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Dragon's Maze Discussion
Updated on 18 Apr 2013 by Alex

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2013-04-18 05:47:34: Link created the card Dragon's Maze Discussion
2013-04-18 05:48:11: Link edited Dragon's Maze Discussion

I was't sure where else to put this, but I felt the need to have a discussion about Dragon's Maze. What do you guys think of it so far? Are you enthused, or disappointed? What do you think of fuse? Now that the entire guild champion cycle is spoiled, what do you think of them?

Honestly, the last time I got interested in a set was kamigawa 1; and that didn't last long enough for the sequels.

Fuse is a nice presentation and use of split cards in a natural way; makes it hard to guage the powerlevel though. Other than that; um, dragons and mazes are things I guess.

I loved having all the guilds mixed together.

I like having the gates as pseudo-basic land, but I felt the "gates matter" theme was a bit tacked on.

It didn't feel as exciting as original Ravnica, but I think that's just nostalgia, I think it was designed very well. But I'm mostly thinking about it from a design perspective, I've been too busy to actually play much magic recently.

I thought fuse was excellent for all the reasons they described -- really simple, but also quite bold, the sort of thing I never think of if I'm trying to design something.

Fuse is indeed great. (Except that I need to find a way to allow it on Multiverse split cards now.) The guild cards currently look like a bit of a random scattergun hodgepodge, but that may lessen when the whole set's visible; I do like that they're doing things like Pyrewild Shaman as evolutions of the guild mechanics (though I fear they may not be able to do interesting evolutions of all ten).

2013-04-18 10:12:37: Alex moved the card Dragon's Maze Discussion from Cards With No Home into Conversation

The set, by its nature, is interesting. I'm trying to make up my mind as to whether I enjoyed the 4-3-3 model better or the 5-5-10 model better... I suppose I'll have to wait and see how Dragon's Maze turns out. Unfortunately, I'll never have a way to really compare them, since I drafted a lot during the original Ravnica, and I leagued my way through Return to Ravnica.

League just has different needs. Let me tell ya... I'll be very happy when extort is gone (in like another two years. Stupid "Open any packs you want" league rules...) It's broken in multi-player limited. I understand why Wizards didn't test around that, because, um... who does multiplayer limited? Just my playgroup, evidently.

I agree that gates does seem kind of tacked on, but I don't know if that's really terrible. It only takes up a few cards in the end, and encourages 3+ color decks in a block that wouldn't actively encourage it otherwise. I don't know. I'll be at the pre-release. We'll see what my opinion is then.

There are definitely some great things about the design, to be sure. Personally, I think the 5-5-10 model was a good idea, and Fuse is very cool, even as a riff off of entwine. Making the gates into "basic" lands was also a great idea for color-fixing.
I do have at leasts two issues with the design, though.
1.) The guild champions are fairly disappointing. Yes, some of them are fairly good. To me, though, pushing one card (Ruric Thar) to be obviously powerful while others were left looking very lame by cpmparison (Emmara Tandris) is a huge design flaw.
2.) The Cluestones are boring. Yes, they're only meant to be common mana rocks to help fixing in a highly multicolor set, and the ability to cycle them from the battlefield is nice... but why are they SO similar, and mostly inferior, to the Keyrunes?

Jmgariepy, I have no idea what "league" is.

there's no point to disliking cheap (read: common) utility cards like cluestones. they serve their purpose well.

on the other hand, the champions are supposed to be the cool, chase rares, and at least half of them fail. some fail HARD. like "primitive legendaries from the Legends set" fail.

fuse is the obvious extension of split cards that many armchair designer has thought about. being split cards, they're for the most part fair and versatile. but a few are just a tad to quite overcosted.

@Link: League is an agreement between participants to open a number of booster packs and play Magic at an even level. At Myriad Games in Salem, we have a Thursday league (which I helped found 5 years ago) that goes something like this:

Week One: Open 4 packs of your choice. Make a 40 card deck.
Week Two: Add a pack to your collection. Make a 45 card deck.
Week Three: Add a pack. Make a 50 card deck.
Etc., Etc., until...
Week Seven: Add a pack. Make a 75 card deck.
At which point we reset. We used to have a "League Constructed" phase between Leagues where all the cards opened for all the leagues were valid for play, but that faded away after a few years, when the original group filtered out. We also had a year where we played tournament style, when the League was up to about 17 or so people. Since the league is back down to 4-5 now, though, we mostly play group games.

