You Make the Card 4 – Round 2 (Run Off)

YMTC - Blank

Well, that happened.

26 votes? That’s a margin of error in almost any poll (Though electronic voting does make recounting so much easier). Because the voting was so close, WotC has decided that it’s going to do a run off between the top two card choices:

Enchantment vs. Land

Yes, they reran close voting in previous YMTC, so this was expected. I mentioned that it was possible that people were going to vote for a card type that hadn’t been done before (Creature, artifact and instant). This is really not a surprise. But some of you seem to think that we can “force” WotC to do whatever we want. That’s not the case with this contest. They are letting us create a card together. After we submit ideas, R&D are going to go through them and pick out 10 or so of the ideas they like. The ideas could be whatever the focus of the block is, a truly unique idea, or just something that’s really cool (Subjectively speaking). We get to choose an idea that WotC approves of.

Listen, I know that a good portion of you really like the idea of designing a land, but for this contest I think that choosing to go the land type is the wrong way to go. I can guess what a majority of the land designs are going to be:

  • A Strip Mine or a Dust Bowl effect.
  • A fetchland (ala Polluted Delta).
  • A “Man-Land” (ala Mishra’s Factory).
  • Something that taps for more than one mana.
  • Something that taps for every color of mana.

None of those choices are sexy. You really want the card that the community makes to be a utility land? How exciting. Yawn.

I’m telling you again: don’t vote for land. And here’s why.

From what I’ve read online, those of you who are championing land are doing so for a couple of reasons:

It could go in every deck.

This is a valid concern. However you’ve got some problems with that thinking. One, the fact that it can go in every deck means it needs to be tested and quite possibly nerfed more than other lands. We’ve seen powerful colorless lands that can go in every deck take over metagames: Rishadan Port, Cavern of Souls (in a manner of speaking), Inkmoth Nexus, Library of Alexandria, and Mutavault among others. When a land that can appear in every deck takes over the metagame, players aren’t happy; they second guess WotC and no one wins. And in this situation, you want a cool and powerful card, right? We’d only have ourselves to blame. Remember that you have to play against that card too. That uncounterable, hard to kill land goes both (or in multi-player, all) ways. In Standard (since it’s going to be in boosters), WotC has toned down the land destruction because people want to play with their lands.

It may not be that bad, however. That’s if, and only if, they don’t force us to choose a color that the land can produce instead of colorless, which means it’s really only awesome for those decks. Out goes the hope of it appearing in every deck and why you (might have) voted for land in the first place. If, and it’s possible, WotC wants us to choose a color that the land produces to help keep the power down then it can’t go in every  deck (especially in Commander). Don’t think that they’ll be compelled to complete a full cycle here. In Saviors of Kamigawa, there were four rare lands: two produced colorless mana and one produced Blue and the land one Black. This land, which you thought was safe of only producing colorless mana, suddenly has shifted to produce one color and out goes your hope of it being in every deck.

I don’t want it to cost a million mana.

Oh, yeah, that. So why don’t we just ignore the mana cost altogether and choose a card type the doesn’t need it? Mana costs are important. It what keeps powerful cards unplayable until a more reasonable point in the game. When you have a card that can be played on turn one (as you can with land), you have to limit to what it can do. In modern design, a land has to produce mana or be able to go get another land that can make mana. After that, the only thing you can do to control the land is by the activation cost.

But that doesn’t mean that the enchantment is going to be expensive. The three contests prior to this, the converted mana costs were 4, 3 and 4. If the community picks a mechanic for the enchantment that can be cheap, the cost will be cheap. Having an enchantment say “You may cast nonland cards from your hand without paying their mana costs” isn’t going to cost 4, it’s going to cost 10. Players of every format don’t want the enchantment to cost so much that it’s unplayable. WotC needs to balance the card, and with lands, they can’t properly do that since there’s no mana cost. It’s more than just activation, it’s the whole package.

Remember: there are only a few ways to balance a land. And lands, since they can go in any deck, have to be pretty balanced. And since it could be colorless, it can’t deviate too far from anywhere on the color pie. So that means that it can do some small things, but it can’t do them very well.

What lands do you know of that aren’t just incremental benefits?

