A Blogger’s Response to the State of Design 2014

King Macar, the Gold-CursedThis has been a year where Magic has taken more of a backseat for me. From the early birth of my daughter in my personal life to getting more responsibility in my professional one (Which really kicked in right when I thought I was going to have time to write for this and 99CMDRProblems again). My usual interest in everything Magic has moved me from a superfan to only a fan.

While my lack of playing the game has diminished my knowledge of format metagames and draft archetypes, I have kept a huge interest in Magic on how it relates to my main sub-interest: design. This is how I feel about the Theros Block in one sentence:

It was one of the most over-produced blocks of all time.

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Friday at PAX 13

Fblthp in MTGOCC Cup

I haven’t done a Friday PAX before, but luckily it’s mostly the same for all of the days. With my cousin in tow, who was enjoying PAX for the first time, we waged war against lines, and more lines, and even more lines for our only day at PAX.

Now the actual PAX party is tomorrow night where we’re going to get a huge amount of previews but I thought I would share some photos and a few of my thoughts.

The MTGO Community Cup is at PAX for the first time this year, but it’s blocked off and put into a corner. I get why (You need better audio for streaming), however I feel like this is an opportunity missed to display what awesome things Magic has going. Every other streaming sport has a ton of people around it and were actively engaging the crowd. Twitch.TV had a huge booth next to the WotC booth, and there was the huge League of Legends that had whole section devoted to it. None of them had people who made them game playing against fans and pros of the same game.

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PAX ImageJust a quick reminder (and to test out this Aside function on WordPress), I will be at PAX Prime all day Friday and will be at the Magic Party Saturday night (7:00 PM Pacific time). If you can’t be there, you can follow me on Twitter (@mtgcolorpie) as I’ll be taking photos and trying to get more information about Theros; feel free to tweet me and I’ll do my best to answer those burning questions. Maybe I’ll do some quick blogging too. At PAX? come find me and we can hang out. I’ll have two Commander decks with me as well as Planechase and Vanguard.

The Interblock Synergy of Ravnica and Theros

ATF - Theros - Anax and CymedeWay back in the first “Sate of Design”, Mark Rosewater talked about interblock design. To the quote machine:

Not only will the designers have to design between sets, they will have to design between blocks. We’re getting an earlier jump on future blocks to make sure that the designers know where we are going and allow them the ability to set up the next block.

The first time this was truly implemented was our previous trip to Ravnica and I thought that it was important to take a look at what we’ve got so far.

But what does interblock synergy really mean? Before Ravnica (Part 1), the most powerful Standard decks tended to be block decks with very few cards from outside those three sets. This was fine for testing because it gave you a deck to run through your gauntlet. Examples include Affinity in Mirrodin and Goblin Bidding in Onslaught. Both of those decks didn’t really rely on too many cards that weren’t from their respective blocks.

This made Standard pretty boring (But remember, this is was still coming off the heels of Affinity however the basic concept is there). This also led to not tying into the surrounding blocks in general and have each one fend for itself.

Ravnica changed all of this.

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Of Monsters and Heroes


With the Duel Decks: Heroes vs Monsters revealed we can talk about the two mechanics previewed for Theros.


[Cost]: Monstrosity [Number]. (If this creature isn’t monstrous, put [Number] +1/+1 counters on it and it becomes monstrous.)


Heroic – Whenever you cast a spell that targets [CARDNAME], [Effect].

What we’ve got here is a creature based mechanic and a spell based one (even though it doesn’t seem like it). Both of these have their little quirks and I’m sure I might get some of the smaller details wrong without an official FAQ. But I can tell you some things that we can be on the lookout for with both of these mechanics and what we might be able to expect in the block. I’m taking a large assumption that these will be spread out over the five colors though obviously there will be only-color effects.

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