Colorful Replies

Posted in Making Magic on July 16, 2018

By Mark Rosewater

Working in R&D since '95, Mark became Magic head designer in '03. His hobbies: spending time with family, writing about Magic in all mediums, and creating short bios.

I've done a lot of mailbag columns, but this week, I'm doing things a little differently. Instead of asking questions for me to answer, I instead asked for questions for the five Magic colors to answer. Here's the tweet I posted.

And from here, I'll hand the column off to White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green.


I keep a list of things that I'd like to do one day. You know, ideas to pass along to R&D, because I think it would be cool to branch out and do new things. I believe counterspells are on the list. I'm pretty sure. I mean, I haven't seen the list for a while. It's somewhere. I'll find it. And if counterspells aren't on it, I'll add them. You know, if I remember.

Counterspells are about planning ahead. Not really Red's specialty.

Hey, this was a question to me. Maybe I think counterspelling would be cool.

So, you're going to let your turn pass and do nothing waiting on the outside chance that your opponent is playing an instant?

Yeah, that doesn't sound like me.

My point exactly.


Look, I represent something that most people just don't want to face: that their success in life is based upon their own merits, that if they're unhappy, it's their fault. It's hard to own up to that. It's easier to just demonize the voices that are telling them they're not a victim. Is it hard to always be portrayed as the bad guy? It's more frustrating than anything else, but I've realized feeling bad about yourself because of how other people judge you is a recipe for disaster. Be proud of who you are and own it, and if other people don't understand because they're too caught up in their own fantasy of what life is supposed to be, you've got to learn to brush that off.


You ever watch a reality show and someone seems a certain way, but then someone interviews them outside of the context of the show and they say that's just the way they're edited. It's kind of like that. I'm constantly offering cool card concepts—Passionate Kiss, Mournful Sorrow, Joyous Celebration—and R&D's always like, "How about we take Unbridled Fury?" I'm trying. My new strategy is to just not show the anger, but then as soon as I think about myself not being able to be angry, it pisses me off, and then I get mad and they make a new card. So I don't know if this trend is going to end anytime soon, but I'll keep trying to show them my softer side.


Destruction is never something one should take lightly, so it is always with great sorrow that I'm forced to resort to violence of any kind. The forces of evil never rest though, so there are times I wished I had access to the tool. Then I feel bad as it saddens me that there aren't more peaceful ways to find resolutions to life's problems, so yes, I miss it, but I truly wish I didn't.


As with many issues in life, it stems from a misunderstanding. If people would just take the time to slow down and examine the world around them, they would realize that we are all more similar than different and that the interconnectivity between us is what defines us. Also, watching a big creature being taken down by an army of squirrels is just plain funny, so there should be more of that.


Jenga is all about recognizing the stress points of the structure. I guess there's also a little finesse of manipulation in replacing the pieces. I usually start by evaluating and taking notes. By tracking the upcoming turns, you can usually map out the ideal strategy.

It doesn't matter. The point of the activity is to create stronger bonds with the other people, so I like doing whatever will prolong the game to allow more interaction.

It's a feel thing. I like just touching a piece and getting a sense if it's supposed to be moved.

I cannot condone the killing of a tree for recreational purposes.

The rulebook doesn't say anything about the methods you're allowed to use while others are touching the structure. If you're aware of the weaknesses of your opponents, it's pretty academic to get them to collapse the tower.


While I'm willing to pay whatever cost is necessary to get the things I need, not everything, sadly, has a price. That said, when something seems impossible, that doesn't mean I won't explore means that others are too squeamish to investigate. I'm really good at finding ways to make things happen. So, there are things I can't do, but if they matter, I don't give up easily.


I need to give that offer some thought. I'll send you a preliminary questionnaire for you to fill out. You're also going to need to take a battery of tests. No one yet has proven worthy of such a union, but I'm not one to prematurely shut down potential options.


This isn't on me. I'm pretty likeable.

