Mark Rosewater Q and A



Before we begin, I'd like to give thanks to Global Gamers Center, Brett, Lara, and Mark for making this possible. You see, it was Brett from GGC that thought of the idea and did all the contact with WotC about it, Lara who worked to make it happen from WotC's side, and Mark who took the time and care to answer everything we sent him. All we had to do was think up the questions and pass them along ^-^

So THANKS! Smile

(For those who don't know what this is, please read all about it Here)

So without further ado, Mark Rosewater's responses:




When designing Shivan Meteor, what was the idea behind the 13 damage on it. Was there any Solid reason to go for 13?
- Slotster

Originally the spell did 20 and we felt like it was overkill. The previous record for the largest number on a direct damage spell was 10 (Searing Wind and a kicked Urza's Rage) and we didn't see a need to trump the previous record by so much. 13 was chosen specifically because we thought it would prompt a “why that number?” response. So it appears mission accomplished. Note that Krosan Clouscraper with a toughness of 13 was in Time Spiral. We also liked the fact that there was a creature in Standard (Ravnica's Autochthon Wurm, with a toughness of 14, that could survive it).



Mark, the new card frames for the timeshifted cards in Planar Chaos are awesome. Is there any chance we will see them again in the future? Are the cards themselves viable for reprinting?
- notjohn and Leonidas


I would not expect to see the Planar Chaos timeshifted frame anytime soon. The card themselves though are legal for reprinting although in a normal frame. Will such a thing happen anytime soon? Maybe. Smile



After reading the flavor text of cards like Firefright Mage and Bog Serpent, I can't help but think that your years as a Rosanne writer occasionally come through in magic flavor text. Did you help make any of the Planar Chaos funnies?
- Feyd_Ruin


While I used to write a lot of flavor text (Reparations' "Sorry we burned down your village. Here's some gold." is mine, for example) my current duties as Head Designer don't currently allow me the time right now to write flavor text.



What kind of personal bias was put on Planar Chaos? For example, did you (or someone else) ever play a White deck and wanted Blastoderm, so you made Calciderm?
- Zyrakris


When we were choosing which cards to colorshift into timeshifted cards we tended to be influenced by cards that we felt made the most sense in another color. I will say that the White Memory Lapse (which inspired the timeshifted cards but got killed in development) was definitely inspired by a card I wanted to see in "real" Magic.



What is your favorite Planar Chaos Common, and why? Uncommon? Rare?
- Faerie_lord


My answer changes daily but here's my thoughts the day I answered this question:
Common – Uktabi Drake – I like the twist on echo. Also, it's neat to see what green can do with haste.
Uncommon – Pongify – I like how this card can both be used offensively and defensively. Plus, hey, it makes monkeys.
Rare – Body Double – The challenge of Planar Chaos was designing cards that bled into other color's abilities yet felt like they made sense in the color they were in. I feel Body Double is one of the best executions of this goal.



Why did Red Akroma lose the two most red-like abilities? (haste and first strike)
- Q_221


Because in Planar Chaos, these aren't red abilities. In this alternate reality, green has haste and black has first strike.



Planar Chaos includes timeshifted versions of two cards that have proven to be breeding grounds for rules corner cases- Humble (as Ovinize) and Elvish Spirit Guide (as Simian Spirit Guide). Is this just a sign that you like making a judges life "more interesting"?
- Woapalanne and Yawgatog (Judges)


Part of my job is to provide job security for the Rules Manager. The fact that he's my arch-enemy just makes the dynamic even weirder.



Why did you put the multiple timeshifted rarities into effect rather than using the same setup as Time Spiral?
- Q_221


We felt that the Planar Chaos timeshifted cards were very different than the Time Spiral ones in that they are new cards. We felt okay making it hard to get the Time Spiral timeshifted cards because players could track them down in the secondary market, but if the Planar Chaos ones were hard to get, they'd just be hard to get. Also, we wanted to change how we treated the timeshifted cards in each set (so yes, they'll be different yet again in Future Sight).



Considering the unique challenges that creating Planar Chaos presented R&D, were there any significant conflicts between Design, Development, and Creative during the process?
- arimnaes


Yes, there were many. Of course, R&D loves to argue about things. Part of our processes is to allow people to question what others are doing. This is one of the best ways to figure out ways to improve the set. The important thing is by the end we all reach a consensus.



By playing around with the color pie, you enable players to more easily build single-color decks, since colors can find answers to problems without having to splash. While this isn't bad in and of itself, doesn't it weaken slightly what Ravnica Block tried to do?
- Joyd


Each block explores new territory. Sometimes this builds upon the previous sets and sometimes is works against them. We like the game to move in both directions as the former creates new synergies and the latter keeps the metagame from getting stagnant. Were we conscious of what effect Planar Chaos had on Ravnica block? Yes, we were.



How did you choose which cards and legends were going to be timeshifted into Planar Chaos? What others do you wish you could have found room for?
- Zyrakris, Faerie_Lord, Q_221, notjohn, and Yawgatog


The legendary dragons were added early and were never changed. Teferi was added because we like having story characters from the novel in the card set. The cycle of alternate reality legends were chosen because we thought each one had an interesting point of their past that allowed a neat diversion to explain the alternate version. The one character that was in the set but went away that I wish we had made was Barrin. Originally he was going to be the green card in the cycle (instead of Jedit Ojanen).



Are there any mechanics you wanted to shift to another color, but decided against?
- notjohn


Memory Lapse was killed in white as it provided too good a tempo for a weenie color. We toyed with moving direct damage to black but with Drain Life-like effects it just didn't seem different enough. There really wasn't much mechanics that we wanted to move that we were unable to.



