Twenty Things That Were Going to Kill Magic

Discussion in 'General CPA Stuff' started by Spiderman, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

  2. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    It does seem that there has always been some vocal contingent of players that scream doom and gloom over seemingly innocuous changes. I was expecting to see more "this mechanic was unpopular and players believed it was the beginning of the end for the game" type of stuff. Some of these strike me as dubious. Several of them are before my time, but I'm not wholly unaware of things from the first few years of the game, as I used to hang out with players that did start in the early days and I once had a habit of reading stuff from that period too. One important fact that may or may not be obvious to people reading this is that the changes to the game back when it was new aren't really comparable to the sorts of things we see now. Those changes were far more dramatic because there were far fewer cards in the game, far fewer people playing the game, totally different people playing the game (almost no current players were playing in 1994, and few of the players in 1994 are still active), and a much simpler game overall with far fewer rules.

    It's not entirely unreasonable to say that the first three things did kill the game as it was back then. Yeah, we get things like changing "comes into play" to "enters the battlefield." The early changes to the game were a lot bigger. I don't have any indication that players left in droves over these changes, but even if they stayed, they were basically playing a different game. Some of the people at a long-dead store I used to frequent remembered the days before the four-card limit. They always conveyed that the game back then was basically insane.

    And the players that thought reprinting their cards ruined the game? Yeah, they existed. And they're gone now. That's a generalization, but I think it holds. I contend that the vast majority of players who were complaining to WotC about having their cards reprinted back when reprinting cards from expansions was a novel concept no longer play Magic. Now, many of that group may have left for other, unrelated reasons, but if someone says a change ruined the game and then keeps playing, well, that's the kind of thing I'd expect in an article like this. People that say a change ruins the game, and then proceed to vote with their feet are at least being consistent. It's a bit of an alien notion to me because I kind of like when my old cards are reprinted, but for some people it was a deal-breaker. And I'm not going to begrudge them that.

    As far as the Reserved List goes, any players claiming it would kill the game, and I haven't heard of them but I don't doubt that a few were around, were just being silly. But if WotC wants to tell us, with a straight face, that they don't think the Reserved List has been a giant mistake, they can go right ahead and add more cards to it. And if they want to go with "we honor our promise" on the matter, that's fine too, but they should avoid further incidents in which they make it look like big daddy Hasbro forced them to honor their promise (which is exactly what happened, because WotC hates the Reserved List as much as the players do, maybe even more) or cases in which they make up loopholes that let them cheat the Reserved List (not that anyone is complaining about the dubious loopholes, or rather, not that anyone is complaining that doesn't deserve kick to the face).

    I think most of these have been more "unpopular changes" than "changes that players thought would kill the game." But yeah, there's that vocal contingent. I realize that. Don't know why they merit recognition, really, but whatever.
  3. rokapoke Man Among Gods

    An article on "unpopular changes" will get a lot fewer reads than an article on ways that Magic narrowly avoided a horrible death. Or, at least, that's what I imagine the editor saying to the author...

    Anyway, I generally agree with your statements, Oversoul. Overall, I'm sure each of these changes (or a combination of several) drove some/many players away from the game for various reasons, but the game is clearly in a healthy state. I myself am a grumpy old man as far as Magic is concerned: I started around 1994/1995 (but, unfortunately, after Revised was released, so I never had the "big money" cards) and see a lot of the changes (and especially power creep) as very negative. I still enjoy the game; I just don't spend so much as a dime on it. And I'm okay with that compromise. That's why I'm here on this site.
  4. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Yeah, from an editorial standpoint the "were going to kill the game" is definitely more engaging than "some players didn't like these changes."

    I tend toward nostalgia on some things myself, but I try to appreciate when there are improvements to the game too. It's all very much in retrospect, but my take on these 20 is...