On what metrics?

What do you mean, metrics? Who measure likeability on a scale?

You just said you were "pretty likeable." That implies that you were higher than others in this trait, which signifies you believe there's a means to differentiate likeability—thus a scale must exist.

For the record, this is why I don't get along with Blue. You don't have to apply science to everything. People and colors can just be likeable. They don't have to be 88.9 points likeable.

So you want to live in a world where facts aren't verifiable?

I just want to live in a world where there isn't constant homework for no reason.

Knowledge is power.

No, power is power. Knowledge is just a lot of unnecessary reading.

Perhaps if you didn't belittle all of my beliefs, there would be a better chance of creating some type of emotional bond between us.

I thought you didn't do emotions.

I have emotions. I just don't let them dictate my every action like some colors.

What are you trying to say?

That you have very poor impulse control.

Oh. Okay. I'm going to get some ice cream.

We haven't finished answering the question.

I think we have. Bye!


I don't think that was called for.

What's wrong with scum?

I feel they took a tone that was unnecessarily hurtful.

There's nothing wrong with scum. Or vomit. Or stinking guts. Maybe they were trying to compliment us in a playful tone.

I don't believe that is what just happened.

You're scum too!

We don't need to stoop to their level.

No, I meant it as a compliment.


Retirement? I don't know what I'm doing an hour from now. Skydiving sounds fun. So, does skeet shooting. Ooh, skydiving skeet shooting. That's a thing, right? I'll be honest, the chance of me making it to retirement is pretty low, so I'm not sweating it.


A number of years ago, I started CLASS, the Counterspell Lovers Appreciation Sunday Society. We meet every Sunday night to share our passion about spell prevention. It has proven sadly to be a very acquired taste. I'm currently the president and vice president and secretary and treasurer of the club. I've invited all the colors to attend, but with a few rare exceptions, they have opted to stay away. Apparently, most others don't rank it as "fun" like you and I do. By the way, we'd love to see you there this Sunday. We're talking about X counterspells, so you know it's going to be pretty engaging.


Here's something important to understand: there is right and there is wrong. Right comes from understanding the issues at hand and making the conscious choice to work to protect the greatest number of people. As long as you're doing that, there's no falling behind. Playing fair isn't a handicap, it's a virtue. It means you understand what matters in this world and you're working toward making it better. So, do I ever re-evaluate my life choices? Never, because I know what I'm doing is a righteous cause.


You're asking us to put ourselves at a long-term tactical disadvantage. I don't mean to be rude, but do people usually answer that question for you?

Put me in a cage. I hate cages. I need my freedom.

Force me to unwittingly harm another living creature.

Disconnect me from the cycle of life.

Keep going, everyone. I'm taking notes.


If I chop a living tree down, I'm performing an unnatural act. It doesn't matter whether I'm part of nature. You can be part of nature and perform unnatural acts. One is not connected with the other. The issue that matters is how and why you're doing what you're doing, not who you are.


I'm pretty likeable.

Not this again.

I'm passionate, I'm spontaneous, I'm enthusiastic. What's not to love?

Maybe Dan appreciates my more cerebral qualities, the way I make him think.

Nah. It's how I make him feel. He said, "Love Dan" not "Respect You from a Distance Dan."

Perhaps it's a combination of our attributes. Your passion mixed with my intellectual curiosity does lead to creativity.

I'm pretty sure it's just me. And probably your bounce spells. Those are kind of cool.


I made a comprehensive list of potential thematic overlaps.

I always thought it would be fun for us to do something with enchantments. We're both fans of Auras and global rule-setting.

I put it in a spreadsheet subdivided by spell effect.

Or maybe we could do something with a new breed of counter.

Then I weighted each effect based on responses from the last years' worth of market research.

Perhaps an artifact theme where I get artifact creatures, Equipment, and Vehicles, and you get everything else.

I then ran it through an artificial intelligence to identify nonlinear patterns.

