Ask Wizards - February, 2008

Posted in Feature on February 1, 2008

By Wizards of the Coast


February 29, 2008

Q: I tend to always be the last one to get my pack opened in drafts. Is there a recommended way to open packs fast and effectively without damaging the cards?
–Adam, Jacksonville, FL, USA

A: From Mike Turian, Magic R&D:

Hi Adam,

"Popping" the packs has always been the most fun way to open them. I'm terrible at popping, though, so here is a more practical way to get inside your pack as fast as possible.

Grab the pack by the back tear flap. Holding onto the pack, take your teeth and crack the top seal. Next pull straight down on the tear flap.

This will turn you into a pack opening fiend.

Editor's Note: In order to make this process more clear, we have prepared a short video presentation. Enjoy!



February 28, 2008

Q: What was the reasoning behind not reprinting Stone Rain in Tenth Edition? I always thought of that as a staple card, being the simplest form of land destruction around.
–Sean, Tucson, AZ, USA

A: From Aaron Forsythe, director of Magic R&D:

We change cards in Core Sets for change's sake sometimes just to keep things fresh. Raise Dead was replaced in Tenth Edition with Recover. Wind Drake moved to white and became Wild Griffin. And Stone Rain moved to black (albeit uncommon) to become Rain of Tears and was replaced in red with the equally simple Demolish. By removing a card like Stone Rain (or Savannah Lions) that sometimes shows up in tournament decks from the Standard environment, it allows us to make newer versions of those cards in expert-level sets at similar mana costs without worrying that we'll overload the environment with too much of a particular effect. We replaced Lions' slot in the environment with Goldmeadow Stalwart, hoping to encourage Kithkin decks. While we haven't released another good red three-mana land destruction spell since Tenth came out, chances are good that we will. And no Stone Rain means that a top-tier dedicated red land destruction deck shouldn't emerge if and when we do.

All in all, I expect Stone Rain to be in many more Core Sets, but Tenth was just its "day off."



February 27, 2008

Q: I don't know if it makes any sense to native English speakers, but I for one, was very puzzled by the name Eventide, revealed in a recent arcana. So my question is as simple as, is there a meaning behind that name?
–Øystein, Norway

A: From Brady Dommermuth, Magic creative director:

I was hoping someone would ask this question, Øystein! As you probably know, Morningtide and Eventide are meant to be "bookend" titles, each adding meaning and significance to the other. Morningtide is the small set for the perpetually sunny, midsummer world of Lorwyn, and Eventide is the small set for the perpetually gloomy, dusk-shrouded world of Shadowmoor. In addition to their function as titles, though, both are real words—archaic but real! Lorwyn is inspired by British Isles folklore, and the Saxons that invaded and migrated to Britain measured time in "tides." They divided the day into three tides: morningtide, noontide, and eventide. (Notice it's "eventide," not "eveningtide," even though there's no such word as "morntide." Don't ask me why. English is weird, and Middle English is even weirder.) The convention of using "tide" to mean "time" was widespread during the sixth through twelfth centuries.

If you get yourself an unabridged dictionary, you'll find lots of "tides," many denoting holy days of some kind. The following words all actually existed: hallowtide, Bartholemewtide, Christmastide, Eastertide, Hocktide, Hollantide, Lammastide, Whitsuntide, Yuletide, vespertide, underntide, twelfthtide, michaelmastide, morrowtide . . . the list goes on and on. In fact, I suspect that a millennium ago, any word that would today end with "time" would have ended with "tide" instead. I've started adapting this in my own life, in fact. I now have snacktide and bedtide and peanut butter jellytide. True story.



February 26, 2008

Q: In the past, release promo cards have been uncommon (Azorius Guildmage, Sudden Shock, Shriekmaw, etc.) but Morningtide's is a rare. What prompted this change?
–Ian, Bellevue, WA, USA

A: From Aaron Forsythe, director of Magic R&D:

The success of Tenth Edition's Game Day made us (R&D, Brand, Organized Play, Sales, the whole darned company more or less) take a look at better supporting events that happened in stores as opposed to just those that happen in large convention halls. To that end, we "rebranded" the former "Release Events" as "Launch Parties" and changed the participation reward for them from an uncommon to a rare. It's not that big a deal for us to give out a slightly better prize; what we really want to see is more players going to and supporting their local stores. Shadowmoor and Eventide will continue the rare prizes for Launch Parties with some pretty sexy cards, if I do say so myself!