    60 card minimum and 4-card limit: Necessary changes. The game would never have gone anywhere without something like these.
    Banned and restricted lists: Necessary to create a healthy tournament scene.
    Type II: Has helped WotC make money and expand the game.
    Nalathni Dragon: Hey, remember how one of the old books came with a coupon for Mana Crypt and the other promotional cards sucked and almost no one knew about them, so the players that knew about Mana Crypt obtained tons of the obviously broken card while the rest of the playerbase missed out on the obscure promotional offer? Yeah, the old promo crap didn't kill the game, but it was definitely a mistake.
    Chronicles: I just might be the only living fan of the set Chronicles. I love this set. I always have. I'm not even sure why anymore. On the other hand, it did sort of lead to the creation of the reserved list...
    The reserved list: I won't say no one likes it. There are people that like it. There aren't very many of them. And no one likes them. But hey, they are people too and they have rights or whatever. I don't want to kill the collectors that whined and got the reserved list in the first place or that whined and got the reserved list maintained when WotC tried to ditch it. But I wouldn't be averse to wounding them a bit.
    Pitch cards: Oh man, I love Alliances! But with the inflated prices these old cards have been seeing on the secondary market, Force of Will is a giant barrier to entry for anyone interested in Legacy. Of course, there are much bigger barriers, but it's still unfortunate. I think I have eight copies of Force of Will (maybe not anymore, since Al0ysiusHWWW might have traded them away when he had my cards). And I would love to see Force of Will (and the other four cards in its little group) reprinted.
    Premium cards: Yeah, I was totally an active player when these came out. I don't remember anyone saying that they'd kill the game. You know what people thought would kill the game back then? Pokemon. Odd that it's not mentioned in a list of things that were predicted to kill Magic, because it was a pretty popular notion.
    Sixth Edition rules: I wrote about this in that one article that I wrote not too long ago. Basically, I had pretty recently mastered Fifth Edition rules, and then everything was changed on me, so I was annoyed. And I saw a lot of resistance to the new rules. But in retrospect they were a huge improvement to the game.
    Magic Online: I basically ignored this. Sometimes I wished I'd jumped on the bandwagon.
    Eighth Edition card frame: I will always be an opponent of this one. I never thought it would kill the game, nor did I hear anyone else say it would. If there are two options for deckbuilding, one being a card with the old frame and one being a card with the new one, I take the old frame every time. I don't boycott the new frame or anything like that, though.
    Idiot text: I missed the outcry against this. I sure saw a lot of people making fun of it, but no one I knew at the time was angry about it. WotC even made fun of this themselves.
    Planeswalkers: I wrote about this in that one article too. I was skeptical at first, but now I'm a big fan. Go planeswalkers!
    Mythic rares: No one said this would kill the game. They said it would make the game more like Yu-Gi-Oh or whatever, which might be a fate worse than death, but it's not death. Mark Rosewater can pretend otherwise, but players generally still hate mythic rares. No one values the extra "excitement" from potentially being able to open a pack with a mythic rare. Instead, they get annoyed when overpowered cards cost a fortune because Wizards of the Coast were jerks and made the most powerful cards rarer on purpose.
    Lands in boosters: I stopped buying booster packs a long time ago, so I heard about this, but never really cared. Thinking about it, I'd be pretty annoyed to have one of my card slots in my booster pack taken up by a basic land. Yet another reason to continue with my policy of not buying boosters.
    Eleventh Edition rules changes: I wish I'd saved that hilarious diagram WotC made to explain the new combat rules.
    Dumbing down the game: I actually don't have a problem with how this one was handled. It seems that they put a lot of effort into it and the result was a good product.
    Double-faced cards: While they aren't as ugly as the "flip" cards that preceded them, they cause some problems, which Mark Rosewater even states. Not a death-knell for the game, but still quite a mess. Also, I don't buy that there was a large outcry when Avacyn Restored didn't have any. Unless maybe it was an outcry of joy or something...
    Organized play changes: It's "Elo." Not "ELO." It's not an abbreviation for anything. It's named after Arpad Elo. I don't know why this mistake is so common.
    New slivers: The inclusion of this one makes the entire article look like an attempt at poisoning the well on the new sliver issue.
  5. Killer Joe Active Member

