Q:I know that you guys are trying hard to sell us Magic's story, but I sometimes think that Magic sets work best when they're just a sightseeing tour, rather than the conveyor of a story. I wasn't active much when Zendikar was around, but I get the impression that Zendikar's story had a less of a focus compared to showing what the plane was about. I enjoyed Zendikar's deep history much more than the storyline of Theros, for example. To me, Magic works better as a display rather than a storybook.
Your thoughts have also been registered. Thank you!
Q:Is the B/U/G wedge called 'Ulgris' or 'Ana'? Or is it neither of those?
Or just “BUG”? I don’t know that there’s consensus. What do you all call it? ALERT ALERT I THINK WE HAVE A LEXICAL GAP.
Q:Have you ever considered writing an article on the long-view that R&D has to take on adding or subtracting things to the game to make it fresh while keeping it consistent? You could call it "The Pit and the Pendulum".
THAT IS A PRETTY DANG GOOD TITLE and good lord how has Rosewater not already taken that? Can that actually be true?
But I mean, there are definitely many articles on dailymtg.com about the pendulum metaphor. Ink has been spilled on the topic, like slatheringly, including, in part, by me. But the perfectness of the title is, like, exerting nonzero psychological pressure on me, so, thanks a lot. :)
Q:Can I just say, I think you hit the balance of setting and story perfectly with Theros, as far as cards go? It felt like Theros was all setting, Born of the Gods was 'Look at how our setting is changing' and then Journy into Nyx was 'And here's the plotline!' Sets that are all setting tend to be getting kind of tired by the last block, and sets that are all story can be confusing. I'd call this just about the perfect balance between the world and the events in it. Hope you do more like this.
I’m ecstatic you liked it. Your hope has been registered. Thanks for the note.
Q:Are we moving toward tri-color planeswalkers? You can sunset me all you want but I really think with Ajani's and Sarkhan's variants, along with this Ramaz character, the argument can be made.
You mean other than
But yeah, seems like only a matter of time till we see other three-color planeswalker cards. Ajani has long been dancing around in the Naya colors, and Sarkhan has toyed with Jund-itude, and Ramaz was presented as URG in Duels 2014. Someday.
Q:What's the hardest part of world building when it comes to creating a new plane?
Sometimes it’s deciding what creature staples of Magic are in and what’s out. Angels this year Y/N? Elves this year Y/N? What feels right for the plane, and how does that balance with the desires of players?
On the one hand, you want a world to feel cohesive, for all of its component parts to feel like they belong and fit the theme you’re working under. And you want it to feel distinct from other worlds, meaning that every world can’t just have a mishmash of everything every time.
On the other hand, it’s hard to argue against something as cool as warrior angels, or the chance to reinterpret elves in a new setting. Every one of Magic's usual creature suspects has its fans, so when you swing the pendulum away from those creature types, you're asking for some sad puppy-dog faces, and that's hard. And isn't our job to make things people want and find cool?
Luckily that pendulum keeps on swinging.
Q:Ruric Thar has two heads with separate personalities. Do beings like him still have a single soul for the purpose of having a planeswalker spark?
Let’s explore the matrix of options:
1A: Ruric Thar have one soul, but no spark.
1B: Ruric Thar have one soul, but they do have the spark. If it ignited, they would become a planeswalker with two heads and two personalities.
2A: Ruric Thar has two souls, in some sense, but it doesn’t matter because they have no spark.
2B: Ruric Thar has two souls, but for planeswalkery purposes they have a single spark. I’m not sure if this is actually possible. But if that spark ignited, they would become a planeswalker with two heads, two personalities, and two souls.
2C: Ruric Thar has two souls, and TWO SPARKS. To me, that means their sparks could ignite together or, theoretically, independently, if one of them somehow had some trauma or dramatic experience that the other one didn’t. If one tried to planeswalk while the other one didn’t have a spark, I don’t know what would happen. It would probably be fatal — the spark may help protect you in the Blind Eternities, and the hypothetical half-planeswalker Ruric Thar might only be half-protected.
