99 Solutions

Posted on Monday, October 14th, 2013 by TheGoodSoldier
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Posted in $200 Summer Contest entry, mtg

This article is a $200 Summer Contest entry. The submission period has ended. Click here for more information.

Note: Due to some scheduling issues, this article is being published late. You will have to envision a parallel world in which the contents of Theros are different than ours. Our apologies to TheGoodSoldier, and when the contest vote happens, let us make sure to evaluate the article in a “timely” mindset.

You’re playing Standard. It’s turn five. You’re tapped out and your opponent slams a Thundermaw Hellkite.

Standard everyday typicals.

So what do you do? Take five of course. You don’t have any mana for a Counterspell or a Doom Blade, so you have no way to interact.

This has been a major complaint amongst players for some time. Combat just isn’t very interactive. We’re hoping that Theros’ new Blocking mechanic will fix all of this. Take a look at this spicy meatball:

Those are some big numbers there. Three power, five toughness, and ninety-nine Blocks. Just what is a Block, you ask? That’s all covered in the new Comprehensive Rules update! There’s a lot of text to go over, but the long and short of things is that the new Blocking mechanic allows any creature to Block an attacking creature, which we’re thinking will really shake up combat.

As of now we’re not really sure how much of an impact this will have on games, and there are a few kinks to work out. Clearly this will make games go longer and will lead to busier board states, but we’re pretty uncertain as to how many Blocks a player will have to make every combat. We’re hoping that ninety-nine is enough, because we really want Blocking to be an important aspect of the game. We toyed around with templating a creature that could Block every opposing creature, but we couldn’t come up with a good name for such a card. Infinitely Handed One just didn’t sound nearly as clean.

Anytime we make a change to the rules like this, we like to look back at Magic’s history and think about how different things would be then if the new rules were in place. It’s likely that Blocking would impact nearly every Pro Tour match ever played, but the biggest standout in our minds is the Pro Tour Dark Ascension Semifinal between Brian Kibler and Jon Finkel.

In this match Kibler attacked Finkel with a Wolf token, knocking Finkel down to eight and leaving him dead to two Galvanic Blasts. Meanwhile, Finkel’s untapped Spirit tokens were powerless to help him. We caught up with Jon to ask him if this rules change altered the way he felt about this loss. Finkel had this to say:

“The truth is, I’m not really sure that I would have made the Block anyway- it’s not like it would have been mandatory. He would have had to have the triple Blast, so I’m not exactly in any despair over the situation.”

Between his words we see what we hope to be true about the new Block mechanic- it’s complex. We strive to make Magic as complex a game as possible, and we’re hoping that whether or not to Block will be as difficult as a decision as “Which creature type should I name with Cavern of Souls?” and “Which mode should I activate on my Garruk, Caller of Beasts?”

Are you excited to start Blocking, or have we ruined Magic? Be sure to email Mark Rosewater personally with your thoughts. He loves reading them almost as much as he loved writing Roseanne. Send them to Aaron Forsythe, too. Somebody ought to tell you why you’re wrong.