Topical Blend #3: Sessions

Posted in Making Magic on September 3, 2007

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.

Wizards of the Coast is out of the office for the Labor Day holiday and will return with new content beginning Tuesday, September 4th. However, despite the holiday we've got the latest installment of the Planeswalkers minisite up for your viewing pleasure, and I think it's safe to say that this is one you definitely don't want to miss out on.

In case you missed it, what follows is the article that ran in this slot last week. Enjoy the minisite preview and we'll see you tomorrow!

- Scott Johns, Site Manager

Welcome to Topical Blend #3. For those of you that have no idea what I'm talking about, let me quickly recap. Whenever I do a Topical Blend, I ask my readers to send in suggestions for topics both Magic and non-Magic. I pick fifty of each suggestion and then let all of you vote on which one you want from each category. Then I write a column the intertwines the two choices.

My first Topical Blend interweaved My Ten Biggest Design Mistakes with Girls. It was called "To Err Is Human," and it was one of my most popular columns ever. The second Topical Blend combined Designing The Sixth Color with "Mark Rosewater Is @$^#%#$ Insane!" (a common header on a certain Magic-themed board). The article is one of my "out there" columns. If you go to the link let me stress that where you end up is in fact the article even if it doesn't seem like it. Really.

Which leads us to today. Let's start by seeing what topics you all selected for me. First the Magic poll:


List A - Magic Related (Choose One)  
The Top Ten Coolest Creatures Ever Designed 736 9.5%
The worst card in each set taken in context of when that set was released 545 7.1%
How does Wizards lose Magic players? 479 6.2%
Benchmarks in Magic (i.e. Grizzly Bears as 2/2s for 2, destroying a land for three mana ala Stone Rain, four mana for a permanent card drawer such as Jayemdae Tome, and the like) 394 5.1%
The design of Tarmogoyf 385 5.0%
Designing iconic legendary creatures (i.e., Phage, Akroma, Dakkon Blackblade, etc.) and their importance to the game both from a marketing perspective and from a game-play perspective 327 4.2%
The effect of Magic Online on paper Magic 274 3.5%
Designing one drops 272 3.5%
Rejected Un-Set cards 256 3.3%
The future of the color pie 249 3.2%
The reserved list 243 3.1%
How I would have designed an old set (Alpha, Arabian Nights, etc.) in the present 232 3.0%
Top ten hits and misses in artifacts 216 2.8%
Other games that influence Magic design 199 2.6%
Power creep 196 2.5%
Stories, great plays, and/or mistakes from actual Magic games I've played 194 2.5%
Evolution of the color wheel 184 2.4%
Alternative win conditions 181 2.3%
Dead design space 166 2.1%
The 'Universal Base Set,' a.k.a. UBS 156 2.0%
The removed-from-the-game zone 139 1.8%
Bizarre design inspirations 124 1.6%
Fungus 121 1.6%
Old mechanics that weren't good 115 1.5%
Failed ideas that eventually worked 102 1.3%
Designing dragons 101 1.3%
The less-glamorous side of R&D 89 1.2%
Famous people completely outside the world of gaming who would make good Magic designers 87 1.1%
Bluffing cards 78 1.0%
Collecting Magic cards 76 1.0%
Wacky formats 73 0.9%
My greatest failures and greatest successes as a designer 72 0.9%
Old cards to which I have an emotional attachment 70 0.9%
R&D's view of 'You lose the game' 67 0.9%
Designing spells that cost nothing to play 60 0.8%
My very first game of Magic 55 0.7%
The design of B.F.M. (from Unglued) 49 0.6%
Block design 47 0.6%
Making decisions for a core set 43 0.6%
Shapeshifters 38 0.5%
When flavor and mechanics clash 35 0.5%
Inter-block connectivity 31 0.4%
Reflections on the designs of past Magic blocks 30 0.4%
Designing brand-new environments 29 0.4%
Rarity switching (e.g. Rukh Egg and Repentant Blacksmith) 26 0.3%
Latest Developments (Aaron's column) 25 0.3%
The Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame 23 0.3%
People other than Mark Rosewater who work in R&D 22 0.3%
Choosing design teams for sets 6 0.1%
The interaction of Design with other departments 5 0.1%
Total 7722 100.0%

Next is the non-Magic poll:


Non-Magic Related (Choose One)  
Dungeons and Dragons (RPGs) 848 9.6%
Picard vs. Kirk 658 7.4%
Monty Python 577 6.5%
All things Joss Whedon 418 4.7%
Harry Potter 395 4.5%
The evil deeds of MaGo 351 4.0%
"Lost" 347 3.9%
Wizards in-jokes 345 3.9%
Jim Henson and the Muppets 326 3.7%
Gleemax (the alien brain in the jar, not the card) 303 3.4%
Seven deadly sins 289 3.3%
Censorship 268 3.0%
Richard Garfield 232 2.6%
"Seinfeld" 231 2.6%
Classic arcade games 181 2.0%
Oxymorons 169 1.9%
Marriage 165 1.9%
Time travel 162 1.8%
80s Movies 160 1.8%
Comics and superheroes 156 1.8%
Bad movie choices 155 1.8%
The famous people I've met in my current and past career 149 1.7%
Board games 145 1.6%
Urban legends 135 1.5%
Stand-up comedy 116 1.3%
Science fiction 112 1.3%
Pirates 111 1.3%
Life as a young Rosewater 104 1.2%
Puzzles 103 1.2%
Writing for television / my time on "Roseanne" 94 1.1%
Office gossip 90 1.0%
The Internet 82 0.9%
College 75 0.8%
Raising children 70 0.8%
Writing and the use of metaphors 67 0.8%
Things that start with the letter "X" 67 0.8%
Stick Figures 66 0.7%
Magic (as in real world, David Copperfield magicians) 59 0.7%
My favorite books 58 0.7%
Dealing with being a celebrity of sorts 51 0.6%
My favorite movies 51 0.6%
Chocolate 48 0.5%
Reality TV shows 43 0.5%
Interesting tales from world travels 42 0.5%
Harry Houdini 39 0.4%
My favorite TV shows (excluding "Roseanne") 37 0.4%
San Diego Comic-Con 29 0.3%
Part-time jobs 26 0.3%
Desserts 24 0.3%
Writing articles 22 0.2%
Total 8851 100.0%

Okay, we have The Top Ten Coolest Creatures in Magic and Dungeons & Dragons. I'll admit I was a little upset when I first saw the results because I felt the two topics were a little too easy to combine. After all, "The Top Ten Coolest Magic Creatures Inspired by Dungeons & Dragons" is more than worthy as a topic of a column, but the reason I do Topical Blends is to stretch myself as a writer. As such, I decided to try a much less obvious path to connect the two. I hope you like it.

Click here for Topical Blend #3: Sessions.

Latest Making Magic Articles


January 17, 2022

The Big Picture by, Mark Rosewater

Welcome, everyone. Regular column/blog readers, or podcast listeners, have often heard me say "Magic is not one game, but many games." Today, I plan to dive a little deeper into what that...

Learn More


January 10, 2022

Even More Words with R&D by, Mark Rosewater

In 2005, I wrote an article called "A Few Words with R&D" where I talked about many of the slang and vocabulary words R&D uses. In 2016, I wrote a follow-up called "A Few More Wor...

Learn More



Making Magic Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All