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, magicthegathering.com Site Manager

Welcometo 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 Designed7369.5%
The worst card in each set taken in context of when that set was released5457.1%
How does Wizards lose Magic players?4796.2%
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)3945.1%
The design of Tarmogoyf3855.0%
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 perspective3274.2%
The effect of Magic Online on paper Magic2743.5%
Designing one drops2723.5%
Rejected Un-Set cards2563.3%
The future of the color pie2493.2%
The reserved list2433.1%
How I would have designed an old set (Alpha, Arabian Nights, etc.) in the present2323.0%
Top ten hits and misses in artifacts2162.8%
Other games that influence Magic design1992.6%
Power creep1962.5%
Stories, great plays, and/or mistakes from actual Magic games I've played1942.5%
Evolution of the color wheel1842.4%
Alternative win conditions1812.3%
Dead design space1662.1%
The 'Universal Base Set,' a.k.a. UBS1562.0%
The removed-from-the-game zone1391.8%
Bizarre design inspirations1241.6%
Old mechanics that weren't good1151.5%
Failed ideas that eventually worked1021.3%
Designing dragons1011.3%
The less-glamorous side of R&D891.2%
Famous people completely outside the world of gaming who would make good Magic designers871.1%
Bluffing cards781.0%
Collecting Magic cards761.0%
Wacky formats730.9%
My greatest failures and greatest successes as a designer720.9%
Old cards to which I have an emotional attachment700.9%
R&D's view of 'You lose the game'670.9%
Designing spells that cost nothing to play600.8%
My very first game of Magic550.7%
The design of B.F.M. (from Unglued)490.6%
Block design470.6%
Making decisions for a core set430.6%
When flavor and mechanics clash350.5%
Inter-block connectivity310.4%
Reflections on the designs of past Magic blocks300.4%
Designing brand-new environments290.4%
Rarity switching (e.g. Rukh Egg and Repentant Blacksmith)260.3%
Latest Developments (Aaron's column)250.3%
The Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame230.3%
People other than Mark Rosewater who work in R&D220.3%
Choosing design teams for sets60.1%
The interaction of Design with other departments50.1%

Next is the non-Magic poll:


Non-Magic Related (Choose One)  
Dungeons and Dragons (RPGs)8489.6%
Picard vs. Kirk6587.4%
Monty Python5776.5%
All things Joss Whedon4184.7%
Harry Potter3954.5%
The evil deeds of MaGo3514.0%
Wizards in-jokes3453.9%
Jim Henson and the Muppets3263.7%
Gleemax (the alien brain in the jar, not the card)3033.4%
Seven deadly sins2893.3%
Richard Garfield2322.6%
Classic arcade games1812.0%
Time travel1621.8%
80s Movies1601.8%
Comics and superheroes1561.8%
Bad movie choices1551.8%
The famous people I've met in my current and past career1491.7%
Board games1451.6%
Urban legends1351.5%
Stand-up comedy1161.3%
Science fiction1121.3%
Life as a young Rosewater1041.2%
Writing for television / my time on "Roseanne"941.1%
Office gossip901.0%
The Internet820.9%
Raising children700.8%
Writing and the use of metaphors670.8%
Things that start with the letter "X"670.8%
Stick Figures660.7%
Magic (as in real world, David Copperfield magicians)590.7%
My favorite books580.7%
Dealing with being a celebrity of sorts510.6%
My favorite movies510.6%
Reality TV shows430.5%
Interesting tales from world travels420.5%
Harry Houdini390.4%
My favorite TV shows (excluding "Roseanne")370.4%
San Diego Comic-Con290.3%
Part-time jobs260.3%
Writing articles220.2%

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.