After PAX – The After Party to the After Party

Volkan Bega, doing art for every powerful artifact now.

http://wp.me/p5VSx-Yh

So PAX has come and gone and new spoilers for Scars of Mirrodin have been, um spoiled (I was notified that WotC doesn’t call them spoilers, but previews). But besides the awesome party and the new cards, I was fortunate enough to talk to several WotC employees. If you had been following my Twitter feed like I suggested (@mtgcolorpie), you would’ve read what some of the higher ups thought about the new set.

Luckily, for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter will see a majority of those quotes here as well. This is not going to be a review of PAX nor the party (both really good times), but what I thought about certain things and who I talked to and what they said.

Please note: I am not a journalist. I’m not like Bill Stark and my life isn’t based reporting news so I don’t want to get quotes wrong. While I don’t want to misquote people, so I’m going to do it form the twitter quotes earlier. The short interviews I conducted throughout the day and the night will be told in brief here. If any of the parties feels I misunderstood or twisted their words please feel free to contact me and I’ll correct it.

I also want to thank my many readers and followers on twitter, without them, I don’t think that I would’ve been able to get some of the responses out of these great people. I want to thank them too for being so nice to allow me to talk to them. Of course, every time I’ve interacted with them they’ve been nothing but nice and helpful, and not just me but to everyone they’ve talked to when I watch. It may be just me, but I seriously doubt it’s an act.

To the recap!

Fun Fact

Fun fact: Blizzard’s WoW CCG had booth babes. Wizards of the Coast didn’t. Winner: WotC.

What? Why?

While WotC did bring in the Gamer Girls to play Duels of the Planeswalkers with patrons, they weren’t wearing skimpy outfits and just standing around trying to attract people to pay attention to them.  Wizards relied on their brand and their game to get people to come to the booth. Yes, I like looking at the ladies (Especially and foremost my Wife), but I always thought that Booth Babes were a little dirty. Cosplay is one thing because that’s a conscious choice and they know that they’re going to get stopped all of the time to get photos taken of them. But paying women to dress up and have people take pictures of them on a convention hall floor to try and get attention to a product is kinda dirty. It’s not my bag and I think that WotC does a good job of not going there.

Over-Extended

I was told by someone who works at WotC (I don’t want to get this person in trouble if they’re not supposed to say this) that the “Over-Extended” format is just a rumor at this point, there is no real work to make it happen. That doesn’t mean that they don’t like to hear your input about it, but it’s not something that they’re looking to excatly spring on us in a few weeks with the Banned/Restricted list on the 20th. At the moment, Magic already has plenty of official formats (Vintage, Legacy, Extended, Standard, Block, EDH, Two-Headed Giant) and want to make sure that when people want to play Magic, they can find someone to play against with the general type of deck. The idea of having people able to find each other to play has been something I’ve come from WotC for a while now, so this philosophy is nothing new. However, in my opinion, I do think in a few years there has to be a format that has to also to have reprints of all cards available in the format, i.e. post Reserved List sets like Mercadian Masques forward.

Mark Rosewater

I’ve met him several times, but I had to reintroduce myself when I saw him at the party. Aside: (Yes, I know I’m being ironic when I do an aside while talking about MaRo) In my awesome badge holder I got from the Wizards booth with Jace 2.0’s art on it, I put my twitter name (@MTGColorPie) on a blank card and showed whenever I talked to anyone. Most of the time I interact with WotC employees is through the internet, so they recognize the name (hopefully not in horror as the guy who keeps bugging them). Yes, just like a majority of you, they couldn’t pick me out of a crowd. /Aside.

Anyway, when I showed MaRo my name he smiled and asked how I was doing. I told him that I was taking photos of the new cards and putting them online. He said that there were 3 that didn’t debut in Amsterdam and made sure I got pics of them all. Yes, Mark Rosewater wanted to help me put the images of the new cards online. This party wasn’t just for us there, it was for everyone who loves Magic and getting them up on the internet was a big part of that (see, sanctioned previews are just fine by him).

