Ultimate Masters: MMI Review
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  • posted a message on The Rabiah Scale.
    Saying that Dominaria is the best plane is a little unfair.
    They worked 8 years on Dominaria, while for example they worked only 6 months on Amonkhet. Of course results are differents.
    Imho the best "one-shot" plane was Ravnica, but with the costant retcons that follow every return, the plane is becoming duller every visit.

    Well, the discussion did already cover that. Building a world up over time is of course going to make it deeper. Something built over 8 years is generally going to have better world building than something slapped together in 6 months. Its completely legitimate to point that out, and it doesn't mean we have to grade on a curve.

    As you point out, it does make sense not to expect the same quality from something slapped together in 6 months vs something built up over time, which is why I never expect any new plane to be as deep, diverse, and fleshed out as Dominaria, but you can still judge them in other ways. One of the ways is too look at how well the plane is set up to grow beyond being just a 'hat' world. A plane like Ixalan is a place where we haven't seen most of the plane and which has a lot of room to grow into an interesting, developed, strongly built world over several visits. Innistrad promised that as well with hints of other continents (and perhaps other cultured with their own horror), but the return was just the same we had seen, now with Eldrazi. Should a third visit still focus on the same small slice of the plane, they'd be squandering some of the foundation they layed.

    We've only seen the foundation so far, but I would rate the foundation as strong, even if the story was bad the setting is good. The other way is simply to compare such planes to eachother. Ravnica, block 1, was a better example of worldbuilding than Lorwyn/Shadowmoor. While retcons have degraded it somewhat, I agree, it still stacks near the top.

    Amonkhet is interesting because it actually did a great job worldbuilding for the needs of the story. The city and trials were well developed, and the world had an interesting hook, and all this was layered on top of the Egyptian theme. It's main limitation is that it lacks room to grow, but that happens when you world build for an essentially dead world, even when you do a good job of it. I'm fairly ambivalent to whether a return would lead to the world getting fleshed out more or just degraded into a generic Egyptian theme.

    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on The Rabiah Scale.
    It's obvious the decision to "punish" Azor on Vraska's behalf was a female SJW intern's idea.

    I mean you sure it wasnt classic putting Jace over the top? You want SJW stuff that be in my book more shown in Dom with Jhoira being the greatest ever and Teferi pretty much a failure. Teferi needs Jhoira to get his spark, Jhoira and his daughter to solve a puzzle...Jhoira doesn't need Teferi to fix the Weatherlight. Then Jhoira and the new crew are shown just as strong as Teferi, Karn and Jaya against a damn specter.

    Though I think SJW gets shouted about too much

    To be fair, Jhoira IS an artificer and was the original captain of the original Weatherlight. Her showing up Teferi at the end of the puzzle is one thing, but her being able to fix something that she is intimately familiar with, as a master artificer, without seeking help from a guy that was never an artificer, isn't a stretch.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on The Rabiah Scale.
    It's obvious the decision to "punish" Azor on Vraska's behalf was a female SJW intern's idea.

    Yes, yes, let your hate flow through you
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Random Card of the Day: Acorn Catapult
    effectively ubblockable and able to dodge removal, its not terrible, but its also not of much use in this format. Voltron generally wants to suit up the commander, and it only plays well with cheap equip costs anyway. And though it dodges removal, putting itself on top of your library is the worst way to do it. It was OK in limited, held back by all the other shadow creatures making it blockable, but pretty bad in commander.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on The Rabiah Scale.
    Quote from ChrisBP7 »
    Quote from Saandro »
    Tldr of Kamigawa: ''It has a high rank because it wasn't popular (citation needed) and didn't sell too well. We might revisit it if we discard everything good about it and go with animes and ninjas because they are what's popular and marketable these days.''

    I hate how Maro is such a biased salesman behind his rational facade. For example the new worlds all rank rather low with very questionable reasoning on some of them. Can't wait for 2025, when he will be able to talk about why Amonkhet or Ixalan failed and how the new return to Ixalan will totally fix all that and be super special awesome!

