble, without internet to tell you what it was worth, or when you didn't even know all the cards that existed. It was interesting, for a while. Until it got too popular and broke down. Luckily modern Magic designers know the lengths people will go to in order to make degenerate decks and design their cards appropriately.


I don't know the details, but Mark Rosewater among other people believe that part of the game's success early was because of the high-profile (broken) cards. And, as far as I know, for a long time many people didn't know which cards were good, which cards were rare, or what you could really do with Moxes and were instead focusing on Gaea's Liege. If someone made an amazing deck, probably only people around that group knew it.

I'm guessing Channel + Fireball was the first popular combo, but that must have been after people had figured out the game a little, and could respond with Counterspell or Lightning Bolt.
I'm not sure how you respond with a counterspell or lightning bolt when your opponent drops the combo before you've played your first land.
Of course, the combo didn't always go off on turn 1, but my point was more about games becoming non-interactive. They might go off before you got a chance to play a land, or they might not. And if they didn't, you might have a counterspell or lightning bolt, or you might not. But there aren't any decisions to be made there; you have it or you don't have it (combo or answer, either). Anyway, "if that is what I would be aiming towards by collecting more cards, well, what's the point?" I thought to myself and moved on.

And back then, with only one "official format" (60 card min limit, no other rules), negotiating what sort of decks were ok and fair for casual was frustrating; people had already made their deck or decks and, well, it was hard to find nice, engaging matches between equals. Usually the person who spent the most money and had the biggest collection would win a game, and even if wasn't a degenerate combo deck, games would rarely be engaging, and even if they we're, they'd often leave me with the bitter taste of the better cards, rather than the better player, winning.

The same of course still applies largely to casual Magic. It's often hard to negotiate what is fair. It was the discovery of limited, and particularly drafting, more than a decade later that actually made me a "Magic player". Before then, I dabbled in Magic (casual constructed) for perhaps one evening every few years to realise Magic still had extreme power-level discrepancies due to being pay-to-win, and this was infuriating because I saw the incredible potential of the game mechanics being so squandered.

Constructed formats solve this problem in all other respects by essentially dictating a certain power level, except that competitive decks cost silly amounts. Actually, I'd like to play more competitive constructed, but find it hard to justify to myself paying the price. It has been only during the few blocks during which I have played enough limited to be able to play competitive constructed with my own collection + some borrowed cards + buying a couple of missing rares, that I have bothered anymore with constructed of any sort; those times have been pretty rare. Even if you draft about once per week, you probably have to spend substantial sums on singles to get a competitive Standard deck. And like I said, I find non-competitive constructed has a lot of problems in determining what counts as fair.

The price of a draft on the other hand is in the same ballpark as a cinema ticket: a reasonable price for a night out. The power-levels of the draft decks are naturally regulated to be in a similar range, and moreover, it is drafting skill (and luck) rather than money spent that accounts for the difference in power level between the decks that get drafted from a pod. I can go draft even if I haven't drafted in months and be ok; it doesn't require continual commitment, like say Standard, and usually it's more fun than constructed anyhow.

That became a lot longer post than I meant it to, but I guess I just wanted to point out that I would be more active as a Magic player if constructed costed less. If the price per booster was half of what it is now, I might draft a little more often than I now do, but as that would mean that the prices of rares would be half of what they are now, I might even play constructed and probably would spend more on Magic altogether. The same could also be achieved by having two rares/mythics per pack at current prices (and say, five uncommons and nine commons). After all, WotC is selling cardboard, so they could easily halve the price if they thought that would more than double their unit sales, generating more proft. I'd probably buy about three times as much cardboard if the price was half, because then I would actually be playing constructed, and be generally more enthusiastic about Magic. But that's just me.

