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tazelbain
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on: August 13, 2013, 09:00:34 AM

On a design level, what are core elements that give the game its depth?

Edit: Bah You guys aren't going to post.

Table games are best when they allow players to make interesting choices. Some interesting choices I can think of:
Deck composition tension between low cost and high cost.
Deck composition tension of single color versus multicolor.
Deck composition tension of combos.
Targeted removal. Who do I nuke?
Big one-time combos. Do I do it now or wait?
« Last Edit: August 13, 2013, 12:52:25 PM by tazelbain »

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Malakili
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Reply #1 on: August 13, 2013, 01:30:16 PM

It's just kind of a tough question to answer. 

I guess if I had to boil it down I would say Magic has a lot of depth because there is lots of player interaction, not only in combat.  I think it does that particular thing better than any other card game. 

There are lots of other things it does well that are interesting, but most of them depend on the concept of player interaction being possible at pretty much every moment.
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Reply #2 on: August 13, 2013, 01:33:13 PM

From what I remember of playing it, the depth was in your deck planning and the timing of your play.

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Reply #3 on: August 13, 2013, 01:45:51 PM

For spikes, unintentional tension.

I do not, for a minute, believe that Magic was designed to have the tension it has at high level play. Twilight Struggle was certainly designed like that (where every choice has ramifications), but Magic had to grow into it.

At the design level, we're talking specifically about the way cards interact, rather than how people use them. Sure, tweaking is done after testing, but a majority of the design itself is around making cards that (either apparently/obviously - see elves, slivers, etc, or secretly/quietly - see blue/white/black or red/green/black color pie bleed) work together.

If you want specifics, I can give specifics, but I'm actually a little blurry on the actual answer you're looking for. Design yields one result, but emergent gameplay reveals a very different one.
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Reply #4 on: August 13, 2013, 03:06:35 PM

I guess I am interested what gives MtG its sizzle (game design wise) when we've had so many tcg come and go.  It's like if MMO market is stuck on EQ1 for all these years.






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Reply #5 on: August 13, 2013, 03:24:25 PM

I guess I am interested what gives MtG its sizzle (game design wise) when we've had so many tcg come and go.  It's like if MMO market is stuck on EQ1 for all these years.



In terms of longevity I'd say its a combination of the release of quality expansion sets (generally), the prevalence of Friday Night Magic, and Pro Tour which has kept the  high quality players interested.   I think they've only been on the current schedule of expansions since 2009, but it has kept things quite interesting and works really well with the Standard format.  Modern is also an exciting format, but I think only became an official format in 2011. 
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Reply #6 on: August 13, 2013, 04:10:48 PM

I guess I am interested what gives MtG its sizzle (game design wise) when we've had so many tcg come and go.  It's like if MMO market is stuck on EQ1 for all these years.
Back in the 90s, it was pure innovation and first to the market.

Post 2003 or so, it's the general cohesiveness and balance.

Magic cards now, for the most part, don't even resemble ones in the past. It's nothing really like the MMOG market, at least not how you thought about it. It's the same, game, but it's not. Magic in 2010+ is World of Warcraft to 1994's Magic/EQ1.

The core (Diku, for the sake of your analogy), is proven. Card draws have enough randomness to feel good, but not variance isn't so high that it always feels awful.

I feel like, if you took a deck of cards from Revised and put them up against, say, a tier 2 deck from 2011 - you'd immediately understand.
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Reply #7 on: August 13, 2013, 09:56:07 PM

IMO the resource system is the "secret sauce" of Magic. There are a lot of card games with individual cards similar to Magic, but the resource system is the differentiating factor.

The resource system is simple, elegant and does a lot of good stuff.

1. The total amount of resources available matters
2. Resources don't bank, which means that deck pacing and cost distribution really matters
3. Resource colors matter, which means deck colors and colored cost (for example 1BB vs 2B) matter a lot as well.

Quote
Deck composition tension between low cost and high cost.
Deck composition tension of single color versus multicolor.

Both of these are tied to the resource system.

A lot of games have problems with coming up with organic reasons to discourage multiple colors. In Magic it's extremely organic - you can run as many colors as you want, but the more colors you run the more probability of getting screwed or the more you need to accommodate that somehow. It's also a continuous function, rather than any sort of hard rule or cutoff. There's a very natural tension between more colors giving you more possibilities but being less consistent.

A lot of games struggle with this - ideally there is a downside to using a bunch of colors, but how that is implemented is often very inelegant.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2013, 11:18:18 PM by Margalis »

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Reply #8 on: August 13, 2013, 10:48:32 PM

Beat me to it, the land/mana system is the most important thing, I think. My biggest worry about Hex is that simplifying mana will make the game a lot weaker.

