Category Archives: mtg

Hierarchy: A Magic Variant

Rarity Matters = ‘Hierarchy’

Consider that 60 cards is same amount as four 15-card booster packs. Then consider the rarity of the cards you’ll get from opening those fresh packs.

With four packs, you get 1 mythic, 3 rares, 12 uncommons, and the rest commons. These new rules similarly restricts deck building by following the same ratios for a minimum 60-card deck. A deck can have any amount of commons and Basic Lands.

Additional rule: no more than three (3) copies of any card except Basic Lands.

Each additional 15 cards in your deck beyond 60 cards grants another 1 rare and 3 uncommons. For each additional 60 cards of your deck size, you may include a mythic instead of a rare.

You can trade from higher rarity for same ratio of lower rarity, or vice versa. That means you can omit 1 mythic for 3 more rares or 12 uncommons. Omit 1 rare to add 3 more uncommons. In reverse, you can trade in 3 uncommons for 1 rare or 12 uncommons for 1 mythic. Likewise, trade 3 rares for 1 mythic. Fill vacancies with commons or basics.

A card’s rarity is based on its latest printing in a core, expansion, or draftable set that are legal for that format. This includes supplemental draftable products like conspiracy and masters.

These rules can be applied to official and unofficial formats. So you can have Hierarchy Standard and Hierarchy Modern, etc.

Hex vs Magic

Part 1

12/23/2015

Just got a hold of Hex: Shards of Fate. While the core engine is very similar to Magic, the mechanics and card designs and deck archetypes are so much more daring, complex, fun. Count it as my review after a few hours of gameplay.

For the longest time, WotC has been half-assing, half-stepping the creative possibilities of Magic. Partly because of limitations of physical cards (e.g. tracking complexity), and partly dumbed down to cater to the masses and new players. Thus progress and innovations are stunted. (Just look at the bare-bones mechanics in Battle for Zendikar.)

On the other hand, even the Hex starter decks, archetypes, and tutorials are so much more complex, yet grokkable and fun. Given the choice of 8 decks, I chose the weirdest one (none of that human, dwarf, elf generic tropes for me). This deck’s strategy is to put Spider Eggs into your opponent’s deck. When he draws it or puts in his crypt (graveyard) from deck (Hex calls this bury, cf. mill), you get a 1/1 creature unblockable. Fill his deck with so many that you get a bunch of free creatures and overwhelm him.

This and many more ideas are simply not possible with Magic. There are so many taboos and restrictions that forbid Wizards from fresh ideas. Such as putting cards into opponents’ decks, upgrading cards with equipment and gems during deck construction–thus reusing and customizing the same card for different strategies, permanent effects from one-time cards (Hex calls them Actions, equivalent to Instants and Sorceries)–even across zones, multi-layered tracking, etc. I’ve only played a few hours, so probably more that I haven’t seen yet.

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Duel Deck: Dungeon Crawlers vs. Dungeon Keepers

Duel Deck: Dungeon Crawlers vs. Dungeon Keepers

Duel Decks: Dungeon Crawlers vs. Dungeon Keepers is the 32nd set in the Duel Deck series. It was released August 25, 2023.

Description:
The two decks are inspired by the popular genres of video games, particularly dungeon crawler and MMO RPGs. They contain several preview cards for Dangers of Cinbork.

Background:
The band of adventurers have driven back the forces of evil. Now they must penetrate the final fortress where the demon lord resides. Unfortunately, the ultimate dungeon is polluted with deadly traps and hordes of beasts and undead at every corner. Can the party survive the gauntlet and slay the demon lord to restore peace to the land?

Deck mechanics and themes:

Dungeon Crawlers represent the heroic party infiltrating into the colons of evil’s residence. A combination of experienced wizards and warriors who have made it thus far through dedication, teamwork and skill.

Dungeon Crawlers is a blue and red deck that features these mechanics: Overload, Prowess, Experience, and Taunt. As well as these subthemes: spell matters, attachments, skill, interclass combos, warriors and wizards.

Dungeon Keepers represent the minion horde who serves the dark lord. These ruthless vermin and heartless killers will assault and mutilate any unfortunate soul who enters the keep.

