Latest Developments Top 10

Posted in Latest Developments on November 28, 2003

By Randy Buehler

Everyone knows about You Make the Card and Selecting Eighth Edition, but those are by no means the only ways in which the readers of this website get to influence the game we all love. In honor of Week 100 here at Magicthegathering.com I thought it would be interesting to look back at the ten most influential poll questions from the last two years of my column.

Long before the first article was ever posted, Magicthegathering.com was concepted as a place where we could empower Magic fans. We wanted more than just a site that players would look in on to read articles. We wanted to build a community that would participate too. With this in mind I got my readers involved in an exercise in “pointing” the black commons in Torment way back in week #5. Then in week 9 I asked my first poll question. Several people in R&D thought it would be cool to reprint Clone in Onslaught, but it was on the Reserved List (of cards that Wizards has promised never to reprint). We could have just done it as “Balshan Clone” for or some such, but none of us thought there was any good reason the original should be reserved. We decided what we really needed was to know how important the Reserved List was to the general public. So I laid out the issue and then called for a vote. “Change the policy” was the overwhelming choice and a few weeks later that’s exactly what we did.

A couple of weeks after that I got myself embroiled in a debate about Counterspell. This was around the time we were starting to put Eighth Edition together and I was in the camp that wanted to leave out Counterspell. We all found it interesting to hear how loudly you guys voted on the side of nostalgia, but in the end we pulled it anyway. Anyway, during this controversy poll questions evolved into a recurring theme of “Latest Developments.” That Week #17 column ended with a poll asking if I should always end with a poll, and I’m pretty sure I have done so every week since then.

Without any further to-do, here (in no particular order) are the ten most influential “Latest Developments” polls you all have participated in:

Change the Reprint Policy?

I already told this story earlier in the article, but it’s definitely worthy of a place in the Top 10. All of the non-rares from Alpha that had been on the Reserved List were removed. In addition to putting Clone into Onslaught, this change has allowed us to put Invisibility and Dwarven Demolition Team into Eighth Edition. (And we might not be done yet.)

Hibernation or no?

This wasn’t a binding choice, but it was a debate that the Eighth Edition development team was having and wanted more feedback against. William Jockusch argued in favor of Hibernation and I argued that it was stronger than color hosers ought to be. You guys clearly sided with William so the 8E team put Hibernation in. Then we felt green should get a similarly powerful blue-hoser so we put in Choke. Somehow by the time we were done with the 8E color hosers Karma was in the set too. In retrospect I wish I had dug in my heels and tried harder to stop us from sliding down that slippery slope.

Should Starter-level cards be in the base set?

I’m still not sure I understand why so many of you were so offended by the presence of a dozen simple, mediocre cards in the Core Set, but it became clear to us over the course of that conversation that you were. Based on your feedback, we introduced the “S-series” and now you’ll never be burdened by opening up Eager Cadet in a booster pack again.

Do you like to play with lifegain cards?

As a former Pro Tour player, I know in my heart of hearts that cards which give you extra life are rarely powerful enough to make the cut in tournament play. However, I’ve also heard many times that casual players love them. I asked this question to try to get a read on the ratio of hard-core tournament players to casual players who read Magicthegathering.com. The casual players won out in a landslide and I’ve found it quite useful to point to this data whenever I’m in an argument (at a Pro Tour, for example) explaining why we print cards that the pros don’t see a good use for.

What do you think of Voidmage Prodigy’s art?

Most of you seemed to like the mechanic on Kai Budde’s Invitational card just fine, but the art has been the subject of much ridicule. Based on this feedback, we commissioned an alternate art version of the card and made it the Magic Player Rewards Program giveaway card for 2003.

How do you feel about “Creature – Human [Class]?

Our creative guys spent a lot of time thinking about this issue and they concluded that it made a lot of sense to switch Magic creature types over to a Race-Class model (for sentient creatures anyway). At first even the developers didn’t like the idea, but the more we listened to their reasons, the more sense it all made. The weirdest ramification was definitely the introduction of the “Human” race. I fully admit that I gave you guys the hard sell here, giving you two articles (and a week to debate things on the message boards) and even invoking the name “Garfield” in my defense of “human.” In the end “Thumbs Up” got 54% of the vote and we implemented this change in Mirrodin. (I’m honestly not sure what we would have done if “Thumbs Down” had been a decisive victor.)

Is Counterspell too powerful?

In the end, we wound up taking Counterspell out of Eighth Edition despite these poll results. However, I still consider this a very influential poll result since it taught us a lot about the power of nostalgia and the sorts of things that a majority of the audience thinks is good for the game.

Was it a mistake to print Psychatog/Fact or Fiction?

I’m lumping these two questions together since the message you sent was essentially the same. Fact or Fiction may have been the most powerful card in Invasion and it was almost certainly the one people complained about having to play against the most. Similarly, people have been complaining about Psychatog decks ever since Odyssey came out. Both cards are interesting yet powerful and at the end of the day, you guys voted overwhelmingly “No – it was not a mistake to print these cards.” Our audience likes powerful cards. Check. Got it.

How much new art should 8E have?

This result actually surprised me quite a bit. Many people inside R&D find it quite annoying when we produce new art for familiar cards. Since so many players recognize the cards by the art, it’s frustrating to suddenly not recognize them any more (especially for people who don’t play as often). We were contemplating changing none of the art, but when this result came in (you guys sided in favor of changing all of it) we decided to compromise and change about 20% of it.

What do you think of double strike?

Double strike started out as an “Almost Mechanic” – Wayne Alward sent it in for the original You Make the Card, and we all loved its elegance, but it didn’t belong in green. We decided to put it onto a couple of red creatures in Legions and when the new mechanic got such a favorable response (including an 83% approval rating in my poll), we decided to make it a permanent part of Magic. It’s been quite a while since we added a new keyword that wasn’t block-specific, but as you can see from Fireshrieker, we’ve decided to use doublestrike pretty much whenever it strikes our fancy.

Honorable Mention -- End every column with a poll?

Just about everyone in Magic R&D has heard about the results of just about every one of my polls. I’m quite glad you voted “yes” and gave my column a big piece of its identity. As I wrote back in April 2002: We want you players to feel like you’re part of the game, and we want you to feel like we’re listening to your opinions and giving you some control over this wonderful game. Even better, we really are listening and we really do care what you think and what you want.

Here’s hoping we’ll learn us much from you in the next two years as we have in the last two!

Last Week’s Poll

How do you think we should handle the depiction of creatures with flying?
Appropriate with Exceptions 6324 64.2%
Anything 2514 25.5%
Appropriate Art 1011 10.3%
Total 9849 100.0%

It looks like Soul Collector is the big winner here … we shouldn’t make a habit of having flyers that aren’t obviously fliers, but when something turns out that well we shouldn’t mess with it.

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