I'm going to disagree with MaRo about them having done a bad job with color bleeding in New Phyrexia with the Phyrexian mana. Dismember is currently the posterchild of "bad design are bad", but really it does nothing which couldn't be done already, and for a fairly steep price too. It has the power it does because of the extreme flexibility in casting, but is only super-special awesome because it isn't in a format where Naya and Jund rule the roost, nor is it in a format where creatures are ancillary, but it is instead a flexible card in a format which is dominated by a bunch of small key creature cards, and for that it pulls Standard by it's nose. But outside of standard, it becomes a much more risky card, even in a format as balanced as Modern, throwing away 4 life to make a 1f1 is a rough exchange in any color because the decks aren't made up of small creature combos.
A better example would be Act of Aggression , which is a super flexible Act of Treason , it's a control card which supplies Big Red decks as well as big x decks of any color a super flexible cast, but for a fair price.
Starting with the article:
Although I feel completely betrayed that my opinion had no merit on whether or not my people won(Mirrodin was my starting block, and I have always considered it my plane of origin), I understand not only that you guys were able to tell a story in this way, but were able to make me feel like I was fighting for my home every time I played against infect(which I ironically love. Phyrexian mechanics were cooler, hands down.). As for the fate on my home plane, I know, one day, we WILL take Mirrodin back from those philthy phyrexian scum.
Now for Speculation:
As for the silver bordered white card, it could be multicolor. Maybe a meddling kids for card types?
Mono white, Staying Power and Once More With Feeling seem most likely, but other possibilities include:
A Rebuff the Wicked Seal (I'm Rubber, You're Glue)
A new iteration of Vindicate (A** Whuppin')
Five-loyalty-ability Planeswalker? Brings to mind a quirky Rules entry:
306.3. Planeswalker subtypes are always a single word and are listed after a long dash: “Planeswalker — Jace.” Each word after the dash is a separate subtype. Planeswalker subtypes are also called planeswalker types. Planeswalkers may have multiple subtypes. See rule 204.3i for the complete list of planeswalker types.
That's right: two planeswalkers, one card.
It would most likely be visually formatted like this:
Ability A(Planeswalker 1) Ability B(Planeswalker 2)
Ability C(Planeswalker 1) Ability D(Planeswalker 2)
Ultimate Ability E(Planeswalker 1 AND 2)
If it's only one planeswalker, the formatting still stands.
As for the life total exchange, an exchange with your posion count would be nice, but it's not gonna happen. Life totals have loosely be exchanged with your graveyard or permanents through various Liches, You can already exchange with players and teammates, and one card makes your library count your life total, so maybe "Your life total becomes the number of cards in your hand. Discard your hand."
The one mana Shivan Meteor seems like a Visions of Beyond parallel. Maybe deals 3, then deals more if Super-Thresh?
13 tokens. Nuff said.
A bear that makes bears seems ludicrous, so it's probably a 0/1, and GG or GW, or even BB and you have to pay life for the tokens.
". . . .turns a loss into a win." -- pretty straightforward. Probably a reitration of Platinum Angel and Abbyssal Persecutor. Note: Seems abusable with Liches.
First things first: We know that the two planeswalkers in Innistrad are Liliana and another version of a planeswalker already printed. We know Sorin is on the preview image of Dark Ascension, so he's most likely out. We know that there is new art for Garruk on Innistrad products. Though, it could be another "preview" image. It's also assumed that the two planeswalkers introduced in Duels 2012 (Koira and Ral will be in this block but not in the first set because that's already used up by Liliana and the other preprinted walker.
Now, that is rumored five different planeswalkers; Liliana, Garruk, Sorin, Kiora, and Ral. Five is probably the number for this block because as it stands there is going to be TWO planeswalkers released in a small set, which has never been done before. The odds that they'll introduce a sixth planeswalker to make back to back small sets with two planeswalkers is definitely unlikely. (And a smaller set definitely won't have more than the big set of the block.)
Process of elimination shows that Liliana of the Veil and Garruk are going to be in Innistrad. Liliana is probably going to be monoblack, and Garruk could possibly be multicolored but that's up to speculation. One of them will have five abilities.
But also, they learned a lot from Jace. They will. Jace was not powerful because he had four abilities, he was powerful because he had four overly powerful and disproportionally costed abilities. (If Jace's +2 milled, his 0 cost -1, and his -1 cost -2, we would not be having any of the planeswalkers problems we are having now.)
NOW onto what the article really was about.
I think Scars did a lot of things right. It got players talking about the game. It did. There was so many debates on who would win the war and who would lose.
But Mark definitely hit the nail on the head when he said the Mirrans and Phyrexians were off balanced on the coolness level. It was just... so awful. It really was.
You really just need to look at the mythics to see how this works. There are two Mirran legendary mythics. TWO. One was a reprint, Mindslaver. The other? Thrun. Who really isn't anything that extraordinary or unique and definitely does not have any major flavor or story resonance.
Look at the legendary Phyrexian mythics. EIGHT. And they're all epic and unique. The praetors just hit on so many levels. And then there's Praetor's Council which makes you have an unlimited hand size for the rest of the game. Blightsteel Colussus can kill you in ONE hit.
The Mirran's really only have the cycle of Swords...
Which brings me to talk about Living Weapon. First, Batterskull really makes all the Mirran equipment look kind of silly in comparison. And I understand the pervasiveness of Living Weapon. It makes it seem like the Mirrans are truly losing control over everything. It's just...
It's really hard to have competing sides when one side is just using better the other's technology but in better and cooler ways.
The problem is definitely the parasiticness of metalcraft. Your infect deck was still working if you only had one infect creature on the battlefield. You metalcraft deck was off until you had three specific things on the board! (Obviously only two if the artifact itself had metalcraft.)
I feel like if the Mirrans had a variable or gradual effect based on the number of artifacts you controlled instead of an "off and on" switch, it would have felt like they could have competed more adequately in the war.
It might have been too complicated gameplay wise, but if it was something like Metalcraft -- This creature gets +1/+0 for each artifact you control, I feel that players would have been much happier with the gameplay and that it leads to better stories.
But yea. I really loved Scars, and I never looked forward to a block more than Innistrad. (I graveyard blocks.)
Maro writes "A card based on a silver-bordered white card".