Maybe we could explore a new way to interact with double-faced cards.

It came back suggesting "flying creatures."


Why is everyone's first response to problem creatures always to kill them? There are so many ways to answer problems without resorting to murder. I make efforts to find alternate choices to deal with creatures, like jailing them to allow you time to rehabilitate them, and I'm the one that gets the intervention?! Is my continually not killing creatures problematic for everyone else?! Is it worrisome that I show actual concern for other living things?! I'm sorry. I shouldn't have yelled. It just rubs me the wrong way that we never have an intervention to stop other colors from killing creatures right and left.


I'm not this monster that people make me out to be. I'm resourceful and willing to do what needs to be done, which means that I understand when being polite and helping others is most efficient. Making allies tends to get you further than constantly making enemies. I don't believe people can truly be selfless, but I do believe that actions can be in multiple people's best interests at the same time. So yes, sometimes the best play is helping others.


Something I admire? Okay. I admire how Red works so hard to make emotional bonds with other people and the methodical nature with which Black plans ahead.

I admire Red's willingness to try new experiences and Green's admiration of the past.

I admire Green's tenacity and White's ability to get people to work against their own self-interest.

I admire Blue's trickiness and White's zealotry.

I admire Black's ability to see value in things others disregard and Blue's adaptability.


Look, I'd rather not talk about enchantments. My therapist says it's better to focus on the things I can change and not on the things I can't, because if I spent like 2 seconds thinking about how much I hate it when, like, White throws down some stupid enchantment that I can't do anything about! Yeah, I want to break it, but they just don't break. I've tried! Oh, how I've tried! You just throw fireball after fireball and . . . nothing! It's just sitting there smiling at you, looking so smug! Explosion after explosion and after the smoke clears, it's still there! IT'S STILL THERE!

Close your eyes, Red. Breathe in. Breathe out. Find your happy place. Let's move on to the next question.


I actual prefer reading nonfiction to fiction, but if I had to pick a genre, I guess I'd choose science fiction. I like works that explore what potential futures might look like.


I'm hesitant to use the word "goodness," as I'm not big on the concept of morality. I think it's a tool used to control people. But I do want to create systems that grant people the potential to achieve things. I'm very big on merit, which as far as I'm concerned is the fairest way to set up the world. Anyone should have the opportunity to advance provided they're capable of excelling. People should be rewarded based on their abilities and not on factors outside of their control. As far as I'm concerned, that's what "goodness" is. And you don't need to go to other colors to get that.


Easy, Innistrad. A world of darkness filled with monsters is right up my alley.

There are a couple good choices, but I guess I'd say Zendikar. I like a world where the land has a mind of its own.

I'd choose Dominaria. How can you not like a world that's obsessed with its own history?

Definitely Tarkir. Warlords. Dragons. People doing flying scissor kicks. So much fun!

I'd have to pick Ravnica. How can you not love a word as structured as Ravnica?


For sure you put up a wall. The death of one person is a better outcome than the death of four.

If the people were meant to be stampeded, I'm not sure we're supposed to be messing with that.

I'm going to agree with White on this one. You have to judge a situation based on the best possible outcome.

Let me ask this: are the four people valuable to me in some way?

I reject the premise. I save all five people.

Color Me Impressed

That's all the time we have today for questions. I'm curious what you thought of today's mailbag experiment. Is this something you'd like me to do again, or was once enough (or too much)? Email me or talk to me through my social media accounts (Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and Instagram) and let me know.

Join me next week when Commander (2018 Edition) previews begin.

Until then, may you have your own colorful exchanges.


 
#553: Unstable Cards, Part 1
#553: Unstable Cards, Part 1

39:02

This podcast is part one of a six-part series on the design of each and every non-Contraption card in Unstable.


 
#554: Unstable Cards, Part 2
#554: Unstable Cards, Part 2

40:38

This podcast is part two of a six-part series on the design of each and every non-Contraption card in Unstable.

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