Podcast #4: Magic News

Games With Garfield gets personal this week when we discuss the upcoming rules changes to Magic: The Gathering with the game’s creator, our own Richard Garfield. Alongside game designers Tyler Bielman and Skaff Elias, the podcast features a frank discussion of each M10 rules change. Plus, a conversation about the new Duels of the Planeswalkers XBLA game and if you listen closely, you might be able to add a few celebrity gamertags to your friend list. It’s all about Magic this week; a look at the future, stories from the past and one magical colon make this a must-hear Games With Garfield podcast.

LINKS: Magic: The Gathering M10 rules changes Duels of the Planeswalkers XBLA | MTGCast | Randy Beuhler | Shandalar | Battlegrounds | Armageddon | Magic Online | Age of Booty | Schizoid

EMAIL: info@threedonkeys.com

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7 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Just wanted to say thanks for posting this; I’ve read a lot about the 2010 changes from various current players, but it’s great to get the perspective in comparison to the original intent of the game. Keep it up, and I’ll keep reading and listening!

  2. Joe,

    Nice cast as always, but it seems you guys have a couple of misconceptions regarding the M10 changes. For example, while the attacker does determine order of blockers, s/he has to assign damage too. It’s just that s/he has to assign *at least* lethal to the first guy, then the second etc. and that damage is dealt as soon as it is assigned. All the other rules like lifelink come out of this change, which to me does seem like the best way to address the ‘damage on the stack’ problem.

    The ‘can’t use abilities in combat’ idea seems rough at best. There doesn’t seem to be a reason a Prodigal can’t kill a 2/2 in combat before or after this change.

    I thought about Richard the other day before hearing this cast, and the idea of combat as betting, in light of ‘Cosmic Poker’. As a dramatic moment in the game, really the jewel of the whole ‘turn’, I thought it made sense for there to be one resolution to this combat-bet as it were. Not like a bet and then this other little half-assed bet (stacking damage) that makes the initial bet a ‘weaker choice’, you know?

    Keep up the great work.

  3. I am really enjoying these podcasts and articles. I have just recently made the decision to become a game developer, and this so far has been a fantastic resource.

    In regards to the combat damage issue I think Richard made a good point in saying that if this were any other new game, then no one would feel like they are missing out on anything not being able to stack damage. The WoW CCG does not allow any abilities to be activated once damage is assigned. (But they also don’t have the potential for double blockers because attackers pick defenders instead of the other way.)
    Really what it is being lost with the new rules change is an action window that would allow you to:
    a) Use an ability on creature being dealt lethal damage (having your cake and eating it too)
    b) Perform potential combat tricks to save your creature after damage had been assigned. (Such as casting Giant Growth on a creature who was about to be dealt lethal damage to save him.)
    The first of these two makes the veteran player upset because they liked not having to give up an ability because a creature was blocking. (And in many cases made card choices based on the ability to block and then after damage was on the stack use a sacrifice ability on a creature of theirs that was going to die anyway.)
    The second item that I mentioned is what really will be lost with this change because you close an action window that gave players another decision or skill challenge.
    There is a scale for games I think. On one end you have War the classic no decisions game. You really have no choices and all players have equal play skill. I don’t know what the other end of this scale would be, but the view from the veteran gamers of any game in general is that a slide in the War direction helps the less skilled and or newer player. I don’t think this rules change will disenfranchise enough players to make a difference, but I also don’t think that changing this one aspect is going to be the tipping point for potential players to now give the game a try.

    Again I really enjoy these podcasts and the articles. One day I hope to have game that I can come and talk to you guys about.
    Thank You


    It isn’t always easy to tell when the skill has been increased or decreased. It is not just number of decisions (hearts where you don’t have to follow suit has more decisions but probably less skill). Have we gained or lost ‘skill’ with the changes? It isn’t clear to me. A creature that I can sacrifice for a special ability may be more tricky to play now because I have to decide whether to sac it or do the damage, where as before I would do both – and the only skill was knowing the rules well enough to know that I could.

    I certainly agree with your conclusion, however, if the skill has been decreased it probably isn’t enough to worry about, nor has it been simplified probably enough to gain much from. – Richard

  4. Mindstab_Thrull,

    For those curious, the relevant (circa 4E) MTG ‘timing maps’ referred to can be found at:

    http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/arcana/130

  5. urzishra,

    You do unlock cards as you win games no matter in campaign, co-op, or online. It just doesn’t tell you that the cards were unlocked.

  6. Chuck Kallenbach,

    Nice job this time. Much better TTS (time to substance) than in #3, which was a gruelling six minutes.

    You need more provocative titles for each cast than “Magic News.” Like “Richard Garfield’s Magic Colon,” now THAT would have gotten me to listen sooner.

    Keep up the good work!

    Thanks Chuck! We are learning what works for us and what doesn’t. I have to trademark the Magic Colon, that really has a nice ring to it….

    Richard

  7. Will,

    I think the primary result of the rule change regarding tokens is that now, if you put a token creature into play under an opponent’s control in a multiplayer game, that token creature stays in play when you leave the game whereas before it would leave the game because you remove all permanents you own when you leave the game. It also has some implications for cards that regain control of all permanents you own, but those interactions are pretty minor.

    Tyler listed two of the three big complaints about the new combat rules, but I think he got it backwards about which one veteran players are more upset about. The loss of the ability to use creature abilities with damage on the stack changes the functionality of some cards, but if anything it adds strategic depth since now players must choose between damage and creatures abilities instead of getting both. (It’s true that a small edge is lost for veteran players over players not familiar with the stack, but that should be inconsequential since a veteran player should beat someone unfamiliar with the stack any way).

    Tyler’s “b” above (regarding the loss of the ability to play effects to save creatures with damage on the stack) is what I have seen the most complaints about from veteran players. This change means that to use a Giant Growth in combat you have to play it on your creature before damage. If your opponent then plays Terror on your creature, they then negate both your creature and your Giant Growth with just their Terror. With the old rules, you could put damage on the stack first, setting up a trade between your creature and your opponent’s and then try to save your creature with the Giant Growth. In this case, your opponent can still Terror your creature, but the end result will be both creatures dying and Terror and Giant Growth being used instead of your creature dying, Terror and Giant Growth being used, and your opponent’s creature being used. So it’s 2 cards for 2 cards versus 2 cards for 1 card. So basically most combat tricks now bear the risk of a 2-for-1 where before they could be saved for less risky situations. Veteran players worry that this new risk will discourage players from playing combat tricks altogether and thus decrease opportunities for skillful play in games. I don’t know if these worries are justified, but I think that’s the big complaint.

    Regarding what was said in the cast, I think Richard and Skaff are misinterpreting the intent of the change. The intent is not to do away with creatures using abilities in combat but rather creatures dealing damage in combat when they are no longer in play. I think the kind of thing that new players found confusing was when a Mogg Fanatic would block a Grizzly Bear, stack 1 point of damage and then be sacrificed for another point of damage. The new rules get rid of this kind of thing.

    I didn’t understand Skaff and Richard’s complaint that the new rules just create a different timing system — won’t there always some timing system however you decide to handle combat?

    Besides the two complaints that Tyler mentioned, I think the third thing that people dislike about the rules changes is that they seem inelegant — assigning actual points of damage to the blockers you choose just feels cleaner than lining the creatures up. Also, all that text about Lifelink and Deathtouch that shocked Richard is further evidence of the inelegance of the new rules (those changes are side effects of the combat system change).

    Despite the inelegance, I’m sure the guys at Wizards thought about it a lot more than I have before they came up with the changes. I do wonder though why didn’t just make a rule like “only still in play deal combat damage.”

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