Hello, and welcome once again to The MageLaughlin Group. Once again, our panel consists of Daij_Djan, and that's it. I wanted to make a reference joke to that scene in Help! where Superintendant Gluck reviews the Bahaman police force, but neither Google nor Youtube seems to be able to find it. Movinf right along.
There's been a number of design mistakes in the past year, necessitating more bans than the previous 25 years combined. Our first question: Current Magic design: DumpsterF.I.R.E., or just currently lacking in some vital necessary tweaks?
To be honest: As mentioned recently, this is one of the questions I knew was coming. Thie means I've had some time to ponder about my answer, but I have to admit, I never managed to put it into words in a way I really liked. On the one hand I kind of get what they're going with their concept of "we allow ourselves to go crazy and then ban more often" and I know some people even like it - but I'm not really one of those people. Still, I wasn't sure how to phrase my thought exactly nevertheless - but then The Professor came along and solved this issue for me. So for once please allow me being (kind of) lazy by simply presenting this video to you:
The entire rant is worth a watch (as is his other video about everything that was great in 2020, btw) – but especially #4 (and #3 as it's very much related / an addition) are what matters for this very topic. I'd never be able to put my thought into words better than him, so why bother trying
Everything he said is true, but I'd just like to Reiterate the point about hiring more people to test for each format. Just like with the Council of Colors, there needs to be a separate, multimember team protecting and safeguarding each format from borken cards.
Next question: What features would you most like to see implemented in Arena, excluding Modern?
First of all, I have to once again give a nod back to the Professor's video above – as his honorable mention fits this question nicely: Bring back Jumpstart. I've heard so many great things about it, yet I didn't really find the time to give it a try myself back then – and now I don't have the option anymore
That aside, bringing more cards and therefore formats to the client would be a big thing, obviously. Modern, which you already mentioned, actually isn't something I'm really interested in – but being able to play Pauper with the completed Vintage cardpool in Arena? Or Commander? Pretty sure I could spend some time with these formats easily – even though as mentioned a while back already playing on a computer never manages to keep my interest for too long.
What might keep my interest however would be the option to play on mobile (since I always have some downtime driving to work by bus) – but funnily enough I've heard just yesterday WotC finally seems to be ready to give this a test. Didn't really have the time to look into it – especially since they seem to be rather picky with the smartphones the app is supposed to work on at least initially – but I'll definitely do so in the future.
And finally, I'd be glad to see them update the AI a bit. Sometimes I'd just like to play a few games against myself (a.k.a. The AI) to test a new deck, but with the computer only playing a few weak decks, it isn't really worth it. I'd love to be able to choose one of my own decks and then simply make the AI use it – even though I know this would be tough depending on the deck choice
1) A mute button that actually works! I don't know if you know this, but you can break the muting by spamming emotes. That's right, the reason someone has muted you is the exact same method you can use to override that mute! WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT?!?!!!
2) Personal banlists. Just like in the Before Times (and on MTGO), if anyone showed up to play, with a deck that nobody likes playing against, you can say "Jerry, if that's that godawful Erayo/Rule of Law deck, we're all gonna punch you in the solar plexus every time you breathe out. You can still play that fucking hateful-ass junk, but the cost is breathing out requires the additional cost of what killed Houdini." I want every user of Arena to have the ability to maintain and curate their own personal banlist, I want the banlist options to be robust and preeminently customizable (with options ranging from banning individual cards, to banning whole card types &/or colors), and I want the knowledge of these banlists and the ability to create them to not only be prominently displayed (like in the front page of Arena, among the constantly changing ads for whatever), but also the banlists to be shareable across all media platforms. Yes, even passenger pigeon!
I'd even go so far as to say that these personal banlists should be a part of professional tournaments, so long as they're formulated months in advance of the tournament (no last-minute invalidation of your opponent's deck).
What I DON'T want is for Wizards to implement personal banlists, and then bury any aspect of that information, from the fact of their implementation, to the banlists themselves, because
3) These banlists provide a new stream of user feedback, and WotC would be catastrophically, company-endingly stupid to just ignore that.
Ral: So, par-for-the-course for them, right?