In other words, I really like Magic, but for the whole of the two decades of Magic's history, I've been more-or-less continually turned off by the "rich kid syndrome" Richard Garfield was afraid of even before the cards saw print; I'd be much more enthusiastic about Magic if it wasn't such a blatant rip-off. Well, I don't think a draft is, like I said, but as for the rest... Of course, WotC is a successful company that is afraid of changing a winning formula, and indeed, all those players who spend ridiculous amounts of money on constructed decks ultimately give much of that money to WotC. However, I would have hoped that WotC would have realised through their recent years of making more profit through attracting more players (e.g. through The Duels of the Planeswalkers) that perhaps they would be more successful by getting more people to buy their product in higher volumes per person, even if that meant selling it at a lower price.

Of course, a lower price doesn't really attract new customers. That is by other means word of my mouth, through advertising, through video-games like The Duels and so forth. But most people who I know who have ever played Magic are not the hard-core players that play continually, but rather on-and-off Magic players, who furthermore mostly cite the price of the game as the first or one of the first reasons why they don't play more. It seems to me like a poor business decision, though admittedly my sample (including myself) might be biased.
Truth be told, many of the Power 9 don't strike me as that powerful. At least, not on their own. They're really just catalysts for the rest of the deck. So it's a bit odd to me that people would be attracted to them on their own.

Now, the cards that stood out to ME as interesting and worthy of use early on? Control Magic. Scarwood Bandits. Dance of Many. Wand of Ith. Serra Angel. Clone. Ghost Ship. And so on. I like cards that do unusual things. I don't things have changed all that much over the years--the cards that most appeal to me nowadays are along the lines of Spitting Image, Mystic Snake, Cauldron of Souls, Cairn Wanderer, Lyev Skyknight, and Angelic Skirmisher. Cards that will make for an enjoyable game, even if I should lose.

Even if you made them with lower mana costs, I wouldn't be interested in Omniscience or Enter the Infinite. Raw power doesn't appeal to me on its own. In any milieu. Brute force is simply boring to me...

Unfortunately, it seems that the idea that it's POSSIBLE to enjoy a game even if one loses isn't exactly omnipresent. I'm put in mind of a brief chat kerfluffle I witnessed on the Argent Dawn server Alliance side in World of Warcraft. The Alliance tended to lose against the Horde in Tol Barad (although it seems that on that server, that was the exception). After yet another loss (I didn't witness it; I've little use for PvP in such a milieu), one player commented that despite the loss, they ENJOYED theirself. They'd been able to put up a good fight against the Horde forces.

Enter several responses of utter disbelief and accusations of idiocy.

Did enjoyment in a competitive game become a zero-sum game while I wasn't looking?

Although, there's a more worrisome corollary here. If a game that resulted in a loss can't be enjoyed, it implies that the PROCESS isn't enjoyable by itself. This suggests to me that such ones--hyper-Spikes, for lack of a better way of putting it--aren't looking for fun per se, but only for exultation in victory. (That might also explain the above WoW kerfluffle.)

As for "rich kid syndrome", I don't think it helps that the main determinant of rarity these days is Limited concerns. So no one gets overwhelmed by too many bombers in a row aimed at them, the heavy artillery usually shows up at rare and mythic. And because this makes them more scarce, the price necessarily goes up.
Did enjoyment in a competitive game become a zero-sum game while I wasn't looking?



For an unfortunate number of hyper-competitive types, this seems to be the case. Personally, I try to remember to tell my opponent when I've enjoyed a game that I lost, specifically to counter that tendency.



I appreciate we even got an article from richard. He didnt have to write one, nor is he even really workin on the game now adays.

But its the backbone of magic, learning who people are, archetypes, in an incredible game of variety and customization.

As for rich kid stuff, this may change and may not, but at the very least we have an incredible game that ignites passion, excitement, greed, sheer joy and cold competitiveness.

