Ask Wizards: 04/17/2012

Posted in Feature on April 17, 2012

By Wizards of the Coast

Ask Wizards is a weekly feature that allows you to ask us questions! If you'd like to submit your question please email it to We aren't able to answer every question we receive, but if your question is good, it might show up in the coming weeks! Additionally, you can ask questions via twitter using the #askwizards hashtag. We'll monitor that hashtag and pull the best questions to be answered!

Q: My store says it's capping their Helvault Prerelease at 32 players, but my friend told me the Helvault needs 54 players. What can I do?


A: From Trick Jarrett, editor of

We have been encouraging players to see if their store will let them preregister because we expect these events to be very popular.

The size of the prerelease is up to each individual store. They might only seat 32 players comfortably, or the fire-marshal might come knocking if they were to have more. Whatever the reason, stores can set their size.

What your friend heard is that the Helvault is optimized for 54 players. That means that what's inside the Helvault can be easily divided among 54 players. We wanted stores to understand the ideal size without revealing the contents.

If this was your sneaky way of finding out what's inside the Helvault, well, I'm sorry—but you'll have to just hang on and keep waiting.

Last week, Mark Rosewater took place in an AMA on Reddit. An "AMA" is "Ask Me Anything," which is a question and answer sort of event. He answered 205 questions during a six-hour sprint on Friday. Here are a few of the top questions and answers from his AMA.

I know R&D has done a lot to try to beef up green in the past few years, since it was suffering from a very narrow color identity. This has been quite successful, with a number of different kinds of green decks having shown up in the past few years—Elves, Birthing Pod, Primeval Titan decks, and so on.

However, another color has gotten narrower. Ever since the removal of Stone Rain from red, the color has become very narrow and one-dimensional in tournament play. It is now the color of nothing more than speedy aggro, with the occasional appearance of blue control decks using it for creature kill. Splinter Twin—a combo which R&D admits to having missed—is the lone exception to this in recent memory.

Is this R&D's intention, or are there plans in the works to give red other kinds of approaches? Can you give us any hints on what to expect from red in the future besides more cheap burn?

TheCid on /r/magictcg

A: From Mark Rosewater, Head Magic Designer

Let me start by clarifying that you are combining two color pie issues: what can each color do and what can each color do that development is willing to push for Constructed. I can talk a lot more about the first than the second as design is very involved with the overall color pie because we have so many cards to design but I am much less involved in what gets pushed for Constructed. As an example, red still has the ability to destroy lands. What has changed is R&D's willingness to aggressively cost land destruction.

All that said, I do agree that red has the narrowest slice overall of color pie. Red's schtick is that it gets things that have the widest execution meaning that red can do a few things that we can make a lot of cards out of—direct damage being the best example. Where red gets the most pinched right now is in common spells.

Red has enough option that it isn't hard designing creatures but red is very limited with spell options. That is why we've been looking for other things red can pick up. The most recent addition has been allowing red (and blue—it's not leaving blue) access to looting—aka drawing and discarding cards. As you will see when all the Avacyn Restored cards are public we've started to define how red looting is different from blue. (Hint: different order of the effects.)

As to what development is doing to broaden red's depth in Constructed, that's a little out of my area.

What basic rule of Magic do you wish you could eliminate or reinvent? What is stopping you?

netoholic on /r/magictcg

A: From Mark Rosewater, Head Magic Designer

My biggest regrets are things that are worked into the core of the game so even though we know how we could do them better, inertia keeps us from ever making the change.

As an example, if I could start the game over, there wouldn't be instants. Rather I would make instant a super type and put it on any card that can be cast at any time. Creatures with flash, for instance, would be Instant Creature. Instants as we know them would be Instant Sorceries.

This change has all sorts of ramifications that would allow design to do some neat things but we're passed the point where we can make that change.

So why can't we change it? If the game is going to live as long as I keep saying, why not bite the bullet and just change it? The same reasons cities don't tear up all their streets and redo them better. The upheaval is too much. It would drive players from the game and would create this sense that the game they used to play is not the same game now. This sense of continuity is crucial as our player patterns have players leaving and coming back all the time.

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