Friday, July 12, 2013

Where is M14 Sowing Seeds?


In this week's Latest Developments, Sam Stoddard outlines some of the ways core sets have been designed and how they interact with their surrounding sets. One of the most interesting parts was his discussion about sowing seeds for themes explored in the next block.

In the creation of the Goblin Artisan M13 project, we took that a bit far by focusing the entire set around Kird Ape style creatures to play with the dual lands. WotC's M13 only needed the single cycle to overlap, as well as a few other cards that played well with dual lands.


With that in mind, Sam did state that the seeds for Theros block were in the set, albeit less obvious than the M13 inclusions.

So where are they?

I'd like to discuss a few cards that might be clues, prior to next weeks big Theros reveal at ComicCon. These are things that stand out to me as a potential designer, but they might also be merely coincidental. I'd love to hear about your design speculation as well.


Theros might have some tribal subthemes. Mutavault was a great reprint, not only is it a good card, but it also plays well with the sliver deck built into the core set. Given that Theros might be a more Mediterranean mythology inspired set, tribes of minotaurs, hydras, or giants might all like a man-land of their own. Mutavaults inclusion seems like it might play well with that.

Savage SummoningGarruk, Caller of BeastsDomestication

Denizens of Theros might be BIG. Really big. That's not a huge leap to arrive at judging from the one image we have so far, but cards that help these creatures (or hurt the little guy) help cultivate an enviroment where Timmy has an easier time playing with these. White's "Life gain matters" theme also helps to dampen down hyper aggressive draws on the part of red decks. The removal of Searing Spear also hurts aggressive red. Standard looks to be a slower format going forward.

Blightcaster Auramancer

From here we get a bit more speculative, but Magic is due for a block where enchantments matter more. There is certainly an enchantment subtheme in M14, and that might be all it is. However, it's also a possible theme to be expanded on in the future. As we discussed in design for Ankh-Theb, curses, boons and illusions are all classic myth tropes. Again, looking at that giant God guy from the solicitation, we could even be in for Enchantment Creatures which Mark Rosewater has hinted they would want to revisit in a more splashy way.

Who knows?

This post is all baseless speculation, but what cards stand out for you in M14 as being possible future plants? What themes are likely to be explored in a Greco-Roman set, and where might those ties be for M14? Inquiring designers want to know.


  1. I'm sensing either a land matters or enchantment matters theme off some of these cards in m14. We had a three set gap since Zendikar so we could have a discovery feel again. Battlecruiser looked good off the artwork.

  2. I agree that Mutavault looks to be the seeded card. If the tribal-ness is open-ended (if there are cards that let you make a tribal deck out of any tribe) then Door of Destinies might be another such card.

    Theros seems to be the right home for another Legendary set. The M14 Legendary rules change is probably related to that, as many people pointed out. The other rules change could be related too. The change that your sideboard size can shift over the match might be indicative of some kind of legendary mechanic where you use your sideboard. An example is Act of Legend which I posted here.

    There are other ways a legendary themed set can benefit from the sideboard. There can be cards where you can upgrade a non-legendary card into a legendary card. When you do, you fetch the legendary version from your sideboard. This can also be done with DFCs where the flipside is a legend, but there might be a reason to have the mechanic fetch the legend from the sideboard instead.

    I've tinkered with a legendary themed set before, and one of the challenges is how to put the Legendary theme at common without making legends feel less special. One way is to have cards that transform your creatures into legends. If there's some hoop or quest attached to that, it should still feel special when it happens even if the card is at common. There can be an Aura that makes the enchanted creature legendary if it has achieved some condition. Or, +1/+1 counters can be used in a similar way to track the creature's achievements, similar to the Quest counters on the Zendikar Quest cards. That makes me think that the +1/+1 counter granting cards and the Aura-related cards in M14 might be support for that.

    Finally, the "exile while" terminology on Banisher Priest might be indicative of some mechanic that's coming up.

  3. Silence, Artificer's Hex, Awaken the Ancient, Burning Earth, Into the Wilds, Oath of the Ancient Wood, Darksteel Forge and Encroaching Wastes are cards I noticed, though most of them could easily be explained without depending on Theros.

  4. The two black Minotaurs, the bunch of Griffins, and the new Cyclops tell me that we're probably seeing some tribal. Ravnica's Centaurs will also probably be involved.

    Enchantments seem to be a part of it too. But Theros is probably like Innistrad – lots of small themes woven together through the atmospheric feel. So pretty much anything could be a plant, really.

    But the big guy thing was a nice catch.

  5. Advertisment cards in boosters have elspeth on them. SO we know one planeswalker too...