Dungeon Keepers is a black and green deck that features these mechanics: Respawn & manifest, Traps & Detonate, and Prize. As well as these subthemes: tokens, face-down creatures, necromancy, wild animals, undead.
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Creature Type Classification: Status

New Creature Type Classification: Status

Normally a creature’s types can be classified as race and class. I propose a third classification: status. Status is appended after race and class on the type line.

List of Statuses
Here are some statuses for this proposal:

  • Leader — leads or governs a group of beings, usually grants bonuses to the people they lead
  • Noble — elite with high social, political, or economic standing
  • Master — expert with extraordinary skill, knowledge, or wisdom
  • Rebel — member of faction opposed to the current government or leadership
  • Ally — member of a band of adventurers
  • Zombie — a condition granted to beings returned from the graveyard
  • Survivor — survives a catastrophe. possibly recurring ability
  • Elder — currently only used for special dragon legends

Examples

Goblin Warchief becomes Goblin Warrior Leader
Leaping Master becomes Human Monk Master

Sample card based on Figure of Destiny:

Figure of Mastery

Creature – Merfolk
: ~ becomes a 2/2 Merfolk Wizard.
: If ~ is a Wizard, it becomes a 4/4 Merfolk Wizard Master with hexproof.
: If ~ is a Master, it becomes an 8/8 Merfolk Wizard Master Avatar with hexproof and trample.
1/1

Magic’s Limited Design Space

There is no doubt that Magic is a commercial success. That is, it has mass appeal. And in order to appeal to the masses, it has to sacrifice and restrict certain things. Like new strategies, new deck archetypes, new mechanics that redefine how Magic is played (for instance, Planeswalkers added a new dimension to board state and deckbuilding, something that hasn’t been seen again since it was introduced in 2007.) And as Wizards continues towards this trend to cater to new players and limited players, less and less set space and development time will be allotted for actual fresh, creative gameplay. Hence even Wizards R&D managers admit that Magic design space is becoming more and more limited. However, this is of their own doing due to how they design cards and sets. Even though ideas are infinite, they restrict themselves to a tiny subset of possible ideas in order to sell more cards, not necessarily making the best designed cards or opening new gameplay.

Not all design space is equal. I mean quantity vs quality. Sure they can push out 1000 cards a year. But in reality the vast majority are rehashing and tweaking old cards. How many actually change the metagame? How many make you think or play differently, or enable totally new strategies? How much are actually never-before-seen abilities?

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Planeswalker’s Guide to So Ling 素靈 — 素洲 So Zau

素洲 So Zau

So Zau Manifested

素洲 So Zau is the other supercontinent in So Ling. It is a land dominated by the Elementals of the red, green, and blue types. It has an extremely high concentration of natural mana, and even more mana may be produced from conjured mana Elementals. Even a simple sneeze can cause a flurry of mana Elementals to be manifested. The major themes in So Zau are Elementals, mana production, theories & experimentation, and synergies.

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Planeswalker’s Guide to So Ling 素靈 — 靈洲 Ling Zau

靈洲 Ling Zau

Living on Ling Zau

靈洲 Ling Zau is one of the supercontinents of So Ling. Its name comes from the fact that its major inhabitants are spirits. Due to their natures, Ling Zau has an overwhelming presence of white and black mana. Colorless mana is also heavily used to create artifacts which may then be animated with white and black mana. The major themes in Ling Zau are Spirits, animation and reanimation, psychoanalysis, and dualities including day/night and law/crime.

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Magic: the Movie — Liliana

Premise: Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro and Twentieth Century Fox will collaborate to make a movie based on Magic multiverse, presumably focused on the current cast of planeswalkers. Your goal here is to choose an actor or actress to play such a neo-planeswalker, find a photo of that actor/actress befitting that character and paste it onto your card, which could be a new planeswalker card.

Liliana would be perfectly played by Angelina Jolie. She can be clever and ambitious with a deadly allure.

Liliana played by Angelina Jolie
Liliana played by Angelina Jolie

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Magic: the Movie — Jace & Chandra

Premise: Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro and Twentieth Century Fox will collaborate to make a movie based on Magic multiverse, presumably focused on the current cast of planeswalkers. Your goal here is to choose an actor or actress to play such a neo-planeswalker, find a photo of that actor/actress befitting that character and paste it onto your card, which could be a new planeswalker card.

So I choose Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jennifer Lawrence to play Jace and Chandra, respectively. Here are the new cards using their photos.

Jace played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Jace played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

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