5/1/2013 Feature: "Crafting the Maze"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's "Crafting the Maze", which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Miss you Zac! 

I was also a fan of Time Spiral, and loved the thousands of keywords (even if I can understand why they're bad for new players). But it's kind of a different thing going on in DMaze. Yes, Time Spiral had a lot of different keywords, but keywords are just card abilities. Every new set has 100+ new cards that you need to read at least once before you know it. While it may not be supported by player feedback, I believe that keywords make a set easier to understand, not less. 

Like you mentioned for Shards of Alara, all the different colour combinations can be confusing, even for a veteran like myself. In all 3 of my Sealed events, I could have gone into literally any colour combination and have good support. In one round, my opponent switched from a Rakdos deck to a deck, and that part of his card pool was as good as his original deck.  

Nice to know that the speed of RtR and Gatecrash was intentionally. Too bad it caused slower guilds like Dimir to suffer. Hopefully, DrM drafts can rectify that, and allow them to shine! 

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

Good article!
I literally love Zac Hill. This is all.
I liked that point that when you give players so much mana fixing they tend to just play goodstuff so instead of separating cards by color you separated them by strategy (+1/+1 counters, graveyards, enters the battlefield abilities, aggro, instants and sorceries, tokens, evasion, so many different angles to choose from). It will be interesting to see how many people try to play the Simic and Rakdos together, because the Golgari are a bit too slow to lend major support to stuff like Bred for the Hunt and Mutant's Prey.
I literally love Zac Hill. This is all.


I literally hate him. Cavern of Souls is his fault.

That said, I agree with him about Time Spiral. Also, I find it kinda funny that Mark Rosewater didn't know why Lightning Helix wasn't reprinted (he said so in his article of a couple of weeks ago) yet a guy that left months ago knows.

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192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
I love reading Zac Hill's articles, because every so often he'll make a Freudian slip that was probably unintended but rings so true and gives good reason as to why modern Magic design is horrible.  In particular, this one:

The guild model is totally amazing, but a lot of the reason it's amazing is that it gives structure to the abstract concept of multicolored creatures, which are themselves cool because of the abstract concept of the color pie.



(emphasis mine)

Yup.  Multicolored creatures.  Spells just aren't cool anymore, nor does WotC want spells to be cool anymore.  Creatures are where it's at, folks.

Alara Reborn confused people by having too many gold cards? What? That I hadn't heard.

I was very disappointed that each guild only got one more new gold card at common. To hear it was to make room for the horrible junk cycles of the "strong" 6-mana Maze creatures and the impossible-to-get-enough-Gates Gatekeepers is even more annoying. (Though Boros got another great common in Boros Mastiff, and Orzhov's gold common Tithe Drinker was possibly the nonrare card I was most happy about in the spoiler, so I guess the quality was concentrated into one card there.) 


The mention of the "Lieutenants" is intriguing, especially accompanied by pictures of Blaze Commando and Korozda Gorgon. First I've heard of this cycle. I thoughts those were two of the more obvious cross-guild-synergy cards. An Izzet card in Boros, and a Simic card in Golgari. (OK, more white instants deal damage than blue ones, but not by much. And a typical Simic board state will have far more +1/+1 counters than a Golgari one.)


The trainwreck of the "late redesigns" of the guild leaders has already been discussed extensively everywhere on the Internet, so I'll avoid going into it again at length here. (Grumble grumble I opened an Emmara Tandris at the prerelease grumble grumble Hexplate Golem at rare grumble grumble giant elf.)

But for all my niggles, I do still like the set, a lot. I fully support more complex third sets like this, and I just wish more of the people I used to play Magic with were still living near me so I could actually play with it. 

Wow. Who came up with having a cycle of Cluestones at common each doing something different? o_O That would have been brain-melting, and the ETB version would have been possible to play in decks that didn't need the fixing.

Reducing the gold cards to one common per guild was just perfect. Especially because they all serve a very cool purpose (except maybe Armored Wolf-Rider).

That said, I'm sad that ten common slots were used by Gatekeepers and Maze whatevers. Then you have monocolored creatures that care about you playing gold, so they are essentially gold cards. The only saving grace is that they work like the Alara Reborn hybrid gold cards a little, in that they push you towards gold, but towards a certain combination.

...At least the Gatekeepers. The Maze whatevers have proven to be awful in my experience. I end up with a certain amount of gold cards in any deck, but a very tiny percentage are creatures anyway. I think that common creatures that (somehow) cared about multicolored cards rather than creatures would have been a lot better.

