What the Storm Scale Really Means

Dragonstorm
It’s so expensive, no one will play it, right?

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If you don’t read Mark Rosewater’s Tumblr, I really suggest you do. While some of the questions that he answers are more basic level Magic questions (one of the recent ones is when were blocks first designed), there’s a ton of information in there for all levels of people. But what’s great is that he takes time out of his day and talks to normal people about something they love.

It’s very rare to see someone of his position answer questions and get in touch with his customers/fan base. He hears directly what they want and don’t want, but also give them more information about how Magic work behind the scenes.

This week I published an image based on something MaRo created. He was asked what the likely of Cascade coming back was on a scale of 1 through 10 where 10 was Storm (Storm, being a mechanic Maro doesn’t ever see coming back). He gave it a 3.

And suddenly it grew from there. People were wondering about all sorts of things on the “Storm Scale” and it shot off from there. As of the printing of this article, there have been around 70 questions about the Storm Scale in just over 2 months of its first appearance. Yes, even through how many questions that MaRo gets through, a good percentage of once that he answers are about the Storm Scale.

But what does that mean for us?

A lot, actually. It shows us what mechanics we should be shooting for when we create one.

Continue reading “What the Storm Scale Really Means”

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Design Class – The Four Dynasties of Amateur Magic Design

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This week, Fearless Leader wrote about the five dynasties of Magic Design (actually, it was kinda of a rehash of his State of Design of this year, but it makes sense in Transformation Week). If you didn’t click the link, nor read the article, don’t worry, here’s the info “that will be on the test” version:

  • First Stage (Alpha through Alliances): This stage was about the focus on individual card design. Design decisions tended to be made on a card-by-card basis.
  • Second Stage (Mirage through Prophecy): This stage was the introduction of the block and the focus of design in thinking of Magic in terms of a year.
  • Third Stage (Invasion through Saviors of Kamigawa): This stage was the introduction of block themes. Blocks were no longer just a collection of mechanics, but contained specific things chosen to highlight the block’s theme.
  • Fourth Stage (Ravnica through Rise of the Eldrazi): This stage was the introduction of block planning. Instead of picking a theme and continuing it through the block, design now planned out how exactly the block was going to evolve. This planning allowed for themes to be better set up and paid off.
  • Fifth Stage (Scars of Mirrodin through ???): Now we get to last year. What I believe Scars of Mirrodin block has done that shifts design into the next age is to radically change how mechanical themes are looked at and used. For the last two stages, themes have been used as the foundation to build the block on. Starting with Scars of Mirrodin, mechanical themes are now thought of as tools used to put a block together. Metaphorically, themes are no longer the canvas, but the paint.

All of this is great. You really see the evolution of Magic when it gets separated into these categories. In fact, this isn’t the first time that MaRo has brought to us these dynasties (as highlighted in his State of Design right before Ravnica, the fourth stage). Here it is broken down:

  • First Stage (Alpha through Alliances): Design on a card by card basis.
  • Second Stage (Mirage through Prophecy): Blocks are created and keywords are enforced.
  • Third Stage (Invasion through Saviors of Kamigawa): Creation of the Block Theme (Multicolor being Invasion, and so on).
  • Fourth Stage (Ravnica through Rise of the Eldrazi): Tying the block closer together by having the sets in the block interconnect better.
  • Fifth Stage (Scars of Mirrodin through ???): Design a world that encompasses and design for that plane.

That fifth stage is a little card to pin down since we’ve only seen 4 sets (plus a Core Set), of this new design philosophy. As fellow GDS2 participate, and eventual winner, Ethan Fleisher said:

During the Designer Search, I was working based on some obsolete assumptions. Not only could I not see the next eight to twelve sets worth of innovation that were in the works, but I had to look back several years in order to get a clear picture of what sorts of standards existed in common between sets.

And he’s right. We’re in a total lag of trying to stay on top of what Wizards considers “proper” design. For people not working at Wizards, we’re trying to decipher what is not laughable when it comes to designing cards of our own. Everyone started making Planeswalkers when they first were announced, but we didn’t know exactly how they worked and what their impact would be. Wizards did.

So for today, I give you the four dynasties of amateur Magic design. It’s because of this constant catch up, and the way people design cards, that I believe that this is how people create cards. Of course, this is just one man’s opinion and everyone else is a little different.

Continue reading “Design Class – The Four Dynasties of Amateur Magic Design”

Shroud Can Still Be Targeted by Designers

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We were kinda expecting something like this announcement, but not to this extent.

It all started with an innocent Tumblr question to Mark Rosewater:

dukkhasatva asked: Why did blue get Inkwell Leviathan? It bugs me that green, being the fatty color, doesn’t get the “evasion + shroud” fatty that’s good enough to see legacy play. Aren’t trample and shroud supposed to be primary green abilities?

Shroud (and now hexproof which has replaced it) is both a blue and green ability . Trample is a primary green ability (secondary in red), but it is something we let all colors have on gigantic creatures, which tend to show up at higher rarities.

Blue’s evasion is much better than green’s so the reason that shroud + trample + evasion shows up in blue is that blue has easier access to trample (on a large creature) than green has access to evasion.

And then there was the follow up:

jlennoxg asked: Did you just say hexproof has completely replaced shroud?

Yes, I did. It does not make sense supporting two mechanics that work that closely especially with different names. R&D spent a lot of time talking about it and decided to go with hexproof.

Note that this doesn’t mean that shroud is changing to hexproof on cards that have it. Shroud will be supported much as we support any keyword mechanic we’re not currently using (like say fear). But for the present (I won’t talk of the future because things can change), shroud is not being used on new cards.

Yeah. That happened. The bigger question is, What now?

Continue reading “Shroud Can Still Be Targeted by Designers”

Slice of Pie – An Army of One (Drops)

Editor’s Note: When I used to blog on MySpace (I’m that old, who uses MySpace anymore?), I used to have a tradition: on the week of my birthday I’d have a blog post a day. Yes, five posts (for the weekdays); imagine that, huh? Well, I’m going to do that here on MTGCP since I’ve got some posts that are half finished and mostly finished. Oh, and the next piece in the Card Kingdom series will fire off this week as well. So sit back, and enjoy all the updating, this, the week of my birthday.

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This is not a new idea. I’m not the first one to point this out. In fact, fearless leader (aka Mark Rosewater) pointed this out during Shards of Alara:

Design has little design challenges it keeps repeating. One of them is making new one drop white creatures with the ability to attack for 2. Nearly every block has at least one, often more than one. Exalted proved to be the tweak of choice for Shards of Alara.

Really? How many cards are like this?

Oh.

Let’s ask and answer three important questions:

  1. A design challenge?
  2. Why this model?
  3. Why is this important?

They’re all interwoven, so you’re not going to get some 1-2-3 answer sheet (Hooray Color Pie Philosophy!).

Continue reading “Slice of Pie – An Army of One (Drops)”

Design Class – We Have a Lot In Common, You and I

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This may not be the most popular post I write. It’s not like I stir up controversy every time I put my fingers to the keyboard so I’m not going too far off the trail here. You ready?

I liked Planar Chaos.

(Ducks throws of rotten fruit left over from Planar Chaos)

And, no matter how much you don’t want to admit it, but Mirrodin Besieged is turning out to be like Planar Chaos.

(Ducks throws again)

And I noticed this all when I was going to make a joke. But it sets up to ask a single question: Is this lazy design?

Continue reading “Design Class – We Have a Lot In Common, You and I”