A few of you've already mentioned the few un-cards that are already turned to black-bordered cards: The Cheese Stands Alone and What (the split card), but I don't think these are what Maro was thinking. Flopfoot has also mentioned that Cheap Ass could be the base for a card that makes the second spell you cast in a turn cheaper, and I quite like this idea.
My guess is, however, Frankie Peanuts . This could be base for a creature with something like ": Choose target creature. Its controller chooses yes or no. If that player chooses yes, that creature must attack or block this turn if able. If the player chooses no, that creature can't attack or block this turn."
A quick note to the poster saying that a card with an effect like "If you would lose the game, you win the game instead" would allow an instant win through Phyrexian mana, note that it doesn't quite do it. You cannot pay life you don't have; you cannot pay an amount of life that would reduce your life total to zero or less. So you can get yourself to either 1 or 2 depending on whether your life total was odd or even to start with, but you'd still need a Shock or something to finish it off.
None of the Innistrad hints make me feel optimistic about Innistrad, so you've just made me more worried about MTG, not less.
I hated poison/infect and can't wait for it to eventually rotate out. Too many cards dedicated to a horrible mechanic that makes playing magic a lot less fun for people who don't like the mechanic.
You also never touched on the most serious failure of the design year: You created a meta with a few far too powerful deck themes and scores of themes that could have been competitive with just a little more support. There is nothing fun about a meta were a handful of decks and their minor variants account for the vast majority of competitive decks in Standard. If you want to look for something to focus your attention on doing better on in the future, that's the ten ton gorilla in the room!
With magic being a social game, I really have disagreed with the stated goal of making the average magic game a lot shorter. I think that goal must account for a lot of the problems in the meta. You can't have too many cards that create quick wins, or people might find ways to put them together for wins that even you would agree are too quick. So, it's not hard to see how we've ended up with a meta with a small handful of decks that are overpowered and offer early win conditions and thousands of other decks that would have been fun and viable if not for the existence of the cards that make these few uber decks possible. Besides, I don't find duels that end on turn four or five to be very satisfying, even when I'm the winner, so it's not worth all the headaches designing around that goal provides.
I'm also tired of tribals being printed that are a couple cards short of being competitively viable, only to have those cards never materialize. Why even bother with populous tribes if you never want them to reach competitive viability? It seems to me that well defined tribes offer an opportunity to expand the number of competitive decks that don't have much bleed over into other themes causing headaches. I hope the hesitance isn't because a tribal theme will be "too obvious". With the internet and the highly evolved deck design resources available today, themes that are powerful and competitive are going to be duplicated and proliferate into the space in the blink of an eye anyway.
Final peeve, the percentage of cards in any given magic set that just aren't viable for play is getting way out of hand. Why don't you take most of the wasted design space and try to increase the number of viable deck strategies, rather than making a game with hundreds or thousands of cards (depending on format), that still some how manages to provide so few competitively viable choices? Does it really make sense to produce sets where at least half the cards will never see play in even the most casual decks? (Cards that are designed to be viable "in limited only" aren't any better. Play once and toss should never be considered a design "win").
I love the game, but I think there are some harsh realities on the design end that are holding the game back, because no one wants to acknowledge them.
There is a sour irony in the fact that the format that should be the most viable for new players to get their feet wet in is also the format that forces players to choose one of three to six usually very expensive uber decks if they want to have any chance at all in the format.
Agreed the decks for formats are fun. You would be printing money for wizards (both if the coast and common mages) if we could draft physical masters edition im just saying i know it would never happen but would be fun.
Having seen the article about the day/night thing, I find myself wondering whether "Prove Mechanic X works" is a big deal because Mechanic X is day/night...otherwise why would they need to prove anything? I'm thinking perhaps Night is triggered by there being 13 cards in any ONE graveyard, or among ALL graveyards (though that would be pathetically easy in multiplayer). Referencing a graveyard other than yours makes things very different from threshhold, and it creates interesting subthemes for different colors - Black tries to create Night with kill spells and discards, Blue does it with mill, Green creates Day by removing cards in graveyards, and so forth. Could be neat.
I would love to see a WUBRG planeswalker with an ability themed around each color, or each basic land type. Maybe no ultimate, or maybe use flavor to decide which colors care most about the late game. Here's an off-the-cuff (spoilered so MaRo doesn't have to stop reading the thread now):
Planeswalker - Cinqus, WUBRG, 5
+3: Put a Forest from your hand into play.
+1: Untap target Island.
+0: Target Mountain is a 2/2 red creature until end of turn.
-2: Sacrifice a Plains. If you do, gain 10 life.
-7: Each opponent loses 1 life for each Swamp you control; gain life equal to the life lost this way.
As long as none of the five abilities are too strong (with the exception of the ultimate, which really should be anyway) then there shouldn't be much of a problem.
I only have an opinion on the silver bordered card part:
List of Uncards I think it might could be and reasoning Show
Double Dip --Might not be next game, but even if it is it isn't that much of a stretch, especially in tournament play.
Get a Life --Multiplayer/Teams Matter would be an awesome thing to make a block around, not to mention it's a possible marketting ploy like the Commander decks (which had the goal of getting more people in to multiplayer, Commander format specifically). Archenemy and Planechase are similar examples.
Lexivore --Might not be "lines" it'll look for, but just cause it's not lines doesn't mean the card couldn't be based on this.
Once More with Feeling -- Karn Liberated cleared the way for better "restart" spells, and this is a "restart" spell.
The Cheese Stands Alone --Yes, it has already been remade, but that does not eliminate the possibility of it being printed again. Because Rosewater simply states "A card based on a silver-bordered card" not "...that hasn't been remade before." Barren Glory is as much a possible reprint as any other silver-bordered card.
Head to Head --If they can print Liar's Pendulum there's nothing stopping them from printing this.
Look at Me, I'm R&D --Changing text isn't a new thing, but changing a text number is.
Staying Power --This should be obvious.
I 100% disagree that color pie bleed is bad for the game. I liked the way the old cards would give you an effect but make you pay more for it. White could save your creature for a mana, black could do it for a mana and 3 life.
Red could kill a land for 2R, but Black had to pay 1BB.
Dismember and Phyrexian mana is right in there with free spells because it's a colorless card (essentially), and I still don't think its all that bad.
Just wanted to clarify that it's not a "lets put something in a color that doesn't normally get it" issue, its a "lets make something undercosted AND essentially colorless with a slight discount if you play black".