February 25, 2008 – Magic Rules Corner

Q: How does the Reveillark / Body Double combo work? I can't seem to figure it out.
–Anthony, Washington, D.C., USA

A: From the Magic Rules Corner:

The combo you're referring to uses Reveillark, Body Double, and a sacrifice outlet to bring Body Double back from the graveyard as many times as you want, bringing some other creature along for the ride each time. Let's take a look at how the combo works.

 

Reveillark
Body Double

Reveillark says, "When Reveillark leaves play, return up to two target creature cards with power 2 or less from your graveyard to play." The core of the combo revolves around the fact that, while Reveillark can't bring itself back from the graveyard, it can bring back Body Double, whose printed power is 0—and that Body Double can then copy the Reveillark in the graveyard. This means that when a Body Double that's copying a Reveillark goes to the graveyard, you can choose that same Body Double as one of the target creatures. All you'll need is a way to put Reveillark / Body Double in the graveyard at will. Nantuko Husk will do fine, but the more complicated version of the combo uses Mirror Entity. Here's the simpler version with Nantuko Husk:

 

  1. Start with Nantuko Husk and Body Double (copying Reveillark) in play and another creature in your graveyard. (Reveillark will normally be in your graveyard as well.)
  2. Sacrifice Body Double (copying Reveillark) to pay for Nantuko Husk's ability.
  3. Body Double (copying Reveillark)'s "leaves play" ability triggers. Body Double is now in the graveyard, and its power is 0, so it's a legal target for the ability. Choose Body Double and another creature as the targets.
  4. Return Body Double and the other creature to play. Body Double copies Reveillark. If the other creature has a "comes into play" ability, it triggers.
  5. Sacrifice the other creature to Nantuko Husk's ability. If the other creature has a "leaves play" ability, it triggers.
  6. You're now back where you started (except Nantuko Husk is bigger). Go back to step 1 and repeat as many times as desired.

 

Mirror Entity

The Mirror Entity variant works a little differently:

 

  1. Start with Mirror Entity and Body Double (copying Reveillark) in play and another creature in your graveyard.
  2. Figure out how many times you want to repeat the loop.
  3. Activate Mirror Entity with X = 0, but don't pass priority afterward. It's normal to pass priority after playing a spell or ability, giving your opponent a chance to respond, but you always have the option to retain priority (in fact, that's the default—see rule 409.1i). On Magic Online, hold the CTRL key while you play the spell or ability. In paper Magic, simply announce that you're retaining priority.
  4. Repeat step 3, activating Mirror Entity as many times as you want to repeat the loop, retaining priority each time. There's no such thing as infinity in Magic—you have to announce how many times you're doing something. You can, however, choose any number for this. When you're done, pass priority. Assuming your opponent has no responses, here's what will happen:
  5. The first activation of Mirror Entity resolves, making all of your creatures 0/0. Mirror Entity and Body Double (copying Reveillark) go to the graveyard for having 0 toughness (along with any other creatures you control). It doesn't matter that Mirror Entity is now in the graveyard—all of the activations are still on the stack and will still resolve.
  6. Body Double (copying Reveillark)'s "leaves play" ability triggers. Body Double is now in the graveyard, and its power is 0, so it's a legal target for the ability. Choose Body Double and another creature as the targets.
  7. Return Body Double and the other creature to play. Body Double copies Reveillark. If the other creature has a "comes into play" ability, it triggers.
  8. The next activation of Mirror Entity resolves, making all of your creatures 0/0. Body Double (copying Reveillark) and the other creature are put into the graveyard for having 0 toughness. If the other creature has a "leaves play" ability, it triggers.
  9. Repeat steps 6 through 8 each time Mirror Entity's activated ability resolves.

In either variant, the net result is that Body Double (copying Reveillark) and another creature go to your graveyard, return to play, and go back to your graveyard as many times as you want. Actually winning the game with this interaction we leave as an exercise for the reader.

The Magic Rules Corner is a weekly feature dedicated to answering your rules questions. For more help with Magic rules, check out the rules page and the Rules Q&A Forum.



