Careful Consideration – Mythically Misleading

It’s rare to see consumers have an emotional connection to the product they are purchasing. Brand loyalty does exist with a lot of brands, but it has more to do with consumers finding a product they know works for them and sticking with it. For example, if I want tasty peanut butter, I might go with Jif and keep buying that brand of peanut butter every time I run out. But if I got a job at Jif corporate headquarters, I don’t think my Jif-buying friends would say, “Wow, Zaiem! That’s a great job! I’m jealous!”

But if I got a job at Wizards of the Coast, the reaction would likely be much different. Granted, some of that has to do with the nature of the company; making games is more exciting and fun than making peanut butter, but that’s not all of it. If I took a job working at Konami working on Yu-Gi-Oh, even the Yu-Gi-Oh players wouldn’t give me the same congratulatory response that I would get if I took a job with Wizards.

People have a connection to the Wizards of the Coast brand like few other products, even though most of them have never met anyone who works for the company and would have no tangible reason to feel so committed. The only other area of business where I see this kind of loyalty is in professional sports. Why is that?

When a group of people have a shared, passionate interest in common, often a sub-culture develops. Fans of the Denver Broncos, fans of scrapbooking, fans of World of Warcraft, you name it. Sometimes there’s a large entity that is above the rest; fans of the Denver Broncos look up to the Denver Broncos and what this entity does dictates the reaction of the fans. Similarly, a new patch for World of Warcraft will change the behavior of the fans of that product. In these situations, the large entity provides a sense of being above the fans and not really part of the community.

Wizards of the Coast, on the other hand, has done a good job of creating a relationship with its customers that feels more intimate in nature. The magicthegathering.com website has provided a great opportunity for the company to connect with its customers. Mark Rosewater’s weekly writings about research and development of Magic has helped foster that sense of community and that feeling of being connected. They feel like they are part of the sub-culture. We love them because we feel like they love us back. When Wizards makes a promise, we expect them to be kept.

Which is why the issue of mythic rares has touched a raw nerve in some people, myself included. When Rosewater wrote in his column last year announcing mythic rares, he wrote the following:

This now leads us to the next question: How are cards split between rare and mythic rare? Or more to the point, what kind of cards are going to become mythic rares? We want the flavor of mythic rare to be something that feels very special and unique. Generally speaking we expect that to mean cards like Planeswalkers, most legends, and epic-feeling creatures and spells. They will not just be a list of each set’s most powerful tournament-level cards.

We’ve also decided that there are certain things we specifically do not want to be mythic rares. The largest category is utility cards, what I’ll define as cards that fill a universal function. Some examples of this category would be cycles of dual lands and cards like Mutavault or Char.

This was all well and good for the first couple of sets. As I wrote last week, I thought that the way Wizards handled mythic rares was good. Planeswalkers feel mythic. A freaking 10/10 for 10 with protection from everything definitely feels mythic. Even Baneslayer Angel, which has gotten some complaints about her mythicness, fits the bill in my opinion. It’s a freaking angel with protection from dragons and demons and stuff with lifelink and first strike. If you harness your inner Timmy when you play a Baneslayer Angel, you’ll probably find that it feels good to drop her and turn her sideways and smash some noses. Now that is a mythic rare!

So I was dismayed to see the following three cards:

Lotus Cobra

Mindbreak Trap 

Warren Instigator  

Now wait just a moment here. Rosewater set certain expectations around mythic rares, and now they seem to be broken.

I was holding off judgment until the Zendikar spoiler came out regarding the new mythics, but Lotus Cobra definitely set off a few people.

Lotus Cobra, if you play it, is going to be a four-of in the decks that play it. Yes, the effect it has is powerful, but it is a 2/1 for 2 and lacks the “whoa, holy cow!” factor that previous mythic rares have. There’s a blink test. If you look at it and it doesn’t fire up the inner Timmy, then it’s probably not mythic.

Maybe the card’s good. Maybe it’s just a good Leaf Gilder. But at any rate, it’s not mythic. And having the word “Lotus” in the name doesn’t make it mythic, either.

Lotus and Mox and I guess any Ancestral card that draws three fit well in with the mythology, but tacking the word “Lotus” on a card does not carry with it any inherent wow factor other than the initial curiosity of what a card with the word “Lotus” on it does. Birds of Paradise could have been reprinted in M10 as mythic with a different name like “Lotus Avian,” and it would still be a bad idea.

Someone in a Starcitygames forum indicated that Wizards R&D member Ken Nagle suggested that mythic cards have a new definition: they are ones that people would remember. I think getting a new R&D definition from a message board is a little dubious, but let’s assume for a moment that this is the case and that R&D really did change the definition of what a mythic rare should be.

The problem is that any card that sees any amount of play is going to be a card you remember. You know which cards I think of when I think of Time Spiral Block Constructed? Tarmogoyf and Mystical Teachings. Both mythic? What about Lorwyn block? Cryptic Command, Bitterblossom, Spellstutter Sprite, Mistbind Clique, Windbrisk Heights, Doran, and Figure of Destiny. Should all of those be mythic as well? They were all quite memorable.

