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"The Write Stuff"
Paul's Perspecttive

Greetings readers since the Great Designer Search 2 is underway I thought I should play along, I was knocked out but my essay fortunately made it through the round so I thought I would share it with  you for your constructive criticism. Here I offer a brief glimpse of what contestants had to go through. Any criticism should be send to PlatinumFUBU5@hotmail.com thanks and I will continue to show my perspective on the Great Designer Search 2.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Paul W. 
1.    Hello my name is Paul W. I believe I would be a good fit for the internship because of my extensive experience playing casual Magic and understanding of what casual players love. I routinely play with a large group of players each who represent the various Magic psychographics. I would bring extensive knowledge of what casual players truly enjoy in the game and strategies that would be successful marketing towards them. I love reading as well as poetry and understand the importance of flavor and its role in building a world players can immerse themselves in, Magic is a game but also escapism closely tied to film and literature. The worlds Magic builds and the characters that inhabit them are important to getting the players not only excited about new cards and mechanics but emotionally invested in the story and existence of the game as a whole. I would do my best to get players interested in the multiverse and each planes place within it and the conflicts that drive the stories in the multiverse. I am a team player and open to contributing heavily to a group for the overall good of the game, I am easy going and prone to cracking jokes even when they may not be as funny as I expected them, I would lighten up the atmosphere of a work environment and be pleasant to work around. Overall I feel I would be a good fit for the internship because of my willingness to contribute to a game I love passionately and the emphasis I place on literary and storytelling aspects of Magic the Gathering

2.    I would shift damage prevention from white to blue. My reasoning for this is that blue is the color of manipulation and planning. What would a blue mage hate more than having an army of creatures ruin his day. Traditionally blue just bounces meddlesome creatures by adding damage prevention to its repertoire it plays into blues manipulative tendencies. Mist and illusions can be utilized to confuse attacking creatures preventing them from damaging the blue mage. Time a commodity associated with blue can also be tied to damage prevention by slowing creatures so they are unable to deal damage. Blue can be tied to damage prevention also by its incentive to punish rash players who don’t think but rush straight into combat playing on blues tendencies to think and plan rather than rush into combat. Blue is a color that values knowledge, in order to collect a vast amount of knowledge blue mages need time to study and reflect, damage prevention fits this bill. It allows blue to live long enough to see its quest for knowledge fulfilled. I feel this is a natural shift in abilities as it gives blue another way of dealing with creatures other than bouncing and taking control of creatures. It also allows blue to have more relevant combat tricks to keep the other colors on their toes, blue would then have the ability to more evenly meet aggressive strategies head on and allow blue buy time against creature oriented decks without relying on the practice of countering spells.

3.    The block I felt did the best job of integrating design with creative would have to be the Kamigawa block. Kamigawa nailed everything from a creative perspective, a world based on mythology with ties to the real world, a conflict and a massive back story to set the stage for the actual playing of the card game. Kamigawa introduced some of the most beloved cards in Magic as well as a large variety of chaff. Integrating a creature type that was relevant in the story and making it a large part of the actual mechanics of the set was a largely unparalleled feat. No other block that I am aware of had such a close connection between the flavor and setting of the set and the mechanics that were implemented within it. The downsides of Kamigawa were evident; splice was a highly parasitic mechanic that functioned isolated within the Kamigawa block. The downside to the strong emphasis on the flavor and construction of the world was that players may have felt that they were watching grand battles ensue between the humans and kami, not that they were directly involved with the war. There was no incentive to build a deck a certain way aside from flavor considerations. Legendary figures also served to further isolate players. To have made the block even better and tie it creative, having players choose a side in the war ala Scars of Mirrodin could have been implemented and mechanics more resonate of a conflict between man and spirit. Overall Kamigawa is a home run concerning creativeness and flavor but implementation of mechanics was lacking.

4.    If I had to remove an existing rule from the game of Magic the Gathering I would have to remove the fact that creatures you gain control of from other players are affected by summoning sickness while this seems like a small rule compared to something such as mana burn, it has profound implications. On one hand it makes sense flavor wise, a goblin now has a new master and must take time to understand its new mission namely bashing opponent’s faces in. The problem with this lies in the fact its unintuitive to newer players, if your opponent has controlled the creature for the entire length of the game it may seem awkward that it can’t attack just because you gained control of it a rule that limits the amount of fun a player is never a good approach. If you manage to steal a gigantic creature its no fun having to wait smash a player with their own creature. For a contrary flavor example, if a warrior is unleashing his bloodlust and is in a fit of rage I don’t think a change in targets will slow it down considerably. Removing this would remove player confusion around this issue as well as strengthen the ability of gaining control of creatures. This rule change would assist in making the game more resonant with casual players and eliminate a flavor issue with players resulting in a net win for newer players as well as those looking for a powerful fantasy world in Magic.

5.    Naming a card in the current standard environment that does not fit from a design standpoint is a daunting task as sets for the most part are highly balanced. A prominent example that comes into my mind is Hornet String from Magic 2011. Hornet Sting is an aberration and left more than few players myself included scratching their heads. Green from a design standpoint has not received a direct damage spell since Time Spiral, which happened to be a tribute to direct damage spells in greens past. From a design standpoint it’s a flavor stretch and could be considered heavily breaking the color pie for green to have a direct damage spell, even one as weak as Hornet Sting. The card allows green to kill creatures something from a flavor and design standpoint green does not do. Hornet Sting sends the wrong impression to the player base throwing the color pie into chaos, while this type of design is rare it has its place, namely that place was in Time Spiral block. While the flavor of Hornet Sting allows it to tie in to the design of the card as a whole it’s a far stretch that design history and well as the color pie fail to support as a whole. While an interesting design and experiment a core set is not the place to do this, I feel it’s a card in the current standard environment that does not work from a design, flavor, or game play perspective.

