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CardName: [Spoilers] Dominaria Design Changes Cost: Type: Pow/Tgh: / Rules Text: Lots of syntax changes, new card qualities, new keyword variants and more. See comments for details. Flavour Text: Set/Rarity: Conversation None

[Spoilers] Dominaria Design Changes
Lots of syntax changes, new card qualities, new keyword variants and more. See comments for details.
Updated on 24 Feb 2021 by Mal

History: [-]

2018-03-09 01:09:07: Mal created and commented on the card [Spoilers] Dominaria Design Changes

So, Dominaria spoilers are out. You can read and download the release notes here:

Here are some of the more notable changes:

-"~ deals damage to any target" is now standard. This is a change that was experimented with the closed beta of Arena and is now official. Any card that has the phrase "Target creature or player" is changed to "any target". With this, planeswalker redirection rule is also removed.

-Historic is a quality shared by Legendary (a supertype), Artifact (a card type) and Saga (an enchantment subtype). Heh.

-Legendary instants and sorceries are a thing, and they come with rules baggage. You can only cast legendary instants and sorceries if you control a legendary creature or planeswalker.

-"to your mana pool" is now completely removed. Any effects that say "Add {x} to your mana pool" will now just say "Add {x}." Other variants include: "Add an amount of {x} equal to" and "Add one mana of any color".

-"his or her" when referring to players is replaced with "their". Similarly, "he or she" is replaced with "they".

-Abilities that modify how a spell behaves on the stack, such as additional costs, refer to themselves as "this spell" rather than by using their card name (~). However, self-reference "AKA '~ deals 3 damage to any target'" is still a thing.

-Hexproof now has variants. "Hexproof from [COLOR]" is one they introduced. Presumably this is similar to how protection is worded.

-Equip now has variants. "Equip legendary creature" was one they introduced. I've seen this fairly often in custom card circles.

-All legendary cards, minus planeswalkers, have a slightly modified frame.

-Last but not least, a bar now appears between rules text and flavor text on cards with both to make each more distinct.

I'd like to say that Historic as a card quality is one of the more baffling ideas Wizards has come up with.

They've managed to implement some of the best changes to Magic and some of the worst changes to Magic in the same set. I'm impressed with their reach

Dominaria Story Spotlight Cards

There are many important moments in the Dominaria story, but some of the most crucial—called "story spotlights"—are shown on cards.

Compare my vision and concept for Scene:

Scene is a card type that enhances narrative design--to convey and bring focus to important or notable plot events.

Rather than create a new card type, they just slap a PW symbol onto the card's text box to denote its importance in the story.

They've done story spotlights since Kaladesh

Legendary sorceries: Cards that you can't cast unless "you have a thing" aren't really that good of a design so I don't know how they are justifying this flaw to themselves.

Historic is kind of stupid IMO, but at least this means we can now have encompassing types such as "Undead" Ie. "Zombies, Skeletons, Vampiries, Wraiths, .... are undead."

"Damage any target": Still not a fan of this. It's reads out nonsensically. It probably also has a swath of other issues such as pretty much blocking out possible future concepts like dealing damage noncreature, nonplaneswalker permanents. For example, you could have a ruling with if a noncreature artifact has damage marked on it equal or more than its CMC it would "die" like a creature.

> T: Add G.

I'm wondering why they didn't go with "Produce G". I think I'll still stick with that in my future sets, like I've done in my Silmarillion set(s) (stuff like Secret Fire).

> Magic has adopted "they" as the preferred third-person-singular pronoun for a player, replacing "he or she."

This was bound to happen sooner or later.

> Abilities that modify how a spell behaves on the stack, such as additional costs, refer to themselves as "this spell" rather than by using their card name (~). However, self-reference "AKA '~ deals 3 damage to any target'" is still a thing.

I've seen stuff like that and even cards speaking in first perspective. This choice adds some seeming inconsistencies so it's kind of a weird choice if you ask me.

