I've been doing all-time great Magic design celebrations recently, and I am enjoying the hell out of it. It's cool to be in a position to even have the Magic knowledge to attempt something that highlights so much of the game's best individual cards through the eras.
And on top of that, if you're a redditor and you support my work, I took a rare peak out into the social media landscape to talk about all the most im-portant ideas I've explored in Magic in my first year writing for Cool Stuff Inc. It took a worldwide lockdown to do it, but there it is for all to see. Stop in and take a look, if you please. Upvotes en-couraged if sincere, of course.
Where does that leave us for today?
It's a tad dramatic because my explanation about where I'm going with all this takes a while - as it does with me - so think of today as a bit of an appetizer. We're all in lockdown. We have the time.
No, really, where's the next part of the best card designs of all-time?
The series needs a break so I can talk about Ikoria.
Because I think it's really, really important that we talk about Ikoria.
If you're super in a hurry for some reason (maybe medical professionals love The Rascal) and just want the shortest possible route to a piece of the angst pie, you can probably just glance over at Abe Sargent's work from this week. I think the outcomes described and/or hinted at there are premature - Fatalism Intuition! - but if you scale back some, I think he is very much on the right track.
And why that matters is: I'm not "that guy" as much or more than Abe is "that guy." I'm the absolute best guy to have in the WotC corner in every debate, short of peo-ple who are actually within the walls and are invested more than I could possibly be. (On second thought, I happen to be enough of a Magic industry person that it does probably affect me close to as much, but that muddies the water here, so let's just pretend they universally care more than me; it's probably functionally close to outright true anyhow).
Long story short: I'm an empathetic dude that understands Magic at a fairly deep level at this point, I like to think. I'm very rarely existentially concerned for Magic, and I'm not 100% convinced I really even need to be right now.
But I'm concerned more than I ever am, and that is noteworthy.
It's not projected anxiety from world events either. Those who know me know my quality of life is circumstan-tially pretty decent since this debacle kicked off.
Maybe we're already getting ahead of ourselves. Let's spend a minute or two on the benefit of the doubt here. Let's believe in Ikoria for a second.
Let's take a second to point out some things that I think are really worth looking forward to and being excited about in Ikoria. I think when a set is as divisive as this one, it's good to look at the hope spots and lean on them as strong potential indicators of the part of the set's experience you're looking forward to. If you're stuck to the grinder way of life, even when you can't really go anywhere and you have all the time in the world to test Standard games, then good luck to you; however, if you're like me and you don't really care what a new set is bringing as long you have accessible Magic providing new puzzles and ideas, you'll get along fine. Draft, Historic, Brawl - I don't care. My friends and I make up formats if it gets desperate enough.
Anyway, here are things I optimistically hope we ultimately remember as the defining qualities of Ikoria down the road:
- The idea of rounding off the Ultimatums
- A world populated by giant, unimaginable lummoxes
- Boon of the Wish-Giver
- Making Ixalan seem less black sheep
- Seb McKennon over huge
- Limited always has a shot at being great, and that's where I party most days anyhow
So there you go! Tons to look forward to!
Frankly, there's actually a lot more than just that, but it's time to take the dark turn.
Reviewing My Policy on The End is Near Chants
I hope I've proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'm not a doomsayer. I've written before about how and why Magic players always think the game is as good as over, when the reality is that that has obviously to this point never happened once. Magic has not died one damn time in all the years it was "about to" to die. And that includes a giant gap in product releases after Homelands during a crucial period for the game's long-term growth. Hey, sometimes things just work out.
A quick review: Magic players are very suspicious of change because Magic is a game of high investment on several fronts; we fear because we care. Magic is a child and we are its obnoxious, smothering, overprotective parents. Every new mechanic that needs to be read more than once to be understood is a choking hazard. Never leave our sight, our familiarity. If you stay young, somehow we stay young.
In other words: I get it. I'm not interrupting a series on celebrating design positively just because I'm bored of being a largely positive and joy-forward Magic writer. My tenure in the Magic world has made me a lot of friends, and some of those friends are at Wizards of the Coast. I want their work to be successful, and I want to agree with their output. I have, to my recollection, nev-er even gone to the trouble of bringing up perceived "issues" in private conversations because I just don't see the game as a series of complaints. As wrong as people always act like it is, it is so right a majority of the time. I love Magic, and I don't want to expose myself to awkward conversations about it with friends who are even more invested than I am unless it's for a good reason. Such is the motivation here: I genu-inely think it's pretty important where I'm going to go in my next article. Make a plan to be there.
To sadly further prove my credentials on this: I'm not even that invested right now. There are more important things going on, and all of the great "Magic" I'm having right now is conversational (and of course, Draft and Arena Cube Sealed; human drafters on the way, aaay). The industry as a whole is going to reel like many others. Any industry built on humans getting together is going to take hard shots, and organizations that are already behind the 8-ball for whatever reason - self-inflicted or otherwise - are going to end up that much further in the Sinkhole.
I'm deeply connected to Magic, but my life, like much of the world, is in transi-tion. The world over, a huge mass of people are shifting gears. In my life right now, there's just not a ton of pressure for Magic to pull a lot of weight toward my overall happiness, which hasn't been the case in a very long while. And it's not even in the top two or three most difficult transitions I've had to make in the last five years.
I'm in a fantastic position to not care. But I do. Because I think the indications are stark and we don't want to look back and wish we'd had the conversations.
Let's sit down and have a chat about the dangers hiding between the lines of Ikoria.
I knew this was coming, but I really thought we had more time.
The Indestructible Danny West