The life exchange comment: The most fun I had at a prerelease was at the Unhinged one, where I decided to play the card that sets your life total to your age-which was more than twice what I started the game with. However, that is not an exchange (unfortunately), and not doable anyway. Given the set themes, it could be the number of cards in a graveyard-you get to adjust the graveyard size by milling/returning cards to library/removing cards from the game.
Five-ability planeswalker: Hope it's Liliana. I like monoblack, and it's just not competitive right now. And I share the fears it will be too strong-somehow I don't see them printing a weak planeswalker
Turning a loss into a win: This does not sound like a Platinum Angel -type card to me, as that one just prevents losing. Commander fans would probably love an enchantment saying "If you would lose the game, one of your opponents loses the game instead". It should not be an instant, that would be way too powerful. In fact, it should be a creature, as that's easiest to remove.
The token maker: we already have Imperious Perfect . Unless these are 2/2 even if the maker leaves the game.
I have to applaud Maro for this article. I think he hit the nail right on the head with several issues.
Firstly, as someone who is on the "I really dislike poison" side of the discussion, I'm very glad to see R&D's biggest supporter of poison admit that it's not the mechanic for everyone. I'm obviously biased, but it's a relief to see the goal "prove poison works" not be marked as a complete success. I initially enjoyed poison for its novelty, but after a few frustrating Scars/Scars/Scars drafts the good feelings wore off. There was a huge dilemma in that draft format; infect was the exciting new mechanic that everyone wanted to play, but there were not enough resources for more than one or two people to play it effectively. This led to some really awkward events in which half the table saw some kind of infect bomb within their first few picks and tried to force it, causing every single one of them to end up with a nearly unplayable deck.
As the block progressed, I feel that the limited environment improved significantly, but it was still not without flaws. The reversed pack order drafting that began with Beseiged really felt to me like it was R&D pandering to people who wanted to play with poison. Coming from the standpoint of someone who would rather not have to play with poison, I found that when I strayed away from infect-based strategies, I was frequently at a severe disadvantage in terms of board position. Infect placing -1/-1 counters on creatures was very difficult to effectively combat. A battle between a modestly-sized army of normal creatures and a modestly-sized army of creatures with infect is a foregone conclusion. In combat with normal creatures, creatures with infect are strictly better. I found this frustrating and tiresome, frequently finding myself sitting helpless for several turns while I tried desperately to get my big creatures to absorb hits from small infect creatures, protecting my inherently halved "life total".
In terms of flavor, yes, poison was quite successful. As the recipient of it, I often felt like I was battling against an unstoppable enemy and heading to an inevitable defeat. As the giver of poison counters, I felt sinister and underhanded.
Regarding the shift to fifth-stage design, I'm intrigued to see what the next few years bring. Scars block, based on what I've said in the previous few paragraphs, obviously isn't my favorite block, but I think that Innistrad has the potential to really hit home with me. What concerns me, though, is that to me it felt like the article was stating that R&D was moving away from blocks having a mechanical identity. I, for one, really liked having blocks layed out as "this is a block that focuses on X" and "the block expands on X in ways A, B, C... etc". I don't feel that storytelling should be Magic's main goal, but rather the cards should facilitate a story to be formed around them. I loved Zendikar block for that reason; it was a new exploration and expansion into unexplored mechanical space, and the flavor behind it was presented to the audience in a way that was innately fun and made intuitive sense (adventure theme). I hope that we'll get to see more blocks that hit home like Zendikar in the future.
I also have to commend Wizards on keeping the contents of Innistrad largely under-wraps. By this time when Magic 2012 was approaching, at least one half of the set was public knowledge through rumor sites. At the time of me writing this post, there are less than ten cards from Innistrad so far known to the public, not including the basic lands. I like this, because apparently Mechanic X is a Big Deal, and Big Deals I think should be kept secret until it's time for them to explode onto the scene with a bang. I also have to say that I'm stumped as to what Mechanic X could be. I honestly have no idea. My only hope that this time it isn't reminiscent of Shadowmoor and the hints at "Q", which was the flop that the Untap Symbol became. (and by the way, I would love to see the untap symbol return one day, although put to better use)
Lastly, the teasers at the end of the article... Having seen many of these now and looking back later to see what cards those teasers hinted at, I've noticed a recurring theme: Maro ususally drastically overstates a card's power by not mentioning any of its drawbacks. Elemental Appeal was framed to us as a card that could make a 14/1 token, but what wasn't said was that to do so required 5RRRR. I strongly suspect that the more absurd effects listed among the teasers have similar drawbacks. And the five-ability planeswalker? No idea who he/she/it is, and no idea what said card will do. I'm intrigued to see the templating, and even more intrigued to see if this walker will be the second coming of Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Overall, in my opinion this is probably the best article Maro has written in some time and I'm really looking forward to Innistrad previews and the next year of Magic.
I realize that the best way to get feedback on what you are doing is what people say on the internet, but many players can't/don't spend a bunch of time doing it. The article says: "For the first time, there was a Prerelease about something more than just "Hey, look—new cards."'
For the vast majority of people that I saw, it was about picking which promo card to get. I had to explain that the reason they got to pick their promo card was because there was a 'war' to many players that day. If you don't read the internet you have no idea about this crap since watermarks were way too subtle. Besides, you only really notice them on foil cards.
Scars block was not the Star Wars game where I was forced to build a deck all of one side and my opponent was forced to have the other by the rules of the game. Even in draft, I played mirran cards alongside Phyrexian cards-even when I had to pick a promo card, I mean a side. Then I didn't play against the other side all day. I played against the same side because we wanted the same promo card. In constructed, I am playing mirran cards with phyrexian cards with Zen block cards etc. It just doesn't come alive as you say it does. It is still just 'look-new cards' and 'how to they work with what I already like doing?'. This is clearly shown in what you said when praising proliferate, which is awesome by the way.
I liked the set just fine, and I have no problems with its execution. The entire thing you claim is the 'cake' of the block required that I read your articles to know anything about its existance. If you seriously think that is the cake of design, you are nuts. This is exactly as you described nostalgia: more icing if you read the articles but totally unimportant otherwise. Poison is just like affinity. A linear strategy you can choose to play and very likely not care what the watermarks on your cards are.
