Monthy Mailbag – Magic 2010 Edition

What has become a tradition around here is introducing new columns (including after breaks of time where I’m busy making money working for the man).  I get messages and e-mails from readers wanting advice on creating cards or why Wizards did certain things in their sets.  Well, my mailbag was full of questions about Magic 2010, the new Core set coming out later this month and I wanted to share with you some of those e-mails today.  Let’s just dive right in and see what we pull up.  Note: these deal with the spoiled cards found on a certain site.  I won’t names site, but you should know where it is.

Counterspell
Will this be the only time we see Counterspell in a non-promo new border?

What a minute, they’re bringing back Lightning Bolt and Duress, but not Counterspell? What gives?  Counterspell is way less powerful than either of these two cards. Wizards is giving every other color but Blue cheap, powerful spells like Silence in White.  Why can’t I get my Counterspell back?

Yeah, because Blue hasn’t been powerful at all; it’s always gotten the shaft when it comes to card selection. The reason why there isn’t Couterspell in Magic 2010 (note, you do get Cancel and other counterspells, just not the card Counterspell) is the fact is the card is too powerful. There’s a huge difference between Coutnerspell and Duress.

If I was going to play Cryptic Command and you play Counterspell, I had to spend 4 mana while you had to spend 2.  You have used up half as much mana preventing my spell as I did playing it, which is why so many people like to counter spells.  I you play Duress and discard my Cryptic Command, I didn’t use up any mana and you used up one. You still got the same effect (nullifying the spell and putting it in the graveyard) but both are different means for different colors. (I won’t go into the full math of card values in the hand while in play; this is just the basic logic of it).

Plus, Counterspell can stop any non-land card, Duress can only hit non-land/non-creatures and Lightning Bolt can only hit creatures/players.  This is a huge difference.  At only costing two mana, Counterspell gives you enough leeway early on to stop their spell and play something else if you wanted to, making it really efficient. Cancel, at three mana, is enough to where it’s good, but not too good and is more acceptable as a hard counter. Don’t worry, Blue will still have other toys to play with.

Wrath of God
Will something else take it's place?

Um, the guys who put together the spoiler missed something: where’s Wrath of God? They wouldn’t pull out this staple right now when they’re pushing creature decks would they?  This is a huge, huge mistake and the spoiler needs to be fixed right now.

As far as we know, Wrath of God is out. Go ahead and get your paper bag to blow in.

Never has Wrath of God not been printed so this will be a new experience for us all. Luckily, since Core Sets are now rotating every year, it will only be one year that WoG could be out of commission if this experiment fails. But consider this a possibility in new card design. Every time a new block comes around Wizards says that they can’t print a good board sweeper because WoG is playable and they can’t have two good “Destroy all creatures” spells in Standard at the same time (Akroma’s Vengence and maybe Austere Command and Final Judgment have seen play outside of Block, Damnation is another story completely).

So will we get a good board sweeper in the new block? Yes we will, I guarantee it. This will be the one that will place the new one for Magic 2011. The problem has been the name, but that doesn’t stop Wizards from reprinting cards with different names.

ColbertBears
Still the #1 threat.

Half the set is new cards? Please. They reprinted Grizzly Bears! Twice in a year! That’s a new card only in name. Who are they fooling?

They’re not trying to fool people. Most people buy Core Sets to get cards they were reprinted in the past or to draft. Magic 2010 tries to change this by adding new cards to get people to buy this set as they have to have it to play in tournaments (I don’t think that’s the answer to get the Core Set more popular. My idea? Allowing the Core Set to be used in Block Formats. They’ve been putting cards that work well in the blocks for years (Merfolk Looter for Odyssey, Engineered Plague for Onslaught, Sage of Lat-Nam for Mirrodin, Warped Devotion for Champions of Kamigawa, Kird Ape for Ravinca, Aura of Silence for Shards of Alara, etc) and it would encourage more use of the Core Set).

As I step off my soapbox, let me explain that alot of the reasons for the changes to this Core Set was to be more flavorful, some of it was to change names. Most of the changes were common and you won’t care when you rifle through your packs. Other times, it’s good for formats like EDH (if it was good enough in the first place). According to the spoiler these cards are being reprinted but with new names, the cards with a * means new creature types:

Master Decoy
Neck Snap
Savannah Lions *
Skyhunter Prowler *
Glory Seeker *
Mistral Charger
Counsel of the Soratami
Remove Soul
Persuasion
Flying Men *
Raise Dead
Dusk Imp *
Threaten
Orcish Artillery*
Sabertooth Tiger *
Civic Wayfinder *
Nessian Courser
Grizzly Bears

That’s the full list (from the spoiler). Some of those changed creature types and some didn’t. As you see, most of them were common and very few uncommon; in fact, the Savannah Lions reprint is uncommon and a relevant creature type in Magic 2010. They aren’t trying to fool you, but for marketing reasons they can say their “new cards.” While some of them do seem odd that they’re just changing the name (Remove Soul, Raise Dead, Grizzly Bears), most of the time you won’t notice the difference. Honestly.

