Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And the Nominees are...

In the beginning, the Core sets were formless and empty, and Forsythe said “Let there be Lightning Bolt!” And Forsythe saw that the Lightning Bolt was good, and he separated Magic 2010 from the Nth editions. And since then, each core set has had at least one classic common or uncommon reprint that was constructed worthy and selected to appeal to a wide range of players. Lightning Bolt was re-reprinted along with Mana Leak in M11, Mana Leak came back again for M12, and Rancor was reprinted for M13. Since core staples seem to stick around for two years at a time, it's probably safe to assume that Rancor will be back for M14. But could we get an additional staple reprint?

At this point, M14 is off to the printers already, so my opinion counts for even less than usual. But I hope Wizards keeps up with the reprints. Getting to play with Bolt was a big factor in me getting back into Magic after a long hiatus, and I know I’m not the only player that was lured back with the classic reprints. It doesn’t hurt either that the reprints have been simple cards that new players can pick up and cram in any deck in those colors and be successful with them. And wondering about the possibilities got me thinking about what card I would nominate for a reprint if I were working on a core set.

Since Red, Blue, and Green have all gotten a reprint, I think it’s fair that either black or white get their turn next, and given the choice between the two, I choose black. In general, I think Black is the easiest color for amateurs like us to work with. It has a relatively deep pool of effects to choose from, it has a wide variety of creatures to work with, and personally, I enjoy playing black decks. In real life I don’t have many black tendencies, so it’s a fun change to indulge my devious and calculating side, which made it was easy to brainstorm a quick list of core-worthy cards.

The first card that popped into mind was Dark Ritual, which I immediately dismissed. It fits the “classic” part of the requirement, but it doesn’t fit the way the game is played any more. Dark Ritual was at its best when it fed a powerful spell that could quickly take over the game, and in R&D’s new world order concept, there haven’t been many spells that mesh with ritual mana. Ritual powered creatures have never had quite the same allure, partly because the threat of losing two cards to a basic removal spell is a serious problem. Even the old-school turn one ritual into Hypnotic Specter met with a Shock or Lightning Bolt half the time; what you really wanted was a ritual into Necropotence, which is simply not going to happen again.

The next card I thought about was Hymn to Tourach. I don’t think powerful discard effects are inherently taboo, (Mind Rot is almost always limited playable and shows up regularly, and Blightning and Inquisition of Kozilek saw print) so there’s a possibility that we could see more powerhouse discard in the future. But the “at random” rider on Hymn becomes a problem if you pull two lands out of your opponents hand before their second turn and they get land screwed for the rest of the game. At this point, almost everyone is on board with R&D’s “let-everyone-play” philosophy, and if your opponent gets lucky with Hymn, you are basically out of the game. And on top of that, “at random” has issues by itself. So Hymn gets crossed off the list.

Thinking about rituals and discards led me to consider Hypnotic Specter. Could it be demoted to uncommon and serve the classic reprint role? A 3cc, 2/2 flier is hardly the kind of body to inspire terror now-a-days, and while the discard effect is painful, it’s not as brutal as Hymn to Tourach. So the good ol’ Hyppie seemed plausible... until I checked it on Gatherer, and realized it had already been reprinted as a rare in M10. Did it flop as a reprint? I played a fair amount of limited and Standard with M10, and it obviously it didn’t make an impression on me, so it doesn’t seem like it’ll accomplish the classic reprint mission. And, on top of that, it wouldn’t seem new for players who learned the game recently if it was just reprinted three years ago.

What about Diabolic Edict? It seems to fit the requirement for a popular classic (incidentally, it’s one of the highest rated black commons on Gatherer), and (if it’s good enough for Eternal play, it must have something going for it). Straightforward Edict effects disappeared for a while after Ravnica, appearing only on multi-effect rare cards, and a couple oddball tribal cards (Mercy Killing and Warren Weirding, which I consider bad designs for the number of choices they impose on a player). An ordinary Edict wasn’t printed after 10th edition until Zendikar, when it was attached to Gatekeeper of Malakir. Since then, each expert block has had an Edict effect, albeit one with a rider of some sort attached. And this makes me wonder: if a more complex version of an effect is fine for an expansion, shouldn’t the simplest version of the effect be ideal for core?

So Diabolic Edict. M15. Make it happen please!

P.S. I’m stumped on what White would get for a reprint, since it tends to have solid but unexciting effects that are efficient at combat. If anyone has any thoughts, I’d be interested in reading them. Or if you were going to pick a different card or different color entirely, what would you nominate for a reprint?

33 comments:

  1. The white card I would most like to see reprinted would be Swords to Plowshares. I know there have been a lot of reworkings of this particular card (Path to Exile, anyone?), but it's always been awesome at the kitchen table and in tournaments over the years.

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    1. Swords is super awkward, and really OP

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  2. A Diabolic Edict reprint seems quite awkward with Devour Flesh just having shown up in Gatecrash. It's not strictly better (Devour Flesh can let you gain life in a pinch) but still awkward.

    It's not exactly "classic" but Thoughtsieze would be a potent and exciting reprint for a core set.

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    1. Though I assume Thoughtseize will appear in Modern Masters, which may mean it won't be needed in a core set.

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    2. I don't think having Diabolic Edict and Devour Flesh in the same standard is especially awkward. At least, it wouldn't be any more awkward that redundant effects are now, since most standards have multiples of things like Naturalize and Threaten effects. Take Mark of Mutiny and Traitorous Instinct for example. They were both first printed in the same block, and Mark was reprinted in M13 with Instinct reprinted immediately after in RtR.

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    3. @HV:

      I've wondered for a while if Thoughtseize could get a slant-reprint at uncommon, like if the life loss was part of the cost instead of the effect.

