Ask Wizards - October, 2004

Posted in Feature on October 1, 2004

By Wizards of the Coast

Ask Wizards

October 29, 2004

Q: "Dear Mark Rosewater,
Regarding your article 'The Top Ten Things You Dont Know About You Make the Card 3': I want to ask you if there is really no way to join this contest if i'm not an American resident? I'm an art school student from Amsterdam and I've always wanted to illustrate a Magic card. I would like to be given the chance. Is there a way that an exception could be made?"

A: From Mark Rosewater, Magic Head Designer:


"Unfortunately the answer is no. Here's what's going on. When I came up with the idea for 'You Make the Card #3' I ran it by our legal department. They informed me that by a strict legal definition it would be considered a contest with the prize being having your illustration show up on a Magic card. As such, it had to follow all the rules for how Wizards of the Coast runs contests on the Internet. One of those rules is that contests are only eligible for American citizens. I asked if we could make an exception. I was politely informed that the legal team doesn't do exceptions.

"We then had to decided whether or not this restriction was enough to change our plans. After much discussion, we came to the conclusion that the majority of the enjoyment of 'You Make the Card #3' was going to be the shaping of the card from a piece of art to a finished Magic card. Everyone, including our numerous non-American readers, would be able to particpate in this portion of the event. And so, we chose the lesser of two evils. I'm very sorry that we have to exclude non-Americans from the illustration portion of 'You Make the Card #3', but I believe doing it this way is preferable to not doing it at all."

- Mark Rosewater

October 28, 2004

Q: "I recently checked your restricted/banned list for the Vintage format and some cards that used to be on the list (such as Braingeyser, Fork, and Hurkyll's Recall) aren't now. Does that mean we can play four in a deck?"
- Aaron

A: From John Grant, DCI Policy Manager:

"Thank you for your email, Aaron.

"The DCI announces changes, or announces there are no changes, to the Magic: the Gathering Banned and Restricted (B & R) lists on March 1, June 1, September 1 and December 1. Any additions or deletions to the Restricted list for Vintage, and the Banned lists for Vintage, 'Type 1.5', Extended, Standard and Block formats are included in these announcements, and become effective the 20th of the same month.

"The most recent announcement is located here; Braingeyser and Fork were unrestricted in the September 2004 announcement; Hurkyl's Recall was unrestricted on April 1, 2003. (You can now use up to four of these cards in your Vintage deck.) You can find links to the most recent DCI announcements at

"The September 2004 Magic B & R Announcement includes other important information about the Vintage and 'Type 1.5' formats. Briefly, the changes are:

  • Type 1 is now called Vintage
  • 'Type 1.5' now has a Banned list independent of the Type 1 B & R list
  • 'Type 1.5' will be renamed soon (hence the use of quotes),
  • The ratings category that includes Vintage and 'Type 1.5' DCI-sanctioned tournaments is now called Eternal.

"Another fine Aaron, Mr. Forsythe, wrote a most excellent article regarding these recent changes."

October 27, 2004

Q: "What is the flavor behind flip cards?"
Plano, Texas, USA

A: From Brady Dommermuth, Magic Creative Director:

"The 'heroes,' as we call them, start off as normal creatures, but through some circumstance of your own imagining, they become legendary. The ability on the nonlegendary side of the card that enables you to flip it around represents the event(s) in the life of the creature that cause it to become a hero, a legend in Kamigawa history."