Lets not turn this family reunion into an argument
Lets not turn this family reunion into an argument


YOURE NOT THE MAN I MARRIED

The most fun game I ever lost was getting beaten by Battle of Wits twice in a row. In Sealed. 
Lets not turn this family reunion into an argument


YOURE NOT THE MAN I MARRIED 



You knew what you were getting into when you bought me my 10th shot of jack daniels he first time i met you

actually on second thought complaining is a part of magic and if this is a hearty 20th well hear from the community the good, the bad and the ugly.

so basically richard  started out trying to keep things balanced but ended up thinking imbalance is ok. And rich kids are fine

except now casual games are hard to find without something broken happening. And tournaments generall have a 150 dollar entrance fee and 15 at the door

 evolution is an interestig thing. wizards doesnt purposely extort us but they certainly recognize the batallion of dollars necessary to be a part of the cypher. Which causes otherz to bloodrush and miss out
I never realised that ante was the pressure valve that was set up to prevent Rich Kid syndrome from becoming a thing - can you imagine an ante FNM all using 59 card decks with the winner getting first pick of the ante cards etc. like a rare redraft from limited?  People with quality $20 decks trying to win $40 cards out of other people's decks.  It'd be an interesting landscape.

Unfortunately like with all physical posessions we become attached to our specific cards, which is why ante doesn't work.  Also all the best players naturally end up with the best cards over time (which is why I believe it's not even viable in a digital environment), making the entry barrier even higher. 


Great to read this slice of Magic history - especially with Richard's F2P game SolForge launching in a couple of weeks! 
A big part of Garfield's balance came from implicit bans: if a deck full of really expensive XYZ keepswinning, people will just refuse to play against it.  Formal tournaments make tht impossible, but in my sig alone is evidence of people doing it on a large scale.  Because magic is so dominated by expensive rares and mythics, players have created formats to avoid the. Like Pauper, Peasant, Silverblack, and Heirloom.

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.

Great article, if only Garfield would write a book (or even a current article, but like someone said above he probably would not prove thrilled ref the rich kid syndrome becoming the norm).

Please check out my Blog:

Magic the Gathering Adventures Blog

http://mtgadventures.blogspot.com/

Please check out my YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/rubiera22/featured

 

Great article, if only Garfield would write a book (or even a current article, but like someone said above he probably would not prove thrilled ref the rich kid syndrome becoming the norm).


He also hates modern Magic art. I really wish Wizards had the balls to give him a weekly column about how things he hates about the game.
Great article, if only Garfield would write a book (or even a current article, but like someone said above he probably would not prove thrilled ref the rich kid syndrome becoming the norm).


He also hates modern Magic art. I really wish Wizards had the balls to give him a weekly column about how things he hates about the game.



That's a shame.

Underworld Dreams

Please check out my Blog:

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Please check out my YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/rubiera22/featured

 

Certainly, the "rich kid syndrome" became true. However, there was another thing in the article... the discussion about adding seven pages to the rules because the wording of one card was slightly ambiguous.

I don't mind the length and complexity of today's Comprehensive Rules. However, I am unhappy about the very standardized templating of today's cards as opposed to the easy-to-understand text on the earliest cards, at least to the extent that I don't think it's an improvement. I understand why it had to happen, now that there is very serious tournament play, but I do think it regrettable.

As for the rich kid syndrome - that was unavoidable. And ante ran afoul of making Magic: the Gathering seem like a gambling game. (I would like to bring ante back in a modified form by putting points values on the card, so that you don't win the ante card, but you win its points value, which would be treated like points scored "below the line" in Contract Bridge.)

Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!

 

I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.

I am unhappy about the very standardized templating of today's cards as opposed to the easy-to-understand text on the earliest cards



No, I'm serious. Although I think I can find a better example.

Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!

 

I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.

Except maybe Earthbind, which even in its original form was needlessly obtuse, all of those cards are exactly as straightforward now as they were then.

On the other hand, you had cards like Ice Cauldron, Blaze of Glory, Animate Dead and its brethren, Clone, Copy Artifact, False Orders (which is such a mess it practically contradicts itself), Fork, Illusionary Mask, etc. (I went through Alpha cards and made it to "I"), which all either had bizarre wordings, did things in needlessly convoluted ways that the Comp hugely streamlines on similar cards today, or both.