Mark Rosewater/Blogatog FAQ (original)
If you’re new to Blogatog, read here first to see the answers to the most frequently asked questions. (This page is a work in progress so as of yet it is not done.)
- 1 Who are you?
- 2 What sets have you led the design for?
- 3 How many Magic sets have you been on the design team of?
- 4 What’s your favorite card you’ve designed?
- 5 What’s your favorite mechanics you’ve designed?
- 6 What Magic colors are you?
- 7 What gets posted here?
- 8 Can I show you the cards/mechanic/set I designed?
- 9 What can I send you?
- 10 Do you read all the questions?
- 11 How many do you answer?
- 12 Can I resubmit my question because you might not have seen it?
- 13 Why do you answer some questions and not others?
- 14 Can I ask you questions about card costing/power level/metagame impact?
- 15 Do you read the comments on your answers?
- 16 Do you answer questions in the comments?
- 17 Is there a way to email you?
- 18 What if I have email for someone else at Wizards?
- 19 Will you sign Magic cards?
- 20 Can I ask you to have someone else at Wizards sign something?
- 21 Can I ask you to do something more offbeat?
- 22 What is the Storm Scale?
- 23 What is New World Order?
- 24 Is New World Order responsible for ____________ (thing you usually don’t like)?
- 25 Who are Timmy, Johnny and Spike?
- 26 Who are Melvin and Vorthos?
- 27 What is a “vanilla creature”?
- 28 What is a “French vanilla creature”?
- 29 What is a “virtual Vanilla creature”?
- 30 When will you get rid of the Reserved List?
- 31 Why can’t you talk about it?
- 32 What’s the “short list”?
- 33 Are there other members of R&D on Tumblr?
- 34 Why is the there no Magic developer on Tumblr?
- 35 Why do people keep bringing up bananas?
- 36 Why do people keep bringing up you being hit by a bus?
- 37 How is myr pronounced?
- 38 Does Blogatog eat other blogs?
- 39 What is the Color Pie?
- 40 What is the Golden Trifecta?
- 41 Will we return to _______________ (world you like)?
- 42 Are you going to be at ______________ (event you’re attending)?
- 43 Why can’t every pack have a token in it?
- 44 Couldn’t we take off the ad to include a token?
- 45 Why is __________ (your favorite color) so weak?
- 46 Why is __________ (your least favorite color) so strong?
- 47 Then why is blue so good in older formats?
- 48 Could you use errata to make the nephilim legendary?
- 49 Why is green’s iconic hydras? Why not ________ (green creature type you like)?
- 50 Aren’t hydras red?
- 51 What is Ashiok’s gender?
- 52 These are all frequently asked questions? Really?
Who are you?
I am Mark Rosewater, Head Designer for Magic: The Gathering. I have been working at Wizards of the Coast on Magic since 1995 and have been Head Designer since 2003.
What sets have you led the design for?
Of released sets: Tempest, Unglued, Urza’s Destiny, Odyssey, Mirrodin, Fifth Dawn, Unhinged, Ravnica, Future Sight, Shadowmoor, Eventide, Zendikar, Scars of Mirrodin, Innistrad, Dark Ascension, Gatecrash, Theros, and Khans of Tarkir.
How many Magic sets have you been on the design team of?
A lot of them. Over sixty I believe. Nowadays I’m on all the design teams.
What’s your favorite card you’ve designed?
Personally? Maro (from Mirage). It’s the card named after me and I have strong fondness for it. It’s my one chance to be part of the game I love.
The best design? Either Doubling Season (from Ravnica) or Mindslaver (from Mirrodin).
What’s your favorite mechanics you’ve designed?
If you go broad, I’d say split cards and hybrid mana. If you narrow down to actual keyword mechanics, I’d say flashback, infect and proliferate.
What Magic colors are you?
I’m blue and red, aka Izzet, the color pair of creativity.
What gets posted here?
First off, I answer questions from all of you. A lot of questions. Seriously, a lot. I also post a daily Magic-themed comic every work day called “Tales from the Pit”. I post links to two episodes of my podcast “Drive to Work” each Friday. I also post a link to my weekly column “Making Magic” every Monday. Each of the above can be searched by the name of the comic/podcast/column.
Can I show you the cards/mechanic/set I designed?
Unfortunately no as I cannot look at any unsolicited material.
What can I send you?
You may ask any question you like. There are some topics I can’t talk about but other than those, I will answer most anything. You can also send me comments, positive or negative. If negative, please be constructive and polite.
Do you read all the questions?
No, I don’t. I get so many that you all have outstripped my ability to read them all. I always start from the newest question and read my way back.
How many do you answer?
As many as I can but due to the volume a lot will go unanswered.
Can I resubmit my question because you might not have seen it?
Absolutely. Note that if you do it a bunch of times, odds are I will eventually see it but that doesn’t mean I’ll answer it.
Why do you answer some questions and not others?
I pick questions that I a) know the answer to, b) can answer quickly and c) think will be entertaining to my readers. As a general rule try to stick to one question per ask as multiple questions are much harder to answer.
Can I ask you questions about card costing/power level/metagame impact?
You can ask but I am not a developer so I will most likely be unable to answer your question.