    First of, and I will fight for that, Amonkhet was awesome. Being a small plane with a single self-contained culture is not always the bad thing some of you are trying to portray it as. In this case it was even justified, since the plane is described as being nearly dead and having suffered from a catastrophe way before Bolas got his hands on it. There just isn't much left of it. (I'm actually mad about Maro seemingly thinking that it blew up at the end. I mean, there were survivors and Hazoreth still lives as well...) I would also argue that worlds with actual gods which interact more or less directly with the populace would pretty much force the cultures on these planes to be relatively homogenous, so I don't see the problem with Theros and Amonkhet not having the varied cultures of Tarkir or Dominaria. Ixalans problems were mostly about the moral superficiality, NOT the actual worldbuilding, which was in my opinion pretty well done. Not my favorite world, but still.

    Now Kamigawa. I personally liked it. But from what I can gather, many of the Kamigawa fans here seriously try to downplay how much even the flavor and worldbuilding was rejected when it came out. You might lament the fact that taking out the spirits etc. and introducing more popular japanese tropes into it is making it more superficial, but remember, tropes are not bad. In fact quite a few things in Kamigawa were so far away from the actual japanese mythology that the connection felt kind of forced (I don't really see much of a connection between the kitsune in the legends and those on the plane for example, except for that they resemble foxes). And let's face it, many parts of Kamigawa simply failed. I'm not even agreeing with it having "varied cultures", since everything is very clear cut between color lines in that regard. That's the thing I personally liked the least about it: It felt small and very much divided into cultural units. You had humans from each color, one nonhuman species for each color, one location for each color. Not the most creative way of worldbuilding. So I get Maro. Still, I think a compromise could be made to "modernize" Kamigawa without losing too much of its identity and that this would be worth exploring at least in a supplemental set.

    First off, I haven't seen anyone argue that the spirits matter aspect of Kamigawa should be preseced. Quite the contrary, people who defend Kamigawa have been saying that not only would having fewer Kami be a good idea, it would actually be required if you follow the lore surrounding the plane, and as hundreds of years have passed in lore using the Kami as a reason not to go back is dishonest.

    Kamigawa is actually a very small plane, or we've only seen a small part of it. Yet it feels bigger that a plane like Zendikar because the places we vists and the cultures we interact with are better defined, more varied, and better developed.

    I agree that tropes aren't necessarily bad, but building a world based solely on tropes isn't good worldbuilding. That said, we as a fanbase don't always want good worldbuilding. We also want fanservice theme sets that let us get things we like added to magic. I'm happy that Theros exists because it let's us get Greek mythology themed stuff into magic. It's not good worldbuilding, but it is good fan service. Sometimes you have to sacrifice one to get the other. Personally, I'd be happiest with wizards focusing on some worlds as their good worldbuilding worlds, places that let Magic have something of its own identity, and other worlds as fan service worlds, places that exist just to be cool. The former can grow and develop magics core identity while the latter can be magics take on a setting. That's actually what they have been doing for awhile with mixed results. The latter can sometimes develop into the former, like Ravnica did, based on how well they create their own identity rather than just leaning on delivering tropes.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Why is Gifts Ungiven Banned but Intuition isn't
    Quote from cryogen »
    I was always under the impression that "interacts poorly with the format" meant that a card behaved differently because of a Commander specific rule. Sort of how Riftsweeper was OP when there was no command zone and generals hung out in exile until cast.

    Gifts works exactly the same in 60 card Magic as it does in Commander. The only difference is that they were able to cost it more aggressively because the drawback of having to thin your deck to just a few playsets. So in practice Gifts has power level issues, but not interacting poorly.

    That's just one way. I'm pretty sure that Limited Resources is banned partly for hitting the interacts poorly criteria, and the multiplayer nature of the format doesn't actually change what it does, it just makes it a lot more effective and powerful because its much easier to get to 10 lands with 4 players. Obviously, it also hits the creates undesireable game states category, because that's what it does, but that's also enabled in large part because of how it interacts with the format. Likewise, Squadron Hawk type card definitely interact poorly with the format as the singleton nature gimps their functionality, but of course this would never get them banned since it just makes them less powerful.

