Thursday, July 7, 2011

m13 review

Now that the entirety of M13 has been spoiled and the momentousness of Wizards’s product has begun to set in, the usual deluge of reviews will start. While it is difficult to write a true set review for the latest creation of lead designer Pierre Menard, the difficulty that mainstream Magic writers have in describing the changes it will have on the format is, in itself, a shining endorsement of Wizard’s new theories on how to change the most about the game by changing the least. For so long, the pendulum of how many new cards are in sets has been swinging toward the side of lots of new things (or at least things that had not been seen in a while), epitomized by the M10 change to core sets.

The set questions the very ideas that Magic players have about card quality in any given format. Because we all know- or, rather, have the possibly incorrect impression that we know- the value of all the cards in M12/M13, people will assume that these impressions will hold static going forward into Ravnica II from Innistrad, when many of the cards will have a totally different value without the artifact-heavy nature of the sets that followed M12.

It is encouraging that Wizards has taken an approach that plays most directly into what all Magic players crave, whether they know it or not (per Mark Rosewater’s convincing articles about Magic players’ desire for repetition in all aspects of the game). To the surprise of many, it led to what was one of the most surprising sets of preview weeks in recent memory; it’s much easier to convince people that they’ll enjoy playing a card in Standard when they’re currently playing that card in Standard.

This set will be a lesson to all novice designers that, sometimes, the card designs they’re looking for are right in front of them. Wizards bravely asked, “why bother finding variants for all these cards when they work perfectly well in their present incarnations?” Too many designers spend all their time being clever, finding inventive ways to reinvent the wheel and making new cards that really just result in making games less fun than they would have been with older cards. This set reminds us all: as exciting as it is to see brand-new cards for the first time, we don’t play games with brand-new cards, and the amount of time that a card has been in print for doesn’t make that card less fun to play in real games.

M13 is an enormous triumph for the budget-conscious player, as well. Nearly every card in M12 set is already under $5, and the reprinting of every card from that set will surely bring prices even lower than that. For ages, people have been complaining about how a set full of chase rares at limited quantities makes the game less accessible; Wizards finally did something about it.

Wizards has taken a big risk here and truly knocked it out of the park. Bravo Wizards, and here’s hoping Ravnica II stays on the same brilliant path.


Bryan said...

While M13 is going to be hugely popular, I wish they hadn't released FTV: Power. It isn't so much that they gave the Power 9 to budget-conscious players, but instead the fact that they recently changed format restrictions to include specialty sets printed within the last two years. With the Power 9 back in Standard, how can we do anything but play blue again?

RoleModel said...

Unfortunately Modern is a failure. Everyone just wanted to play Faeries, Scapeshift and Jund.

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