I love the "Lieutenants". I think I recognize Jelenn Sphinx, Showstopper, Feral Animist, Bronzebeak Moa, Maw of the Obzedat, Korozda Gorgon, Bred for the Hunt, Fluxcharger and Blaze Commando, but I'm missing the Dimir one. I really don't think it's supposed to be Warped Physique, even though it is technically better if you're playing with a certain (offbeat?) strategy, because no guild or guild keyword is based on drawing cards or bouncing them so that you have many in hand.

I love the "Lieutenants". I think I recognize Jelenn Sphinx, Showstopper, Feral Animist, Bronzebeak Moa, Maw of the Obzedat, Korozda Gorgon, Bred for the Hunt, Fluxcharger and Blaze Commando, but I'm missing the Dimir one. I really don't think it's supposed to be Warped Physique, even though it is technically better if you're playing with a certain (offbeat?) strategy, because no guild or guild keyword is based on drawing cards or bouncing them so that you have many in hand.


My guess would be that the lieutenants are 4-6CC uncommon creatures. So
Blaze Commando
Haunter of Nightveil
Jelenn Sphinx
Korozda Gorgon
Maw of the Obzedat
Species Gorger
Carnage Gladiator
Scab-clan Giant
Fluxcharger

The weak link in my theory is Seleysna

Bronzebeak Moa

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He said the lieutenants were meant to be build-around-me uncommons, so I doubt Haunter of Nightveil, Carnage Gladiator and Scab-Clan Giant fit there.

Funnily enough, Simic has both Bred for the Hunt and Species Gorger
I think Carnage Gladiator at the least is a perfectly reasonable build-around-me uncommon. I like that thing a lot. I'd also consider throwing Rot Farm Skeleton (whatever his name is) in there. 
Zac, Zac, why did you leave? You were cool....

Pity.

Nice article. Would have liked more development stories, but this was all good nuts-n-bold behind-the-scenes stuff, and Zac's a great writer.

Happy trails.
"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)
Rot Farm Skeleton enables some things but he doesn't need strange strategies to work.

The same way, Carnage Gladiator is an awesome card, but it doesn't need anything in special. 
Rot Farm Skeleton enables some things but he doesn't need strange strategies to work.

The same way, Carnage Gladiator is an awesome card, but it doesn't need anything in special. 


Carnage Gladiator works best in deck that doesn't want to block as it affects you too. As for Rot Farm Skeleton it doesn't need anything but it makes quite a lot of sac outlets much more playable. So you can build around both if you want to.
I appreciate someone explaining to me why decisions get made that make the cards end up the way they do, I do. So let me start with that, and with the idea that DM isn't a bad set in conception.

There's a few problems I have in development/design, however, and I feel this is a good space to explain them:

1) Your players are probably smarter than you give them credit for.  

I feel this needs some explanation. When I say this, I'm not saying go back to Time Spiral, introduce a million keywords and give us a headache. Hell, I've playing playing since Revised and Time Spiral made my head hurt. However, I am a fan of say, Coldsnap, which brought back Cumlative Upkeep, a mechanic that I don't see coming back in many (any) sets. The concept of mathematically higher payments an upkeep isn't impossible to get. Now, if you want to put that in Uncommon/Rare, that's a fair argument, perhaps.

What I'm saying is if you had a cluestone that did this:

Simic Cluestone
3

T: add U or G to your mana pool

UG, T, Sacrifice Simic Cluestone: Add a +1/+1 counter to each creature with a +1/+1 counter on it.

And then had a cluestone that looked like this:

Boros Cluestone
3

T: add W or R to your mana pool

RW, T, Sacrifice Boros Cluestone: Creatures you control get +1/+1, haste and first strike until eot.

Your players will probably get it. Even if they're brand new and opening Dragon's Maze for the first time, it'll give out the idea that White/Red as a color pair does something different than Green/Blue. (Granted, I admit I didn't do any of the hard guilds there, I don't know what Orzhov would of looked like. Maybe returning a creature with 1 CMC or less to the battlefield? That still sounds somewhat overpowered, and I played with Animate Dead ) If we're talking color pie and different color combinations, you ruined a golden opportunity there. (Forgive the inadvertent pun.)

(Also forgive the formatting above, it's been a while since I've mucked around on these forums.)

I do agree with CIP abilities not being on the Cluestones, there's enough of those, no need to clutter up the board for mana producing artifacts.

2) Stop seeming to punish your players for your mistakes.

To clarify: this isn't a troll post. However, there are certain decisions that get made that come off this way. I'm referring to the lack of reprinting Lightning Helix. That was one of the things I would of liked to see in this block that didn't happen. (The other one, Niv as a Planeswalker, I acknowledge is fanboyism.)