Lightning Bolt is certainly a card I remember and will remember for quite some time. If they brought back Counterspell (but with a new name so it would be printed solely at mythic status), that would also be memorable. Psychatog was memorable. As was Bridge from Below. Remand was quite memorable. Path to Exile? Lightning Helix? Or dare I say it Char and Mutavault? All of these cards will be remembered for some time. Virtually any tournament-caliber card that sees any reasonable amount of play can fall under the blanket “would be memorable” definition.

Another argument is that Rosewater made the definition, not everyone in research and development. This argument is a little silly. When the face of the company speaks in a weekly column like Rosewater’s, then you can safely accept that he is speaking on behalf of the company. Rosewater is not some peon in R&D who may have a say here and there.

Mindbreak Trap is a playable version of Swift Silence. It may be a great card to bring in (or maindeck?) against cascade decks. Yes, it also has a powerful effect, but so do Bloodbraid Elf and Day of Judgment.

Warren Instigator is another creature that will be a four-of in the decks that play him. It’s not a big stompy splashy epic-feeling creature. It’s an efficient tournament staple.

These are efficient, tournament cards that lack the oomph that we were promised with mythics. Let me go back to what Rosewater wrote:

We want the flavor of mythic rare to be something that feels very special and unique. Generally speaking we expect that to mean cards like Planeswalkers, most legends, and epic-feeling creatures and spells.

I’m sorry, but these three cards do not fit the bill. There’s nothing epic-feeling about Lotus Cobra. Having a 1/1 double striking Goblin Lackey attacking on turn three is great and all, but so is casting a turn two Tarmogoyf.

Maybe Wizards miscalibrated this one, but there’s definitely a sense of lost trust here. Rosewater made a promise, then broke it, whether he realizes he did it or not. And in talking to people, they feel betrayed. Maybe it’s irrational for a customer to feel betrayed by a corporate entity, but Magic players aren’t your typical consumer. The loyalty and affection for a company is a rare thing to see in business, and if Wizards takes advantage of that, they will eventually lose customers and become just another business who wants people’s money, which hurts their product.

The worst thing about this is that had Rosewater not written anything about mythics beyond the initial announcement, I think people would be more fine with these cards. Having Rosewater’s assurances that they would not do precisely what they seem to be doing paints them in a bad light, and rightfully so. Setting an expectation and then not meeting it is one of the worst possible things you can do in business, and that’s exactly what Wizards has done. It’s worse than not saying anything at all.

Mythically miffed,
zaiemb at gmail dot com

51 thoughts on “Careful Consideration – Mythically Misleading”

  1. I think that the reasons you cited were not really reasons to be upset. Lotus Cobra seems mediocre as best, warren instigators seem worse and the Trap will probably be a SB card.

    Most people have a raw nerve when it comes mythics being more expensive. If goyf would have been a mythic, that would have been an issue. That is why people have issue with Baneslayer, because it is good and mythic. I think she fits perfectly as a mythic for what she can do, but it still bothers people because she is getting expensive.

    Honestly, I just think people tend to complain about nothing, and it is the internet, and people like to complain. When there is a $50 mythic, then there will be reasons to complain I would believe.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree. They really dropped the ball with Warren Instigator, and to a lesser extent with the other two cards. Honestly, I did go “WOW!” when I first saw the Cobra (I’m very much over it now) but now, not so much. Also… it’s a Cobra. No Deathtouch? Flavor Fail.

  3. While I generally agree with the article, and I think you’re clearly expressing the opinions of a large portion of Magic players, I am going to have to disagree on one point:
    Lotus Cobra DOES feel mythic.
    Lotus Cobra is the latest member of a large family that traces its roots back to the most mythical and sought-after card in all of CCGs. Just like the “Mox” in Chrome Mox and Mox Diamond, there is a special sense of power in any card that has the word “Lotus” in its title, simply for what it refers to. Yes, it’s right there in the name, and it transforms a fetch land into something very similar to his great-granddaddy. It should NOT have been Mythic in _rarity_, but it IS mythic.

  4. There’s no justification in holding a position that says “well, that card can’t be mythic, it’s sooo good! lawlz rolfmao ub3r733t!” Mythic rares were designed for a singular reason: to move people to purchase more product. Screw the flavor aspect, the diversity within each pack; it’s the cash that Wizards is after because they’re a business.

    That being said, MaRo did essentially break his word. I would definitely be more upset if something like Cryptic Command or Birds or even lands were mythic, though. Baneslayer Angel deserves its mythicalness.

  5. I’d care more if it wasn’t for the fact that the current Mythic rarity is actually on-par with older Rares in terms of actual distribution frequency. Rares these days are roughly 2.5-3x more common than rares in Onslaught, for example, making the new fetchlands much more widespread as a default, and like all the rares in Shards I’d expect that the prices will be similarly lower than pre-Shards rares.

    Sure, I’d like it if all the cards I want to use were cheap commons, as it would save me a considerable amount of money. Nevertheless, between rares being cheaper altogether, and mythics being equivalent to the rares I used to buy, I still find myself spending much less on singles than ever before.

    So much of the outcry seems completely unnecessary unless WotC decides to return to their previous set size and print distributions.

  6. “And in talking to people, they feel betrayed.”

    Let’s be truthful here. Most Magic players will feel betrayed and cry about literally any change to the norm WOTC makes.