October 26, 2004

Q: "Why did you make it so that cards like Wrath of God will still harm creatures with Protection from White, or that something like Apocalypse will get rid of creatures with Protection from Red? Why not let the global effects affect the creatures with protection?"
Madison, Wisconsin, USA

A: From John Carter, Magic Rules Manager:

"Thanks for asking, Michael. There's really two answers: flavor and mechanics. The first thing to remember is that 'protection form X' doesn't mean 'X-proof' (in the real world we say stuff like 'fire retardant' rather than 'fireproof'). On the flavor side, if the heavens open up and all creatures are wiped out, it would be strange for a Wrath to play favorites. On the mechanics side, we define protection to apply to four areas (Damage, Enchantment/Equipment, Blocking, and Targeting-- 'DEBT'). This approach lets the game ask very specific questions (like 'is that source red?') so you get very specific answers. Otherwise, we'd have strange cases like Black Knights not getting the bonus from a Glorious Anthem or being able to swim the Moat. Once you realize that protection doesn't come with a lifetime warranty it makes a lot more sense when the Apocalypse comes."

October 25, 2004

Q: "I know that many people (especially noobies) would love to know which cards are banned, restricted, and limited. I am making an Extended goblin deck, and read somewhere that 'Goblin Recruiter', 'Goblin Lackey', and 'Goblin Ringleader' were not allowed to played. I would like to know two things... 1) Are they allowed to be played? 2) Do you have a page on your site that has a list of Restricted/Limited/Banned Cards?"
Concord, Ontario, Canada

A: From Doug Beyer, Web Developer:

"Hi Michael. For a quick answer to your first question, Goblin Lackey and Goblin Recruiter are indeed banned in Extended tournaments. Goblin Ringleader, however, is perfectly legal.

"Now for your second question. There are a couple ways to find out whether a card is banned or restricted in a given format. The first way is to go to the Banned / Restricted Lists page. You can find a link to that page on the home page in the Rules box, lower left. There's also a link to it from the Tournament Center under 'Resources for Tournament Players, Organizers and Judges,' about midway down the page.

"You can also find out about cards' banned and restricted status in Gatherer (and this is my personal favorite way, but I may be a bit biased). Type in a search term and select 'Banned/Restricted Cards' under 'Show only cards in this group.'

"Hope that helps, and good luck with the deck!"

October 22, 2004

Q: "How do you pronounce 'Krovikan' please?"
Barrie, Ontario, Canada

A: From Brandon Bozzi, Magic R&D:


October 21, 2004

Q: "Approximately how many emails do you receive each day to consider for your daily 'Ask Wizards' column?"
Dallas, TX USA

A: From Scott Johns, Content Manager:

"Currently I get anywhere from 75 to 100 questions on a given day that go specifically to Ask Wizards, though that number can fluctuate quite a bit from week to week. However, before we added the webform-based feedback system the Ask Wizards inbox was getting an astounding amount of spam sent to it, on the order of hundreds and hundreds of spam emails each day. With the new system spam is down to zero, so it's now far easier to select questions for Ask Wizards, since the only thing we get from that address now is questions specifically for this area."

October 20, 2004

Q: "What sets will be legal after the next Extended rotation?"
-- Fernando
Osorno, Chile

A: From John Grant, DCI Policy Manager:

"Many thanks for your question, Fernando. This is how Extended rotates:

"Every three years, three blocks (nine sets) of cards rotate out of Extended on the same day as the scheduled Standard rotation. The first implementation of this Extended rotation occurs on October 20, 2005. On that date, a new set, code-named Control, will rotate into the Extended environment. The format's three oldest blocks, Rath Block (Tempest, Stronghold, Exodus), Urza Block (Urza's Saga, Urza's Legacy, Urza's Destiny), and Masques Block (Mercadian Masques, Nemesis and Prophecy) will rotate out.

"Base sets released during the same period as a departing block also rotate out of Extended. For example, Sixth Edition, also known as Classic, was released during Urza Block and will rotate out of Extended on October 20, 2005.

"This rotation explanation will be included in the January 2005 Magic: the Gathering Floor Rules.

"Note that when Control becomes available for Magic Online in November 2005, “Online Extended” and “paper Extended” will be identical formats.