My guess is that 1A or 1B is the real answer. I lean toward Ruric Thar (and two-headed creatures in general, I guess) being one person with two personalities, not two separate people trapped in one body. But it’s an interesting thought experiment.
Q:I love that you put the story's end on the cards this time. Alara/Zendikar/Scars/Innistrad blocks were all god because the big conclusions of those stories were all reflected in the environment, but one of the things perpetually frustrating about Return to Ravnica block is that the story seems to stop unless you buy your E-Book (which, no matter how much I love it, will always be a small portion of the audience). All out guild warfare becomes the race of the Maze and then nothing.
Right. There are a lot of players who do care about what happens in the story, but for whom the response of ”And go read this other thing to learn what happens!” just translates to ”And you’ll never get to learn what happens!” Jumping through those hoops is just not a great answer for them, and we don’t want those hoops to be a requirement for enjoying the main highlights of Magic's story.
And to be clear, when we hear this from people, we understand that it’s not because they are story-hostile or anti-Vorthos or something. What we’ve heard is a polite statement about what we need to do to meet them where they are. They’re saying, “Look, no offense, but I am just never going to go seek out your thing. I’m not ever going to take the time to find and read the whole backstory. I do want to know how the block story ends — I do want to be engaged with the story and be excited about its resolution — but you’re going to have to tell me what happened clearly, in a place I already look, or I will just not know it.” That is not an anti-story sentiment, you know? That is an anti-high-barrier-to-entry sentiment, and that’s a thing we can work on in the future.
Q:Aside from humans could we ever see another planeswalker that is of the same race as an existing character?
Any new planeswalker character needs to have a substantially different look or vibe or magical theme that distinguishes her from other ones. But assuming we could clearly differentiate the new nonhuman character from an existing one, it seems likely we would do that in the fullness of time.
Q:So, I feel like Deicide and Revel of the Fallen God spoiled a big part of the ending of Theros block for me. Did Creative not spot this when the time came to do flavour text, or was it planned? And do you have any idea if this could be avoided in future, maybe by releasing the novels earlier?
We knew we wanted Journey into Nyx to reflect major revelations in the story. Cards can sometimes give you an advance peek at what happens, since they come out basically all at once instead of according to the chronology of the story. But we still wanted the set to depict those important moments, such as Elspeth’s defeat of Xenagos, rather than leave them completely off of cards and have nobody know what’s going on. We’ve heard from players that “hiding” the story in the novel, Uncharted Realms, or other non-card venues was diminishing their ability to follow along; cards make the story real for many players.
This does represent a bit of a shift in strategy — our “story deployment strategy” you might call it. In the past, we’ve tried showing tons of story events on cards, even when they weren’t very important or interesting (such as during the Weatherlight story). We’ve also tried going the other direction and having basically zero plot on cards (I have whole Savor the Flavor articles talking about how “cards are a bad story medium,” and so, for example, the Innistrad block story is very murky for many players).
We’re moving toward a new model where we select the most crucial, visually impactful moments of the story and depicting those in the card sets. There will still be other story venues that go into more detail about the story; there is always tons more depth and character development and action that a single card can’t communicate. But we’re going to be looking for opportunities to show off those big events on cards. Deicide is an example of that.
Would we have liked it if the rest of the e-book was available by the end of Journey previews? Yep. Ideally, you’d be reading the final page of Godsend at the same moment that the pixels of Deicide dot card preview gallery dot jpeg were hitting your eyeballs, merging into one brain-shattering moment. But chronology across different media is tricky, and it didn’t work out as ideally as we had hoped this time.
We have some thoughts about improving the orchestration in the future, but it’s important to note that while stories are chronological, it’s the nature of all card sets to release all at once. The majority of players get their sense of what’s happening in the story through what they see in the card sets, so we’ll always have the job of somehow communicating what came first, this card or that card, this event or that event. That will always be the case, no matter when a novel releases or lore goes up on the web or whatever. We have some ideas to help with that communication, and to keep revelations impactful and enjoyable for everyone. For now, we hope everybody enjoys seeing the spotlight shone on those dramatic moments, and we hope you guys preorder part 2 of Godsend to get the complete story. :)