5/3/2013 LD: "Balancing for Fun"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.
"Often, in order for several fun cards to not only see print but have a chance to see play, several other cards have to go to the chopping block. We do a lot in R&D to separate the concepts of power and fun."

The problem? Snapcaster Mage. Again.

Seems there's been a lot of interesting concepts cut because of that one single card.
Yes Snapcaster Mage turned out a little better than expected, and it has affected the existence of very cheap spells since Dark Ascension. It is a mistake and R&D has said it.

At least they care and try not to break it even more until he's gone from Standard. 
Yes Snapcaster Mage turned out a little better than expected, and it has affected the existence of very cheap spells since Dark Ascension. It is a mistake and R&D has said it.

At least they care and try not to break it even more until he's gone from Standard. 





The question is, how did they not realize how absurdly broken the card was?  It's not a subtly powerful card, or one that takes a lot of work to make it good.  It was quite obviously going to be fantastic in every format it's legal in.  As a result, we aren't allowed to have decent cheap spells until it's gone.
So Warleader's Helix's art was going to be used for Lightning Helix's reprint? I think that at least is a consolation for Lighning Helix fans because their card not getting reprinted at least saved it from getting a terrible new art!

Regarding Snapcaster Mage, while it's obviously very good, it's not broken in standard. It's only as powerful as the cheap spells around it. Which means wotc can manipulate his power level in standard by the choice of spells to print. Snapcaster's presence gave development an excuse to not print good cheap spells, which is something they wanted to do already in their CREATURES DERP vision.

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

192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
"Yes, we did this stupid thing, but we did it because that made things more fun!"

And if you don't think that it made things more fun? Well, then it obviously wasn't made for you.

I really don't get how they can not see that this can be used to justify anything. Or maybe they do know, and that's why so many of them say it all the time. Sigh.
I feel "1RW: 3 dmg, 3 life" could have been the balancing point.

Was this ever playtested?

Was there fear of the reaction printing a strictly worse lightning helix would have caused?
Maybe you should have stuck with the Char suggestion (1rw - 4 damage and gain 2 life). It might seem weird to new players but the serious players - who this card is for - would understand and like it.
I feel "1RW: 3 dmg, 3 life" could have been the balancing point.

Was this ever playtested?

Was there fear of the reaction printing a strictly worse lightning helix would have caused?



They did in fact playtest this; he said so. And ar . Once again, the reason Helix couldn't be printed even at three mana is because of Snappy.

Here's the thing: Had Snapcaster been printed at 3 mana itself, it is likely that it would have seen a whole lot less play. The fact that he's 2 mana seems he's precisely the minimum you would get for a critter to grant something flashback; it is effective in basically making your flashbacking 2 mana more, rather than 3, or 4. Because he's at 2, he makes cheap tempo and aggro-ish spells much more powerful, and thus they have to be calibrated with him in mind.

R&D likes making mistakes, and constantly developing more and more of them each set. Part of that problem is that most of the effects that are deemed to be useful or powerful to be attractive must also be cheap else they won't get played as much, and this makes for problem formats that must be constantly calibrated. The sad thing is, R&D is often pushed to make these mistakes because despite all this, they can just ban the card later, they feel they have time to fix the format in half a year or 9 months, but that their ultimate goal -- of making money -- won't be impugned by much when they are developed.

Skullclamp, broad swaths of Mirrodin real estate, especially the artifact lands -- Umezawa's Jitte -- "Time Spiral Block," but especially Tarmogoyf -- "Lorwyn Block," because tribal is just so weak, so they say the Tribal type itself was bad -- Alara Reborn -- any planeswalker not named Jace (hah, just a Jace-Joke), but yeah: Jace, the Mind Sculptor -- power-leveled Mythic Rarity, especially when you make mythics tournament-level and required, but the list there begins with Lotus Cobra, though it may have arguably begun earlier with Sharuum, the Hegemon -- Primeval of all the Titans -- Φ-mana, but most of all Mental Mistep, which also leads back to things like Ponder and Preordain (one mana draw-setters are BAD unless you can limit them to a smaller, specific format where they aren't bad) -- Consecrated Sphinx and probably Deadeye Navigator -- Snapcaster Mage

If you think a card might need to be banned in ANY format, would you just please consider not making it. If you thing the game as a whole might suffer for a mechanic, would you please not develop it? If you think that Mark Rosewater has too much power (*cough* Infect *cough*) would you please slap him with a half-thawed salami? Not all ideas are good ones (just ask Bergholt Stuttley Johnson).
"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 feel "1RW: 3 dmg, 3 life" could have been the balancing point.