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Reply #9 on: August 14, 2013, 04:06:48 AM

I'll also throw in that from a design standpoint, they really have engaged in designing for the different game formats so that no matter what kind of player you are or playstyle you prefer, there's something for you. 

Casual players get the art work and Timmy cards.
Competitive players get the standard/modern environment, organized play and dream of the pro tour.
Collectors get to speculate and play the secondary market to make money plus chase crap like the Comiccon planeswalkers and the From the Vault sets.
Limited formats help remove a lot of the mr Suitcase effect of pay to win $500 net decks for people who want to compete without breaking the bank.
Multiplayer formats, digital formats (no matter how awful they are), alternate art stuff etc.
Plus a whole secondary market segment for playmats, card sleeves, dice, local LGS involvement, etc

Nowdays, they design to deliberately hit all these various types of players.  How effectove they are is up to debate of course.  WotC didn't start that way, but it's a bit like having an MMORPG with raiding content for hardcores, pve for regular players, and effective auction house "game" for people who like to play the market, a real money component where people can cash out, etc.  It;s quite the balancing act but none of it would work at all unless the base game itself that Garfield designed wasn't such a good game.  That guy managed to hit so many right buttons.


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Reply #10 on: August 14, 2013, 05:13:08 AM

Most attempts to play magic has left me with my dick in my hand 9 times out of 10, so I'm guessing its the slow start up brought on by the resource mechanics I wouldn't want to see in any other card game.

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Reply #11 on: August 14, 2013, 05:41:55 AM

Most attempts to play magic has left me with my dick in my hand 9 times out of 10, so I'm guessing its the slow start up brought on by the resource mechanics I wouldn't want to see in any other card game.

If that happens 9 times out of 10 then you need to build a new deck.
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Reply #12 on: August 14, 2013, 07:29:04 AM

IMO the resource system is the "secret sauce" of Magic. There are a lot of card games with individual cards similar to Magic, but the resource system is the differentiating factor.

The resource system is simple, elegant and does a lot of good stuff.

1. The total amount of resources available matters
2. Resources don't bank, which means that deck pacing and cost distribution really matters
3. Resource colors matter, which means deck colors and colored cost (for example 1BB vs 2B) matter a lot as well.

Quote
Deck composition tension between low cost and high cost.
Deck composition tension of single color versus multicolor.
This the kind of discussion I was looking for.

Instants and targeted removal are really important because they are part of game where players can feel like contributing to the win.  Otherwise the players feel like they are on auto-piloting a deck. I love green thematically but yawn is it boring to play.

Both of these are tied to the resource system.

A lot of games have problems with coming up with organic reasons to discourage multiple colors. In Magic it's extremely organic - you can run as many colors as you want, but the more colors you run the more probability of getting screwed or the more you need to accommodate that somehow. It's also a continuous function, rather than any sort of hard rule or cutoff. There's a very natural tension between more colors giving you more possibilities but being less consistent.

A lot of games struggle with this - ideally there is a downside to using a bunch of colors, but how that is implemented is often very inelegant.

EDIT: weird the forum eat my comments but left the quote

This is the kind discussion I was looking for.

One really important thing in my eyes are targeted spells so players are making meaningful choices during the game. Otherwise you just playing the deck on auto-pilot. I love green thematically but solid green its usually pretty damn boring.  The outcome of a game can decided 3 ways: at deck building time, by the RNG, or by play during the match.
Obviously these lines are fuzzy. #2 seems like a necessary evil in the design. As a designer you would be attempting to maximize #1 and #2.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 09:04:40 AM by tazelbain »

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Reply #13 on: August 14, 2013, 02:32:15 PM

The resource system and everything that follows it is a big deal and important at the design level, but I still say what makes it a rich experience is more about what happens beyond that. It simply just paved the roads for the latter to happen.

Tons of games have resource management systems that are really just Magic in shitty clothing (FFGs Game of Thrones LCG comes to mind - it's just a clone of Magic, a clone that sucks giant ass.)