  7. While I agree on Lotus Cobra and Warren Instigator, I think Mindbreak Trap is fair at mythic. My first reaction when I read that card was ‘Wow that is BUSTED! It completely kills any number of spells forever, AND it can be free??’ That sounds like a pretty mythic, Timmy-worthy effect.
    On the other hand, I would also argue that I could see Day of Judgment at mythic very easily, so at least THAT is a normal rare. I also think it’s very possible to see the Command and Ultimatum cycles at mythic – really, when you’re talking about big splashy spells, the Commands and especially Ultimatums definitely fit the bill.

    On the other hand, while Instigator and Cobra jump out at competitive players, anyone who doesn’t play a lot of competitive magic (this doesn’t include competitive casual groups), and who might not be familiar with the history of the word ‘Lotus,’ or who doesn’t know how insane a Goblin Lackey is, is going to look at those two cards and probably be disappointed. Mythics are supposed to be big, splashy cards, where their effects are pretty obvious. ‘Put an extra goblin into play?’ ‘Get 1 extra mana?’ Not so much, to a 12 year old opening a pack and seeing that his ‘mythic’ rare is some dumb little snake instead of some huge dragon overlord.

    Also, the argument that the name ‘Lotus’ automatically makes Lotus Cobra a mythic seems pretty weak. They usually make the cards first, then they come up with the names later.
    On the other hand, I’d like to see a design article about Cobra, since I can definitely see them sitting down in this case and saying ‘This is the mana set, let’s make a ‘fair’ lotus, and set it at mythic.’ and then going from there and eventually arriving at Lotus Cobra…

  8. This is incredibly similar in frustration to the M10 is 50% new cards fiasco.

    If the expectations weren’t led one way only to for them to get turned on their ear, we wouldn’t be so up in arms.

    Granted, the mythic rarity explanation came at a time when we were worried that the next Mutavault, Thoughtseize, or other utility, broadly usable rare card was going to become absurdly expensive. It was supposed to assuage our fears.

    Instead, Mindbreak Trap is a mythic in Zendikar, which potentially has more broad-reaching utility than Thoughtseize.

  9. “Let's be truthful here. Most Magic players will feel betrayed and cry about literally any change to the norm WOTC makes.”

    Let’s be even more truthful:
    Some Magic player will feel betrayed and cry harder and louder then the sensible masses.

    The scum of the earth thrives in website comments and company forums.

  10. what probably happened is that mr. Rosewater had to break his promise as soon as the company needed more income. it just isnt something he or anyone in a company like that can really promise, because they will just get fired by the owners if they dont do as they are told. they probably realize people will be angry, but figure its not enough to make 99% stop playing. so really, taking his word for it was a mistake..

  11. Considering that the first thing people thought of with cobra and instigator where unlikely “mythic” scenarios of powering out awesome effects (double siege gang, matron for ringleader, turn 3 ultimatum) your argument that they aren’t Timmy is actually completely wrong if you think about it.

  12. I agree here. Warren instigator is just a patrol guard. A 1/1 goblin with two weapons. Flavorfully speaking, all he does is wake up bigger goblins. Nothing Mythic about that. Warren Instigator at Mythic is inexcusable. At least Lotus Cobra has the “OMG Lotus!” argument going for it (even though I disagree with it), and Mindbreak trap can feel pretty “Epic” if you manage to cast it for free and hit 3 or more spells.

    And the “WotC can do whatever they want because 99% of uss will still play” argument is silly. Honestly, once toruney staples become Mythic regulars, I won’t be able to afford to play Standard anymore. When that happens, I’ll stop buying product and just play casual. I can still enjoy this game for a lifetime without giving them another cent.

  13. The problem I have with the Myffics is that they, indeed, don’t feel Mythic. Lotus Cobra feels like you rubbed a lamp and it just went ‘puff’. Sure, it’s a great utility card and in the right deck can do wonders, but it isn’t Mythic quality.

    And, of course, Wizards will never admit to promising anything or even make any comments about the fuss over Myffic Puffs.

  14. I know you are referencing a comment that I had made on another article concerning Lotus Cobra and the fact that it is in an elite class of cards that share the name Lotus, yet the direction you took that comment in is not only insulting to my inelegance, but to that of WotC as well. Absolutely ZERO of the ridiculous mock-ups you made feel in the slightest like a card that should bare the name “Louts” and you are perfectly well aware of it. Everybody with an ounce of experience in this game understands that cards with Lotus in the name accelerate mana, and at a generally unfair pace. Louts Cobra does that (at least in context of turning Fetchlands into Black Lotti and tacking a lotus petal onto every other land) and defiantly has a mythic feel to it. Is it as good as it’s hyped to be? No. Does that matter? No.

