1/20/2014 MM: "Born Legacy"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.

"Push it a little"?  Really?  A 3/1 for 2, in white, that has an ability that does nothing under normal circumstances and is also symmetrical.  Where exactly is the push?

 

Needs flash.

"erdana, sans-serif">One of the big discussions we had about the global enchantment creatures was that normal creatures can basically have global enchantment effects. What makes these feel any different? My answer was that there will be ways to take advantage of their enchantment nature."

Incoming "Enchantments cost 1 less" card?

Because I need to say it again, in case it got missed in the "Advanced Design" article those two weeks ago:

 

Advanced Design is what novelists have been doing for a very long time. Indeed, anyone who writes long or even short-form has to do this. It's not something YOU just came up with, it's something you're only now applying to how you design your sets. Richard Garfield knew and applied advanced design when he created the game, its system, its constraints, and its open boundaries.

 

You see: Advanced design is what most people call "layout." The problem practice is what you've been doing with set design since, well, you started making sets: starting from an empty template and filling it in towards the end. This is a process that is time-consuming and problematic because it becomes less cohesive towards the end unless you have aseries of brilliant artists (like the Cohens, or Prachett; the former who write short-form furiously, quickly, and generally have an understanding of a goal and a theme but the structure is undefined; or the latter who writes his work from the beginning and fills in the end as needed, which has led to some fairly unconventional but enjoyable -- and coherent -- stories) to constantly work/rework the structure until it is complete, and you find that the whole from beginning to end isn't coherent.

 

But many other novelists work from the outside in. You have a series of concepts you need, a start, a middle, an end. You have vague character concepts or definitive character concepts, and you place them in a scenario that then unfolds. But the major aspect is the fullness of this work: The goal is set, The Fool takes his first step (unbounded potential) and the end is always The World (full realization and manifestation). Follow the thread, to borrow a metaphor, and the path twists and turns and you find knots and broad tangles, but continue and eventually you get to the other end. So your story unfolds, and in its fullness, you find that there are (as there generally are) three acts:

 

Setup

Confrontation

Resolution/Climax

 

The first block of a three block set is always the setup: You have your principle characters, possibly your principle antagonist, and your setting, and you fill it all in -- save the antagonist, who if realized must then be replaced. Then you follow this up with the actual antagonist element, and the challenges of the characters, protagonists, etc., and the ultimate choice of life or death. And then the resolution, or climax, which involves the most complicated problem: realization of the goal, and coming back to the known and safe world. I know you know this, MaRo, but you don't seem to know how this works when it comes to Magic design because it seems you are learning, as lead Designer and block concepter, at a snails' pace what writers have known for millennia. As a writer on Roseanne, this must have been clear to you: You already know effectively where the story ends, because the story almost always ends the same: Characters and situation are introduced and everything is conformed to the status quo; a change arises that disrupts the status quo and the characters are thrown ajumbo; then the status quo is restored, and the moral or aesop is conformed to or, if perverse, twisted. Every bloody episode is either a reflection or a twist on one of this model.

 

So why couldn't you design blocks this way in the past? Why are you only NOW learning this lesson for MtG? It makes the block structure incoherent for the most part. Different designers and developers, without divided elements to show how the block is coherent from the beginning. Instead, you design the block in gross outline, then push through design in such a way that set 1 has no real overlap with set 3. Development on consecutive sets is occuring when development of the previous is concluded and stamped "done." Stop this. Design everything together, including mechanic flow and evolution. This also limits how many mechanics you "have" to make. You can find ways to play with mechancs to make them "fresh" for each block by twisting cards to care about them, or make them operate in different ways. But they become more consistent as a whole. The only time you care about this is in the three-act Limited draft, which is a real crapper of an idea because you design 3-act drafting in development of set 3!

 

I think part of the problem with your system and why it took so long is because the block design had to had stories without conclusions. You never have a third act. There is never a climax, because you always end with the block in effectively a worse-off condition than before and no resolution of threads. Cliffhangers make people pay more money! You cut them, shorn sheer from their weft, so as to begin unravelling. Sure, it gets you more impetus for further blocks, but you can figure that out with your myrad writers. You've got a lot of smart creative people to leave stories with some resolution but enough lose threads to leave people wanting. Heck, you did it with Innistrad given the werewolves transformation into Wolfir, the release of the Angels, the reestablishment of the good faith. Sure the plane is a bit crazy now, but not like what you did with Zendikar, which effectively ends right before the end of Act 2, or how Mirrodin was effectively Act 1 of a three Block play, with Scars being Act 2, neither complete in their own except Mirrodin sorta did have a final conclusion that you twisted to make a second play. But ultimately, this "cliffhanger first" mentality results in poorer block design, and even poorer multi-block design, as the first set of the next block to touch on its previous act has to rehash the previous block's setup.

