Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Case For Bears

I'm frustrated that I'm broke. The "adult" part of my brain is frustrated because I've created a decent framework/engine for how to fix my complicated kind of messed up life and right now I have no "fuel" to utilize it. But honestly, though I shouldn't be,  I'm equally frustrated that I'm pining to do all the stuff I used to enjoy in high school and college but just can't right now. Dear lord, I have got to stop watching letsplays. They will only serve to make me miserable. 

I might as well use it.

I'm jonesing to get back into Magic the Gathering.

But I'm well aware that even as I was starting to slow down with it the game was changing. There were rules changes that even then I had barely wrapped my head around.

I realize even if I had the money, which I don't the truth is I would need to basically relearn the game. And I wish to god Wizards of the Coast had kept Grizzly Bears.

In the olden days in the long long ago the purpose of the base set was to maintain a certain amount of continuity within the game and Wizards has somewhat abandoned that ideology. And to a point, I understand why.

  • While it's great for players to basically be able to use the same cards forever's in the company's interest for players to buy new cards.
  • The earlier sets were notoriously unbalanced, and the wow factor of losing to the black lotus combo on the first turn in Legacy is entertaining exactly once.
  • Planeswalkers being relatively new complicate gameplay and a lot of the basic cards were tweaked to adjust for them. 
But still, I think they overdid it. When I was first learning, cards that would ALWAYS show up and that everybody ALWAYS knew was an invaluable teaching tool. And the perfect example of that are da bears. This little 2 cent piece of cardboard for years formed the backbone of the game.

First off I learned from a starter tutorial program they packaged with starter packs in 7th edition. While technically you can play The Sims forever, you can't play the Sims forever. The tutorial would slowly go over the parts of a card and the used the KISS rule for the cards they chose to teach me this. They choose boring uncomplicated basic cards.

Grizzly Bears along with, Giant Spider, Rhox, and Blaze taught me the barebone basics of the game. But they even helped at the intermediate level. One of the hardest skills in Magic the Gathering deck building is knowing how to evaluate cards, being able to look at two cards, recognize they perform similar functions in a deck and choose the more practical option. These simple bareboned (god damn it) cards serve as a baseline to compare everything else.

How do you know if a buff is good, how does it compare to Giant Growth? How do you know if a land tutor is good? How does it compare to Rampant Growth? How do you know mana acceleration is good? How does it compare to Birds of Paradise? How do you know if a spot creature destruction spell is good. How does it compare to Terror? How do you know if a mass creature destruction spell is good? How does it compare to Wrath of God? How do you know if a counterspell is good? How does it compare to Counterspell?

Now, most of these including the Grizzlies either stuck around or has a modern equivalent, but that's not my point. Most cards are available on the secondary market. No, my point is that having a continuous stable of benchmark cards informed the language surrounding the game so players could communicate ideas that went beyond the basic rules of the game.  In general, I get the feeling more and more that Wizards of the Coast wants and needs with each set, including the basic ones, to give players a reason to buy new packs, but in my opinion that you didn't have to made the game healthier. 

Who am I kidding? I want to get into Amonkhet.

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