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PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2020 12:21 pm 
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As we all know, the planes we visit in Magic have some kind of creative and mechanical identity that helps to define them and sets them apart from most other planes. What I've been wondering is: 1.) Under what circumstances does it make sense for a plane to change that identity, and to what extent? 2.) Are there cases in which it would be preferable to just recycle the major themes of a plane, i.e. basically retiring or changing one plane and then giving parts of its former identity to another (perhaps new) plane?

Changed identities we've seen so far would be:

Mirrodin becoming New Phyrexia. Mechanically, the new incarnation still has a strong (?) artefact theme, but also new and distinctly Phyrexian elements such as Infect, Proliferate and Phyrexian mana. From what I understand, none of those Phyrexian mechanics might come back the next time we see New Phyrexia, so it's kinda hard to tell what New Phyrexia as a plane is all about mechanically (though I would at least expect -1/-1 counters), but I think it's safe to say that at least creatively, it's quite different from the Mirrodin we used to know. (Technically New Phyrexia also falls under "recycling" because it's Magic's new version of the original Phyrexia, but since Mirrodin had several complete sets of its own and a more clearly defined mechanical identity than Phyrexia, I'll file it under "changed identity" for the sake of simplicity).

Dominaria being established as Magic's "History Plane", although I'd argue that at least creatively, this didn't actually "change" that much, it just gave the plane a certain focus on themes that were already deeply ingrained in the setting. It may or may not become a problem somewhere down the line if they overconstrain and exclude certain settings or mechanics for not being "historic" enough, but considering how little Dominaria we are getting these days, it probably doesn't get enough exposure for that to happen in the first place. Mechanically, the more defined identity has given us Sagas and the Historic mechanic, and I would be surprised to not see those return (or at least Sagas withouth Historic).

Rath is a bit of a weird in-between case since it ceased to exist as a separate plane and got absorbed into Dominaria. So I guess it got recycled in a sense and then went on to change Dominaria, though not to a significant extent.

The only instance that I can think of of a plane (that had previously hosted a whole set) having major parts of its identity recycled and used elsewhere would be Rabiah. The Continuity Department back in the day must have been unhappy about the weird place Rabiah had in the bigger picture, even after the comics had established it as a "proper" plane in Magic's multiverse, and so they took the general Middle Eastern elements of the setting and incorporated them into Mirage block as the merchant empire of Suq'Ata. There's even a direct in-universe connection between the two, but Suq'Ata comes without the baggage of real world place names, direct references to the source material of Arabian Nights or any mention of anything resembling real world religions.

Technically, there's also the Madara/Kamigawa connection, but I think they would have done a Japanese inspired block on a new plane anyway. The fact that Madara existed in the novels and had some Japanese elements to it was just a coincidence, and I'd argue that Madara was too much of a hodgepodge of random stuff from the Legends set for it to ever become a "proper" top-down Japanese setting anyway (especially since they ended up leaning strongly into Shinto and the kami). When Scott McGough heard about the new Japan-inspired plane, it was his idea to include Toshi and turn it into an origin story of sorts for the Umezawa Clan he had written about in Legends II.

______________________________________________

I think it was (mostly) Maro who has gone on record saying that, while a return to Kamigawa is unlikely, they might create a completely new top-down Japanese-inspired plane instead that caters more to a mainstream audience and expectations shaped by anime and popular culture (Read: "Our playerbase in Japan isn't important enough to have their culture respected, and the playerbase in the rest of the world would be too dumb and ignorant for that anyway.") As you have probably guessed from my snarky aside, I disagree with that approach. In fact, I would probably reject a new Japan-inspired plane simply because it wouldn't be Kamigawa. (I'd be cool with a trip to Madara, though). He has said similar things about making a new Persian or Middle Eastern plane to replace Rabiah, and naturally I disagree with that as well, not because I want to go back to Rabiah, but because we already have that replacement in the form of Suq'Ata. I also wouldn't make a new plane for any hypothetical Snow sets in the future, because I think Dominaria's Northland has too much untapped potential for that to move it to a new plane.


So, are there any planes that you'd like to see shaken up permanently, or that you'd want to be cannibalised and have its good parts used on another plane?


For me, that would be:

- Amonkhet. Either start from scratch and make a completely new Egypt-inspired plane and get it right next time, or - and I'd prefer that option - take the "dead tomb raider Egypt" aspect and fold it into southern Jamuraa/the Tivan Desert to add to the pulp adventure feel of that region. Jamuraa used to have connections to Rabiah anyway, a plane that already has its own version of Egypt. I'd simply establish that Rabiah had an equivalent of ancient Egypt that was destroyed by the djinn, and that refugees from that kingdom settled on Dominaria before it all got swallowed up by the growing desert again. Boom. Done. Would also explain the random Egypt-flavoured cards in older sets on Dominaria.