    So far, I have heard absolutely zero reasons this should NOT be mythic other than “if you want to play them, you’ll be playing 4, which means it’s on the list of the best cards in the set and MaRo lied, blah, blah, blah” which is completely false! Did you actually READ what he said? You put it right there in your article, then proceeded to ignore the parts of it that you didn’t like, or the key words that would change the definition of what he said completely. In essence and concerning the 4 of regard to the card, what he said is that if you look at the list of the Mythic rares in the set and the list of the best cards in the set, the lists are not going to match up. As a matter of fact, from what I can see in the set the ONLY card in the top 10 (and I’m counting all the fetchlands as 1 slot for contextual reasons here) that is Mythic is Lotus Cobra! There was never a statement that said that NONE of the best cards in the set are going to be mythic, and it’s generally agreed upon that Elspeth is among the top 10 of Shards singles, yet nobody cares she’s mythic because you don’t want more than about 2 most times, if that. Baneslayer Angel is the best card in M10, yet her being mythic only ticks people off because of the same reason you have mentioned. If you want to run it, you run 4. So what? Who cares? How in any way shape or form did that go against MaRo’s statement? The problem isn’t MaRo’s statement at all here, but the way people interpret his statement.

    I also agree with Mindbreak Trap being Mythic, though I will state that it’s a fringe card for Mythic status. It feels too big to be rare, yet not quite big enough to be mythic. Could have gone either way, and I’m fine with them going with the “when it doubt” line of reasoning on that one, and quite frankly making it Mythic does add a good deal to the flavor of the card.

    Warren Instigator should probably not be Mythic, but this is the only card I agree with you on. It has a great “WOW” factor to the Timmies of the world, but the rest of us meah the card away.

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  16. In response to newagers comment the major point of contention between Maro’s article and these new cards is his statement that mythics are not utility cards, and i cannot see how these cards can be interpreted at anything but. Lotus cobra and warren instigator are enablers, no more than that, they are used to drastically improve your board position without signifcantly interacting with your opponents, and mindbreak trap is the very definition of a utility card, a specific answer to a certain effect, at best a 1-of maindeck in some formats but most likely a sideboard card.

    And the arguement that because the cobra unfairly accelerates mana is deserves the title Lotus, and is thus considered flavourful, is specious at best. Previous lotus cards have followed a very specific template, modeled on the original, either as one shot sacrifice effects (lotus petal) or repeated tappers for multiple mana (gilded lotus). Lotus Cobra has no mechanical relation to a lotus effect, it is more in keeping with the keeper of progenitus style of green mana production and it was given no plavourful aspect in that regard.

    And the idea that making a card mythic gives it flavour somehow is absurd. “Hmm this card doesn’t quite make sense in the Multiverse, what could i do…” “How about make it mythic?” “Capital idea, now it makes sense” This is ridiculous, you make flavourful cards mythic, not the other way round. Mythic highlights the cards that have a sense of grandeur and status, it does not give it to them.

    And your arguement about elspeth again misses the point of the article completely, noone complains abouty elspeth being mythic because she is a planeswalker, a flavourful character who is important to the fantasy metaphor of mtg, and one of the subsets of cards that Rosewater said would be mythic.

    Before you ever deign to share your vaunted opinions with us again, read the article first

  17. “I know you are referencing a comment that I had made on another article concerning Lotus Cobra and the fact that it is in an elite class of cards that share the name Lotus, yet the direction you took that comment in is not only insulting to my inelegance, but to that of WotC as well.”

    How do you know?

  18. I agree that Lotus Cobra and Warren Instigator should not have occupied a Mythic rarity slot. I disagree about Mindbreak Trap, because a spell that allows you (in some cases for free) to EXILE other spells before they resolve has the potential to be extremely powerful, which is what Mythic should be about. In order for Lotus Cobra or Warren Instigator to be even remotely good they have to be played in very specfiic decks that get the nut draws against a struggling opponent. Both were made worse by the fact that Pyroclasm, Siesmic Shutter, Earthquake, Lightning Bolt, the new Shock/Javelin Hybrid, and Volcanic Fallout are all in play at the same time. They basically end up being “just meh” cards at the end of the day, and not worthy of being Mythic. Rares, yes, Mythics, no.

    Therefore the only conclusion is that this is basically a money grab by Wizards. You can’t blame them for it, but you can always exercize your right of refusal to pay or play their product. If it pisses off enough people, they will notice, and they will fix their ways. Magic players are far too invested in the game on average though, so we will keep buying packs like the lemmings we are, and they will keep printing tournament staples at Mythic.

  19. This is a great article, well written and insightful, and addresses a really big issue. The fact that there IS debate on the issue pretty much verifies that there IS an issue here, and this does a good job of addressing it calmly, yet critically.
    I am not a tournament player, and I am not a hardcore player, and I am not a mythic-buy/selling-profiteer – I just like to play the game. I do a few drafts a month, maybe a sealed, play a bit in some casual groups, and I don’t have access to ‘four-of’ any mythics (or heck, hardly any rares).
    However, I do think that the introduction of Mythic cards was initially a fun and flavorful idea, that makes those OMG-Cards all the more cool to find in a pack. I got a Protean Hydra in my first M10 pack, and was really excited by the huge monster and the epic ‘myth’ flavor of it. Planeswalkers are excellent examples of flavor, and they do feel a lot like what the old-school ‘Legends’ felt like. In fact, I think they should have thought to have made every Mythic a Legendary card, if indeed the status meant something about the flavor.