I'm surprised how disappointed I am that Innistrad is not set in Ulgothra. I guess it was the only evidence we had that this set isn't a knee-jerk reaction to Twilight et al.
I guess I'm still excited about how dark this could be but we just had the Phyrexians so I doubt it will be gruesome. Most likely the efforts to emulate classic fantasy-horror will ensure there is no room in the set for it's own personality. Bring on the generic spum! I really hope I'm wrong.
I also hope there are Scarecrows.
I really hope turning a loss into a win involves drawing a card while you have no library. I'm buying a dozen Levelers right now just in case....
I want to exchange my life total with the number of cards in my hand. It could happen - for an exorbitant price anyway. Probably planeswalker loyalty though.
On the 5 ability Planeswalker: Versatility is incredibly powerful. No one of Jace's abilities was all that broken, and without any one of them he would have been a perfectly balanced 'walker. Giving the player one more option on any particular turn just allows them to always have an answer at any point in the game. The 5 ability walker will guarantee that the player controlling the walker will always be doing something extremely relevant with him. The only way they could make him bad is by making all the abilities do pretty much the same thing (different colors or permanent types), or by making him cost 7 mana.
Im thinking the life changing card changes your life total with the number of cards in your graveyard, giving the theme of the set.
A few things:
As some have pointed out, five abilities doesn't necessarily mean powerful. Jace had good abilities, and he only cost four mana.
I agree dismember was a "misstep". Eternal formats now have a one mana instant kill spell in all colors forever. But we'll live.
No mention of the Jace and SFM standard bans? Seems like that could be on a list of things that didn't go so well, but perhaps that was more development, less design.
No mention of the birth of Modern, the eternal format of the future? I guess that also development too?
I think the "fith stage" of design is very cool. It does feel like a more evolved way to build a block instead of "themes x, y, and z on plane p".
I'm really looking forward to Innistrad, mainly because of the flavor (and assuming the gameplay will be good).
With the shift in focus to flavor/story in blocks it starts to seem a little odd that standard is the last two blocks: Gothic horror and Alien invasion of an artifact plane? Maybe one day standard will consist of one design "block" then rotate to the next.
I really liked one poster's legacy metaphor about dredge
"Pick a side. Help determine the outcome of the war. PSYCH!!!"
If player choices had had even the slightest bit of impact beyond which promo card you got, then, yes, it would have been very cool. As it is, for me the story of Scars block is: "Here's this really cool thing we've thought of that we're going to pretend to do and then not do. But hey, have a Mindslaver and some poison counters. Isn't this block really cool with all the cool cards. What? That even cooler thing we promised? Ummm... Hey, look, more Living Weapon!"
Granted, it's more of a marketing lesson than a design lesson, but offering (or at least deliberately appearing to offer) players something very cool and then not delivering ultimately:
"A card that turns a loss into a win"
This could be a very powerful card. There's no way it will be an instant. I have a hunch it will be black, and either be a sorcery or have a symmetrical effect. I can't imagine this would be as simple as making the game a race to 0 life. There are too many ways to injure yourself already, and there's no way on earth they'd print this on the back of phyrexian mana. Blinding Souleater anyone? I guess it will either be an answer to another new alternate win condition elsewhere in the set, or work via you emptying your library then having to draw.
"A card that lets you exchange your life total with something you've never been able to exchange it with before"
Planeswalker loyalty would put severe constraints on how good planeswalker ultimates can be (unless the card in question is rubbish). I would guess (creature?) cards in your graveyard, which would make it a kind of Liche; but none of the existing ones work in quite that way, to the best of my knowledge. They do away with the need for a life total at all.
In fact, I wonder if the two sentences quoted above are about the same card..? It could be a Liche effect (by which I mean, something that replaces your life total with the cards in your graveyard) that incentivizes you to pump cards out of your library into your graveyard, by making an empty library a win condition. That would overcome the traditional frailty of Liches, without being overpowered or making too many of your opponent's cards redundant.
Your life total is equal to the number of creature cards in your graveyard. If your library is empty and you would draw a card, instead you win the game.
My theories for Innistrad:
If there is a card in Innistrad that is even slightly inspired by Norman Bates, I will grab every copy that I can. Psycho is far and away my favorite movie of all time. And if it so happens to be legendary, I will make an EDH deck for it and die happy.
I mean, Murder of Crows seems to be at least loosely inspired by The Birds, so there's hope yet! I'm not sure how it'd work as a magic card since it's not traditional horror, but Rear Window or Vertigo homages would be awesome too. I mean Vertigo may not be supernatural horror, but it's a profoundly disturbing movie.
I reckon the exchange life total is with a planeswalker - your life for its loyalty and vice versa. Remembering that their loyalty is usually kind of low, its a risk strategy to 'go ultimate'.
Interesting, thoughtful article. As a state of design statement though the areas missed are the areas I most wanted to hear about. What about that Jace. What about the narrowing of standard. What about Modern. I really don't care whether they are development or not, cos until we get a state of development statement this needs to be a bit more holistic.
Hmmm... I'm not actually sure I buy into this stage 5. I mean, I liked scars but then I also liked mirrodin, and I don't see scars as stage 5 vs mirrodin's stage 4. I just think scars is mirrodin with another 8 years of practice. I think you're just saying more top-down design, but this time it won't suck like it did with Homelands.
anyway, I look forward to hearing about innistrad and finding out if it is a copy of my GDC2 Ulgrotha :p
Hmmm. Just thought of something regarding the "Exchange of life total". In everyone's examples would it could be, it is written as "Your life total becomes equal to X". However, Maro's article specificly says exchange(i.e "your life total becomes X, X becomes your life total). Now, I have no idea how it could be anything but Loyalty.
5 ability planeswalker should be super interesting regardless of power level. Can't wait to see what Mechanic X will be.
Regarding the rage about the lack of means to remove poison counters: I for one think this was a better choice than including ridiculously narrow, block-specific hosers like Minamo's Meddling or Rend Spirit . Burn the Impure is close enough as it is, but at least it's kinda like Volcanic Hammer in an infect-free environment. Lord knows I don't need more of that kind of card in my box.
Yeah, @wspanial, that's the whole point of the Prisoner's Dilemma--if both prisoners agree on a way of doing things, they both benefit, but without coordination and communication everyone does what is best for him or her, resulting in everyone getting screwed--in this case, by not getting enough Infect creatures.