Was this ever playtested?

Was there fear of the reaction printing a strictly worse lightning helix would have caused?



They did in fact playtest this; he said so. And ar . Once again, the reason Helix couldn't be printed even at three mana is because of Snappy.




The article said they tried variations of 4 damage + 4 life along with briefly considering 4 damage + 2 life.  He didn't say 3 damage + 3 life.  However, I imagine that it was tried as well.
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)
"Yes, we did this stupid thing, but we did it because that made things more fun!"

And if you don't think that it made things more fun? Well, then it obviously wasn't made for you.

I really don't get how they can not see that this can be used to justify anything. Or maybe they do know, and that's why so many of them say it all the time. Sigh.



Read the article. They want the sum of fun of a game to be as close to 2 as possible. With this helix it's closer than with the Lightning one.

The article said they tried variations of 4 damage + 4 life along with briefly considering 4 damage + 2 life.  He didn't say 3 damage + 3 life.  However, I imagine that it was tried as well.

 

I actually wouldn't be surprised that this wasn't tested because they absolutely didn't want it. Maybe they thought a strictly worse version would not carry positive feelings of nostalgia. 
Read the article. They want the sum of fun of a game to be as close to 2 as possible. With this helix it's closer than with the Lightning one.



Because fun is a reliable mathematical concept that can be measured effectively.
I was sad not to see Lightning Helix reprinted too.

But I totally agree that Helix and Snapcaster Mage together would make Standard unfun.
Funny how they test all these new versions of a spell they want to reprint, but can't just reprint the old one because of a card that probably should have gotten more testing in the first place.
Read the article. They want the sum of fun of a game to be as close to 2 as possible. With this helix it's closer than with the Lightning one.



Because fun is a reliable mathematical concept that can be measured effectively.



The 1, 0 and -1 are a metaphor, not something mathematical. 
The 1, 0 and -1 are a metaphor, not something mathematical. 



I am aware, but the fact that he needed to put numbers in there is a weak attempt at making it sound like more than it is. "The total fun factor should be 2" instead of just "We want both players to have fun". I find it quite stupid.

As for Lightning Helix not being fun, we only really have their word for it, don't we? That's what bothers me about this. We're constantly being told that this and that is to make the game more "fun", but due to the fact that they intentionally stop the things that are deemed "unfun", these claims are never really put to the test because the decks, cards and strategies in question aren't released to the public, and thus not played with.

In general, I'm sure that Wizards know what they're doing, and that most things which are deemed unfun genuinely are that. I'm sure they have market research and statistics and whatnot which give them a pretty good idea of what they're doing. However - for there is always one of those - I don't think all of their decisions are agreeable. One would be the general depowering of blue, fringe cases aside. I can appreciate that they're trying to put aggro and control, creatures and spells, at the same level of power. However, that's not really what is happening. What is happening is that they're just reversing how it used to be - spells are incredibly weak compared to what they once were, and creatures are incredibly strong.

I won't label this as power creep, but rather a power shift. I can see why some players would find battling control all day to be unfun. That's understandable. But there's also plenty of players that enjoy playing control and find it fun. Players who don't wanna turn stuff sideways all day. Is there a place for their decks? Yes, there is. But it's not equal. Even in Modern which spans 8 or so years at the moment, control is generally not seen as a serious contender. This, to me, is the problem with doing everything in the name of "fun". To me, "fun" would be an environment where as many strategies and decks as possible are viable. But Wizards has collectively decided that while combo decks are fine, control decks are not "fun". Based on whom? Who knows? They don't have to justify it. They just have to claim that their fun statistics showed that there were minimal amounts of fun involved in it.

That's why I dislike the justification of something being to make the game more "fun". Because "fun" is subjective and a lot of "unfun" things that are currently being depowered and removed are only really a question of having the experience to handle it. And some of the "fun" things aren't really that fun for a lot of people. When the only justification that they'll give is that "it was more fun that way", then by whose standards are we speaking? Presumably the majority of players. But there's plenty of players that don't play Commander, yet Commander cards are pumped out en masse. So what's wrong with some more decent blue control or just something other than facebeaters?
I am aware, but the fact that he needed to put numbers in there is a weak attempt at making it sound like more than it is. "The total fun factor should be 2" instead of just "We want both players to have fun". I find it quite stupid.