> (As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)

Hey look, it's that thing I planned for the "Norse" set. Not as evocative though; see Road to Ruin and Tale of Thereafter. Possibly another missed chance there?

> Hexproof now has variants. "Hexproof from [COLOR]" is one they introduced. Presumably this is similar to how protection is worded.

This looks like it's gonna be messy color pie wise when every color can have hexproof, but with different conditions. I would have dropped it and used the "lurk" (hidden/stealth) mechanic instead that I've played around with for a while now (stuff like Reaperwraith and Houseless Defector).

That particular color specific example is pretty bad as well unless they want to reintroduce the issues with stuff like protection and intimidate (a mechanic that depending on the matchup, either does almost nothing or is too powerful).

> Equip now has variants. "Equip legendary creature" was one they introduced. I've seen this fairly often in custom card circles.

It matches well with enchant so I don't really even consider this a change per se - just an introduction.

Still no auto-shuffling on search or bury as "put into owner's graveyard" used in conjuction with mill. :(
I wonder how long it's gonna take.

It's amazing how many of these changes have been coming a long time (see Introducing new Wording ), but that Tahazzar's Saga keyword was something so recent (I think the design choice to utter the first verse on ETB is something to note that I like - though with less verses it becomes rebound).

I like most of this. I was half-way to follow Tahazzar's proposed wording to produce mana as well (the main thing stopping me was that I had just uploaded a lot of cards with the old wording to be updated, I think). I'll go with the official wording then.

"Historic" is interesting. I want to see it play out. It's super weird that it refers to one supertype, one card type and one subtype - I suppose it will never appear without reminder text.

I'm more annoyed at how long it took for the fix to hexproof.

Legendary sorceries... are still better design than epic? I think there is a lot to consider here.

I'm not that far into the translation of the document, but the set does a lot of stuff the custom card community has been doing and improved on some of it - most of all I'm actually curious abot the new take on the legendary theme.

> ... but that Tahazzar's Saga keyword was something so recent...

From where I stand that makes it less notable since WotC works in a year or two in advance so they had probably made that keyword months ago.

The new wording of "Add {g}" bothers me since I find it lacking. I think it did come up in this thread were changes related to mana creation wording was discussed in detail:


The main thing that I take issue with the new wording is that you don't just "add" stuff - you add it to something. And now that something is a thing that has just been omitted, left to interpretation, and failed to specify. For example, "add {g} to mana cost" makes sense, but just "add {g}" doesn't really.

  • Add three mana of any one color. (... to where?)
  • Produce three mana of any one color.
  • "I'm adding mana"
  • "I'm producing mana"
  • "This land adds too much mana"
  • "This land produces too much mana"

The choice between the two should be obvious IMO.

> I'm more annoyed at how long it took for the fix to hexproof.

Did they though? I mean really. "Hexproof from [color]" certainly isn't gonna fix anything. "Hexproof from instants"? "Hexproof while tapped"? "Hexproof from creatures"? "Hexproof from hexes"? These all sound pretty janky btw as far as wordings go. The last two of those examples are illustrations as to how stupid we can go with this. What I'm saying is that they should use a word other than "hexproof" for this IMO.


Oh boy, you guys missed this:

> When Merfolk Trickster enters the battlefield, tap target creature an opponent controls. It loses all abilities until end of turn.

  • If the target creature has power and toughness written as X/X with an ability that defines its power and toughness, it's 0/0 when it loses all abilities. If its power and toughness are written as X/X+1, it's 0/1, and so on.

Well look at what we have here. I guess that debate is officially finished as well.


I wonder if "after your draw step" could become the next "at beginning of your upkeep" in the future since players usually automatically untap and draw a card at the start of their turn, often missing crucial upkeep triggers (echo and such). This is a problem I last saw with Aulë's Craft for example when I was having a test draft of that set, so I would appreciate that change in general.

