This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Excellent article, thanks!
Last week I made a post that was perhaps a shade unfairly critical of current multiplayer design. R&D are doing a good job, by and large, of providing the tools we want. The cards I see as problems (the huge, splashy effects that dominate games with no additional work and requiring no particular building-around to operate) are generally high-profile and noticeable, and that overshadows a lot of the things we are getting.
Now, that's not to say that everything else is great; we get some hits and some misses. Innistrad's graveyard theme was always going to provide some solid cards, and provided a good number of really interesting build-around-me cards across rarities. Dark Ascension, though, was outstandingly weak, with barely anything worth mentioning. But Avacyn Restored is alright (a few quality cards, although none of the mechanics or themes really shine), so it's a good showing overall.
So, what do we want? Well I can't speak for the rest of them, but a lot that I like is actually on the increase, so I'll highlight the good work:
1) Graveyard disruption tied to useful effects. While I wouldn't like to see this pushed any further than it has been with Scavenging Ooze and Cemetery Reaper , I'm glad that graveyard removal is something we don't have to be forced to remove. I don't want some super-efficient hoser that fits snugly into every deck, but I'm happy to see that graveyard-based decks are more and more likely to find their strategy facing disruption in the way a deck based around keeping permanents in play does. I don't want a strong and interesting strategy hosed, but it's nice for there to be more interaction.
2) The same, for lands. We're not seeing so much of that, and of course land destruction isn't something we want in every deck. But it'd be nice if the player with Cabal Coffers had to expect to protect them. I think the answer is the type of versatile-but-weak spells mentioned in the article. I usually think of Wrecking Ball , but they're typically of the Green 'destroy a noncreature permanent' type now. I like these because they're generally focused on one of the more usual threats, but owners of troublesome lands don't get a free reign.
3) More ways of extracting value from small spells. This is a difficult one. I like little effects like Cloudshift and Lightning Bolt , and I always think it's a shame they're not worth a deck slot. There are cards that can be used to build with them, but I wish they could work without being paired with something as obvious as Isochron Scpeter . The Restoration Angel technique of attaching it to a creature is a tolerable middle ground, but a bit predictable. I guess printing these effects with a fairly-narrow repetition clause in the vein of Thunderblade Charge is as good as solution as is really going to work, and that's fine. And we're getting a few more ways of bringing noncreatures back from the graveyard, so that's a positive step. Of course it's necessary to avoid too much of a good thing; if something is pushed too hard, the challenge goes. Which, I suppose, leads to:
4) Broader focus in set themes. Or, really, less parasitism. It's especially noticeable with tribal blocks, of course, but I personally don't much enjoy building decks within a single set. I like cards that have a lot of potential interactions, which I can combine with many different things. I'm a sucker for recursion and ETB effects, because there's a whole bunch of things one can do with something like Deadeye Navigator . For me, versatility is the game, and often a set's 'on-theme' cards will be so tightly tied to their purpose that they can't really do anything outside their prescribed deck. I especially liked the GUB self-milling draft deck from Innistrad. I don't doubt it was as carefully-designed as any other draft archetype, but I love the nonobviousness and complexity and hate to see sets full of 'play this with X'. Even when X is something with a lot of history like Humans, it feels like low-hanging fruit. Innistrad was a good set, combining the narrow tribal themes which are apparently popular with non-me people with a more broadly applicable graveyard theme. There was a good deal of stuff on both sides of the fence, and that's what I'd like to see continuing.
What id like to see
Is more coverage of the ultimate casual multiplayer format - Duels of the Planeswalkers!
Sure it's not tournament level and is basically lots of big agro decks, but it's a nice relaxing place to play and is practically its own limited format. Most people at FNM own the game so maybe one article per update on it would be cool.
I tend to play the GU innistrad self mill deck as my main multiplayer deck. Currently with black and white splashes, or as GRB for artefacts theme instead. Works surprisingly well.
The main thing I tend to feel is missing from multiplayer development is recognition of cards which harm these sorts of games. You mention the possibility of types of card which you should do less often, but some cards like Beacon of Immortality , Sway of the Stars , Shared Fate , Mist of Stagnation , Eye of the Storm , Iona, Shield of Emeria , Karn Liberated , Primal Surge etc. do harm even if printed only once, because that's the number of printings it takes for someone to decide it's OK to play them and then accidentally wreck a game.