0.2 + 0.2 = 0.4
1 + -0.1 = 0.9

The first is more desirable following your guidelines, the second is more desirable following Wizards' guidelines. That makes a difference and why it's not stupid to frame it that way.

(I'll get back to the rest later)
0.2 + 0.2 = 0.4
1 + -0.1 = 0.9

The first is more desirable following your guidelines, the second is more desirable following Wizards' guidelines. That makes a difference and why it's not stupid to frame it that way.



I think you're reading too much into this.

If you're not... Guess that explains a lot.

But honestly, I doubt the writer's intent was anywhere near as deep as that.

EDIT: Oh, and just so you know, I'm likely not gonna respond to whatever your next post is. One textwall per thread is more than enough for me, and I don't really care to spend time arguing with Devil's Advocates. Nothing against you personally, but you're one of those people who always have to disagree with any kind of statement, and it's kinda boring compared to someone who actually seems to have an opinion on a subject. That, and I'm lazy.
Nothing against you personally, but you're one of those people who always have to disagree with any kind of statement, and it's kinda boring compared to someone who actually seems to have an opinion on a subject.


Judging by my experience, I don't think TobyornotToby is that kinda user. I've found him/her to be always on wotc side though, no matter what. And also quick to jump to defense of anything that hurts control and helps aggro strategies. Which is why I almost never agree with them.

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192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?

I appreciate you saying that upfront. I can keep it short then, hopefully adding something meaningful for people who do want to broaden their horizon.


But honestly, I doubt the writer's intent was anywhere near as deep as that.


There's nothing really deep to it, it's common game design theory really:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero%E2%80%93sum_g...


In less dry terms, it's related to one of MaRo's maxims, which paraphrased is something like "A game that is liked by everyone is loved by no one" or "It's better to create a card that is loved by some and hated by others than a card that is hated by none but loved by none".


The idea is that the 0.4 game isn't negative for either player, but neither loves it. The 0.9 game was slightly negative for one player but the other loved it.
If 10 games are played, and both players win a fair share of games, that means they'll enjoy the second game more than the first.


This is a design philosophy Wizards adheres to, and part of what makes them as succesful as they are.


Now the big problem with things like land destruction and counterspells is that the negative is huge. The losing player might feel a straight -1. That makes it hard to come up with a high combined number, which is why those things have been costed such as to not be played too much.



PS: saying a writer, who is a game designer, does not have any deep intents on the topic of game design, is just silly in the first place.


EDIT: I'm not saying this is the best/only/true way to approach game design or make Magic. If Wizards had chosen a different target audience, a different goal, for their game they could easily end up with a game where counterspells were still the bee's knees. But they have chosen a different direction. To paraphrase Aaron Forsythe this time, they rather make a Hollywood blockbuster than win Cannes. To put it bluntly, they're in it for the money, not the art.
It is perfectly fine to disagree with Wizards' choice. It is perfectly fine to say Magic could be a different but better game (for you).
You can berate the direction Wizards has chosen, but you can't berate the methods they're using to go in said direction. That's why I'm defending here. Somebody doesn't see merit in a technique used, and I explain why it's useful to reach the intended goals, whether you personally see those goals as desirable or not.

Judging by my experience, I don't think TobyornotToby is that kinda user. I've found him/her to be always on wotc side though, no matter what. And also quick to jump to defense of anything that hurts control and helps aggro strategies. Which is why I almost never agree with them.



Well to be honest I do love playing Devil's Advocate and love to disagree with things. Often I will defend a standpoint from Wizards that I do not agree with personally as long as I do understand why they want it to be that way.
I am pretty sure I read in one of Zac Hill's articles that he was the only person that playtested Snapcaster with flash. When everyone else said their testing showed it was OK, and then saw the printed version had flash, they said 'That thing had flash?'.
As for Lightning Helix not being fun, we only really have their word for it, don't we? That's what bothers me about this.