They've done story spotlights since Kaladesh

apparently nobody cared at all. since this is my first time hearing about it, and it's never been mentioned by the players along with the spoilers. nobody ever goes "ooh i wonder what the spotlight cards are in this set." seems failed approach.

moreover their PW symbol is really poor representation of anything. sterile, no connection to real world or human experience. it just exists, but always seems out of place.


OK, "they". I do appreciate pros and cons but on balance I'm pleased they went ahead with it.

Several strange things but I'll see how they go.

I was really hoping for "any target", I'm pleased it happened, I hadn't expected it. But it does seem confusing that "any target" means creatures/players/planeswalkers only, when "any target permanent" is more general. I guess it never matters, the only thing that can target either permanents or players is damage. But it just felt simpler to say you could damage anything, but it only mattered for things that cared about being damaged.

I like the idea of reflecting story moments on cards, but I felt the way to do it was to try to capture not a linear narrative, but a bigger picture, like "the rebellion" not "what planeswalker X did". The story should be something you can describe in half a sentence, but with infinite details people can fall in love with.

Regarding story spotlight cards (Pia's Revolution, Battle at the Bridge, Hour of Devastation etc): Plenty of the Vorthos types on Tumblr have been eagerly following the story spotlight cards for each new set. I think the "failed approach" is just amuseum failing to pay attention.

I'm surprised they've gone full-on Kamigawa with all the uncommon legends. It looks like they'll have a problem with many of the legends having no known backstory, character, personality, nothing to let players relate to them or get attached to them.

Templating changes like "they", "add {g}" and "damage to any target" were pretty much inevitable. They really should have just done the latter when planeswalkers were first introduced though, not 11 years later.

Legendary instants/sorceries are very weird. It's the kind of thing you could only do in a full-on Kamigawa set with uncommon legends; and even so it seems odd. I guess it's similar to the conditional-dragon spells from DTK like Silumgar's Scorn, or the Silvergill Adept cycle? But straight-up "can't cast this unless" is pretty harsh. I suspect that'll be deemed a design mistake in Maro's retrospective in 18 months' time.

The Sagas seem quite sensible. Something like this seems particularly sensible in a set like Dominaria that wants to include nods to vast swathes of MtG history that they don't have space to make detailed references to. Tahazzar's take on it was even more flavourful, but could easily be a direction the official cards take in a couple more years.

Yep. I suggest, you go back and do a full text search on your frequented sites, amuseum. Either your section of the community is entirely different than the one I witness, or you should find some mention of storyline spotlights. I know, I randomly come across someone mentioning it every spoiler season (of a main product).

Maybe you just missed them never having consciously read the term.

> I'm surprised they've gone full-on Kamigawa with all the uncommon legends. It looks like they'll have a problem with many of the legends having no known backstory, character, personality, nothing to let players relate to them or get attached to them.

I think the fact that so many legendary creatures are tied to the already established history of Dominaria helps plenty. Kamigawa-block had to start from a blank slate, but just putting an established family name or location ties a new legendary to a long illustruous past - both in-universe and on the meta-level. Blackblade Reforged, Bladewing, of Femeref.

There is a reason Time Spiral-block was populated with an above average number of legendaries and this time they embrace this circumstance as a theme. I think that's all the advantage needed that Kamigawa never had.

I met the term. I filed it away as "Oh, it's a marketing thing." I certainly have never cared about it.

"Cast only if you have a legendary thing already" is not actually any more of a speedbump that "Cast only after you've got 4 land" is; but it somehow feels janky.

"Legendary spells" - I always they wouldn't print Commander-only mechanics in Standard, because these spells will certainly not be playable more generally.

I had figured they would try to go big with this set, but I had never imagined they would destroy the rules of the game to do so. Everything about this set looks like it was made by some first-time amateur game designer who's never even read the comp rules. It runs the gamut from lazy (mana production change), to unintuitive (planeswalker redirection change), to worthless (historic), to literally nonfunctional (changing what removing abilities does).