So, MaRo is using the Prisoner's Dilemma in absolutely the correct way. And uh... that video you cited directly contradicts your argument.
13 damage to 13 creatures for one mana... did you reprint Firestorm ?
After browsing Gatherer I belive these might be the best condenders for "A card based on a silver-bordered white card"
Once More with Feeling
With a little modification these could be used
Knight of the Hokey Pokey
Emcee adding counters might go with
Mikaeus, The lunarch. Perhaps 1+/+1 counters may be used for the Werewolf mechanic as Luna=moon
Full moon= Werewolf
Just a speculation.
You guys should pay more attention to what the article says, " As always, let me be clear that while everything I say is true, I'm purposefully not telling you everything." So a planeswalker with 5 loyalty abilities probably means, it has a +5 and a -5, and some other ability. Misleading is misleading on purpose!
should just point out first that the card is onl based on a silver boardered card, which means it could be something as small as a flavor text refrence.
plansewalker with 5 abilities, that sounds a bit dangerous after what happened with jace, just hope the learned their leason in time to make this card properly.
Im kinda intrested in the card that makes a loss a win. some kinda instant that switches life totals and damage targets maybe?
and for the life total swapping card, that is something that could be interesting. imagine switching life total with your hand count or loyalty counters on a planeswalker.
Great article, and really looking forward to Innistrad...! Re: Prisoner's Dilemma: The reason that what MaRo talked about can't be called a prisoner's dilemma is that in the Dilemma, it always pays off to "rat" regardless of the other person's choice. Here, if one person "rats" and another doesn't, they both benefit.
Bright points in an otherwise lackluster showing.
willpell explains it better:
I was putting some Zen cards away just the other day, and noticing all the common lands, and thinking how much I would enjoy Magic if all sets had more cards like that. Where the cards are part of the game, instead of just sitting there.
Hated the "which side will win?" aspect of Scars block, especially knowing that there are CCG's out there that literally have the players decide which faction wins and the next set is based on that outcome. I know there was no way that WOTC could have used the outcome of the first games to set the contents of the next block, that just means they shouldn't have bothered advertising it as if it mattered.
Commander: still angry about Command Tower .
Always good to get this type of article, especially admitting the flaws of poison. There's ways to counter every other kind of damage out there, it was just unbalanced to throw poison into the mix without a response.
Even though you feel like desgin did a good job in bringing the world into existence there were huge issues from a storyline perspective (mainly continuity issues) and you can't really succesfully create a world without a legitimate storyline going on. I hope next set will have a better story but i don't have high expectations given creative team's recent failiures and unwillingness to get into details. Doug has been talking on irrelevant stuff for the last couple months instead of explaining more core topics like Venser's age or Tezzeret's ever changing personality.
·A card based on a silver-bordered white card
Most likely cards:
Look at Me, I'm the DCI - removing all copies of a card from a graveyard/hand/library has been done ( Memoricide ), so has one copy in play/all in the graveyard/hand/library ( Scour cycle).
Staying Power - probably needs to be on a creature or on a self-destructing card (cumulative upkeep). Call it something like "Eternal Night".
I'm Rubber, You're Glue - Redirect exists. Ivory Mask exists. I could see an enchantment (with flash) that redirects all spells and abilities targeting you.
Look at Me, I'm R&D - but not every number.
·A token-making sorcery which makes more creature tokens than any previous token-making spell (not counting X spells or spells that make a variable number)
Since that's apparently 12, and since the hints also reference 13, I could see a cycle of cards based on this unlucky number.
Graveyard Explosion - B
As an additional cost to cast Graveyard Explosion, exile 13 cards from your graveyard.
Put 13 2/2 Black Zombie creature tokens on the battlefield.
·An enchantment that could let you play all your creatures for free
·A spell that can deal 13 damage to multiple creatures for one mana (and yes, I mean 13 damage multiple times)
Unlucky Fire - R
As an additional cost to cast Unlucky Fire, pay 13 life.
Unlucky Fire deals 13 damage to any number of target creatures.
·Many—and I'm talking more than a few—cards inspired by famous horror stories
Looking forward to it.
·A card that turns a loss into a win
Hopefully that's not Mark being tricky, as in:
Krark's Pinky - 2
If you lose a coin flip, you may treat that coin flip as a won coin flip. Use this ability only once each turn.
·A two-mana creature that lets you make a 2/2 creature each turn for two mana
Dr. Frankenstein, making any number of blue Zombies?
·A card that lets you exchange your life total with something you've never been able to exchange it with before
It's not cards in library ( Invincible Hymn ). Cards in graveyard, probably.
Why is everyone talking about the planeswalker? Who cares?! You'll all get to see what it is in just a couple of weeks, then never EVER actually get your hands on one. Though it would be cool if it was a classic horror film character... Planeswalker - Dracula? ... Planeswalker - Frankenstein?
Anyway, I want to talk about Commander (EDH)! I discovered it last year and absolutely love it. My favorite format by far and I have 8 EDH decks now. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it. The Commander sets that came out this summer were great... old favorites (especially Sol Ring) and great new cards. There's some great interacting in the decks but everything felt balanced at the same time. Some of my friends like just playing with the pre-cons even though they have their own Commander decks.
So Maro, is this something that we can expect to see every summer? I hope so
Also, I'm predicting that this planeswalker will be some species of pancake, as that's the only art that would fit into the narrow space left on the card.>>>>>
I see return of Flumphs!!! And horrible comedy!
I think in the second stage any overlap between setting and mechanics was coindental. Sometimes they made it work, like Shadow representing phased beings in the plane. Other times you had an enchantment theme to indicate Urza's fight with Phyrexia. (Though arguably there was a temporal theme with Echo and the untap mechanic.) But it wasn't a very top-down approach.
Now I sense R&D is more confident in the ability to create mechanics. So they'll say "OK, Werewolves. What mechanical connection can we put on a bunch of cards that indicates lycanthropy?" And I guess this is a good thing, though it might get harder for cards to play together.
For example, Zendikar/Worldwake was mechanically about lands, so they had you playing lots of lands. This yielded lots of mana, which led into Multikicker. It also set up Rise of the Eldrazi's big-mana theme balanced between the Eldrazi and Level Up. All working together mechanically. But if the keywords don't come early, you could get mechanic mismatch and a lot of cards that don't play together.
