Storm Scale: Mirrodin and Scars of Mirrodin Blocks

Posted in Making Magic on June 11, 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.

Many years ago on my blog (Blogatog on Tumblr), I came up with a system to gauge how likely a particular item, usually a mechanic, was to return in a Standard-legal set. I called this scale the Storm Scale after the fact that the mechanic storm was unlikely to return in a normal expansion. In late 2016, I wrote my first Storm Scale article talking about the mechanics of Khans of Tarkir block. Four months later, I did a second Storm Scale article on the mechanics from Ravnica and Return to Ravnica blocks. Six months after that, I wrote a third Storm Scale article on mechanics from Zendikar and Battle for Zendikar blocks. Then four months later, I wrote a fourth Storm Scale article on the mechanics of Innistrad and Shadows over Innistrad blocks.

It's a bit over a year later, and I realized I hadn't done a Storm Scale for a while, so it's time for another. This time I've chosen to look at the mechanics from Mirrodin and Scars of Mirrodin blocks.

The Storm Scale is a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 meaning the mechanical item is very likely to return and 10 meaning the item is very unlikely to return. Here's what each point means on the scale:

Level 1: Will definitely see again, most likely in the next set

Examples: flying, deathtouch, scry


Level 2: Will definitely see again, but not necessarily right away

Examples: cantrips, hybrid mana, double-faced cards


Level 3: Will most likely do again, probably many times

Examples: cycling, flashback, landfall


Level 4: Will most likely do again, but they have issues that make them less of a guarantee

Examples: morph, convoke, exalted


Level 5: We need to find the right place to bring it back, but I'm optimistic

Examples: evolve, monstrous, morbid


Level 6: We need to find the right place to bring it back, but I'm a little less optimistic

Examples: devour, ninjutsu, living weapon


Level 7: It's unlikely to return, but possible if the right environment comes along

Examples: snow mana, retrace, split second


Level 8: It's unlikely to return, but possible if the stars align

Examples: madness, echo, suspend


Level 9: I never say never, but this would require a minor miracle

Examples: phasing, threshold, clash


Level 10: I never say never, but this would require a major miracle

Examples: storm, dredge


Next, here are the five criteria I use to determine where mechanics fall on the Storm Scale:

Popularity – Did players like this mechanic? The more players like something, the more likely we are to bring it back. The less they like it, the less likely its return. This metric is mostly covering the "was it fun?" question. This lens will have one of four potential labels:

  • Very Popular – This means that through our market research, this mechanic falls in the top 25% of mechanics of all time. Note that all these categories are comparing the current mechanics against the mechanics of all time (well, since we started doing market research many years ago), so getting in this top section is difficult.
  • Popular – This means that through our marketing research, this mechanic falls above the average but not in the top 25%.
  • Liked – This means that through our research, this mechanic falls below average but not in the bottom 25%. I should note that we aim for our average to be well liked, so being below average doesn't mean the majority of players don't like it, just that there are other mechanics they like more. Being in this category doesn't keep you from having a chance to return.
  • Unpopular – This means that our research puts this mechanic in the bottom 25%. Falling in this last section does decrease the chance of a return.

Design Space – How many more cards could we design with this mechanic? Design space is important because if we can't make more cards, it doesn't matter how much players like it or how easy it is for development to balance. This lens will have three labels:

  • Large – This means that this mechanic has lots and lots of design space. We can bring it back again and again and most likely won't have any issues making new cards.
  • Medium – This means that this mechanic has a decent amount of design space and we could easily bring it back, but possibly a limited number of times.
  • Small – This mechanic is pushing the boundaries of its design space in this set. It would be difficult to make enough new cards to bring it back.

Versatility – How well does this mechanic mix and match with other mechanics? Does this mechanic require a lot of infrastructure or does it require minimal support? In short, does this mechanic make design easier or harder? This lens has three labels:

  • Flexible – This mechanic is easy to use, requires minimal support, and interconnects easily with other mechanics.
  • Neutral – This mechanic is a bit harder to use, often requires some support, and/or has issues when connecting to other mechanics.
  • Rigid – This mechanic is very hard to use, requires extensive infrastructure to work, and/or is actively hostile when trying to mix with other mechanics.

