1/6/14 - Feature Article: From the Director's Chair: 2013

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This thread is for discussion of the feature article "From the Director's Chair: 2013", which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.

So the designer credit will be in place of flavor text on cards?


That's a shame. It looks like there's room on the bottom above or next to the artist credit for it.


Otherwise, neat update. Honestly, I'd love a more daring one, but this is a great way to improve on text and art space without rocking the boat too much.

Wizards_Amandil wrote:

This thread is for discussion of the feature article "From the Director's Chair: 2013", which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.


Not a fan of the new card frame. It takes away from the color identity of a card. The Wall of Fire card feels like I'm looking at a weird Rakdos hybrid card. It's like the printer messed up and forgot to print the rest of the card frame. The black void space at the bottom of the card draws my eyes to it and feels extremely jarring. I was 100% on board with the redesign from the classic frames to the new ones in Mirrodin but this feels like a step in the wrong direction. My fear is that all of the cards are going to feel like weird Orzhov/Dimir/Rakdos/Golgari hybrids. It's just more visually chaotic with broken lines and voids of color. Bleh.

RE: slivers. They went from looking like 'alien' to looking like 'predator', so if humanoid was really the goal, that is where it went really wrong. Epic outside the game fight did not go well for a 'Magic only' thing. I like the old ones, I like the  new ones, but I don't like them together because they have an outside MTG history of fighting each other. There is something to be said for continuity. Make them more HR Geiger-ish if you want to reboot them. It isn't that hard.


RE: the new card frame. I don't care for it. Let's be honest. M15 commons aren't collectable. I can tell the language of a card by looking at it because I care about that. The problem that isn't addressed here is what is it going to be on a Korean card? English telling me its Korean or Korean texts that I still have to recognize as an English speaker? This seems like a predator reboot doesn't mix with an alien past situation all over again.

New frame looks sharp, I like the way that the background curves in before the bottom of the text box - it gives the impression that the box has grown larger, even if only by a little bit.

I'll be interested to see this new font in print.  Comparing the new Wall of Fire with the M13 version (btw, would have liked to have them side-by-side in the article), is the new font slightly larger than the old one?  And will this font, along with the new frames, appear in the digital games too?

A new font seems cool, but why not change all the fonts? 


It looks like there are four different fonts on the cards now, that looks awkward,,


Also, the new all black bottom... Blllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeccccccchhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!


Theros was awesome! keep up the good work!

UGH. I didn't notice the black bottom on Waste Not, but I really do not like seeing it on non-black cards.


I've defended a lot of the card frame variations in the past because they had a reason. 8th edition was to make it more readable. Time Spiral block was for nostalgia. Hybrid gold was to better identify a card's hybrid nature. But this? Using a pre-existing colour on the frame of every colour isn't a good idea, and I don't like it.

"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

All seems fine except the designer credit, which is very distracting and detracts from the card overall, but I like the idea of giving credit. Maybe we'll get used to it.

Cute. For me, Modern Masters was the biggest failure of the year. Ridiculous amounts of price gouging made it inaccessible for many people. It should have been released in enough quantity to make it obtainable at MSRP.

Magic 2014 did deliver some uncontested awesomeness in the form of three new Planeswalker cards—including the most potent version of Chandra to date-[...]


Sorry, but as someone who didn't play M14, but who went through all the cards when they were spoiled, who in the world is the THIRD new planeswalker in M14?

As a designer, I think the new redesign is really dissapointing.


I know they have to unveil it and make it sound exciting and write an article about it, but now the cards look like  digimon or some knock off cheap magic card imitations.The text box on the Wall of Fire looks like its another card placed on top and it looks cheap to me. I cant tell from the image but the thinner border sounds sketchy to me too, but we will see.


 As a casual player and collector mainly for the art, this might be enough to make me stop buying honestly. One of the reasonsI  buy the cards is because they look classic and arent cluttered with extra information that takes away from the aestheics of the card and to the story to which the card belongs. 