"So, finally, an answer to your question, Fernando -- the card sets that will be legal in the Extended format on October 20, 2005:"

  • Seventh Edition
  • Eighth Edition
  • Ninth Edition (to be released Summer, 2005)
  • Invasion
  • Planeshift
  • Apocalypse
  • Odyssey
  • Torment
  • Judgment
  • Onslaught
  • Legions
  • Scourge
  • Mirrodin
  • Darksteel
  • Fifth Dawn
  • Champions of Kamigawa
  • Betrayers of Kamigawa
  • Saviors of Kamigawa
  • Code name: Control

October 19, 2004

Q: "I've always wondered how much refreshments (especially coffee) the Magic R&D consumes every day. Are there some who manage to do their Magical work without the magic of caffeine?"
Raisio, Finland

A: From Paul Sottosanti, Magic R&D:

"Hey Lauri,

"Thanks for the question. We debated for some time and came up with the following list:

Top Five Most Caffeinated R&D Members

  1. Richard Garfield
  2. Randy Buehler
  3. John Carter
  4. Henry Stern
  5. Mons Johnson

"Richard is included at the top of this list not just for the name dropping factor, but because I'm told he likes caffeine more than all of R&D put together. When asked about the creator of Magic, Mark Rosewater paused, then answered, "Well, I've known Richard about nine or ten years, and...well, how about this. His email used to be How's that?" Randy surely needs his caffeine more than ever after the birth of his daughter. John Carter, when asked how much he'd had today, replied that he was working on his third soda and his fourth cup of hot chocolate. Henry Stern, longtime Magic developer, and Mons Johnson, leader of a little known group of goblin raiders, also qualified due to almost daily coffee consumption.

"As a bonus, we also compiled the opposite list:

Top Five Least Caffeinated R&D Members

  1. Mark Gottlieb
  2. Matt Place
  3. Paul Barclay
  4. Brian Schneider
  5. Me

"Our very own evil genius, Mark Gottlieb, learned at Evil Camp that alcohol, meat, and caffeine all blunt your mental capabilities. His dedication to the quest for world domination means that he's sworn off all three. Matt Place starts each morning off with a few laps around the mana pool, so doesn't need the artificial stimulation. It's interesting to note that the previous Rules Manager, Paul Barclay, falls at third on this list while his replacement John Carter has an equal standing on the other one. Who knew that Rules Manager could be such a stressful job? In any case, John was then quoted as saying, "If I ever leave this position, I'll probably retire from caffeine as well." Paul and Brian both have the occasional soy hot chocolate at Starbucks, but keep it fairly light. And as for me, I seem to be immune to the stuff, and coffee tastes, well, terrible, so there's not much point.

"So you could argue that the people who do partake in the magic of caffeine do better Magical work than the ones who don't, but some of us might disagree.

"Your choice."

October 18, 2004

Q: "In an article by Mark Rosewater, he mentioned that Norse mythology was ruled out because sets had already touched on it. I was just wondering what some of the cards and/or sets were?"
Kansas City, KS

A: From Mark Rosewater, Magic Head Designer:


"I was referring to Ice Age and Alliances, as those sets derived their theme from Scandinavian mythology and topography. The best example of a popular card that stems from this influence is the card Jokulhaups."

October 15, 2004

Q: "Will there be Unhinged previews like there are for 'normal' sets?"
Kernersville, NC, USA

A: From Mark Rosewater, Magic R&D:


"Yes, there will be. The only difference is that we're planning two weeks of previews instead of three. Previews will start on on Monday, November 8th."

October 14, 2004

Q: "Does R&D have to take Magic Online into account when designing cards now?"
-- Tom, Madison, USA

A: From Aaron Forsythe, Magic R&D:

"Since Magic Online has come into existence, we have created such wacky cards as the Burning Wish from Judgment; Mindslaver; and Boseiju, Who Shelters All. Each of these cards breaks new ground that very few people saw coming--even the Magic Online programmers. Granted, they weren't happy; we often get Alan Comer down here with his arms raised shouting, 'You can't be serious!' But in the end, the programmers manage to get it all to work somehow. I can imagine that there might be a mechanic somewhere that was impossible to do online, and at that time we'll have to have some sort of massive meeting of the minds in the company about what to do, but until then, we're designing whatever we want."

