Shadowmoor's Mechanic Web

Posted in Latest Developments on April 25, 2008

By Devin Low

In the early days of Magic design, the mechanics in a Magic set weren't always selected because they worked well together. In fact, they often had nothing to do with each other. Ice Age introduced cumulative upkeep, snow lands, and cantrips, none of which have anything to do with each other. Mirage features phasing and flanking, which have nothing to do with each other. And Tempest brings in shadow and buyback, which again have nothing to do with each other.

One of the advances of modern-day Magic design is that the design and development teams work hard to make all of a set's parts interconnect and work together. These subtle connections ensure that every card fits into the set in multiple ways, through multiple pathways and connections. As the set design evolves, these connections form a great web. This methodology opens up deck building and game play dramatically, since any particular card interacts with multiple elements of the set, instead of just one little section. For almost every mechanic, if someone asks "Hey, why is this here?" there are very specific reasons for how that mechanic fits into the rest of the set.

Today I'm going to show you how Shadowmoor's mechanics interconnect by leading you on a visual journey through Shadowmoor's mechanical web.

The Start of Shadowmoor

Magic's long-term block planning ensures that blocks have some themes in place before the design meetings even begin. Mark Rosewater did the block planning for the Shadowmoor block. His constraints included the fact that Shadowmoor is a two-set block, following up on the two-set block of Lorwyn / Morningtide. Mark also wanted Shadowmoor to be a block based on a totally new block theme, since Lorwyn was a revisiting the classic block theme of "tribal." Click the Next button to see Mark's first big set themes for Shadowmoor.

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