No one cares about the card number when playing competative magic, and I dont care for it when I am looking at the art, so please dont make it stand out more. I understand the idea of the foil to authenticate and to make rares feel more special, but i dont thinks that a topps foil stamp was the answer. It seems like they arent confident that they can comission cool art for the rares, which is one of the ways it seems has historically made rares feel cool. I think they could have come up with a lot cooler solutions, like full art rares, foil accents in the frame or art, something cooler than what baseball cards have done forever; anything else would be more exciting.


All in all, I say its a big flop and I hope that they rethink this decision soon; this seems like a white border mistake. ( even though some of the white bordered cards look cool, im glad they are not all white bordered)


Looks fine except for one REALLY irriating aspect. The way that the black border is thicker at the bottom such that it starts above the bottom of the text box just looks wrong. I look at the wall of fire and my eyes are immediately drawn to the bottom of the card. Ugly!

tritium wrote:

Looks fine except for one REALLY irriating aspect. The way that the black border is thicker at the bottom such that it starts above the bottom of the text box just looks wrong. I look at the wall of fire and my eyes are immediately drawn to the bottom of the card. Ugly!


Looks like ill only be collecting swamp fueled cards from now on. Monoblack FTW.

MilonsSecretCastle wrote:

Not a fan of the new card frame. It takes away from the color identity of a card. The Wall of Fire card feels like I'm looking at a weird Rakdos hybrid card. It's like the printer messed up and forgot to print the rest of the card frame. The black void space at the bottom of the card draws my eyes to it and feels extremely jarring.

Hmmm... good point. Compositionally, it does draw the eye. :/

Everything about the new card frame reeks of flop sweat to me. The new frame doesn't look outright awful, but it unquestionably is a step down from what we already have. The black void at the bottom, to make room for a bunch of collector info, is an eyesore, particularly the font used for it. My first thought when I saw the Waste Not image was, "Huh. Strange that they'd show us a prototype for the preview." Because that's what it looks like—something from a computer file, functional but unattractive.


I'm also not a huge fan of the new Beleren typeface. It looks crowded to me, as if the kerning is off. The "F" in Wall of Fire looks especially strange.


Also, this thing about Magic Online:


But there have been problems—this year, last year, every year. It's the nature of the beast, unfortunately, and trust me when I say that no one wants Magic Online to be all that it can be more than us.


Sorry, but the current state of Magic Online is not "the nature of the beast," not with stuff like Hearthstone showing us what a program of this sort can really be. I'm sure plenty of Magic Online players would resent being told that crashes and a shoddy UI are just "the way things are" and that they need to get used to it until some fabled future day when everything will finally "be all that it can be."

I can get used to the new frame, and it's nice that Magic is getting its own signature font. Calling it 'Beleren' certainly made me chuckle. What bothers me greatly though is how far the name, type, and mana cost have been shifted up. It looks like a printing error. And why on Earth does the holofoil stamp (which I would otherwise like a lot) need to protrude into the text box? Look at all that space below it! It's already shiny--trying to compete any more for our attention just looks desperate. Do not want.

Regarding the frame: it's a jarring difference, but I suppose I'll get used to it. Looking at the cards in your hand most people won't really notice the black on the bottom anyway. The font...I'm not really a fan of that capital F--having a capital break the baseline feels weird. I'll reserve judgement on the font until I see it in action, but one thing I will pass judgment on is the "to serve the brand" explanation provided for using it. That kind of reasoning has always stuck in my craw whenever I've heard it--it says it's not to make things better for players, it's not to help solve problems, and it doesn't fulfill any tangible need; it's just there to get one more tiny stamp onto the card that says "Mine!", just in case we'd somehow forgotten.


Also not a fan of the holofoil stamp for taking up space from the text box. I know it won't matter that often, but there seems to be a significant amount of blank space below it--why wasn't that used rather than nudging into useful space?