    These new cards, in this article, DO raise some concerns about the Mythic status to me. They are GOOD cards, for sure, and will beat most decks that they come out against, if used right. But they don’t FEEL Mythic to me. The cobra’s effect maybe could be better suited to mythic-status if it were something more exciting, more mysterious, like an artifact (treasure in Zendikar is supposed to be a reason to go there…)
    If you were to tell it as a story, as the game progressed – “We set out from blahblah island, and had to fight some blahblah monsters, and fire rained from the sky as we entered the dangerous tomb of blahblah, there we were lucky to survive the traps, and we barely managed to come out alive, but we found this snake.” … where’s the thrill? Make it a giant statue, or a mysterious idol, or something epic.

    I guess to me the Mythic slot now feels too much like a rare-filter, to control the flow of overpowered cards into the marketplace. Which honestly IS a valid design, but just doesn’t ‘feel’ very exciting from the perspective of the game’s flavor.

  20. I think that when you see a card like Sharum the Hegemon, which is mythic, and generally hovers around $2, and then see a card like Noble Hierarch, which is rare, and is currently around $12, I can kind of see where Wizards is coming from on this.

    While speaking about individually priced cards is obviously secondary market, and hence not where Wizards is profiting, it goes to show that even at a lower print rate, there just hasn’t been a tremendous demand for a vast majority of the mythics they have printed until now.

    I think that Wizards was hoping that while mythics wouldn’t need to be designed as chase staples for tournament players–the casual player, who can drive the price of certain non-competitive cards up based on their own kitchen table adventures–would be the ones buying that extra box in hope of opening Sharum, or Sedris etc. based on their awesome flavor and big effects.

    In reality, no one has really needed to buy more product from Wizards, since you can just get cards like Sharum and Sedris as singles dirt cheap.

    So, the gambit of introducing mythics as a profit booster by appealing to the casual community, while not rocking the boat in the way things are done in the competitive community, has largely failed.

    If mythics become highly sought chase rares, however, more product will be purchased. Absolutely. People will be outraged, but they will keep buying cards. And profits will increase.

    So I think Wizards tried to do this the nice way, but their original playtest design didn’t hit the sweet spot of casual playable, not competitive, still highly desired, so now they just did the obvious thing and made the best cards the rarest.

  21. The bottom line is: wizards *did* go out of their way to define what mythics would *not* be in a surprisingly clear manner.

    The problem that I always saw with their definition is that R&D’s whole function is breaking the rules of magic. Testing and pushing limits. They pushed the limit on how efficient a dragon could be with baneslayer and (presumably) have gauged the reaction. People can gripe about her price, but reasonable people will concede she is pretty mythic in concept and execution.

    Now they are testing the limits of what “utility” means. Maybe these cards never make it to tier 1 status in standard (though I have a hard time believing that the Cobra won’t find a home). Unfortunately they are walking a much finer line with these cards because they actually have the potential to be exactly what mythics were not supposed to be: utility cards.

    Maybe after the season(s) play out R&D will be vindicated, but they are flying awfully close to the flame.

  22. “So I think Wizards tried to do this the nice way, but their original playtest design didn't hit the sweet spot of casual playable, not competitive, still highly desired, so now they just did the obvious thing and made the best cards the rarest.”

    If this is the case – and it could be, perhaps likely is.

    Would it have killed them to have someone be the messenger: “We tried it, but the design space was to limiting, in order for magic to continue to grow.. blah, blah, blah”

    Sure the segments of the community would have reacted with vitriol (after all *someone* would be pissed is WOTC start putting $20 bills in packs) but at least they would have done us the same service that they did when mythics were originally released and justified it.

    No, no company *has* to justify anything to its customers, but as Zaiem points out WotC has gone to great lengths to establish a different kind of relationship with its customers than most companies.

  23. @Max: Interesting that you think I didn’t read the article before posting since you made it very clear that you didn’t read my post before rebutting to it. Or at least that you didn’t read it very carefully.

    First of all, I never said that Lotus Cobra desires the name Lotus due to it’s ability to accelerate mana unfairly. What I said is that any card that has the word Louts in it’s name needs to accelerate mana unfairly and Louts Cobra does that. There’s a world of difference between the two. Your way indicates that City of Traitors is named wrong because it doesn’t have the word Lotus in it. My way says that City of Traitors COULD have had the word Louts in the name and still match the flavor of Lotti.

    Secondly, I didn’t say that making Mindbreak Trap Mythic GAVE the card flavor. I said it somewhat adds to it’s flavor. The entire idea of having different rarities to cards is that some things will thus come up more often than others. It adds to the flavor of Dragons to be rare the vast majority of the time, because how common can something really be that’s at the absolute top of the food chain and lives for hundreds and hundreds of years? Mindbreak Trap at Mythic is no different than Birds of Paradise at Rare. It gives it a “that’s something you don’t see every day” feel.

    As far as them all being utility cards, however, the are argument just doesn’t hold water. Utility cards are cards that do several things, all at least relatively efficiently. Orim’s Chant preemptively stops Couterspells, disrupts combo decks midway through, and can halt oncoming attacks. That’s utility. Pernicious Deed can wipe a board clean or just take out the lower end of it. That’s utility. Engineered Explosives can be set to take out anything from a range of 0 to the number of colors you can produce. Utility again. Lotus Cobra adds mana and attacks… Nope, not utility. Warren Instigator cheats cards into play, and get this, they have to be GOBLINS! No utility there either. Both cards are very straight forward. Really the only one of the three that’s utility is Mindbreak Trap, and even that ONLY when paying full price for it. It stops Storm combo for the alt. cost, but that’s about it. I don’t think saying that Mindbreak Trap is a utility card is really fair though, because paying four mana to stop a spell isn’t terribly efficient, which means it isn’t really utility either (see definition above).

