I was reminded of this by Crim and The Professor: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/card-preview/fire-it-2019-06-21
TL;DR: Last year they told us that they had decided to make Magic better by introducing a new design philosophy of F.I.R.E. I’m not feeling it.
What exactly is it. Quoting from the article by Andrew Brown (who is no longer at Wizards as I understand it):
F Is for Fun – Above all else, our game should be fun to play. For Play Design, fun is about interesting decisions, diverse gameplay experiences, and each game being unique. As game designers, interpreting different definitions of fun is part of the job. We strive to make cards that are fun for a wide variety of audiences.
I Is for Inviting – Our game should be accessible to many people. From Play Design’s perspective, this means that formats should be accessible to newer or less enfranchised players by having resonant cards and comprehensible gameplay. It also means that a wide variety of strategies should be viable in all types of play.
R Is for Replayable – The key aspects of replayablility are balance and diversity. We try to get a wide variety of decks and strategies to about the right power level.
E Is for Exciting – Players should be excited to read cards and play with them. We want to design and cost cards so that they can inspire cool new decks and archetypes for players to build and own.
Why am I not feeling any of this? This article came out around War of the Spark and as we’ve all learned by now, that set was a horrible mistake. How are these cards fun?
Apparently, the team did think these are fun. I guess there is a certain segment of people who think looking at the frustration in their opponent’s eyes is fun. I guess you could argue that Teferi and Narset are meant as sideboard cards, which can be played in the maindeck, because of Bo1, but at the same time, they just randomly lock out so many different potential plays that they take out the fun singlehandedly from many decks.
How about this for inviting?
Sure, it has haste… and vigilance… and deathtouch. But it’s just so easy to forget the rest of the text. Even us more experienced players are caught off-guard with some of the other numerous clauses on it. For example, I was attacking with Questing Beast and Bonecrusher Giant. My opponent had a Cerulean Drake and some other small creatures as well as The Royal Scions. They had to block the Giant to save their planeswalker, because despite some attempts, they couldn’t block the Beast. So, they obviously tried to block the Giant with the Drake, not realizing that the Beast actually also states that the protection doesn’t work, but if you don’t know how the rules work, you don’t see the interaction there.
They scooped right after realizing what happened. Or they probably even didn’t realize and either they assumed they didn’t understand what happened or there’s a bug. Does any of this sound inviting to a new player?
How about replayability? I could put in here screenshots of metagames from some past tournaments. Suffice to say that replayability is not very high when you play against the same decks over and over again, while those decks are also very consistent due to card draw, deck manipulation, redundancy and the London Mulligan. I mean, they were going to have Once Upon a Time in this format. Just think about that. That’s just absurd.
And finally, excitement. Over the past year, I have sort of been excited about certain cards, but not necessarily the ones you’d expect. The cards Wizards wants me to care about are just horrible. You know when you see them that these are going to be horrible for the game. We understand as players that if a card is very strong, it’s not reserved just for me to play. Everyone is going to have access to it. It’s kind of hard to be excited about something like that. I know I’m not alone on this. I am part of some discussion groups, which always have similar reactions from other players.
I understand that this is an economic decision. They need to sell packs, so they put in cards that are going to sell them. I just don’t know how long that can last. People do actually learn that their experience is not as good as one might want. We’ve seen this happen to other companies. Marvel nearly bankrupted itself with their shenanigans in the 90s. WCW pretty much did exactly that.