February 22, 2008

Q: So let's say you are journeying to a remote Tropical Island. Upon your arrival, you are astonished to discover that it is inhabited -- by the survivors of a 1993 shipwreck who have been happily playing with Alpha for the last fifteen years, blissfully unaware of every card that has been printed since that time. You are a practical traveler, so you naturally have a copy of every Magic card ever made in your backpack. What is the first card that you show these people?
–Ira

A: From Ken Nagle, Magic R&D:

Dear Ira,

Having endured the traumatic experience of having a thousand Magic cards spoiled all at once (which is what happens when you get hired by R&D and have to catch up with all the future sets R&D is about to release or is still working on), it would definitely be unfun to subject these players to such a nightmare. Magic cards are released in more 'digestible' one-set chunks for good reason.

The first new card shouldn't be brain-melting – no Mindslaver or Time Stop, cards that (in my opinion) appeal more to designers than to players. 'Strictly better' cards may or may not appeal, depending on the player. Planeswalkers have flavor and power but require the most rules explanation of any potential choice.
The card that screams loudest to me off the top of my head for this role is Elvish Champion. These players have presumably experienced Lord of Atlantis + Merfolk of the Pearl Trident and Goblin King + Goblin Balloon Brigade + Mons's Goblin Raiders (this is actually the entire list of combos). "Elf-matters" is an axis they would immediately understand, enjoy, and could drop right into a deck they already have (Llanowar Elves + Elvish Archers).

The two other candidates I thought of while writing this were Lightning Helix and an equipment card, likely Nightmare Lash.



February 21, 2008

Q: How come the red, black and blue shapeshifters have activated abilities that require mana to get a "french vanilla" ability while the white and green shapeshifters have the abilities for free?
–Raynell

A: Mike Turian, Morningtide lead developer, Magic R&D:

Hi Raynell,

The shapeshifters you are referring to started out as enchantments that would wake up for 1 mana. For example Game-Trail Changeling was 3GG, Enchantment, G: Game-Trail Changeling becomes a 4/4 creature with trample until end of turn. While I enjoyed this twist on Changeling, it meant that these cards wouldn't get bonuses from so many of the cards in Morningtide. For instance, the Bannerets wouldn't make them cost less and cards like Bramblewood Paragon wouldn't give out their +1/+1 counters. As enchantments they weren't working out well.

Once we turned them into creatures it was no longer necessary to maintain all of their activated abilities. Deathtouch and First Strike are both abilities that are interesting to be able to activate or not. We wanted Mothdust Changeling to help out Merfolk by giving them another way to tap creatures. Changeling Sentinel and Game-Trail Changeling were both made static abilities because Vigilance and Trample are fairly restrictive abilities and therefore didn't need activation.



February 20, 2008

Q: When do the Shadowmoor previews start?
––Niklas, Fredrikstad, Ostfold, Norway

A: From Monty Ashley, Web Site Manager:

Shadowmoor previews start on March 31.

...

That didn't seem like much of an answer, did it? I mean, it answered your question with the pertinent information, but it was really terse. How about this: I can tell you that before the regular Shadowmoor previews start (on March 31), there will be two sneak-previewy things. But I won't tell you when those will be. I'm pretty sure you'll know them when you see them.

That's better.



February 19, 2008

Q: I'm an amateur programmer myself, so I enjoyed Monty Ashley's recent response regarding the website's macros. It occurred to me that if the writers enclosed all official card titles in square brackets, or something similar, then your macros would be able to positively identify everything that needs to be linked. Just a thought.
–Adrian, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

A: From Kelly Digges, editor of magicthegathering.com:

Actually, that idea came up this weekend as I was editing coverage for Pro Tour–Kuala Lumpur. It seems that several of our coverage writers have written for other sites where they do exactly that to mark out autocard links—and wanted to say how nice it is that they don't have to do that for us. The system you describe would have distinct advantages, as you say, but it would mean that writers—or, ahem, editors—would have to find every card name in an article (of which there are frequently more than fifty) and type brackets around them (with no errors, or time reserved for errors to be caught later). The simplicity is appealing, but the time and effort, we feel, are better spent elsewhere (like, you know catching the occasional wacky things our autocard macro does...).