    Basically, I see zero reason what so ever than Lotus Cobra and Mindbreak Trap cannot be Mythic. Warren Instigator I disagree with being Mythic, but I can see that WotC probably looked at it as being a “wow” card far more than the players do and dropped the ball on that one on accident.

    @Riki. You are right. I’m not in his head and I should have worded that differently. Never the less, it’s insulting to the intelligence of everyone that has made that statement at any point in time.

  24. I also feel that many mythical cards in ZEN don’t feel that unique. You can argue about some of them (Lotus Cobra) but there are others that just plainly don’t fill the requirements (Warren Instigator).

    Maro told us they would never do with mythical cards what they are doing in this set and I feel betrayed. I don’t like it, but I can understand why they are doing it: Wizards is a subsidiary from Hasbro, and Hasbro expects Wizards to turn a profit. MTG is not a public service after all.

    Maybe it’s true what everybody was saying: Hasbro was getting tired with Wizards and they needed to show Hasbro that MTG is profitable. That would explain mythical status, full art basic lands and enemy fetch lands in ZEN. And by the looks of it, Wizards is hitting the ball off the park…

  25. If I were to play devil’s advocate, I’d have to ask whether this rarity is reserved solely for Planeswalkers and giant flying creatures. That’s not what I read in the original description. If you think about it, Cruel Ultimatum really coulda, shoulda been mythic. Why can’t there be a mythic aggro creature, or a mythic counterspell?

    That said, I think:

    1. They misfired on the flavor of the goblin. The effects of the creature itself could pass for mythic but “wake up wake up”… just no. But it’s narrow enough that it’s definitely not a utility card that will appear in every deck.
    2. The counterspell does what a mythic counterspell should do, but by going to (0) instead of (U), puts itself squarely into that colorless “utility card” zone with no excuse. And
    3. The cobra blows it on both counts. I don’t see how this is anything but a boring (but powerful) utility card.

    So although I see how Wizards might have justified them (other than the Cobra) I have to agree I’m disappointed in all three.

  26. I see it in my work everyday. There are a few things going on here, but the major issue is simply setting an expectation and then (in people’s opinions) breaking that expectation. If the expectation of what Mythic “meant” to WoTC hadn’t been established, then this would have not been reacted to as strongly. Sure, people may have still voiced opinions on cards not being great even though they’re mythic, but they wouldn’t have done so feeling “betrayed” because of a broken expectation.

    I’m also relatively sure that MaRo would specifically point to the “Generally speaking…” part of his sentence to mean, “Hey, this is as much art as science, and there are no absolutes in this game.”

    As a side note, I have played magic from the beginning (unfortunately only started collecting and keeping the cards since Revised) and the game has evolved into multiple games. I also play alot of paintball (also from the beginning of the sport) and that has done the same thing. Whereas paintball was originally just played in the woods, not the sport has two faces: fast-playing speedball and scenario-ish games. Magic has gone through a similar evolution. At first there was only one “game”. Now, there is sealed, draft, standard, extended, multiplayer, etc. and WoTC is trying to fill all those needs within sets. This will lead to issues with rarity printing as certain cards will be considered bombs in one format, 4-of staples in another, SB only in another, etc.

    Not making excuses for mistakes, but hopefully understanding why “mistakes” may be subjective.

  27. Baneslayer Angel completely warps the format. Why play ANYTHING else that costs 5 mana when you can just play Baneslayer? Baneslayer will reach $50. Mark my words.

  28. Wizards will have to make mistakes a lot worse than this to make me stop squandering every cent of disposable income on their products.

  29. i think the real problem is that magic never really changed for about 12 years then all of a sudden mythic rares rules changes planeswalkers all these new things for people to digest at one time is bound to cause confusion and then a backlash from more conservetive people who want things to just always stay the same. the core problem i have with all the changes are the lies about “we are doing whats best FOR THE GAME” this is not true what u ment to say is you are doing what is best for your company,which is fine but dont pretend like you are making all these changes for us cause u arent you are making them for yourselves and noone else. Do whatever you want WOTC but please dont lie to a bunch of smart well read dilligent fans and players we will see right through it dumbasses

  30. “Considering that the first thing people thought of with cobra and instigator where unlikely "mythic" scenarios of powering out awesome effects (double siege gang, matron for ringleader, turn 3 ultimatum) your argument that they aren't Timmy is actually completely wrong if you think about it.”

    That’s not Timmy. The psychographic that thinks of off-beat combo win scenarios is Johnny.

    Timmy’s about the big beats. Cruel Ultimatum isn’t even Timmy card because the phrase “8-for-1 card advantage” doesn’t have a meaning in Timmy’s context.

  31. Keeping WotC solvent (and comfortably so) is unquestionably the MOST important thing for the game of magic. This should be indisputable.

