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  • posted a message on Liliana dies in War of the Spark
    And yet they couldn't kill their potential future cash cow Nicol Bolas.

    For something called "war of the spark" it was certainly pretty bloodless among the named cast. Then again the recaps I've been reading are like... they better do something good with Liliana is all I'm saying, because that "surprise yoink I'm basically an oldwalker again" was the most interesting thing to come of the story.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Liliana dies in War of the Spark
    Quote from Xeruh »
    You’re also comparing a serial writing style with a novel, those are two very different styles.

    The Ring cycle is six books in three volumes, plus all the supplementary material like The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and various other books like The Children of Hurin.

    But you want to know the main difference between an actually good story like Lord of the Rings and a hack story like Magic? I'll boil it down to a simple microcosm: The orcs. Tolkien, being a devout Catholic, actually worked various themes he believed in into the work. Such as the fact that evil cannot create, but only corrupt. Hence why orcs aren't their own race, but elves that have been corrupted to evil. And yet he still struggled with the idea of a race that's intrinsically, purely evil. His faith led him to dislike the idea that a people could be beyond redemption. While he never really solved that moral dilemma while he was alive (though he did posit that Mordor would've had huge farms and other industry offscreen, implying civilians existed), the fact that there was a clear theme the author actually believed in means that you can tell the work actually has weight to it.

    Compare that to the Eternals. Oh look they just have to touch a planeswalker to de-spark them and also they're only as strong as the plot demands. Their defeat doesn't even have any real weight to it because there's no thematic culmination to anything (compare to the Witch-King dying in Lord of the Rings). And the corrupted Amonkhet gods? Well, in the Ring cycle, the Nazgul were once great kings but have been so thoroughly corrupted by evil that they're indistinguishable by now, having lost their humanity through their greed. It's an actual literary theme, unlike "here, evil zombie gods, look isn't that cool?"

    Fundamentally, the problem is that Wizards does not want Magic to be a story. This seems counter-intuitive, but look at how they market things. They market plot points, they put watermarks on cards that represent key moments in the plot, but they spend almost no time on character or theme. They want epic moments, but not the slow buildup that makes them have impact. It's a very "have your cake and eat it too" approach to storytelling, and it leads to things like them thinking Nicol Bolas is Ozymandias when really he's Snidely Whiplash.

    Remember, the reason I'm comparing everything to Tolkien is because Western fantasy literature almost invariably traces itself back to one of two sources: J.R.R. Tolkien or Robert E. Howard. And Magic is much more in the vein of Lord of the Rings than it is Conan the Barbarian.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Liliana dies in War of the Spark
    It is a hallmark of bad story telling if you just jump from one threat to the next, Dragonball Z style.


    Well, not necessarily, because that's how you get Nicol Bolas Thanos going "time to take action" then a ton of movies later he's still doing nothing.

    Compare this to actually good writing, such as Lord of the Rings. Sure, Ungoliant is still kicking around somewhere because they never actually confirmed she died. Morgoth will return in Middle-Earth: Ragnarok. The blue wizards are still probably ******* around wherever they went. But Tolkien don't make you feel like you got left hanging. There's no "... and then what?" to those stories because Tolkien knew how to make a decent story. With Magic, there's always a tease of a story to come, but it's obviously written in a "well you'll get something, maybe, if corporate allows it, but we don't know what it looks like yet."

    What you're missing here is that introducing new threats without having dealt with the old ones first only works if the story is paced and planned well and Magic's storyline is anything but paced and planned well. Though I will agree that the utter failure of Nicol Bolas to be an engaging, effective, or even interesting villain isn't as bad as the blatant "we want our own Avengers team because that's popular now!" marketing the Gatewatch gets.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Liliana dies in War of the Spark
    Quote from Xeruh »
    It's bad story telling to toss a bunch of different issues in all at one time and not be able to give each of them proper focus. Bolas is the focus right now, Eldrazi aren't.

    Introducing the Phyrexians and the ELdrazi and all that other stuff while Nicol Bolas was supposed to be the main villain is the exact kind of bad storytelling you're talking about. There are so many plot threads strewn about because they want to be able to milk a storyline as long as they can (otherwise Nicol Bolas' storyline would've been wrapped up years ago) and that means you've got all kinds of stuff on the "maybe we'll come back to this some day between original worlds" docket. Subject, of course, to the whims of executives who base story directives on sales, not anything to do with story. If good storytelling brushes up against the need to hit a sales target, Hasbro is going to ensure the sales target wins every time.

    I'd also say it's bad story telling to have "unbeatable" villains.


    Yawgmoth is a hell of a lot better of a villain than Nicol Bolas is ever capable of being, and that guy could kill oldwalkers just by touching them. The story showed the actual gravitas of the Phyrexian threat and built them up as credible villains, not a moustache-twirling "literally no matter how this goes, it's all a part of my plan you'll never learn" cardboard cutout. And as a result, Apocalypse felt way heavier than War of the Spark.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Why I hate Mono red burn
    Quote from HugSeal »
    6. You are old school and don't think RDW has been an archetype since pretty much forever?