    I'd say that it interacts with the singleton nature of the format to be undercosted compared to what it is in 60 card, but I'm not convinced that's interacting poorly. There are plenty of cards that get more powerful because of a format rule, like the many that get better because its a multiplayer format. Innocent Blood is a good card in 1v1 but gets you a hell of a lot more value in multiplayer, going from a cheap removal spell in 1v1 if you have no creatures (and a 1 for 2 if you do), to often a 3 for one removal spell. The thing is, while its an interaction, its not a bad interaction. It gets better, but not in a way that undermines the format or causes problems via power level. Perhaps the way Gifts interacts with the format contributes to it being too undercosted, but I'd say the real issue here is just that its undercosted. The increase in power from the singleton nature is actually pretty negligible, since you aren't actually gaining functionality, the draw back just doesn't matter because its already built in.

    The better way to look at it is that its not actually Gifts that interacts poorly with the format, but Intuition, its just that the way Intuition interacts poorly with the format makes it less powerful. This does have the effect of making Intuition and Gifts the same effect, except Gifts costs one more and gets you another card that goes in hand, which makes it clearly, but not strictly, better, whereas in non singleton Intuition can act as a 3 mana instant speed Demonic Tutor in blue, which increases its power level vis a vis Gifts by allowing it to do something very strong that Gifts cannot.
    Posted in: Commander Rules Discussion Forum
  • posted a message on Why is Gifts Ungiven Banned but Intuition isn't
    Quote from Muspellsheimr »
    That is... an incredibly misguided argument. I do not think it is fallacious, but it certainly includes aspects of a few fallacies.

    First, we have already established that Gifts Ungiven behaves vastly differently in Commander than other constructed formats due to the unique deck construction rules. It Interacts Poorly With the Structure of Commander.

    Second, I already pointed out that the scale of the effect makes Gifts Ungiven incomparable to Intuition in their impact on a game, derived from the difference in power of the cards.

    Finally the power of a card is very much a factor in ban decisions. It is a key factor in Problematic Casual Omnipresence, and often contributes to Creates Undesirable Game States.

    You're sort of on to something with the power level argument, in that it does indirectly impact whether a card gets banned because of how it influences the categories that actually directly impact bannings.

    It indirectly impacts the "interacts poorly with the format" category, because cards only get banned for this when the interaction makes the card more powerful, not when the interaction weakens the card (Squadron Hawk interacts poorly with the nature of the format, but that would never be held against it because the nature of that poor interaction makes the card significantly less powerful). Even when the nature of the format makes the card functionally more powerful, it depends on how much. Sadistic Sacrament is, without kicker, a card that can get all but one of a key card out of a library in 60 card. Thus, it doesn't actually remove all copies of the card if you are facing a playset. In EDH, a singleton format, it removes all copies of 3 different cards, enabling a resolved SS to strip multiple combos out of a deck. This is a significant change in functionality, and yet because it is a modest increase in power level and still a relatively weak effect it doesn't merit a ban discussion.

    It certainly impacts problematic casual omnipresence, simply because its difficult to imagine a card becoming both problematic AND omnipresent without being powerful. A problematic card that isn't powerful wouldn't be omnipresent, and an omnipresent card that isn't too powerful would not be problematic. Its not a perfectly correlated relationship though once you come at it from the other direction, as there are many, many very powerful cards in this format that are also staples. Some omnipresent cards are also more powerful than cards that have been banned with this criteria. The thing is, a card can easily both be very powerful and omnipresent without being problematic (and a card can be powerful and problematic WITHOUT being omnipresent). Being powerful may be necessary for this requirement, but it is far from sufficient.