  32. The problem with the Cobra is that everybody just went nuts with their childish fantasys about it. It will not be used to power out 7cc spells on turn 2. It will not be played in every deck.

    The thing is that mythics are slightly more rare than rares in the previous sets. The chance to have a Cobra in your Display is 22%, the chance to have Garruk in a Lorwyn display was 29%. So basically mythics are a wee bit more rare than rares in the old days. I think people just tend to overpay for them because they suck at math. They are only about 33% more rare, yet baneslayer costs 3 times as much as a thoughtseize did. It is all about fools being, well, fools and being unablet to evaluate cards correctly. Baneslayer is like an apple computer. It is damn expensive because it is an apple. People are willing to pay too much and the company knows it. Same with all the OMGOMGIPEEMYPANTS Mythics.

    You can see Magic is played by an absurd amount of idiots if you just look at the forums. When it was anounced that there will be “treasure” cards in Zendikar a lot of people exclaimed they will order another case of it. Excuse me but the chance to get a “treasure in your display is 5%. And this does not mean its the one you want, but just ANY on of thoes. So you could as well buy the card right away.

    I honestly do not care wether a card feels mythic or not. All three of the cards above are jaws dropping and neither of them will be needed in several decks. Besides the Cobra neither of them is particularly good and the Cobra just is not as insane as all the romantic dreamers want it to be.

    As someone else already stated: When Wizards puts 100 Dollar notes in Boosters, there will be people that complain about the way it is folded. And as you will see, there are people that whine about the “treasure” cards. Sometimes i wish for more thinking, less rageposting in this magical world.

  33. “i think the real problem is that magic never really changed for about 12 years”

    That’s so wrong it’s funny. Interrupts? Spell Chains? Global enchantments? Color pie rearrangement? Creature empowerment?

    Magic has consistently been changing gradually (mostly for the better) the past decade.

  34. First of all, I think we have to go to the top and blame Aaron, not Mark. Forsythe pretty much had his way with M10, renaming anything on the merest whim, and I expect his influence continues here. From Aaron’s Twitter feed:

    “My definition of mythic rare: cards that are jaw-dropping to some part of the audience.”
    “The mythic definition should be broad, not ‘planeswalkers + cards that aren’t very good.'”

    Which I think we as players are right to complain about. From there it’s a tiny move to “the best cards.” When the best cards, by definition, only show up one in every 8 packs (and even that best card might not be “jaw-dropping” for you) it turns opening packs into an unpleasant experience.

    It also implies that mere rares will never be jaw-dropping, which is a sad thing to be confessing.

    And the other issue that comes to mind is that while Johnny, Timmy, and Spike all exist, there’s no question who it is that pushes the card sales. There’s the occasional Sliver Queen that casual Timmies will enshrine. But we all know the bucks will be flowing for Lotus Cobras, not Felidar Sovereigns.

    So the implication that Spike should have Mythics too is bull because they know Spikes drive the volume, so Spike cards SHOULD be more common to balance the demand. More specifically, this is what Rosewater said when announcing Mythics:

    “Knowing that you have the potential to open something you can show off to all your friends is very compelling and helps draw new players into the game.”

    That, by defiinition, is a TIMMY experience. Timmy wants to find something exciting and show it off. So if Timmy is the justification for Mythics (to be fair I never believed that) then Mythics should be for Timmy.

    Now to play contrarian, the one thing I always remind people regarding rarities is that one card only really shoots ahead if others at the same rarity are lacking. If Lotus Cobra is the be-all and end-all, and turns out to be the only Mythic anyone wants, it will be a $50-$60 card. However, if every single Mythic was just as wanted as the snake, then it’s a $7-8 card. They can’t all be $50 cards unless it’s a $250 box.

    So although these cards don’t feel Mythic (it’s hard to argue that they do), populating the rarity with desireable cards besides planeswalkers could actually be viewed as a way to keep PW prices down.

  35. very well put, Zaiem. As someone who runs a singles inventory for a mom and pop store, I was shocked when the goblin and trap were spoiled. granted, the trap comes right as minds desire is getting pushed out of extended. and it’s a really irrelevant card in vintage or legacy against storm, which will usually have cast 1 duress or thoughtseize before going off. My understanding of mythic rares, as rosewater had put it, was that mutavault thoughtseize was exactly the type of card they would not print at mythic level. utility cards useful to lots of folks.

    I think most of my disgruntlement stems from the fact that I find the term “utility card,” and “tournament staple” to be synonymous with “converted mana cost of two or less.”

  36. Gunsling against me tomorrow and–although I might lose–I *promise* you that Cobra will feel Mythic 😉

    Also willing to have this discussion with anyone who wants to talk about it.

  37. I don’t understand how the writer could consider those cards not worthy of mythic status. He is either an unexperienced player or simply short sighted. By looking at the cards that have been announced so far for Zendikar, I can easily understand why these cards are mythic. Lotus Cobra, first off, is a pure mana pump. With the return of sack lands it has the ability to create huge amounts of mana. It stands leagues above Birds in my opninion. Secondly, Warren Instigator.. all i can say is wow, how is this card even on his list? Its easily one of the most powerful goblin cards to come out since piledriver. DEAL DAMAGE ONCE AND PUT 2 GOLBINS INTO PLAY!? Think of the best best, high casting cost goblin cards there are. Now imagine playing two of them 3rd turn.. This card is an absolute must in all goblin decks.

