In case you haven’t heard, Wizards of the Coast is putting old Vintage cards into packs of Zendikar. Yes, seriously. Yes, this is really awesome. At the moment, we don’t know what cards they are (Someone has pulled an Ancestral Recall), and I’m not here to talk about the rules. I’m here to say Wizards were telling us all along this was happening.
Wait, back up. Wizards told us this was coming? I didn’t read any rumors until like two days ago. This was clearly a well kept secret.
As we begin the second block with the Mythic Rarity included into the game of Magic, it’s time to take a look and see how’s it been so far and how’s it going into Zendikar block. It’s been a source of controversy and a source of tension between developers and players.
This now leads us to the next question: How are cards split between rare and mythic rare? Or more to the point, what kind of cards are going to become mythic rares? We want the flavor of mythic rare to be something that feels very special and unique. Generally speaking we expect that to mean cards like Planeswalkers, most legends, and epic-feeling creatures and spells. They will not just be a list of each set’s most powerful tournament-level cards.
And from Aaron Forsythe’s Twitter account in the past few weeks here:
My definition of mythic rare: cards that are jaw-dropping to some part of the audience.
The mythic definition should be broad, not “planeswalkers + cards that aren’t very good.”
By taking these two definitions (Epic-feeling creatures/spells, non-staples/most powerful tournament, jaw-dropping), let’s take a look back at what’s been printed so far and how they fair to these definitions. But to make one more definition of our own: What is a staple card? Cards that are staples can be used in a variety of decks, not a very narrow deck that is very good. Staple cards include: Cryptic Command, Tarmogoyf, Bitterblossom, Reflecting Pool. Non-staple cards are Mistblind Clique, Doran the Siege Tower, Arcbound Ravager. Continue reading “Too Rare or Not Too Rare, That is the Question”
My experiment was a success for the most part. See the pic to the right? I took that from my phone (hence the quality of the pic (there was a light right below it shining up)) and twitpiced it. People who were following me on Twitter, found out first besides the party participants, that there would be Enemy Duel Sac Lands in Zendikar. Evan Erwin (The Magic Show) took the photo and put it on the “rumor site” and the place went nuts from what I saw in the aftermath. Lesson?
I don’t want to bore you with some of the details when I was at PAX (played some cards, won and lost some games) but I do want to say a couple things about my experience that Wizards did, good and bad.
The “Planeswalker Challenge”
This is what you had to do to get into the party. Five challenges for five colors. Get a stamp of each color to get in.
Red – A mat that looked like fire and you had to put your hands on it where warm stones would reveal a word. The password is “FLASH”
Black – You were handed a card that says a mythical creature and supposed to dig through a chest and find the pieces to make that creature. Mine was Vampire! (Bat+Human).
White – Four jumbled words with art of them. Unjumble 3 out of the 4 pictures to get your stamp. All were angels. (The arts were Angel of Mercy (Xth), Angel of Retribution, Angel of Salvation, and one I couldn’t identify and can’t find online. Does that mean new angel, I don’t know. I didn’t unscramble the name so I couldn’t tell you that.)
Blue – In an actual pool, identify two toy sharks that were exactly the same (out of 50), including the way the sharks floated. I really don’t remember the answer.
Green – On a wall of 9 arts with P/T, switch three P/T to make the sum of each row the same power and the sum of all columns the same toughness. This was the longest one for me as somehow adding didn’t work for me that day.
Good – It got gamers to walk around the convention center. Walking is good. Though, I didn’t have a map with me so I got lost in the beginning (That place is huge). Apparently the organizers didn’t realize that players would naturally work together so they encouraged it after it started happening. See, gaming does make you want to help out other players (I can’t believe I’m linking to a Cracked.com article for support).
This is the 5th State of Design that MaRo released since his tenure as Head Magic Designer who is the mouthpiece of Wizards. But this is quite an important one as now, after this amount of time, he has developed a pattern. Before we look at the present (and the “future”), we must look at the past.
MaRo always has goals that he wants to do for design for the upcoming block. This is always an easy task because *shock* they have already designed and close to printing the future block that MaRo is wanting to make goals for. It’s easy to make goals for something you’ve already done. Maybe goal in the traditional sense (the act of throwing, carrying, kicking, driving, etc., a ball or puck into such an area or object), should be replaced with another definition (Synonyms:1.target; purpose, object, objective, intent, intention. 2.finish). Um, let’s use intent. It’s their intent (goal) to do hit these marks and make them go over well.
Taking a look at the past year’s “goals” there is a pattern going on here (MaRo says humans like patterns). Let’s take a look at them for each year and see what the goals were with what they accomplished:
2005 – Ravnica: City of Guilds Block
1. Institute block design (Have colored pairs throughout the block rather than one set)
2. Design between blocks (Don’t have Ravnica beat up Champions, let them work together)
3. Design and create integration (Create more Spirits!)
2006 – Time Spiral Block
1. Continue with the past goals (Past-present-future, cards that work with multicolor, mix dredge/hellbent with flashback)
2. Embrace the tools of the past (Use old mechanics)
3. Find ways to surprise (Surprise! Psionic Blast is back! Surprise! Wrath of God is now Black! Surprise! Magic is making contraptions!)
2007 – Lorwyn/Shadowmoor Blocks
1. Go back to our roots (Creatures smash and Blue/Black get the best spells)
2. Find innovation that doesn’t shock (Besides that four sets a year thing. Two/two blocks (race-class, friendly hybrid/enemy hybrid))
3. Be all inclusive (Spikes got Faeries/Cryptic Command, Johnnys got hybrid and Timmys got the entire Lorwyn block)
2008 – Shards of Alara Block
1. Give things more time and space to breathe (The middle set? No new mechanics)
2. Embrace Flavor (5 shards each with their own keyword/theme)