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Subject: [POLL] So since everyone hates Battle For Zendikar now.. rss

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fightcitymayor
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... are people frightened to death about how WotC might screw up Shadows Over Innistrad?

I harken back to the days of Return To Ravnica, when everyone was super-geeked to go back to a very popular plane... until the set came out. Then Gatecrash came out and people went, "Ehhh..." then Dragon's Maze came out and people vomited up their collective lunch. Fast forward to a month ago when people were similarly geeking out over Zendikar (although I wasn't, I never considered the original Zendikar block a great Magic block) and then once the product was released into our filthy little paws people groaned and grimaced and have turned away.

So now that we know WotC are going directly back into the archives for a trip back to Innistrad. Are you scared they will ruin this next block like they mishandled the respective returns to Ravnica and Zendikar?

Poll
What best captures your thoughts on next year's Shadows Over Innistrad set?
Totally scared, they better not fuck it up.
Somewhat trepidatious, given how the recent returns were handled.
Gimme, gimme, gimme! Gonna eat it up, yum!
      32 answers
Poll created by fightcitymayor


 
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Todd Pytel
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I haven't been following MtG news lately and haven't played anything from the new Zendikar block. But I think it's lame that WotC is leaning so heavily on "Return to..." sets. Mirrodin, Ravnica, Zendikar, and now Innistrad? The first two I mostly understood, because those were rather old sets and Scars especially was much more than just a carbon copy. But it just seems lazy at this point. I'm sure it's easier (=cheaper) to do it this way, but a lot of what I admired about MtG in the last 10 years was how carefully each new world was constructed in terms of theme, mechanics, art, colors, etc. Even though the "Return to.." sets all make significant changes to the original designs, they're a lot less enticing to me than encountering a whole new world.
 
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Chris Bender
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I love Battle for Zendikar, and I am super excited for a return to Innistrad.

In case some of you don't know, WotC has shrunk block sizes down to two sets now, and they are releasing two blocks a year. Overall it will be 50% new worlds and 50% old worlds.

I've played Magic for over 20 years, and it is better now than it ever has been. I look forward to many awesome new and returning worlds.

I think the noise on the internet about the newest set is misleading. Early indicators seem to indicate that this set is selling very well, and I wouldn't be surprised if it sets new sales records.

Chris Bender
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chrisbender wrote:
I love Battle for Zendikar, and I am super excited for a return to Innistrad.

In case some of you don't know, WotC has shrunk block sizes down to two sets now, and they are releasing two blocks a year. Overall it will be 50% new worlds and 50% old worlds.

I've played Magic for over 20 years, and it is better now than it ever has been. I look forward to many awesome new and returning worlds.

I think the noise on the internet about the newest set is misleading. Early indicators seem to indicate that this set is selling very well, and I wouldn't be surprised if it sets new sales records.

Chris Bender
Of course the newest set is selling well. Each pack is a 3.50 lottery ticket that might give you a seventy dollar and up return.

Wonka's golden tickets aside the set is mediocre when compared to the long and rich history of the game. Zendikar's return feels pushed out as a splashy continuation of an old story arc than a great magic expansion though unlike Return to Ravnica the set itself plays fairly well with what's currently in the standard rotation.

The game will go on as always, even if the way Magic is handling things feels more like they're promoting movie stars via splashy story arcs and name dropping for their prized planeswalkers. So here's to hoping that Innistrad doesn't become a continuation of angels and demons running around slap fighting one another and instead returns to the deep Gothic theme it had in the beginning of the original block.
 
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fightcitymayor
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chrisbender wrote:
I've played Magic for over 20 years, and it is better now than it ever has been. I look forward to many awesome new and returning worlds.

I think the noise on the internet about the newest set is misleading. Early indicators seem to indicate that this set is selling very well, and I wouldn't be surprised if it sets new sales records.
Nice try Mark Rosewater, I see right through your ruse!

Everything That’s Wrong with Battle for Zendikar
http://www.channelfireball.com/articles/everything-thats-wro...
MtG HOFer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa wrote:
In the end, I think the biggest problem with Battle for Zendikar is that it just goes overboard on things that I would consider slightly bad, and piles them up to a point where it becomes really bad. You want to have a mechanic that doesn’t interact with any other set? That’s fine, but do you need three of them? You want to have a mechanic that just adds to existing cards, also fine, but do you need multiple? You want to have tons of colorless lands, sure, but do you have to print those next to a multicolor format that already has a ton of colorless lands? And do you have to print converge in the exact same set?

None of these would be a big deal individually, but together they make for an utterly unappealing set.
Battle for Zendikar and the This Always Happens Theory
http://www.mtggoldfish.com/articles/battle-for-zendikar-and-...
Quote:
Many people (myself included) have argued that Battle for Zendikar has been a weak set comparatively. Some people attribute this to Wizards powering down Standard, which they do every so often to reign in power creep. Supporting this argument is the fact that relatively few non-land cards from Battle for Zendikar were featured in the Top Eight of Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar. When I point this out, one of the typical responses is "this happens every time — cards from the newest set rarely see heavy play right off the bat."

On one hand, this argument is true. It is unreasonable to expect a single set to overwhelm an entire block (and a core set) of established cards, synergies, and archetypes. By the numbers, Battle for Zendikar is only one-fifth of Standard (slightly more if you consider set size). Given that Battle for Zendikar starts behind other sets, even reaching a 20% threshold of "played cards" is unlikely two weeks after the set released.

However, even with this in mind, I think the numbers paint a pretty clear picture of Battle for Zendikar: it's an underwhelming constructed set. For today, let's use some Pro Tour history to see how Battle for Zendikar stacks up to other sets.
 