    60 card minimum and 4-card limit: Didn't know the game yet.
    Banned and restricted lists: Never had those cards so, eh, whatever.
    Type II: This was my second favorite format with draft being my first.
    Nalathni Dragon: Sucky card anyway.
    Chronicles: I didn't really know WHAT that set was about, I started in Tempest/5th Ed.
    The reserved list: For tournament play, GREAT!
    Pitch cards: I have 4 FoW, great concept, great card.
    Premium cards: I didn't care about these.
    Sixth Edition rules: Okay, I totally thought there'd be a big drop in people playing the game.
    Magic Online: *yawn*
    Eighth Edition card frame: I totally was digging it! When they made CORE SETS black frames I kinda didn't like that, I LIKE white framed cards.
    Reminder text: Whatever, I felt the same way when cars started to have the idiot brake light in the middle of the back window, stupid people are gonna remain stupid.
    Planeswalkers: I have a few, I rarely play them, whatever.
    Mythic rares: Kinda got a bit afraid of these knowing that only premium style players would get these but wait, I don't play tournament magic anymore so no big deal.
    Lands in boosters: For drafting, okay I guess.
    Eleventh Edition rules changes: I helped run the M11 tournament in Pittsburgh and I made a tombstone for Mogg Fanatic, it was funny.
    Dumbing down the game: LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Double-faced cards: I liked this idea.
    Organized play changes: :confused:!?
    New slivers: They suck.
  6. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Hm. I have a different take on that. I mean, I think the whole premise of Mark's article and the usage or meaning of "kill" meant, things that would totally cause Magic: The Gathering to shut down and no longer be made (and presumably, played, although not immediately since people would probably play with their current cards until boredom set in). I have several cards from early TCGs such as Wyvern and Illuminati and I think no one will argue that they have been "killed".

    So with that overall understanding in mind, the first three things kill the game back then? Obviously not as a whole but maybe for the set of people you mentioned who liked to play with unlimited cards or belong to the set of players of "I win." I just view it as the "Wild West" days of Magic since no one knew what to expect fr0m a totally new game and genre coming on the scene and the first three changes "civilized" or reined the game in. If people had stuck to Garfield's original vision of buy just a couple of packs and playing for ante or trading to get the rest, unlimited cards and no banned list might still be here ;)

    Now quite as obviously, Mark Rosewater has a greater vast of research and feedback to go through than yourself, so I'm going to have to believe him when he says this or that was said to kill the game (like your comments of premium cards or 8th edition card frames). But of course you can say you don't believe it :)

    And 6th edition changes will always stand out as that was the change that caused the break in the Dojo community and gave life to the CPA :D
  7. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    You just explained my point, albeit in a different way. No one knew what the game would shape up to be back then, and no one knew what to expect. In retrospect, for most of Rosewater's audience, those first three changes gave us the game as we know it. For the people who were actually into the game before those changes, the changes ended the game as they knew it. They killed the game.

    Of course, in another, probably more important sense, the game was not killed at all. It's a matter of perspective. I wasn't playing in the first few years of the game anyway and I'm not really invested in one perspective or the other. I consider the fact that the game did keep going for another 20 years or so (and is still going strong) to be pretty important. Nevertheless, the first three changes aren't at all in line with the later ones. Someone crying doom and gloom over promotional cards or over lands in boosters just seems petty. Those first three changes, relative to the situation at the time, are way, way bigger, and obviously cause for alarm among the players at the time.

    I don't think a "vast of research" is an actual thing, but anyway, I'm not really challenging any of the facts he's presenting, just the interpretation of them. You know, if for each of these things, a single crazy person wrote an email to Wizards of the Coast frothing about how this change would kill the game, Mark Rosewater could easily say, "All of these have been predicted to kill the game" and he wouldn't be lying. I don't think it's actually so extreme as that, but he doesn't provide numbers. He doesn't define "outcry." I figure most of us here have seen enough to know that some portion of Magic players complain a lot whenever Wizards of the Coast does, well, almost anything. It wouldn't be hard to find that some people complained about all of these things. If a handful of people griped that the pitch cards from Alliances were going to be the end of the game, well, so what? It might actually have been a lot more than a handful. I don't know.

    What I do know is that people were saying that Pokemon would kill Magic. And I don't mean a few angry emails. I mean Pokemon players were saying it, Magic players were saying it, and even people who didn't play CCG at all were making comments about it. There was a lot of speculation on the matter. It was such a big deal that it even resulted in Wizards of the Coast selling out to Hasbro (which is actually another thing that there was more outrage over than most of the things on this list).

    Also, for most of these changes, Rosewater never explicitly says that anyone thought they would kill the game: he says players were upset about them. That's why I mentioned poisoning the well with the brand new sliver change. He's basically saying, "Look at these 19 other changes that happened over the course of the game's history that also caused players to complain, just like they're complaining about this. And yet the game is still totally fine and many of these are now really popular. Clearly the people whining about slivers being changed are just whiney little crybabies afraid of change. Look at these other things they may or may not have cried about in the past. Alternate casting costs? We have a lot of those now. Everyone loves them! But back then, they were throwing a hissy fit over them."
  8. BigBlue Magic Jones

    What about the Vampire game... Was it Vampire:The Eternal Struggle? Or something like that. It was funny how WotC stopped producing that after like two or three printings.