    Problematic board states is even less correlated, because you can have effects which aren't overly powerful that do this, though I'd venture that those are a bit less likely to get banned because they are less likely to actually cause problems. Divine Intervention could be an example here, as that will likely never be banned simply because its just not very good and unlikely to be ran, even though what it does when it works is something that isn't very good for the format

    Posted in: Commander Rules Discussion Forum
  • posted a message on Random Card of the Day: Acorn Catapult
    Yep, looks like what would happen is that Kentaro would allow you to pay 7 to cast Konda, and Urza's incubator would reduce that cost to 5. Kentaro would create the option of an alternated cost, at 7 because that's Konda's CMC, and the the incubator would reduce that alternate cost by 2. It works because its a static ability that enables alternate casting costs on other cards, rather than an activated ability where you are paying X to cast a card without paying its mana cost.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Random Card of the Day: Acorn Catapult
    Quote from tstorm823 »
    Kentaro, the Smiling Cat

    I know there are commanders that you can't even cast from the command zone, but this has to be in the running for most frustratingly useless ability for a commander to have, right?

    Cards like this are why I rail so hard against Niche Creature Types, Imagine if this guy was a Warrior or a Knight.

    I imagined, and he'd still be a garbage commander because he's a mono color dude with a Mana fixing ability. He'd be passably mediocre in the 99 as a knight (his ability isn't going to be particularly useful in 2 color, and just ok in 3), but id put him in a 5 color warrior deck headed by the battlebond warrior lady. But I see that you have already found a similar use for him in Saskia samurai, so he'd really only be slightly more useful (and only because warriors are a better tribe. If samurai were more pushed rather than grossly underpowered, they'd be equivalent).

    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Adding an Optimized tag for "75%" decklists
    I think that's fine. You're first three categories fit the 25%, 50%, 75% model and optimized seems like what I call 90%. Is it supposed to represent a level where you are building competitively but just not going for the top tier decks (something that in modern or standard is often called tier 2.5)? Or is it supposed to represent building a more casual idea competitively, like taking something that just doesn't have the potential to make it in cEDH but approaching building it as if it as if it did, min maxing and making it as cut throat as possible, with every choice made to maximize the chance of winning except for the initial choice of strategy?
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on The Rabiah Scale.
    Quote from 5colors »
    I also think it is important to remember that for awhile creative had a year to world build each world and 6 months to make Kaladesh, Amonkhet and Ixalan. It is really unfair to compare something like Song of Ice and Fire in which Martin spent years developing his world for his story, where creative has 6 months to a year to make a world and story, as well as the art and being on design/development teams. And while Dominaria is big its had a huge number of sets to expand itself, as each world is retuned too more of it will be fleshed out more.

    I don't think it's unfair at all with the way I'm doing it, because I brought up A Song of Ice and Fire not to compare quality, but as a counter example to the argument that a world that has a lot of cool but unrelated concepts is poor worldbuilding and incoherent. Ixalan was built in similar fashion, as was Dominaria, and those are two of the stronger examples of worldbuilding magic has put out.

    Quote from soramaro »
    It always rubs me the wrong way when Dominaria is presented as the "objectively best plane" just because it has continents and stuff. Dominaria feels big not only because there's cultural diversity, but also because the cultures on the plane have their roots in the very conception of Magic as a game and all implications coming from that (since Dominaria is Magic's first plane).

    There are strong parallels here to other bottom-up planes like Tarkir, Ravnica and Alara. Because the mechanics of Magic: the Gathering are (obviously) unique to it as a game, there's a strong sense of independence to these worlds built on top of them: The Jeskai may superficially resemble Tibetan monks, but they're ultimately not inspired by Tibetan monks, but the combined philosophies of the colors that form their "wedge". Both Mirrodin and Kaladesh are built on the artifact subtype first and foremost and have serious creative design space (see Mirrodin's transformation into New Phyrexia). Kaladesh does feel small, but that's due to the story almost exclusively focusing on the Inventors' Fair and the events that occurred there (and the events that resulted from those). The pitch for Ixalan may have been "vampire conquistadors", but in the end the set turned out to be a lot more rooted in mechanics, namely tribal. Ixalan, in a way, could be described as a "fixed Lorwyn" in that it did the tribal theme with greater flavor resonance. I think the reason it ended up feeling kind of bland to some was - as has already been said in this thread - that the storytelling (both on the cards and in the actual story) was too streamlined and one-note, attributes which amusingly also fit its limited environment. Ixalan was wide but ended up lacking depth, with Kaladesh being the opposite case.

