Looking Forward, Looking Back

Posted in Latest Developments on January 30, 2004

By Randy Buehler

I think it is time for me to retire as the author of this column. I've written “Latest Developments” over 100 times now and, in combination with all the other duties I have I find it's getting progressively more difficult to give you guys the quality articles you deserve. Sometimes something interesting will happen during my work week that I know you guys would like to know about, and I'm usually pretty happy with the way those articles turn out. However, I don't need to have a regular weekly column in order to keep writing them, especially if there's someone else who can do a better job with “Latest Developments.”

So here's what I'm going to do: when one of those interesting issues does come up at work, I'll still write about it. I've always seen myself as a gamer first and a WotC employee second. I care more about the game of Magic than I do about the company and I think that perspective has allowed me to recognize what sorts of things Magic customers want to hear about. Whether it's the change to the artifact card frame, or the creation of the S-series, or the state of Magic Online; I will still be pushing the powers that be to let me tell you what's up. Consider me your rogue gamer agent that somehow snuck behind enemy lines and continues to bring back reports.

Meanwhile, I'm going to turn over my normal weekly column to someone that I know will do an outstanding job: Aaron Forsythe. As many of you know, Aaron used to be the Content Manager for magicthegathering.com, but he left that position last fall and took a new job as a developer in Magic R&D. Some of you may also remember Aaron from his days playing on the Pro Tour – the articles he wrote about his experiences were some of the best and most original on the web. As “the new guy” in R&D, down in the trenches playtesting all the new cards, I'm convinced that he'll be able to bring an insightful, fresh perspective to this column. I know many of you imagine what it would be like getting a job with Magic R&D (and you're right – it's quite a cool job) so I hope you'll enjoy the opportunity to live vicariously through Aaron and the unique window into our world that he'll be able to give you.

Aaron will take over in two weeks. If all goes as planned, this will coincide with the launch of the new magicthegathering.com. I've seen the new site design a couple of times now and I think you guys are really going to like it. Thanks to the merger of the old Sideboard and Magic Online pages with this one there will be two articles every day instead of just one (plus weekly feature articles too). One of the new columns I am most excited about will be an official, weekly insider voice for Magic Online similar to the way Mark and I have covered design and development in our own columns. This new column will include behind the scenes, insider information and stories as well as a being a source for regular updates about any ongoing issues. This is something we're really excited to provide to the MTGO community and it's being written by someone I bet many people will be happy to see returning…

I originally thought I would be writing my farewell/transition column as my last column, and I thought it would come the Friday right before the relaunch. However, next week is a theme week that I know a lot of you have been looking forward to (and we've wanted to do for months), so I decided I should actually stay on topic next week. Meanwhile, Aaron gets the auspicious start date of Friday the 13th …

It's been quite an interesting run for me. I first heard about the idea for magicthegathering.com almost three years ago when Mark Rosewater pitched the idea to me, including a “designer” column that he would write and a “developer” column that he thought I was the best choice to write. Lots of people did a lot of hard work and the site launched at the beginning of January, 2003.

Scythe of the Wretched

My first column was a Torment preview that featured Transcendence. I started with a quick bio and then launched into what would become my staple column-type: following a card through the development process, talking about all the changes that happened to it and why. My favorite story along this model is probably the one about Scythe of the Wretched – I still giggle to myself when I think about the fact that we fixed a problem combo by making the Scythe better.

I think my best column was actually a very recent one: the Type 1 community deserved both some perspective about Wizards' opinion of their format and also an explanation of recent additions to the Type 1 restricted list. I was happy to be able to give them both in “Classic Developments.” My favorite column would probably be “Lost and Found Deck” if only the kid that belongs to those decks would ever read it … still no sign of him despite re-running the column over the holidays.

Through the years I've been able to give you my take on a number of issues. I still don't think land destruction should ever be a Tier 1 strategy, (“Land Destruction Weak”) though that's not the same as saying we should never print a single playable L.D. card. I'm glad we finally neutered permission strategies and took a bite out of blue's power. (I know we have printed some pretty solid blue cards in the Mirrodin block, but note that they aren't counterspells.) I would talk about all the poll questions I've asked and the impact they have had, but I wrote a column on that subject last November (“Latest Developments Top 10”). My biggest regret is probably listening too much to the pro-Hibernation poll result and watching as Karma got added into 8th Edition. Sure it's cool, but it's too swingy … it's exactly the kind of color hoser the game is better off without (“Adjusting the Nozzle”). Meanwhile the Color Pie was just an idea we had recently started talking about when I wrote my first column, but now it's a project that's done, been implemented, and the resulting cards have already come out.

Eight sets have come out since I wrote my first column and Magic is healthier (and bigger) than it has ever been before. There have been so many conversations that we've had over the last two years that I can't possibly summarize them all. I can only hope you've enjoyed reading them and that I've somehow helped you enjoy Magic a little bit more.

Last Week's Poll Results:

Are you going to a Darksteel prerelease?
Yes 5248 47.8%
No 3929 35.8%
Maybe 1795 16.4%
Total 10972 100.0%

I think it's great that prereleases have gotten so popular.


Randy may be reached at latestdevelopments@wizards.com.

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