Read the Clues, Guess the Card

Posted in Latest Developments on August 8, 2008

By Devin Low

In honor of Enemy Color Week, I'm going to give you a guessing game where all the answers are enemy color cards. In previous weeks, I have sometimes shown you a card, then shown you some of the development comments from our Multiverse database. But this week, there's a twist. I'm going to show you a mystery Eventide card's Multiverse comments, then have you use those clues to guess the mystery card.

Some of these will be easy, and others will be hard. Remember, cards change often during the development process, and even if the comments on a certain day say the card is a blue 2/2, it may have ended up printed as a blue-green 3/3. Many of the biggest card debates happen in development team meetings, and never make it into Multiverse comments at all. I'll omit some of the comments that would completely give away the mystery, and I'll omit some of the comments that discuss former designs deleted from these slots long ago.

If you take your time, you should be able to guess a lot of the cards' identities before clicking to reveal the answer. Or you can just click your way through all the images as fast as possible. It's up to you.

Here's a lengthy cast of characters you'll encounter in the Multiverse comments. Feel free to skip this list for now and come back if you need it.

AF: Aaron Forsythe (director of Magic R&D)
AJ: Alexis Janson (Eventide designer)
BR: Bill Rose (vice-president in charge of all Wizards R&D)
BT: Brian Tinsman (Eventide designer)
Del: Del Laugel (Magic senior editor)
DAL: Devin Low (Magic head developer)
JT: Jake Theis (Eventide designer)
KEN: Ken Nagle (Eventide designer & developer)
MLG: Mark Gottlieb (Magic rules manager)
MP: Matt Place (Eventide lead developer)
MR: Mark Rosewater (Eventide lead designer)
NH: Nate Heiss (Eventide developer)
NW: Noah Weil (Magic development intern)

Multiverse Mystery #1


DAL 8/2: Three blue-red cards in the set swap P/T: This creature, the cantrip, and the 0/5 flier with (u/r): +1/-1. Even two is a lot, and three is certainly too many. I sense Rosewater's presence...
AF 8/7: LRW has an uncommon 1/4 with activated swap.
MP 8/9: Now a 2/4.
BR 8/13: Do I hear 3/4?
DAL 9/10: I like the P and T being far apart so that the swap matters a lot. (2/4 as opposed to 3/4.)
MR (9/13/07): Bwah ha ha.
AJ 10/09: I don't read the 0/5 as having p/t swapping at all. (That is, I don't mentally place it in the same bucket as this ability.)
NH 10/26: I like this thing.

I started with an easy one. There's more than enough information here to figure out which enemy-color Eventide card these comments match. Are you thinking of your answer? Click here to reveal the card.


Crag Puca

If you know Eventide well, then once you know the card is a blue-red creature that swaps power/toughness, there's only one it can be: Crag Puca.

Over time, other designers and developers convinced me that it was actually a benefit to have some light mechanical themes laid on top of the enemy-color hybrid pairs, to give the color pairs a little more sense of identity. In blue-red's case, it's the power/toughness switching cards. White-black intentionally has a lot of lifelink. Red-white in Eventide features a ton of power-pumping, first strike, and double strike. And so on.

I also enjoy that early in the comments I alluded to Rosewater's dark presence lurking menacingly just out of sight, fiendishly designing tons of the power/toughness swapping cards he loves so much. Then in act two, the villain appears with a suitably diabolical laugh. I think he learned his sense of timing from Roseanne.

Multiverse Mystery #2


JT 1/26: Not crazy about both this and 3 to a target, like one or another.
KEN 1/27: We are simply overloading the file with potentials right now.
BT 2/10: Seems swingy at common.
MR (4/12/07): Changed from HHH to 1HH.
AJ 5/17: This reads as "OMG I could 3 for 1" and yet plays amazingly balanced IMO. Seems perfect as-is now.
KEN 7/30: I like how this card dances around a ton of red cards, including Incinerate, Fire, and Arc Lightning.
DAL 8/2: Quite sick. HHH would be a nice way to give a nice common reward for playing red-white with good designs you already have. 2H 2/2 curse persist could be HHH as well if you go that route. Something to think about.
MP 8/2: Now HHH.
MR (9/13/07): This card is so awesome that it didn't seem like it deserved a blank dev comments field.
AF 10/8: Poor Will.
KEN 10/27: Tribal Instant - Archer? :D
Del 10/29: Can this please gain the word "target" or are you trying to do something unusual?

There are tons of clues to this mystery card in these comments, as well as some good development notes, a few card changes, and a couple of wisecracks. In other words: your typical Multiverse comments field. Ok, time to guess. Can you figure out what this card is from the Multiverse comments before you click to reveal what it is? Last chance to guess before it gets revealed. Click here to show the answer.