    I would, however, argue that a world doesn't necessarily have to "feel big" in order to be a good or "solidly worldbuilt" world. Basically, depth is more important than pure scale. Case in point: Ravnica; although it's always stated that the city covers the whole plane and the urban setting and the ten guilds (+ the guildless) make the world seem complex and interesting, the "relevant part" of the plane is, in the end, pretty small. Conversely, Zendikar is big, but when looking at the cards you get the feeling that wherever you go, it's essentially the same kind of generic adventure environment everywhere, although the "skins" for the environments differ.
    Kamigawa and Lorwyn/Shadowmoor (my personal favourites) both are on the small side as well, but I find them very interesting and engaging. They are seen as failures because they didn't have enough resonance, i.e. things people from a very broad audience could easily relate to. But that's also the reason for why they feel original. It's often mentioned that the design team of Kamigawa was very true to the source material/culture it was depicting. But if you look closely, it's actually very different and very much its own thing. If you searched for descriptions of Kami like they're presented on cards from Kamigawa, you'd search for a long time. At the same time, there's no prominent sun goddess and also no other easily identifiable figures from the "traditional mythological canon", and the ghosts/monsters/yokai from the realm of folk belief are also largely absent or have been turned into independent groups/civilizations, sometimes pushed into colors they most likely wouldn't have been in if the goal had been to present their image in the real world as accurately as possible (kitsune, moonfolk, orochi, akki). Similarly, Lorwyn/Shadowmoor heavily drew on folklore from the British Isles, but from a flavor standpoint, the focus wasn't really on portraying/referencing the source material correctly, but rather the larger theme of "world of light VS world of dark". The elements based on real culture were merely combined with this theme, resulting in a world that made sense without suffering from "overfitting" which can be observed on planes like Theros or even Innistrad. I think the key to creating a sense of originality in fantasy worlds/works is to deliberately leave some elements unconnected and disparate. If you try to reference too much/connect everything to another thing, the greater whole starts to feel bland (which is also a problem with prequel series/movies).

    Dominaria is not objectively the best plane because there is no objectively best plane, but it IS arguably the best, meaning there's a strong case to be made for it, as a strong case can be made for some other planes.

    It's also correct that it's not because it has continents, but because it has various well developed cultures. I'd argue that this has little to do with it being first, but with how it was constructed, over years, with blocks worth of work being put into continents and areas. This is why it has so much history, and why many of it's continents are as developed as entire planes.

    That's not something that can easily be done in just one block or one set. There are, however, ways to accomplish this. The first, and the one with the immediate pay off, is to have multiple well developed factions that represents divergent cultures and even separate territory, best done on Ravnica but also well done on Tarkir, Kamigawa, and even Alara (though somewhat muddled during the conflux). This makes the plane feel bigger (and the key word here is FEEL: a plane can be physically small like Kamigawa is and still FEEL big, and it can be physically huge like Zendikar and FEEL small, based on how same it feels or how diverse it feels). The second way is trickier, and is used on Ixalan and Innistrad: make it clear that the block or set only focuses on a small area of the plane and explicitly say that there is more out there that might be different. Admittedly, how well this works depends on how the consumer responds to it as much as it does the execution. Innistrad makes it clear that there are other continents, and while it's a horror plane those continents might have different sorts of monsters and might not be central and eastern European inspired. Ixalan I think does this best, because it combines the two by having well defined culturally divergent factions as well as unvisited, culturally divergent parts of the plane, and does one better by actually telling us a good amount about one of them. This is a long term pay off though, as we get to explore these new places as we revisit the world, and it grows over time (like Dominaria did). The great part about this though is that you can build a diverse world up around a general theme: Innistrad can expand into diverse cultures while still maintaining a horror theme, and having diverse cultures is actually necessary for an age of exploration theme. It would be rather difficult to take a narrower world like Theros and expand it very far without diluting what it's supposed to be. I could easily see a Theros set where the Poli discover a Persian inspired culture and have a war, but now it's not just a Greek mythology block but starts bringing in near eastern things as well. That could be great, but it would also change the nature of the plane.

