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:
- Become a dragon (Form of the Dragon)
- Steal a creature (Soul Ransom)
- Create an army (Luminarch Ascension)
- Change your fancy non-basics (Blood Moon)
- Gain you a ton of life (Boon Reflection)
- Allow you to play The Walking Dead (Call to the Grave)
- Make your hexproof guy really good (Daybreak Coronet)
- Dabble in everyone’s graveyard (Debtor’s Knell)
- Exile that pesky nonland permanent (Detention Sphere)
- Double everything (Doubling Season)
- Make your creature a god (Eldrazi Conscription)
- Keep everyone down (Everlasting Torment)
- Make your army bigger (Glorious Anthem)
- While your opponent’s army is smaller (Curse of Death’s Hold)
- Seek revenge for killing your creatures (Grave Pact)
- Continue the cycle of life (Greater Good)
- Win the game (Helix Pinacle)
- Tutor up creatures (Hibernation’s End)
- Create combo pieces (Intruder Alarm)
- Have amazing sideboard cards (Layline of Sanctity)
- Make new enemies (Manabarbs)
- Prevent Death (Worship)
- Connect with an opponent (Psychic Possession)
- Double everything again (Pyromancer Ascension)
- Shock an opponent (Seismic Assault)
- Keep everyone at bay (Teferi’s Moat)
- Do things never done before (Wheel of Sun and Moon)
- Oh, and you can have your incremental benefits as well (Phyrexian Arena)
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?