Fire at Will

Ken Nagle made his joking "Tribal Instant – Archer" crack because Ken just loves Archers in Magic. What else would you expect from the designer who designed Morningtide's Greatbow Doyen?

It's funny that Mark Rosewater wrote his last comment when he saw an empty DevComments field and felt the card deserved more traffic. In reality, the card had had tons of comments in the past, but a set's lead developer periodically cleans out a card's old comments and puts them into a RetiredComments field instead.

The card's title reveals the source of Aaron Forsythe's faux-compassionate words... "Poor Will."

Multiverse Mystery #3


MP 7/3: Was a tap mage, now an enhanced spell.
MLG 7/27: Even if you pay WWWW for this spell, you must target a player -- and if that player becomes an illegal target, the spell is countered and you don't get the white effect.
AJ 7/30: Would be mostly the same as "each opponent", mainly different in 2HG...
DAL 8/2: Nasty, fun surprise. Will be funny when people are like "I could have won by attacking with two creatures, why did I attack with all eight? Now I'm dead!"
KEN 8/18: This is great! I keep praying 'PLEASE attack with your whole team!' then 'Argh, I bet you'll swing with more next turn, better save it...'

Can you guess the card from these clues? Once you have your guess, click here.


Batwing Brume

How many cards in the set can punish someone for attacking with eight creatures at once?

Watch out for The Brume!

This card creates a lot of fun moments, which led the development team to reduce its cost from four mana (at the time Mark Gottlieb made his comment about WWWW) to two mana in the final printed set.

Magic rules manager Mark Gottlieb and Magic senior editor Del Laugel each keep an eye out for unintended interactions on cards, and point out unexpected ramifications to the set's developers. In this case, the Eventide templating team tweaked the card to address Gottlieb's comment, changing it to avoid targeting anyone. (The change saves people from having to declare meaningless targets when they play the card with only white mana.)

Multiverse Mystery #4


JT 1/26: Made an instant instead of sorcery. Tee-hee...
MR (2/01/07): Changed it back. Tee hee.
KEN 4/6: Unc - Rare, now new card type.
NH 5/14: Feels different in a good way.
KEN 5/14: Are Goblins no longer Offensive?
Del 6/5: Too bad it's the wrong setting for the name Dragon's Teeth.
MLG 7/27: This can't have X in its cost. While a card is in play, an X in its cost is 0. Would have to be Squealing Devil's template.
DAL 8/2: Cool card. CIP text will still read well.
NW 8/10: Great card, a perfect fit for the set.
KEN 8/10: I get to reuse my Goblin Trenches tokens!
Del 10/26: Rosheen Meanderer has found a friend!
Del 1/11: Last ability is now activated.

What card are we talking about here? Once you have your guess in mind, click here to reveal it:


Rise of the Hobgoblins

I never thought I would see Hobgoblins in Magic... until they rose. Ken Nagle's right that this card has come a long way forward from Urza's Saga's Goblin Offensive.

Del Laugel is right on too: Rosheen Meanderer finds a friend here in more ways than one. First Rosheen says ": Add to your mana pool. Spend this mana only on costs that contain ." This doesn't just mean Blaze, Mind Shatter, and other spells with in the mana cost in their upper right corner. Rosheen's four mana can go towards any kind of cost that contains , including an activated ability cost, or a triggered ability cost like the token-making triggered ability on Rise of the Hobgoblins.

After Rosheen has helped you crank out nine Goblin tokens, the Rise of the Hobgoblins helps Rosheen in a second way: giving Rosheen first strike. When you read Rise of the Hobgoblins, your mind initially takes you to red-white creatures, mono-red creatures, and mono-white creatures, but red-green creatures like Rosheen get powered up too. It's especially funny to pull off this combo in a green-white deck. Your deck doesn't have any Mountains in it, but you get first strike because your green-red card and your red-white card share a color.

Multiverse Mystery #5


MP 8/2: New card.
DAL 8/6: Could be common, to increase frequency of combat tricks.
KEN 8/18: I don't like 'attacking' here, why can't I DS on defense? Also, a metric ton of cards trigger on playing colored spells; 'in response, I gain 2 with my white Pupil' is similar to the play that won Terry Soh the title 'Bluffmaster.' Why pigeonhole this trick with such an easily deletable word?
DAL 9/10: I could see it either way.
MR (9/13/07): Vote to remove "attacking."
AF 10/8: Agree.
MT 10/23: Let's remove attacking.
KEN 10/27: Delete 'attacking'! (I vote again...)
MP 10/30: To make sure every card is the best card in Magic, I have removed "attacking."

