Watch Out for Two-Headed Giants!

Posted in Feature on March 14, 2008

By Devin Low

In a Magic world like Lorwyn or Dominaria, "Watch out for two-headed giants!" is just plain good advice. But in Magic development, the advice is just as sound. It's easy to find yourself focusing on two-player Magic during development, and that is how we test most often. But it's also important for us to make fun cards for Two-Headed Giant (2 vs. 2), Emperor (3 vs. 3), Free-for-All, and other multiplayer Magic formats, and we make that a high priority. For more about Two-Headed Giant, see the sidebar below.

One of many times these topics come up is late in a set's development, when developers are working with the set's editor to finalize the last little details of cards' rules text. Up until this point, it's easy to gloss over "Target opponent lose 2 life" and "Each opponent loses 2 life" as if they say the same thing, because in two-player Magic, they do mean the same thing. But once you're sitting at a six-person free-for-all table, the words "each opponent" and "target opponent" suddenly mean extremely different things.

We intentionally select which one of those multiplayer-relevant wordings we want on every single card where the opportunity appears. And the reasons to choose one wording over the other can be very subtle from card to card. Morningtide, for example, is packed full of cards that could have worked a couple of different ways in multiplayer Magic, and where we had certain reasons to select each multiplayer-relevant wording that we chose.

So this week, I'm going to let you be the Magic developer. I'm going to give you the chance to decide which multiplayer wording you think is best on a variety of Morningtide cards. Then I'll show you which one we actually picked and why.

Just remember, while making the card play well in multiplayer, you don't want to mess up one of your other priorities for the card's word choice:

  • You want the card to play well in two-player games.
  • You want the card to read naturally.
  • You want to keep the card's word count reasonably short.
  • You want to note how the card will interact with Shunt and Ivory Mask effects.
  • You want to maximize the card's flavor.

Not an easy task.

Ready to develop Morningtide? Then here we go:

Battletide Alchemist

Battletide Alchemist #1

3WW

Creature - Kithkin Cleric

3/4

If a source would deal damage to you, prevent X of that damage, where X is the number of Clerics you control.

Battletide Alchemist #2

3WW

Creature - Kithkin Cleric

3/4

If a source would deal damage to a player, you may prevent X of that damage, where X is the number of Clerics you control.

Have you made your choice? Click here.

Nightshade Schemers

Nightshade Schemers #1

4B

Creature - Faerie Wizard

3/2

Flying

Kinship - At the beginning of your upkeep, you may look at the top card of your library. If it shares a creature type with Nightshade Schemers, you may reveal it. If you do, target opponent loses 2 life.

Nightshade Schemers #2

4B

Creature - Faerie Wizard

3/2

Flying

Kinship - At the beginning of your upkeep, you may look at the top card of your library. If it shares a creature type with Nightshade Schemers, you may reveal it. If you do, each opponent loses 2 life.

Have you made your choice? Click here.

Greatbow Doyen

Greatbow Doyen #1

4G

Creature - Elf Archer

Other Archer creatures you control get +1/+1.

Whenever an Archer you control deals damage to a creature, that Archer deals that much damage to target player.

Greatbow Doyen #2

4G

Creature - Elf Archer

Other Archer creatures you control get +1/+1.

Whenever an Archer you control deals damage to a creature, that Archer deals that much damage to that creature's controller

.

Have you made your choice? Click here.

Burrenton Shield-Bearers

Burrenton Shield-Bearers #1

4W

Creature - Kithkin Soldier

3/3

Whenever Burrenton Shield-Bearers attacks, target creature gets +0/+3 until end of turn.

Burrenton Shield-Bearers #2

4W

Creature - Kithkin Soldier

3/3

Whenever Burrenton Shield-Bearers attacks, target creature you control gets +0/+3 until end of turn.

Have you made your choice? Click here.

Sage of Fables

Sage of Fables #1

2U

Creature - Merfolk Wizard

2/2

Each other Wizard creature you control comes into play with an additional +1/+1 counter on it.

2, Remove a +1/+1 counter from a creature you control: Draw a card.

Sage of Fables #2

2U

Creature - Merfolk Wizard

2/2

Each other Wizard creature comes into play with an additional +1/+1 counter on it.

2, Remove a +1/+1 counter from a creature you control: Draw a card.

Have you made your choice? Click here.

Cenn's Tactician

Cenn's Tactician #1

W

Creature - Kithkin Soldier

1/1

W, T: Put a +1/+1 counter on target Soldier creature you control.

Each creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it can block an additional creature.

Cenn's Tactician #2

W

Creature - Kithkin Soldier

1/1

W, T: Put a +1/+1 counter on target Soldier creature.

Each creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it can block an additional creature.

Have you made your choice? Click here.

Notorious Throng

Notorious Throng #1

3U

Tribal Sorcery - Rogue

Prowl 5U (You may play this for its prowl cost if you dealt combat damage to a player this turn with a Rogue.)

Put X 1/1 black Faerie Rogue creature tokens with flying into play, where X is the damage dealt to target player this turn. If Notorious Throng's prowl cost was paid, take an extra turn after this one.

Notorious Throng #2

3U

Tribal Sorcery - Rogue

Prowl 5U (You may play this for its prowl cost if you dealt combat damage to a player this turn with a Rogue.)

Put X 1/1 black Faerie Rogue creature tokens with flying into play, where X is the damage dealt to your opponents this turn. If Notorious Throng's prowl cost was paid, take an extra turn after this one.

Have you made your choice? Click here.

Revive the Fallen

Revive the Fallen #1

1B

Sorcery

Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand. Clash with an opponent. If you win, return Revive the Fallen to its owner's hand. (Each clashing player reveals the top card of his or her library, then puts that card on the top or bottom. A player wins if his or her card had a higher converted mana cost.)

Revive the Fallen #2

1B

Sorcery

Return target creature card in a graveyard to its owner's hand. Clash with an opponent. If you win, return Revive the Fallen to its owner's hand. (Each clashing player reveals the top card of his or her library, then puts that card on the top or bottom. A player wins if his or her card had a higher converted mana cost.)

Have you made your choice? Click here.

Gilt-Leaf Archdruid

Gilt-Leaf Archdruid #1

3GG

Creature - Elf Druid

3/3

Whenever you play a Druid spell, you may draw a card.

Tap seven untapped Druids you control: Gain control of all lands target player controls

.

Gilt-Leaf Archdruid #2

3GG

Creature - Elf Druid

3/3

Whenever you play a Druid spell, you may draw a card.

Tap seven untapped Druids you control: Gain control of all lands controlled by other players

.

Have you made your choice? Click here.

Boldwyr Heavyweights

Boldwyr Heavyweights #1

2RR

Creature - Giant Warrior

Trample

When Boldwyr Heavyweights comes into play, each opponent may search his or her library for a creature card and put it into play. Then each player who searched his or her library this way shuffles it.

Boldwyr Heavyweights #2

2RR

Creature - Giant Warrior

Trample

When Boldwyr Heavyweights comes into play, each other player may search his or her library for a creature card and put it into play. Then each player who searched his or her library this way shuffles it.

Have you made your choice? Click here.


Now you know what it means to "Watch out for two-headed giants!" in Magic development. I hope you've seen how even the tiniest details of these cards' wordings are actually made very intentionally, for a variety of subtle reasons, including maximizing the fun of Multiplayer Magic.

Last Week's Poll

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