In competitive formats the natural tendency is to balance a card by adding mana if its effect is too good. But in casual multiplayer games, "too good" isn't really an issue. The problem is "too boring", which is something no amount of extra mana can fix.
Note also that house rules banning particular cards are no use. Fine for your cozy little playing group with half a dozen good friends, but for those of us who play on MtGO it's not a solution.
Great to see a multiplayer-centric article!
What would I like to see in my beloved format?
As stated in the article, multiplayer games have a natural tendency to sink back into "sit-around-and-wait-for-someone-to-blink" territory. So seeing multiplayer-centred cards that work against this would be fantastic, especially cards that reward people for swinging.
To this end, Druids' Repository is a card that intrigues me - it rewards swinging, and ramps your mana to boot. Printing more cards like this would greatly advantage the "go-hard-or-go-home" style of multiplayer game that I'd love to see played more routinely (and I suspect so would most of the other guys in my playgroup).
I think you look too much at cards from the perspective of having it in play on your side of the table as opposed to playing against it. There aren't a lot of ways to answer Avacyn for example. Sure it is cool if all my stuff is indestructable. It is just way more uncool in my opinion if all my opponent's stuff is indestructable. If I want to interact with that opponent, then I need counterspells, hallowed burial, and exile cards or perhaps even narrower cards.
Similarly, cards like primeval titan and griselbrand make targetted removal worse because once they hit play, they've already done their damage. I have to counterspell them-or the bribery/sneak attack/whatever else the kids are using to get them into play. You talked about how powerful counterspells are getting regarding cavern of souls. That has more to do with how powerful creatures are getting. In Alpha, terror and counterspell had the same result when targetting a creature. That is not the case w/ ETB, abilities that can be immediately activated, or have abilities like Avacyn's.
Lastly, you talked about day of judgement being so much better than doom blade, which makes instant speed removal less common that sorceries in multiplayer. Something that personally bugs me because of this is cards like jin-gitaxis and conscecrated sphinx where the damage they do is based on turns occurring. So basically, if I sit to the right of a guy that plays Jin-gitaxis/sphinx, and my other opponents didn't have an answer but I have a sorcery speed one, the damage these cards do is much greater than if I simply had sat in a different chair.
I think you have to be careful that cards don't limit ways to interact such that it frequently comes back to counterspells with exile backup often being the options available. I want to interact w/ my opponents. I do not want to have to play the same, specific cards all the time to do it.
Finally, now that all the planes are spoiled, I'd like to say that they really missed the mark for me. I like planes that make the cards in my deck the star of the show. Several new planes seem more like sorceries than I like, but the phenomena do function like random, uncounterable sorceries. I would never agree to play a game where warp world could randomly happen. That just land screws someone for no good reason. It is easier to just say 'no' to planechase than to make sure morphic tide isn't a possibility.
I've been extremeley interested all of a sudden in TP-Dweller , and if he might be fair, considering I can make a deal to give it to anyone who promises not to attack or block my creatures with it. You might think nobody would take this offer up because it doesn't hurt me, but why wouldn't they? They get more powerful on the table against everyone, because they get more resources with dealing with my opponents, which may lead them to having more resources to deal with me. But in exchange I now have an opponent's resource also helping me. It's a trade not unlike the Vow cycle. I love these kinds of ideas in multiplayer.
This article opened my eyes a little . I cant say I'm new to the game ,but I deffinately look at multiplayer different now. I plan on making a three color deck blue,black,green. Was wondering if the forum would give me some ideas on some good cards. I would appreciate any help from anyone with the ideas.
I just want to say thanks for Cultivate. Give me another Wayfarer's Bauble though, so my non-green decks can have access to the good stuff too!
Kerrik1, your post is very vague. What are you trying to do? Without more information, I'd suggest looking at Anavolver, then look at The Mimeoplasm Commander precon, which is in those colors. A deck in this color combination is likely to have green mana ramp into some big stuff, like Simic Sky Swallower, with blue providing card draw and black providing removal.
I found it interesting that the article didn't address, what in my mind, is the chief problem with multiplayer, combo. I've seen groups torn asunder because someone showed up to the table with a combo deck, wiped everyone out out of the blue, and got killed on sight the next 10 games in a row because no one wanted to give him the chance to surprise them again. The first game wasn't fun for most of us because we'd spent however long building up a game state and doing cool things only to have it vanish in a puff of smoke, and the several games were terrible for him.