As an aside, I've never seen any indication that amuseum has ever interacted with real Magic cards, so I'm not surprised they're unfamiliar with story spotlight cards

They didn't change what removing abilities does, right? The rulings from the FAQ are consistent with how Yixlid Jailer used to work unless I missed something.

Deals damage to any target - After WOM Devign Team used "any target" for their reprint of Warstorm Surge and evidenced the change was coming, I got onboard with the change. I do think it's not helpful to new players that this doesn't explain what the three possible targets are.

Historic - I don't expect to see historic too many times after Dominaria, so I don't have any notable thoughts on its existence.

Legendary soreries -Mechanically think they're cute and fine for a legendary-heavy set. The choice to use legendary the legendary supertype for them doesn't seem to match up with how the rules for legendary permanents work.

No more "mana pool" - I'm with Tahazarr. You add stuff to something. Were 4 extra words eating up that much line space? Maybe on wordy cards they could cut it down to just "add ," but otherwise it just looks whack.

Singular third-person pronouns -About time Wizards made the change

Using "this spell" over the spell's name - Is there any baggage gained or lost with this? I don't mind it. Maybe it's clearer for new players if they were casting multiple copies of the spell that were on the stack together?

Hexproof variants -I missed this in my initial skimming. I may comment later.

Equip variants - I didn't read the examples, so again I have no comment at present.

THE BAR - More like Return to Portal

> THE BAR - More like Return to Portal

Fun fact: Portal Second Age is set on Caliman on Dominaria. So a return to Portal is a return to Dominaria.

So story spotlight catering to minor minor subset of players, is successful marketing and design?

That's irony. Spotlight means "move into the foreground to make more visible or prominent". Contrarily, Magic's story spotlights are intentionally difficult to find and invisible to vast majority of players and nonplayers.

How about you guys creating custom sets? Have you ever copied this idea and intended story spotlights for your sets?

I've never fleshed out the stories for my planes enough to make multiple spotlight cards. That being said, I've made a few cards that thinking about, I would go back and add a story spotlight watermark to. Heck, one of those I even wrote the lore for the card in the comments section.

The story spotlight is not about putting a spotlight on the cards, but about putting a spotlight on the story.

For years sets have been about "world building" more than about "plot" - and rightfully so since world building is obviously a strong suit of the game creators and cards are a notoriously difficult story telling tool.

And since a lot of world building includes side stories and lore that doesn't play into the main story arc the game makers are encouraged to put an effort into making the main story shine.

Story spotlight cards are a way to do so. And you don't need to know they are stroy spotlight cards to have those events depicted and a central story featured in the cards, but if you care, you can find them.

I cannot confirm any strong statements that story spotlights are "invisible to vast majority of players and nonplayers". At least not relative to many of the other things that sometimes turn out to be "invisible" to certain subsections of players.

I use story spotlight cards if my set has a story arc. Since currently I have a lot of Duel Decks and assorted card collections floating (at least outside my hard drive) there is a more complex answer to that question in there.

I like to think of story spotlight cards as the set of cards you would put pictures of onto your "storyline" set details page.

You can check how many sets on here even have such a set details page over one that is more accurately "world building" with faction descriptions and locations, but without plot.

I miss the heavier focus on world building. I remember back in the day when MaRo even said that the thing Magic is good at is building environments, and the random nature of the game makes narratives hard. And he was right!

This is besides the point that the big plot got super terrible for a while, despite the individual installments being pretty well written.

What do you mean you miss the heavier focus on world building? The world building is still terrific - even arguably getting better. At the very least we get to see more of it with details released that used to collect dust in a drawer.

Most worlds are created these days with an option to return in mind - and it shows that this is a good thing since it encourages fleshing out enough about the world that there are layers yet to uncover:

  • the untold history of Amonkhet
  • the continent of origin of Ixalan's conquistador vampires
  • the unresolved plots concerning all the cults' plotting under the shadow of Emrakul in Innistrad
  • the tension between the clans of the lost timeline and the dragon broods on Tarkir

I think that's the point. Current magic builds a world for you. No; not even a world - a small town populated with a lot of known named people.

