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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Good Bye 2012, The world didn’t End! Hello 2013! What to expect from MTG.

January 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Review

Good Bye 2012.

Apocalypse

“It’s end of the World~!!! Everyone get some~!!!!!!”

This has been an interesting year. What caught my interest is all those talk about the end of the world which supposedly 21/12/2012. It seems that as long as humans exist, imagination and stupidity can really reach infinite.

But the sparking interests for the end of the world, has very interesting beginnings. But that isn’t what this article is about.

Today I like to share about something in similar ideology:

Game Warping Events

Obliterate

Player A: “I cast Grave Titan, done.”
Player B: “I cast my Commander, Zur the Enchanter, done.”
Player C: “I cast my Commander, Captain Sisay, equipped Lightning Greaves, search for Sigarda, Host of Herons, done.”
Player D: “I dun like where this is going……” ~~KABOOOOOM!!!!!!~~

The community hates this. They banned cards that cause these without mercy. However, they unwilling to ban a certain theme or themes. There may be many reason why they unwilling to ban themes is because that will ruined the diversity of the card game. Something that Diablo 3 has been experiencing. (Diablo 3 has many flaws; diversity is just one of them. Even with 5 characters.)
Up till now, there 3 major themes that players extremely hate to encounter:

When players faced a deck of that focus such a theme, they usually avoid them. The reasons are many, but the core reason is, they don’t have a good winning chance.

Let’s take ‘Counter Everything’ deck as an example. Just go to magiccards.info and do an advance search. Just key in ‘counter target spell’ and check the ‘blue’ cards. I assure you, there are about close to 150 blue cards that can counter spells. And if you want 3 or less converted mana cost counter spells, there are about almost 120 plus cards.

In short, you really can counter everything that you deem is a threat in your opponent deck if you put in high ratio of counter spells in the deck.
blue player troll face

And to add more insults, blue has 300 more spells that allow you to draw, at the very least 1, cards.
There is no way you do not have enough cards to design a ‘counter, draw, go’ deck. It is simply, too simple, too easy to win. Unless you are playing multiplayer, which you may not have enough spells to counter all the threats when all players are going for your throat.

Land destruction and Lockdown theme decks aren’t that simple. They required some good deck designing, proper thinking and skills to achieve your winning conditions. Plus they don’t have a higher winning percentage compared to ‘counter everything’ decks. However, they are able to achieve a state of game where everyone is unable to move, react and become helpless for a good amount of turns. With these extra turns, the above mentioned 2 decks themes will achieve some advantages that is unable to change the outcome of the game.

As a gamer, apart from bitching, there are 3 ways to handle this:

  • Build the most competitive and most broken deck, let him have a taste of what is it like
  • If you are playing multiplayer, point out what is going on and gang up against him before he established
  • Just scoop and stop playing

Then it is really ‘End of the World’ for him. Reason is because he is too strong to be fun, there will be no player to play with or the decks he will be facing will be too strong.forever winning

Hello 2013

You do not trade the markets—no one does. Now that might sound surprising to many of you. But what you really trade are your beliefs about the market. Furthermore, your ability to do so is tempered by your beliefs about yourself.
By Van K. Tharp, Ph.D

Near Death Experience

“It was a tough fight…. But we survived….”

So since we have more time as the end of the world didn’t happened, the Wizards of the coast has to do some business. That is to make more new cards for us to play with.

Interesting and challenging it can be. Wizards of the coast (WotC) have been in this business, developing, creating new cards for more than 30 years.

30 years with more than 3000 cards, with more to come every year. This year, wouldn’t be any different.
Even so, there could be a pattern in how the WotC design their new cards.

Here is what I believe that this is the pattern Wotc is designing their new cards:

  • Creatures are getting better and better
  • Common and uncommon noncreature spells are getting less and less cost effective

 

Here is what I believe what Wizards of the Coast will do to keep the game interesting and generate sales:

  • Design cards that give new competitive tools to deal with current top tier decks
  • Design cards that provide a very catchy theme

 

Here is what I believe what Wizards of the Coast will be facing in the future:

  • A change of gaming taste
  • No new players or new players felt they miss the wagon

There are quite a lot of topics to talk about. I will attempt to keep this blog post short and sweet. So the first thing:

How Wizards of the Coast designing their cards

I personally believe the comfort zone of the designers will be the creatures. The core reason why I believe is because they die easily.