February 18, 2008 – Magic Rules Corner

Q: Because Murmuring Bosk is a forest, does this mean it's a basic land? Does this mean that creatures that destroy non-basic lands, or gain power/toughness based on the presence of non-basic lands are not affected by or can not affect Murmuring Bosk? Most importantly: can you have more than 4 of them in a given deck?
–Drew, Brampton, ON, Canada

A: From the Magic Rules Corner:

The short answer is no. Forest is a land subtype that grants the ability to tap for green mana. Basic is a supertype that serves as a tag for certain abilities and lets you put any number of copies of certain cards in your deck. Basic and Forest are often found together right on the type line:

 

Forest
Snow Covered Forest

However, there are also some Forests that aren't basic:

 

Breeding Pool

Note the lack of the word "basic" on Murmuring Bosk and Breeding Pool (although note also that this is unreliable for older cards). Being a Forest doesn't make Murmuring Bosk basic, nor does being a ForestIsland make Breeding Pool basic. When an effect looks for basic lands, it means exactly that—lands with the supertype basic. When an effect looks for nonbasic lands, it means lands without that supertype. And when an effect looks for Forests, it means lands with the Forest subtype, regardless of whether they are basic or not.

In other words, Treefolk Harbinger can go get a Murmuring Bosk, but Wanderer's Twig can't. Boggart Loggers and Incendiary Command can both destroy it. And like all cards other than basic lands (okay, and Relentless Rats), you are definitely limited to 4 of them in a deck.

On the plus side, it's the only three-color-producing land that triggers Battlewand Oak, and that definitely counts for something.

The Magic Rules Corner is a weekly feature dedicated to answering your rules questions. For more help with Magic rules, check out the rules page and the Rules Q&A Forum.



February 15, 2008

Q: With all of the talk of creature types and flavor, I have to ask, has the creative team ever considered doing half-breed creatures? An "Elf Human Warrior" for a half-elf, for example? Half-breeds tend to be something of a staple in other fantasy settings, after all.
–Brandon, Florence, KY, USA

A: From Brady Dommermuth, Magic creative director:

Oh, the poor, poor type line. So important, so full of possibility, so . . . very . . . small. We have talked a little about creatures of more than one race, Brandon, but never for long. That's because the type line is simply too small to accommodate a full execution of such a plan, and we'd rather not do it at all than do it halfway (because halfway would involve lots of arbitrary decisions that wouldn't make sense to players).

The brevity of the type line has been the deciding factor in a number of weird issues over the years. For example, when we were streamlining the rules for the Sixth Edition release, some were excited by the possibility of turning the type line into a "keyword line"—for example, the type line of Bladewing the Risen might have looked like this:

 

Creature • Legendary • Dragon • Zombie • [Flyer] • [Reanimator] • [Male]

To use a more current example, to be as true to the Time Spiral block character Radha, Heir to Keld as we possibly could, her hypothetical keyword line would be quite long:

 

Creature • Legendary • Human • Elf • Warrior • Druid• [Keldon] • [Female]

The terms in brackets would appear or not depending on how much information each of us thought the type line should contain. Some thought it would be a way to clean up the text box, for example, by moving simple keyword abilities there. Obviously, all this thinking happened very early on in the process, during an "anything goes" brainstorming period. We quickly sobered up, though, when we realized how few words the type line could hold, as well as how ugly and labor-intensive it would be to allow the type line to expand vertically to accommodate more terms.



February 14, 2008

Q: In his article Magic Style Guide (Part 1.5), Matt Cavotta has the best representation of the color wheel I've seen. Is there a link to a larger version of it, so I can read all of the elements on it more clearly? Thanks.
–Eddie, Lexington, VA, USA

A: From Kelly Digges, editor of magicthegathering.com:

Even before I called up that article, I knew exactly which image of the color wheel you meant. It’s a memorable one. Although it’s since been supplanted by the version from the Tenth Edition starter game (which shows the relationships between the colors with less complexity but has the advantage of including art to get a feel for the colors right away), because of its complexity it remains an intriguing way of viewing the color wheel. Here it is:

Click through to rotate the wheel so that each color is on top. It's easier than rotating your computer screen! The red text will appear upside down, but that's just because red is so crazy and chaotic! Or something.

And since I mentioned it, here’s the color wheel from the Tenth Edition starter game:



February 13, 2008

Q: While looking through Morningtide, I noticed that two "job" creature types in Lorwyn didn't get a lord in Morningtide. I understand that Advisor had only Gaddock Teeg, which means that you would have to toss in a lot of Advisors in Morningtide to have the lord make sense. However, Scout also not supported. Before Morningtide, Scouts had as many members as Assassins, who did get a lord. Why?
–Sawin, USA

A: From Ken Nagle, Magic R&D:

First of all, inserting a Cleric, Druid, Archer, Knight, and Assassin Lord into Morningtide was a momentous feat in itself due to their controversy. But yes, we did in fact have both Advisor and Scout on the table for inclusion. At the time, the cycle of Harbingers (like Elvish Harbinger) in Lorwyn were all Advisors, which gave Advisors more momentum than just Gaddock Teeg. However, these advisors were pidgeon-holed into tribal decks already. Similarly, Scouts only had a minor landwalking connection. In the end, having weaker flavor and being squeezed by the numbers denied Advisors and Scouts the love we Great Designers fought to give the Cleric, Druid, Archer, Knight, and Assassin tribes.