Edit: What I'm saying is, games have cloned the resource system, and even a ton of the cards - and they're still not as good as Magic. Trying to pin down that one thing that makes it work is near impossible.
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Reply #14 on: August 14, 2013, 04:14:56 PM

Random thought, but I think one of the other things Magic has going for it is the lack of a license. It seems like 95% of CCG's that get released are licensed products, which I don't think are always suited to this sort of thing (sure there's stuff like Pokemon that did really well, but for the most part). If you're playing a Star Wars CCG, you don't want to play a deck made up of guys like Lobot and the Rancor keeper, you want guys like Luke and Vader who are obviously going to be the rare cards. With Magic, even common cards can be really good and fun to play with, which is part of what makes drafting fun as well.
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Reply #15 on: August 14, 2013, 06:29:20 PM

If you're playing a Star Wars CCG, you don't want to play a deck made up of guys like .... the Rancor Keeper.


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Reply #16 on: August 14, 2013, 07:13:13 PM

Depends, does Rancor Keeper cost 1G and soulbond with a dude and give him +2/+2 and trample?
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Reply #17 on: August 14, 2013, 09:15:35 PM

Depends, does Rancor Keeper cost 1G and soulbond with a dude and give him +2/+2 and trample?



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Reply #18 on: August 14, 2013, 10:04:36 PM

That image is about as succinct an example as one could give on why so many CCG's suck (and the blurb at the top is also a good example why the Star Wars EU stuff is trash also).
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Reply #19 on: August 15, 2013, 03:26:42 AM

Most attempts to play magic has left me with my dick in my hand 9 times out of 10, so I'm guessing its the slow start up brought on by the resource mechanics I wouldn't want to see in any other card game.
If that happens 9 times out of 10 then you need to build a new deck.
To expand slightly, one of the most important resource concepts that allow good deckbuilders to give themselves the highest chance to win is building an appropriate mana curve for your deck type, especially in limited formats.  If you find yourself often not being able to cast the spells in your hand  b/c you don't have enough mana, that's without question a deckbuilding problem.  Yes, mana screw/flood exists but is much rarer that perceived when a deck is properly built - see this article for info . It could also be a shuffling issue :)
Plus, people who say things like "i got mana screwed 9 times out of 10" are generally exaggerating b/c it's easier to remember the bad times when that happened and wind it up for sympathy plays. Lots of psychology babble can be applied to magic.  You want to know for certain?  Take notes on your matches.
Oh yeah, appropriate mulligan decisions are very important as well. 

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Reply #20 on: August 15, 2013, 05:24:39 AM

Most attempts to play magic has left me with my dick in my hand 9 times out of 10, so I'm guessing its the slow start up brought on by the resource mechanics I wouldn't want to see in any other card game.
If that happens 9 times out of 10 then you need to build a new deck.
To expand slightly, one of the most important resource concepts that allow good deckbuilders to give themselves the highest chance to win is building an appropriate mana curve for your deck type, especially in limited formats.  If you find yourself often not being able to cast the spells in your hand  b/c you don't have enough mana, that's without question a deckbuilding problem.  Yes, mana screw/flood exists but is much rarer that perceived when a deck is properly built - see this article for info . It could also be a shuffling issue :)
Plus, people who say things like "i got mana screwed 9 times out of 10" are generally exaggerating b/c it's easier to remember the bad times when that happened and wind it up for sympathy plays. Lots of psychology babble can be applied to magic.  You want to know for certain?  Take notes on your matches.
Oh yeah, appropriate mulligan decisions are very important as well. 

I had to borrow friends decks to play. Overall I simply don't get the appeal. The game feels slow...though that's maybe because my first TCG was yugioh and magic  feels like playing "no rush for 15 minutes" starcraft.

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Reply #21 on: August 15, 2013, 06:05:39 AM

Most attempts to play magic has left me with my dick in my hand 9 times out of 10, so I'm guessing its the slow start up brought on by the resource mechanics I wouldn't want to see in any other card game.
If that happens 9 times out of 10 then you need to build a new deck.
To expand slightly, one of the most important resource concepts that allow good deckbuilders to give themselves the highest chance to win is building an appropriate mana curve for your deck type, especially in limited formats.  If you find yourself often not being able to cast the spells in your hand  b/c you don't have enough mana, that's without question a deckbuilding problem.  Yes, mana screw/flood exists but is much rarer that perceived when a deck is properly built - see this article for info . It could also be a shuffling issue :)
Plus, people who say things like "i got mana screwed 9 times out of 10" are generally exaggerating b/c it's easier to remember the bad times when that happened and wind it up for sympathy plays. Lots of psychology babble can be applied to magic.  You want to know for certain?  Take notes on your matches.
Oh yeah, appropriate mulligan decisions are very important as well. 
I had to borrow friends decks to play. Overall I simply don't get the appeal. The game feels slow...though that's maybe because my first TCG was yugioh and magic  feels like playing "no rush for 15 minutes" starcraft.