Regarding the designer credit: No!   It completely kills immersion. The "flavor" text of 1996 World Champion and the Vintage/Legacy Champs trophies are not something you want to emulate--they're just plain ugly. I'm already hoping Waste Not will be reprinted somewhere ASAP without it so I can use the card without ever having to look at that godawful text.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed

Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Card template changes:

I like a couple of them and understand why you've done it. However, 2 of the changes I really don't like:

1) The black bottomed cards seem really bad. Another poster commented how even a mono red card now looks like a Rakdos card and I entirely agree. I imagine it looks even worse on mono white cards..

2) The designer credit seems like a bad idea to me. Who is it for? People who are playing the game don't really care in that moment and collectors interested in the art and flavour text won't want that on the bottom of the cards? The people who care who designed the card would have no difficulty finding that information. What if someone designed a card, then someone made a lot of changes to it, who gets the credit? Do we start getting a list of people? Surely, this will have to take up space which would otherwise be occupied by flavour text in some cases? Even if it's only a small percentage of cards, this is a bad thing.


Keep up the good work, Wizards. I only wish more companies were as open and honest as you guys are.



While every card going forward won't feature a designer credit (kinda sad, really), there are a handful of others in Magic 2015, specifically, that will.

People relax: only M15 will have some cards that have designer credit. I think this is some kind of spoiler, perhaps there will be other community designed cards reprinted, or Magic Invitational winner cards?


You forgot one change in the card frame: the colored part of the frame at the top got round borders, so it follows the shape of the borders of the card. Looks great!

I like it. The black is indeed a little bit funky, but I'll judge it after I played with the set for a while.

The concept of a credit to the designer is great, but why put it at the place you'd excpect a flavor text to be? It's indistinguishable from a flavor text this way!

You could have made it a different color or put it in the black part of the frame, there's a lot of space. This needs to change.

Anyways, looking forward to playing Magic in 2014.

New frame is sharp, I'm definitely a fan.  As someone who remembers how these boards were eleven years ago when the 8th edition frames were first introduced, I'm not surprised that the reaction here is mostly negative... if there's one thing Magic players hate, it's change to the frames.:P


New font?  Seems fine.


Holofoil?  Have to see the physical card to judge, but I assume there was a significant reason  to do it.


The new frame with black section at bottom?  Yuck!  That is truly uuugly on a non-black card.   Its alway been a pleasure just to look at Magic cards, now this utterly unaesthetic, blighted frame will markedly diminshed that.  I hope there still time to change this.  Why ever did you not seek a response from the Magic community before going ahead with this?  Or is that what the article is?  If so, then get back to work to make sure the frame is made visually acceptable.   The new "proposed" frame is much more difficult to stomach than the last time you made a major update.  The illusion that we're looking at a page in a mage's spellbook is well nigh impossible to sustain with this "new" look.  This is much worse than the issue of white cards blending with arificacts in Mirrodin which you fixed with the next set.   Please get this horse back into the barn before it takes a dump.





I like the structured information and get why it's easier for a machine to read. Having a gold setlogo, an R at the bottom and a hologram is a bit excessive, but hey. 

The frame looks fine I think, the only thing I find aesthetically unpleasing is the way the color curves at the bottom to make room for the black.


But with anything desirable it will get beautiful over time. I'm a big Formula One fan and hated those dreadful "duck" noses that teams created to make optimal use of the rules. Now they don't bother me anymore and I even think they look cool on some cars... Weird how the brain works that way.

It's interesting that once again, a major change is rolled out as a "by the way" at the end of an unrelated article.


I don't have an eye for fonts, so would not have noticed a change unless I held old and new cards next to each other.  I like the look of the 'F', though - kind of looks Tolkien / Old English to my untutored eye.


The black bottom to the card does look quite distracting.  I'm sure it's something I can get used to, but for now it just looks wrong.  I agree with the point of another poster that it's more distracting with the color section curving in - seems like a square corner there would've helped hide the transition to black a bit better?  I.e. just make the bottom black border 2 millimeters taller, but keep everything else on the card the same shape, just a little shorter.