This one might not be obvious right away, but there are enough clues there to guess it if you are careful. Once you have your guess, click here to reveal the answer:


Double Cleave

Ken Nagle saying "in response, I gain 2 with my white Pupil" is a hint that this is a partially white instant spell. He's talking about triggering Apothecary Initiate. DS means double strike.

The card used to say "Target attacking creature gains double strike until end of turn. Draw a card." When Nagle's initial request to remove the word "attacking" was made, the development team discussed the topic and decided to keep the "attacking" restriction on the card, sticking to their guns for multiple months afterwards. Eventide lead developer Matt Place's final tongue-in-cheek comment hints at the reasons for keeping attacking on the card, though his comment is sarcastic.

Internal people and external Magic players often point to a card and say "Why can't this card be better? Just make change XYZ and it's more powerful, yet not broken." A fine question. The main reason not to make every possible improvement to every possible card is this:

"Not every card needs to be the best Magic card ever."

If you max out every variable at every opportunity, then you leave no room for other, similar cards to be interesting and appealing in their own ways. Even when Double Cleave only worked on attacking creatures, it already had multiple advantages over similar double-strike-granting cards like Lorwyn's Battle Mastery. In comparison to Battle Mastery, the "targeting attacking creature..." version of Double Cleave can be played with two colors of mana, it costs less mana total, it's a surprise at instant speed, and it draws you a card.

Battle Mastery is not as effective in a draft format as Double Cleave, but Battle Mastery has advantages compared to the old Double Cleave too, the big ones being that Battle Mastery lasts forever, and you can use it on defense (unlike the "target attacking creature" version of Double Cleave). If you strip the "attacking creature" restriction off of Double Cleave, you leave less room for other double-strike-granting cards like Battle Mastery to have their own advantages over Double Cleave.

Eventually, enough designers and developers requested that the attacking restriction be removed from Double Cleave that Matt Place relented and agreed to make the change. But even as he did so, Matt wrote his final comment to remind the rest of us to be cautious how often we ask for every little restriction to be removed and for every little facet of a card to be improved.

Multiverse Mystery #6


KEN 12/4: Sad that you can't put two of these on your creature.

The final mystery. This one may be the most difficult to guess, because I'm giving you the least to go on. In fact, I'm only giving you one Multiverse comment from which to make your guess. This is not an easy mystery, but there is indeed enough information in that one comment to determine the answer, if you are careful and clever. Once you have your guess, click here to reveal the answer.


Clout of the Dominus

What kinds of cards can you "put on your creature" as Ken writes in his comment? Auras and Equipment are the best answer. Of all the Auras and Equipment in Eventide, which one can't you put two of on your creature? Clout of the Dominus. If you put it on a blue-red creature like you are "supposed to," the first Clout gives your blue-red creature shroud, so you can't play a second Clout on the same creature. To get two Clout of the Dominus on the same permanent, you would have to get fancy with tricks like Swirling Spriggan in response or Planar Chaos' Retether (yup, Retether works).

So why does Ken find it so sad that you can't put two Clout of the Dominus on your blue-red creature? Just ask a Somnomancer wearing two Steel of the Godheads. Since putting two Shadowmoor/Eventide hybrid auras on the same creature is usually so amazing, it dismayed Ken that blue-red couldn't build up a similarly super-giant, super-enchanted monster.

There you have it: Six Multiverse mysteries with behind-the-scenes card changes and development stories along the way. I hope you enjoyed them!

Last Week's Poll

Which Eventide Liege is your favorite?
Creakwood Liege 1580 35.1%
Balefire Liege 1251 27.8%
Deathbringer Liege 999 22.2%
Murkfiend Liege 473 10.5%
Mindwrack Liege 204 4.5%
Total 4507 100.0%

The five Shadowmoor Lieges pump up all the creatures of their colors, then have an ability that makes the Liege itself a little better, whether it's flying, trample, flash, the anti-discard ability, or the "don't target me" ability. The five Eventide Lieges also pump all the creature of their colors, but they are a little different in that their individual abilities don't tend to help themselves, and instead tend to help your other cards of their colors. Creakwood Liege topped the charts here. Mark Rosewater loves to talk about the moment when players read Creakwood Liege and think "Ok, it's a four-mana Liege that makes a 1/1 every turn. [pause] [pause] Whoa, it makes a 3/3 every turn!" The moment of realization is a fun moment.

This Week's Poll


Before you saw the answers, how many cards did you guess correctly? 6543210I didn't guess- I just clicked and revealed them.

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