These banlists would overwhelmingly show, much faster than any mode of communication before it, when R&D fucked the pooch to death, again. Also, if nobody's willing to play against these cards, then that could very well constitute an informal, but prima facie, and official in all but name, player's ban. Because time and again, in recent years, the players themselves have shown to be better able to identify the worst offenders than R&D.
@ 1) I had no idea (never muted anyone so far) – yeah, that's dumb.
@ 2) I'm pretty sure this would be easily exploitable – as much as I get the idea behind it. Just list the key cards of all Tier 1 decks, set up a Tier 1.5 / 2 deck and streamroll the competition. Of build a glass-canon combo deck and put the working hate cards on it..
Also for „real“ tournaments personally I think they completely go against the basic concept of a tournament, so I'd really dislike the idea – however being able to start tournaments of your own and for those creating a custom banned list? Now that is something I can get behind..
@ 6) While this also might be fun for specific events, turning Abundance into an official rule would literally break the game in half. Why would I ever play more than five or six land cards in my deck? I'll never ever miss a landdrop afterall.,.
Also even exploits aside, as much as loosing to your mana base can be annoying, setting one up and battling with the variance is part of the basic Magic skillset I enjoy to battle with.
@ 10) Nice idea. Also I'd really to get some more pets without having to pay with real money. I don't even mind some grind here, as this is a purely additional toy, but locking almost all pets behind money makes me sad as I flat out refuse to pay any amount of real money for virtual cards (with the exception of god accounts maybe).
As much as I love art (and flavor texts) and consider them an insanely important part of a Magic card, I'm really not one to notice a specific artist and keep any eye out for their work in particular. I guess you could say I'm more of an „individual piece“ as an „general work“ guy. I am hapy artists seem to be getting some more recognition recently, though.
As such, rather than naming an artist in particular, I'll tackle this challenge the other way around. I chose two artworks I really, really like for the atmosphere they create:
And looking at their Magic card galleries, I really like the entire work of both Anna Steinbauer and Joseph Meehan – and I'm glad they're both getting new stuff in Kaldheim as well
I think they're both able to make the small and the big moments on any plane memorable as well as do great work for establishing its atmosphere
EDIT: Aaaand after writing this, I noticed you asked for pre-Modern artists..
To be honest, I can't really think of a pre-Modern artist I'd spontaneously want to name instead – simply because (as mentioned above) I don't even know who's still active and who isn't, sorry. All I can say is I do appreciate the idea of bringing old artists especially to redo artwork for famous characters they drew in the past
Followup directive: Match your chosen artist to a plane in Magic.
Neil Patrick Harris Neil Patrick Harris Neil Patrick Harris!!! rk post would be excellent for all the blades in The Machine Orthodoxy, Brom could do the quiet menace of some of the other Phyrexian factions (especially &/or ), and Ron Spencer's bubbling putrescence is perfect for the process of Compleation.
Question 4: Honor student by day, stripper by night (if you get this reference, consider yourself Ultracool Obscurus): What mechanic, pie-in-the-sky, no limits, would you most like to see used in an Un- set?
Oh yeah, since we last talked about Kaldheim, Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider has been spoiled for real! Such an interesting card for flavor reasons, card type reasons (finally Phyrexians “exist” for real ) , and power reasons (why does the last ability round down, seriously)..
Also Eldrazi meeting the Phyrexians sounds interesting xD
Moving onward, your forth surely is a tricky question – as designing Un-Cards in general is rather difficult for me (if they're not supposed to feel forced), and the same is true on a much bigger scale for Un-mechanics. I don't think I ever came up with one I'd love to see used in a real set in the past..
So I guess I'd like to expand the challenge a little bit by including also themes as well.
Theme 1 I'd love to see is dice. I like to have some random events from time to time – and I think Un-Sets are a great place for them to appear with a bigger as-fan than usual. I know WotC once considered using a d8 mechanic (Hedron-themed) for Zendikar and MaRo has hinted a few times it'd at least be possible to see a card using a d6 showing in a normal set some day – so why not give this another test in an Un-Set first?