The font is fine (in fact I would like to see how it looks on the pre-8th card frame) but I am not at all excited for the new card frame.  That black border at the bottom is an absolute eyesore.  You already made the change from the more primal looking cards to a more animated look, now it is just worse.


Okay, I think many people missed the real reason for the black bottom of the card: 

"erdana, sans-serif">This information is machine-readable by recognition software at our production plants. It will help eliminate the rare packaging error, like cards sneaking into the wrong expansion's boosters."


erdana, sans-serif">This is HUGE. This means they can and are fixing the pack mapping problem for boxes. With OCR tracking, they can ensure that some random number of mythics greater than two or three makes it into the box without the same 'tracks' they were using before. They're also fixing pack quality with this, so they can ensure that there aren't all commons, or missing rares, etc. This is why they did it. 

While the changes are fine and dandy, the way it is implemented/designed just doesn't sit right. The black part of the new border is functional, sure, but I think has too much black to it. If it was just a thicker bottom border, I think it would look better; as it is, the eye is attracted to the border, making it look like there's another layer overlaid over the card.


Also, I find that the border is asymmetrical. The left coloured portion of the card appears to be thinner than the right, and the left seems to be shorter as well, ending at a different point from the right, along with a sharper gradient at the tip. This makes it feel unbalanced. 

Yeah I get that having the card info together is a good thing, but they way they've made that huge black area is really ugly. I think it'd be much better if it wasn't for that curve. The extra black space could have been made by just filling in the space between the text box and bottom border. 
Hopefully they'll see these responses and get rid of the curve, colour is Really important to Magic, it's just too much black on non-black cards!

I must admit that I really don't like the way Wall of Frost and all new non-black cards will look... As someone said, it takes away from the color identity of the cards. Please don't do that.

I agree with what many others have said: the extra thick black area on the bottom of the card is distracting and ugly.


Goblin Artisans
a Magic: the Gathering design blog

I actually thought the fact that once in awhile a common got packaged in with the previous set and turned into a spoiler was pretty cool. I can see why such a thing would be undesirable to them--it does seem a little unprofessional--but it tweaked my glee in the bizarre things of life in a good way.

Couldn't they find a more aesthetic machine-readable font for the info at the bottom? I know the whole 1980s retro thing is in right now--and actually, I approve in general--but that font takes me back in not a good way.


Also, I agree with the poster who mentioned Digimon--after my work sorting cards for my LGS, I very much associate putting this "extra" info at the bottom of the cards with games for younger audiences, like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! Ditto the stupid holofoil. In my experience, MtG players already carry around a certain defensiveness that outsiders might think it's a kids' game being played by adults; why sprinkle salt in the wound?

I agree a proprietary font was probably appropriate, and the name's cute (even though I'm a Jace-hater), but yeah, it looks off in some respects. Initially, I liked it. Then someone here pointed out that F in Wall of Fire, the way the name/mana get shifted up because of those silly tails, and also the kerning. Why, oh why, did someone here have to point out the horrible kerning to me? http://xkcd.com/1015/

Maybe I'll get used to it. Still, I'm pointing out the small things because I figure it doesn't need to be said again that the big black space is butt-fugly, as we kids used to say back in the day. I disagree, though, that eliminating the curve would help. Then you'd just have red (or whatever color) on three sides, which is at least equally weird, if in a different way. Here's a mockup:

Actually, wait, I take it back. The pipeline saves it from being as weird as I thought. Switch to the simple square corner, Wizards. (Also, sorry for botching the lower left corner a bit in the mockup.)

For the people complaining about the bottom big black thing, this was necessary because one of the big problems with the old frame was that it was stupidly difficult to read the collector's number on red cards. You may not care about it but a lot of people do and it was seen as one of the problems.


I'm fine with everything except the oval thing for rares.

lewis440lewis wrote:


The square corner at the bottom looks better than the rounded one in Wizards's own mockup, for sure.  It's crisp, clean, and doesn't draw attention to itself.  That is a change I can get behind!


Would have been great if you were part of the team that changed the layout :P.