- Zendikar. I think it's time to finally retire that plane for good and strip it of all its themes. The land theme in particular could find a new home on Kamigawa (the kami war changed the barrier between its two halves and the kami are now living in the land, the results of which can be seen in Agents of Artifice). Shandalar might also be a good place for that, they might as well start to acknowledge the things that made Shandalar special instead of using it as a shallow backdrop for their Core Sets. I think Shandalar and Kamigawa might even co-exist as two different planes that have different approaches to a land (sub-)theme, just like Esper, Kaladesh and Mirrodin/New Phyrexia can all co-exist as artefact-centric planes. Zendikar's adventure components (Traps, Quests, Allies etc.) could easily find a new home as well.

- I like Fiora well enough, and the Conspiracy sets are awesome, but in a perfect world, they would make one more Conspiracy set once they're done with Fiora and its story. That set would be a retelling of the Homelands story, basically a remake of the original set but with multiplayer mechanics to reflect the intricate politics and power games of the various factions in the Homelands. New art style, new versions of old legendary characters, stuff like that. Hopefully we'd learn more about what actually went down on Ulgrotha in the end.

- They could just retire Ikoria as far as Standard legal sets are concerned and use it as the setting for the next Battlebond set, if they ever end up doing one. That way, they could use the "Parner with" mechanic to replace Companion while still delivering on the flavour of the Bonders and their Pokémon. Ikoria and Kylem are both unbearably childish and basically silver border material, so they could easily switch between the two. Then again, I hate both planes, and I'm not interested in Battlebond anyway, so it really doesn't matter to me as long as I never have to see a return of Ikoria's terrible mechanics...

- Kaladesh. I'm not the biggest fan of the Energy mechanic, but I think it - along with some sort of artefact theme - would be a great fit for the Kipamu League and their machines. They basically used magical mineral oil to power their airships and other stuff in Prophecy, and I think Energy would be a fitting way to represent that in card form. Also, I hate Kaladesh and never want to see it again because Magic Origins. I'd actually suggest making a new top-down Indian plane without the mechanical baggage (and without the retcons), but considering there were a ton of resonant Indian-inspired fantasy things that they explicitly didn't do in Kaladesh for weirdly specific religious reasons (e.g. loxodon or four-armed vedalken), I don't know how they'd actually go about creating such a plane. Kinda funny when you consider that they went the opposite route with Kamigawa ("Here are your kami, the mortals are at war with them now").

- Theros. Seriously, screw that place. Can we just kill off all the gods, get rid of the Underworld and turn it into Arkhos? Thank you. No, seriously, arkhos actually means "grief" (IIRC, it's more like public grief rather than private grief), so that would be a great fit for a depressing and godless post-Theros version of the same plane. Could still have an echantment theme, especially since Arkhos apparently has some pretty surreal stuff going on according to Planechase.

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Tell why Truth must fight with Falsehood, and why Truth will always win."
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PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2020 8:24 pm 
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They've honestly written themselves into a corner with Kamigawa. R&D doesn't like the setting, but Tamiyo and "Release" from Kaladesh made it hard to completely write off. Especially since "Release" tied the otherwise fanservice-y nod towards Kamigawa in Agents of Artifice into an actually relevant reference. But it's not a good sign for a plane when Maro's easiest tell when things aren't going well at WotC is when he deflects and goes off about how poor Kamigawa's design is on Tumblr. (Apparently, Ikoria is causing problems.)

If they were to scrap Zendikar (they aren't), I would agree Kamigawa would be the best place for the land mechanics. I'd actually suggest Ixalan for the "exploration" flavor aspects. Egypt plane 2.0 could also work.

It's not really worth it, but it's be interesting to try to redo Mercadia as a competition between city states (Mercadia City, Saprazzo, Ouramos) and artistically focusing on the layouts of cities on such fantastical, but not volatile landscapes. However, other than dryads, that's the only thing worth taking from the plane. It'd need more work on plane identity than just being "opposite world."

I'd like to see Wildfire actually fleshed out and am perfectly willing to sacrifice what little there is of Regatha to see it.

I'm also willing to sunder Alara again to get the escher-like Esper as the primary artifact plane. Survivors of Bant could go to Eldraine. Sigils would actually be kinda sweet there. Naya can go to Ixalan. Grixis was already diet Phyrexia. Unearth can go to Innistrad, though. Jund's flavor can be spread across all the "wilder" planes.