Development – How easy is this mechanic to cost? How easy is it to balance? How easy is it to make this mechanic? This lens looks at whether the mechanic can be easily developed. This lens has three labels:

  • Not Problematic – Play Design did not have any problems developing this mechanic.
  • Neutral – Play Design had some issues developing the mechanic, but nothing major.
  • Problematic – Play Design had significant problems developing this mechanic.

Playability – Did players have problems understanding this mechanic, both in how it worked and in how it interacted with other mechanics? Was the mechanic logistically hard to use? This lens looks at whether the mechanic had some barrier that made it harder to play. This lens has two labels:

  • Playability Not Affected – This means the mechanic had no issues interfering with playing it.
  • Playability Affected – This means the mechanic had one or more issues that interfered with playing it.

With all that covered, it's time to start grading mechanics.


Affinity for artifacts (Mirrodin, Darksteel, and Fifth Dawn)

Popularity: Very Popular

Affinity was graded in market research as a whole, but I've broken it up into affinity from artifacts and affinity from basic land in the Storm Scale. Affinity scores well. Players like getting effects for a lot cheaper than normal. It's an understatement to say that affinity got played a lot, both in casual and tournament play. (I should note that affinity got rated highly before it proved itself to be broken.)

Design Space: Large

Just about any spell can be made more expensive, and affinity for artifacts pushes costs higher, so the potential design space is pretty huge. Mirrodin block restricted affinity from artifacts to only artifacts and blue cards (and one red card), but mechanically speaking, the mechanic could be spread out in an artifact-centered block as all colors have access to cost reduction.

Versatility: Neutral/Rigid

The mechanic can only be used in an artifact-heavy set as it requires a decently high as-fan to work in Limited. In theory, you could lean it toward Constructed and do it at higher rarities. There are enough artifacts in Standard at any one time to probably make it viable, so it's neutral or rigid depending on how you use it.

Development: Problematic (on artifacts), Neutral (on non-artifacts)

There are few mechanics in the history of Magic that have caused more tournament problems than affinity for artifacts. I've talked with numerous play designers who think it could potentially be balanced, but it's risky because being off by just a little could break tournaments again. All hope is not lost though. Play Design says it would be much safer if we only put it on non-artifacts because that way they could control the minimum cost and it wouldn't be free.

Playability: Playability Not Affected

The mechanic might have power-level issues, but no one had any problems with how to play it. The mechanic is straightforward and easy to use and doesn't have any logistical issues tied to it.

Storm Scale Rating: 8

Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me. Bringing back a mechanic that destroyed a Standard environment is never an easy ask. Bringing back a mechanic that requires a heavy dedication to artifacts, something else that has burned us multiple times, is an even bigger ask. In the right place and the right time, I could imagine us talking about bringing this back (it was in Scars of Mirrodin design for a while), but it's a big burden to clear. That said, it's a popular mechanic that would get people talking, so let's say unlikely, but far from impossible.


Affinity for basic lands (Darksteel) – referring to affinity for Plains, affinity for Islands, affinity for Swamps, affinity for Mountains, and affinity for Forest

Popularity: Very popular

As I said above, affinity was graded as a singular concept. My gut says that had we separated them out, both affinity from artifacts and affinity from basic land would have scored well, although my gut is affinity for artifacts would have scored a touch higher. Affinity for basic lands, especially on artifact creatures that can be cast for free, is pretty sexy though.

Design Space: Large

Much like affinity for artifacts, you can raise the cost of any card and stick on affinity for the basic land that match the color(s) of the spell. You could even mix and match affinity for basic land of another color for multicolor sets, so, in theory, affinity for basic lands has even more design space.

Versatility: Flexible

While all sets don't have a density of artifacts, all of them use basic lands, making this mechanic pretty flexible. Designs on artifacts are a bit sexier because you have the dream of casting the artifact for free, but you could easily make due with colored spells.