  38. In my opinion, which is all I’ve got here, there’s a few odd things going on. Mindbreak trap is kinda cool and splashy and all so I think I’d just shrug and let it be mythic.

    Cobra I didn’t understand because it just didn’t seem like it had a bunch of oomph, and I feel like WotC has watered down the lotus namesake over the years. They’ve used it a few times for different iterations and it just doesn’t get me abuzz quite so much. It’s like multicolored cards. They come along once in a while, and it’s pretty cool when they do, but it just kinda feels like the normal flow of the game.

    On the other hand, making Cobra mythic means I’ll open it less often, which I think makes me happy. So in a way, making it mythic helps out the casual player by making other, much more fun cards, a little more accessible. I’m gonna go with that positive spin on this subject because I like being optimistic about Magic in general.

    Instigator bothers me a lot though. Lackey was an uncommon. Lackey should have been an uncommon. The way I see it, Instigator is Lackey so it should be an uncommon as well. Weird thing is, when I checked on Lackey in gatherer, they had reprinted it in FTV:Exiled as a mythic. And Lotus Petal had been moved from COMMON to mythic. These shifts of rarities make me feel a little uneasy. I mean, WotC is in control of what each card does and at what rarity and how often we get them. So they could scale power leves up and down on sets and formats and individual cards and slap whatever rarity they want on them. There aren’t really hard and fast ‘rules’ designers go by. Our entertainment and our budget is entirely at their whim.

    That said, I’m glad Wizards has stuck to its guns for as long as it has. For those that say we have the power to simply not play, I agree. If WotC manages to make Magic unfun, I just won’t spend money in their direction.

  39. A counterspell that counters uncounterable spells.. I’d say that’s mythic!!

    A creature that turns fetchlands (almost) into black lotus… that’s pretty mythic!

    A goblin, that if unblocked will put 2 goblins into play for free… that’s pretty damn mythic.

    You guys are nuts to say otherwise. There are lots of shitty mythics out there that don’t “feel” mythic; these are not it!

  40. I feel like articles should have more than complaints to them. I frequently read your articles and enjoy them a lot, but this was one of the more whiny and less techy things I’ve ever read from you. I think this could have been summarized for the same point on half the space.

    It makes sense to be upset, but I would like to think there had to be something else worth talking about…

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  42. Aaron forsythe is a cowboy

    sometime for better, sometimes for worse

    but tough times and hasbro’s smashing the piggy bank

    ‘break in case of emergency’: flicker wrath of god, reprint duels, mythic ‘rares’, goody bag inserts… the only thing left to do is put a stick of bubble gum in the packs

  43. Remember when Wizards cut a Pro Tour, JSS, several Grand Prix, and states, and told us that there were going to be several new programs coming soon to take their places? Anyone aware of any new programs? We got States back because Tournament Organizers stepped up to the ball, but we didn’t get anything else.

    What they are discovering, and volume of sales is proving this is true, is that they were severely undervaluing their product. The Mythic change was basically just designed to make it so that they could design less cards yet force players to open the same amount of product to get the cards they needed. They gave us less new product for the same price, and we kept buying. In the near future I would expect one of two things: either an increase in the price of boosters, or a new rarity added.

  44. Let’s do a comparison. Compare World Queller with Warren Instigator. One is an Avatar that can force everyone to sacrifice any kind of permanent every turn. The other is a little goblin that goes around knocking on people’s doors.

    One is a rare, the other is mythic. Care to guess which is which?

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  46. I try to avoid complaining, and overall I think Wizards have done great by the game over the last several years. I even think the whole M10 rules change is absolutely brilliant. In fact, I can count the things I haven’t liked on one hand:
    1) Future shifted card design (which I completely hated, but still, it’s just one thing)
    2) Baneslayer Angel’s casting cost being W or 2 too low.
    3) These three cards being mythic.

    But I’m still gonna complain on this one, because what it means to me is this:
    If I open one of those three cards, I’m gonna feel ripped off:
    “That’s my mythic?!? Where’s my Planeswalker, or my Ob Nixilis?”

    The odd jank rare I can live with… at least at times they get the thinking juices going (“hmm… how can I make a deck around this”), and when I buy a box… and 1 or 2 of my 40 rares being useless is alright. But 1 or 2 of my 5 mythics being useless – ouch!

    FYI – I don’t play competitive. That means:
    To me Mindbreak Trap is just plain worse than uncommon Dismiss or Dismal Failure.
    Lotus Cobra is marginally stronger than common Quirion Elves and weaker than my Mox Diamonds
    Warren Instigator – if it was from Jund and let me put a Dragon into play, now that’d be something… instead it’d be a solid card for my mate’s goblin deck, but he’s not likely to trade anything mythic, like a Planeswalker, for it so it’ll just sit in my card box gathering dust… Yay…

  47. It almost doesnt matter what wizards does, make great cards mythics = Money Grab, make good cards mythics = OMGUTILITYMYTHICSYOULIE!, make meh cards mythics = flavor fail, make bad cards mythics = people shrug and move on. Lesson learned all mythics should be bad cards so people stop complaining

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