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Typecasting

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In honor of Enchantment Week, I present a brand-new short play entitled "Typecasting." It may or may not be autobiographical in nature.

MARO

Hello, everyone. Let me explain why the seven of you are here. I'm doing the initial work on "Friends." It's going to be a set inspired by Greek mythology. I have this hunch that I might want to involve one of the card types in the design in a way that puts a little more focus on it than normal.

INSTANT

Choose me. I think I'd be good.

MARO

Hold on, Instant. Let me please finish first. I invited all of you card types to this meeting because I want to talk through as a group what makes the most sense for this design.

[INSTANT RAISES HIS HAND.]

MARO

Yes, Instant.

INSTANT

Can I explain why I would be the right choice?

MARO

Not yet. Now, I know each of you are well aware of how we used you in the past, so I felt that a group discussion might be the best way for each of you to explain how you might be the correct choice for "Friends."

INSTANT

Now?

MARO

Instant, I promise you'll be the first one to get to talk. Okay?

INSTANT

Okay.

MARO

Before this meeting, I sent you all the material on Greek mythology that Ethan put together along with a bunch of my notes. My questions today: Are you the right card type to focus on? If so, why? If not, who would be the best choice? Does everyone understand?

INSTANT

Yep.

CREATURE

Got it.

ARTIFACT

Understood.

PLANESWALKER

Whatever.

ENCHANTMENT

Yeah.

LAND

Yes.

MARO

Sorcery?

SORCERY

I also understand.

MARO

All right, Instant. You may go first.

INSTANT

Thank you. I believe I am the best choice to focus on because most of the other card types have already been the focus of a block. Artifacts had both Mirrodin and Scars of Mirrodin and also the Esper shard from Shards of Alara. Land had Zendikar block. Enchantments had Urza's Saga block. Creature has just about every other block. Both Onslaught block and Lorwyn block were tribal and that's just one subset of Creature. Planeswalker's too small to be the focus. So that just leave me and Sorcery and, as always, we can share.

ARTIFACT

Maro's question wasn't whose turn is it? He wants to know which of us is the most appropriate for a Greek mythological setting.

INSTANT

I'm appropriate.

ARTIFACT

And why exactly are you appropriate?

INSTANT

Um... well... uh, Zeus used Lightning Bolts, and that's an instant.

ARTIFACT

The set will have instants. The question is why are they particularly relevant to have focus put upon them. For example, Greek mythology is filled with important objects—Pandora's Box, the Trojan Horse, Hermes's sandals, Hephaestus's hammer...

MARO

Wait, I'm getting these all down.

ARTIFACT

Artifacts have a place and a relevance to Greek mythology. I don't know what exactly instants have to offer.

CREATURE

Fine, Greek mythology has a few artifacts, but you know what it has a lot more of? Creatures! Minotaurs, centaurs, pegasuses, satyrs, gorgons, cyclopes, dryads, sphinxes, griffins, nymphs, tritons, hippocamps, chimeras, krakens, harpies, hydras, and lots and lots of human soldiers.

LAND

Technically, the kraken is Northern European and not Greek.

CREATURE

Whatever, sea serpents. My point is Greek mythology is synonymous with creatures. If we are going to focus on anything, clearly it should be me.

INSTANT

Do you have to be the focus of everything? You're already over half the cards! That's not good enough for you? You can't just let some of us who don't get the spotlight take a turn?

CREATURE

They focus on me because I'm more interesting than the rest of you sorry types.

PLANESWALKER

Who's being focused the most on the boxes right now? Who tends to be the main marketing image of the set? That's right, me.

CREATURE

You're going to have three mythic rare cards. How exactly do you plan to "have focus?"

PLANESWALKER

I don't need extra focus. I already get plenty of focus just by being in the set.

CREATURE

Then why are you talking?

PLANESWALKER

I just enjoy annoying you.

LAND

It seems to me that the crux of Greek mythology is the gods. If you want to know which card type to focus on, I would focus on which one best helps you capture the gods.

CREATURE

Well then, the gods are creatures, so I win.

LAND

But are they?

CREATURE

What do you mean? They're living, breathing, sentient things. How are they not creatures?

ENCHANTMENT

I think what land is getting at is that the gods are more than just creatures.

LAND

The gods have influence on the world. Their mere existence changes the rules of how things work. Does that sound familiar?

CREATURE

Enchantments? Boring. And the only enchantments we even do at common are mostly Auras. What does that have to do with the gods?

LAND

The touch and influence of the gods on the mortals of the world. Sounds like a good fit to me.

INSTANT

No, Enchantment's already had a block. The god's influence could be instants. You know, and sorceries. Sorcery, you have to start speaking up.

ENCHANTMENTS

Let me just get this off my chest. One time, one time R&D made a block built around me and then they filled it with broken artifacts and called it the "Artifact Cycle."

MARO

That was the brand team. We told them it was about enchantments.