    Lastly, I acknowledge that a lot of these worlds of hats are fun. Theros is one of my favorite planes, but it's because I like Greek mythology and it's giving me what I want. The thing that makes it weak worldbuilding is that it's so obviously fan service: it hits all the beats you could demand from it, checks off all the boxes, and does it all great. The thing is, it gives me everything I knew wanted, but it doesn't give me anything else: no surprises, no innovations, no new discoveries or ideas. Kamigawa, on the other hand, gave me things I didn't even know I wanted to go along with the Ninja and samurai a dragons. And it crafted interesting cultures and stories. Eating memberberries is fun, but sometimes I want new and interesting things to member later.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on The Rabiah Scale.
    Quote from Flisch »
    Quote from Flisch »
    I was a bit surprised by Ixalan. I personally found the world to be almost... sterile. Like, there was so little meat on its bones. You can sum up the world in four sentences and you pretty much have heard everything.

    I mean really?
    We had aztec humans riding dinosaurs
    The dinosaurs were quetzalcoatl referenece and the descendant of an herald of the threefolded sun.
    There may be more dinosaurs we don't know about
    The merfolk were tropical and vibrant, with a good green aspect
    We had pirates, made of thieves, assassins, explorers and thinkerers
    We had vampires... kinda dull these ones, i guess.
    Other aspects of the plane we haven't see: other sun-related creatures (like the phoenixes), the night-related creatures like the demons and the Bat God, the Grim Captain and her armies of undead, sea monsters and tropical versions of established fantasy creatures (like the parrot griffin of resplendent griffin)
    There is still a lot to show if they want

    What you listed were a bunch of cool ideas (and I enjoy those aspects of Ixalan) but they're not what I consider coherent or strong worldbuilding.

    I actually think this touches on a deeper philosophical question as to what exactly constitutes coherent or strong world building. Magic, over the past decade and a half, has leaned strongly into the world of hats model: Look guys, it's Mirrodin, the artifact world! Look guys, it's Shogun World! Look guys, it's City World! Look guys, it's adventure world! Look guys, it's horror land! Look guys, it's Greek world! Look guys, it's Egypt World! This can lead to satisfying world building, and certainly leads to coherent worldbuilding, but it's often cheap, hollow, and lazy, anything but strong. Usually, it's just fan service, and ends up being Magic's take on a genre or setting rather than a setting in and of itself. The strongest creations here are the world's that have more going on than their single hat: Ravnicas guilds mean that the city world has ten very different cultures inhaniting it, which makes it feel like what it's supposed to be in lore, a large diverse plane whose cultures were united under the guildpact and thus formed a plane wide city. Kamigawa, while fantasy Japanese, manages to feel diverse because of the differences in human cultures between colors, and the differences within colors between the human and non human cultures. These planes feel unique to magic in a way that Theros, as entertaining and likeable as it is, does not.

    Arguably the best plane is Dominaria, an incoherent collection of cool *****, generic fantasy, and somewhat original stuff. Even there you had the occasional land if hats, but at least it makes sense for instance for magic Africa to be a continent like real Africa. Dominaria as a result feels big, like an actual alternate plane of existence, an actual world, because it IS big, and it IS and actual world. Theros, Kaladesh, Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, Zendikar, all feel very small, and limited. I think all of those are cool, but I don't think any of them are actually good examples of worldbuilding. I'm excited to go for another ride in fantasy Greece and see some Gods and minotaurs and hydras and *****, but the whole plane was paint by numbers fantasy Greece. I really like Zendikar (sans Eldrazi), but it doesn't feel like a real world, more like a neat setting for a DnD campaign focused on combat and puzzles. Even Alara feels smaller than it should as it's just 5 hats smashed together.