    I remember a lot of hubbub when damage went on the stack... Like 6th edition rules. That caused a few of our playgroup to stop. When the game stopped being fun - and you had to bring a copy of the Oracle and rulings to explain why your combo worked - and theirs didn't... That got old.
  9. turgy22 Nothing Special

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    Attached Files:

  10. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Broken image, it seems.
  11. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I can't see it either.

    Yeah, I thought I did, which is why I tried to define what Rosewater meant by using "killing the game" and going from there. The game existed and it was (and is) still produced, so whether the changes "killed" the game for some players is immaterial. They chose to stop playing, but the game lived on.

    I actually do remember the "uproar" (if you can call it that) over the Dragon (and I have one!), Chronicles, and the reserved list and they happened all early enough in Magic's life that they seemed legitimate concerns at the time, that they would turn away enough people that they'd stop buying cards and not bring in new players. The overproduction of Fallen Empires was also during this time though, so the easy availability of those cards may have countered that :)

    6th Edition rules changes was BIG, I believe on par with the first three. It really did change the way you played and thought of the game. Subsequent rules changes were minor compared to that.

    He did say they were predicted (well, he used "worry") that they would kill the game, right in the intro:

    He also says "some of the bigger", so I think since he included the Sliver change, he thought it was in the top 20. He did it chronologically, so there's no idea of where it actually placed or how big the controversy is (or was). However, I agree with you that if this made his top 20, there's actually not a whole lot going on with Magic nowadays to cause controversy at all.

    He also asks for feedback at the end, so he recognizes he could be off on some :)

    I remember that and the Hasbro acquisition, but I think Mark limited himself to actual game changes, not external forces.

    The only thing that I (think) I remember that should have been on the list (replacing Slivers, maybe) is the introduction of Starter decks(?) Whatever didn't have instants in them (may have been around Saviors of Kamigawa?) Or had Horsemanship as an creature ability? I think (a small minority of) people thought it was similiar to the dumbing down concept, that people would "learn" Magic that way but get totally confused when they played with the "real" cards and abilities.
  12. BigBlue Magic Jones

    I remember people getting upset that you could cast a Lightning Bolt in response to a Power Sink.
  13. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    After 6th ed rules? heh, I remember people thinking they could cast a Bolt in response to a Sink *before* 6th ed :D Bet they were happy after 6th.
  14. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    To be clear, I'm not really contending that interpreting the early changes as "killing" the game is somehow superior to interpreting them as saving the game from being a chaotic mess that would be doomed to dwindle in popularity. What I am saying is that something like the introduction of a four-copy limit to cards should be seen as categorically different from most of the later changes. People could and did complain about both, but not all things people complain about are necessarily equal.

    I have the dragon too! Well, I did anyway. I really need to recatalog my cards again. I just don't have the space for it right now.

    The 6th Edition rules changes are a lot bigger than most of the other changes, but I don't consider them to be on par with going from "You can use any of your cards" to "You can't use those cards." Sweeping rules changes might create more impact on players than changing banned lists, but what about introducing a banned list in the first place?

    What he actually said in the intro was...

    It might seem to be a very minor difference, but when he says something was controversial, that doesn't mean players actually predicted the end of the game. They mig[ht have. Or they might have just complained about it, which could be interpreted as a "worry" that "this new thing was going to be the thing that finally killed the game."

    I suspect that the sliver thing was either included for the sake of spreading things out chronologically (it wouldn't be as interesting if all of the items on the list were several years old and perhaps you are right that there just isn't much controversy now compared to in the past) or deliberately for well-poisoning purposes. The latter explanation is, of course, less charitable.

    He actually does talk about external forces, specifically in the part about the 2003 card face change (and the fact that he fails to do so for the part about the reserved list was a criticism I made of this article). But I see your point. The Hasbro acquisition wasn't a change to the game, but a change to the company, indirectly leading to changes to the game. So it could be beyond the scope of the sort of thing he wanted to talk about

    I forgot about that one! Yeah, I think you're right.

    As for Horsemanship, that was Portal: Three Kingdoms.
  15. BigBlue Magic Jones

    Well, in the Tarot cards... The Death card is about change, not actual death or killing. Maybe he was meaning the Tarot Death.

    Kidding - obviously that wasn't what he meant, but Death is really just a metamorphosis. :)
  16. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I agree with that, but I think they are all "changes to the game", whether major or minor. The early ones had the job of "tough love" though.