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chrisbender wrote:

I think the noise on the internet about the newest set is misleading. Early indicators seem to indicate that this set is selling very well, and I wouldn't be surprised if it sets new sales records.
That seems to be mostly driven by the full-art lands, which were long desired and rarely reprinted.
 
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Idaho11 wrote:
chrisbender wrote:

I think the noise on the internet about the newest set is misleading. Early indicators seem to indicate that this set is selling very well, and I wouldn't be surprised if it sets new sales records.
That seems to be mostly driven by the full-art lands, which were long desired and rarely reprinted.
While I don't doubt that at all, it's worth noting that the articles quoted above are people complaining about the set from a Standard tournament perspective. But it's the more casual players that tend to drive sales of packs. I've only played at the prerelease and I thought it was a fun set to play. I rejoice in the tears of serious tournament players.
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chrisbender wrote:
I've played Magic for over 20 years, and it is better now than it ever has been.
[Note: The following is written from the perspective of limited. In constructed, and especially standard, Magic has had some great times (and awful times) in the previous few years.]

I've also been playing Magic over 20 years, and I think Magic had over a decade of being "the best its ever been," but I think Magic has had a significant downtick in quality in the past years. Magic had a real golden age stringing together Rise of the Eldrazi, Scars block, Innistrad, and M13, all being totally excellent, and all being popular even now for players to draft again whenever they get a chance.

Then was RTR Block (where I liked Gatecrash quite a bit, but the rest of the sets were lackluster, and the full block draft was downright terrible), then THS block (triple THS was a reasonable limited format, though it was criminally lacking in interesting things to do, but the other sets were just terrible), then Khans block (where again, triple KTK was a reasonable limited format, though it was criminally lacking in interesting things to do, and the remaining sets did not really deliver, though FRF was better than Born of the Gods).

Finally we have Battle for Zendikar, which is the most ambitious set WOTC has made in years, with tons of potentially interesting mechanics and legitimately interesting decks and themes to draft, but it is not well loved by pros or drafters. Despite considering BFZ pretty much a failure, I take it as at least some small cause for optimism that WOTC is trying to make interesting sets again (after what I'd consider three years of not even making the attempt).

So will Shadows over Innistrad be amazing? I think that WOTC's track record gives more reason for pessimism than optimism, but I think BFZ is some indication that WOTC wants to make a set that pleases drafters again. I think, though, it will most likely take them more time to remember how, though.

PS: It certainly isn't just me grousing about limited in the past years either. If you are a long term twitch viewer, you may recall how in years past, Magic streams were 95% or more limited streams. Nowadays Magic streams are more than half constructed (often considerably more than half).

PPS: A reasonable question is why this marked decline is happening (provided you agree with me that it is). I think there are two main issues, which both hinge on WOTC corporate stuff more than anything like shifts in design philosophy. The first is that WOTCs employee turn over rate is high. Super high. Very strong designers and developers like Dan Emmons, Jon Loucks, Tom Lapille, Zac Hill, Brian Tinsman, and many others came and left. In general WOTC wants people to work there not because they are well compensated, but because it is their dream job, meaning there is ample opportunity for WOTC employees to be poached, or just burn out and leave.

The second issue is that WOTC has scaled up how much they were doing by a considerable amount from the golden days. Four sets a year (now on two planes), plus a paper supplemental set, an online supplemental set, commander decks, duel decks, Magic Online cubes, and more have WOTC's focus split in many more places, and that leaves much less time to polish their products to the level they used to. And so we get sets where Clutch of Currents and Rush of Ice are in the same set (seriously, how did that happen?), and other sloppiness, and we miss out on the really rich multi-layered interactions of sets like the original Innistrad.
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delirimouse wrote:
PPS: A reasonable question is why this marked decline is happening (provided you agree with me that it is). I think there are two main issues, which both hinge on WOTC corporate stuff more than anything like shifts in design philosophy. The first is that WOTCs employee turn over rate is high. Super high. Very strong designers and developers like Dan Emmons, Jon Loucks, Tom Lapille, Zac Hill, Brian Tinsman, and many others came and left. In general WOTC wants people to work there not because they are well compensated, but because it is their dream job, meaning there is ample opportunity for WOTC employees to be poached, or just burn out and leave.

The second issue is that WOTC has scaled up how much they were doing by a considerable amount from the golden days. Four sets a year (now on two planes), plus a paper supplemental set, an online supplemental set, commander decks, duel decks, Magic Online cubes, and more have WOTC's focus split in many more places, and that leaves much less time to polish their products to the level they used to. And so we get sets where Clutch of Currents and Rush of Ice are in the same set (seriously, how did that happen?), and other sloppiness, and we miss out on the really rich multi-layered interactions of sets like the original Innistrad.
I'll add another perspective to these great points.

I came into Magic right around the early-to-middle part of the tremendous growth in the the last decade at the beginning of Innistrad block. Like many people I followed the traditional "buy packs, learn Limited, learn Standard, buy packs, go through rotation, buy packs, repeat...start looking into Modern and Commander, switch to buying singles, slowly transition all the way out of Standard into only Modern and Commander."

For a Casual (sometimes lightly semi-Competitive) Player like me, I've already experienced what I care to experience out of new sets and the Standard scene. It's fun to see what WotC is putting out, but really, there are maybe 3 - 8 cards a set that interest me. And again, that's Casual appeal based on building thematic "Kitchen Table-plus" decks, not a hardcore eternal format player only interested in the most powerful card the set has to offer. By that I mean Gods in the Theros block and Dragons in the Khans block are appealing. For BFZ, I bought a single Fat Pack to get lands, and that's it.

All that being said, I wonder if in addition to the other legitimate factors listed in the posts above for a decline, there are a lot of other people from the "new player" category over the last 3 - 7 years that also realized they can't "keep up with standard" and just want to keep playing with the cards they have.
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