Scars may have provided cover for this since the sides were intentionally split. Infect and Metalcraft don't play together at all, but you can say "ha ha that's on purpose". If werewolves and ghosts don't mix well though your blocks may feel narrowly linear. Too soon to say but I'd be concerned.
Which segues into my comment on the article in general ...
Mark, at the risk of pushing your article length, I'd like your State Of Design columns to remember more history. Specifically, past goals that were intended as "from now on" but reviewed one year after then never again. Things you wanted to work on 3 years ago are still good to do, right?
One of my favorites was a goal to, as you said "design between blocks". Lorwyn creature types in Time Spiral and Shadowmoor blocks was a fine hit. Then Shadowmoor's color-matters was a reasonable connection to multi-color. And then ... multicolor needs lands? OK then lands leads to big mana, but then what? I guess if anyone actually played Level Up they could proliferate or something?
It feels like this trailed off, and instead became "let's hide a good card 2 blocks early". Sure, Knight of the Reliquary was better after Zendikar and Stoneforge Mystic wasn't broken before Scars, but that's not really block coordination. And as I said above, I suspect this will only get worse with the new, more top-down approach.
But moreover, I'd like you to continue looking back to old goals to see how they're being maintained. Since The State of Design is all about Magic's long-term, you'd do well to look further than 1 year back.
White Un-cards that could realistically have an Innistrad card based off of them:
Get a Life : If for some reason the set needed to throw a bone to the multiplayer crowd, this mechanic would work, but it seems unlikely that something this multiplayer-specific would appear in a normal expansion set.
Look at Me, I'm R&D : There is no reason this card couldn't exist in Innistrad exactly as printed. It would appeal to multiple psychographics and is something that could be stuck on just about any card type.
Look at Me, I'm the DCI : The wording would have to change from "match" to "game", but I could definitely see this as an powered-up Meddling Mage effect.
Once More with Feeling : This may be the block where they debut a Relentless Rats -style mechanic (maybe Mechanic X?) that messes with the four-of rule, which would be a riff off of Once More's self-restriction, or maybe we'll just see a white spin off Sway of the Stars .
Staying Power : A crazy Johnny effect that would have to be costed high enough to avoid potential brokenness.
I really hope that they don't go for any of the more out-there stuff, as I don't won't to be doing fractions, doing the hokey-pokey, or worrying about the gender of my opponent, and Gotcha would totally ruin organized play (seriously, how would you ever officiate that?).
As a casual player, I've really enjoyed the development of these special summer products like Archenemy and Commander. My group also lends itself well to 2+ player formats, as I think many do. If you have more than one friend you like to get together and play Magic with, the notion of setting up a "mini-tourney" to preserve the duel structure is not very practical. The whole group wants to play, and they want to play at the same time. It's been great that there's been more support for 2+ player formats in the past few years, and alternative formats in general.
And Commander in particular just really needed to be done. I think it was your biggest success this year.
A lot of the focus in this article (and as an extension of that, Magic design in general) is on the block sets, and understandably so. I just hope you'll keep giving these new formats you've created (and adopted, in Commander's case) some love. You have two completely new card types now (Planes and Schemes), and block Magic is not going to contribute to them. Players of those formats are going to want to see new cards, even reprints of old cards, to keep the game engaging and accessible. Planar Magic and Plane cards in particular have loads more possibilities for new sets/products to explore. Don't let Planechase fade into history like Vanguard did!
In short, I'm more interested in Innistrad the Plane card than Innistrad the block. This time last year, I made the prediction you'd take on Commander after Archenemy, and I hit the nail on the head. Here's hoping for Planechase 2.0 in 2012!
The one teaser that gives enough restriction (restriction breeds creativity!!) to really discuss at a knowledgeable level is the first. There are 35 mono-white silver-bordered cards. Yet many are unusable because they involve artists, spoken language, fractions, and number of words (which I like but has the obvious flaw that it means that the game works differently in different languages). Of the 35, the only ones I could see really being used even with revision are: staying power , once more with feeling , cheap ass , the cheese stands alone , and look at me, I'm R&D . Once more with feeling and the cheese stands alone, as has been mentioned on this feed already, have already been the basis of cards, and I suspect Cheap Ass has been as well (without the 1/2's, obviously).
Although I doubt it, MaRo could have been trickily referring to a card that is white... and something else. He didn't specifically say mono-white. As this yields only two choices, and the first is obviously undoable, the second almost completely undoable, it seems unlikely that this is it. However, if meddling kids was reworded to hose a mechanic rather than a word, and printed at a high mana cost, then it might become okay.
The other thing that I'm interested in is the card that turns a loss into a win. If it has the text "If a player loses the game, that player wins the game instead," it would be extremely powerful and have to have a very tough mana cost. It is probably something like a self-mill-win card. Although it sounds ridiculous, I like the idea of a card in the vein of double dip that lets you forfeit the current game in return for the next game in the match.
You are all idiots. Heck, I'm an idiot, too.
This is not our game. This is the Mark Rosewater game. And I hate it. I hate to think about how this is no longer the game that I make it out to be, but rather just Maro's own selfish musings.
Apparently, I don't have a say in what my favorite mechanic is because Mark Rosewater just designs what he feels should be in the game of Magic. Damn, that's one selfish son of a b***h. Magic is not a game that the players shape into what they want it to be, but rather it's just Maro's own little game that he dreams up in his spare time. I haven't a clue what he does when he's at work.
Except that even in Limited such cards tend to be way too narrow and end up as sometimes-maybe-sideboard cards that lose what little hope they had of ever being useful. Seriously, I'd rather have an extra basic land slot than more block-specific hosers that practically do nothing in a larger context. And before the inevitable "well obviously you don't play Limited" argument pops up, I actually do. But I think that the format was quite fine without poison removal. On the other hand, if there was any, many players would probably abandon any attempts at actually outplaying infect decks in favor of relying on one or two hosers. Then we'd see even more inane statements about infect being overpowered, because "even Card X isn't enough!"
Yeah, I much prefer beating infect with cards that also work against non-infect decks.
The five ability Planeswalker will have Spark Fiend 's template.
Interesting article, though I disagree to certain degrees with much of what he said.