      It will definitely be in MM, but I wouldn't mind seeing it reprinted elsewhere. I like having strong discard effects around.

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  3. Classic "power" cards on the cusp of being reprinted:
    Regrowth
    Stone Rain
    Force of Nature
    Sacrifice
    Mana Flare
    Opt
    Force Of Will/Daze/Thwart
    Enlightened Tutor/worldly Tutor
    Pox
    Diabolical Edict
    Smother
    Eternal Witness
    Mother of Ruins
    Goblin Lackey
    Carnophage/Sacromancy


    Black did get Duress, fwiw.

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    1. Carnophage doesn't seem like it would see play; Sarcomancy is on the restricted list.

      Enlightened Tutor or Eternal Witness both seem entertaining, as long as Snapcaster doesn't crowd them out (since it is rotating).

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    2. Stone Rain's not coming back before Counterspell. Well, it is, but still not any time soon.

      As much as I would love to see my old friend, Force of Nature is strictly worse than Terra Stomper and Hydra Omnivore. Wizards has also moved away from upkeep costs, leaving that phase a bit misnamed. I'd love to hear more about why upkeep costs are so rare nowadays.

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    3. I don't think Stone Rain's coming back at all.

      Upkeep costs are rare because they're not particularly fun.

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    4. There's also the mechanical aspect of "oh, I just untapped these things... now I'm immediately tapping them again."

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    5. Upkeep costs not being fun, and drawback mechanics generally getting less stage-time definitely explains it. The fiddliness isn't an issue: Players naturally just leave those lands tapped near/under the thing they're playing for.

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    6. That's a broad spread Wobbles :P

      I think Regrowth/E-Witness would be fair game, and reprinting them would definitely make the EDH crowd happy. Carnophage would be fine too; it'd make Zombie guy happy, and it's basically the same as Vampire Lacerator. And we know Smother is fair game (it was reprinted in Worldwake). I'm on the fence about Opt; it doesn't seem like it does anything, but blue cantrips are tough to evaluate.

      The rest of them either have significant balance problems, or don't fit the new world order.

      And if I staged a coup and appointed myself Dictator of Gaming, I would remove the upkeep step from the game.

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  4. Mirari's Wake, Imperial Recruiter, Ancient Tomb, Astral Slide.

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  5. I disagree with you. We had White Knight and Black Knight at M10 and M11. Even if you don't consider those two as staples, we had Megrim at M10 and Sengir Vampire at M12. Black had plenty of neat reprints over the years, so I believe it's time to white have a few as well.

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    1. Those cards definitely have strong flavor and nostalgia appeal, but they're not at the same power level. If a new player runs a set of White Knights at an FNM, they might be situationally ok. But if the newbie was running 4 Lightning Bolts, those would probably be the best cards in his or her deck.

      I would like to see Silver Knight and Blood Knight make a reappearance though!

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  6. It's fascinating that you dismissed Dark Ritual because it wouldn't be strong enough.

    My vote for Very Good But Not Entirely Broken black staple reprint is Pestilence. It's unclear how officially that's been color-shifted into Pyrohemia since it was Future Sight what done it.

    Perhaps Gift of Estates for white.

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    1. Pestilence is definitely still a black card: http://markrosewater.tumblr.com/post/42790235852/is-the-pestilence-pyrohemia-effect-both-black-and-red

      Would you make it uncommon or rare in draft?

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    2. Good question. I imagine you'd try it at uncommon first—for maximum fidelity—but wouldn't be surprised if it had to go up to rare.

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    3. Dark Ritual would just be a strange card to reprint. If there was another broken spell it could power up, it'd be broken, but without a partner, it wouldn't do much. It's almost anachronistic, since it really is from a period when the game was played much differently.

      In other words, it's the wrong kind of good.

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    4. Dark Ritual into Gravecrawler + Rakdos Cackler + Diregraf Ghoul? YES PLEASE.

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    5. It would be quite good in Modern and plenty good in Standard, I think. Probably solid in Limited too. I agree Dark Ritual shouldn't be reprinted, but for color pie reasons rather than being too weak.

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  7. If we were to reprint Pestilence (and that's a very big IF) it would be printed at rare. The consensus in today's R&D is that Pyrohemia at uncommon was a mistake. The design hand-off of Planar Chaos had it at rare.

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    1. Woot, insider information! Thanks for the dirt.

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    2. Nice to know you guys stop by this place. :D

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    3. Given the shift to giving black high toughness creatures, Pestilence probably isn't even okay at rare. It's miserable to play against Pestilence + a creature that's bigger than all the ones in your hand.

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    4. Sure, but it's miserable and brief. Pestilence hits players too, so there's a very strict limit on the number of board wipes.

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    5. Yes, but they don't actually get used up because there's little reason to play creatures into it.

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  8. Oblivion Ring has been a part of the past two Core Sets. I'm wondering if it's going to bow out this time in favor of Journey to Nowhere.

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    1. I think Oblivion Ring's consistent presence is designed to help balance a format in the case of a planeswalker getting out of control. Right now might be fine time to move away from it briefly, with Detention Sphere and Dreadbore helping to cover that role.

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  9. Animate dead gets my vote for black reprint. When Innistrad rotates out we still need some graveyard shenanigans.

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    1. The current Oracle text for Animate Dead reads:

      -----
      Enchant creature card in a graveyard
      When Animate Dead enters the battlefield, if it's on the battlefield, it loses "enchant creature card in a graveyard" and gains "enchant creature put onto the battlefield with Animate Dead." Return enchanted creature card to the battlefield under your control and attach Animate Dead to it. When Animate Dead leaves the battlefield, that creature's controller sacrifices it.
      Enchanted creature gets -1/-0.
      -----

      No way is that getting printed outside of a supplemental product.

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