Previous magic was more lego - you got some pieces, and built some random stuff with it. The results were less consistent; but more creative.

Current magic (aside from Dominaria, which actually looks good from a world-building standpoint, mostly due to the fact that they have 40 sets' worth of world-building to draw from) has been increasingly theme-park-y. I think this is an intended goal based on what MaRo has been saying. Personally, I'm not a fan.

@Secret, I think Vitenka brings up a good point - because the worlds feel so small, there's not much to explore when you go back precisely because the planes' identity is now so closely tied to the small window that you were given when you went there the first time. I'll take your Ixalan example - how likely is it that we're actually going to see something analogous to 16th/17th century Spain (Torrezon) when we go back? When you say "Return to Ixalan", people are going to expect Dinosaurs and Pirates. Not to mention, so much of Ixalan's identity revolves around the jungles of Central/South America that moving the setting away from that will pretty much rid any identity of Ixalan in the first place. Look how easily they were able to abandon the plots of Dissension and Avacyn Restored in favor of the planes' original identities. You can't honestly say that, if we ever return to Ixalan, we'll get Torrezon as 17th century Spain instead of more jungle and pirate shenanigans.

Personally, I'm against returning to planes in general, especially after Return to Ravnica and Battle for Zendikar. Compared to the original Ravnica, RTR doesn't even hold a candle in terms of worldbuilding - in fact, they even threw out a lot of what made Ravnica interesting and different from just "this is a world where it's one giant city". I think SOI was an alright return, though I'm not a fan of where the story went with it.

I feel like one-set blocks will only exacerbate the "theme park" issue. We're unlikely to get any in-depth worldbuilding when Creative has to churn out these worlds at an even faster rate; the most we're going to get, as all of the new planes in the two-set blocks demonstrate, are theme park worlds where you take 1-3 random "X world" ideas out of a hat and mesh them together.

> You can't honestly say that, if we ever return to Ixalan, we'll get Torrezon as 17th century Spain instead of more jungle and pirate shenanigans.

No, saying that would require me to restrict my vision of how lore should continue to "Return to X" sets i. e. Standard-legal releases.

In a way I agree that "Return to X" sets are set up to be inferior sequels - which is a common trait in sequels mostly because only the best sets get sequels and even a decent specimen of card set will be an inferior sequel to the original if it was cream of the crop.

My idea for showing Torrezon and similar interesting settings within planes would probably utilize either supplemental sets or maybe core sets where you can show that continent as one of many settings similar to the way Magic Origins works.

Or - if you really want a Torrezon set going through Standard - make it part of a two-set arc that starts with a Return to Ixalan set and create a story that escalates the conflict and moves it to the other continent. There's been quite a few movie sequels following that formula.

I think we strayed a little far from the topic - maybe this is worth a separate discussion.

I'll agree that many recent planes are theme parky or suffer from Star Wars planet syndrome. For such a reason, Tarkir was one of my favorite planes in that Tarkir's geography felt fleshed-out and expansive that played well into developing the clans. Tarkir's lore aims the story in a specific direction, sure but I can give that a pass.

However, I wonder how much of weak world-building is Wizard's fault and how much is the fault of the audience. Kamigawa, which had vibrant spirits and a lot of engaging influence from Japanese folklore was considered a flop on most accounts (though the plane does have some of the most vocal support from it's small group of fans), with only the samurai and ninja being considered successful elements. There can be really excellent opportunities to expand upon ideas presented, but a large bulk of the audience is unfortunately picky and seems to only want what it knows. Applying that to a sequel/return distills the idea further into something simple, flanderized without the nuance since the goals will presumably have shifted from exploration of the idea to presentation of previous exploration. Take Innistrad- for Innistrad 3 we're going back to vampires and werewolves. Shadows Over Innistrad block did a good job switching from gothic horror towards the eldritch horror, thus expanding on a root theme. The other elements in Shadows Over Innistrad could be flanderized since they took a back seat to the eldritch focus. Contrast with the slop that's Zendikar Resurgeant, or over-simplified guilds in Ravnica's subsequent returns. Fwiw, I'd love to see Torrezon be a focus. But, unfortunately people will probably want what they're already used to from Ixalan on return. The best route would be don't even call the set Ixalan, and just call it Torrezon and minimalize the parts from the continent that iisn't Torrezon. Also, not really related, but Innistrad was supposed to have another continent, and it'd be awesome if that continent was based on horror from another part of our world.