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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2020 12:49 pm 
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I will never understand why so many people dislike kamigawa. Maybe it's because I started playing around that time and didn't know any better but the art was so cool and the spirit syngery junk was really fun albeit underpowered.

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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2020 4:10 pm 
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They've honestly written themselves into a corner with Kamigawa. R&D doesn't like the setting, but Tamiyo and "Release" from Kaladesh made it hard to completely write off. Especially since "Release" tied the otherwise fanservice-y nod towards Kamigawa in Agents of Artifice into an actually relevant reference. But it's not a good sign for a plane when Maro's easiest tell when things aren't going well at WotC is when he deflects and goes off about how poor Kamigawa's design is on Tumblr. (Apparently, Ikoria is causing problems.)
I mean, we are talking about a company that has a sad history of just ignoring or retconning inconvenient bits of canon, especially if it helps them to cling to the status quo of a plane. But I just love the Kamigawa part of AoA in general and the fact that it beautifully matches the ending of the Kamigawa trilogy in particular. That's exactly what I'd want Kamigawa to be like on a return. Perhaps my biggest frustration with WotC's stance on Kamigawa is their refusal to understand that most if not all of their problems with the original Kamigawa block have already been solved by the story. The war is over, the kami have retreated, the mortals fuel their spells with mana now, and so on and so forth. They have a built in reason to dial back the presence of the kami and their related mechanics and focus more on the mortals. The fact that Kaseto, Orochi Archmage exists gives me hope, though. He's a character from modern day Kamigawa, and his character blurb lines up pretty well with what has been established about the plane so far. I guess the popularity of Commander and the increased focus on legends and 'legendary matters' cards are working in Kamigawa's favour, especially since they figured out how to make a legendary theme work with the as-fan in boosters in Dominaria. They might as well double down on that aspect and add a few manlands and some tribal and they should have a pretty solid foundation for Kamigawa II. Heck, even the clumsy Flipcards could be replaced by double-faced cards if they decided to do a new riff on those. Ideally, I'd also want them to show us some new regions of the plane as well. There have to be other Daimyo and perhaps even an emperor somewhere, and we have no idea what lies beyond the Sokenzan Mountains or the Jukai Forest. There could be surviving Kappa and some new races as well, maybe merfolk or aven that look like ravens (as a stand in for Tengu).

If they were to scrap Zendikar (they aren't), I would agree Kamigawa would be the best place for the land mechanics. I'd actually suggest Ixalan for the "exploration" flavor aspects. Egypt plane 2.0 could also work.
I'm honestly wondering whether they'd even be able to do anything with Ixalan again, other than pointing the camera at Torrezon and dealing with Elenda's return, in which case we'd de facto be looking at a completely different setting. I'd argue the resolution of RIX basically took away virtually all sources of conflict and adventure on the continent of Ixalan. I think Quests could be used on Bant, Theros or Eldraine, or perhaps even Shandalar. There is a certain pool of vaguely heroic/chivalric/adventurous mechanics in general that could fit a variety of planes (e.g. Quests, Heroic, Exalted, Renown, Adventure). Allies might work on Shandalar if they want to stick to the resonant fantasy theme. If Zendikar works as a D&D-esque setting, so does Shandalar. Traps and Explore could be flavourful fits for southern Jamuraa. Like, seriously, I want them to completely embrace that setting and give us an amazing pulp adventure set/block.

It's not really worth it, but it's be interesting to try to redo Mercadia as a competition between city states (Mercadia City, Saprazzo, Ouramos) and artistically focusing on the layouts of cities on such fantastical, but not volatile landscapes. However, other than dryads, that's the only thing worth taking from the plane. It'd need more work on plane identity than just being "opposite world."
I mean, technically Mercadia is supposed to be the "mercantile plane" (even though that didn't come across too well in the mechanics), and Maro has said that would be the approach they'd be most likely to take if they ever returned there. I've actually been considering starting a thread about returning to Mercadia for a while, because there are quite a few mechanical elements that I could see working for that...

I'd like to see Wildfire actually fleshed out and am perfectly willing to sacrifice what little there is of Regatha to see it.
Agreed, though I don't think the two are in direct competition. I know they've been playing up or even exaggerating the fiery aspects of Regatha a bit, but if you go by the novel, it's actually supposed to be a fairly colour-balanced and perfectly ordinary plane. Sure, it's the plane that has (or had) the Purifying Fire as well as Keral Keep, but an underlying theme of that story was Chandra's restoring the balance among the colours. I don't think either Regatha or Wildfire will appear on cards outside of Core Sets or supplemental products, Wildfire for being too focused on red mana and Regatha for being too generic, unless they can find a coherent theme or identity for it. That said, I'd be totally on board with it if we visited Shandalar in a proper set and had the Core Sets switch to Regatha as the generic fantasy plane.


