Topical Blend #2a - Celebrating Larry

Posted in Making Magic on March 13, 2006

By Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar

Mark likes to invent conversations that happened at Wizards, so here goes:

**phone rings**

JMS: Hello?

Scott Johns ('s producer): Hey JMS, it's Scott. We're going to do Swap Week as a theme week on the site, where each of the columnists on a day writes the other guy's column.

JMS: Okay...

Scott: That means you'll need to break off in the middle of your last preconstructed deck evolution to write Making Magic on March 13th. Awesome, huh?

JMS: ...

Scott: Are you thrilled?

JMS: Um. No.

Scott: What?!? Why not? You get arguably the sweetest assignment of all ten week-day writers!

JMS: But, Scott... I don't make Magic.

Scott: Oh. Well, you're a creative guy. You'll think of something.

JMS: But...

Scott: Gotta go! Gottlieb just ran by naked! Oh God, he's coming back! Hide, everyone! Get dow--


So here I am. As I've said in previous articles, some of the writers on this site are Wizards of the Coast “insiders.” They work in Renton, creating the game we all love. Others won some sort of writing lottery in order to discuss Magic on a weekly basis. I'm one of the lottery guys. I've visited WotC's offices three times, and although I do work on names and flavor text as a contractor, my insights into Magic Design are few.

Luckily, Mark uses a number of gimmicks in his column that I can borrow for a day. One of my favorites is Topical Blend, where Mark lets you decide what two topics he's going to squish together into a day's worth of tasty reading. The first time out, he talked Design Mistakes and Girls. Last time, he tackled a Sixth Color of Magic and the fact that he's crazy. That second article also left me these handy poll results:

List A - Magic Related (Choose One)
What happened to Pestilence? 463 7.8%
Pros and Cons of Introducing a Sixth Color 463 7.8%
Impossible things to do in Magic 342 5.7%
Biggest changes in Magic that never happened 255 4.3%
Possible ways to make Magic more appealing to women 194 3.3%
Why Skeletons are not just really, really rotten Zombies, despite what Cohen the Barbarian said to Ghaak in "The Last Hero" by Terry Pratchett 148 2.5%
Angels 148 2.5%
6th Color Pros and Cons 147 2.5%
Stories about banned cards I've designed 145 2.4%
Poison Abilities in Magic (Why was it abandoned? Will it come back in a new set? Etc.) 137 2.3%
Original Decisions in Magic (Why five colors? Why those basic lands?, etc.) 135 2.3%
Cards That Failed To Get Through Design 126 2.1%
The Power Nin 124 2.1%
Impossible things to do in Magic 116 2.0%
Frogs 115 1.9%
Why Magic cards seem better now than they used to 106 1.8%
Ooze Creature Types in Magic 100 1.7%
Advantages for adding a 6th color 95 1.6%
What Would Magic Be Like Without Rarity 94 1.6%
What would early Magic (Arabian Nights through Fallen Empires) have been like under the block system 92 1.5%
Math and Magic 91 1.5%
Faeries 91 1.5%
Zero-Cost Spells 90 1.5%
Magic Legends From R&D's Secret Lair 89 1.5%
Legacy (the format, as opposed to the collection of artifacts that Gerard was responsible for) 88 1.5%
Counterspells 82 1.4%
Drafting 80 1.3%
Game Theory and Battle of Wits 77 1.3%
History of Grizzly Bears (and other 2-drop 2/2s) 74 1.2%
Alpha/Beta 73 1.2%
Enchant Worlds (aka World Enchantments) 73 1.2%
Most embarassing moments of the Pro Tour 70 1.2%
Player Evolution (I personally think everyone (who isn't influenced a lot by others) goes through stages in their magic experience) 69 1.2%
Popular Cards vs. Good Cards (And How We Design Each) 67 1.1%
People who don't like new sets 64 1.1%
Most Comical Day in R&D 63 1.1%
R&D's reflections about the Urza Block (with Multiverse comments, maybe?) 56 0.9%
Top Magic Cards Inspired by Real People/Items/Events 54 0.9%
Un-set design 53 0.9%
The coolest color combination 52 0.9%
Coin Flip Cards 49 0.8%
The color red 48 0.8%
Storyline Development 47 0.8%
Deck Milling throughout history (Altar of Dementia) 45 0.8%
Balancing/Creating New Countermagic 45 0.8%
Magic Art 42 0.7%
Three color cards 41 0.7%
Your top regrets in Magic 41 0.7%
Abilities that could be made into keywords (e.g., "Whenever this creature deals damage, you gain that much life.") and why you haven't done so 38 0.6%
The race-class system 37 0.6%
The Role of Chaos Inducing Cards 36 0.6%
The Role of Chaos Inducing Cards 30 0.5%
Design of vanilla creatures (!) 27 0.5%
How to know the game has been stretched too far 27 0.5%
Exploring virgin territory in design 26 0.4%
Choosing Set Themes 22 0.4%
Why cats in Magic have creature type Cat but dogs in Magic have creature type Hound (instead of Dog) 22 0.4%
Expansion symbols and logos 21 0.4%
How Magic decks are similar to and different from openings and opening positions in other games (e.g., chess and Stratego) 20 0.3%
How the internet has affected Magic 20 0.3%
Creature Types 19 0.3%
How Sixth Edition Rules Affect Design 18 0.3%
How has affected the game? 18 0.3%
Recent changes to the color pie 18 0.3%
Set Superdesign (amount of cards, amount of cards per color, amount of sets, release dates of sets etc) 17 0.3%
Removal 17 0.3%
Why Urza's is a Land Subtype rather than a Land Supertype. 16 0.3%
The importance of Eternal formats 15 0.3%
How the Public Impacts Magic 14 0.2%
Ways you've changed cards to make it harder for players to cheat with them 13 0.2%
Creature Types: Where do They Come From? 12 0.2%
The design and economy of Fat Packs 11 0.2%
How to successfully lead a design team 10 0.2%
Self-sacrifice cards and forced sacrifice 10 0.2%
The Reduction of the number of X Spells in Magic 9 0.2%
Interconnectivity of sets 9 0.2%
Cards with Flying 8 0.1%
Does Rules Lawyering Detract from Magic 8 0.1%
Designing Enchantments 7 0.1%
Themes outside Magic affecting Magic design 6 0.1%
Magic's Resource System 4 0.1%
Internal set structure 2 0.0%
Cards that change controller whenever something specific happens (as with, e.g., Fractured Loyalty) 2 0.0%
Total 5948 100.0%
List B - Non-Magic Related (Choose One)
Mark Rosewater is $%^# insane! 869 11.5%
Dungeons & Dragons 504 6.7%
Family Guy 413 5.5%
Monty Python 356 4.7%
Mark Gottlieb 323 4.3%
Chaos theory 225 3.0%
Richard Garfield Anecdotes 218 2.9%
The Matrix 206 2.7%
Star Wars 196 2.6%
The concept of Zero 178 2.4%
Heavy Metal 175 2.3%
Why Canada spells things differently 145 1.9%
Throat Wolf 142 1.9%
Norse Mythology 140 1.9%
Things new employees at have to go thru at Wizards 136 1.8%
End of the World (or mankind) 133 1.8%
Muppets 131 1.7%
Video Games 126 1.7%
Dragons 121 1.6%
Ramen Noodles 118 1.6%
World War II 116 1.5%
How to argue and win (you always say there's lots of arguing and debate there and as team leader you often need to settle these I assume) 111 1.5%
Gophers 111 1.5%
That gunk that gets into your mouse 110 1.5%
The movie Twelve Angry Men 108 1.4%
Idiots and the Internet 105 1.4%
Time Travel 97 1.3%
The life and works of William Shakespeare 95 1.3%
Richard Garfield vs Houdini 94 1.2%
Sigmund Freud 93 1.2%
Puppies and Kittens: Cute Pets, or Intergalactic Invaders? 88 1.2%
My top regrets in life 81 1.1%
Comic Books 81 1.1%
How to keep a marriage together 78 1.0%
Dr. Seuss 77 1.0%
Are Tomatoes Fruit? 74 1.0%
My favorite riddles and their answers rewritten in the context of whatever the other topic is your blending 73 1.0%
Sir Isaac Newton 72 1.0%
Pet Peeves (aka Rants) 58 0.8%
College 58 0.8%
Artificial Intelligence 57 0.8%
Geek figures in history 56 0.7%
Lies in the Media 51 0.7%
Old Cartoons 46 0.6%
Spandex 45 0.6%
Art 42 0.6%
Music 40 0.5%
Soap opera and the proletariat color conflict 40 0.5%
My favorite game 37 0.5%
Eating out 37 0.5%
Giant Turtles 37 0.5%
Chicken and the Egg 35 0.5%
Magic (you know like rabbits out of hats and such) 34 0.5%
My Personal Life 33 0.4%
Anatomy 32 0.4%
My production assistant days 30 0.4%
Experiences in school 28 0.4%
Gameshows 22 0.3%
TV shows you like 20 0.3%
Superstition 19 0.3%
Sleeping 18 0.2%
Bad injuries 17 0.2%
Clarence Darrow 16 0.2%
Pets 15 0.2%
My fans 14 0.2%
My favorite recipes 14 0.2%
Writing for television 13 0.2%
Hairstyles 12 0.2%
Dancing 12 0.2%
Inspirational Sources 11 0.1%
Office Supplies 9 0.1%
Hotel reservations 9 0.1%
Boredom 8 0.1%
Colleagues 5 0.1%
Singing 3 0.0%
Famous People 2 0.0%
Snack Foods 1 0.0%
Total 7555 100.0%

Now, if I'm going by sheer number of votes, I should be discussing “What happened to Pestilence?” and relating it to “Dungeons & Dragons.” Honestly, I would prefer Mark tackle both of these topics. Given that I have no insights into what happened to Pestilence, I'm pretty sure you would too.

For those of you who read Building On A Budget, you'll remember that last week I discussed my own personal affliction of rogue-itis. This affliction, as I described it, is my strong deckbuilding urge to follow the road less traveled, to become disenchanted with decks everyone is making, and to champion ideas everyone else thinks are junk. After last week's article, I received a ton of e-mails to the effect of, “right on, brother!” It seems that rogue-itis might be somewhat contagious.

In honor of rogue tendencies, then, it's time to pick the two topics I don't think Mark will ever realistically cover. That's right: I'm focusing on the bottom of each poll. Does that make me a bottom feeder? Wait. Don't answer that.

Cards that change controller whenever something specific happens (as with, e.g., Fractured Loyalty)” received exactly two votes, and “Snack Foods” pulled in one. If you're the lone person who happened to have voted for Snack Foods, please speak up on the Message Boards. Since I don't know who you are, I'm going to dub you Lawrence, although on second thought I think I'll call you Larry. Today's for you, Larry.

What do you get when Change-Controller Cards meet Snack Foods?


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