Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Multiple Choice Magic Design Question of the Day 7 & 8

7) Which of the following timeshifted Planer Chaos cards is least likely to be reprinted in a new expansion set?
 a) Malach of the Dawn
 b) Kor Dirge
 c) Harmonize
 d) Blood Knight
 e) Merfolk Thaumaturgist

8) Which of the above is most likely to be reprinted in a new expansion set?

Click through to see the answer and my rationale.

Malach of the Dawn has regenerate, which hasn't been white for a very long time. Also, regenerate has been replaced by indestructible. Indestructible is primary in white, so a new card that's very similar could be printed, but this card could not.

Kor Dirge redirects damage, which was never common in black but has been moved even further out of black. This would be a color bleed.

Harmonize draws multiple cards and doesn't require you to attack or even control creatures. This would be a color bleed.

Blood Knight has protection, which is no longer evergreen but can be used sparingly. It's only primary in white, but can be used for other colors when appropriate. This is very unlikely but least contradicts the color pie and which keywords are still usable.

Merfolk Thaumaturgist can switch power and toughness, which is primary in blue, but it can do so without restriction (allowing you to kill 0/N creatures) and it can do that multiple times during a game, and at instant speed. That means we'd never print it at common again (because of NWO). It could be reprinted at uncommon or rare—that's still inappropriate because creature kill is out of color for blue—but Twisted Image shows it can be done once at uncommon, so doing it multiple times is at least conceivable (especially since there aren't a lot of 0/N creatures and the set it's in could have none).

A is the best answer for 7; B and C are acceptable answers.

D and E are the best answers for 8; B and C are weak answers, but better than A.

You might have been thrown by the fact that Harmonize has been reprinted in black border, but that was a Commander set which puts cards into Vintage formats but not Standard. That reprint recognizes that Harmonize is legal in older formats and popular, not that it represents modern Magic.

This question is tricky because it not only requires knowledge of the color pie and of the current usability of mechanics, but judgment to weigh those factors against each other. Color bleeds are to be avoided, but can happen when they serve the set. Color breaks are unacceptable, but because Planar Chaos cards fit their colors' philosophy even when they don't fit mechanically, none of these are color breaks. Also unacceptable are mechanics Magic has obsoleted. Malach's use of regenerate is the biggest deal-breaker here.


  1. I can't believe Mskach used to be blue.

    Blacks replacement of regeneration with self-reanimation has been an interesting experiment that actually worked better than indestructible because it prevents hard to kill Voltron possibilities. Indestructible and Hexproof are just too unfun at low rarities.

  2. Responding without reading on to test myself.

    Least Likely: A. Malach of the Dawn. Regeneration isn't even on the mechanical color pie anymore, they're that devoted to killing the mechanic off. Regeneration may show up in full reprint sets, but they're not going to put it in expansions.

    While Kor Dirge looks like it could be a color break for black, if you consider the mechanics of it individually it's not as much of a problem. It's essentially indestructible stapled to creature damage. Both are permitted in black. I think it's unlikely they'll reprint the card, but they could and still justify it within the color pie.

    Most likely reprint in an expansion. I'm going with D: Blood Knight. I think C and E are both possible, but they've been a bit more careful with how green draws cards than no-strings-attached Harmonize and while Merfolk Thaumaturgist is mechanically fine for blue, I think it kind of has too much potential to be removal of some creatures, especially if it's combine with blue power reduction effects.

    Whereas, if you're going to do an expansion where colors and color pie enemies matter, the Blood Knight fits just fine and don't really have to worry about it breaking anything.

  3. Notes and answers, before clicking through:

    Malach of the Dawn-- regenerate is (a) not in white, and (b) dead. The irony here is that the new indestructible tech makes an almost-equivalent design printable in white.

    Kor Dirge-- Damage redirection in black would require a color pie shift. Also, the template looks somewhat nonstandard (compare with Deflecting Palm).

    Harmonize-- It's a little better than card draw is supposed to be these days, and would also require a color pie shift.

    Blood Knight-- Protection is semi-retired, but there are no other obstacles to printing this. Maybe in a color-matters set?

    Merfolk Thaumaturgist-- There are NWO issues with the repeatable combat trick, but no mechanical or color pie limitations. Even assuming we're forced to keep the rarity, this one seems pretty plausible.

    Option A seems like a clear choice for the least likely, since it's a color pie shift plus a dead mechanic. The most-likely question is more of a judgment call: which is more plausible, de-retiring pro-white or a repeatable on-board trick at common? At this point I'm going to go with D.

  4. I sadly doubt we'll see another angel of male or even ambiguous gender within this era of Magic design, so A is out on that point.
    Kor Dirge is not something black particularly needs, even if it weren't a color pie bleed.
    Harmonize is a buy for me - green /is/ supposed to be a card draw color, and its ease of flavor into new sets and impact in standard (if R&D decides green needs some help on that front) makes it a contender in my book.
    I would expect Blood Knight less frequently than Harmonize; protection may only be "semi-retired", but it's not very red even when it is present. I know we've had some high-profile prowhite red cards in the past, but I wouldn't expect too many more.
    Thaumaturgist? An odd duck. Not at common, of course, and generally not a card I /expect/ to see at this cost & stats, but stranger things have happened.

    A least likely; C most likely but I'd be unsurprised if it were E.

    1. The angels of the Amonkhet block were all male. I think Maro even took an effort to point this out, though I have no idea why. Are the genders of angels a thing?

    2. And here I should've done my research before posting.

      It used to be Magic's official stance was "no male angels, Malach was a Planar Chaos break and honestly a mistake", with MaRo going so far as to say that even unexplored planes had exclusively female angels. ( But I'm glad to be proven wrong, at least; that tidbit had not made it past my radar.

      Likewise, a little bit of blogagoogling shows Harmonize is on the outs these days as well, so it shows the importance of researching before submitting for the real show. You learn something new every day!

    3. That's such a weird thing to be firm about. Maybe it has something to do with Serra and I should probably read up on her lore.

      In the Amonkhet block, apparently the angels remained servants of Nicol Bolas even after he was revealed as the extremely non-white mastermind behind everything and there's a suggestion that they aren't like the other angels at all.

    4. I was also aware of the angels-all-female thing, but didn't notice that Malach was male, nor those of amonkhet. That's awesome. That wouldn't prevent a reprint since reprints can get new art (but maybe 'malach' is more expressly male a name than I'd thought).

    5. Yeah, I was aware of the name thing but I'd assumed Malach could be reprinted with different art. I guess since it's not legendary, "Malach" is acting more like a title than a personal name?

      FWIW, Malach seems to be the hebrew for messenger or angel, which google thinks could be used for any sex, although actual biblical angels were depicted as male. OTOH, "Malak" is commonly used as a female name. So it would probably be ok but I'm not certain.

    6. The given explanation was male amgels tread to close to irl religion. (Same reason why folks dont want to see "I murdur your Jesus" in a card game.)

      Looking it up finding female angels in Abrahamic lore I noted I didnt find any (though tbf I didnt look that deep.)

  5. Posting before reading the answers and comments. "Most likely" seems easy -- Merfolk Thaumaturgist, since swapping power and toughness is now primary in blue. Yes, first strike is primary in red, but protection is only primary in white (and tertiary in all other colors) so I feel like, while maybe being second, Blood Knight isn't quite correct.

    So what's left? Harmonize is dead in the middle for me since Green is secondary in card draw. That leaves Malach which has regenerate which isn't in white at all, or Kor Dirge which is damage redirection, which is white and white only in the current color pie. I feel like Malach is the right call just because regenerate has been replaced, but I'm not 100%.