PathtoExile
Get it? It's called forshadowing

All these new changes are dumb, Wizards is killing Magic! They get rid of mana burn (dumb), they completely get rid of combat damage on the stack as well as screwing up the way people block (really dumb), and why are we now “casting” spells and putting things into the “Battlefield” and “Exiling” cards? Wizards is dumbing this game to be just like Yu-Gi-Oh! Everyone leave, Magic is on it’s last breath!

Ah, the rule changes. Most everyone has a different feeling on this and that’s a good thing.  These are the largest changes to the rules since Sixth Edition. Let’s do a quick glace at each one.

– How many games have you played where mana burn actually mattered? Besides a few cards, mana burn is not really an issue. I do think mana burn great for teaching strategy and managing your resources, but it’s not something that will be sorely missed. It just seems odd they would take it out now (Note: possible mechanic that uses extra mana). While I don’t like the move, I understand it.

– Damage on the stack during combat (it’s just during combat, so you can still ping in response) is something that people will get used to not having to say. I like the change and the whole new blocking scheme. How many times are you going to have the situation where you are going to block crazy stupid where people are going to 3 for 1 you? You do it once, you won’t do it again. It sets up much more interesting schemes in terms of sacrifice effects and some cards will lose power (See: Morphling). But we’ll adjust and Wizards won’t be printing cards like that.

– “Playing” a spell and putting something into “Play” has been really confusing for some cards. Being an old school player, I prefer “Cast” and it’s an easy transition to make. Have cards being Exiled (like they were preparing us with Path to Exile) is much more elegant and I welcome it. I really like how they’re talking about the Exile Zone in a Core Set which means they’re taking the kiddie gloves off when it comes to introducing new players to the game.

The only one that’s hard to swallow now is the Battlefield change. It works exactly the same as “comes into play” and it’s longer, making it less elegant something which MarRo loves.  I understand this one (A change to have it be more of a fantasy setting as well as naming the zone) but don’t like it one bit. Remember to make this change when you design your cards now.

– Magic is a hard game to play. Name one other game that has as many pieces and possibilities and interactions when you sit down to play it. “Dumbing” down the rules this isn’t, just simplifying it. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to these changes and don’t pull the plug on Magic yet. It’s still very healthy.

That’s it for now. Join me next time, some time, when I talk about a contest Wizards had and what they can do to make some really good cash.

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3 thoughts on “Monthy Mailbag – Magic 2010 Edition”

  1. If Counterspell is too powerful, why did we get splashy counterspells like Remand and Delay? Remand in particular was ridiculous. Mana Leak was probably just as good as counterspell as well considering that it was easy to splash for.

    I don’t agree that counterspell is too powerful. I never had a problem with it. Cryptic Command is more annoying than counterspell right now. If someone draws two or three cryptic commands the odds of winning are very low against that player.

    However, blue is getting such good cards that counterspell is certainly not going to help the situation.

  2. Because “Splashy” counterspells are just that, splashes. Wizards has said that hard counters (counters that counter any no matter what) should have at least UU in it. “Conditional” counters can have a single Blue mana and they only counter certain things (Essence Scatter can only hit creature spells and Flashfreeze can only hit Red or Green spells), or not really counter them (Remand jut really bounces it to your hand and Delay, um “delays” the spell, but doesn’t counter it).

    The reason why Cryptic is annoying is the fact it gives players choices. I can counter that spell AND draw a card OR tap your guys OR bounce that permanent. If they just reprinted Dismiss (2UU, Counter target spell, draw a card), there wouldn’t be a $20 counterspell in Standard. Remand was too good for its cost because it was a “Time Walk” and draw a card for at least the first 5 turns of the game, when it’s crucial to set up your board position.

    Mana Leak, on the other hand, is good early game, but not really well late game. Personally, I think that the “taxing” counter spell should be in White (See Mana Tithe). Counterspell is still way too strong and if you were complaining that Cryptic was too annoying, imagine Faeries having Counterspell on turn 2. Spellstutter Sprite is the type of 2 mana counterspell that should be out there as it’s a conditional counterspell (Can only counter spells equal or less then the number of faeries you have in play) only the mechanic that made it work (the number of faeries) was too powerful, not the card itself.

  3. I really don’t want white counterspells. White already gets the best Agro cards and creature removal. Oh yeah, and enchantment and artifact removal. And sometimes land removal. The color does everything and counterspells in white is terrible.

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