The War and its Outcome, well, it wasn't very interesting. The very idea that there was any doubt as to who would win was ridicious. Phyrexia was going to win regardless. Having Mirrans win changes nothing. Having Phyrexia win sets up all sorts of future storylines. Mirrans never had a chance. If they want there to be doubt, there has to be the possibility that either side can win, that the story can change. They need to take a note from L5R, where tournaments impact the story line. Imagine if first place finishes by aligned decks for the gamedays actually determined who won, for example. There also wasn't a feeling of the flow of the war. No mention of battles. No real feeling of desperation, of a last stand. And completely ignored the side stories. Venser was there to liberate Karn, apparantly, and he succeeded. His card didn't make that clear. Karn's card didn't make it clear how he got free. And no other card mentioned it. Nope, just "here's Karn, and he's liberated." Kamigawa had a similar war between two factions. It did a far, far better job of setting the mood, of telling you how the war was going.
Proliferate, while cool, is rather narrow and overcosted. It needs counters on lots of things. Without that, typically overcosted, since it added to things. Volt Charge in a format with LB in it, the draw a card and proliferate for , and so on. Repeatable cost of 4, fine. But on most spells, overcosted. And as such, you needed a deck that really wanted to play with things that had counters on them to make it worthwhile. And therefore it was rarely viable in constructed. Meanwhile, in limited, you couldn't get enough stuff to make it work really well. The black -1/-1 counter + proliferate spell, for example, pretty much read as "put two -1/-1 counters on target creature." Sure, you could get the occassional poison counter as well, but in general, that's what it reads.
For the color pie issue, overall, it was good. Yes, dismember probably went a step too far. A step too far always happens though. Swords of, for example, are OP'd. Jace 2.0 is not the only planeswalker that is OP. But giving everyone access to certain things that are pretty much necessities in the current game, things like creature removal and card draw, is overall a good thing. Just as long as the off color options aren't too good.
In terms of the coolness of mechanics on both sides, yeah, the Mirrodin ones were a bit lame. Metalcraft was just too narrow, didn't receive enough support within itself. What it needed was more cards like Puresteel Paladin , a card that interacts with artifacts even without metalcraft, yet has a useful metalcraft ability, and is not complete junk without it. And, of course, enough artifact cards that are good enough to play. Living Weapon really should have been Mirran, not phyrexian. Imprint got very poor support, really only one card worth playing, in Mimic Vat. That's the design team's fault, not the mechanics. And battlecry is an aggro, overextend mechanic, spread across enemy colors, with a complete lack of enemy dual lands, when mono-white aggro is not viable and red has better things to play. Of course, the phyrexian mechanics are rather crappy as well. Infect is narrow and results in generally weak creatures, since it overpowers pump effects. Proliferate is overcosted on most spells. Living weapon is good, but only if the equipment in question is good enough to use even without the living weapon bonus.
As to new goals:
1. I hope they can pull it off. Considering how badly they failed in SoM block though, not having high hopes.
2. I doubt it will work. Playability has to come first. Don't get me wrong, I love flavor, I love sets like the Dark, Homelands, Ice Age/Coldsnap, and Kamigawa. They are among my favorites. They are also among the weakest sets out there. I don't think flavor is dependent on the card mechanics themselves, so much as the artwork, creature types, names, and flavor text, so not sure how top down such a design really needs to be. And, of course, there's color pie worries. A proper horror white card, for example, is Suture Priest , which is really a W/B, not a W card. How can get proper horror into R/G, W/G, and W/U when you talk about the color pie as much as MaRo does?
3. Most mechanics don't work well. For every Scry and Cycling, there's lots of battlecry, infect, proliferate, flanking, and the like. As such, mechanic X will probably be another hit and miss one.
And as to the more, cannot say I'm looking forward to a bunch of cards that are written up here to sound overpowered, but will probably have downsides that make them unplayable. Oh, and pushing the limits with a card type that already tends to be OP'd (planeswalkers), yeah, really not looking forward to that. Want me to be interested? Talk about interesting and balanced cards, not the ability to churn out 2/2 tokens galore.
One of the best articles from Mark.
I wouldn't sell this as an evolutionary step. Basically, there was a time when keywords were king and every new mechanic had to be keyworded. And of course, these mechanics were the main part of a set and therefore promoted. But shortly thereafter, it became obvious that it get's harder and harder to find cool new mechanics for the new sets. And since they are also quite specific, it's hard to motivate players, if they don't like them.
Mechanics are limited. You have limited game zones, limited card stats and more or less limited triggers. So you there are many combinations, but you can calculate the total amount. So if you want to limit your resources - as Mark called it - you need a different focus.
Personally, I would like to see the worlds a bit more connected with each other and would like a greater influence of the planeswalkers. You could call it stage 7 - long term story planning (multiple sets). But even more than that I would like to see single cards interacting with at least 2-3 other cards within this set in a unique way. This can only happen, if you allow more 'drawbacks' than phyrexian mana.
F.e. I designed a world where I reprinted Orcish Cannonade for cost (as this is a shock + a 3 damage backlash to draw a card). In addition, I designed other cards to interact with this one. Sygg, River Cutthroat inspired me to design a card with a "whenever a source deals 3 or more damage to you, ..." trigger. Combined, both cards do more than each part. Other options are damage redirection, Hallow or Personal Sanctuary . In this way, every card offers a synergy, often in an unexpected wsy.
I believe that new mechanics and multicolor sets are successes, because they create a hint for deckbuilding. If you have a shard, you can limit your search. If you add a "creatures with power 5+" mechanic, it gets even easier to find cards for your deck. Then you can test, play and optimize your deck. The last part might lead to new ideas, etc. F.e. I've built an Gruul deck in Ravnica with bloodthirst and a trigger for that mechanic . By now, not a single card with bloodthirst is in that deck, but it's still my "Cruel as the Gruul" deck.
@ The War (and its Outcome):
WotC couldn't trick me. The fact that Scars of Mirrodin didn't have the same number of cards for each side, made it obvious, that R&D will balance this on the next "phase". So I expected a 50:50 ratio in Mirrodin Besieged and it was clear who would win the war. Even in Scars, Phyrexia had the more powerful tools, so it would have been a shame, if WotC would have beaten their new mechanic.... and let the Mirrans win.
Personally, I would have introduced Phyrexia a bit different in Scars. Slower, trickier and disquised. Something that would feel like a annoyance, but not an invasion. No infect in this stage, only -1/-1 counter, direct poison counter and proliferate. Something like:
Creature - Fungus 0/2
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a spore counter on Inexorable Plaquebearer.