Their word is a lot more than you get in video game land. Usually a video game goes through thousands of tweaks and changes before getting the final product. And then if you actually get any stories about what went into the game, it's nothing but "oh yeah we've solved all the old problems" and "oh yeah this game rocks just listen to these features". Yeah, the transparency of the Wizards team on this game is one of the best business strategies in the West. We should respect them a little more every time they own up to their faults, instead of just hyping what's great like every other company does. The fact that we basically have a designer's and developer's blog about this game on a weekly basis is leagues past what we get for most AAA studios.

But I guess nevermind that, and nevermind the real players that landed their dream job at Wizards and are paid to play in the FFL off to the side, and the opinion polls of players; nevermind all that, apparently none of it is relevant because all of it is about "fun", so I guess it's all just subjective and we should just roll dice to figure out the design of each set.


But there's also plenty of players that enjoy playing control and find it fun. Players who don't wanna turn stuff sideways all day. Is there a place for their decks? Yes, there is. But it's not equal.


It doesn't have to be equal, it just has to be available. If a minority of players enjoy Control, then you still have to make cards they like, you can't ignore them. But the shift is why this topic comes up. Wizards is changing the emphasis from spells to creatures, not from Control to Aggro. It's a by-product, because they are testing new water trying to craft creatures that interest Control players. And sometimes fine design are ignored because Control players have been playing nothing but draw spells and field wipes for a decade. That mindset needs to change. The designers and the players need to meet each other halfway, and evolve Control pass the traditional traps. Because creatures are here to stay, and the Combat Phase is here to stay.
Its funny to me in how many forums they are trying to justify this card. Face is Wizards is a garbage card that wont see play outside limited. And you couldnt give us the card we wanted because you printed another broken card earlier.

The problem here is Rosewaters whole "you need bad card argument", he says you cant have an entirely balanced set, which i think is complete BS. More likely if they made all cards viable theyd run out of easily designable cards quick and they would be forced to come up with more original concepts faster tham they could to fill a set. In short it would make too much work for them, admit it Mark.

The problem here is this leads them to believing they get to decide which cards/decks will be good/competitive. Then they do stupid things like push their pet cards without realizing their true power level. Then when they push a card to be really good but under estimate it you end up with JTMS or when they dont look closely enuf at the big picture you end up with stoneforge mystic. Seriously if it hadnt been for the swords of this and that stoneforge likely would have never been a force in standard. They also could have had it only tutor for equipments with a cmc 2 or less which seems more fitting for a 2 mana creature and no one would have said it was any worse before the sword of FoF came round.

Then when one of their pushed cards is underestimated the standard environment has to suffer for it.
I appreciate you saying that upfront. I can keep it short then, hopefully adding something meaningful for people who do want to broaden their horizon.



It's not about broadening horizons - I've just been arguing on the Internet for years and years. It's nice to write out things, and I don't think I'd mind if it was just you, but I don't like discussions as a spectator sport. It only leads to frustrations. I'll gladly continue it in private messages, but I prefer to avoid getting too far into anything in threads.
It's a bit of an aside, but I'd like to quickly comment on something that stuck out to me:
I can appreciate that they're trying to put aggro and control, creatures and spells, at the same level of power. However, that's not really what is happening. What is happening is that they're just reversing how it used to be - spells are incredibly weak compared to what they once were, and creatures are incredibly strong.

I disagree with your conclusion--creatures and spells being at about the same level is what's happening.

You're correct that in general spells are incredibly weak compared to what they once were, and that in general creatures are incredibly strong compared to what they once were. But that's just it. You're comparing each to where they once were--when creatures were abysmal and spells were incredible--instead of to each other as they exist now. If something starts as a 1 on the power scale, making it fifty times more powerful means the new version is incredibly strong compared to the old version; if something starts out at 200, reducing its strength to a quarter of what it once was means the new version is incredibly weak compared to the old version. But they still both ended up at 50.

Think about it this way--originally, creatureless or at least near-creatureless decks were very common--even the norm. Why? Because creatures were just way less powerful than spells. If the positions were reversed and creatures were now way more powerful than spells, shouldn't we expect to see the opposite? No-spells, all-creature decks becoming the norm? But we don't. In fact, we still see creatureless- or near-creatureless decks every so often, and Frank Karsten Top 8'ing a WMCQ with an all-creature deck is big news, because it's really unusual.

Yes, creatures are bonkers compared to what they once were. And yes, spells are terrible compared to what they once were. But creatures now compared to spells now? I'd say they're fairly even--certainly in the same ballpark.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.



