agic R&D is a fun place to work. We do most of our work in the Pit, a group of low-walled cubicles that contains lots of tables to play games and allows us to talk to each other while we work. However, we also do much of our work in Multiverse, our internal card set database, and Multiverse is just as fun a place as the pit. The developer comments field is often full of bits of humor, and the Zendikar Multiverse file is one of the funniest ones I've seen. Today, I'll show you some of the things that made me laugh while we worked on Zendikar.
Here is a key to the people you're about to read comments from.
AF: Aaron Forsythe, director of Magic R&D
DB: Doug Beyer, Magic creative
Del: Del Laugel, Magic editor
DG: Dave Guskin, Magic web studio
GM: Gregory Marques, game designer
KEN: Ken Nagle, Magic designer
HS: Henry Stern, Zendikar lead developer
MJG: Mark Globus, Magic producer
MR: Mark Rosewater, Magic head designer
MT: Mike Turian, Magic developer
sw: Steve Warner, Magic playtester
MR (5/21/08): Now a wizard.
MR (7/17/08): Now not a Wizard as it flies.
MT 7/24: Does Gandalf fly? Also, could he beat Yoda at basketball?
It is not difficult to distract the Pit with silly hypothetical questions. The ones that Mike raises here are two that have cost Magic R&D many man-hours of thought.
HS 11/18 this loses its "flavor" text because we need a common vanilla
DB 11/20/08: FYI, M10 has 3/2 vanilla zombie for 2B.
sw 11/21: Not to mention I really dislike having to lose the text on this guy. There are so many guys right now that you would "think" about playing, and I feel not enough cards that are definite no's.
KEN 11/21/2008: I'll comment again that after seeing tons of upside staples (upside Canopy Spider, upside Shock, etc) it would be nice to fall on the other side of the spectrum once.
MJG 12/2/2008: I miss the flavorful "can't block" text as well.
AF 1/4: "Flav-R-Text" is back. We gained a vanilla artifact to make up the difference.
Del 2/6: The drawback saves it from blocking Prized Unicorn.
The argument about the text on Mindless Null is interesting, but Del's comment is sublime.
TML 2/5/2009: This seems wordy to me.
AF 2/5: Yep, not great. Random idea:
When this hits an opponent, you sac a land.
Del 2/6: Or this, which is the same length as what's in the file but less of a puzzle to read:
Whenever CN attacks and isn't blocked, you may sacrifice a land. If you do, CN gets +2/+0 until end of turn.
AF 2/6: Your solution was way better than the previous card, but we like this new weirdo.
Sometimes, a very strange card earns the collective love of the Pit and makes it to print. Ruinous Minotaur is one such card.
Goblin War Paint
TML 1/12/2009: Somehow not as loveable as M10's "R sorcery all creatures gain haste until end of turn".
Del 2/6: Art looks like his friends have set him on fire.
DB 2/6/2009: It's the metaphorical fire of rage! Except in Magic, all metaphors glow.
KEN 12/10/2008: Can this be instant? I know my brother would love this card.
AF 2/5: No.
We like spells that can do large or unbounded amounts of damage to players like Searing Flesh and Corrupt to be sorceries, partially because they feel like big and dramatic effects and partially so they can't sneak under counterspells so easily. Aaron's dismissal without context is, however, awesome.
The first concept this card received had the playtest name "Truffle Boar."
HS 12/1 Truffles......really?
DB 12/10/08: Set had too many Boars, so congrats, Antelope.
AF 1/4: I liked the truffles :(
There was exactly one other Boar in the set before this change. There is still exactly one boar in the set.
TML 1/12/2009: The flavor on this is still super wonky to me. Probably too late to do anything, but I do find it very odd.
AF 2/5: Beats Elven Lyre in flavor for artifacts that give +2/+2.
KEN 2/26/2009: Why is the cost CC? Don't we charge 4C on cards like this?
See Mind Sludge, Corrupt, Nightmare, Spire Barrage, Timbermaw Larva, Looming Shade, and so on. These cards all tell you to play monocolored decks in the text, so we don't usually repeat that message in their mana cost. I don't know how to answer Ken's question about this card.
This guy's first tentative name was "Abducting Gomazoa."
AF 1/9: We needed a card, so I put in this one that I've wanted to make for a while.
TML 1/12/2009: I love this guy. :)
MR 1/14/09: Name needs changing.
AF 1/15: It's like "Chasing Amy" or "Raising Arizona."
TML 3/2/2009: Now just "Amy" or "Arizona."
Quest for Ancient Secrets
TML 11/18/2008: I think this card is great for Magic. Feldon's cane was so loved and so not-powerful :D
TML 11/24/2008: My opinion on this has changed and now I think it's sort of lame. We can do a few marginal quests, but having a ton of marginal ones will give the mechanic a bad name.
AF 1/4: There aren't going to be a bunch of weak quests. Just this one, ideally.
GM 1/8: Let's not underestimate the appeal of feldon's cane. Could this cost "U" so that it compares better to ole' feldy?
AF 1/26: Was 1U. Test!
Aaron's request that we test this at was, as you might guess, not serious. We all knew the card would be fine at either cost.
Del 4/16: Now mandatory. If it were optional, then the impossible choice rule would kick in if there were fewer than three cards in the library.