    Ixalan has a lot of cool ***** that's unconnected, and I think that's great. It actually makes the setting better, and the worldbuilding stronger, that you have multiple wildly divergent cultures clashing on a continent that's only a part of the world we know, and we know there is more out there that we don't know. The Sun Empire with feathered dinosaurs and native central American inspired merfolk are all coherent, you could imagine a world of hats based on Aztecs, but with dinosaurs with parrot feathers. I mean, Tarkir is China, but with dragons, and Amonkhet was Egypt, but with a dragon, and Kaladesh was India, but aetherpunk. But with Ixalan, we get entire different cultures involved, with their own cool ***** that is unrelated to the fantasy Aztec continent, because those cultures are foreign. The vampires are late reconquistas, early exploration Spain, but vampires. The pirates are 16th century pirtes of the carribean fantasy pirates. But putting them all together actually works because it makes the world feel big, and it promotes the culture clash theme. Ixalan literally took place on one, fairly small, continent, and yet it feels bigger than Kaladesh, Theros, or Zendikar.

    I mean, A Song of Ice and Fire's setting is a much stronger example of worldbuilding than anything Magic has put out, and that's got dragons, ice zombies, fantasy Ming, fantasy Mongols, Rennasaince Italy inspired free cities (including fantasy Venice), Cthulu Vikings, dark ages England, Tudor era inspired Plotters, and sort of Spain but if the Ummayads won and were super progressive when it comes to pansexuality and women leaders.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on The Rabiah Scale.
    I agree my point is the Rabiah Scale is flawed in my book. Maro states they have market research that claim Kamigawa sucks on levels, my point is I don't think the flavor/story isn't being biased by how bad Standard was and weak mechanics. Course I just have second knowledge I didn't play magic back then.

    Your second hand knowledge is pretty spot on though.

    The Kamigawa books are regarded as the best Magic books. Only The Thran and the Urzas Saga books compete. In large part its due to the quality of the writing and characters, but its also due to the quality of the setting. The story of the block is nuanced and one of the best the brand has ever put out. Unlike Ixalan, its a shades of grey world executed correctly. With engaged players who actually care about the settings and stories, Kamigawa is very popular. It is generally unpopular with casual players who only get the story from the cards and players who only care about game mechanics.

    Kamigawa had four main problems: First,it did not communicate its story well from the cards, which was a general problem back then as magic relied on its novels to communicate the story, but was worse for Kamigawa because the Japanese names made it harder for a lot of players to follow from the cards and it wasn't as easy to connect to on a superficial level. Second, and MARO has mentioned this in the past, the block was a fairly faithful attempt at hitting major points in Japanese mythology but it neglected to hit on points of Japanese myth and culture that are particularly resonant in the West hard enough. People came in expecting ninja and samurai and didn't get enough, while they got too much of the Shinto inspired spirits, a problem that was exclusive to the block itself rather than the plane as the blocks story centered around the Kami war, which brought tons of spirits that would normally be in the spirit plane to the material plane and caused half the cards to be spirit themed, so a return would have far fewer spirits. Third, as you mentioned, the block was powered down following the collective design mistake that was Mirrodin. While many cards from the first two set have aged well, with several all time greats, at the time the cards didn't add to the power decks in Standard. Mirrodin had a lot of parasitic mechanics, as did Kamigawa, so decks at the time were either Mirrodin decks or Kamigawa decks, and since the Mirrodin decks featured more broken bull***** the Mirrodin decks were the popular ones. Saviors of Kamigawa being a steaming turd hurt the reputation of the block further as it ended on what would be a power nadir for magic that we wouldn't see again until Born of the Gods. Lastly, its primary theme was supposed to be Legends and that wasn't at common, so the block felt a bit aimless from a mechanical perspective.