In less dry terms, it's related to one of MaRo's maxims, which paraphrased is something like "A game that is liked by everyone is loved by no one" or "It's better to create a card that is loved by some and hated by others than a card that is hated by none but loved by none".


The idea is that the 0.4 game isn't negative for either player, but neither loves it. The 0.9 game was slightly negative for one player but the other loved it.
If 10 games are played, and both players win a fair share of games, that means they'll enjoy the second game more than the first.


This is a design philosophy Wizards adheres to, and part of what makes them as succesful as they are.





You have to be careful comparing these two points, though.  MaRo is talking about how someone likes to play with a card, not playing against a card.  It is perfectly fine for 90%+ of the players to hate playing with a given card as long as that card has real fans or otherwise serves an imporant role.  But it is not okay for the majority to hate playing against that card.
Yes Snapcaster Mage turned out a little better than expected, and it has affected the existence of very cheap spells since Dark Ascension. It is a mistake and R&D has said it.

At least they care and try not to break it even more until he's gone from Standard. 



Then why don't they just ban snapcaster? There are so many cards that are grossly overpowered. Just look at sphinx revelation, look at Angel of serenity, geist of Saint draft and Thragtusk.
I wager to say: Thragtusk is more a problem that helix could ever have been.
Why do they make cards that aren't just good or very good, but just absurd, and then let the format suffer for 2 years.

Why not get the ban-hammer, take them out, and think the next time a bit more - the cards I mean are quite obvious to see for their overpoweredness.
If you just took out those few totally overpowered cards, the format could allow so much more decks and fun.

Instead if you don't have sphinx revelation you can either try the fastest beatdown deck in town - or stop playing standard/block.
So you made a guild block? Sadly nobody cares for that theme in standard or block. All they want to do is a big revelation, because that is game..



Banning a card in Standard is a last resort to save a degenerate format. Telling people, "You can't play with your best cards," is a good way to discourage them from buying cards in the future. Standard is actually quite healthy at the moment; take a look at recent top 8s, and you'll see plenty of diversity in deck archetypes.

 

Goblin Artisans
a Magic: the Gathering design blog
The problem here is Rosewaters whole "you need bad card argument", he says you cant have an entirely balanced set, which i think is complete BS. More likely if they made all cards viable theyd run out of easily designable cards quick and they would be forced to come up with more original concepts faster tham they could to fill a set. In short it would make too much work for them, admit it Mark.

Two things. One, they can't make a completely balanced set. It's just not plausible. There are far too many moving parts, and the mana cost system is limited to whole-number values, and to be completely frank, the color pie is just plain not balanced.


Two, they wouldn't run out of designs if they tried to make the whole set balanced. Truth be told, they do that every set already: they cost things to be as roughly equal as possible, so that raw power level isn't a factor in their early design tests. Now obviously, due to point one above, the set isn't truly completely balanced, but the fact remains that they go into every design, at least at first, with an "all cards equal" mindset. And they haven't run out of ideas yet.

The problem here is this leads them to believing they get to decide which cards/decks will be good/competitive. Then they do stupid things like push their pet cards without realizing their true power level.

I have a very different theory as to why some cards are so over-the-top powerful, and it has to do with the point I mentioned above, about the color pie not being balanced (yes, I'm now going to actually justify that statement).

Two things. One, the colors have different sizes of mechanic pools in the color pie, with different levels of uniqueness to their mechanics. Red has the least, Blue and White the most. Red doesn't have a unique-to-Red mechanic to its name; Blue has counterspells, bounce, Ponder effects.... They're trying their best to rebalance it, but they're not going to accomplish that until they make some fundamental changes to how they think of the color pie.

Two, the problem with Blue. Wizards of the Coast conceives Red as the short-game color, and Blue as the long-game color, and all other colors as somewhere in between. Red gets explosive, aggressive effects, but runs out of steam if the game goes long. Even now, as they're giving Red card draw, they've outright made it a rule that Red can't net card advantage from its card drawing. They refuse to budge on Red's "weak in the long game" identity.