Now, we got Warleader's Helix, thanks. (Although I feel you could of cost it at 1WR to at least drum up enthusiasm. I'm acutally not going to cry it's unplayable. It's plenty playable.)

However, citing the reason we didn't get Lightning Helix is because of Snapcasater Mage, a card you tried to kill at least twice with Grafdigger's Cage and Cavern of Souls (in a fit of logic to this day I don't get) is kind of like telling your fans that they can't get the nostagila of Ravinca because you published a card that breaks it four sets back that you just can't seem to fix. 

To which I kind of say, staple a fix to Snapcaster Mage on a good card (that works in the pie, of course) and publish both at the same time? Why would that be hard, or impossible?

This isn't about Warleader's Helix sucking, btw. This is about not publishing a nostagila card that we'll have to wait another five years to see, and that's presuming you didn't do to Ravnica that you did to say...Mirrodin.

This seems to ignore the Sphinx's Revelation</a> part of the argument, but if you were REALLY concerned about it, you wouldn't have published on a 2/4 body, and the green acutally can swing games around by stalling them out by forcing someone to come up with an additional 7 life with a 2/4 body. The 2/2 white token Knight is really made for Selsenya--and drawing a card seems somewhat underwhelming compared to the other effects. Bounce maybe?

Yes, you need two Gates to get them to work--still, that's not as hard as it sounds considering RtR, Gatecrash and now DM all have Gates.

You did successfully more or less give us some cards that seem amazing in certain circumstances and go with other guild cards that we have. Also, NONE of the fuse spells are bad. 

So, while I've read places Dragon's Maze isn't what it should of been, I think you did a reasonably good job for a small supplemental set.
 
He said the lieutenants were meant to be build-around-me uncommons, so I doubt Haunter of Nightveil, Carnage Gladiator and Scab-Clan Giant fit there.

Funnily enough, Simic has both Bred for the Hunt and Species Gorger


I think all 3 of those are "build around me" from the perspective of their guild. Gladitor furthers rakdos goal by making chump blocking painful. Haunter fits very much into the dimir theme, and could be thought to be build around me in the sense of working towards making opposing creatures worthless. Scab-clan is a bit harder, but it does very much fit into the Gruul theme of attack whatever is in front me regardless of whether I will win.

I really don't think Bred for the Hunt can be called a lieutenants. It's an enchantment, not a creature so completely incapatible with the flavor idea of a lieutenant.

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I'm so glad Zac Hill spoke some truth about Warleader's Helix that card isn't good. We know it, WotC knows it and they had to do an entire article from Mike Flores to defend how utterly weaksauce it is. Thank you Mr. Hill for being real with us (and for fighting for Lightning Helix which is perhaps my favorite spell of all time). I understand that Snapcaster makes original Helix too good and that's a fair call. Feel sorry for Flores that he had to come up with so much stuff to prop up a useless 4 drop that no one outside of Standard or Limited will ever play.

real talk Zac Hill, real talk.

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Boros Cluestone
3

T: add W or R to your mana pool

RW, T, Sacrifice Boros Cluestone: Creatures you control get +1/+1, haste and first strike until eot.



..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true">[T]here are certain decisions that get made that come off this way. I'm referring to the lack of reprinting Lightning Helix. That was one of the things I would of liked to see in this block that didn't happen. [...] Now, we got Warleader's Helix, thanks.



Two things. I stopped reading at this point because it seems you stopped reading his article after skimming it and getting to the Cluestone discussion.

1. The current execution of the Cluestones is fine. They are designed for Limited play, and as commons. Tha6t thing you invented is not a common; it would have been horrendous at common, and been way too strong. They already made unblockables for the Keyrunes, and those were uncommon, but these had to be common. Consider the spellbombs from Mirrodin and Return to Mirro--I mean, New Phyrex--I mean, Scars of Mirrodin. These cards had to be effective, cheap, and their abilities WORTH it at common; some are stronger than others, but most may arguable COST that much AT common. None of them are so strong as to be autoincludes in Limitied: You added them once you settled on your colors as smoothers.

2. You missed Zak telling you that he tried, to the end of his time in development, to keep Lightning Helix in the set. It was taken out despite his protests, and we got a more terrible card instead. It is likely that the developers were trying to tone the removal down on purpose, forcing one to have to commit a chunk for the dual effects. Lightning Helix is strong, probably too strong, for the Standard/Limitied format it would have to be played.
"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'm so glad Zac Hill spoke some truth about Warleader's Helix that card isn't good. We know it, WotC knows it and they had to do an entire article from Mike Flores to defend how utterly weaksauce it is. Thank you Mr. Hill for being real with us (and for fighting for Lightning Helix which is perhaps my favorite spell of all time). I understand that Snapcaster makes original Helix too good and that's a fair call. Feel sorry for Flores that he had to come up with so much stuff to prop up a useless 4 drop that no one outside of Standard or Limited will ever play.

real talk Zac Hill, real talk.