 

Here is the list how they can possible dies:

  • Things That Are Destruction

Wrath Of God

Good O’ Wrath

  1. Traditional Destroy Effects – Can Be Regenerated
  2. Traditional Destroy Effects – Can’t Be Regenerated
  3. Lethal Damage
  4. Deathtouch
  • Things That Are Not Destruction

Swords to Plowshares

No problem is too big if it is targetable

  1. Zero or Less Toughness
  2. The Legend Rule
  3. Exiling (also known as Remove from the game)
  4. Sacrificing
  5. “Bouncing” (returning a permanent to a player’s hand and similar things)

 

If you wish to know more details this article about how creatures die covers extremely detail.

And it is because there are so many ways to deal with creatures; Wotc has no problems creating new creatures that are flexible and cost effective. Of course, creatures that are too ridiculous are a big no-no. (I don’t think a 0cc 20/20 haste creature with no drawback is going to happen any time at all)

They just have to worry a few things, just make sure there are some conditions to the creatures to be powerful.
Let’s take Scute Mob as an example. For it to be worth it, you to satisfy with 2 things, 5 lands and survive 1 turn. Then u have a 5/5 creature for 1 turn. So you can’t shorten the clock that fast enough. 5 lands, the fastest possible I can think is 3rd turn. 4th turn then you have a 5/5 creature.

Of course, who uses that? Thus, this is indeed in the crap rare pile. But this is merely an example how they are designing the cards. Effective creatures but with conditions.

Next for this section is non-creatures cards are getting less and less cost effective.
What do I mean by that? Let’s have an example again, Annihilating Fire and Incinerate. Does the same thing, but cost 1 more red…

wtf is this shit

It is because of such designing, current cards can’t compete with Vintage and Legacy cards pool. Is that a bad thing? I believe so, but there must be a reason this card is created, just that I am not sure what is it.

But I do agree that non creature spells should have a certain power level control. Just look at Vintage/Legacy banned and restrict list, they are mostly revolved in 1 strategic and the most material aspect of Magic the Gathering: Card advantage (CA). Wikipedia explain Card Advantage as simply as it can be.

To combat very cheap card drawing going rampant, WotC design cards that will required at the very least 3cc to draw 2 cards. Any less to draw 2 cards, those cards will have required special conditions, again. Perfect examples are Shared Discovery and Visions of Beyond. Even on cantrips like Brainstorm and Ponder, Wizards of the Coast are extremely careful in creating, as their ‘drawback’ is actually able to play around. On this avenue, WotC has a one hell of a job. It is extremely difficult to create cards that will be broken or extremely good in the future.

Hmmm… So, instead of creating more and more inferior cards. I believe should go in a different direction. The recent event shows a possibility. A possible way to generate sales.

 

Here are my suggestions:

New Competitive Tools –

Now… what do I mean by that? Imagine a Meta that it is has been dominated by a deck or decks for many years. For example, Mana drain based decks in Vintage. Are they are other competitive decks? Oh yes! Mishra’s Workshop based deck and Bazaar of Baghdad based decks. Now, what are these decks’ traits? Non basic lands, Power 9, graveyard based heavily etc.

I don’t have a crystal clear answer to Vintage Fortress like Dominant decks. But I have a chat with a very respectable player; his insights hinted me of this possibility.

Tarmogoyf has been considered as a mistake in Magic cards designing. However, Return of the Ravnica latest bomb card, Deathrite Shaman, manages to nullify Tarmogoyf natural ability to grow big. Deathrite Shaman is also able to ramp your mana or deal damage to your opponents.

Those words above is roughly the basic idea what he trying to tell me. Deathrite Shaman is going to shrink Tarmogoyf up by crunching graveyards and still able to dish damage to opponents.

Although I haven’t serious see how effective Deathrite Shaman works in Legacy, but the idea or suggestion I provide I believe can be benefit to on both, Players and Sales for WotC.

With that, WotC should design cards that of similar meta changing effects. Cards that provide effective tools to combat meta’s top tier decks. Players who have the top tier decks are force to adjust or change their deck to maintain good winning percentage and stay competitive.

 

Thematic for the Sales –

This is the core reason why I played Magic the Gathering since 1997. The art of these cards are extremely attractive. Dragons, vampires, angels, spells and etc. They strike a chore of me that want me to take part of this fantasy and exercise my imagination. I wasn’t started as a great player, it takes years of life experience, interests and supplement other readings to implement to be a better player.

However to strike non-players to join in the game, there must be a psychological trigger to spark the interest. Wizards of the Coast should consider some time understand the demographics of the people they want to target.

For example, if Wizards of the Coast wish to attack China market, they have to understand that Chinese children grew up with these stories as their ‘fairy tales’:

Why do I mention these Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature? These 4 books created a lot of role models and archetypes in Chinese culture. Guan Yu is often represents great loyalty, valor and he often emphasis learning and study to his people and himself. Kongming represent an extremely learned, knowledgeable in all fields, undisputed scheming, incontestable foresight, and godly strategist that strike fear and paranoia to his rivals even after his death.

