Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Multiple Choice Magic Design Question of the Day 3

3) Which of the following statements is a red planeswalker most likely to agree with?
 a) I do what's best for me.
 b) I can solve any problem.
 c) Love will overcome.
 d) Just go with the flow.
 e) Justice must be served.

Click through to see the answer and my rationale.

"I do what's best for me" is black. Red does have simple motivations, and often disregards the concerns of other groups, but red isn't so much selfish as short-sighted. Red will consider the well-being of those they care about, whether that's their family or their clan. "I do what seems best for us right now" would be more red.

"I can solve any problem" is blue. Red can be optimistic and naive, but it can also be pessimistic. Ultimately, red knows it's not the smartest color and doesn't understand everything, so it would rather focus its energy solving the problems it can. If something proves tricky, and it's not a matter of life-or-death, red will likely move on to something more fun, where blue insists on figuring out what it doesn't understand to prove its mastery, and enjoys that learning process. Red might say "Do what you can and what you must. Don't sweat the rest."

"Just go with the flow" is green. Green hates to rock the boat; It prizes being chill and keeping doing its thang. Red is happy to go with the flow, provided what's flowing is something they're not emotionally invested in, and where it's flowing to seems cool. But red won't let anything threaten the things they care about unchallenged. Red's more like "Do as you please, as long as you don't mess with me or mine."

"Justice must be served" is white. While red is known for swift vengeance, that's coming from a place of anger. Blind rage in action. It's not about making right what went wrong, but hurting those who hurt you. Red won't always submit itself to justice, either, even if it feels guilty. And red is more concerned with actual harm done than with rules. White, however, knows that the security and well-being of the greater good is paramount, and will sacrifice it's own time, safety, whatever in order to see justice served. Red's take is "I'll make you pay for hurting me" or "I will avenge my kin!"

"Love will overcome" is red. There aren't many Magic cards that illustrate love because this is a game of direct conflict, but love is a very strong emotion that no one feels as deeply as red. White has a love of country and neighbor; green has a love of nature (and, paradoxically, both of peace and of the hunt); black has a love of self and power; blue has a love of knowledge and invention; and red has a love of life and of sport. But passionate love—especially love that is challenged like Romeo & Juliet's—is very red. Since red is also the most focused on overcoming oppression and adversity, doing so through love is fundamentally red.

C is the best answer.

All of the other answers are more or less equally tempting.

This question intentionally presents statements from the four other colors that sound most similar to something red might say, and one from red that fits the philosophy well but is rarely expressed in the game. The trick is knowing well the philosophy behind all five colors.


  1. I'm thinking C. "Just go with the flow" is tempting, but it's more green than red. "I can solve any problem" is also something a red mage might believe, but it's more typically blue. The other two are obviously black and white.

  2. One True Pair 2R
    Sorcery (R)
    Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a creature card with a different name than target nontoken creature you control. Put that card onto the battlefield and the rest of the cards revealed this way into the graveyard.

    1. I would love to play this card! Especially in modern.

      Starting with:
      Squadron Hawk, Mutavault, Goblin Dark Dwellers, Nahiri, some mix of Emrakul + other haymaker targets, Through the Breach but no Simian Spirit Guide? And either RW tempo or control cards to taste.

      Probably not good enough with 8-ish small creatures, but fun enough and the T3 power will be there some portion of the time. Probably end up in RWU with cantrips + Wind Zendikon? Dryad Arbor?

      Or... lean heavy into Inkmoth + Blinkmoth + Mutavault, Guardian Idol, Mono-red.

    2. Easy enough development fix:

      One True Pair 2R
      Sorcery (R)
      Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a red creature card with a different name than target nontoken red creature you control. Put that card onto the battlefield and the rest of the cards revealed this way into the graveyard.

    3. Ghitu Encampent or Genju of the Spires into Progenitus/Goblin Dark Dwellers + Progenitus is a bit less overwhelming, and probably better left to casual play. It does let you play Snapcasters with no problem, though, probably alongside Crimson Wisps for an extra cantrip. Fun!

      Maybe a Delver-Snapcaster-Opt-Wisps-Bolt-Bedlam Reveler-DarkDwellers-Progenitus-OTP shell, with or without Blood Moon.

    4. I still can't believe Madcap Experiment into Platinum Emperion isn't good enough for modern.

    5. that graveyard clause seems like an early way to bin you deck into your graveyard in old formats

  3. Red is the color of love? Ever After begs to differ!

    Jokes aside, great question, a good one to puzzle through.

  4. Yeah, good question.

    I immediately pegged "love" as the most red, and when I saw each other answer corresponded to another colour, I expected that was the intended answer. Although I did check my assumptions, there's nothing stopping a question having *mostly* one answer per colour, but slipping in a red-sounding non-red philosophy and a green-sounding red philosophy.

    I did hesitate a bit though. I felt "solve any problem" could be taken two different ways. The attitude that you can resolve it, or figure it out, is very blue. But the attitude that there always IS a satisfactory answer if you try hard enough, I think, is red. It's common in fantasy fiction to have apparently insurmountable problems, and I think it's red to say "we can succeed anyway!" and blue to say "this plan is suicide, accepting our losses and preserving what we can is a better trade off".

    Likewise, "go with the flow". I took it to be very green: accepting of what comes, and paddling the strongest current. But it could also describe an attitude of going with your impulses, and seizing the biggest opportunities as they come up, which I think is very red.

    Fortunately, although red, I thought the love answer was *more* red, so I didn't have any significant doubt as to the right answer.

    So I guess, good job finding the red aspects of other philosophies! :) The other two work well too. I agree, "Justice!" and "What do *I* want?" are red as well as white and black, but only one part of red, not encompassing red as a whole.

    1. That's also how I initially read answer d), mostly because I thought answer c) was too obvious, and we all know how Jay likes to throw trick questions at us. ;)

      On a further research of the idiom, however, "go with the flow" is very UN-red. Red is about doing what red thinks is right, even when it's the unpopular thing to do.

      "Go with your gut" or "She who hesitates is lost" would more closely capture that impulsive, opportunistic aspect of red.