Development: Neutral

Affinity for basic lands shares some issues with affinity for artifacts developmentally, but the fact that the game limits the playing of lands to one a turn (without the help of cards), makes it significantly easier to account for. Like affinity for artifacts, if you keep it off artifacts to ensure there are colored costs that must be paid, the mechanic can be developed.

Playability: Playability Not Affected

Like affinity for artifacts, players didn't have much trouble playing with affinity for basic land cards. Logistically, there's a little more problem tracking how many lands an opponent has because players tend to stack their lands, but this is a minor enough issue that I still rate it as not affected.

Storm Scale Rating: 6

This probably would be a little lower if the stigma of "affinity" wasn't attached to it. We've talked about doing affinity for other things, and I think there's a better-than-not chance that we'll do it one day. I'm not sure it's going to be affinity for basic lands, though.


Artifact lands (Mirrodin and Darksteel)

Popularity: Very popular

Artifact lands are sexy. They're flavorful, they have all sorts of gameplay ramifications, and they proved to be quite powerful. All of these reasons, and probably a few I didn't mention, made these score very well in market research.

Design Space: Medium

From a mechanical standpoint, any land could be an artifact. It has to be considered and costed as an advantage though (something we didn't really do on the Mirrodin block artifact lands), so designing them requires a little bit of work. Our ability to design them isn't the thing that's going to stand in their way of returning.

Versatility: Neutral

You need a set that cares that the lands are artifacts. You honestly don't need a lot (a few common/uncommon cards that can sacrifice artifacts is probably enough), so this is an issue, but not a major one.

Development: Problematic

There are not many mechanics that can lay the claim that every single card with the mechanic has been banned (and all banned at once, no less), but artifact lands can. If you wanted to print new artifact lands in Standard, it would require severely limiting the number of artifact-caring cards with it in Standard, and that's a pretty big ask. Even then, they would probably cause problems in larger formats.

Playability: Playability Affected

Players mostly understood how artifact lands worked. The issue with them is a logistical one in that having relevant qualities sitting on lands, which are often stacked on top of one another and not in the place most players are looking for game-relevant information makes it easy for players to miss things that can affect the game state.

Storm Scale Rating: 10

We don't often get 10s on the Storm Scale, but artifact lands have earned their spot here. I would be highly skeptical of seeing their return to a Standard-legal set.


Entwine (Mirrodin, Darksteel, and Fifth Dawn)

Popularity: Popular

Mirrodin, the set, did very well in market research with many of its mechanics landing in the top 25%. While entwine was well received, it ended up a little lower in the 50–75% range.

Design Space: Medium

Entwine cards are a lot harder to design than one might assume at first blush. First, the two abilities not only have to be in the same color, but they must also have synergy with one another so that there is extra incentive to entwine the card. Second, the two abilities have to be roughly equal in power because you must have the same mana cost for both effects. Doing both of these things is difficult.

Versatility: Flexible

Entwine cards don't require a lot of infrastructure. A good entwine card can be put in any deck that wants the effect and can cast the card. One could argue that the mechanic likes decks that have access to more mana, but you don't have to often entwine the card to make it playable in a deck.

Development: Not Problematic

The mana cost restriction (that both effects need to cost the same amount) can make it hard for Play Design to tweak cards yet keep them playable when they're causing issues, but in general, this is something Play Design can handle.

Playability: Playability Not Affected

Entwine takes a little learning when you first encounter it, but it isn't too onerous. It doesn't have any logistical issues.

Storm Scale Rating: 6

The rating would be a little lower if entwine cards were a little easier to design and develop. This is the kind of mechanic that might one day be combined with some new technique that would make it easier to work with.


Equipment (Mirrodin, Darksteel, Fifth Dawn, Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged, and New Phyrexia; now evergreen)

Popularity: Very Popular

Equipment was the highest ranked mechanic in Mirrodin. It was so popular that it immediately jumped from being a block mechanic to being evergreen. Its popularity seems mostly tied to its flavor and potential for so much top-down design.