    It has and it hasn't. The original mono red deck in this vein was Sligh, played by Paul Sligh, and it was a janky mess due to the deckbuilding restrictions at the time but it pioneered the concept of the mana curve. Fast forward to the original Mirrodin era and that's when you have the first modern-ish incarnation of "Red Deck Wins" where the deck has so many avenues to bypass defenses (blocking, counters due to activated abilities, etc) that the red deck "just wins." Notably the difference between Sligh and RDW is that Sligh wants to burn away potential blockers and RDW tends to place less emphasis on preserving its board.

    Then you have variants like Big Red (which has been a thing since forever because Mana Flare + Fireball was tech in the early to mid 90s), Ponza (red control), Goblins, and of course, Burn. The main addition Burn brings to the table is the sheer amount of redundancy it has, substituting threat quality (each individual Bolt only ever deals 3 damage) for threat density (you've got a lot more Bolts than they have business spells).

    Burn, traditionally, is actually highly skill intensive and only gets even more skill intensive after sideboarding, so it sounds like Arena's BO1 is the problem rather than red per se. This could just as well be white weenie or green stompy and the problem would be the same.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Liliana dies in War of the Spark
    Release date for the original Avengers movie in the US: May 4, 2012

    Battle for Zendikar release date, where the Gatewatch became an official thing: October 2, 2015

    We know that Magic set design is about a 2-3 year process. If anyone seriously thinks that the Gatewatch wasn't an attempt to cash in on the superhero franchise, well, there's not much else that can be said.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Liliana dies in War of the Spark
    And with Time Manipulation from Teferi AND Karn , they can do literally whatever they want, so they have multiple "get out of jail" cards in their sleeves to mess with the story in every possible way.

    So the story has zero stakes. Because while we've seen a few planeswalkers die here and there, the mere existence of those kinds of temporal shenanigans leads to the "why wouldn't Ugin/Sorin/Nahiri just kill the Eldrazi?" kind of scenario where even if there's an in-story reason for it (in the Eldrazi case, Ugin wasn't sure what the ramifications would be on the multiverse if they died, which was promptly forgotten when two of them got Channel Fireball'd), that reason will never not come across as a hackneyed contrivance because characters should never have the tools to invalidate the plot to begin with.

    Lazy writing meets plot contrivances might be the direction the story's taken since the Mending but it's still not good writing by any stretch of the imagination. Hell they've even straight-up killed Nicol Bolas before so him dying here wouldn't even have any impact because players would just go "okay now how'd be survive another death?"

    But when you want the story to be less "who cares about the plot? You're here to turn off your brain and watch superheroes fight supervillains and you aren't interested in anything else" and Wizards thinks that's a good approach to take, well, that's when you start developing opinions.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Seeing Tezzeret as the new BAB promo..I am so sick of Wizard's BS
    It'd be funny if the way to tell a card is counterfeit becomes "this card's stock and printing are too good."
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Seeing Tezzeret as the new BAB promo..I am so sick of Wizard's BS
    And the problem is that does have a significant gameplay effect. It's been a known problem for years because the event deck Verdant Catacombs had a noticeably different printing than the pack version and there are stories of inexperienced judges declaring those perfectly legit cards counterfeit. Between that and the all-foil-printing I mentioned the problems with above, I have to wonder just how frustrated at least a few R&D members are with their managers making these incredibly terrible decisions. These aren't the mistakes made by someone who actually knows and cares about Magic. These are the mistakes of corporate types who just see Magic as another brand to exploit as much in the short term as possible and discard when it's no longer viable.

    Frankly I'm surprised that counterfeits aren't a bigger issue than they currently are with how hard Wizards is cutting corners.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Seeing Tezzeret as the new BAB promo..I am so sick of Wizard's BS
    Quote from Xcric »
    there's no nonfoil option making them easy to cut to in a deck

    You'd think they would have learned their lesson after Kess, Dissident Mage was soft-banned from tournament play in Legacy because of how warped the foils were for an all-foil printing. It was basically "find a judge willing to create a proxy for you or don't play her" because the card was considered marked by default.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Kid almost beat to death over tos
    If it's a joke it's in extremely poor taste and should not be given credit.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Kid almost beat to death over tos
    Given the legal climate as far as corporate liability for consumer products is concerned, that "lawsuit" is going to get thrown right out in a New York minute by the judge. Though I'd be very surprised if events actually happened as described. I'd believe someone came to blows, but "beaten into a coma" would make the news. Not necessarily a lie but I would say likely embellished.

    Oh and to the people talking about the insanity defense, that defense is almost never even attempted, and when it is, it has a vanishingly low success rate (plus you're still involuntarily confined if it succeeds). Even if this story is true, the insanity defense would not work for what seems more like aggravated assault.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Something bugs me about WAR (semi-rant inside)
    Quote from drmarkb »
    If you try and run a game by market research, don't be surprised when the audience does not like what it says it would like.