That, by the way, is a very, very cheap league. Wizards employees have their own league where, each time a new set is published, each employee in the league buys a box. Trades are welcome and encouraged.

I love league play. It evens the playing field and gives relavence to commonality. Mythics mean something, besides $40. The biggest deterrent, though, is continuously convincing people that you know what you're talking about, and that everyone should play your league. That's tough, since league isn't a sanctioned format. Everyone has their own opinion of how the league should be run. Trades? Ante? Bonus FNM cards passed out by the store? If I don't like my league pool, can I mulligan, and buy 4 new packs? Leading a league takes tact.

I'm startled to hear Link call cycle-from-battlefield boring. The ability to turn your manafixing into a new card when you don't need it any more is absolutely golden. I love cycling lands, but they ETBT. I love Mind Stone and have it in loads of decks, but it only makes colourless. Now 3 mana is a lot different to 2, but nonetheless, manafixing that's able to cycle-from-battlefield when you don't need it any more sounds very useful to me.

Dedicating 10 uncommon slots in a small set to them is eyebrow-raising, I'll agree, and I'd almost expect them to only exist for some arbitrary 5 guilds. But my EDH decks will be glad that all 10 exist.

And yes, many of the guild champions are horrible and fail massively.

Three mana is the very top end of what I'll pay for mana fixing though - if I've got 3, I probably don't need the fixing. If I have to pay three, I want something as good as Kodama's Reach.

I agree that cycling is powerful. It's just not interesting. It feels like "Oh, you drew this card you don't need? Well, pay some mana and try again." When I'd much rather not have drawn the disappointment, and not have to pay the cost, and only have the fun stuff in my deck.

From play is better; it means it can be something I got some benefit from, and then got rid of. But it's still not interesting. It's a "start of my turn, do I have mana? Ok, I guess I'll pop it" kind of not-a-decision.

Anyway; when're we playing it? :)

I should definitely arrange a Gatecrash draft. Dragon's Maze I'm waiting to see what it's like at the prerelease before I see whether we have a draft of it. (You could always come along to the prerelease yourself? Sat 27th or Sun 28th, here.)

Perhaps "boring" was the wrong word. My main issue with the cluestones is how incredibly similar they are to the keyrunes. They are both ten card cycles at (3) that fix you/accelerate you with two colors of mana and have an activated ability that costs one of each of those colors. They bore me because they are in the same block as the keyrunes. I know that the role they play is necessary for limited. Honestly, my problem win them would be solved if they just cost (2) and ETBs tapped, or something. Mix it up a bit, Wizards. How many 3cmc mana-fixing artifacts do we need in Standard?

My first thought was the same as link's. They're good design, and I'm happy to have them, and having that much mana fixing at common is awesome, and if that's exactly the card you need it's great it's finally been printed and I don't think there's anything wrong with them. But having just seen the keystones, the first look at the cluestones was underwhelming.

There's also the fact that we have Manalith, Vessel of Endless Rest, Chromatic Lantern, the Keyrunes, and now the Cluestones all in standard right now.
To be honest, I think I'd rather play Boros Cluestone than Boros Keyrune… but I'd rather play Sphere of the Suns than either of them.

I think that Dragon's Maze has to much text on it. Even for an expert set. This makes it very interesting but there will be alot of reading for newer players.

I hate how hard cipher got nerfed. It's a very interesting mechanic, and yes, it could very easily have been broken, but I would have liked to see some "pushed cipher" cards. Sometimes I feel like Wizards pushes all the wrong things. The guild champions, as the focus of the set, should have ALL been pushed. Cipher should have been pushed. I understand that power creep is a very dangerous thing, but so is disappointment, which is what playing it too safe leads to.
Also, story-wise, what the hell happened to the Gateless movement? I loved how the cards and flavor text in Gatecrash were setting it up.

And by the way, why is Skylasher okay? If I designed that I would get lots of comments about it being too much for a {1}{g} 2/2.

Small rare creatures are an enigma. I agree that card looks kind of silly. "I don't know if this card hates the meta-game enough." "Well, then just add Pro-Blue."

It sure does make Ashcoat Bear look dumb. I understand why they're doing what they're doing, but I hate it when whole swaths of cards become unplayable because of a $20 rare.

I feel sorry for Alexis Janson. I would not have wanted this to be the first set I led, and I would not enjoy seeing all the community reactions to the set, either.