Del's comments often read strangely when they deal with the depths of the Magic rules. Did you know that there was an impossible choice rule? I didn't before I read this comment, but now I do, and I'm glad that the editors kept me from having to invoke it.
AF 1/26: Flavor guru Mike Turian insists this not tap fliers.
This is a poke at Mike, who is usually content to allow the Creative team to do their work without getting involved. Mike's insistence that this not tap flyers was real, but it was a matter of balance and game play, not flavor.
Quest for Pure Flame
TML 12/1/2008: It is awkward to me that this costs four. Can it cost R and have a bigger number of counters or something? Could even just cost R period? I hate all these expensive quests.
AF 12/8: Costs R and needs FEWER counters. Take that!
He sure told me.
Del 2/6: MLG, does this work?
MLG 2/19: Sure.
Del 2/19: (I try to forget Dryad Sophisticate.)
There is, of course, a real explanation to Del's second comment here, but I think it was funnier before I knew what it was, so I'm not going to tell you.
Del 2/6: You've probably noticed this, but the Aura can be played on an opponent's creature to great effect. If that's not the intent, then the triggered ability should be spliced onto the creature.
Del 2/17: Ability now spliced onto the creature, at AF's direction.
Del 3/15: Much better than Celestial Sword. :)
Day of Judgment
The first playtest name of this card was "Wrath of Doug", a poke at Doug Beyer.
HS 9/29 new card.
DB 9/30/08: MWAHAHA!
TML 9/30: Doug is not as powerful as God.
DB 10/1/08: Most of my worshippers are skeletons and trolls.
DG 10/20: They didn't fit with the creative, so Doug said they had to be de-story-ed. ;)
MR 1/14/09: Four mana mass creature removal in white - can we do this?
KEN 1/14/2009: Mossbridge Troll goes RAWR!!
Rite of Replication
Ken hates Control Magic effects more than any human I have ever met. Before this change, this slot was a sorcery that gained control of one permanent, or five if it was kicked. Ken thought this would be ruinous for multiplayer, and agitated for a change.
AF 1/8: Changed from Confiscate to Clone.
KEN 1/13/2009: Hmm, this might be my favorite card change ever.
KEN 11/4/2008: I like this card as is.
TML 11/5/2008: Of course you do, you made it :D
In design and development meetings, we sometimes take the names off of card submissions so that people look at them with an impartial eye. When this happens, we usually have a rule that if you fight for your own card, you have to disclose what you are doing. Ken has been around long enough to know that, so I had to call him on it.
AF 1/14: New text. One of the sillier instants we've ever done.
KEN 1/15/2009: Path to Exile YAUS!!!
Immediately after making this comment, Ken built a blue-white-red Trap deck with Path to Exile and Lavaball Trap so that he could give you a land, then take it away from you again while cackling with glee.
AF 12/8: Changed trigger to attacking, cost from G.
AF 2/5: Considered adding "and opponents must refer to you as 'The Beastmaster'."
If we put text like that on Magic cards, you might have seen it on each of the Ascensions. As is, we wouldn't be able to enforce it on Magic Online, so we don't do that sort of thing.
KEN 10/8/2008: Hmmm, for power level reasons this might be my favorite land in the game (blue + Life from the Loam = pelvic thrust of ownage). I also greatly enjoy doing nothing in a game of Magic.
This comment is amusing on its own. It's also yet another one in a famous line of not-quite-actually-development-comments from Ken. For example, in the Release the Ants record, Ken talks about how Searing Flesh is his favorite red card. In that record, Aaron responded to Ken's four-line soliloquy with "I like pizza." It is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.
Lorthos, the Tidemaker
AF 1/25: Octopus fends off all complaints!
Lorthos could have been a Leviathan. It is not clear to me whether Aaron actually means "fends off all complaints" or "amuses the director of Magic R&D," although it amuses many others as well. Even more amusingly, the fact that this is an Octopus forced us to change a Worldwake card.
This card came into being in a state of emergency when a red mythic rare was killed. We were given the art for this card and asked to make a card. When Erik Lauer looked at the art, his first response was "What is this thing? A fire dog dinosaur?" As soon as he said this, we knew we had to figure out what a fire dog dinosaur would do. As it turns out, fire dog dinosaurs set lands on fire, so we built this ability that let him do that.
TML 2/2/2009: It will be sad to see this playtest name go. :)
DB 2/2/2009: Um, disagree. :)
Del 3/6: Trying some old school flavor on this one.
DB 3/13/2009: That reminder text is amazing.
The name "Fire Dog Dinosaur" lasted about a day, but when editing finished, we discovered that Del had given the card some amazing reminder text.
What's the longest geographical distance you've traveled to play Magic?
|10 miles (16 kilometers) or less
|30 miles (48 kilometers) or less
|60 miles (96 kilometers) or less
|100 miles (160 kilometers) or less
|200 miles (320 kilometers) or less
|500 miles (800 kilometers) or less
|1000 miles (1600 kilometers) or less
|More than 1000 miles (1600 kilometers)
I'm surprised to see that over ten percent of my audience has traveled more than five hundred miles to play Magic. That's pretty cool, and I'm honored. For those of you who haven't traveled more than ten miles, you have a ton to gain from getting out of your comfort zone. Traveling to a new place to play Magic will find you new friends, new cards, and new ways to play.
This Week's Poll
What do you think of Standard with Zendikar?