ENCHANTMENTS

Urza's Saga had nine banned cards, more banned cards than any set but Alpha. How many of those broken cards in the enchantment set were enchantments? Zero. None. There were three lands, three sorceries, an instant, a creature, and an artifact. Every single card type that existed at the time got banned except me in the set that was supposed to be all about enchantments!

CREATURE

So when R&D threw out all the rules of good development, they still couldn't make a good enchantment? I don't know if that's rousing support for you.

ENCHANTMENT

Look, Maro, I think Land is right. If you want to convey Greek mythology, you have to be able to capture the feel of the gods on the world. I can do that. Environment affecting—that's my thing.

ARTIFACT

You mean our thing.

ENCHANTMENT

But you have to do it with tangible objects. Greek mythology is filled with the gods using magic.

INSTANT

Exactly. Individual uses of magic. The gods take action, use their magic, and then something happens. That's us. That's me and Sorcery. We're your card types. Right, Sorcery? Sorcery? You're killing me here.

LAND

I'm not sure about that. I'll give you an example. The gods come down and set a mortal on a quest. Through this quest, he or she becomes a hero. How do you or Sorcery show that?

INSTANT

We can give a creature a trigger that lasts until the end of turn.

LAND

What if the quest is longer than one turn?

INSTANT

Multi-turn effects really isn't our thing.

LAND

Enchantment is all about creating a long-term effect. It can have a trigger every turn, and if you mark it with counters, it can even lead to an effect that gets built up to. In fact, Auras, in general, seem like a pretty powerful way to show a creature under a god's influence.

ARTIFACT

Any one of us permanents can show duration. Remember, the key to top-down is being iconic. I do iconic excellently.

CREATURE

No, you do iconic okay. I do iconic excellently. You don't have to make the god's influence external to the creatures. Just design it into the creatures. Think a threshold-like mechanic. For example, you have a creature, but if a god's on the battlefield, it gets a bonus. See, a god being around enhances the creature.

LAND

But that makes the mechanic parasitic. The only way to use the creatures is if you have a god. But gods are going to be mythic rare. That means... Planeswalker, how often do you get opened?

PLANESWALKER

In a large set, on average, about one in forty boosters.

LAND

So you have creatures that only get better in a tiny number of Limited games?

CREATURE

That was just an example off the top of my head. I'm sure Maro and his team will figure out something cooler.

LAND

Also, the heroes and the monsters are also going to want to be a focus of the set. Those are going to, by design, have to care about creatures.

CREATURE

I'm used to having multiple mechanics point to me. It's just what comes with the territory when you're as important as I am.

LAND

And I wonder why players want to build creatureless decks.

SORCERY

Can I speak?

INSTANT

Evidence so far points to no.

SORCERY

In the notes, Maro mentioned thinking about bringing chroma back. Calling it devotion, if I remember correct.

MARO

That's right.

SORCERY

If devotion represents the positive feeling between the mortals and the gods, then it's probably important that whatever card type represents the gods' influence help count toward the devotion, right?

LAND

Which means that it not only needs to be a permanent but a permanent with colored mana in its mana cost.

CREATURE

That's me and Enchantment.

ARTIFACT

It's not my normal M.O. but I can do it.

CREATURE

Colored artifacts in a Greek mythology world? I don't know.

INSTANT

Sorcery, so you finally speak up so you can explain why it can't be us? Being quiet just wasn't working for you?

MARO

The devotion thing is a good point.

CREATURE

Yes, we want a card type that has colored mana costs. I agree. But what exactly does Enchantment have to offer that I can't do better? The gods should be creatures. And everyone praying to them? Also creatures. The heroes? Creatures. The monsters? Creatures. Greek mythology is all about creatures.

ARTIFACTS

And objects.

LAND

And places. Look, what Maro needs is something to capture the essence of gods. We're not even talking about the gods themselves. He needs the influence of the gods.

INSTANT

Let's word associate for a moment. Okay? Planeswalker, I say a word and you say the first thing that comes to mind. All right? Zeus?

PLANESWALKER

King of the Gods.

INSTANT

No, Lightning Bolt.

PLANESWALKER

You said to say the first thing that came to my mind. I mean you could say the first thing that comes to your mind, but that's not very interactive.

INSTANT

Zeus, the king of the gods, is directly linked with a lightning bolt. Lightning Bolt is an instant. The work of the gods, the influence of the gods, could be spells instead of permanents.

LAND

I appreciate that you haven't had your turn yet and I'm sure one day you will, but the presence of the gods has to have some permanence. And well... permanents.

INSTANT

It's always about the permanents. Instant, you're too temporary. Instant, you're "one and done." Instant, you just don't stick around.

ENCHANTMENT

Enough, Instant. I feel for you, but you act like somehow I've been living life with a silver spoon in my mouth. I had one block once that tried to make me matter and the focus was stolen so strongly that players don't even realized I ever was a block theme. You want your turn? I want my turn.

MARO

Okay, Enchantment. Sell me on using you.

ENCHANTMENT

Okay, two words: Lucent Liminid.

MARO

You do know I don't like that card.

ENCHANTMENT

Yes, I know the story. I was there during Future Sight. You don't like it because nothing about it is an enchantment. But you have to admit, you like the concept of an enchantment creature.