We’ve got man-lands, for sure. Kessig Wolf Run? Valakut? Vault of the Archangel maybe. With the first two, players have complained about banning them in some form or fashion. You can’t effectively cost them since they can come down on the battlefield at anytime. The effects for the lands have to be small so that they can be kept under control with the limited control valves that WotC’s Development has. The lands can’t be too powerful since they’re hard to remove and stop the repeatable effect. The effects that lands have can rarely be large so that they won’t become too dominate.

Enchantments, on the other hand, have a wide variety of possibilities. You can:

And those are just some rares in Modern. If you want, I can go through the uncommons and commons as well. We’d be here for quite a while. Do lands have the variety of roles they can fill compared to lands? Not even close. Notice: there’s a variety of mana costs to go with those enchantments, not just the feared 8 or 9.

Enchantments can be almost any mechanic you want. You can make them beneficial for you, or just hurt your opponents. It may be an aura, it may not. They can be Johnny/Spike and Timmy enchantments, or any combination of the above. Enchantments can be the pinnacle of a game instead of just the stepping stone. That’s so nice about the card type: it can fit into any role you want it to. At this point, we don’t have to narrow down what exactly we want to do. By slowly whittling down choices with each vote, we still leave so much open and so may directions we can go. Those that preach “restrictions breeds creativity”, MaRo’s mantra, think that we should vote lands. Why? At this point in the process, instead of tying one hand behind your back, you’re blindfolded and hogtied when you choose lands.

Some might ask why I’m so anti-lands (I’ve seen it in some of the forums around). It’s not that I don’t like lands, but this contest isn’t about trying to prove a point. We actually have a chance to make a real Magic card and people want to suggest a land to fix their mana? That’s like getting a Major League baseball at bat and trying to draw a walk rather than trying to hit a home run. Sure, the walk is safer and you have a better change of getting on base, but you’re not really swinging for the fences, are you? Walks aren’t remembered, home runs are. I believe that both Forgotten Ancient and Crucible of Worlds were home runs; why not try again? Who knows if or when we’ll ever get this shot again, and with enchantments, I feel like we’re taking that swing. WotC isn’t going to give us Search the City as much as they aren’t going to give us Wasteland.

I’m endorsing Enchantments this time around. Not only is there more room for design but there’s just more fun to be had with enchantments. You play your lands to cast your enchantments; it’s like eating your vegetables to get to your desert. Before you vote land, look up at the five bullets points at the beginning of this post. If your design that you have in mind matches one of those points, please rethink your vote. This is the card of the people: do we really want it to be a land to search for another land?


18 thoughts on “You Make the Card 4 – Round 2 (Run Off)”

  1. Bullshit.

    You’re making it out like all possible design space for lands consists solely of manlands, Strip Mines, and manafixing. That’s absurd and you know it. R&D won’t pick those entries as finalists and players wouldn’t vote for them if they did.

    In just the last two blocks we got a full ten-card cycle of lands like Moorland Haunt and Gavony Township with AWESOME abilities. We’ve also had no shortage of interesting colorless lands like Cathedral of War. In your perverse, deviant lust for enchantments, you are slandering the good name of the utility land, and I for one will not stand for it.

    Would I be happy if we got something like City of Brass? Of course not. But that’s obviously not going to happen. Would I be happy if we got something like Thespian’s Stage or Alchemist’s Refuge? Abso-fucking-lutely. I would snap-take it in a heartbeat. A goddamn heartbeat.

    1. This is a very biased with lack of information, it also seems like the author is a casual player.

      The author never mentioned that lands can do most of the things the enchantments do…

      Pendelhaven, Nomad Stadium, Maze of Ith, Cabal Pit, Karakas, Alchemist’ Refuge, Rogue’s Passage, Eye of Ugin, Glacial Chasm, Glimmerpost, Cloudpost, Dryad Arbor, Cephalid Coliseum, Grove of the Burnwillows, Calciform Pools, Horizon Canopy, Riftstone Portal, High Market, Barbarian Ring, Shivan Gorge, Phyrexian Tower, etc. Those are just off the top of my head.

      The article was written in a hurry to pounce on the YMTC trend (which isn’t a bad thing!) and it shows.

    2. Ok, so from what I’m understanding of your kind response, you’re a competitive player. Agreed? Good.

      As such, let me ask you this, as far as all formats are concerned because we need to think about that as well.

      Off the top of your head, name twenty enchantments currently used in Legacy, Modern and Standard. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

      Now do the same for lands.

