Shadows of Innistrad is beautiful. It is the polar opposite of Battle for Zendikar, which was very mechanical and mechanics clearly had precedence over the overall feel. It was also full of rough edges: the whole allies thing, enters the battlefield vs. cast trigger, exile vs. not exile... Shadows over Innistrad is nothing like that. It is clean, the cards work as you would expect them to, all the mechanics integrate beautifully (and all with the exception of "planted for evergreen" Skulk are well supported).
A few words on the mechanics:
Madness - Madness makes you feel so damn smart, even if you are doing basically what the cards tell you to do. I too love how they made the cards modal without being explicit about it.
Investigate - This is in my opinion the best thing about SOI limited, it made me realize how much card flow matters for a limited environment. It makes you draw at least several more cards per game, if you are playing the Investigate colors (WUG). If you are playing RB, you on the other hand get card advantage from madness. I also love the impact Investigate has on the mood of the game. If you are sitting across from a player who has a bunch of clues sitting on the table, you are feeling dread. You are terrified of the unknown cards they represent. It makes you want to finish the game right here and now, otherwise the game will get out of reach.
Delirium - Delirium is great the same way Devotion was great - it makes you pay attention to an aspect of the cards you didn't that much about before. Delirium profoundly impacts everything from drafting, deckbuilding to the gameplay. It also makes the cards scale through the game and also from limited to constructed (since Delirium is easier to trigger when build around in limited). The mechanic makes everything from drafting to gameplay feel fresh.
Double faced cards - I didn't play original Innistrad much at all, so the werewolves being a bit "derivative" doesn't bother me at all. The non-Werewolf designs are great and I can't wait for more in EDM. I'm very happy that they increased the number of DFCs.
Skulk - It has been suggested that Skulk will become evergreen and I agree. The mechanic wasn't well explored at all in SOI.
The flavor of the set is incredible obviously, such a welcome change after two sets of barely distinguishable randomly shaped weird eldritch monsters. Both the stories told by the cards and the art are on the next level, compared to BFZ block.
The set is also full of various build-around cards that just beg to be explored. I have never seen a set with so many of those.
To close my thoughts: Shadows over Innistrad makes me jealous. It makes me stand in awe of the work R&D has presented here. I could never design a set of mechanics that integrate this well, mechanics that are simple solutions to problems sets have AND are incredibly flavourful AND feel very fresh at the same time.
Rise and Fall - Ancient history themed custom Magic set (early design stage). Dual lands cheat sheet - Last updated on September 14 2014 (updated for Khans, updated card prices) GauntletPrinter - New tool to print multiple decks on a single deck of proxies
Looking forward to your discussion on investigate. Investigate is such a beautiful mechanic. I'm glad you just did your podcast on good game mechanics, because investigate hits nearly every point you made: It's flavorfully resonant, it solves inherent problems in the game (card flow and mana flood), it gives players free things. And it's played as well as it reads.
Is this the right spot? Your new podcast linked to this thread.
I'm really sad to hear that you're stopping Remaking Magic. There are plenty of podcasts out there dedicated to playing the game of Magic, all the different formats, and the flavor, but there aren't any others that talk about the design aspect like you do. I've learned a lot from listening to this podcast, and I always enjoy the new insights that you bring every episode. I hope that you'll occasionally come back to talking about Magic design in the future, maybe in writing. Best of luck on your future endeavors.
As to the mechanics you discussed this episode.
I was quite skeptical of delirium when it first came out, but after playing with it, I've come around to really like it. It plays really well for all the reasons you mentioned. It adds an element of tension to the game, and it shapes the format in a fun and interesting direction. I think a large part of the reason I wasn't sold at first was because I think Wizards made a really poor choice for the first delirium card spoiled. It was Mindwrack Demon from the Blessed vs. Cursed duel decks. Having a drawback that turns off with delirium is an interesting application for players that are already familiar with the mechanic, but it does not create a good first impression for the mechanic's potential, nor is it a good mythic rare or Duel Deck marquis card. They really could have done better there.
I was in love with investigate the moment it was spoiled, and the gameplay did not disappoint. It hits all the notes of what makes a good mechanic that you talked about previously: it's super flavorful, it gives players free stuff, it solves mana screw and encourages card flow. What Dan said about investigate being a role filler rather than exciting on its own makes sense on paper, but I find that in practice the accumulation of clue tokens and the drawing of cards from them has been really fun for me. Maybe it's just me. I have an inordinate fondness for mechanics that convert one resource to another, such as delve and convoke, so building up clues and converting them along with mana to cards really appeals to me.
Dan hit on the problem with skulk right on, which is quite impressive given that you hadn't played the set when the podcast was recorded. Skulk doesn't do enough on any creature with greater than 1 power to justify its existence. It plays decently, but isn't particularly impactful, and the design space is far too narrow. Really impressed that you picked up on this so early.