Design Space: Large

There are a significant number of Equipment that can be designed, and many of them can be reskinned with a new flavor again and again. The biggest strike against them is when they have generic mana costs, the number of viable costs for tournament play goes way down.

Versatility: Flexible

Equipment requires the set having creatures, but that's a pretty low bar. The biggest issue we have with Equipment is that they sit in a space we sometimes want to allocate to other mechanical resources in certain sets. For example, a set with an Aura theme usually forces us to cut back significantly on Equipment.

Development: Neutral

Over the years, R&D has realized that we've underestimated the power of Equipment and have been pulling back. The fact that most of them require generic mana means that they are available to any deck that can take advantage of it. As such, R&D has scaled back a bit on how much we push Equipment. I believe the key to changing this is adopting R&D's new willingness to make colored artifacts more often. Once a card is restricted to a certain color, Play Design is freer to be aggressive with its costing.

Playability: Playability Affected

There is some rules baggage that come with Equipment. The rules are written on the card, but they're hard to parse and have some interactions that work differently than enchantments, which they most closely resemble.

Storm Scale Rating: 2

R&D has been having the conversation of whether Equipment is supposed to be evergreen (in almost every set) or deciduous (used when needed but not in all sets). For now, it's evergreen, but I could see the switch happening, so I'm giving Equipment a 2.


Imprint (Mirrodin, Darksteel, Fifth Dawn, Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged, and New Phyrexia)

Popularity: Very Popular

Players' opinions of individual cards with the mechanic vary (as the mechanic covers a wider design space than most), but in market testing, the mechanic overall did very well.

Design Space: Small

When I first made this mechanic (blending together a bunch of ideas Brian Tinsman and I had into a singular mechanic), I thought it was going to have a huge design space. I mean, in theory, it does, but in practice, it doesn't. Good imprint designs that feel like imprint (meaning the card exiled is referenced and used in a way that it couldn't be with a normal card) and play well are actually hard to make. That's why only 23 cards with imprint have been made even though the mechanic has appeared in six Standard-legal sets.

Versatility: Flexible

Imprint cards don't tend to require the set they're in to do much to accommodate for them. We traditionally do imprint on artifacts, but New Phyrexia played around with the mechanic on enchantments, and it seemed to work just fine.

Development: Neutral

Like everything about imprint, it's based on a case-by-case basis. Cards that imprint from the battlefield or your hand have card advantage issues Play Design must deal with. Other cards can worry about as-fan issues. All in all, how hard imprint cards are to develop can vary quite a bit.

Playability: Playability Affected

Imprint requires using exile, and the card in exile has to be referenced. Usually this is done by tucking the card underneath the imprint card, but regardless there are logistical issues involved.

Storm Scale Rating: 6

If you look at old Storm Scale articles, imprint used to be on the explanation as an example of a 4. The more that I've thought about it, the more I realized I was being optimistic. I'd like to see imprint again as I really like the mechanic, but it has numerous design issues that make its return far from a sure thing.


Indestructible (Darksteel, Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged, and New Phyrexia; now evergreen)

Popularity: Popular

Players don't like it whenever other players destroy their stuff, so when we introduced indestructible it went over pretty well, although not quite the top 25%. I think the thing that knocked it down a little was that when it first appeared, some players were confused by what exactly it prevented.

Design Space: Large

Indestructibility proved to be so popular we both made it evergreen and made it a keyword (originally, the effect was just written out on the cards). Between permanents that are indestructible and spells that make things indestructible, usually temporarily, there are a lot of designs that can be made.

Versatility: Flexible

Destruction is a core part of the game, so it's pretty easy to make indestructible matter in any set.

Development: Not Problematic

Play Design has to be careful what it makes indestructible, but with years of experience developing the mechanic, we understand it pretty well.

