The Bake a Cake Example

Posted in Feature on November 22, 2005

By Wizards of the Coast

In yesterday's Ask Wizards question, Magic Creative Director Brady Dommermuth explained the flavor relationship between a player, his hand, and his library of spells. It's not the first time that someone has undertaken the challenge of explaining the flavor of such abstract game concepts and mechanics, however.

Below is a document written by Daneen McDermott, formerly of the Magic Continuity Team, on July 27, 2000 (during the design of the "graveyard matters" Odyssey block). It attempts to explain, in analogical terms, what it means for a card to be in your library, for you to play a spell, for a card to end up in your graveyard, and other, more exotic variations possible in Magic.

While this should not be considered the authoritative canon on the subject, it is one interesting way of looking at the flavor of these real-world game mechanics.

Without further adieu, we present: Magic spellcasting as cake-baking.

Daneen McDermott
July 27, 2000

The Baking a Cake Example

  • I know how to bake a cake (The "Bake A Cake" card in your library)
  • I bake a cake (Playing the card, it goes to the graveyard)
  • I remember baking the cake (The "Bake A Cake" card in your graveyard)

The "Milling" a Cake Example

  • I know how to bake a cake (The "Bake A Cake" card in your library)
  • I remember baking the cake, but there's no cake?!? (Someone mills the "Bake A Cake" card into your Graveyard)

The "Flashback" a Cake Example

  • I know how to bake a cake (The "Bake A Cake" card in your library)
  • I bake a cake (Playing the card, it goes to the graveyard)
  • I remember baking the cake (The "Bake A Cake" card in your graveyard)
  • I really, really remember baking that cake, and I can do it again from memory (Paying the Flashback cost and playing the card again)

The Restocking a Cake Example

  • I know how to bake a cake (The "Bake A Cake" card in your library)
  • I bake a cake (Playing the card, it goes to the graveyard)
  • I remember baking the cake (The "Bake A Cake" card in your graveyard)
  • Now, if I just relax while I make this pie, I'll be able to remember how to bake that cake (Play the "Make a Pie" card, which allows you to Restock the "Bake A Cake" card)

The Ultimate Cake Example

(Wherein, the "Bake a Cake" Card has the Flashback ability, which is used after it is Milled...)

  • I know how to bake a cake (The "Bake A Cake" card in your library)
  • I remember baking the cake, but there's no cake?!? (Someone mills the "Bake A Cake" card into your Graveyard)
  • I really, really remember baking that cake, and I can do it again from memory (Paying the Flashback cost and playing the card again)
  • Cake? What Cake? (The "Bake A Cake" Card is purged after it has been played through Flashback)

It may not answer all flavor questions about basic Magic mechanics, but it's an interesting analogy using the relatively familiar concepts of knowledge (cards in your library), memory (cards in your graveyard), and physical results (the effects of spells you've previously cast). When you sit down to reason out the flavor of a Golgari mage dredging back a Life from the Loam dumped into his graveyard by his Dimir opponent by Glimpse the Unthinkable, however, remember that cake might not explain all of Magic's intricacies!

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