 

Alara gives you the perfect opportunity to try actually doing this right:

 

Show
You must find a story, and tell it. You can keep this story to yourselves, or novelize it, but world build on it now. You want a structure with an ultimate resolution in sight, a goal to meet. When you do get around to the actual process of world-building as you enter block advanced design, this will be your blueprint. Do this for every block from now on.

 

Setting: Alara, the plane with the mana of its shards mingled up, and the ultimate consequences of this.

 

Premise: Alara is in total chaos. Sharded regions without the requisite aspects of chaos or savagery are being torn asunder, leaving tiny bastions where the "true" color holds sway, where the mana of that shard is strongest and elast influenced by the others. Remember, in other planes, mana can be concentrated and effectively exclude the others, but this is just a flavor of that: mana mingles on the edges. This world cannot stand. It will break apart. Bant is prey to Grixis, unsuited to the NEED the life-starved have for a realm in which stilted and formal order held sway; Esper will lay into Jund in need of the red substance of creation, instituting a process whereby Sharuum and her sphinxes lay waste to the untapped potential of Jund, which it can hardly withstand; Naya, its gods lay bare, find themselves easily subjected to the awesome -- and very real -- demonic powers of Grixis; etc. Chaos.

 

Scenario: Magicians have learned that the plane is not in total isolation, that the Maelstrom isn't a singular planar phenomenon, and that it can be replicated. But they also note that Alara cannot survive the way it has, until mana fully renders all classes even, which will not occur before those suited to predate annihilate those ill-suited to be defend themselves form true predators. So they set about creating a new Malestrom: To divide Alara once again, to replicate Bolas' work. And they do so, a project funneled through Esper's long lost sphinx prognosticator, the seers of Grixis' last human remnants, and the noble tribes of Naya who still revere the Behemoths. Order must come, even if that order is chaos, but so that each culture isn't destroyed.

 

Effect: Alara is split once again, but the mingling of magic has twisted the result. Now, the colors are blended with their opposites: Bant's noble White is attached to the hungry powers of Black and Red; Esper's progressive Blue is blended with the creative and generative Red and Green; Grixis's recursive Black is blended with the cyclical order of Green and White; Jund's savage Red is blended with the domineering stiltedness of White and Blue; and Naya's reverent Green is blended with the cruel and suspecious Blue and Black. Ultimately, the rich powers of the Maelstrom must also be safeguarded, and an order is formed to develop the project, and maintain it through the use of arcane gateways in which masters of only one color of mana may pass. New shards are born, with a new hierarchy that controls them together, such that neither can feed upon the others. They know of beings higher than gods now; they know of Bolas and Tezzeret, and will safeguard against such intrusions again.

 

Resolution: Establishment of a final condition: To safeguard Alara, it must be split, and kept apart, whole but divided, yet bridged about. All mana is required, and the balance is struck: No longer with the weakness of one color render it vulnerable, balanced by its opposite in a whole. Alara will be Divided; Alara will be Whole.

 

This idea brought to you by the letters C, C, B, and Y and by the number π.

"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)

My first thought? This makes Teferi's Puzzle Box the most oppressive artifact ever. Quite an achievement.

I'm curious, Qilong: What kind of response do you hope to get to your question, "Why are you such a slow learner?"

 

Goblin Artisans
a Magic: the Gathering design blog

HavelockVetinari wrote:
I'm curious, Qilong: What kind of response do you hope to get to your question, "Why are you such a slow learner?"

None. Such is the nature of a rhetorical question.

 

Edit:

Show
I actually think that MaRo must know most of this; that he is, in fact, familiar with the complexities of narrative and the variety. He can't have written stories and be unaware of it. He is, in essence, a writer. But the role he has is to lead design, which includes the creative element of world-building and set and block design. I am more curious about the realization that narrative structure of a block requires it to be designed largely as a whole did not occur to him for design in MTG until two years ago when planning for Theros began. If it did occur then, what was the trigger? Why didn't that trigger go off many years before? It is a curious thing, because MaRo started this with Tempest deisgn, structuring the block as the incipient of a narrative that spanned several blocks, however derailed it became. Tempest Block is perhaps one of the best designed blocks when it comes to integration of narrative and mechanic, with the story as told on cards (and not in novels) and with the block structure corresponding to the three act play. But from there, it deviates.

