What that meant was that we had to take steps to make poison feel different from life loss. The first one is something I've talked about before. Life gain is an integral part of Magic. This means that when attacking a life total, there is always the problem of the opponent undoing the damage done to them. To give poison a different feel, I kept poison removal out of the block. Note this doesn't mean there aren't answers to poison (because there are) just that these answers aren't about undoing the damage already done.
You need to do more than "get rid of life gain" for poison to not be exactly like another life total. The only part that makes Infect any different from previous attempts is that part that has nothing to do with poison, namely the Wither aspect. That makes it work in limited. Poison is still another life total, even if it's a life total that pretends there is any one of several red enchantments that prevert players from gaining life (ie removing counters) already in play.
Otherwise...you still attack with creatures, you still have to connect to a player, and you still win after scoring a certain amouint of points. No element of what was done here could not have been done at any other time with other abilities.
Adaptive – The Phyrexians' greatest strength is that they have the ability to change so easily. They are always looking for ways to improve themselves. If the enemy shows them something better than what they have, the Phyrexians will instantly adopt the new, more powerful thing. The Phyrexians have no sentimentality. They will use what works. (Hmm ... kind of like Spikes.)
Toxic – The Phyrexians do what is good for the Phyrexians. What they do is seldom good for everyone else. In fact, the Phyrexians take advantage of their ability to survive by making the environment toxic to everything but themselves. They win by making the environment only sustainable to them. (Hmm... kind of like Spikes.)
BTW, who else is intrigued by that cryptic remark on paying life totals? Lifegain block in 2011?
'I have had players complain about having extra rares in a pack. I’ve had players complain about getting free things. I have had players complain because they liked something “too much”.' - Mark Rosewater's Twitter, May 7th, 2013
Seems a waste of resources to put that much time and effort into something that's essentially meaningless. The watermark does nothing. I strongly suspect all it will ever do is serve as an arbitrary deck-restriction in a soon-forgotten Limited gimmick.
@ Qmark The watermark isn't there for Spikes. It's there for those that care about the flavor of the cards.
Then R&D assumes the Vorthoi of the world are just too stupid to infer what's Phyrexian and what's not, given the criteria that was used to assign watermarks.
While people can infer that a card is either Phyrexian or Mirran, why not have something in plain sight to tell one from the other. Having a watermark doesn't say people are too stupid to figure out the flavor of a card.
So what if the watermark doesn't "do" anything. The Ravnica watermarks don't "do" anything either. A watermark is just there for flavor reasons, nothing more.
@ Qmark The watermark isn't there for Spikes. It's there for those that care about the flavor of the cards. I'll assume you also feel the same way about the Ravnica block watermarks.
@ Hacimen I am very curious, how would you make poison work so that it doesn't act as another life total.
I don´t speak for Qmark & Hacimen but I got the impression I share their opinions, so:
The watermarks seem unnecessary & pointless, just like back in Ravnica after the second game you won´t notice them anymore. But they don´t bother me, if they wanted to print them so badly ok, it just seems like a waste of work to me.
Personaly I think it was a mistake to print poison, its a bad mechanic and I don´t see the point of "fixing" it, since it is just another life total. With the new infect keyword those creatures practically deal double damage to players. Chances are high that not a single infect creature will see play outside of limited because infect & "normal" creatures don´t work together at all.