October 13, 2004

Q: "Has R&D ever considered bringing back the poison mechanic?"
-- JJ, Kirkland, Washington

A: From Mark Rosewater, Magic Head Designer:


"Yes, we have. And I believe (and remember I'm the guy in charge of Magic design) that one day we will bring it back. Not in the immediate future, but some day. If you are patient, you will be rewarded."

October 12, 2004

Q: "Would R&D ever consider asking players to make a set by themselves? Not a block or anything, just 1 set. I know it would take like 5 years for the best cards and to be de-broke-n-ized but don't you think it could be fun?"

A: From Mark Rosewater, Magic Head Designer:


"There are a number of problems with You Make the Set. The biggest is that set design requires a strong amount of interaction between the cards. There's no easy way to do this when each card is being designed by a different person. Add to this the logistical issues, the enormous amount of man hours, and the problem that the 'designers' of the set don't know anything about the sets that will come out before and after it, and we have a recipe for disaster. That said, we are planning to continue doing You Make the Card (in fact, You Make the Card #3 is just around the corner.) but I wouldn't hold out much hope for You Make the Set. Sorry."

October 11, 2004

Q: "With the addition of the new keywords, how many are considered currently "in use" by R&D and what are they?"
Bernard, Toronto, Canada

A: From Devin Low, Magic R&D:

"Hi Bernard,

"To answer your question, I went straight to the source: the Magic Comprehensive Rules. Or, rather, to Magic Rules Manager John 'State-Based Effects' Carter. John reminded me that the Comp Rules have a list of Magic keywords built right in. I’ve listed it below, bolding the keywords that appear in Onslaught-through-Fifth-Dawn standard, or in the new Champions of Kamigawa set. Remember, some abilities commonly considered keywords, like 'unblockable' or 'indestructible,' are technically just normal English language words with their normal English language meanings."

502. Keyword Abilities

  • 502.2. First Strike
  • 502.3. Flanking
  • 502.4. Flying
  • 502.5. Haste
  • 502.6. Landwalk
  • 502.7. Protection
  • 502.8. Shadow
  • 502.9. Trample
  • 502.10. Banding
  • 502.11. Bands with Other
  • 502.12. Rampage
  • 502.13. Cumulative Upkeep
  • 502.14. Vigilance
  • 502.15. Phasing
  • 502.16. Buyback
  • 502.17. Horsemanship
  • 502.18. Cycling
  • 502.19. Echo
  • 502.20. Fading
  • 502.21. Kicker
  • 502.22. Flashback
  • 502.23. Threshold
  • 502.24. Madness
  • 502.25. Fear
  • 502.26. Morph
  • 502.27. Amplify
  • 502.28. Double Strike
  • 502.29. Provoke
  • 502.30. Storm
  • 502.31. Affinity
  • 502.32. Entwine
  • 502.33. Equip
  • 502.34. Imprint
  • 502.35. Modular
  • 502.36. Scry
  • 502.37. Sunburst
  • 502.38. Bushido
  • 502.39. Soulshift
  • 502.40. Splice
  • 502.41. Defender

October 8, 2004

Q: "I was wondering... In Angel Week it was stated that an angel that was to be printed in Fifth Dawn would, instead, get printed in Champions of Kamigawa. Will we ever learn who that angel was? Will it be an angel in Champions or another creature type? If you don't want to answer before the Champions release it's ok but please let us know eventually because it's killing me... (I'm an angel fan!) Thank you!"
Athens, Greece

A: From Brian Tinsman, Magic R&D:

Hikari, Twilight Guardian


"You might be able to guess the answer now that you've seen the set: it's a 4/4 flying creature. It was originally concieved as an angel that would get temporarily removed from the game when an instant or sorcery was played, making it difficult to kill with any type of removal spells (in the tradition of Pristine Angel). As it left Fifth Dawn and came into Champions block we realized angels didn't really have a place in our Japanese-inspired setting, but it would make a great legend. We then changed it to a spirit and tweaked the ability for flavor reasons to trigger whenever its controller played a spirit or arcane spell. And that's how Hikari, Twilight Guardian came to be."