He gladly allowed some of my twitter followers to ask him questions and this is what I got:

@mtgcolorpie @maro254 Were you afraid of going back to Mirrodin with the broken affinity history? Did you want to fix it? – @Alithra

“In design for a while, we had affinity.” – @maro254

He wanted that to be a direct quote. It wasn’t so much of a concern, but they wanted to see if they could return to the mechanic. I have a feeling Metalcraft, the new “keyword,” is kinda how they wanted affinity to actually be, it’s the want to have more artifacts on the board without it being really broken.

@mtgcolorpie Ask MaRo if he remembers doing this with you last weekend and point him at the blog post about how great it was. – @bmemike

@bmemike He wants me to point out it wasn’t him.

Yes, my “conversations” with MaRo are fake. Unless I do something like this, those type of posts are all made up in my mind. You can’t take anything I write in those columns as real. Of course, I don’t if he was distancing himself because, well, they’re not always my best posts.

We got talking about the Great Designer Search 2, he knows there’s going to be way more people entering it, and trying to put a good questionnaire together. I joked about how things have changed when I tweeted that they would never put a temporary steal effect in common when they just did in M11. I had a conversation with Bradley Rose earlier about the rule that artifacts couldn’t be colorless, especially now that Shards block had some. Here’s what MaRo said:

“Once we break a rule doesn’t mean we always break a rule.” @Maro254 on colored artifacts.

“Artifacts are always default colorless; unless there’s a huge reason to make an artifact colored, you won’t expect to see them.” Of course, he wouldn’t answer if there would be some later on in the block. It was mentioned that this block was designed more together than other blocks before it. There’s a complete story here, which I believe is in 3 parts (sets): Introduction to Mirrodin after the last time, The attack of Phyrexian, Karn coming back to help fight against them. That last sentence was my thinking, not what was said.

Throughout the rest of the night I kept updating him and Aaron Forsythe about what everyone else was tweeting about the prices on eBay and SCG. MaRo mentioned that the Mox is really good, maybe even better than released Planeswalkers so far. Take that for what you will.

He did say that he always loves to draft poison and that poison was going to be more flavorful than multicolored cards (when he was asked about multicolored Generals). He loves posion and drafts it every time in Scars limited. Why? “BECAUSE I’VE WAITED 14 YEARS FOR THIS TO COME BACK!” Yes, he yelled it; luckily the music was loud so it’s not like everyone in the club heard him. If you’ve never met him, he’s very passionate, about the game, about life; very high energy. You can tell he’s really excited about this set. Of course, he’s really excited about every set.

Aaron Forsythe

If you’ve talked to or read Aaron’s tweets at all (@mtgaaron), you can tell he’s really passionate as well to. In fact, all of the people who work there are passionate about the game; guess what: that’s the best news that any fan of Magic: The Gathering could hear. They want the game to be the best it can and have it succeed.

Aaron is very blunt. When I asked about the issue of the From the Vault: Relics being so rare he rolled his eyes. About why Mox Opal is mythic and Legendary, it was a sigh. “We playtested it and the triple mox opening hand was too good.” Hear that? They playtested possibly broken mechanics. Even though it was a Magic Christmasland situation, they still wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t destroy the game.

When I mentioned about the prices that Elspeth and Venser were preordering for he smiled.

“The Planeswalker you haven’t (seen) yet may be the most powerful.” – @mtgaaron. #MTGScars

Yeah, that’s about Koth. And he was talking about in the context of the set. Maybe.

I think it was either him or MaRo about the new art of Cavotta’s almost “Etched Oracle” that’s been making the rounds and the response was “Just because Sunburst isn’t coming back [for now?] doesn’t mean there isn’t something like it.” So, there you go.

While I didn’t get much time to talk to Aaron, he was MCing the event in the first half, he seemed pretty upbeat for the new set.

Elaine Chase

Most of you most likely don’t know this name, even though I’ve mentioned her a few times here. She’s the Brand Director of Magic. While I’ve got a whole post dedicated to her in the queue (which I talked to her a little bit about), we mostly talked about marketing Magic. It seems like the push now is to make it like the “thinking person’s” game. While Magic is a niche game, it still has a huge hold on the Geekery at large.