    2 out of 4 of those were design problems unconnected from the setting. One was a problem with how well they communicate the story to casual players, and one was a legitimate creative problem that they have since learned how to fix.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on The Rabiah Scale.
    Quote from Onering »
    In defense of Ixalan: we only saw one continent and the story (aside from Jace x Vraska) sucked hard. There's still a lot of stuff to explore to flesh out the plane, and its main hook is decent.

    The story didn't bother me too much. I liked the moral ambiguity of Ixalan; the entire plane's "hat" is hypocrisy.

    My main hope is that Vivien is an unreliable narrator and has what I call "tautological ethics": "I oppose evil, therefore anyone who disagrees with me is evil. The world would be better off with less evil, therefore anything I do to destroy evil, defined, again, as 'anyone who disagrees with me', is acceptable." (Then again, that's something white would do more than green.)

    You see, the reason I thought Ixalan's story sucked is because it sucked, badly, at making its "hat" work. It was sold as a moral ambiguity plane. It hyped up the moral ambiguity. It promised that we were in for 4 factions that each were sort of good and sort of bad in their own way. It ****ed that up tremendously.

    What we got instead was the following:

    1: Pirates. No moral ambiguity, just straight chaotic neutral. "Oh those wacky pirates, doing crazy pirate stuff!" was their schtick. An actual, competently executed shades of grey pirate faction would have leaned into their origin as merchants driven off Terrezon by the vamps. They could have had an actual goal, rather than being random raiders played mostly for laughs. A desperate group of rouges willing to do anything to make a new home for themselves or retake their old one, so they raid and pillage the Sun Empire and vampire both, and we get treated to both the nobility of them taking on their oppressors and the savagery of them destroying innocents. Instead, we get wacky antics and them killing vamps, which is always presented as a positive. Their search for the Golden Sun is entirely driven by Jace and Vraska, so they don't even play into that.

    2: Sun Empire: Presented as uniformly good victims until the very end. Oh sure, there's mention that hundreds of years ago they ****ed up and betrayed the merfolk, but they are presented here as a purely noble civilization struggling against savage oppressors. Their quest for the Golden Sun is a quest for lost heritage. Again, only at the very, very end of the story do we get any shade of grey. Just terrible execution.

    3: Merfolk: Real, actual shades of grey here, solely because one merfolk was an ********. The entire faction pretty much just wanted to prevent anyone from getting the super weapon, which is a pretty purely good goal. Just one ******** wanted to take it for himself. Sure, others agreed with him, but none of them lifted a finger to help. It would be like if in Black Panther if Killmonger announced his plans to arm oppressed people around the world with Wakandan weapons and instead of joining him the Rhino raising Wakandans just said "cool, sounds good, go ahead and fly them out there, we'll see you Thursday." So yeah, the merfolk broke down into Group A: Leaders raced to secure the superweapon to prevent Merfolk Killmonger from getting it, and everyone else made life difficult for the other factions and Group B: Blue Killmonger and some guys who sort of think he might be onto something but just help Group A stop the other factions.

    4: Vamps: Yeah, just presented as pure evil until the very end, when they wake up the one none evil vamp queen. Probably the worst execution in a plane filled with terrible execution.

    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on The Rabiah Scale.
    Quote from void_nothing »
    Quote from saneatali »
    The unified Lorwyn allows for flavor and mechanical exploration not available in the initial sortie, without locking out any of the prior mechanics and only a little of the flavor.
    The problem with Lorwyn-at-balance is that everyone would want it to be a tribal set with a huge hybrid mana theme, which I'm not sure whether would be a nonlinear yet deep and complex and diverse environment or a complete mess to design.

    I'd think that the obvious answer would be to do the opposite, and make it a hybrid set with a strong tribal subtheme. We've seen that it is very possible to do tribal effectively as a subtheme, and probably works better as a subtheme, via innistrad. Either do allied tribes (say, all effects boost two tribes, like elves AND kithkin or merrow AND faeries) or make the tribes 3 color.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
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