Hibernation or No?

Posted in Latest Developments on June 21, 2002

By Randy Buehler

Technical difficulties prevent me from going over your Judgment limited pointing, but I’m actually kind of glad because I have something else I’m more interested in talking about this week.

I was in an Eighth Edition development meeting this week and we were arguing about color hosers. R&D has pretty much agreed on our general strategy for the hosers in Eighth: They should be flavorful and demonstrate the basic friendly color/enemy color structure of Magic. They should be powerful enough such that in casual play they give you an answer to that annoying friend who keeps beating up on you with his mono-color deck. Thirdly, we don’t want them to be so good that they mess up tournament constructed play. We’re fine if they are good enough to show up in tournaments, but we want the game to remain interesting even after one player has drawn one of his sideboard cards. (You can click here to read my article from Color Hoser Week, which is entirely devoted to this last point.)

The previous two points define a range for the power-level of our hosers -- good enough to be relevant to casual play, but not too good because that would make the game less fun for all our audiences. Perish is clearly too powerful. Warthog is not powerful enough. In between there are some tough calls.

It was one of those tough calls that we were talking about this week. We were trying to figure out which blue card we should use as a green hoser. Essentially, it all comes down to “Hibernation or no?” I think Hibernation is a little bit above the curve -- the effect is too powerful and games where Hibernation resolves just aren’t a lot of fun, in my opinion. I do think it’s close and there are others in R&D who think Hibernation is in fact at a perfectly acceptable power level.

Rather than speculating about what our customers want, we figured this was a perfect issue for one of my columns. What do you think of Hibernation? Between the first half of this article and my “Adjusting the Nozzle” column, I think I’ve pretty much already presented my case. With the other side of the argument, I’d like to turn the floor over to William Jockusch. William has been developing sets since Alliances and continues to be one of our core Magic developers.

Hibernation is an ideal color hoser.

William Jockusch: Magic developer, Hibernation advocate.

Hibernation is a powerful card, giving the blue deck valuable time to build up against a green deck. But green has answers. Many a blue mage has played it, only to lose to a Wild Mongrel or an Anurid Brushhopper. Furthermore, Hibernation is no Perish. The green creatures are returned to hand, not destroyed, so the green mage may be able to replay them.

Hibernation creates interesting play decisions. For instance, suppose you have a Llanowar Elves, two Basking Rootwallas, and three forests. Your opponent has six life and no creatures but has enough mana untapped to play Hibernation. You could go for the win -- but then if your opponent plays Hibernation, you will be tapped out and it will be a disaster. Or you could just attack for three, and then if your opponent plays Hibernation, you will be able to replay all your creatures. Or maybe you should hedge your bets by trying to attack for four or five. What are you going to do?

Hibernation is at its strongest against a mono-green deck. Against two-color decks with green, it is much weaker. That is exactly where we want our color hosers to be. If green gets out of control, Hibernation will help bring it back in line, but by itself it does not stop green from appearing.

The last argument in favor of Hibernation is that our alternative card, Insight, is pathetic.

For all these reasons, Hibernation asks for your support. Vote Hibernation!

So what do you think?

Randy may be reached at latestdevelopments@wizards.com.

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