Remove 3 spore counter from Inexorable Plaquebearer: Target player gets a Poison counter.
This would have presented a slower & disguised way of infect and works well with proliferate. Fewer cards in Scars and a large expansion "Mirrodin Besieged" (see the numbers of cards in Rise of the Eldrazi) would have been the best time to finally introduce infect. THAT would have been a "BAAAMM", something never done before => transfering the "main" part of the set into the first expansion. In additionm this would have given "indestructible" more time to shine in Scars, totally shifting draft orders when infect appears.
@ Magic: The Gathering Commander
I always warned WotC about the fact that more and more players play Highlander decks, since Standard is dominated by mythic rares. And since you'll get one within 8 boosters, it's MUCH, MUCH harder to get 4 copies than with the old rares. Statistically, it takes more than 10 displays to get a playset of Grave Titan and co. So you either buy the Singulars OR you avoid this and limit the decklist to 1 copy per card. This gets you closer to the "buy a booster" experience.
I also mentioned that multiplayer and casual is a HUGE factor in Magic, since most other social games allow more than 2 players. It's natural that a shift from "Monopoly" to Magic results in multiplayer games. You can see the poll here.
This mechanic is great, because R&D seems to be fanatic about any form of counter. So players play with the best promoted cards and therefore ... with counters. Proliferate can be added in many different decks - it's the complete opposite to infect. I added a few cards in a Fungus deck, in a Graft deck, in a Wither deck, in a Modular or charge counter deck. The options are endless... and that's why I see proliferate as a great success.
For the next time, I wish I could determine, if I want to add OR remove a counter, allowing Proliferate-2.0 even in "anti" decks.
@ The "Color Pie? What Color Pie?" Problem:
Of course it feels strange when a white deck adds Dismember to get rid of creatures. But this is still an artifact block ... and normally, R&D ignores any sense for the color pie and rather makes artifacts that do the same. Walking Atlas pushes an ability that is surely not "colorless" into the colorless zone. They could have rather discussed a unique colored alternative in every color. Wayfarer's Bauble does the same and I skip any further comment about the "colorless" nature of all the Swords.
So Mark, to be honest - who cares? See the Phyrexian Mana as artifact sorceries and instants. Loss of life (in form of damage) is a standard in every color, just look at the fetchlands, painlands and Ravnica duals. You didn't care back then, so why are you complaining now? What about landcycling? Isn't a 5-color-cycle more interesting than flavor anymore?
I criticized the realization of the color pie right from the beginning. I was against a green monopoly on mana acceleration / color fixing and against the white monopoly on lifegain. I warned you about printing more and more abilities on artifacts... as this is a loss for EVERY color. I was against the forced multicolor focus within Magic and tried to convince anyone that EACH color should rather have a unique and flavorful way to handle any card type and any problem. But the opposite is happening. So if you focus on artifact solutions, why shouldn't phyrexian mana be the next step? Instead of being forced to play painland duals to have acces to other colors, you pay PER SPELL. Great evolution!
@ 2011 Goal #3: Prove Poison Works
Does it work? You tried to make it different to a second life total, but I is rather A FOCUS on that issue. Infect can't be used with non-infect creatures and cards like Phyrexian Unlife even abuse this fact. Phyrexian Mana uses up your life-total and has nothing to do with the infecteousness of Phyrexia. There are only a few cards that count the number of poison counters your opponent have, but there is no mechanic that plays around this fact. Not even an "affinity for poison counters". THAT would have gave me the nostalgia feeling.
There are no cards that remove -1/-1 counters or poison counters, no way to transfer them to your opponent, etc. Just a fix number similar to a Darksteel Reactor and NO way to influence this.
@ 2012 Goal #2: Show that Top-down Design Can Be the Core of a Set
As I've said above, this is a MUST criteria, not an optional part, since there is no alternative. You can't focus your set on a few mechanics. But I would be pleased, if not "top-down" would win, but rather "interdependance" between the cards.
@ 2012 Goal #3: Prove [MECHANIC X] Works
So I assume that it's a known mechanic that didn't work before... In any other case, it wouldn't hurt. Battle Cry was as forgetable as frenzy, so my bet is on some sort of threshold.
@ Sneak Preview - A card based on a silver-bordered white card
Obvious, if you look at the wallpaper list... Illustrator - Mark Rosewater. 1. April, but since I don't believe in the "future, future leaque" statements, this would be the realistic time schedule to make the final decisions for Innistrad.
@ Sneak Preview - A card that turns a loss into a win
If you look at Near-Death Experience , it would be easy to combine it with an "You don't lose the game for having 0 or less life." condtition. But I guess that milling (good for flashback) will be supported much more and making a "you win" card would shift mill in a great new direction (mill yourself).
@ Sneak Preview - A card that lets you exchange your life total with something you've never been able to exchange it with before
Just a note: "exchange" doesn't mean "is set"!!! It's a give-AND-take action. So the only option are counters. My bet: Loyality counters
@ Sneak Preview - A planeswalker with five loyalty abilities
Whoohoo!!! Just increase the count... great design idea! But wait: Is a triggered ability that alter the loyality count still a "loyality ability"`??? THAT would be a fine new twist in the design.
How about exchanging life with mana in your pool? Has that been done? Although it is overpowered at most mana-costs.
Fromt he new "Planeswalker Guide" posted today:
I wonder if the 13 damage thing for one is something like Hex . Maybe, "Deal 13 damage to 13 target creatures and/or players."
Liliana of the Vial 5 ability planeswalker.... HELL YEAH please please please let it BE!!!!!!!!
Loyalty Counters (4) and mana cost = 2BB
1. Doom Blade (+1)
2. Inquisition of Kozelik (0)
3. Demonic Tutor (-2)
4. Reanimate (-3)
5. Living Death on steriods or super Damnation effect (-9)
PLEASE!!!!!!!!!! LET IT BE!!!!!!!
I wonder if the repeatable 2/2s for 2 mana has anything to do with Morph...
What about gravestorm? seems like a good set for it to "come back".
I think the 13 damage spell could have gravestorm, and maybe some kind of treshold.
But in the end it's probably something like 5RR - 13 damage, with flashback, like someone said. This is more like maro.
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