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Wizards of the Coast Tried October 30, 2009

Posted by James in : all, random, fake cards, game rules, theory, design, speculation , trackback

Zendikar has proven to have inadequate mana fixing. The inevitable advice for us is, “Play 18 or 19 lands in a 40 card deck!” Yes, that helps, but then you often end up drawing all lands the whole game. However, Wizards did try. They designed cards that would help with mana fixing, but those cards were rejected… and apparently they were never replaced with appropriate mana fixing.

To be more specific, they tried two of the mana fixing ideas that I suggested in an article I wrote several years ago, No More Mana Screw. It was originally published on Dragon-Warrior.com on July 1, 2004, titled “The Coalition Against Mana Screw Manifesto.”

Let’s take a look at those two ideas:

Split Lands

Split cards – The idea was that you’d have a split card in which one mini-card was an instant or sorcery and the other was a land. If the card was on the battlefield, then you’d know that it was played as a land. It turned out that the rules don’t exactly work the way I wanted. If one half of a split card is on the battlefield, all of it is considered on the battlefield. Add this to the fact that if an instant or sorcery ever ends up in play, the space / time continuum collapses (at least that’s what rules manager/archnemesis Mark Gottlieb tells me) and you can see that the split cards don’t work within the confines of the current rules.

I suspect that they were unwilling to make rules changes at this point because Magic 2010 already required too many rules changes. It might take another 10 years before they are willing to make the rules changes to allow this kind of a card. Here’s the split permanent I originally made:

split permanent

Although I developed an Island Fish split permanent in 2006, the original idea in 2004 was just a land that could transform into a creature, similar to Stalking Stones:


I absolutely love the idea of split permanents because it is the perfect way to provide mana fixing. It can stop the problem of too many and too few lands. Notice that I just mentioned split lands recently in my post, Vodalian Coast. Split lands would be perfect in an un-set so we can use them while we wait another 10 years for them to become real.

Face down

Face down – The next thing we talked about was having the option to put these cards in play face down as a land that taps for one colorless mana. Again we ran into problems with the rules. It appears that face-down cards on the battlefield have been defined already—as 2/2 colorless creatures.

illusionary maskLooks like Illusionary Mask has been ruined! The rules originally allowed this kind of thing. Illusionary Mask used to allow cards to be put face down without being 2/2 creatures.

What Rosewater described was the ability I called mana-morph. This could also be allowed given a rules change. There are no morphs in standard any longer, so there would be no confusion in most games of Magic. However, Wizards will probably want to wait until morph leaves extended. Here was the card I thought of with mana morph:

mana morph sliver

I originally predicted that mana morph might exist in 10 years because I knew that morph would have to leave extended first. That was in 2004, so hopefully we will see it in 2014.


1. 神の一手 - October 30, 2009

according to gatherer (http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=201199), the mask makes 2/2 tokens so it will work with morphs in legacy and vintage.

2. 神の一手 - October 30, 2009

Probably cause it was put on MTGO as part of Masters Edition 3.

3. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » Historical Progress of Magic - November 16, 2009

[…] The core sets are an interesting example of “holding back” in order to appear innovative. For the most part the innovation is an illusion because very little is truly original in core sets. Just like core sets hold back, we can freely assume that all sets hold back to some extent. There are many ways to improve mana fixing, for example, but it would be “too awesome” to give us the mana fixing now. Instead, we will probably have to wait another 10 years before seeing much of it. As far as mana fixing is concerned, Magic is years in the past. […]