Posted in Latest Developments on September 13, 2002

By Randy Buehler

Following up on last week’s article about Onslaught and Extended in Magic Online ... there were several questions that I received numerous times so I’d like to just answer them here. The first one is easy: Is there a Macintosh version of Magic Online in the works? No. We don’t have one in the works and we don’t have plans for one at this time.

The question that came up by far the most was: When Onslaught rotates in, does that mean Invasion packs will no longer be for sale? We do plan to cut off Invasion sales at some point, but not just yet. In general, our plan is to have Magic Online product go “out of print” about the same time as its physical counterpart. However, since Invasion block hasn’t actually been on sale in Magic Online for its full two years, we’re going to leave it on sale a while longer. We will definitely make some sort of “last call” announcement that warns everybody before we stop selling it. No date has been set yet for when that will happen, but the timeframe can almost certainly be measured in months, not years.

Speaking of dates -- many of you probably already noticed this, but those of you who didn’t may be interested to know that we issued a press release since I wrote last week’s article that includes the official online release date for Onslaught. Packs will go on sale November 1st and Onslaught rotates into Standard and Extended on November 14th.

Finally, here’s the data from last week’s poll (Granted, some people who don't play or don't care may not have finished the article or voted):

Do you play Magic Online?
No, and I don't care about it 1122 24.7%
No, but I'm interested in it 666 14.7%
Not yet, but soon 681 15.0%
I used to 466 10.3%
Yes, a little 444 9.8%
Yes, a lot 1165 25.6%
Total 4544 100.0%

On to more morph mayhem!

I’ve been at Wizards for about three years now and in all that time I’ve only seen one playtest card torn into quarters and thrown across the room. That card, known as Ambush Spiker, became Disruptive Pitmage.


Disruptive Pitmage
It feels so good when you nail somebody with this guy. You’re sitting, trying to act calm, or better still, helpless. All I’ve got is a random face-down creature and a single lonely blue mana -- here’s your big chance to tap out for that enormous creature or game-breaking spell.


Morph might be my favorite mechanic of all time and a big part of the reason is those “gotcha” moments. Of course, some people take them better than others. Occasionally, someone whose been gotten may feel compelled to reach across the table and grab the offending morph creature, returning the pieces to you when they’re done. Oh, but that makes it feel even sweeter.

Better still is when you know you bluffed them. Against some players you can’t leave up just one blue mana because that’s a dead giveaway that your face-down dude is a Pitmage. You’ve got to leave up several mana, one of which just happens to be blue. You might even have to attack with it when you have a bunch of threatening green and white mana untapped so they’ll think it’s some big beater. They won’t bock because they don’t want their blocker to die but they will file away their guess about what large monster is on the other side of that card back. Oohh ... and then they tap out for Visara the Dreadful and your adrenaline starts pumping and you pull out your exaggerated windmill motion to flip over your guy... it feels so good.

All the bluffing possibilities of morph help make it a truly special mechanic in my opinion. It really didn’t change much in development because the designers just nailed it. Three mana for a 2/2 seemed reasonable at first and worked out so well we never even tested anything else. We spent lots of time developing individual cards and especially tweaking morph costs. We tried to make sure that a really good player would have some chance of figuring out whether or not to block based on what mana the other player has untapped. (If you think he has a green guy, it’s probably pretty large. If it’s blue it’s probably a small guy with an annoying tap ability. If it’s red you want to block it, etc.)

In general, though, the design team had stuff figured out really well. You could tell from the playtest name of Skirk Commando that everyone understood the allure of those “Gotcha!” moments right away: it was called “Block Me Next Time, Sucka!”

But don’t take my word for it -- go to the prerelease in two weeks and try it out for yourself.

I am curious what your current impression is, though. You’ve read all of Morph Week, but you haven’t gotten to play with the cards yet, so…

Randy may be reached at

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