Funky tribe decks are still possible via changelings and "choose a creature type" and "share a creature type" technology. When all was said and done, getting an Archer Lord printed was akin to moving mountains; getting an Advisor lord printed would take moving planets.



February 12, 2008

Q: Besides from the obvious, are there words that you will never use for card titles?
–Charles, Raleigh, NC, USA

A: From Doug Beyer, Magic creative writer:

That depends on what you consider obvious, Charles!

Very few words are taboo for inclusion on Magic cards, but there are a few reliable categories we watch out for. Some are considered vulgar, so those are out (forgive me if I don't list out the relevant bunch of cuss words here). Some words are out due to being gender-specific—we try to steer clear of words like "sorceress," "man-at-arms," "queen," "bowman," that sort of thing. (When you summon a Benalish Hero, you get just that—Magic doesn't care what gender you are, as long as you kick butt.) Some words are out because they're anachronistic and/or inappropriate references to real-world technology or culture. (Like "Gatling gun," a particular type of gun invented by Richard Gatling. Calling something in Magic a Gatling Gunner would be like naming a creature Coca-Cola Drinker.) Some words are too obscure or hard to say, although we'll put just about any dictionary word in a card name—even words that are only in the old, dusty dictionary that you can only find in the back of the antique books store with the crotchety, half-crazed proprietor who's probably a witch.

Beyond that, there are a host of other factors that can kill a potential card name—mechanical confusion, setting incompatibility, creature type contradiction, and more. If there were an article called "Name Killers" on this web site—and I'm not saying there is, but hey, you know, if—I might expect it to be about that very topic.

Finally, Charles, we'll never use the word floopnamble on a Magic card. It knows why.

*shakes fist*



February 11, 2008 – Magic Rules Corner

Q: I attack with Preeminent Captain with a Veteran's Armaments in play. I put a Mosquito Guard into play attacking with the Cap's ability and attach the Armaments to it. Does the Armaments' ability trigger and give the Guard a bonus?
–Brendan, Coeur d'Alene, ID, USA

A: From the Magic Rules Corner:

Well, there's good news and there's bad news. The bad news is that the answer is no—while you can attach the Veteran's Armaments to the freshly tapped-and-attacking Mosquito Guard, the attack trigger granted by Veteran's Armaments will not trigger. The good news is that if the Veteran's Armaments is already attached to a creature that attacked and triggered that ability—say, that Preeminent Captain—that creature will, or at least can, count the Mosquito Guard in its bonus. That's because the Mosquito Guard is attacking, but it didn't attack. Wha...? We'll explain.

 

Preeminent Captain
Veteran's Armaments

In Magic, "attack," as a verb, has a very specific meaning: to be assigned as an attacker during the declare attackers step. Creatures that are put into play tapped and attacking—such as Ninjas put into play with their ninjutsu ability, Preeminent Captain's backup buddies, or the Kithkin Soldier tokens from Militia's Pride—are attacking creatures, but for the purposes of attack triggers, they never attacked, as outlined in rule 308.4. This also means that Preeminent Captain and Militia's Pride do not combo as well as you might like with Windbrisk Heights, which only counts creatures that were assigned as attackers.

A similar rule applies to creatures put into play blocking, such as the token from Flash Foliage. It's blocking, but it never blocked. Strange but true!

But as we said, the good news is that you can get your new attacking creature to "count" for other attack triggers that count up attacking creatures, such as that of Cenn's Heir or a creature equipped with Veteran's Armaments. Put the Cenn's Heir / Veteran's Armaments trigger on the stack first, followed by the ability that's going to put a creature into play tapped and attacking. The second ability will resolve first, so when the first ability resolves, it will "see" the new creature. This is similar in concept to the trigger-stacking in a previous Rules Corner involving Briarhorn and Pandemonium—since you control all the triggers, you can stack them in the order you want. (And note that since Veteran's Armaments grants the triggered ability to the creature, you control all the triggers here even if the Veteran's Armaments is controlled by someone else.)