If it's useful in standard than isn't really useless is it.  It isn't Lightning Helix, but it isn't worthless limited fodder either.
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Four cmc is just so awkward...

Newbs! Ask me your questions but always question my answers ;)

 

EDH decks I play:

 

Derevi: http://community.wizards.com/forum/commander-edh/threads/4025591

He said the lieutenants were meant to be build-around-me uncommons, so I doubt Haunter of Nightveil, Carnage Gladiator and Scab-Clan Giant fit there.

Funnily enough, Simic has both Bred for the Hunt and Species Gorger


I think all 3 of those are "build around me" from the perspective of their guild. Gladitor furthers rakdos goal by making chump blocking painful. Haunter fits very much into the dimir theme, and could be thought to be build around me in the sense of working towards making opposing creatures worthless. Scab-clan is a bit harder, but it does very much fit into the Gruul theme of attack whatever is in front me regardless of whether I will win.

Ah, I think you haven't understood the phrase "build around me". It's a drafting term. It's used of cards like Pyroconvergence, Cache Raiders, Griffin Rider, Altar of the Lost or suchlike. It's a card that you can pick up early in a draft and that gives you the opportunity to draft an unusual deck focused on something that decks aren't normally focused on, giving you a powerful effect if you pick up enough things that work with it.

So the Boros guy prioritises drafting W or R instants that deal damage. (Which, erm, because Righteous Blow and Divine Deflection were last block, means R instants that deal damage. But never mind.) Species Gorger / Cache Raiders prioritises creatures with ETB effects, and other creatures that like your creatures repeatedly ETBing (so evolve). Rot Farm Skeleton enables sacrifice engines, but Carnage Gladiator doesn't prioritise anything much. (I suppose he makes your creatures that can't block (i.e. unleash) a little bit better? Sortof?) And Haunter of Nightveil and Scab-Clan Giant don't especially work with anything else in your deck, so they're not "build around me" in the same way.
He said the lieutenants were meant to be build-around-me uncommons, so I doubt Haunter of Nightveil, Carnage Gladiator and Scab-Clan Giant fit there.

Funnily enough, Simic has both Bred for the Hunt and Species Gorger


I think all 3 of those are "build around me" from the perspective of their guild. Gladitor furthers rakdos goal by making chump blocking painful. Haunter fits very much into the dimir theme, and could be thought to be build around me in the sense of working towards making opposing creatures worthless. Scab-clan is a bit harder, but it does very much fit into the Gruul theme of attack whatever is in front me regardless of whether I will win.

Ah, I think you haven't understood the phrase "build around me". It's a drafting term. It's used of cards like Pyroconvergence, Cache Raiders, Griffin Rider, Altar of the Lost or suchlike. It's a card that you can pick up early in a draft and that gives you the opportunity to draft an unusual deck focused on something that decks aren't normally focused on, giving you a powerful effect if you pick up enough things that work with it.

So the Boros guy prioritises drafting W or R instants that deal damage. (Which, erm, because Righteous Blow and Divine Deflection were last block, means R instants that deal damage. But never mind.) Species Gorger / Cache Raiders prioritises creatures with ETB effects, and other creatures that like your creatures repeatedly ETBing (so evolve). Rot Farm Skeleton enables sacrifice engines, but Carnage Gladiator doesn't prioritise anything much. (I suppose he makes your creatures that can't block (i.e. unleash) a little bit better? Sortof?) And Haunter of Nightveil and Scab-Clan Giant don't especially work with anything else in your deck, so they're not "build around me" in the same way.


Thanks for the clarification. I just now realized that I never mentioned the word "Draft".

Rot Farm Skeleton enables a lot of things, but I try to think about build-around me cards as worthless (or at least very limited) unless you go a certain way. Rot Farm Skeleton at least is a very resilient creature on its owner if it doesn't help or isn't helped by anything else. But I can accept it could be called a build-around-me.

Which leads back to my original "Where's the Dimir lieutenant?". 
Which leads back to my original "Where's the Dimir lieutenant?". 

There are precisely two uncommon creatures in DGM: it's either Woodlot Crawler or Haunter of Nightveil. The Crawler is more narrow than the Haunter, so I say it's the Haunter.

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