MARO

Of course, I like the idea of them but I don't want to make them until we figure out how to make both card types matter.

CREATURE

So, Enchantment, you want to get together with me?

ENCHANTMENT

The key to making an enchantment creature work is to figure out why it would be both. For example, an artifact creature makes sense because it's an artificially created being with a generic mana cost. What if Greek mythology was the key to giving the enchantment creatures an identity?

MARO

Go ahead.

ENCHANTMENT

The gods are creatures but they aren't just creatures. They represent ideals and concepts. They embody qualities of life.

MARO

I'm not quite following.

ENCHANTMENT

Artifact, what's the difference between me and you?

ARTIFACT

I'm more beloved.

ENCHANTMENT

I meant flavorfully.

ARTIFACT

I'm concrete and you're ephemeral.

ENCHANTMENT

How does the creative team differentiate us?

ARTIFACT

I'm always shown as a physical thing while you are shown as magical energy.

ENCHANTMENT

Or just a state of being. Often I'm not even tangible.

CREATURE

So?

ENCHANTMENT

The gods aren't concrete. Well, not always. Much of the time, they're ephemeral. Like me.

MARO

So, you're saying the gods are the perfect example of an enchantment creature.

ENCHANTMENT

Exactly. They're sometimes tangible and sometimes ephemeral. But there's more. Greek mythology was about how the gods touched upon the lives of the mortals. Not only can I represent the gods, but I can mechanically copy this impact.

MARO

Keep talking.

ENCHANTMENT

The key is Auras. Auras exist as a means to show how magic can have an ongoing and continual effect upon the items of the game.

ARTIFACT

I also have Equipment.

ENCHANTMENT

Equipment has so many advantages over Auras but one of the things they don't do as well is convey influence. Equipment is a thing, a weapon, an item of power. An Aura, by definition, is radiance. Dictionary.com calls me "a subtly pervasive quality or atmosphere seen as emanating from a person, place, or thing." Person, place, or thing? Creatures, lands, and artifacts.

MARO

What about global enchantments?

ENCHANTMENT

They could also work although I think Auras do a better job. Auras are more personal and they convey the sense that the gods have come down and interacted directly. I also think that you should embrace enchantment creatures not just as gods but as the creation of the gods.

CREATURE

I agree. I think enchantment creatures are worth more investigation.

ARTIFACT

How about enchantment artifacts?

MARO

I don't know. What does that mean?

ENCHANTMENT

I'm not sure. Maybe if they were artifacts created by the gods themselves?

MARO

It doesn't sound too promising. I do like what you and Land have been saying. I'm curious what all of you think.

INSTANT

I'm still a bit skeptical. Enchantment talks a good game, but I think there's still other fertile areas to explore.

CREATURE

I think it's foolish not to focus on me but if your take on enchantments involves heavy use of enchantment creatures, I can give it a thumbs up.

ARTIFACT

I agree with Instant that I think we could explore a little more.

LAND

Obviously, I think it's clear Enchantment is the right card type.

PLANESWALKER

Everyone's looking at me but I wasn't paying attention.

MARO

We're discussing whether or not you feel Enchantment is the right call for Theros.

PLANESWALKER

Are there going to be three mythic rare Planeswalkers?

MARO

Yes.

PLANESWALKER

Then I don't really care. I guess if pushed, I'll say no because I've learned saying yes causes a lot more headaches.

ENCHANTMENT

I think you know where I stand.

MARO

Sorcery? We seem to have three for and three against. I'm curious to hear what you think.

SORCERY

Enchantment is a perfect fit. Any other choice would be foolish.

INSTANT

Et tu, Sorcery. Et tu?

LAND

That's Roman, Instant, not Greek.

MARO

I think we've found our answer. Thanks everyone. This was very informative.

ENCHANTMENT

If you're curious, I have some interesting ideas how you could evolve me during the block.

MARO

I'm very interested. Why don't you and I go chat?

[MARK AND ENCHANTMENT EXIT.]

INSTANT

What are we supposed to do now?

LAND

Since Maro left, we probably should wrap things up.

CREATURE

Maro wants your input, blah, blah, blah. Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, blah, blah, blah.

LAND

I'm sure Maro will want you to join him next week for Part 2 of his card-by-card Theros stories.

SORCERY

Until then, may you find your own type.




"Drive to Work #56 – Drive to Work"

My podcast just turned one so I thought it was only appropriate for the podcast to talk about the podcast itself.

"Drive to Work #57 – Champions of Kamigawa, Part 1"

This podcast looks at the design of the first set in the Kamigawa block, the first block to do a top-down design inspired by a real world source. (Arabian Nights did it first but it wasn't a block.)

Multi







 
Mark Rosewater
Mark Rosewater
@maro254
Email Mark

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Working for Magic R&D since October, 1995, Mark Rosewater is currently the head designer. His hobbies include spending time with his family, talking about Magic on every known medium (including a daily blog and a weekly podcast), and writing about himself in the third person.

 
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