9/27/13 Latest Developments: Color Pairs in Limited

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.

While I can certainly appreciate the value in this approach, it also makes me fear the sets being too linear.  A card like Spellheart Chimera is fine, and as a recent Daily Deck shows it can be a worthy build-around-me uncommon.  But Battlewise Hoplite?  If you're U/W in the set you're probably playing heroic and triggers anyway, and outside of the block it's not going to find any special synergy.  

I know R&D can't burden themselves with design across years.  But for some people it was a great moment when they realized their new Burning Vengeance could be triggered off of old Retrace cards.  That wasn't by design; it was just an interesting coincidence.  But it's the kind of coincidence you're more likely to get with loose build-around-me uncommons than you are if everything is rigged to fit into a block-specific Draft deck.

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.

Awesome article, that's all.

Amarsir wrote:

I know R&D can't burden themselves with design across years.  But for some people it was a great moment when they realized their new Burning Vengeance could be triggered off of old Retrace cards.  That wasn't by design; it was just an interesting coincidence.  But it's the kind of coincidence you're more likely to get with loose build-around-me uncommons than you are if everything is rigged to fit into a block-specific Draft deck.

Look at Chronicler of Heroes synergising with unleash, evolve and scavenge just to consider Standard. Have a look at the UGx 'Flash' decks that people are working on at the moment including Horizon Chimera or even that combo with Archangel of Thune and Fathom Mage. This cycle is anything but insular. It works partly by design, partly because some of them are themes that occur over and over again (Spellheart Chimera), partly because some of them are generic Limited cards, and even in the cases where they seem insular at the moment (Kragma Warcaller has to go to Homelands to find friends) it's usually not a one off and they will provide some more support for that archetype in the future where it can fit.

Amarsir wrote:
While I can certainly appreciate the value in this approach, it also makes me fear the sets being too linear.  A card like Spellheart Chimera is fine, and as a recent Daily Deck shows it can be a worthy build-around-me uncommon.  But Battlewise Hoplite?  If you're U/W in the set you're probably playing heroic and triggers anyway, and outside of the block it's not going to find any special synergy.  

I know R&D can't burden themselves with design across years.  But for some people it was a great moment when they realized their new Burning Vengeance could be triggered off of old Retrace cards.  That wasn't by design; it was just an interesting coincidence.  But it's the kind of coincidence you're more likely to get with loose build-around-me uncommons than you are if everything is rigged to fit into a block-specific Draft deck.

That's more a problem for some specific choices of mechanic than others. In the case of Heroic, it's fantastically broad. I've just assembled a casual red-white Heroic deck using Mark of Fury, Ghitu Firebreathing, Spirit Flare, Galvanic Arc and Anoint as assorted ways to repeatedly enable my heroic triggers. Heroic is awesomely open-ended and can be built around in many different ways with many different cardpools. You could do Monstrify / Spitting Image; Agoraphobia / Conviction; Spirit Loop / Rancor along with Auratog / Gatherer of Graces; buyback; flashback; splice; Isochron Scepter / Panoptic Mirror; and on and on. There really isn't a shortage of ways to build around Battlewise Hoplite.

 

Now, that said, the same isn't true of all of this gold cycle. Destructive Revelry is an utterly generic utility spell. Sentry of the Underworld is a generic big(ish) flyer. Pharika's Mender is just a big Gravedigger. But several of the cycle are delightfully build-around-me, which is a great thing.

Oh, and can I just say Sam is awesome, in this case for answering the question of "why does Theros have so many gold cards, way more than any non-gold set before". It's an interesting answer, not one I'd guessed, and the comment that many sets may have a little more gold than previously is very interesting, and the kind of thing we can only get from R&D insiders. So thank you Sam

I somewhat agree with Amar, but mostly disagree.  The evaluation process that Sam is describing does have a tendency to produce linear limited formats.  However, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Part of the struggle in limited is who will discover the best archetypes first, which requires a certain sense of going with the flow that R&D wants you to go in.  Also, true excitement comes when you discover an archetype that maybe they didn't consider, and hasn't caught on yet. 

people in draft settle on color too quickly

When I draft, I try to keep an open mind, in case I need to switch gears. I also try to stick to two colors, unless I'm passed something that is amazing and outside of the two colors I have. If I am U/W in a draft, I would take Battlewise Hoplite over enchantments as those are most likely going to be passed back to me. Unless there was a stellar other card that would probably not come my way again. 

@ZursApprentice: the discovery of things R&D may not have is joyful for me, too. 

ZursApprentice wrote:
I somewhat agree with Amar, but mostly disagree.  The evaluation process that Sam is describing does have a tendency to produce linear limited formats.  However, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
That's OK, I don't fully agree with me either.   I'm happy to throw out a half-formed idea and see if people add to it or tear it apart.

Flopfoot wrote:
This cycle is anything but insular. It works partly by design, partly because some of them are themes that occur over and over again (Spellheart Chimera), partly because some of them are generic Limited cards
alextfish wrote:
That's more a problem for some specific choices of mechanic than others. In the case of Heroic, it's fantastically broad.
Well is that a product of this deck-seeding?  Or did it happen despite Limited 
development?  Heroic is pretty open-ended, I agree.  One of my first thoughts was going back to something like Elvish Fury, a combo 15 years in the making.  But I want to separate a good mechanic from the effect this particular approach has.  If you took more linear stuff like Allies or Arcane, and then created the set with predictable Limited decks using these mechanics, I think it would exacerbate the issue.

ZursApprentice wrote:
Also, true excitement comes when you discover an archetype that maybe they didn't consider, and hasn't caught on yet. 
And my concern would be that there will be fewer of those once everything has a place already.  I'm comparing alternate realities and can't point to a specific thing they did or didn't do.  The best I can say is "imagine what Dimir in RTR block would have been like if Cipher had been the only UB deck and milling cards hadn't been thrown in too."  

alextfish wrote:
Oh, and can I just say Sam is awesome, in this case for answering the question of "why does Theros have so many gold cards, way more than any non-gold set before". It's an interesting answer, not one I'd guessed, and the comment that many sets may have a little more gold than previously is very interesting, and the kind of thing we can only get from R&D insiders. So thank you Sam 
Yeah he's really good.  I always feel like his articles are engaging the audience and not just padded lists of stuff that happened.

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.

@Amisir All I can say about GTC draft is that I did it about 20 times, forced UB every time, and 4-0'd all of them. Of those matches, about 10-15 were 2-1's; the rest were obviously 2-0's. My conclusion was that UB was criminally underdrafted but you may interpret that data as you wish.

"Proc" stands for "Programmed Random OCcurance". It does not even vaguely apply to anything Magic cards do. Don't use it.

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Astarael7 wrote:
@Amarsir All I can say about GTC draft is that I did it about 20 times, forced UB every time, and 4-0'd all of them. Of those matches, about 10-15 were 2-1's; the rest were obviously 2-0's. My conclusion was that UB was criminally underdrafted but you may interpret that data as you wish.
I'm not sure how to interpret it because I wasn't drawing a conclusion regarding power level.  Rather that a lot of people were unhappy with cipher (perhaps causing the "criminal underdrafting") and that it doesn't seem to have inspired casual/budget Constructed decks the way some other guilds have.  So power-level aside, the seeded-decks approach described in the article seems a little "eggs in one basket" to me.  Fine if the mechanic is fine, but losing the backup chances you could have from a looser set.

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.