October 7, 2004

Q: "It seems as of late that people at Wizards have been fond of using new keywords for old and new effects. Some examples of this are the vigilance and defender keywords. Are you not afraid that this could hinder beginners because they now have to learn all these new keywords?"
Mississauga, Ontario, CAN

A: From Randy Buehler, Director of Magic R&D:

"It's a good question. We are constantly torn by the desire to make the game as easy to play as possible for beginners, while also keeping our expert-level players happy as well. Just about everyone we've gotten feedback from seems to like the idea of keywording abilities like vigilance because they know next year those keywords won't have reminder text anymore, and that will make the cards both more elegant (since they have less text junking them up) and also simpler to play with (since it's quicker to mentally parse 'vigilance' than 'CARDNAME does not tap to attack') and the chance might even allow us to do more interesting cards since we'll have more room for rules text. However, every time we add a new keyword it raises the bar on how much you need to know in order to learn how to play Magic.

"The good news is that we have an answer to this puzzle: we aim our Core Sets at new players and do our best to get them all to start with what we call 'Nth Edition.' One of the big differences between Core Sets and Expert-level sets is that every single keyword in the Core Set gets reminder text every time. That way new players will get to learn what all the basic Magic abilities (like flying, first strike, fear, and vigilance) actually do. Hopefully, by the time they move up to expert level sets they won't be confused when they run into a keyword like 'defender' and everybody just winds up happier than they have been."

October 6, 2004

Q: "Have you considered going back and adding the subtype 'Arcane' to previously released spells (like Arcane Denial perhaps)?"
Holbrook, New York

A: From Aaron Forsythe, Magic R&D:

"That would be a pretty random change. We don't like issuing weird errata, especially on cards that we aren't reprinting because there'd be no good way for people to know that the card worked differently. Plus, 'arcane' magic is practiced by the denizens of Kamigawa's spirit world, not by random mages in Kjeld, so that change doesn't make sense flavorfully, even based on the name. We normally like to make mechanics that work well with older cards, but unfortunately 'arcane' isn't one of those."

October 5, 2004

Q: "I don't really get the Scourge card, Scornful Egotist... its a 1/1 for 8 mana...I think that's waaaaaaay to expensive!"

A: From Brian Tinsman, Magic R&D:

"On the face of it, Scornful Egotist might seem like a ludicrous card. It's for a creature that you'd expect to cost . R&D does like to make 'bad' cards sometimes, but not THAT bad. Fortunately, the Egotist has morph, meaning you can always play it as a 2/2 creature for 3 mana. So it rarely gets stuck in your hand for long. Then you can pay at any time to turn it face up to its 1/1 version. But why would you want to? To answer that question you need to look at some other cards in the set. Take a look at Scourge commons like Rush of Knowledge and Torrent of Fire to see why you might want an 8 mana cost creature on turn 4 or 5."

October 4, 2004

Q: "When will you be posting the Champions of Kamigawa checklist on your web site?"
-- Ron C.

A: From Doug Beyer, Web Developer:

"The checklist is up now on the Champions product info page, which you can reach by going to the Champions of Kamigawa site and clicking the Product Information button."

October 1, 2004

Q: "Why is Magic Online frequently abbreviated as MODO? I've asked a number of friends and none of the could tell me. Thanks a lot!"
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

A: From Alan Comer, Magic Online programmer:

"'MODO' is a term standing for 'Magic Online with Digital Objects'. The term was used internally at Wizards for a while early on, and subsequently was shortened to its official name of 'Magic Online' or 'MTGO' for short. But occasionally, someone will use the old term."

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