Playability: Playability Affected

The rules confusion that happened when the mechanic first appeared also happens when new players face indestructible for the first time. Even more experienced players don't always understand that things like -N/-N effects can circumvent indestructible creatures.

Storm Scale Rating: 1

It's evergreen, and there's no thought of changing it, so that makes it a 1 on the Storm Scale.


Modular (Darksteel and Fifth Dawn)

Popularity: Popular

If you had me predict the audience response, I would have guessed a little lower, but when I looked it up in was in the 50–75% range. My guess is most players have to look up this mechanic because it's not the most memorable (with Arcbound Ravager being the one standout card with the mechanic). The mechanic allows you to lose less value when your creature dies (something players tend to like), so it makes sense where it ended up in the polling.

Design Space: Rigid

The fact that the +1/+1 counters can only go on another artifact creature severely limits the design space of the mechanic. In theory, we could put it on a non-artifact creature, but that makes odd play patterns and turns it into an A/B mechanic.

Versatility: Rigid

Once again, requiring an artifact creature for targeting limits this to an artifact set. If it were loosened up to going on any creature, this mechanic would become "Flexible."

Development: Neutral

The fact that the counters move without any mana makes the mechanic tricky to balance. Play Design would probably prefer a mana requirement upon the death trigger so they'd have a knob to play with.

Playability: Playability Affected

The mechanic requires the use of +1/+1 counters. It's not a big deal, as Magic frequently uses them, but it's a logistic issue, so it gets referenced here.

Storm Scale Rating: 8

My guess is if we brought this mechanic back, we'd change it to putting the +1/+1 counters on any creature, not just artifact creatures, and require a mana payment when the creature dies, but that would technically be a new mechanic so modular gets an 8.


Scry (Fifth Dawn; now evergreen)

Popularity: Very Popular

In the list of the top 30 best-rated mechanics, by slot, of all time, scry shows up four times (in order from highest to lowest: Journey into Nyx, Theros, Fifth Dawn, and Born of the Gods). One of the reasons we made it evergreen was how beloved it was.

Design Space: Flexible

You can take just about any effect and add "scry 1" (and higher scry numbers in certain colors). You can also use it as an action on cards messing with the library. All in all, you can make a lot of cards.

Versatility: Flexible

Scry requires a library, so it's relevant in every deck. Sets, in theory, can build around scry, but it's never required.

Development: Not Problematic

I was tempted to add a new category "Actively Helpful Developmentally." Scry is not only easy to develop, but it's a tool to help Set Design and Play Design do their job.

Playability: Playability Not Affected

Scry is easy to understand and has no logistical issues.

Storm Scale Rating: 1

We kept bringing scry back because it was so useful. Eventually, we realized life was better just to have scry around full-time.


Sunburst (Fifth Dawn)

Popularity: Unpopular

I hadn't realized how popular the mechanics from Mirrodin block were until I went back to look for this article. Well, we finally get to an unpopular mechanic. In sunburst's defense, the developmental issues of Mirrodin block forced Fifth Dawn to majorly zag mechanically, and sunburst had very little support from earlier in the block (and remember back then, Fifth Dawn would be drafted as the lone third pack). Nonetheless, the mechanic wasn't particularly well liked.

Design Space: Small

The mechanic only went on artifacts and required a scaling effect. Most of the cards also wanted you to be able to use the counters it got from sunburst in a secondary way. Add all that together, and you have a narrow design space.

Versatility: Rigid

It only goes in an artifact-heavy set, it needs counters to play a significant role, and it requires five-color mana support. Some could argue that Fifth Dawn didn't even meet all those requirements.

Development: Not Problematic

The mechanic has plenty of knobs for Play Design to fiddle with to balance the cards.

Playability: Playability Affected

The mechanic requires counters, and creatures use different counters than noncreatures.

Storm Scale Rating: 9

Sunburst is just so narrow in its design space and lacking in resonance that I'm skeptical we're going to see it come back. It's not a 10 because it's not at all developmentally problematic.