People often wish to follow their role model. For my case, I take my learning seriously even after my education is over. I also try to think ahead, using politics to gain advantage during my multiplayer Elder Dragon Highlander games.

WotC must understand the underlying psychological effects of these archetypes of Chinese role models. They strike an interest, fuel a thematic feel and encourage some collectors to buy them.

I don’t really suggest copy these characters as it is like Portal Three Kingdoms, and slapped an ability to them. Because everybody have different expectation for different characters. For example, I am quite disappointed the size of Lu Bu in the Portal Three Kingdoms. He is archetype of unrivaled warrior.

I do suggest that WotC really need is find a great author. Creating characters that players wish ‘mirror’ themselves to become, creating stories that as grand, epic, and fantasizing like the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature.

Apart of these Four Great Classical Novels, there are other great novels that I am sure can be great inspiration:

Just to name a few. And these have great characters in them too.

 

Problems for Wizards of the Coasts

Magic the Gathering is a trading card game. Which creates a market, an economy.
Economy based on essentials and commodities, although complex, but extremely life supporting.
But Magic the Gathering isn’t a commodity. It is just a card game. Only a small group of people are playing it if we compare the total gaming industry (mobile games, console games, board games etc)

Let’s face some truth about life:

  • Not every player is willing to keep buying cards.
  • Not every player will keep playing Magic the Gathering.
  • Not every player has the money to keep buying new cards, even if they want to.
  • Once the banned and restrict list has changes, some cards will drop and rise in value. Players will rejoice or curses the Committee.
  • Once a tournament proves certain card effectiveness, Players will rejoice or curses their luck.

Some players, like speculators and gamblers, does not awaken by the truth of economy’s reality, will be frustrated and leave. Only the players with financially knowledge, will understand the reality and make use of cycle of ‘card game’ and able to make a profit. New players will come and leave, some will felt they miss the wagon and might as well don’t play.

But! But! We are trying to have fun too! And we might keep facing the same players over and over again. Decks may change, thanks to new cards, but the community isn’t expanding. Thus, the profit for Wizards of the Coast will stay the same, or drop in the future.

And soon and later, some people may find other forms of fun:

  • Board gaming
  • Social digital games (be it mobile or facebook games)
  • Mobile games that has the similar card gaming

Thus, I believe the Magic the Gathering collectible attribute can backfire, players may not able to catch up the competitiveness thanks to expensive secondary market.
And those types of games I mentioned above, they have a huge fun factor. Competitiveness and skill level are equally Magic the Gathering. But they do test the players in different areas, creativity and foresight.

One of such games is Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, created by one of the Magic the Gathering champions, Justin Gary. He is working on a new game, called Solforge, a digital trading card game, with Magic the Gathering creator, Richard Garfield.

There are other great games, which can rival against Magic the Gathering in terms of fun, skill intensity and competitiveness. Of course, to dethrone Magic the Gathering from the king of trading card game is colossally hard. But players can leave and try out other games and still can find the same fun factor at the price of roughly USD$50 to USD$200, depending what games you brought, and up to Four players can play straight away. While Magic the Gathering, each player must invest in a deck, which may range much higher, depends which format you thinking.

Oh well… I am not saying mtg is a bad game; there is grim and financial loss for players. Magic the Gathering isn’t helping players at all etc etc. I still love Magic the Gathering, tons of flexibility, a lot of strategy. Money can be made. A lot of lessons can be learn from here. Just that, this is something I believe may affect WotC. However, with these ‘bad’ things looming, it isn’t necessary bad omen. WotC probably can use them and create new ideas. Players will also find ways to play cheap mtg games too. EDH was one of them. (Noticed I used ‘was’. Commander can be expensive if playing competitively.) Cube is an excellent format too. And last but not least, Pauper and Peasant. Both can happen in Commander or respective format.

 

To summarize

What to expect? More powerful creatures, but Magic may go a repeating cycle. I do wish this does not happen.
I do wish, however, new win conditions. Poison and beating the shit out of others is getting too common. Milling is trying to find a way to be competitive but still lack of effectiveness. For this to happened, Wizards of the Coast need to be adventurous. Going back to Mirrodin and Ravnica, to me shows a comfort zone they are having. But I do enjoy the Innistrad’s theme. It is trying to depict the Europe’s Dark Ages.

Innistrad

 

To add on

However, regardless what I feel or what I believe in, I hope you reading must understand this. These are merely my beliefs. And my beliefs can be wrong, no matter how convincing and true it may sounds. I am merely sharing my beliefs, which I believe may be have value to you.
May you have great fun ahead of you in 2013.

 

Your Humility
Manferd, the man with God Complex

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