Monday, April 15, 2013

An Open Letter to the MtG Community

Hello folks.

I'm Hairless Thoctar.
Actually rather hairy, been playing Magic for about 5 years now, have become completely obsessed.

As many of you may know, Wizards of the Coast; the stellar men, women, and goblins that they are; are running the fourth You Make the Card event. That's pretty neat.

We've already settled on enchantment for type, black for color, and global for effect.
Not my first choices, but I'm a easy-to-please kinda guy.

Now we're submitting potentially the most important aspect of the card; the rules text.

I'm reaching out to the maybe five of you that will read this with a plea;
Please don't design a Necropotence variant.

Yes, the effect is powerful, but it's so obvious.
When people think of powerful black enchantments, it's the first thing anyone thinks of.

I understand the appeal, really I do, but we can do so much better.
Something distinctive and original that won't either ruin standard for two years or won't fade away into obscurity.

We have the potential for greatness, to design something totally distinct that lives up to the legacy of the YMTC, um, legacy.

We can do it. You can help.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


There is no rest for the wicked.

Calave recalled the words the Guildmaster Lazav had told him once. He was being senselessly beaten by a pair of Boros officers. It was an odd time to become sentimental, looking death in the eyes. But Calave was an understanding man; he did not fear death.

Quite simply, the world needs villains.

Lazav would go on. The words echoing in his mind mirroring the echoes of his femur being broken in this basement chamber. Calave had been caught trying to steal evidence from a Boros holding facility. Someone had been arrested, and the Calave had been tasked with wiping his slate clean. He wasn't doing too well.

The world that is Ravnica exists in between the black and the white. There needs to be men and women capable and willing to make tough decisions for the good of us all.
Calave was a bit surprised by the turn of events. The Boros were zealous to be sure, but there was normally a procedure for this sort of thing. Sure someone could be expected to be roughed up, but you usually had to do something pretty heinous to be murdered in Boros custody. Calave had underestimated how high guild tensions were running these days because of that fat purple twit.
The officers handling him were out for his blood. It was bothersome, but Calave was going to die here.

There are too many moving pieces these days. The lines have been drawn in the sand. The Guilds fear showing weakness to one another, fear of showing compromise, so nothing gets done. That's what we are for; we compromise them.
We get things done.

A tingly numb feeling was beginning to cascade throughout Calave's body. He couldn't feel anything below his left knee and a glance confirmed that very little below there would have worked anymore anyway. If Calave still possessed the capacity to sigh, 
Not only would his higher ups be tasked with covering up his compromised position, but they would have to send a cleaner to remove the evidence, a wiper to change the minds of anyone involved, a mole would have to figure out where they would move the evidence to, and another attempt at the evidence would be made.
Life would be so much simpler if the Guilds actually made an effort at compromise, even if it wasn't public. They could keep up appearances, but it was no well-kept secret that all 10 pieces were necessary for the maintenance of this strange machine that Ravnica had become.

When the Guilds fail to look eye to eye, we see.
One of the soldiers backhanded Calave so harshly the vision in his remaining eye blurred as though looking through a particularly dirty window.

When communication breaks down, we speak.
A punch to Calave's jaw. What little feeling remained suggested that it was broken, hanging from his face like a faulty marionette.

When no one else makes is willing to do a bad thing for a good reason, we endure.
Calave fell forward. He brought himself to his knees, and then saw a blade spurt out of his chest. The numbness overcame him. His vision failed. His breathe halted.

And then a light.
Calave stared.
In the distance there was a light, obscured as through some sort of opaque lens.
A fish swam by, Calave figured they had ditched his body in an aqueduct or something similar.
Calave tensed, searching for feeling.
What luck, none of his limbs had been severed, this would make this simple.
He brought his hands before his face.
He counted the bones in his hand. Phalanges. Metacarpals. Hamate. Pistiform. Nothing appeared to be missing.
Calave stood up and undid a crick in his neck.

It was going to be a chore sneaking back in through the undoubtedly tighter security.
But such was the way of things.
There was no rest for the wicked.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rosewater Rumble, the aftermath

A couple of weeks back, Mark Rosewater, Magic's lead designer, ran a tournament of sorts: The Rosewater Rumble.
He asked all of his followers on his numerous social media outlets to pick their favorite set of the 16 sets he had been the lead designer for.
A bit boastful, yes, but I would brag too if I had made that much of an impact on the game.

Today I offer some of my own opinions on the outcome of the poll, how I voted et cetera.
Or I would have, had I remembered what I had to say, but it was three weeks ago, and in that time I've forgotten some of the undoubtedly profound things I had to say.

I guess I'm going to wing it.

I want to highlight some of the sets I favored and why.

In his personal reviews, Mark speaks somewhat pessimistically of Mirrodin and Urza's Destiny. And not for no reason, they were two of the most overpowered sets of all time. They ushered forth some of the most poorly developed cards of all time that turned tournament play into a stagnant wasteland of salty tears.

But I kind of liked that. yes, those sets had some really bad issues, but their poor development stands in stark contrast to most of Magic's history where tournament play always had some semblance of balance. I feel that the unique circumstances that lead to these sets being so broken also led them to be unique in all the best ways. So many cards, so many cool cards, from these sets simply would not have ever happened in a set with a tighter leash.

I also personally voted very high for Shadowmoor and Eventide. I started playing just after Shards of Alara was released, so everyone I played with at the beginning had loads of decks full of hybrid cards. I came to play with and against a ton of the cardpool from the two sets, and even as my tastes and skills matured, I always had a soft spot for the sets. It seemed to me that as some quirk of hybrid design that the two sets had fewer cards that most players colloquially referred to as "limited chaffe", cards that are playable in limited, but pretty much nowehre else.

That's pretty much it.
Those are the only opinions I had that stood apart from the standard.

What did you think of the results of the Rosewater Rumble?
Why did you like or dislike the design of the various sets in it?

I'd love to hear what you think about it!