Reality Acid. Possibly the coolest card name and effect in all of Magic. How close was the original submission to the final version?
- caitsith4


Very close. The only thing that might have changed in development was the mana cost.



Many Planar Chaos creatures are weird blobby things. Is there a thematic reason for this?
- Joyd


Because in alternate reality Magic would be more blobby? I have no idea.



I know Time Spiral block is nothing to put any sort of example for the color pie, but are split cards actually Red?
- Zyrakris


The reason we did split cards in red in Planar Chaos was that we felt it would have been a way to show red's chaotic nature.



What are your instincts on how players are reacting to Planar Chaos, both on the internet and at prereleases?
- SorryGuy


Overall players seem happy. There is a minority that seems upset that we messed with the color pie, but whenever we mess with any aspect of the game we always seem to make someone unhappy.



Why weren't there any artifacts in Planar Chaos (the Primal Clay timeshifted to blue doesn't count)?
- Q_221


When you're playing around with colorshifting, colorless cards don't really add much.



The spells on split cards are usually overcosted by one when compared to their non-split card variants. Would this be true with Bust (Boom // Bust)? Is there now a set cost for destroying all lands?
- Zyrakris


Different split cards are costed differently. Fire (from Fire/Ice), for example, could be reprinted and would still be a very good card. Do we have a set cost for Armageddon in red? Not really. Armageddon has proven to be an effect that we don't like to push power-wise.



How do you think Planar Chaos will be remembered years from now? How would you like it to be remembered?
- Joyd


I think Planar Chaos will definitely be one of those sets that gets remembered long after its rotated out of Standard. Mostly because it has such a strong flavor as the "alternate reality/color messing set". As one of the set's designers, I hope it's remembered fondly. Time Spiral block was definitely an example of design sticking its neck out and trying something very different. I hope this is seen in history as a brave thing and not a dumb one.



Why does it seem like there's a massive power creep in recent sets? People don't even bat an eye at a new Morphling, a card that was amazingly powerful. Do you think this will be another Urza's block?
- Q_221


Our development has gotten better and better over the years. This allows us to get much closer to the line without crossing over it.



Dear MaRo, who was first person to call you "Maro"?
- Woapalanne


The nickname came from the playtest name (and subsequent name) of the card Maro. I had designed the card to fill a hole in green during Mirage development and Bill Rose (now the VP of R&D) wrote down MaRo as it was what he used to type in our internal email system to get my name. The naming team thought the name sounded good and kept it. When the card came out, I told its story and the nickname stuck.



How much are Magic Online concerns taken into consideration during design? Are cards ever killed because they would be annoying to implement or play with online?
- Joyd


Magic Online concerns are considered. The biggest issue is can Magic Online handle the new card or mechanic. For example, Future Sight killed a rare cycle because we didn't believe it could be programmed on Magic Online.



What's your favorite article of all time about Magic that wasn't written by yourself?
- Fayul


I was a big fan of Richard Garfield's “Lost in the Shuffle” columns from The Duelist. I really enjoyed having design insights from a professional game designer. I think more than any other thing it influenced how I write Making Magic.



What's the hardest card you've tried to make work the way it was intended?
- Mindstab_Thrull


During Time Spiral design I came up with the idea of using split second to make Word of Command finally work. (The earlier card had the problem that the opponent could play cards in response to the Word of Command being played keeping you from being able to play the desired spell.) I tried and I tried. Development tried and tried. The rules manager tried. The templating team tried. But no one could make it work so we killed the card from the set.



Does R&D get together and do any activities outside of work, like ten pin bowling night, twister night, or even drunken rampage through town and hope the boss doesn't find out night?
- gregC


Yes, R&D tends to socialize with one another outside of work. We have gone bowling, but no Twister to my knowledge. As for the drunken rampage through town – no comment.



Would you describe yourself most like a Johnny, Timmy or Spike?
- Cubus


I'm a Johnny through and through. I'm the guy who built the deck where you won by playing Tunnel.



Do you have a MTGSalvation account? If so, which sections do you like the best (are you even allowed to read some of them, like the Card Creation section?)?
- AlacarLeoricar and lookingforreality


I do not have an account. Do I ever take a peek at MTGSalvation? Maybe. If hypothetically I did, I probably would want to give a coy answer about where I'm looking.



Can you leak some Future Sight, information, pretty please?
- magicianofthought


It's a little early for preview info, so I'll give you this little R&D joke about Future Sight: “How did Rosewater manage to sneak a third Un Set by us?”



Dear MaRo, if we gave you and Mark Gottlieb each a banana and an umbrella and put you on a desert island, who would emerge victorious?
- Woapalanne

I think I'd have to give the edge to Gottlieb, but change it to an apple and a pair of rain slickers and I believe I would be the sole man standing.



Where do you keep the oompa loompas? don't act like you don't what I'm talking about...
- krizzlybear

Oompa Loompas:
Oompa Loompa doompadee doo
I've got another answer for you
Oompa Loompa doompadah dee
If you are wise you'll listen to me

What do you get when you have too much work
A pain in the head and an instinct to flee
What if due to a dimensional quirk
Orange creatures could do what you shirk

You'll get to
You'll get to
You'll get to
You'll get to
You'll get to play Magic

Oompa Loompa Doompadee Decret
That's the story, keep a secret
If you don't you'll fear me too
Like the Oompa

Oompa Loompa doompadee do



If you where an animal at the zoo, which one would you be?
- magicianofthought

I'd be a monkey. From my zoo going experience they seem to be having more fun than any other animals at the zoo.




Let me end by thanking everyone who took the time to send in questions. This was a lot of fun to answer.
- Mark Rosewater


I'm sure I speak for everyone here when I say:
No, thank YOU, Mr. Rosewater Smile

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