Yet Blue is, as the long game color, supposed to be weak in the early game, but powerful in the late game. It's supposed to start out weak, often losing early, unless it can stabilize, at which point it has the upper hand and becomes hard to beat. This makes it an extremely strong color already, as it gives Blue inevitability, but it could be balanced if not for the following: Wizards constantly budges on Blue's "weak in the early game" identity. Especially since their push on creatures, Blue has been getting cards that are really, really good in the early game, which it should not have. This is in addition to the fact that Blue's other weakness is supposed to be its creatures, but since WotC is pushing creatures across the board, that weakness is evaporating as well.

Blue is now a color whose weakness is countered within its own color. Until they reconceive Blue with a new weakness, or put their foot down and enforce the old one, it should surprise nobody that Blue continues, time and again, to be the problem child of the color pie.
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zammm - but what about the decks with mostly creatures and then just a few copies of Searing Spear or Rancor or Domri Rade? We don't see many "creatures only" decks but we see a lot of decks that are at least 80% creatures.

It's just the nature of the game. If you have a spells only deck, you don't usually gain anything out of adding one playset of creatures (unless those creatures are highly resistant to removal or something like that). If you have a creatures only deck though you usually would gain something out of removing the worst creature and adding the best spell.
Two things. One, they can't make a completely balanced set. It's just not plausible. There are far too many moving parts, and the mana cost system is limited to whole-number values, and to be completely frank, the color pie is just plain not balanced.

Two, they wouldn't run out of designs if they tried to make the whole set balanced. Truth be told, they do that every set already: they cost things to be as roughly equal as possible, so that raw power level isn't a factor in their early design tests. Now obviously, due to point one above, the set isn't truly completely balanced, but the fact remains that they go into every design, at least at first, with an "all cards equal" mindset. And they haven't run out of ideas yet.



Not gonna get into the blue thing at this point, but I have an incredibly difficult time believing they are attempting to make the whole set balanced.  In fact, they have stated that this is not a goal (unfortunately, it was a while ago).  Some examples include:
Silvercoat Lion vs War Priest of Thune
Jace's Phantasm vs Merfolk of the Pearl Trident
Krenko, Mob Boss vs Canyon Minotaur

If you look at the above list and decide that this indicates that cards are even pretending to be balanced against each other, then you should look at another game.  With the exception of Krenko/Minotaur, each of those comparisons have the same mana cost (minotaur costs 3R instead of 2RR), they each have the same size, but only one of them has abilities while the other is vanilla.  These are all M13.  The only conclusion that we can draw from this is that WotC has no intention to make all cards balanced against each other.
Yes Snapcaster Mage turned out a little better than expected, and it has affected the existence of very cheap spells since Dark Ascension. It is a mistake and R&D has said it.

At least they care and try not to break it even more until he's gone from Standard. 



Then why don't they just ban snapcaster? There are so many cards that are grossly overpowered. Just look at sphinx revelation, look at Angel of serenity, geist of Saint draft and Thragtusk.
I wager to say: Thragtusk is more a problem that helix could ever have been.
Why do they make cards that aren't just good or very good, but just absurd, and then let the format suffer for 2 years.

Why not get the ban-hammer, take them out, and think the next time a bit more - the cards I mean are quite obvious to see for their overpoweredness.
If you just took out those few totally overpowered cards, the format could allow so much more decks and fun.

Instead if you don't have sphinx revelation you can either try the fastest beatdown deck in town - or stop playing standard/block.
So you made a guild block? Sadly nobody cares for that theme in standard or block. All they want to do is a big revelation, because that is game..






I don't think this would really work.  You have to look at WHY everyone plays Geist and Snapcaster, and Swagtusk, and Sphinx'sRev - it's BECAUSE they are the best cards in the format.  If you ban all those cards, then everyone just moves down a peg and plays the next four most powerful cards.  You'd have the same complaint.  You might be mad because evryone is "just playing all these Emissary decks" or "why don't they ban Unburial Rites, it's warping standard".

A banning is a serious and drastic step, and it isn't just a Magic Eraser for whatever ails a format.
Yes, creatures are bonkers compared to what they once were. And yes, spells are terrible compared to what they once were. But creatures now compared to spells now? I'd say they're fairly even--certainly in the same ballpark.



Just cutting out the rest for post size.