Sequels are hard. I agree, a lot of magic's sequels have been a bit lackluster. The modern-legal dominaria sets had great callbacks but didn't really try to be sequels to previous sets.

The Ravnica sets and other returns to Modern planes have mostly been "more of the same". Which is a shame, because "same guilds, new mechanics" is a great hook, but there wasn't really anything to make them stand out from the original.

Scars of Mirrodin was probably the best "sequel". It skewed a little towards "new", but there's no doubt we were visiting the same place, but no risk of confusing it with the original. Innistrad II was pretty similar, but I can at least remember "horror" vs "cosmic horror noir"

I guess, the nature of the game, if people want to play with more gothic horror cards or more adventure world cards or more city cards, they don't NEED a different set premise. If they said, "Ravnica, but published in half a dozen sets over 20 years" I'd think, "yay, more Ravnica". But it seems like a lost opportunity.

Also an interesting point about "Star Wars planet syndrome plane". I think there's always going to be some of that, because there's not much pressure to have multiple different places in the same world, and a new world allows new things that wouldn't coexist on the same world. But I don't think it means the worlds HAVE to be non-fleshed-out. Theros was crammed with greek myth references, and even in sets that were a bit weak on them, I think they could put in interesting individual cards. But if I were thinking seriously about sequels I'd establish places which were only loosely characterised in the first set, but could potentially support a whole sequel. E.g. have most of zendikar set in generic "adventure world" but a number of cards about the "dark side of the planet" or "the underworld" and then a second set could be set mostly in that place which players already have some resonance with. Because in a sequel people DO want what they loved in the original.

Torrezon could be great, but it would be basically starting over from scratch, it would only work if there was the appetite for a say european rennaisance world separate from any feelings about Ixalan. Which would be cool, actually. But the only real benefit of crossing over the sets would be a FUTURE set which might mash up parts of both.

I dislike the rules for legendary instants/sorceries. Legendary means something different. Rather, this rule should be a keyword ability (although those cards should remain legendary, which also means they remain historic).

Restricted hexproof is OK, but I think that protection should generally be used instead.

Removing "to your mana pool" is often OK, but should be retained where it would help to clarify.

The definition of "historic" is OK.

I like the rule about "any target", but I dislike that wording; I think that it should be "target damageable", and it is what I use in my own cards. (A card may also say "any damageable", "enchant damageable", etc.) (The meaning of "any target" and "target damageable" are the same, and are considered equivalent for the AST, e.g. with overload.)

I like their removal of the planeswalker damage redirection rule; that rule was too klugy.

Replacing "his or her" with "their" is probably better, except where it would be unclear. Fortunately, the rules do say that it can say "that player" where "their" is unclear, so that is OK.

Equip variants is OK.

The bar between ability text and flavor text is OK.

My opinion of the modified frame is neutral.

Note: Although I dislike the rule about legendary instants/sorceries, I do think that the rule for the ongoing supertype should be expanded. Ongoing supertype currently suppresses a state-based action (for schemes). I propose generalizing it to the other similar state-based actions too (for phenomena and for Sagas).

See the rules in my set here on Multiverse for some of my other ideas. (The rule about the ante zone being shared across subgames was apparently someone's interpretation used in a puzzle, actually; I decided to use it since it avoids some problems that can otherwise occur, such as in team games. Also, at least one of the other rules I listed in my own set seems to now be official.)

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