Infect (Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged, and New Phyrexia)

Popularity: Popular

Infect was the most popular mechanic in Scars of Mirrodin. That said, it didn't break into the top 25%. In my 22 years of working at Wizards, I've never seen a mechanic more polarizing than infect. Its fans adore it. Its haters loathe it. It's a mechanic that tends to stir strong emotions.

Design Space: Medium

There are a lot of parameters to making good infect designs, which means that the design space isn't quite as large as you might think at first blush.

Versatility: Rigid

Infect isn't a mechanic you can just drop in a set. It requires a lot of support, and it isn't something you can do in small number.

Development: Problematic

Interestingly, infect is listed as "problematic" not because it's hard to balance (it's not), but because the mechanic is very parasitic (it requires having a lot of other infect cards in your deck), it's hard to make it work in decks that aren't all about it.

Playability: Playability Affected

Infect requires using poison, which involves counters and tracking a separate total—an alternate win condition, no less.

Storm Scale Rating: 7

I feel like every time I give infect a Storm Scale rating, it goes up. There's some bonus with bringing it back: its fans would be very excited. There's some downside: its haters would be very annoyed. And, of course, it's tricky to develop.


Poison counters (Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged, and New Phyrexia)

Popularity: Popular

Alternate win conditions tend to be rather popular. Poison has the added value of cool flavor.

Design Space: Large

Infect's design space is a subset of poison counters. In fact, a pretty small subset. There are a lot of different things we could do with poison, even if we're just talking about it on creatures.

Versatility: Rigid

Poison is hard to do is small amounts as the mechanic is so parasitic. If you make a small number of creatures, they have to be able to win the game by themselves and not rely on the whole deck to make it work.

Development: Problematic

Poison counters' issues are basically the same issues infect has. I should note that some other executions of poison have all infect's issues plus a few new ones.

Playability: Playability Affected

As with infect, poison requires the use of counters and tracking a different total.

Storm Scale Rating: 5

I feel more confident that poison counters will return than I do infect will return.


Metalcraft (Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged, and New Phyrexia)

Popularity: Liked

We come to the first mechanic in the 25–50% range. I believe metalcraft suffered from living in affinity for artifact's memory. It had a similar flavor, but at a reduced power level.

Design Space: Medium

The mechanic requires effects that can have two levels, but luckily Magic has a decent amount of those. There's also some space in effects that get a second effect when metalcraft is achieved.

Versatility: Rigid

The mechanic only works in an artifact-heavy set, so it's not all that versatile.

Development: Not Problematic

Sometimes threshold mechanics are tricky to balance because the variance in how long it can take to achieve is high. Metalcraft doesn't have that problem. For Constructed purposes, most cards can be costed assuming getting three artifacts on the battlefield won't be that hard.

Playability: Playability Not Affected

As with any threshold mechanic, there is some monitoring of another factor involved, although metalcraft is a pretty easy one to track.

Storm Scale Rating: 6

The mechanic is easy to develop. The biggest thing holding it back is the fact that it's narrow (requiring a certain style of artifact set) and not all that exciting.


Proliferate (Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged, and New Phyrexia)

Popularity: Popular

This was the second most popular mechanic in Scars of Mirrodin block and one of the mechanics I most often get requests to bring back. Its open-ended nature working with any counters has made it a Johnny/Jenny favorite.

Design Space: Medium

It can be used as an added rider on spells, but the best proliferate designs create their own game plan on what to do with proliferate. Designs in the latter category are much tougher to create.

Versatility: Rigid

You might think proliferate is pretty versatile, as most sets use counters these days. The problem with the mechanic is that it being in the set has a huge impact on how and where you can use counters. The fact that counters get used a lot these days makes that a pretty big deal.

Development: Neutral

The open-endedness that is a blessing for deck building is a bit of a headache for developing cards. Scars of Mirrodin, for example, pulled back severely on proliferate because of developmental concerns.

Playability: Playability Affected

The mechanic requires counters and always adds more, so there's a big check mark in the logistic-issues square.