My EDH decks:

Erebos ()

Damia ()

Ghave ()

Sliver Overlord ()

Not really interested in the new changes. I like how the cards are now, but I suppose the changes will go over easily and it will be normal again.


The new symbol to show on rares and mythics though? Idk...

I do like the idea of improving Magic the Gathering, and change some things sometimes. But this Card Frame, for me, it is just aweful. The big black bottom reminds me of those weird Proxy frames you see on the internet sometimes. The Stamp seems a really good idea, the Artist info kinda confused me:

"While every card going forward won't feature a designer credit (kinda sad, really), there are a handful of others in Magic 2015, specifically, that will."

You mean on the card flavor? Because i took a better look and it seemed the card artist was there beside the Language code. If you are concerning on taking the artist, please don't, i collect John Avon Cards, and the old ones i know them and can still see on the cards, but new ones i always like to know who painted what. Some cards i can tell by the art, who's artist it is, but some i can't and you can't just take that info off, it is also riping off the artists.


I think the card frame changes will be fine once I'm used to them. But man, I find them pretty jarring. Mostly just the changes that affect the size and position of the art and text boxes. The first thing I noticed was the slimmed side borders, and the deep black box at the bottom containing information not relevant to gameplay is disconcerting, especially on nonblack cards.


I think the change will take longer to get used to on MTGO than on paper. In physical games of Magic, with practice I'll be able to just ignore the part of the card I don't care to see, and arrange my cards in front of me to reflect that. But on MTGO, the positions of cards are fixed, and screen space is limited, so the large black part will be more obnoxious.

Here are my two cents


Font - I actually like the F in Wall of Fire from the new font... if only it didn't shift the mana up which I really don't like.


Holofoil Stamp - It doesn't bother me much and I understand why they added it, but it would make more sense if it wasn't wasting text box space when there is a massive empty black space just below it. I mean why would you brag about "reclaiming real estate" and then just throw it away?


Collector info - There HAS to be a better way.  I just don't think the large black space looks good at all. I can't believe that this is the best they could come up with.  I worry that the card looks less compelling and cards that would normally excite me won't.


Border Size - Don't really care... except off center printing errors are going to be interesting.


Extra - I also think it is bizarre that we now have three indicators on a card to tell players a card is rare... I guess you just can't be too sure.  Maybe we should have a rarity indicator next to the name while we are at it so that you don't need to guess rarity while reading the names.


And now for standard operating procedure - WOTC will pretend they are concerned about our opinions when this change is in all likelyhood locked in and our opinion doesn't matter.  Then we will be upset and threaten to quit or whatever but then give in anyway and keep playing.  Hurrah for the illusion of mattering, ironically the same time the community designed card is revealed.



EDIT - Why were the pro-reserved list people the only ones to ever get their way with WOTC.  It is weird that the relatively small number of card price speculators are to only group that can effectively bully WOTC


Planeswalkers - What the heck are they going to do to make the planeswalker frame work if they need a huge black bar on the bottom

HavelockVetinari wrote:
I agree with what many others have said: the extra thick black area on the bottom of the card is distracting and ugly.


I do not.


There is a functional reason for this, and this is that the text there serves an important functional reason beyond the purposes of the game, and this must be legible by their machines, as stated in Aaron's article. That this conveys information that is of often concern to players, collectors, and other people (a necessary reference item) the information is valuable beyond WotC's own purposes, and thus must be available to each group that has need to use it. Legibility of the text was a problem, especially for red cards, because at times the text was entirely unreadable. This solves that.


I agree that the black border draws the eye downward, as opposed to where the eye was beinh drawn to on the card before this, but for the most part, people will only see that on cards where the card's art and frame blend too harmoniously: i.e., that the art is "forgettable," or obscure in relation to its environment. Only then would you tend to see the black border in any other frame than monoBlack. Is it noticeable? Yes, that is the point. But you had the same type of frame in Planeswalker cards, and we've accustomed ourselves to those right quick.