      Lands were easier to name, right? Of course they were. We have A LOT OF LANDS that are used in more than just standard. MTGCP is correct in his evaluation; we are going to want lands that can do absolutely everything under the sun. The unforeseen news flash here is that we’re going to want the same from the enchantments we want as well. How you aren’t seeing that is beyond me, because it’s the YOU MAKE THE CARD that’s wanting people to come up with all kinds of crazy ideas.

      Now, as far as standard is concerned, what types of enchantments are we seeing that are dominant? Rest in Peace? Ok, cool. What else? Anyone? Anybody? That’s right, NOTHING. At least nothing competitive. We have shocklands that can produce lots of colored mana so that if we get a great enchantment from this contest, WE CAN GOD FORBID PLAY IT. I know, crazy right?

      To rebut your final paragraph, I’m having a really hard time taking your credibility seriously from someone that would accept Thespian’s Stage as an actual playable card. Now, if you have more insight as to why land should beat enchantment, feel free to take your personal time to write up a blog post as to why you think that is.

      I’ll wait.

  2. Most of those enchantment examples you listed could have had land as their type instead, and with similar mana costs involved somehow. Stop reacting to the uncreative design people wanting a fetch/fixer, as you too are managing to see only the uncreative. There are so many effects that could be stapled to a land it isn’t funny. Having said that, I want to see a timmy-jarring enchantment like Bridge From Below or Chains Of Mephistopheles but done a bit differently…

  3. Discard spells don’t target lands. Counterspells can’t counter lands. Lands can be played on the first turn. Any deck can play a land.
    Therefore, lands are the absolute best tool to fix broken metagames. If you want magic to be magic and not a combo festival, you vote for land, then submit designs for lands that force decks to “play” fair.

  4. Even if it’s a man-land, it can be plenty interesting. How about a land that can become a copy of target creature until end of turn for that creature’s mana cost, for instance? Plays completely differently than any existing man-land, and that’s a design in 2 seconds off the top of my head after reading this article.

    But I’m still voting for Enchantment as it is less constrained by the needs of its type than Land is.

  5. I strongly feel you are debating more than truthfully looking at design
    All colors have Draw, removal, etc
    what a land is is an opportunity to fix games,
    Mana flood/screw is a problem, oppressive decks give people bad tastes in their mouth and of course lands are restricted to one per turn

    Lands are more of an untapped space than it is a boring

  6. Kessig Wolf Run and Valakut are both excellent designs, and I’d be thrilled to get another one. It was Primeval Titan who made them oppressive. Don’t blame the crimes of that monstrosity on the innocent lands he fetched.

  7. I would love to see a new rare land set that taps for one of three colors each turn. Something better than the original dual lands. Something that replaces the over-priced originals. Or a single land of any color with color phase. Every other usage it produces any color mana.

  8. This review seems to be done by a narrow-minded only-standard player with no real knowledge of the full cardpool of Magic. Some (if not all) of your points are cemented under false and innacurate suppositions. Even if its a utility land, it doesn’t mean that any deck could run it. The usefulness of that land is what marks in which decks it will fit better due to the synergy with the other cards. For example, any deck could run Maze of Ith (which does nothing of the things you listed), but on practice, few decks run it because it has a good synergy, while in the vast majority of decks you would rather draw something else. Maze of Ith, Rishadan Port, Karakas, Glacial Chasm, Dark Depths, Thawing Glaciers, Kor Haven, Riptide Lab (now a bomb with Snapcaster), The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale and Cathedral of War are just some of the Lands that don’t do anything of the things you listed, and all of them have seen competitive play. A new utility land would be more likely to change the current metagames in any format than any of the enchantments you listed, which at least the 90% would only see play in Limited at best.

  9. I vote for enchantment. My argument is simple.
    I strongly believes that the event YMTC aims at searching for creative ideas. Making a competitive card is not the first priority. The previous 3 cards all have gotten creative abilities. Thus, the criteria of choosing the card type would be that whether it would lead creative ideas.
    Enchantments are better ways to demonstrates creativity. My concern is the power level. Detention Sphere is good. A land with the ability of Detention Sphere is insane. Why? The power level of enchantment can be balanced by its mana cost. A land can’t be. On the other hand, a land with appropriate power level (like Cathedral of War or Cavern of Souls) is not that creative. Thus power level of land limits creativity.
    Thus I believes enchantments are better.

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