Not exactly simple, but there you have it!

The Magic Rules Corner is a weekly feature dedicated to answering your rules questions. For more help with Magic rules, check out the rules page and the Rules Q&A Forum.



February 08, 2008

Q: Is there a name for the creature Nath of the Gilt-Leaf is riding, or is it just a random steed?
–Doma, Crest Hill, IL, USA

A: From Jenna Helland, Magic creative designer:

Hi Doma,

That's a cervin—an elf's first choice in transportation. Prized for their beauty and gentle temperament, cervins are graceful deer-like animals that remain calm during combat. Cervins roam wild in the Gilt-Leaf and are easily trained, but elves prefer to ride a pure-bred domestic over a wild-born animal. When breeding cervins, the elves track bloodlines, and the most perfect mounts are gifts to the most perfect elves.

Nath of the Gilt-Leaf

Some elves who are lower in the social hierarchy ride vinebred cervins because they're deemed more acceptable than riding a flawed cervin.

Reins of the Vinesteed


February 07, 2008

Q: Hello, I have a question about draft on nationals. Since Lorwyn and Shadowmoor are two different blocks, which of these are we going to draft?
–Ivan, USA

A: From Scott Larabee, DCI program manager:

Hi, Ivan. The country coordinators in each region will determine which mix will be used at each country's Nationals. For smaller countries that have only one draft, only Shadowmoor / "Doughnut" will be drafted. For Nationals that have two drafts, country coordinators can choose to have both drafts be Shadowmoor / "Doughnut" or to have one Lorwyn / Morningtide and one Shadowmoor / "Doughnut" draft. To see which mix will be used at your National Championships, keep checking for the fact sheet for your country at the Magic Nationals Page.



February 06, 2008

Q: I have noticed in various articles the set after Shadowmoor being referred to as both "Donut" and "Doughnut." What's the proper spelling of the codename?
–Eric, Hamden, CT, USA

A: From Kelly Digges, editor of magicthegathering.com:

The proper spelling is "Doughnut," as senior editor Del Laugel has consistently reminded people throughout the set's time in R&D. In fact, R&D members who use the improper spelling have doubtless had a hard time finding the set at all, given its expansion code (DOU). I've tried to adhere to the proper spelling consistently when the set's codename has appeared here on the site. I can find only one article on the site where it's spelled "Donut," and that was a simple oversight on my part.

But wait, you might find yourself saying, nuts to the codename! Shouldn't we know the real name by now?

To which I might reply: Watch that attitude, bucko.

Of course, that's not entirely fair, especially given that I put those words in your mouth in the first place, so I'd probably add: Good question. Stay tuned.

For more about "Doughnut" (formerly "Sandwich"), you might (re)read Mark Rosewater's pre-Lorwyn article Two Plus Two.



February 05, 2008

Q: I was looking at the Morningtide cards on the Morningtide minisite and began to wonder how exactly decide between creature types such as "warrior" and "soldier", or between "wizard" and "shaman". These creature classes seem very similar, and I would be interested to learn what factors are taken into account when choosing a creature's class.
–Tom, Stone, Staffordshire, UK

A: From Brady Dommermuth, Magic creative director:

Tom, first I'll point to my 12/18/07 Ask Wizards response, which lays the groundwork for your question! Shaman and Wizard are meant to demonstrate differences between the five colors in the same way that Warrior and Soldier are. Whereas Warrior and Soldier are the fighting classes, Shaman and Wizard are the casting classes, and their distribution across the colors is the same: Shamans tend to be red- and/or green-aligned, Wizards tend to be blue- and/or white-aligned, and black "casters" can go either way depending on black's cultures in a given setting.

Because the so-called "race-class model" wasn't enacted until 2002 or so, those color distributions get fuzzier as you go back through Magic's history. Some posters on our message boards have pointed out, for example, that past cards include a fairly high number of red-aligned Soldiers. Generally speaking, though, the logic above guides our creature-type decisions going forward.

The basic guidelines for these four class types (soldier, wizard, warrior, shaman) can change depending on a particular block's structure or setting. For example, in Lorwyn, creature types were assigned not along color lines but along tribal lines instead. I thought it would help each tribe's flavor to have either Warriors or Soldiers, and either Shamans or Wizards, not both. So, for example, although black can go either way on both the fighter and caster types, it goes one way for the fae and the other way for the boggarts. It gets a little stranger for the tribes that bridge "enemy" colors such as Treefolk and Giants. Treefolk are Warriors and Shamans because those types best fit their culture in my opinion. But Giants were designed to be iconoclastic, idiosyncratic, and individualistic, so their fighters are all Warriors, but their casters include both Wizards and Shamans.