Depends on the deck style.  There are plenty of aggro decks who's goal is to dump their hands and win the game in the first 3-4 turns.  Their are combo decks that aim to "go off" by turn 4.  They are also mid-range decks that try to win in turns 4-8, and control decks that prefer a long game. And im just talking out Standard decks; legacy decks could win on turn 2 or sometimes 1! Without knowing both what you attempted to play (and the skill level of your friends for that matter) it's hard to say specifically what your issue was, but it's not the "speed" of magic.  Overall, magic is so much better a game than YuGiOh it's not even funny.

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Reply #22 on: August 15, 2013, 06:22:10 AM

That's relative. Magic has more base mechanics but isn't inherently fun at low levels. Yugioh is fun at low and mid level play but high level play is unfortunately bogged down by their attempts to add more base mechanics that add nothing to the game, besides frustrate everyone playing.

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Reply #23 on: August 15, 2013, 07:29:33 AM

YuGiOh is an unbalanced piece of shit that is nothing more than a money grab from prepubescent weirdos. Fuckme it's awful and at no point "fun." Next topic.
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Reply #24 on: August 15, 2013, 08:10:27 AM

Edit: What I'm saying is, games have cloned the resource system, and even a ton of the cards - and they're still not as good as Magic. Trying to pin down that one thing that makes it work is near impossible.
Sure you're never going to pin it down. But surely you could give us some idea what cohesiveness and balance means in the MtG game design.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2013, 08:53:23 AM by tazelbain »

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Reply #25 on: August 15, 2013, 08:52:47 AM

YuGiOh is an unbalanced piece of shit that is nothing more than a money grab from prepubescent weirdos. Fuckme it's awful and at no point "fun." Next topic.

It consistently ranks at the top 2 or 3, some list has it has number 1. And that's despite the business model being flooding the market with broken cards every four months.

But yes lets go back to what makes magic appeal to manchilds everywhere.

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Reply #26 on: August 15, 2013, 08:57:28 AM

I guess I am interested what gives MtG its sizzle (game design wise) when we've had so many tcg come and go.  It's like if MMO market is stuck on EQ1 for all these years.

Balance and pureness. And as another comment here detailed, allure for just about every stage of play (though MtG is leaving a lot of money on the table with flawed marketing and inexcusable, subpar online experience).

I believe a big factor in this is the lore being created within/unfolding from the game design as opposed to grafting a CCG onto another story lore (i.e., Star Wars, though I liked the old school game and still have boxes of cards, Star Trek, LotR, etc. all fail). Some of the other defunct titles not tied to a license seemed better to me -- Netrunner, though admittedly I did not play extensively.

Have never even dabbled with Pokemon or Yugioh, so I cannot comment on gameplay in those.

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Reply #27 on: August 15, 2013, 09:27:02 AM

YuGiOh is an unbalanced piece of shit that is nothing more than a money grab from prepubescent weirdos. Fuckme it's awful and at no point "fun." Next topic.

It consistently ranks at the top 2 or 3, some list has it has number 1. And that's despite the business model being flooding the market with broken cards every four months.

But yes lets go back to what makes magic appeal to manchilds everywhere.
It used to be #1, during Magic's worst years. Magic is now 43 times larger than YuGiOh - at least as of 2009/2010 season. I have no clue how much larger it is now. Probably much larger, given the sales of Magic recently (largest numbers ever, for every set, successively, over the last 6) and influx of little YuGiOh fuckers into the Magic scene.

I don't know what "manchild" has to do with it.
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Reply #28 on: August 15, 2013, 04:28:04 PM

Not coincidentally YuGiOh had it's biggest surge when there was a popular TV show tie-in.  I wouldn't give credit to the game system nearly as much as the marketing for its success.  Even my nephews who are the jockiest of jocks played YuGiOh (and Pokemon the years prior) but have zero interest in M:TG or other CCGs.

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Reply #29 on: August 15, 2013, 11:00:48 PM

I had to borrow friends decks to play. Overall I simply don't get the appeal. The game feels slow...though that's maybe because my first TCG was yugioh and magic  feels like playing "no rush for 15 minutes" starcraft.

The appeal of Magic hits from a lot of vectors.

You have actually playing the game, the card art, the fun of opening packs, creating decks and imagining the decks you'll create, the collection aspect, etc. Actually playing the game was something I didn't enjoy all that much for a long time.