Of course, this all happens with pretty much every set, so Maro and others probably prepared her well...
To help quell my own negativity, I've decided to make a list of cards from the set that I like.
­Scion of Vitu-Ghazi is nice. I don't understand their "if you cast it from your hand" logic. Even if it didn't have that, would it really compare to Thragtusk? No.
­Wake the Reflections is so pleasingly simple.
­Bane Alley Blackguard isn't exactly exciting, but it does provide some interesting implications for us custom designers. Namely, that black will be getting more creatures with higher toughness than power.
­Hired Torturer is a great top-down design, even if it's not a great card.
­Pontiff of Blight is nice to see because it was expected.
I'm extremely excited for Possibility Storm because it means I can have a variant of my Knowledge Pool/Curse of Exhaustion deck back in Standard for a while. Yay!
I really like Blaze Commando. I feel like Boros got a huge portion of the cool stuff in this block. I'm also excited by Boros Battleshaper, even though it costs seven mana. I'm way more excited by this than by Emmara Tandris.
­Council of the Absolute looks like a card I would design. Therefore, it has my approval... except for the "other than a creature" clause. I'm really tired of Wizard's huge push for creatures to be so much more powerful.
I love Dragonshift.
I like Gleam of Battle alright, but damn, does it need to cost less.
­Jelenn Sphinx may be one of my favorite designs in the set. I LOVE the combination of vigilance with this ability. It's so pleasing.
­Legion's Initiative is another cool Boros card. Clearly someone on the design team at Wizards loves Boros (and clearly, none of them love Dimir).
­Obzedat's Aid is really neat. I want to build decks around it.
­Plasm Capture and Progenitor Mimic are great. I think Progenitor Mimic may actually be my favorite card in the set.
I like Ral Zarek, and I hope I pull one at the prerelease.
­Render Silent is beautiful.
I wish that Emmara Tandris was Trostani's Summoner. That card is so much better than her.
­Zhur-Taa Druid is great. It's such a perfect fusion of {r} and {g}, to me. And it's so useful!

­Scion of Vitu-Ghazi is "if cast from your hand" in order to prevent the easy infinite combos with Cackling Counterpart, Séance, Progenitor Mimic etc.

I was rather pleased to see Obzedat's Aid as well, especially since the Generator has been generating that effect for quite some time. I thought it'd cost 4 (by comparison with Zombify/Breath of Life/Argivian Restoration), but I guess 5 makes some amount of sense.

­Zhur-Taa Druid is just awesome, isn't it? I love it.

­Tithe Drinker is one of my favourite cards in the set. Such good value Extort. I like the Extort lord too, especially in conjunction with Crypt Ghast.

The Simic cards are rather one-note (both in Gatecrash and Dragon's Maze). Yes, you can convert +1/+1 counters into drawing cards. We get it. Seriously, how many Simic cards do that one way or another? About six?

I didn't notice that about Simic until you pointed it out, Alex, but it's true. I think it says something about the other guilds that Simic is still more interesting than them.

They really screwed that up, IMO. Especially with her art clearing depicting that token.

I'm sad that Armadillo Cloak was replaced by Unflinching Courage. I realise that the cloak had a bit of a silly name, but it's one of the cards from before I started playing that really stood out to me as really beautiful, and the new name is just rather generic.

About the guild champions, I've not seen all of them, but assuming people are right that they're less awesome than they might be, I don't understand (i) why rare cards have to be less awesome -- we've definitely had sub-par mythics before, surely it's ok if we have some fun rares for once? (ii) why the number of mythics is so constrained to be exactly 10, not 11.

Actually, there are 11 mythic rares, because of Maze's End. I believe that it has to do with how the cards are printed, though.

And also with keeping rarities constant.

I mean, I really enjoy the set. It is super complex, which I could see being a problem for newer players, but it's cool for me lol. And yeah, I mean there are a few duds but c'mon, there are duds in every set. OG Ravnica had Bloodletter Quill and Zephyr Spirit and Cyclopean Snare and just about every Radiance card was purely poopy. There are some really awesomely designed cards in here though!

­Deadbridge Chant: I cannot design splashy enchantments for the life of me, and this one seems awesome.

Split cards: I personally always hated them (I dislike most mechanics that mess with the frames), but most of these make my inner Melvin squeal in delight.

­Blood Scrivener is a cool fixed Bob. Plasm Capture is new Mana Drain. Progenitor Mimic should have been done years ago. And some of the legends are wimpy, but all serve purposes in at least casual decks, and guys like Varolz and Ruric Thar are awesome buildarounds.

I do appreciate Blood Scrivener, especially as a reference to both Dark Confidant and Hellbent.

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