While we geeks can’t always rule the mainstream (see the unsuccess of Scott Pilgrim vs The World and The Watchmen), it’s a slow and steady process to get more and more into the general population’s conscious’ mind. There’s a plan in place even though I wasn’t privy to that info. I did ask about the Sorcerer’s Apprentice ads on the back of M11 tokens and that doesn’t look like it was a one time thing. Of course, that was tied into the movie (some Magic was played in the game), so don’t be too surprised if you see another ad like that again with another tie-in.

Ken Nagle

The winner of the first Great Designer Search was the one I spoke to the least amount of time. I looked like he was having a fun time at the party and the best quote I got from him as after the party was over when the Mirrodins won the mini-games:

“Don’t underestimate the Phyrexians.” – @NorrYtt #MTGScars

I’d believe him.

Monty Ashley

While we spoke before the party when I ran into him at the Card Kindgom booth (You can find his take on PAX here), and we talked a bit about the party. WotC does plan a quite a bit for this celebration, timing the colors of the sun with the colors/types of drinks being served. Yeah, that party itself was amazing, and all the hard work they put into it showed. He did say to pay attention to Wednesday’s update and the Orb of Insight will return (I’m assuming that day as well). Just don’t speak to anyone in R&D about newly spoiled cards; they go through so many playtest names that when you describe it as “That 4/4 for 4 that gets bigger with artifacts in play” they won’t want to say anything for fear of letting something else out of the bag.

Tom LaPille

I met Tom for the first time even though I had seen him here and there. We talked for quite a while and he was really happy to see PT: Amsterdam’s results with a wide variety of decks and a return of Kai Budde and top players.

“[T]he block was built together from the ground up. I’m really excited for the stuff coming up.” – @tomlapille

He really wanted to share about the next two sets but obviously couldn’t. We (as players) don’t know what we should be looking for since we haven’t yet seen the big picture. After that it was some talk about SCG and TCGPlayer’s tournaments and he thought it was a good thing. “If they don’t think we’re doing a good enough job with the way we are handling things now, good for them to step up and find that need.” Tom also mentioned that if he was still a player (obviously he can’t play in sanctioned tourneys because he’s a WotC employee), he’d love to travel and do those things every week. The metagame keeps changing every week with MTGO online and to see it change makes the whole game better.

I asked if he was going to be on the Magic Cruise, but he said not at this time. Though he would like to go to Pour Tour in Japan this year. If I had his job, I would want to go to Japan and travel around the world as well.

He also was pretty amazed about the bloggers and podcasters who spend so much of their time on Magic. It made him feel good that people were enjoying what he was doing.

Final Thoughts

Basically what we’ve seen so far and during the party, people are having to choose between the Mirrodins and the Phyrexians. While this isn’t like Invasion where we (as players) we trying to band against the invading Phyrexians, we’re being told to pick a side. How this plays out in the future, I don’t know. But WotC does want to you to get off the fence and get involved.

The answers to get into the PAX party were as follows:

White – Titanium
Blue – Quicksilver
Black – Pitchblende
Red – Corundum
Green – Emerald
PW – Darksteel Citadel

If that means anything to anyone (besides just being elements of that color), like upcoming clues to storylines or whatever, then great.

In closing, it was a really great time at PAX and the party afterward. I really love what WotC is doing with these things and after two years in a row of awesomeness, there’s going to have to be something really important to drag me away from them in future years. I also want to thank WotC for putting on this event and giving back to the players, while not only being great marketing, it’s just a good way of ensuring brand loyalty. A great thank you goes out to all the WotC employees I talked to and were nice enough to give me a few minutes of their time to talk to me and answer some questions for my twitter followers. Magic R&D are real fans of the game, and they want to make it succeed because they care; I don’t think I could ask for better people running the game.

You know, until I win the Great Designer Search 2 and join them.

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1 thought on “After PAX – The After Party to the After Party”

  1. Blizzard’s WoW TCG booth did not actually have “booth babes” in the typical T&A-centric, purely decorative sense that we see all too often at gaming conventions. The girls are actually all hardcore WoW TCG fans and active cosplayers who voluntarily made their own costumes and spent the majority of their time at PAX teaching people how to play the game, not standing around posing for photos.

    Just wanted to provide some clarification, since I happen to be one of the WoW TCG product demonstrators of whom you speak. Thanks. =)

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