Yes, you are right that spells on the whole used to be overpowered compared to creatures. And that creatures are just catching up now. However, I'd still say that  they're taking it too far with the depowering of spells. Again, look at the Modern format. It's mostly just aggro, midrange and combo. Control is pretty much non-existant, because good control cards simply haven't been printed in the quantities that good creature cards have since that format's timeframe cutoff. Banlist aside, if spells and creatures are really at the same level, shouldn't the archetypes in that format be somewhat balanced?
There is no reason why the archetypes should be balanced. The fact that certain archetypes exist at all is only because of the cards that have been printed in the past. For example, Standard doesn't often have a good combo deck, and it sometimes doesn't have a good aggro deck.

There is no reason why control and spells should be correlated. The fact that they are is only because of the cards that have been printed in the past. You could imagine a control deck made entirely of creatures. There are also strong spells like Giant Growth that actually make the aggro decks stronger, not the control decks.
I don't think creatures and spells are even these days.
Path to Exile is comparable to Strangleroot Geist. Azorius Charm isn't.
When a control player has to hit Farseek on turn 2 and a 4th land on turn 3 to Wrath just to stay at 8, not die on turn 4, and hopefully recover, there's a problem. When Champion of the Parish gets Detention Sphere'd because its already a 4/4 on turn 3, but you die anyway because untap, Silverblade Paladin, pair with Lightning Mauler, swing for 8, good game, there's a problem.
Strangleroot Geist doesn't even die to Wrath, it gets bigger, they untap, re-Rancor, make a Dreg Mangler, swing 8, good game.
But its not a good game. I don't even get to do anything. I'm not having fun.
Or maybe, I'm just a bad player for dying to aggro so quickly, but don't feel like I've been the proper tools to stem the tide.
Recently, I've upped to 3 copies each of Azorius Charm and Selesnya Charm, maindecking 2 Centaur Healers, and have no counters main. I'm mostly making dudes to deal with dudes. I have to Wrath at some point and I usually end up killing one or two of my own guys because I don't have good removal and I have to make blockers to live. It hardly feels like playing control at all.
Warleader's Helix might be fun. But its not a good card. They "balanced" it by making it unplayable in Standard. I don't think its legit to blame Snapcaster mage. Snapcaster mage is making control at all possible by letting control play bad removal twice.
If Lightning Helix, Snapcaster, flashback two turns later was wrecking FFL aggro, it just makes me think their aggro was mediocre.
Lightning Helix is not above the curve, especially by today's standards. I think it was roughly borderline 7 years ago, but its not like it wrecked standard the first time. Warleader's Helix costs too much to be relevant. Would you play a Doom Blade,gain 3 life? Or Journey to Nowhere, gain 3 life? Cuz Helix isn't even that good.
I wonder, was it ever discussed to maybe drop Wear//Tear from Boros Split to make a functional Lightning Helix R to deal 3 damage to a creature, and W to gain 3 life?

it's a worse Lightning Bolt and Healing Salve, but is a functional Lightning Helix when cast from the hand on a creature Fused. And it fixes the Snapcaster Issue since only 1 side can be flashbacked. Would this have been an option?

 You speak of Lightning Helix with Snaps and Augurs just beating up on Aggro, and that's a problem. "Oh no, you were able to stop my Champion of the Parish into triple Burning-Tree Emmissary(he should have been a centaur), Mayor of Avabruck draw!" How is this even a thing that can happen? Winning Turn 3 by attacking with little guys? How is this fun for anyone? Even given the deck's (naya Blitz) inconsistencies, it isn't fun to play against. I know people who have quit the game temporarily because of that deck, not because it win's, because statistically it doesn't win events that much, but just because it exists. Having aggro deck's like this is ok? But having control decks that beat aggro decks isn't? I understand the implications, and I'm not stating disappointment of the lack of Lightning Helix in Dragon's Maze, I am disappointed, but for nostalgia's sake, ditto for Mortify, not for how good they are. I actually like Warleader's Helix and believe it's playable, just not the greatest card right now. 

( Speaking of Mortify, is there a story for why it didn't get put in? It would of had to be in the set at some point in development once Putrefy was slated to be in, right? )

I'm just wondering how, 'it makes R/W/U beat aggro for 5 months' is a good enough reason to not include something, it doesn't beat Mid-Range, and does nothing to control, and is in very restrictive colors. And for arguments sake, you can even just say that it helps aggro decks in the mirror match. 