Unfortunately, most of the good answers to combo in single player (counterspells, discard, etc.) suffer from exactly the sort of problem you mentioned with one for one removal spells. There's additionally the prisoner's dilemma effect of disincentivizing packing such effects because it makes your deck weaker compared to the rest of the group. Instead the best answer to combo is a faster combo.
I'd love to see more faster, resilient, anti-combo permanents for multiplayer to make up for this. For example:
Undead Combo Muncher:
While undead combo muncher is in play, counter each non-mana activated or triggered ability if that ability was not the first triggered ability to trigger that turn.
Sacrifice undead combo Muncher: End the turn. This ability may not be countered.
Or something. Most anti-combo cards designed for standard are low in cost but easy to wipe out. It'd be good to see some very potent, higher cost ones.
I'd love to see for once an UR creature that is not a donkie, a minotaur, weird (ravnica), goblin-merfolk or a stream hopper...
Good thing there's Niv- Mizzet out there to defend the Blue-Red wizardry style... I hoped that the UWR/URG commander decks will feature some nice, new UR generals, or atleast something that fits the UR flavor... Sure Nin is awesome, but now we see another Minotaur for the upcoming set... why?
Make it an awesome elemental, but not a snake-y thing like Shrewd Hatchling, somethin made of Fire and Frost or a cool wizard, another dragon-wizard maybe, why not? You are doing a great job balancing the game if you ask me, but I think that there should be more of the "Core Flavor". I am defending UR since it is, in my opinion, the hardest of two-colour combinations to design. The others are straightforward - UB is something secret, mystical and stuff... But UR, excluding Ravnica has been a failiure if you ask me flavorwise.
I think it's obvious that this game isn't for me any more.
I like playing, not winning. But it seems I'm in the minority here. Most players seem to love powerful cards, and want as much power as possible. The problem is that power is relative. In limited for example, many cards that are weak in standard are much more powerful, because more powerful options simply aren't available. In order for a card to be powerful, there has to be many more weak cards to set the baseline for what is "just okay". My ideal environment is one where all the cards are fair, so that there are tons of options for building a deck that has a reasonable chance of winning. I'd like to be able to use my favorite cards. As long as cards like Wurmcoil Engine exist that outclass most of the commons and uncommons, I'm forced to either spend more money to bring my deck up to the same level, or just plain lose unless I drew my removal spell. I don't want to play with it either, because I want to have to struggle against my opponent to win, not just win because I have the better deck. A victory is hollow when it's the Engine, not me, that takes it.
But people seem to think that rares should be powerful, that you should open a booster pack to find one awesome rare and 14 pieces of trash rather than a meh rare and 14 interesting options. If most players want as much power as possible, then Wizards will continue to cater to them by printing sets full of chaff in the commons and uncommons. That's fine, but it's not what I want.
Second, while creature combat is fun and all, what I really like is the card interactions. I love playing my weak dredge deck because dregde totally changes the way I draw cards. I love clever plays like cytoshapeing my blocker into another player's False Prophet and wiping the board, or using Artifcial Evolution on my opponent's Elvish Champion to make it pump my saprolings instead. But the cards are becoming more bland. Players want a big splashy game full of 10 9/9 lifelinking deathtouchers rather than a game of clever decks and clever plays and unexpected twists.
Finally, in a related note in a Wizards has emphasized monetary advantage recently, and I am certain that they will do so more and more in the future. People talk a lot about card advantage and tempo advantage, but monetary advantage has the biggest impact on games. Cards cost money, so the more money you spend, the more options there are for your deck, and the more powerful your deck is. To improve your deck you need to buy cards, and the more powerful cards are in higher demand, which raises their price, which means that, in general the player who spent more money on their deck is more likely to win the game.
Wizards makes the problem much, much worse by making rare and mythic rare cards more powerful. If you were to blindly open packs hoping for a particular rare, you'd have to open a lot more packs before you found one than if you were looking for a given common, and, since each pack costs $4, the price of a rare card bought by blindly opening packs (or boxes, or drafting) is much higher than the price of a common. For example, it costs you, on average, $242 to get an Angel of Glory's Rise. To get a Voice of the Provinces only costs an average of $40. If your human deck needs a big white flier, you can either pay an extra $200 or so for a power upgrade, or you can accept that you'll lose more games to monetary disadvantage.