 

Design of a block is incohate. A set is designed with an outline for the block structure, but each subsequent set is designed almost by itself, having tacit referral back to the earlier sets. This is how things have been for a long time. This is how Masques Block occurred, and how Legions happened. When you have such a severe disconnect as set designs for the sake of themselves (e.g., the "mostly black set" or the "all creatures set") you wonder where the coherency of Tempest Block went. At least sets aren't as incoherent as, say, Ice Age was, given it's lack of much rhyme or reason how many of its cards were there or were related to the events of the story.

 

But now we have set coherency, Blocks work as a Limited environment, with flavoristic ties throughout. Sure, Innistrad didn't give us Gisa nor Geralf; nor Nikya or Narbulg from Ravnica, but at least we got structure. In a three act play, you twist the circumstances through the second act so as to cause conflict with your protagonist, and in such a thing the mechanics can shift in a story and in a Block, as typically happens. But MTG of late has done this by presenting a third set with its own limited environment, effectively trying to squeeze two blocks into one. It's popular, but it has as much relationship to the whole block as Shadowmoor did with Lorwyn ... and that didn't go down well.

 

No, I don't expect an answer to my question, I am just curious why, with a company so attuned to the right working skills and its finger to the pulse of the players with its "market research," it merely just figured out blocks should be designed holistically, written and performed as a three act play. It's a skillset for design MaRo specifically wanted, and the reason is obvious: casual set designers, like the two he hired, have spent time designing not just sets but whole blocks. They design them mostly as a whole, as they can move back and froth across set design continuously before "finalizing." Things can be fixed amongst them. This is how design should work, but it's not because the corporate system requires them to toss these out every three months. Their very system prevents them from designing the way they should be, unless they design them so far in advance of release to merely "release" the sets as the block is completed, a system that impairs their ability to react to the metagame. Yet, with this system, one wonders that maybe they'd have caught the mistakes of Clamp, Mystic, JTMS et al. sooner. Because they would be able to look at the whole. As they start releasing sets, they are already preparing development for the next whole block, every card included. Zendikar would have anticipated Scars, seen the potential of Caw Blade. Maybe. But makes you think.

"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)

Ignoring Qilong, I'm very glad they printed this spirit. Since true-name nemesis was printed, legacy has skewed very much toward blue, even more than usual. This counter poke is excellent: death and taxes will obviously enjoy the hatebear, while non-blue stoneblade becomes much more feasible (confidant is not hit by this; he does not draw cards, he puts them into your hand). Yes, it may only be forcing parity, but that's the point. It forces parity, and people will be able to protect it with mother of runes. Also, it hurts revelation significantly. In other words , this gal is virtual card advantage on a 3-power body for 2. Incredibly well done, R&D

M14 is solid good job

NO WAR

 

They've killed Fritz
I've been shadow banned by youtube my comments only show when I'm logged

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If I had a Spirit of The Labrinth out and someone played a card like Opportunity for example.  Which would take precedence?  The Spirit of The Labrinth or the Opportunity?  Does the Spirit void the Opportunity.

 

Freedom's just another word for nothing-left-to-lose. - Kris Kristoferson (sung by Janis Joplin)

 

The Satyr's Ladder legendary artifact enchantment

Creature with 3 or more +1/+1 counters

    have constellation.

    Constilation creatures are industructable

    They can only block and be blocked by

    other constellation creatures and gods.

 

Why would I have destroyed it? ~Xenagos

NO WAR

 

They've killed Fritz
I've been shadow banned by youtube my comments only show when I'm logged

does any see my comment here ?

Guest233824152 wrote:

If I had a Spirit of The Labrinth out and someone played a card like Opportunity for example.  Which would take precedence?  The Spirit of The Labrinth or the Opportunity?  Does the Spirit void the Opportunity.

 

 

the spirit prevents the action opportunity seeks to take. Therefore, your opponent will draw no cards if they have drawn a card already this turn. If they haven't, opportunity will do as much as it can. It will draw one card for the target player, then be stopped. If the spell has effects besides drawing cards (think serum visions) all effects other than the card draw will still take place.