I hark back to the Days of Mirrodin standard when everyone either played affinity or 4 Oxodize and 4 Viridian Shaman or Electrostatic Bolts in their main deck. Most of Affinity was subsequently banned because it was unhealthy for everyone to have to main deck hate cards that had little spplication when played against anything that wasnt affinity. In a world of Undying creatures, Uncounterable Humans that give you man and Zombies you can cast from your graveyard, where aggro decks are more resistant to Wrath effects than they have ever been, whether they give you tokens, can be cast again, come back, or you can just counter the uncounterable wrath for 2 mana with a charm, and not only do all the guys live or come back, they come back with Rancor's. Players have to adapt and play otherwise limited cards such as Pillar of Flame, Tragic Slip, Dead Weight, and Mizzium Mortars, which are almost useless in most of the other matchups save a few scenarios.  


zammm - but what about the decks with mostly creatures and then just a few copies of Searing Spear or Rancor or Domri Rade? We don't see many "creatures only" decks but we see a lot of decks that are at least 80% creatures.

What about them?

Yes, you are right that spells on the whole used to be overpowered compared to creatures. And that creatures are just catching up now. However, I'd still say that  they're taking it too far with the depowering of spells. Again, look at the Modern format. It's mostly just aggro, midrange and combo. Control is pretty much non-existant, because good control cards simply haven't been printed in the quantities that good creature cards have since that format's timeframe cutoff. Banlist aside, if spells and creatures are really at the same level, shouldn't the archetypes in that format be somewhat balanced?

As Flopfoot noted, you're equating "spells" with "control"--who says creature cards can't be control cards? Archetype balance and the relative power levels of creatures and spells are separate issues.

Would you play a Doom Blade,gain 3 life? Or Journey to Nowhere, gain 3 life? Cuz Helix isn't even that good.

Faith's Fetters and Tendrils of Corruption have seen significant play during their times in Standard, last I checked, and they served pretty much those exact functions. So...yes?

Equating Strangleroot to Path made me laugh.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

It's not about broadening horizons - I've just been arguing on the Internet for years and years. It's nice to write out things, and I don't think I'd mind if it was just you, but I don't like discussions as a spectator sport. It only leads to frustrations. I'll gladly continue it in private messages, but I prefer to avoid getting too far into anything in threads.



Oh I'm sorry I misunderstood you then. I do still like reading arguments on the internet (as long as they're not pages long) so that's why I prefer it out in the open.

You have to be careful comparing these two points, though.  MaRo is talking about how someone likes to play with a card, not playing against a card.  It is perfectly fine for 90%+ of the players to hate playing with a given card as long as that card has real fans or otherwise serves an imporant role.  But it is not okay for the majority to hate playing against that card.

 

Certainly, I see now I didn't really say it but what I meant was that while they are about different aspects, they do arrise from the same common principle.
 
zammm - but what about the decks with mostly creatures and then just a few copies of Searing Spear or Rancor or Domri Rade? We don't see many "creatures only" decks but we see a lot of decks that are at least 80% creatures.



We do, but at the same time midrange and tempo deck still play more spells than creatures mostly.
In relative significance creatures might have beaten spells now, but in numbers spells still rule. 
Why are all of these decks still playing spells? They must be pretty balanced still, no?

(One of the issues I found with these kind of discussion is that both sides have a different understanding of what 'balance' means. So they are arguing about the same word but because they both give it different meaning, there's a hidden misunderstanding.
Not gonna get into the blue thing at this point, but I have an incredibly difficult time believing they are attempting to make the whole set balanced.

Should have made myself clearer. I apologize. What I meant was, in initial design, they cost everything to be as close to balanced as possible, for playtesting purposes. When they hand it off to Development, the costs change so that things aren't nearly so balanced, and that is the set we see.

MaRo has mentioned this several times in various locations, most recently being in his podcast. 
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
That's still not right.  I'm going a bit further back for examples here, but they knew they were putting Yamivawa Wurm in the same set as Primeval Titan.  MaRo has stated that the titans were all designed as 6/6's for 6, nice square stats and all that, and the wurm is a reprint.  So, I'm calling bull**** on the idea that design attempts to make things balanced.

As an extra one, how did you think they initially did One With Nothing to make it balanced compared to the rest of the set?

Furthermore, Ken Nagle has stated that they view the oppurtunity to "level up" your deck by replacing, for example, the wurm with the titan, as a Good ThingTM.  (Article is www.wizards.com/Magic/magazine/Article.a..." title="www.wizards.com/Magic/magazine/Article.a...">here).  
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