Storm Scale Rating: 5

Proliferate is a beloved mechanic, one that I think has grown more popular over time. Multiple sets have tried to bring it back and failed. That says to me we'll keep trying, but I don't know how long before the stars align and we manage to keep it in a set.


Battle cry (Mirrodin Besieged)

Popularity: Liked

Battle cry is another mechanic that's easy to forget. It represented the forces of Mirrodin in their final fight against the Phyrexians. The problem was all the cool stuff was on the Phyrexian side.

Design Space: Medium

It's a combat mechanic that only goes on creatures, but as most creatures can enter combat, it works on a wide variety of sizes.

Versatility: Flexible

The mechanic requires creatures and combat, something you find in just about every game of Magic.

Development: Not Problematic

Play Design has a pretty good handle on combat mechanics, especially ones that require the creature to attack.

Playability: Playability Not Affected

The mechanic is straightforward and easy to understand and has no logistical issues.

Storm Scale Rating: 4

The mechanic is easy to design and develop and is flavorful. The biggest barrier to its return is no one is bugging us to bring it back.


Living weapon (Mirrodon Besieged and New Phyrexia)

Popularity: Popular

Equipment that comes already pre-equipped was decently popular. It was the most popular new mechanic in Mirrodin Besieged (although that's really just saying people liked it better than battle cry).

Design Space: Small

The mechanic requires toughness granting and usually also comes with power granting. There's just not a huge amount of design space. That's probably the biggest reason there's only ten cards with the mechanic.

Versatility: Medium

Living weapon cards are the only Equipment in the game that don't even require having creatures. The mechanic does need to be in a set that can support all the Equipment, although due to the design limitations, it's not all that many cards. The mechanic also uses a 0/0 black Germ creature token, which is pretty flavorfully tied to the Phyrexians.

Development: Not Problematic

Living weapon has a lot of knobs for Play Design to fiddle with. Add in that the mechanic brings along its own creature and it's not too hard to develop.

Playability: Playability Affected

The mechanic is on the complex side and requires the use of a creature token.

Storm Scale Rating: 6

Living weapon was one of my examples up above, so hopefully you saw this rating coming. It's a popular mechanic tied to one of Magic's classic villains, so I think if we can work through some of the design issues, we might see a return.


Phyrexian mana (New Phyrexia)

Popularity: Very Popular

Phyrexian mana was the most popular mechanic in the block. In fact, it's in the top 25 mechanics, by slot, across all our market research. Players loved the flavor and functionality of the mechanic.

Design Space: Medium

The biggest limitation is that we don't want to break the color pie with the mechanic. (Yes, New Phyrexia did, but we consider it a mistake.) That requires us treating the effects similarly to how we treat them on artifacts, costed such that they don't let colors trump other colors in areas where they're supposed to be better.

Versatility: Neutral

The mechanic requires adjusting life gain accordingly, but it's decently scalable as to how much a set needs to have.

Development: Problematic

Phyrexian mana messed with circumventing both the mana system and the color pie, so obviously it caused all sorts of headaches. Alternate costs, especially ones that don't use mana, are hard to balance.

Playability: Playability Affected

New types of mana usually cause some confusion, and Phyrexian mana caused a lot of problems with comprehension.

Storm Scale Rating: 8

The mechanic is very popular and also tied to one of Magic's major villains, but the developmental issues would have to be tackled before the mechanic could return.

The Storm Scale Is Over

That's all I got for today. I hope everyone who's been begging for a new Storm Scale article is happy. As always, I'm eager to hear your feedback both on the article and on my ratings. You can email me or talk to me through any of my social media accounts (Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and Instagram).

Join me next week when Core Set 2019 previews begin.

Until then, may you rediscover what the Mirrodin and Scars of Mirrodin blocks have to offer.


 
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MAKING MAGIC

Guild to Order, Part 1 by, Mark Rosewater

Welcome to the first Guilds of Ravnica Preview Week. Today, I'm going to start telling you about the design of Guilds of Ravnica. I'm also going to introduce you to the Vision Design team...

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