In this way, the needs of the game and the needs of the collectors align, and the greater good is served, for the minor sacrifice of a disconnect from continuity. Seriously, the 8th Ed. card frame change was a far, far greater reason to bellyache, and the game is doing swimmingly. Cool your jets and give it time.


On other notes:


I don't ever want to see these "neoslivers" ever again. Not only does Wizards misrepresent what evolution means, as if taking a page from their neighbors the Discovery Institute in doing so, but the artistic style chosen is so clearly based on Predator that it is very hard not to agree that this was done as a AvP tie-in. I know it isn't, but if we ever do get slivers again, we can find other ways to show distinction without having to make them humanoid. As if making them humanoid was capable of showing the levels of distinction being offered. How do you show something vigilant? You make him standing upright, in "alert" posture, keeping all senses peeled for intrusion -- and you'd do this with a Sliver OR a Predalien. Poison in nature is shown with bright colors, often mimicking known toxic species, saying "don't eat me, or die." Cryptic species are hunched, to be evasive, to occlude vision or other senses, and to go unnoticed or become unnoticed; so if you need something evasive, then you go cryptic. Flying? Easy, you've got three versions and there's no reason Winged Sliver is less evocative of a flying sliver than Galerider Sliver than in its posture and presentation. But here's the thing: You shouldn't make Slivers care about a mechanic unless you can easily portray that mechanic. Brainshaped exoskeletons shouldn't be on the top of the list.


I hear a lot of good things about Modern Masters, and one of the things said of it was that some cards were needed in higher availability in order to make them more accessible. But this should also draw the prices of those cards elsewhere down a bit. And it did. But for some cards, not by much, and I can point to most of the Mythics to make this point, with things like Vendillion and such continue to have very high market prices regardless where you look.

"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)

After reading someone's comment about how the black bottom border wouldn't be as apparent in your hand, I took a bunch of old trash commons like Defensive Stance and applied a thicker bottom with a sharpie. It really is almost imperceptible in your hand and actually looks nice laid out on the battlefield. My only complaint after having mocked up a game of the worst draft deck ever is that tapped cards are a little visually jarring. I tap my cards closer to a 45 degree angle than a 90 degree one and the thicker bottom makes it look like my creatures are swinging off to the right of my opponent, as the thick line creates a visual point.


As to non-physical black bottoms, the one on the internet has become significantly less jarring after using it as reference for redoing my Cylops Tyrants. I think part of the reason it is so jarring is that the frame is unfamiliar and new.


I really like that art boxes get a little bit bigger and the new font.


I'd say the worst thing about the new frame is further distancing rares and non-rares with the stamp. The rarity indicator is already a thing? The stamp also probably shouldn't have used text box space. I wonder if the stamp location has to do with the practical reasons behind the new frame?

If there are reasons why changes to the frame need to be made, then maybe you should hire a graphic designer to make these changes. There are a number of obvious aesthetic flaws with this frame that take only seconds to spot. I'm talking mostly about Wall of Flame since it's easier to see the problems on a red card:


-The "F" in Wall of Flame extends way beyond the baseline, which is visually jarring (it's also kind of a silly looking font, like you'd expect from a metal band trying to attract teenagers, but that's an aside)

-The red frame is thinner on the left than the right, and the black frame thicker.

-The red frame extends further down the right side of the card than the left. Combined with the above, this gives the impression that the card is off-center.

-The thickness of the black border at the bottom detracts from the colour identity of non-black cards.

-The holofoil sticker fits in the massive black frame at the bottom, but was placed higher where it extends into the card text instead.

-The card name/card type, text box, flavor text, copyright line, and collector's number/artist credit all have different fonts that look terrible together. Three fonts would be too many for a card this size.


Subjectively, I'm not sure what problem the holoframe sticker was meant to solve (were rares that hard for some people to identify? were counterfeits rampant?) and I don't like the look of it - it looks trashy, like the kind of thing meant to bring 10-year-olds into the game (look at this cool sticker!). 


On the positive, I think that the font (capital F aside) looks fine - I'm not sure that I think it's an improvement, but it's not worse. 

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