Also while we're on the topic of using an Un-Set to test something for black border Magic, how about for theme 2 we continue exploring a design space the previous Un-Set dabbled in already: Watermarks matter. Yes, seriously. I loved the idea behind it and would love to see it getting some love and playtesting – before it gets to shine when we next go to Ravnica again (because we all know this will happen at some point or the other in the future).
And on a final note, even though I know this isn't even a theme anymore: More Un-Set commanders. I really loved what they did last time, and I'd love to see them continue with these designs.
What are your thoughts on banning/restricting, not (or not only) individual cards, but effects? Like, for instance, "Among your main and side, you can only have a maximum of 2 cards that destroy one or more lands", or "Max 5 countermagic, including bouncing or exiling the spell or ability", or "Max 3 uniquely named planeswalkers". That last one allows full playsets of up to 3 'walkers, because I'm not completely heartless, but there seriously needs to be some kind of limit to certain archetypes. Nobody wants to play against Stone Rain.deck, and the fact that it's actually a viable strategy in Historic is especially egregious, especially since not even R&D wants that archetype to be viable.
Now I feel stupid – totally didn't notice you edited your final question last night
Though to be fair, it was rather late for me
To answer your real final question: I know you're a fan of this concept – obviously, as you've already talked about it a few times – but to be honest I'm not really convinced for two reasons:
The success of a format in my opinion at least to some degree depends on the rules of said format being easily grokable. Your suggestion basically takes one format and then adds these additional rules on top of it. Having a simple ban list is one thing, but remembering one (or more) additional rule sets each spanning a variety of cards they effect and keeping in mind all interactions..? It simply sounds too complicated to ever take off.
Who decides which cards fall into which categories? Is Cleansing Wildfire a LD spell? But what if I just want to use it for additional Landfall triggers? What if I want to use it as a ramp spell? Should I get punished / restricted just because I could have put the card into a different shell? Or planeswalker. Obviously Control can do mean things with them, but why ban all casual superfriends decks from the formats as well? Banning overpowered cards is ok, but banning cards which are inherently fine just because they could be used in an opressive way? You'll hurt many, many decks this way especially since Magic cards allow for a big grey area to evaluate their effects..
Also btw, if you hurt all other deck archetypes too much, it'll be „normal / fair“ decks that'll end up being oppressive in the end by which point you'd have to start banning their key strategies as well.
First, I'd just like to apologise to the readers for all the deadair. The back and forth of these discussions tends to run long, and we're dealing with a 9 hour time difference between the two of us (explain THAT, flat-Earthers!), so scheduling can be exceedingly tricky. By the time I posted the true final question, it was about 2am Daij_Djan's time, and by the time I remembered to check if he had answered the true final question, it was past 3am my time.
Secondly, oh gods, did I ask this question already? *Checks past episodes* Nope. Must've posited it in the column at one point. I'm not gonna go looking for it, as I've already wasted too must time not posting my counterpoint. So here goes:
Daij_Djan, you're absolutely right that this is not something that should be instituted as a post hoc fix for R&D's mistakes. They would prolly be more useful as an inalienable design/development strategy going forward, in that they severely limit the number of similar effects they have at the same time in Standard going forward. However, once things move out of Standard, the mistakes built into the system keep accumulating, and getting more and more noticeable* (4:39). At this point, it's obvious that something needs doing to fix the mess, but it's not exactly clear what that something is, short of nuclear options.
Mebbe the solution is, as I suggested earlier, personal banlists, but prolly not to the extremes I originally suggested. Daij, you're most likely right about tournaments, but if I'm playing a casual deck, the last thing I wanna see is two or three straight hours of nothing but the top-tier decks. Something like that certainly makes me sympathize with the old school hatred of netdeckers.
And with that, we end the hopefully temporally longest episode. We'll do everything we can to avoid repeating such mistakes (most of which were mine) in the future, but if it happens again, please forgive us, even though you'd have every right to drag us (well, me mostly) for it.
Thanks to Daij_Djan, thanks to the readers for being so patient with us, and please, if you like this enough, why not join the panel? It'd be nice to hear some other opinions, flesh out the discussion a bit more, get a better feel for what's going on out there.