6.    In order to make the game more accessible to newer players I feel design should focus heavily on creatures as well as the areas that have been ignored from a design standpoint namely combo decks, discard, land destruction. While the majority of players have problems with these aspects they are an important area of the game of Magic and can serve to attract certain subsets of players to the game. Powerful creatures obviously apply to the most number of players and have received the lions share from a design standpoint lately. Combo decks are a double edged sword interaction is an important aspect of Magic the Gathering, but nullify combo decks to an extreme you upset a substantial amount of the player base by neutering an entire aspect of deck design, therefore I feel more powerful but limited combo cards should be designed. Discard and land destruction are an even touchier subject, most of the player base feels they are “unfun” strategies but once again this can vary greatly from player to player if a definition can even be reached. There should exist powerful discard strategies as well as a limited amount of powerful land destruction cards to keep other archetypes of decks in check and introduce newer players to aspects of the game they may not like, but must be aware exist and are used by a wide variety of players. Overall emphasizing often neglected aspects of the game can do more to strengthen areas of the game and overall bring a wider variety of players to the game.

7.    I feel that to make the game more accessible to experienced players continued support of the eternal formats as well as printing cards with these formats in mind  recognizing that standard makes up a small portion of the Magic experience and card pool. A strong step in retaining a loyal and experienced player base is offering incentives to stay in the older formats; with the popularity of legacy format for example reprinting of staple cards is impossible due to the reserved list. While I am not favoring abolishing the reserved list you can create reprints of classical cards by simply tweaking the mana cost and or simply renaming the cards’, thus giving older players incentive to purchase new product as well as demonstrating support of older formats and insuring the health of these formats. Another way to continue to make the game accessible to experienced players is to have more opportunities on voting on cards that are in core sets, more you design the card opportunities and more experiences such as The Great Designer Search to get the Magic community actively involved with what is currently going on with the game and reward them for contributing not only their time and money but emotional investment into the game we love as players, designers, as well as players who have seen the different dimensions of Magic over the years. These are the ideas I would implement in order to make the game more rewarding and enjoyable for longtime players.

8.    Currently in extended there is a great number of mechanics to choose from, I feel that the best designed of which is Tribal. Looking beyond the surface of how Tribal impacts creature heavy decks, flavor wise Tribal is a home run. A mage summoning the power of Tarfire is not only summoning the power of a spell but spell aligned with a certain race, in this case Goblins and their love for burning things. The idea that a spell can be aligned to a certain creature type opens new areas of design for creators of cards. For example spells of a certain creature type that actually has affinity for that creature type. This would not only allow it to see play in decks based on a creature type it reinforces the play me with a certain tribe appeal of Tribal cards. Having a spell with a creature type is not only  a powerful tool for deck builders looking to raise the consistency of their creature tribe interactions but provides a must needed aspect of flavor for players who are heavily into the mythos of Magic. Tribal is successful because from a design and flavor standpoint it’s a modular mechanic as it interacts with cards as far back from the beginnings of Magic allowing players to find the perfect home for cards such as Tarfire in their goblin decks and Merrow Commerce in merfolk builds, anytime a mechanic can interact with the block it exists in, as well as appeal to not only casual players but tournament players as well it’s a successful mechanic from a design standpoint.

9.    The worst designed mechanic currently in extended would have to be Chroma. The abilities on most of the premiere cards, Umbra Stalker, Phosphorescent Feast, and Fiery Bombardment have no correlation between them, other than the use of colored mana symbols. While this may have been the designer’s intent it’s poorly executed. Having the abilities have no correlation amongst each other is bad enough and leaves players scratching their heads as to why this ability was key worded, but for each card to only care about their respective colored mana symbols that pushes this mechanic into nearly  unplayable territory. Chroma failed from a design standpoint, the only noteworthy card that saw play was Sanity Grinding. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum Chroma is both a modular and parasitic mechanic, its modular in the sense it can fit in any deck utilizing the Chroma’s cards color making it quite open ended and a boon to deck builders. It is parasitic in the fact you need to maximize the number of mana symbols, this leads to a heavy color commitment which may hurt a players mana base if they are running multiple colors, or worse yet it leads to games where players have expensive spells in their hands which they are unable to cast, which is not fun. Chroma failed because it asks players to modify their decks for such a small amount of payoff it was not worth it. The narrow nature of the mechanic combined with its low power level makes it the worst mechanic currently available to players in extended.

10.  Choosing a plane of the multiverse to revisit is a daunting task, given the ability to revisit any plane, Ravnica is at the top of my list. Players fell in love with Ravnica and its one of the most beloved blocks in Magic the Gathering. There must be a compelling reason to return to it unless player’s memories are tarnished by a subpar sequel. Ravnica had a resonant flavor and something for every player due to dual colored nature of the guilds, reinforcing these aspects by portraying how guilds rose to power, as well as a potential joining of guilds whose philosophies are in line as well as how these guilds interact with one another as well as how others oppose the ideals of guilds, such as creating tri colored guilds white/ blue/ green as an example. Not only does this reinforce the traditional guild structure but it allows for extensive designs that were not visited during Ravnica block. The tri guild structure or merging of guilds as a mechanical twist may be easily comparable to the shards in Alara, but the ability to focus on the three colors Alara did not addresses such as White/Black/Green leaves plenty of room open for new design space. Revisiting certain planes is something that must be done with great care and precision in order to foster positive memories of a certain period, as well as accentuating these new areas. Human beings enjoy sequels and its striking to me that it has taken this long to revisit planes in the multiverse. Ravnica is the ideal setting for another revision.


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