As far as IP goes, I think an IP almost always feels like a short-lived cash-in, and also doesn't lend itself to a game that is eventually going to have thousands of cards. There's only so many minor Star Wars characters you can dredge up before it starts to get stupid. "This guy was in two frames of A New Hope cleaning up some Bantha shit." Cool.

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Reply #30 on: August 16, 2013, 12:11:05 AM

I had to borrow friends decks to play. Overall I simply don't get the appeal. The game feels slow...though that's maybe because my first TCG was yugioh and magic  feels like playing "no rush for 15 minutes" starcraft.

The appeal of Magic hits from a lot of vectors.

You have actually playing the game, the card art, the fun of opening packs, creating decks and imagining the decks you'll create, the collection aspect, etc. Actually playing the game was something I didn't enjoy all that much for a long time.

As far as IP goes, I think an IP almost always feels like a short-lived cash-in, and also doesn't lend itself to a game that is eventually going to have thousands of cards. There's only so many minor Star Wars characters you can dredge up before it starts to get stupid. "This guy was in two frames of A New Hope cleaning up some Bantha shit." Cool.

From a hardcore gamer aspect magic will always have it's churn from players who like tcg's but want something more balance than the soul crushing yugioh franchise.  Than its the nerd cred it has built for being so well balanced and being a apart of the 80's merica boom of fantasy/sf that still defines how we see fiction today. And there is the set sides; to start magic you have basically four sides with set themes, which makes deck building rather straight forward, at first anyway, and allow the more genre-savvy to quickly pick up the game from a deck building prospective.

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Reply #31 on: August 16, 2013, 03:37:29 AM

From a hardcore gamer aspect magic will always have it's churn from players who like tcg's but want something more balance than the soul crushing yugioh franchise.  Than its the nerd cred it has built for being so well balanced and being a apart of the 80's merica boom of fantasy/sf that still defines how we see fiction today. And there is the set sides; to start magic you have basically four sides with set themes, which makes deck building rather straight forward, at first anyway, and allow the more genre-savvy to quickly pick up the game from a deck building prospective.

Gotta be honest MedHigh, I dont really understand where you are coming from. 4 sides with set themes?  Deck building being straightforward? WTH are you talking about? Having played both YuGiOh and Magic, there is nothing inherently "better" about YuGioH at all, and comparing low level (aka kitchen table) magic/yugioh vs serious organized play of either is really an apples to oranges comparison.  People are judging the game design elements from the serious level, not what Timmy-and-his-all-dragons-theme deck thinks is fun. 

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Reply #32 on: August 16, 2013, 05:04:30 AM

From a hardcore gamer aspect magic will always have it's churn from players who like tcg's but want something more balance than the soul crushing yugioh franchise.  Than its the nerd cred it has built for being so well balanced and being a apart of the 80's merica boom of fantasy/sf that still defines how we see fiction today. And there is the set sides; to start magic you have basically four sides with set themes, which makes deck building rather straight forward, at first anyway, and allow the more genre-savvy to quickly pick up the game from a deck building prospective.

Gotta be honest MedHigh, I dont really understand where you are coming from. 4 sides with set themes?  Deck building being straightforward? WTH are you talking about? Having played both YuGiOh and Magic, there is nothing inherently "better" about YuGioH at all, and comparing low level (aka kitchen table) magic/yugioh vs serious organized play of either is really an apples to oranges comparison.  People are judging the game design elements from the serious level, not what Timmy-and-his-all-dragons-theme deck thinks is fun. 

Actually there was 5 colors to magic. Which to a new comer looks like sides. Its a lot easier to approach a game with a cohesive set of alignments to build on and splice with than to say, yugioh, where a competitive deck is a lot harder to stumble onto. Think the idea of blue theme cards are cool? Buy more blue packs and work out the stuff you need. Btw when was I praising yugioh in that post. Granted I like it more, but I did mention that's its an unbalanced mess and went on to explain why magic has it better. 

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Reply #33 on: August 19, 2013, 01:27:59 AM

If you want to know why magic is good go read a bunch of Mark Rosewater's columns. I'm rather amazed at the level of talent and expertise put into the game. Especially compared to video games, where devs just can't keep their heads out of their asses.

The best I have heard magic's core explained is you get to untap once. You get to draw once. You get to attack once. Each individual rule and card is generally quite simple. It is the complexity and strategy that arises from the core that is the magic.

 

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Reply #34 on: August 19, 2013, 02:28:12 AM

The rules of Magic are actually really complex, I think most people that don't do events or play online most likely play incorrectly. And they keep messing with even pretty basic things, like damage being on the stack, regeneration, etc. Also priority is a mess if you treat it formally.

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