LilyStorm wrote:
I will never understand why so many people dislike kamigawa. Maybe it's because I started playing around that time and didn't know any better but the art was so cool and the spirit syngery junk was really fun albeit underpowered.
I'm not even convinced there are that many people who actually dislike it, or at least not for the reasons WotC claims. Every time someone in my playgroup mentions it, everyone expresses their excitement for more Kamigawa. Some of us are huge fans, but even the 'neutral' rest agrees that it would be pretty cool. Nobody I know actually assumes the mechanics are going to be terrible and underpowered if it happens. Besides, I loved the fact that Kamigawa exposed me to concepts from Japanese culture that I wasn't too familiar with, it just motivated me to look into it more deeply and made me happy that I'd discovered something new. I will admit that the novels probably played a major role in making me love Kamigawa, though. Not only were they simply amazing novels, they also did a great job of getting the weirder aspects of the setting across and making them cool. It's kinda sad to think that back in the day we got awesome stories that made me buy even underpowered and badly designed sets, when these days, the stories tend to frustrate and anger me so much that I'll even boycott or plain ignore perfectly fine sets with decent mechanics that I probably would have bought without the story.

Marketing goes both ways, do you hear me, WotC? (And so does cardstock quality...) :thbbbt:

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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2020 4:50 pm 
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LilyStorm wrote:
I will never understand why so many people dislike kamigawa. Maybe it's because I started playing around that time and didn't know any better but the art was so cool and the spirit syngery junk was really fun albeit underpowered.


Off topic rant (including because its affecting current design):

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2020 3:12 pm 
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I don't play competitively, so I've never been much of a metagame expert, but this seems like a really knowledgeable and well thought out analysis. :hattip:

Kamigawa had 99 problems, but the plane itself wasn't one...


On another plane-identity-related note, I think I'll never get completely over the fact that Ixalan and Fiora aren't the same plane. Even when Conspiracy II came out - which I loved - I looked at cards like Smuggler Captain in particular and the look of Fiora with its tricorne hats and period costumes in general and said "If we ever get a pirate-themed set, I'll riot if it doesn't take place on Fiora!" They had even teased an exploration theme in both Conspiracy sets with Selvala, so we knew there was a wider world with exotic lands out there. Heck, looking at it with the power of hindsight, there is even a feathered dinosaur in the artwork of Hymn of the Wilds! The only substantial reason Ixalan couldn't have been a part of Fiora was the story behind The Immortal Sun and the fact that it interfered with planeswalking. They were looking for a place to introduce another piece in Bolas's puzzle that would allow him to trap planeswalkers, and they presumably had to make it so that Jace could be an interplanar castaway in that block or whatever. Looking back at that story, the sad thing to me is that the part about the Immortal Sun in particular completely falls flat. They twisted the entire story and one of the basic premises of the worldbuilding around an artefact that was essentially a combination of several plotholes rolled into one*. Add that to the fact that the story and the cards in RIX basically didn't line up at all, and I dislike how they handled a lot of the characters (mostly Azor, Vraska and Huatli). The big showdown in the Golden City was a complete farce, too (which Creative even acknowledged), and the resolution of Bolas's masterplan for his planeswalker trap ended up being a disaster as well. So what I'm trying to say is, Ixalan and Fiora have no actual business being two different planes, and the one thing that required Ixalan to be separate for story reasons really wasn't worth it in my opinion. A hypothetical Ixalan block (without the Immortal Sun) that was set on Fiora could have done absolutely everything the real one did. In addition to that, it would have allowed Fiora to put a foot in the door of Standard legal sets and maybe give some exposure to the Conspiracy parts of the plane outside of supplemental products somewhere down the line. But nope, now we're stuck with two different planes that are essentially "early modern southern Europe with pirates and exotic dinosaur land". *sigh*


*Even if Azor was a planeswalker, he would have been trapped on Ravnica until the Mending after signing the Guildpact, so the timeline on that doesn't line up, and their plan to trap Bolas with the Immortal Sun wouldn't have worked because pre-Mending Bolas's mere presence would have shattered any plane he fully manifested on. If that wasn't the case, he would have conquered all of Dominaria and presumably half the multiverse ages ago and nothing in Legends II would have happened.

