Welcome, one and all, once again, to The MageLaughlin Group. I'm your host, Mage Laughlinsome dimguy, and joining me is Daij_Djan.
The Secret Lair: The Walking Dead dropped like a superbolide, disrupting everything in its wake, contradicting WotC's previously-stated policy that they weren't ever going to do this sort of thing, and generally adding to the long string of total fuckups that 2020 is now infamous for, despite Wizards having a head start on the fuckery back with Ixalan block. First question: How should've Wizards handled the Walking Dead Secret Lair drops? Daij_Djan?
Yeah, Secret Lair: The Walking Dead was a sad thing to see going down – especially since it felt so.. unnecessary. For the most part I've seen two potential changes that both could have easily soften the outcry – and both would have been possible since these Secret Lairs were sold months before they are supposed to finally getting shipped and are currently getting printed on demand (meaning it would even have been possible to still make changes to the cards' layout).
Number one was to go the same route many foreign IP cards have gone in the past and simply make them silver bordered (like the Ponies). Personally, this one would have not been my choice – not because I think silver border cards are somehow less valuable and/or cool (as some have claimed) but rather because these cards simply are no silver bordered designs. So unless WotC would have wanted to redesign the cards themselves, this approach would have been a No for me.
Personally, I think they should have simply gone with the other big suggestion: Take the same approach they used for the Godzilla cards. Give them an alternative in-canon name and the big issue is solved – and no, doing this retroactively someday in the near future isn't a solution (or at least it's not one until the day they do this for real). Rick could easily have been a first glimpse at a new Odric, Master Tactician design (seriously, look at costs, stats and typeline ) and even if it would have not been as obvious where the “normal” card names would ever fit or when we would potentially get a “normal” print for it – same is true for the Buy-a-Box Godzilla. And while I know some people also dislike that one – the outcry was on a totally different scale here..
And for the record: I know none of this solves the issue of WotC breaking down on their promise of never printing mechanically unique cards in Secret Lairs, but that's one issue I see no possible fix for. To be fair, it is ok for a company to re-evaluate previously made standpoints, so I give them that. Still, even only looking at that they should have at least communicated better. (Like seriously, wasn't it MaRo himself who made the comment just a few days before TWD was announced literally talking about how WotC didn't want to do something like this in the future..?)
Well, I guess I've seen quite a few changes in reputation of many company over these past few years, so this is a tough question to answer.
It's really obvious WotC (or Hasbro, depending on your point of view) wants Magic to make more money – they've literally said that many times over these past few years. One of their approaches also as obviously is catering more and more to whales (no, not these ones ) not only through these Secret Lair products (think of all those new booster types introduced recently). Personally, I don't even think that's a bad attitude in general – let's be real there's lots and lots of money to be made from them (and it's fine for a company like WotC to want to make money) and Magic didn't really have much new stuff coming out to please them till a while back.
Problem starts when you start putting too much focus on the whales though and start hurting / angering / similar your “normal” customer base – and I'm afraid we're at least in danger of reaching that point. So far, as far as I've heard from other content creators, stuff still sells extremely well as much critism part of the playerbase has for Secret Lairs and company – but there's no point denying TWD has really changed the tone in the community recently (for the record I mean this excluding those in the community that literally expresssed threats against the Commander Counsil for them not banning TWD. No matter what all of us think about WotC being greedy (now or in the future), this is never the way to go and I'm really said people like this are part of our otherwise so awesome community!).
This could very well just be a short time downshift in brand confidence – if WotC get's their stuff together and at least handles things better in the future. Again: I don't mind Secret Lairs per se. I do think they are allowed to re-evaluate their standpoints and change direction. But if you do, at least be clear about these things and communicate them better than done in the recent past.
Ouch, that's a really tough question. To be honest I'm not even sure how much communication would be the issue here – if MaRo would make a simple post on Blogatog concerning WotC dropping it, I'm pretty sure the majority of our communitiy would celebrate already. But the question remains how much would the legal dangers affect this possibility in general (whether or not those are even real or just suspected dangers to begin with is questionable, I know – I've heard people more knowledgable than me expressing very different points of view on this topic). Or maybe the legal stuff would affect the communication necessary to phase it out (being as ignorant as I am, I could see this being the case)? I really don't know.
The Professor did an excellent video on the subject, and you all know my position on it. Actually, I'd love to interview the only six people still alive who are in favor of keeping it around. The only problem with that is, they never show their faces or locations, prolly for fear of bodily harm.
Question three: You manage to get MaRo alone in a room, with no non-disclosure agreements, and no lawyers to get in either of your way. What do you ask him, and what do you think will be his answer?
Oh yeah, I really liked the Professor's video about it – even though the title felt a bit clickbaity (which is rather unusual for him imho). Also there was that one slight possible contradiction of him talking about “noone would sue” while mentioning a (small) group of people showing massive dissatisfaction when they reprinted that one card (using a now closed loophole) rather recently.. But as far as I'm concerned (and the majorty of players most likely agree here): To hell with that list! (No, not that one. Even though that has some issues as well..)
So what would I ask MaRo? Guess there is such a gigantic variety of options, it would be hard to settle on one. I think, after all the rather serious recent topics, how about a more fun (yet for me still quite important) one?