To clarify:

 

The spirit replaces all actions of "draw" with no action taken. If an action directs a player to draw any additional cards in their turn, such as Howling Mine, that card has no effect. "Can't" has priority over "can," always.

 

However, if a card would replace "draw" with some other action, such as Abundance or Words of Waste, then that player would be able to use that replacement effect as many times as they wished (if he could) until such a time they decided to "draw" a card, which then is permitted as it is the "first card they would draw." Cards such as Otherworld Atlas and Mind's Eye skirt the restriction as long as you are "drawing" on another player's turn. Additionally, cards such as a fully-quested up Archmage Ascension and Tomorrow, Azami's Familiar replace each potential draw with either Impulse or with a tutor, so the player never "draws" a card during any of their turns, and the Spirit never affects them.

 

Some cards have additional effects that care about what you might do if you would draw, and this can have deleritous effects. If a player has Anvil of Bogardan out, that player is directed to take an additional "draw" but then discard; the first action cannot occur, but this doesn't void the second. The end result is that the player's hand goes up 1, then down 1. Cards like Chains of Mephistopheles have similar, but more complicated wording, but doesn't affect any additional draws as there is an "if" clause involved: It only triggers when a player "draws" an additional card sometime other than their draw step. This works on other players' turns (see Mind's Eye) but not if they would draw more than that one card per turn.

 

Then there's Teferi's Puzzle Box, which occurs in this order: Player draws for their turn. Puzzle Box triggers. Player puts all cards in hand on the bottom of their library. Player cannot draw additional cards. Each player's hand will eventually be empty, and cannot be filled except through extraneous means on other players' turns.

"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)

erdana, sans-serif">While the (untap) ability seemed simple enough on the surface, we found that it actually proved hard for a lot of players to process.

 

erdana, sans-serif">Really? I'd be interested in seeing/hearing about the data that lead to this conclusion. 

 

erdana, sans-serif">Could it be that out of the over 466 cards in the Shadowmoor/Eventide block, only 16 had the untap symbol? That means roughly 3% of the cards!

If you want people to get familiar with something don't you have to expose them to it and give them cards that are powered highly enough that they want to use them?  
 

From the article: "erdana, sans-serif">With some thought, I came up with a compromise, what if token creatures could be vanilla enchantment creatures?"

 

erdana, sans-serif">This doesn't make any sense. Why would creature tokens be enchantments? Seems the only reason is THS is an enchantment block, so hey we put enchantment on some creature tokens. To me this says there isn't enough design space for "enchantment creatures" and you just tagged this on some random tokens to make the block feel more like it is about enchantmens.

erdana, sans-serif">Same with the Gods' weapons in THS, while interesting cards, there doesn't seem a need for them to be artifacts enchantments except that you needed to hit enough enchantments in the card file to market THS as an enchantment block.

Cervantez wrote:

From the article: "erdana, sans-serif">With some thought, I came up with a compromise, what if token creatures could be vanilla enchantment creatures?"

 

erdana, sans-serif">This doesn't make any sense. Why would creature tokens be enchantments? Seems the only reason is THS is an enchantment block, so hey we put enchantment on some creature tokens. To me this says there isn't enough design space for "enchantment creatures" and you just tagged this on some random tokens to make the block feel more like it is about enchantmens.

erdana, sans-serif">Same with the Gods' weapons in THS, while interesting cards, there doesn't seem a need for them to be artifacts enchantments except that you needed to hit enough enchantments in the card file to market THS as an enchantment block.

 

The artifact type is actually more of a spandrel. While the art makes it seem like a human might be able to wield it, there's no real demonstrated example, but they used to be equips, had to be enchants, and had to be legendary. Equippage was the most baggy, but when they took equip away, they left artifact behind as a remnant of its construction: a spandrel.

"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)

IMAGE(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e8/Escher_Waterfall.jpg)

Waterfall (M. C. Escher)

Artifact Enchantment

NO WAR

 

They've killed Fritz
I've been shadow banned by youtube my comments only show when I'm logged

does any see my comment here ?

Matt_Holck wrote:

//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e8/Escher_Waterfall.jpg)

Waterfall (M. C. Escher)

Artifact Enchantment

It's more of a land. An enchantment land. I dunno how'd that work.

"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)