(odds of a particular rare appearing per pack = 1/53 x 7/8. [53 rares in the set and 1/8 chance of getting a mythic rare instead]. Expected number of packs = 1/probability = 60.57 packs. At $4 per pack, $242. Odds of a particular common = 1/101 Expected number of commons bought = 101. 101/10 commons per pack x 4$ per pack = $40).
Of course, many people buy singles to avoid this problem. On tcgplayer.com, you can buy Angel of Glory's Rise for .25 and Voice of the Provinces for about .02, both much, much better deals. The Glory's Rise still costs 12.5 times more money though, because ultimately the seller either had to open many more packs to get the Glory's Rise, or bought it from someone who did the same. Except for theme deck cards, all cards ultimately come from someone blindly opening booster packs. You can see this effect even clearer by comparing the price of Delver of Secrets and Snapcatser Mage. Both cards are in very high demand and have the same level of demand, both being four-ofs in the top Standard and Legacy deck. Yet Devler is 15 cents while Snapcatser is $20, because the Snapcatser is in much smaller supply. The price of powerful rares is always much higher than the price of powerful commons, and by making rares more powerful, Wizards causes the player who spent more money to have an advantage in winning. Though we don't like to admit it, deck quality, more than luck or skill, plays the biggest role in determining who wins. Using some of my decks, I can win every game; using others, winning is an uphill battle. Powerful cards wouldn't be in nearly as high demand if they gave only a small advantage. Who wants to spend $20 when your skill is going to give you the win either way!
Overpowered cards used to be mistakes, so they showed up at all rarieties. Cards like Skullclamp, Cranial Plating, the artifact lands, Astral Slide, Wild Mongrel, Roar of the Wurm, Psychatog, Fires of Yavimaya all were common or uncommon, so everyone had access to them for cheap. This did a lot to mitgate the problem. If you were on a budget, you'd have to forego the Wrath of Gods, painlands, Upheavals, and Arcbound Ravagers, but you could still build a deck close to tournament power level for less than $30. Now though, development has figured out how to control power level and so they intentionally make the cards that take over games like Luminarch Ascension, the titans, Wolfir Silverheart, and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite rare. This, of course, makes them tremendous profits. With greed as a powerful motivator, I fully expect Wizards to more and more sacrifice fair gameplay for the sake of profit.
But the good news is that there are plenty of old cards I can get, so I can still make my decks the way I want them to be as the game drifts further and further away from what I want to play.
On an unrelated note, anybody notice that they've cut all the borders off of the Planechase 2012 Edition cards on gatherer? (Like the Cultivate in this article.) Seems kind of cheap. And a bit jarring when looking through gatherer. What, are the borders adding too much to site's bandwidth?
I know at one point, all the card images were borderless 200x285, with the card borders on Gatherer pages drawn in separate images (black, white, silver, or Alpha borders).
Plus, casual tends to be a place where you can get away with more Johnny shenanigans.
Another thing for multiplayer is politics. Nothing quite like running a Curse of Stalked Prey or Edric, Spymaster of Trest and watching your opponents do the dirty work for you.
And then there's safety, a.k.a. War Tax , Propaganda , Ghostly Prison AND Norn's Annex .
What would I like to see more of?
I'd like a return to cards that affect "all" rather than "you control"; more Crusade effects over Honor of the Pure effects.
Aside from allowing for overwhelming team game shenanigans, this adds risk and more decisions to the game.
After all, if my 6-way FFA game features three mono or heavy white decks, than I might just sit on my Crusade. Yet, if I am the only one playing white, those same Crusades become a huge advantage. I, for one, like both the decision-making and the way these cards can change a game's dynamic almost instantly - and then backfire almost as quickly. After all, the assorted stories involving magic often feature magic that has dangerous and unforseen consequences.
A return to the MUST cards over the MAY cards. Soul Warden s for Soul's Attendant , and that type of thing, after all, sometimes magic should backfire.
I also enjoy the alternate-win cards, although I am hard-pressed to think of any more options than those that already exist.
Cards that speed games along always make me smile. The Ankh of Mishra s, Antagonism s, Sulfuric Vortex es (vortices?), and Impatience s of the game (among many others, in all colors) should be available. Larger games - especially in metas with passive players and/or those with limited resources (meaning few sweepers) - can often drag on interminably, which I suspect is one reason why some Magic players dislike the bigger games.
Group hug cards, like Rites of Flourishing (kudos to whomever designed that card!), are a blast! Even printing one per set or block would be enough to keep FFA games more interesting.
And try to do any/all of the above at all rarities.
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