    You have to keep in mind the banned list was for tournament play. Nothing stopped players from playing with the cards how they wanted in private. The 6th ed rules changes, generally, changed how you played, whether in a tournament or in private (although nothing stopped you from ignoring the rules in private either). Some cards *were* changed, functionally-wise, with the 6th ed changes (interrupts as a big example, some cards dealing with combat tricks as another). I think the difference between whether 6th ed was "on par" or "just slightly below" is so miniscule that it really doesn't make a difference. It was a big change.

    If you really want to be nit-picky, he doesn't say "controversial" either. All he says is that any change to the game brings worry that said change will kill the game and he's going to list the 20 bigger changes that brought said worry.

    Which part is that, the one about double-face cards in Innistrad? If so, I don't see the external force there... they borrowed the idea from another card game, but that game didn't have an effect on Magic.
  17. turgy22 Nothing Special

    Oversoul is referring to the 8th edition card face overhaul. I believe the article states that the graphics department needed to make some minor changes for printing and that spurred the entire revamp.
  18. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Eh, all I really have to go on are anecdotes from that time. I didn't experience it for myself. I don't know, for instance, what portion of the playerbase was participating in tournaments at that time. Also, I don't really see the point to that. If we did know to what extent the establishment of banning cards in the first place affected non-tournament players, would that be informative?

    The point of what you're saying here seems to be that you disagree with me that the first three changes are of a different nature to the later ones because of the huge changes they made to the game, as you think the 6th Edition rules changes were significant enough to rival the early changes to the game. While the 6th Edition rules changes were big, there had been plenty of rules changes prior to them. There had never been a banned list before. There had never been limitations on copies of a card in a deck before. One is an unusually prominent case of the same pattern of change that had been ongoing (and continued, as the rules didn't suddenly stop changing once the 6th Edition changes were in place) and the other is the creation of something entirely new. I'm talking about a qualitative difference here, not a quantitative one (and there's no metric by which to make a quantitative assessment anyway).


    He actually used some form of the word "controversy" multiple times. Four, to be precise. And those are just the times he uses the word directly.

  19. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I don't know the portion either, but yes, it would be informative, because it would show how many non-tourney people would be affected by tourney rule changes. And thus how big the percentage of players this "worry" had been.

    There had been rule changes, but none really that affected the game play as a whole or cards as a whole. The first three game changes were implemented way within the first half-year maybe of the game's existance - the player base was still "small" and people were feeling out the game. By the time 6th ed rules came along, the game had been around for 6-ish years - the player base was much bigger and people had "settled" into a way of playing.

    And I'll re-emphasize - the first three technically affected tourney players only, while 6th ed rule changes affected *everyone*, tourney and non-tourney alike. So yes, because the 6th ed rules affected a much larger player base as a whole, I'm going to term it "huge".

    Ah, true, but he doesn't use it in the intro to set it up, but rather in four individual examples. So is "worry" synonomous with "controversy" or is "controversy" just specific to the four examples?

    I missed that part about the 8th ed card face, thanks guys.
  20. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I'll just repeat that I'm talking about a categorical difference here. We don't know what percentage of players were affected by these changes, and the answer would vary depending on the extent to which something counts as affecting. But none of that matters as far as the qualitative difference is concerned. Because quantitative comparisons are virtually impossible here, I don't view them as being worth talking about.

    I wish I still had a 4th Edition rulebook to make comparisons between 4th Edition rules and 5th Edition rules. But yes, there really were rules changes that affected the game. The 6th Edition changes were (basically) done all at once, which made them stand out a lot.

    That's another difference between the early changes and the later ones. It's not one I was including in my interpretation. Maybe it should have been...

    I do think it's a distinction, but how does it affect player disputation of game changes? What I mean is, the common element for these things is controversy or "outrage." Did the players complaining about changes while people were still feeling out the game have a better or worse case than players that were complaining when things were more settled? There are several possible interpretations for this. One could claim that if the players were complaining about the changes in the very early days, they didn't view themselves as uncertainly exploring the possibilities of a new game, still feeling it out. Or, conversely, one could claim that if players were complaining about changes in the very early days, they were being irrational, treating existing parts of the game as more established than they had a right to expect, what with how new the game was.