February 4, 2008 – Magic Rules Corner

Q: If I make Mutavault into a creature, and it dies, but comes back into play via Crucible of Worlds, would it still be a creature? What about through returning it through a Recollect then normal play?
–Scott, Alexandria, Virginia, USA

A: From the Magic Rules Corner:

 

Mutavault

Whenever anything becomes something else in Magic, there's potential for mischief. The short answers here are "no" and "no," because any time anything leaves play and then returns, it's treated by the game as something entirely new. This is true whether it goes to the graveyard and is put back into play; goes to the graveyard and is played from the graveyard; goes to the graveyard, returns to the hand, and is played normally; is returned to its owner's hand from play and then replayed; is removed from the game and immediately returned, such as by Momentary Blink (it's been a while, but we worked in Momentary Blink again); is removed from the game and returned to play later that turn, such as by Astral Slide; or is removed from the game and returned at some later time, such as by Supreme Exemplar's champion ability or the "storage" ability of Colfenor's Urn.

Because it's treated as a new object, a Mutavault that becomes a creature, leaves play, and then returns to play will not be a creature—its ability will have to be activated again.

(The one exception to this involves the old phasing ability—when something phases out and then phases back in, it's still treated as the same thing. This is one of those reasons why phasing was retired.)

While we're on the subject, that fact that Mutavault (and other "manlands" such as Treetop Village) is "naturally" a land but can become a creature results in all kinds of strange stuff even just in Lorwyn block.

For one thing, it's interesting to note that there's no rule that says that +1/+1 counters have to be on creatures. Thus, as mentioned in a recent Card of the Day, you can pile +1/+1 counters on your Mutavault while it's a creature (say, with Incremental Growth or Immaculate Magistrate), and they'll still be there to make it bigger the next time you turn it into a creature. (They will not, however, do anything while it's not a creature—it'll just be a land with +1/+1 counters on it, which is funny but doesn't accomplish anything).

Weirder: say a Shapesharer turns itself into a copy of Mutavault while the Mutavault is a creature. Shapesharer copies everything that's printed on Mutavault, but it doesn't copy any effects that are affecting that Mutavault—such as its own ability that turned it into a creature. This means that the Shapesharer will become a copy of Mutavault that's not a creature (but can still be turned into one as normal), which is a pretty weird way of dodging any removal, such as Shriekmaw or Tarfire, that was aimed at Shapesharer as a target creature.

The Magic Rules Corner is a weekly feature dedicated to answering your rules questions. For more help with Magic rules, check out the rules page and the Rules Q&A Forum.



February 1, 2008

Q: One thing MaRo goes on about is the fact that R&D now tries to make blocks connected. The first block to do this was Ravnica. It obviously supported Kamigawa. Time Spiral had some obvious support for Ravnica in having multiple dual lands and interesting multicolor card. Now I know that the R&D idea wasn't formed when Kamigawa was released, so I ask this: What are some of the cards in Ravnica that supported Time Spiral's themes?
–Sawin

A: From Mark Rosewater, Magic head designer:

Sawin,

The key to creating interblock synergy is making sure that the themes can cross-pollinate. The more linear a theme (that is, the more a theme requires particular cards to work) the more that theme needs to be pre-laid into the previous block. This is why, for instance, we had to make sure that the eight supported races of Lorwyn (well, and the five supported classes of Morningtide, but that was a gimme) showed up in Time Spiral block. Since both Ravnica's two-color theme and Time Spiral's nostalgia theme were very modular (the themes didn't beget narrow card choices) we didn't need to be as blunt in creating synergy. This means there are a lot of tiny nudges throughout all the expansions pushing towards the block before and after but no large overarching themes were needed.

Since you asked for examples, the best ones I can think of are creating Izzet's "instants and sorceries matter" theme knowing that we had mechanics like buyback, flashback and storm coming and putting hellbent into Rakdos in Dissension knowing that madness was around the bend. Some of the themes like thallids and Saprolings came later in the process but we knew that it would blend nicely into Selesnya's army building theme and play well with convoke. The key is that Ravnica / Time Spiral synergy required a lighter touch than Time Spiral / Lorwyn synergy.

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