New Category on ZEROMAGIC: Looking at a Random Card
(Kurze deutsche Zusammenfassung: Ich werde in Zukunft einzelne, zufällig ausgewählte Karten nach meinen Maßstäben, welche ich in diesem Eintrag hier darlege, analysieren und bewerten.)
Some WotC R&D guys have done it for a while (I remember Aaron Forsythe and Erik Lauer), and it was actually quite interesting to read what they think about randomly chosen cards.
Now, I’m not working for WotC, so why would anyone be interested in what I have to say about Magic cards? Well, you have to answer that for yourself. To help you make up your mind, I’ll just mention that I’ve been playing Magic for over 15 years now and written a three-digit number of articles about this game (although most of them in German). I care a lot about the quality of Magic (as opposed to selling it), and I’m thus most interested in how well a card actually PLAYS, not how powerful it is or how funky it looks. Also, while I enjoy good flavor, I’m strictly opposed to ever sacrificing play value for flavor. A well-playing card with poor flavor is a missed opportunity, but a flavorful card which plays badly drags the whole game down (yes, I’m looking at you, double-faced cards!) So, decide for yourself if you want to read my non-corporate take on card design and development!
I will rate cards according to the american system ranging from A (best) to F, which corresponds to the German grading system from 1 to 6 used in school. The most important aspect influencing my rating is how well the card plays in a limited environment, since – despite the misleading term “limited” – these are the environments where you actually get to play with the most different cards, experiencing the richness of Magic the best. (However, being useless in limited is not necessarily a strike against a card which plays well in constructed – on the other hand, being overpowered or otherwise annoying in limited certainly is!) The next important aspect is the card’s constructed value, including casual constructed. (Note again that I’m NOT grading for power – actually, being too powerful will influence a card’s rating very strong negatively!) Its flavor, lastly, is just an additional consideration – if a card fails on the other aspects, the most astonishing flavor is not going to save it.
Two more notes: I believe in Magic being at its best when it allows for interactive, skill-rewarding games. Cards enabling creative deckbuilding (which, in itself, is of course a plus), but failing to lead to interactive play, or having chaotic effects, will fare poorly. Also, I will ignore multiplayer applications (which is admittedly harsh on cards designed especially for multiplayer variants). Multiplayer Magic is simply a different game than duel Magic, and one I’m not interested in.
I’ll start with the first card immediately, using the random card feature of Gatherer. Overall, updates in this category won’t follow any schedule – I might do several cards a day when I feel like it, or pause for a week or two if I don’t find the time. On average, I expect an output of about 5 cards a week – but time will tell.