    That's a problem corporate media has in general. You get so afraid of alienating literally any group that you become unwilling to take any kind of artistic stand. You wind up becoming less focused on the "telling a story" aspect of it because you care more about the "create [inoffensive] entertainment" aspect of it. But you run into problems like the inability for your heroes to stand for anything other than a vague "heroism" or like the inability for your villains to do anything truly evil because the villainy must be kept to things that exist only in fiction (evil businesspeople, for instance, would look more like a Captain Planet villain than the CEO of a real oil company). You wind up trying to please everyone, only to be confused when you discover that being a milquetoast means you're more likely to piss people off—you can't go far enough in any one direction to please any but the most easily entertained before you're forced to double back. You wind up eschewing greatness and embracing mediocrity because you don't understand that merely casting the bigger net to keep people around until they get bored isn't going to be better if a smaller net would establish a loyal core audience that stays with you through thick and thin.

    Think about it like this: When we study literature, we study the ones that actually have a point to make. Even something like Lord of the Rings manages to have opinions on things ranging from theology (evil cannot create and can only corrupt, hence why Sauron has to turn elves into orcs) to environmentalism (the ents and Isengard). That's the kind of thing you won't really see out of a corporate entity unless it's something very few people would disagree with and, as above, unless it's presented in as general a way possible so readers can project their values onto it. "And do the wizards really have to be angels? That might not play so well in foreign markets. Maybe they should just be special in some nondenominational way." Same thing with Bolas. He's a moustache-twirler because anything that might map onto real life is too "risky" for Wizards to attempt.

    It's a problem that won't be solved unless Hasbro ever lets Wizards' creative team loose without corporate "risk management" restrictions, but that has about as much chance of happening as Mana Drain in Standard. Until then, grasping mediocrity will remain the "better" business choice than taking a risk to achieve greatness.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Something bugs me about WAR (semi-rant inside)
    Quote from Colt47 »
    FYI pre-mending walkers do not even have the ability to be represented by cards.


    Wrong. Freyalise, Teferi, and Serra have all been represented by cards. The "oldwalkers can't be on cards" lie is just something Wizards told in order to make the Mending seem more palatable.

    Quote from Flamebuster »
    I'd love to see more storylines or segments of storylines to include more:

    - politics
    - human condition dynamics
    - Worlds which offer a diverse geological, demographic and geographic environment to warrant stationary visits (like Dominaria II) rather than a concentrated culture on an isolated world.


    Of those, I don't trust any large corporation to handle a political plot because it'd either be Nonpartisan Tom Clancy Lite, PG-Rated Game Of Thrones, or would piss off the kinds of people who don't like the idea of media having analogues to real politics in it despite that media has been doing that as long as media has existed. The first two wouldn't be worth it, and the last one would be... well if you've seen how incendiary real-life politics gets, and how there's already so much political controversy in certain circles over Wizards' existing decisions (like having more women and people of colour depicted on cards), it'd only get uglier from there.

    Human condition dynamics would be amazing but they'd need characters with more than two dimensions to pull it off. Wizards seems to think Bolas is Ozymandias when in reality he's more like the Jared Leto... I don't even want to call that character the Joker, and this indicates that their writers are probably very constrained on what they're allowed to do.

    Maro's already stated that worlds with multiple environments is something they're opposed to doing. They even specifically cut out a lot of the fun in Dominaria (the plane, not the set) so they wouldn't have to deal with the fact that Jamuraa feels a lot different from Urborg feels a lot different from Otaria feels a lot different from Tolaria and so on and so forth.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Something bugs me about WAR (semi-rant inside)
    Quote from nobthehobbit »
    But keep in mind that planeswalkers like Bolas, Ugin, Karn, Sorin, Nahiri, and Liliana, all of whom had their sparks ignite pre-Mending (and didn't have their sparks altered like Venser and Radha


    Bolas' spark being a neowalker spark now instead of an oldwalker spark is his actual motivation for doing what he does. He lost his old powers and wants them back. They could easily have just done "big evil dragon with zero stated motivation because he's a *****ty, generic, unmemorable villain anyway" but they hung a fig leaf on the story so that's his motivation.

    He should've stayed dead after Tetsuo Umezawa killed him. Tetsuo Umezawa being a regular person with a fancy magic meteor spell, not an oldwalker or even a neowalker. And he still killed Bolas, at least temporarily. The whole "oldwalkers are too powerful" thing really is obvious as the thinnest bull***** imaginable the moment you actually look at the old storylines but Wizards is banking hard on current players not doing that.

    Remember, Venser's spark mutated, but all existing planeswalkers had their sparks become neowalker sparks after the Mending.

    To properly cost pre-mending planeswalkers they would need to start at 7 or 8 mana.


    They'd cost more like five or six mana or so (those being existing pre-mending planeswalker cards), and still be weaker than the actual strongest planeswalker cards. To say nothing of how trivially easily they could just do like in Fate Reforged and say "you exist post-Mending so any oldwalkers you summon across that point in time are going to be weakened."

    For game balance purposes, 2UU gets you something stronger than they'll ever make for oldwalkers, especially given that oldwalker cards aren't any different from neowalker cards.
    Posted in: Magic General
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