    Wait, what? I'm afraid I don't see how the 4-card rule technically only affects tournament players, while 6th Edition rules changes affect everyone. That's extremely contrary to my experience. I was playing at the time of the 6th Edition rules changes. Essentially all of the players I knew were familiar with the 4-card rule (although they would not have known when the rule was established). And only a minority of them had heard of the stack, or batches, or LIFO, or whatever. It was too technical for them to care about. While I wouldn't go so far as to claim that all of those players were 100% unaffected by 6th Edition rules changes (after all, the rules changes informed the development of new cards, even for players that were ignorant of the rules changes), most decks these kids were building would function in exactly the same ways they always had. So the effect wasn't that big of a deal (it would have mattered for players that, say, built decks around artifact-tapping, which I did see, but mostly games still worked the way they always had). But the 4-card rule affected everyone's deckbuilding.

    I was thinking about doing this anyway, so I'll do it now. If the full "article is apparently too much, here...

    1: "The player response was loud and upset."
    2: "Players were again up in arms."
    3: "The public reply to this news dwarfed any complaint that came before it." "In the history of Magic announcements, this was the one that I think had the largest outcry — which is impressive when you see some of the controversies to come."
    4: "The players made such a stink that Wizards decided to stop producing mechanically unique cards outside of booster packs."
    5: "The newer players who got the old cards were happy, but the older players who already had them were not."
    6: "Some players cheered the announcements but many others who were hoping the cards would be reprinted, to allow them to get some, booed."
    7: "While some players were excited by these new cards, others became freaked out."
    8: "Others, though, hated it. Magic cards were already a challenge to collect. Why make it harder? Others didn't like how the premium cards looked and felt that Magic was making a change it didn't need. The premiums went on to become rather popular, although they still have their detractors to this day."
    9: "It fundamentally changed the way the game was played and many of the established players didn't like it one bit. They had spent years learning the game and weren't happy to have to relearn numerous aspects. After the introduction of Standard, I believe this change created the loudest outcry from the public."
    10: "The public reacted to the news of Magic Online very skeptically. The plan to sell digital cards just like paper cards, and at the same price, seemed ludicrous. That's not how video games work. Some argued it would never work, while others feared it would keep players from playing in stores. The Internet was full of people explaining how it could never work and how they wouldn't ever play it. Eleven years later, it's still going strong."
    11: "This change had a huge impact on how the cards looked and many players objected to the shift. They felt the new layout had less of a fantasy feel and moved the game away from its roots. This was another very loud outcry with many words written both in articles and on message boards."
    12: "Eighth Edition brought not one, but two controversies." "Numerous players found the reminder text offensive, as they saw it as yet another example of R&D catering to new players."
    13: "Some players were excited by this new addition but other players were unhappy. They disliked that the new cards would be harder to get than other card types that each had cards in all — at the time — three rarities. They disliked that they required you playing creatures. They disliked that they were not that easy to understand."
    14: " Many players hated the idea of a new harder-to-collect rarity, even if it made other rarities easier to collect." "...but it is still a hot-button topic."
    15: "While this was a good thing for newer players, some of the established players weren't so happy with the change."
    16: "The reaction wasn't quite as strong as the last big rules change with Six Edition but it was vocal, nonetheless."
    17: "New World Order led to an outcry from some players..."
    18: "Some players felt the Magic back was a hard-and-fast rule that could never be broken, so the idea of cards without one upset them greatly."
    19: "The outcry was fast and loud, coming from many of the top names of the Pro Tour, who claimed the changes were detrimental to the entire organized play system."
    20: "The latest controversy happened just earlier this year, when the contents of Magic 2014 were announced." "The mechanical change was disliked, as many felt it contradicted the hive-mind feel of the Slivers. The new look was disliked because it was felt to be too much of a departure from what some believed was one of the most unique and iconic creatures in Magic."

    The essence of controversy, as Rosewater is applying the word, is disputation. Whenever he mentions controversy, the idea is that WotC made some change, and some portion of the playerbase complained about it. It's pretty common in list-like articles for a writer to use synonyms for the same concept, so as not to sound too repetitive. If he said, "X change happened and players complained about it" twenty times in succession, that would make for a dull read. Instead he uses variations on the same concept, like "freaked out" and "objected to the shift." These different words for the same concept can also add connotations. When he writes, "the outcry was loud and fast" he emphasizes the immediacy and extent of the complaining. And when he merely uses phrases like, "were unhappy" the item doesn't seem like it was quite as controversial as the other ones. But all twenty of his listed items invoke the same concept of players challenging a new development in the game.

    That's pretty clear, right?

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