Will we ever see mechanics with and/or used on cards with potential downsides again?
I know his answer will most likely be something akin to “players like this better” and/or “it plays better”, but I personally really like some downsides offering much more depth to the game, asking me to make tough choices from time to time. This might be me and I might be weird – but then again, I've seen / heard others making similar statements over the years so it can't really just be me..
Also, there's no way I'd be able to not also ask this:
Do you plan on redeeming Haunt?
I've said it many times, WotC did the mechanic dirty by linking it to these convoluted triggers which is everything that comes to mind for most people when thinking about the mechanic. Sadly, I'm afraid the mechanic's bad reputation is pretty much the reason his answer would probably be a “no” even though there is so much lost potential
And finally, I might not be able to resist this last question:
Do you have any concrete retirement plans?
Not saying what I'd assume to be his answer as I'm kind of afraid of it. As much as I sometimes disagree with him, I do think MaRo is a very important person for this game and I'm afraid of the day he'll step down from his position.
No need to worry on that front. MaRo has gone on record numerous times saying that they'll have to cart his rapidly-cooling body away from his office, where he was right in the middle of working on a new set.
Getting back to redemption (boy, it's like we planned these transitions out ahead of time, right?), question four: Is Neon Dynasty a red herring? If it isn't, are you excited to go back to Kamigawa?
That is good to know indeed – and this sure is a nice transition
What can I say? I hope Neon Dynasty won't just be a red herring. Next question, please? 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Ok no, I guess I should elaborate at bit more
First of all: I'd be thrilled to return to Kamigawa, I loved the set's flavor and style. I know the mechanics were parasitic, underpowered and flat out bad – and its approach to “legends matter” (a.k.a. simply making every single rare permanent card a legend) was just bland. But all of these issues could be fixed, and I think Dominaria in particular is proof WotC could handle it nowadays.
Next up: Is it a red herring? Obviously, I have no idea. MaRo has stated multiple times how he is well aware of the plane having an insanely loyal fanbase – and we did get quite a few teasing cards recently (and as far as I've heard those received a rather positive feedback as well).. Next year will see the print of Time Spiral Remastered and that block was called “highly problematic” by WotC multiple times in the past as well yet they obviously believe in its fanbase being big enough to make it work.. So why not Kamigawa?
There is one big question concerning the name I've seen others talk about, though: Assuming Neon Dynasty will end up being real, will it be a “classic” Kamigawa set or will it have a cyberpunk twist? Personally, I wouldn't mind either way – as long as the sets still feels like Kamigawa.. I do think they've learned that lesson with Battle for Zendikar though, so I'm not that concerned about this either way.
Hybrid mana. It's one of the greatest and most successful innovations that MaRo has ever come up with, and that's a pretty long list. You know it, I know it, everybody loves it. However, there is one place where it works differently from literally EVERY OTHER USAGE OF THE MECHANIC, and that's Commander and its variants. Wherever color identity is a constraint on deckbuilding, they treat hybrid mana as AND, rather than the Boolean OR that every single other facet of Magic treats it.
Last Question: Why is this so, and should the Commander Rules Committee change it to match functionality with the rest of Magic?
Yeah, that topic received a lot of talk a while back – to me there's no solution for keeping this matter “completely logical” in all aspects as there are two different functionalities fighting against each other:
the way paying for hybrid mana works
the way color (identity) works.
Currently it's indeed weird for hybrid mana to not work in Commander they way it works in literally every other format, that's true. But here's the deal: Hearthfire Hobgoblin (f.e.), while being castable though red or white mana, clearly counts as a red and white card for cards like Meteor Crater just like Boros Swiftblade does. While hybrid mana allows to be casted by one mana or the other, its color is not mechanically different from a golden counterpart in all formats outside of Commander as well.
That's why personally, I think this isn't even about Commander – there is some sort of logical disarray within hybrid mana itself in all formats. It's just that Commander being a format based on the concept of color identity mattering shows this in a more obvious matter than other formats do. Also because caring about color identity is the fundamental base concept of the format, it's the more important factor in this debate. It's more important to be coherent here, than it is to be coherent with how paying for hybrid mana works.
Also, as I've seen being brought up by the clever dudes from The Command Zone, assuming the hybrid rules would be changed for Commander, then what about hybrid costed commanders themselves? Would Rhys the Redeemed suddenly count as green or white? It couldn't count for both anymore without being inconsistent again..
So all these things in mind: Don't change how hybrid works in Commander. Expect one thing: Please make color identity count reminder text as well. Seriously, there's a clearly visible mana symbol right in the middle of Syndic of Tithes' text box. Why doesn't it count?! My inner Monk is very displeased
EDIT: Lots of typos. Also two completely missing sentences
Good points, but with the fairly recent change in the Commander rules that did away with replacing mana not of your color identity with , I'm quite confident that we'll get there eventually.
I'm really bummed that Gavin shaved, especially since literally the day after I came up with the question, he released that video. #WotCStaff screwing us over, yet again!!!!oneone!
Anyway, thank you all for coming, especially you, Daij_Djan, and mebbe next time, we'll have more people in the panel. I'd hate to have to resort to this, but you might have to voluntell some people to join.