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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2020 10:05 am 
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General thoughts whats been talked about;

Its not RnD who hates Kamigawa, its more marketing. You can argue all you want about if the plane as an issue or not but the real issues is getting the big wig comfy enough to risk giving the go ahead when last time it didn't sell well. Modern fan communion (while at time toxic) is better now and we seen Maro saying that worlds like Lorwyn have still gotten requests and (in his option) more sellable and Kamigawa seems to be similar.

Personally I think each plane should keep the core flavor identity and could explore the mechanical spaces. Keep Kamigawa the top down Japanes set and if they want more anime/popualr tropes and ideas, I think it should be used on "modern" Kamigawa, or a bottom up world like Ikoria/Tarkir. Personally I don't just anime tropes can hold up a set on its own and would need something (like shinto mythology in which much of it draws from anyway) to help support.

Dominaria being the history plane works since in a funny way is can use its own lore as the flavor source. Since literally so much has happened on the plane from pile on story early on and it being the classic magic world (not fantasy world) helps grounds the plane some. I think as long as they have something like historic and/or saga that play up the theme of history they could bring back any theme from the past and it could work. It opens up a lot of space.

Outside of liking turning lands into creatures I don't care much for Zendikar, eldrazi or no. But even from pre-reales I saw people saying how much they liked the world and it being one of the most popular I guess others agree. Storywise I do wanna see how Nahiri reacts to seeing that in fact the Eldrazi didn't eat it all.

Personally I'm all more niche worlds for side sets. Fiona and Kylem imo are fine as "smaller" worlds we only see some of with the side set since it helps make the multiverse feel bigger without eating up space for mainline sets and add a flavor center which I like. Not for every side set (since those are the chances to get characters carded up/redo a bad card) but if you want a certain flavor tone/feel helps to have a world to jump off from. Kamigawa (as well as other planes they don't think could sell well) could also be used here to see if worth redoing.

From what I seen Kaladesh wasn't ever really the top-down Indian plane, its the steam (energy) punk plane. They wanted to make a back story for Chadnra and they had her steampunk amor and her Indian name (cuz exotic = fantasy name :P) and people wanted a steampunk plane so instead of going with the traditional Victorian England like setting they instead used India.

Regatha isn't he fire set as much as when we had focus on it, its based on Chandra and the fire monks. They talked about how magic Origins focused the planes in the colors of the walker they where related too, so Regatha and Kaladesh where the more red centered.


Worlds I would rework;

Alara needs a lot of world to be return to since a lot of the original flavor was based on them being isolated and such and then the bleeding and blending of shards. So do we find a Alara that has somewhat kept its fractions, play into bleeding factions themes or a mix? I'd want a more 3 color set like the original with some "pure" parts of the shards still playing into the old theme but maybe a theme/sub-theme of the mixing we saw during the conflux.

Lorwyn/Shadowmoor need more details to say for sure now how it now works but I like to also see a theme of day/night as the focus and have the color-matters/hybrid matters and tribal stuff be more sub-theme. Transform could be a great mechanics here showing how things change between day and night, maybe using the tribal for the day theme and color matters for night such as having a tribal matter lorwyn elf lord turn into a green and white color lord. As Innistrad was more dark transformations Lorwyn could play more into duality space.

Ixalan showed that tribal is just not something you can have as the major set theme. The lack of creative letting there be tribal cross over in some form really makes so this plane needs a re-tooling. As monarch was original the mechanical focus, I'd like to return to that kinda of theme of trying to gather/steal resources and have the tribal elements at Innistrad level. Helps that Dinosaurs and Pirates now have the base numbers for tribal deck so they wouldn't need as many.

While I don't think infect is coming back soon I would be shocked over New Phyrexia not using poison counters and/or -1/-1 counters in some form. Metal craft or other mirodin based mechanics could also be used showing the now corrupted mirrodin fights being completed. However from what the story sets up I'm gonna guess Karn trying to nuke Phyrexia won't work and might let them escape from the plane. So I could see a single set with focused on telling that story and then using mixing Phyrexia themes with whatever world they wanna have them invade. If they have a new world fall or a good number of them taken and completed they could expand out the design space as well. Phyrexia imo alway was better as a faction/force to fight than a world to have a set on.

I like to see what "tomb exploring" Amonkhet could be. They very much set up Bolas having come to Amonkhet in the middle of something else already seemly started killing the plane and that would be fun to see. Kinda would be a soft-reboot with it more focused on top down Egypt theme but has the add originality of stuff Bolas did.


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