Do you read the comments on your answers?
I try to read them all but the Tumblr app doesn’t always make it easy. Also, people keep commenting for a long time and I don’t always have time to go back and reread old answers.
Do you answer questions in the comments?
No, I don’t. If my answer prompts a question, you must submit it to me in order to have a chance of me answering it.
Is there a way to email you?
Yes, in the last paragraph of my columns there is almost always a link to an email that you can contact me through.
What if I have email for someone else at Wizards?
You can always send me email through the link and I will forward it to the proper person.
Will you sign Magic cards?
Absolutely. You need to send your cards along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to:
c/o Wizards of the Coast
1600 Lind Ave. SW
Renton, WA 98057
Between my busy work schedule and the number of requests I get, it can sometimes take multiple months to get cards back to people. Please be forewarned.
Can I ask you to have someone else at Wizards sign something?
I can only promise I’ll sign it, but I am always willing to ask.
Can I ask you to do something more offbeat?
You can always ask. If I think’s it’s reasonable, I’ll do it.
What is the Storm Scale?
It is a scale talking about the likeliness of something being reprinted in a Standard-legal set. Evergreen mechanics like flying are a 1 as they are almost certainly going to be reprinted while a mechanic like Storm (which the scale is named after) is a 10 meaning it is highly unlikely.
What is New World Order?
This is something R&D started back during Shards of Alara block to simplify the complexity of commons. Here is an article with me talking all about it:
Is New World Order responsible for ____________ (thing you usually don’t like)?
New World Order is about the level of complexity allowed at common. Unless your issue is directly tied to that, the answer is no.
Who are Timmy, Johnny and Spike?
They are three player psychographics that I designed for R&D to better understand the psychological motivations behind why players play.
Here is my latest article on the player psychographics:
And here is the original article:
Who are Melvin and Vorthos?
Those are two different personas demonstrating aesthetic preferences. They are often confused with psychographics. Melvin prioritizes structure particularly with mechanics while Vorthos prioritizes flavor.
Here’s my article on them. It’s a little out of date as some of my thoughts since writing it have changed (for example, I no longer believe they are ends of the same scale):
What is a “vanilla creature”?
It is R&D slang. A vanilla creature is a creature with no rules text.
What is a “French vanilla creature”?
It is also R&D slang. It is a creature that has no rules text other than creature keyword abilities.
What is a “virtual Vanilla creature”?
Again, R&D slang. It is a creature that for all turns after the first turn it is in play it is essentially a vanilla creature.
When will you get rid of the Reserved List?
Never. Also, it’s a topic I’m not supposed to discuss suffice to say it is a promise we made long ago that we plan to keep.
Why can’t you talk about it?
My inability to discuss it negates my ability to answer this question.
I. Can’t. Talk. About. It. Next question.
What’s the “short list”?
It’s a list of ideas for new planes that are often requested and Wizards is aware of. They include, among others:
Fairy Tale World
High fantasy/”Camelot” World
Murder Mystery/Noir World
Wild West-Inspired World
Return to Previous World
Are there other members of R&D on Tumblr?
Yes, there are currently three:
• Doug Beyer, “Voice for Vorthos”
Doug is on the creative team and answers questions all about the story, art and other flavor-related components of the game.
• Gavin Verhey, “GavInsight”
Gavin is on the design team and currently specializes in branded play, the building of experiences around events like prereleases.
• Matt Tabak, “Snarkham Asylum”
Matt is the Magic Rules Manager (and also Magic editor) and answers questions, snarkily, about Magic rules and stuff.
Why is the there no Magic developer on Tumblr?
We’ve tried but all of the current developers are too scared of all of you. They’ll claim they’re too busy but we all know the truth.
Why do people keep bringing up bananas?
Because humans are cruel by nature. I hate bananas (I mean really, really hate them) and it’s become somewhat of a running joke here on Blogatog.
Why do people keep bringing up you being hit by a bus?
Long, long ago I was asked what it would take for R&D to reprint a powerful card from Legends called Mana Drain. I said all of R&D would have to be hit by a bus. That quote has for some reason never died and is the source of the bus jokes.
How is myr pronounced?
It rhymes with “deer”.
Does Blogatog eat other blogs?
Yes, but it likes to do so privately without others watching. If you’ve ever had a blog you follow just disappear overnight…
What is the Color Pie?
The five colors of Magic are oriented in a circle (seen on the back of every Magic card) with the colors next to it being its allies and the colors across from it its enemies. Each color has its own philosophies and each one correspond with the other colors in different ways. I have written extensively about in my column and in this blog and talked about it a great deal in my column. I am a foremost authority on the topic and get asked a lot about it here on Blogatog.
What is the Golden Trifecta?
It is the three genius ideas I believe Richard Garfield came up when he created Magic. They are: the trading card game genre, the mana system and the Color Pie.
Will we return to _______________ (world you like)?
Whether or not we return to a world is based on two things:
1) Was the original world popular enough that we believe the majority of players would want to return?
2) Creatively do we have what we would need to do a return? Some planes such as Rath no longer exist and thus are hard to return to.
Are you going to be at ______________ (event you’re attending)?
Most likely no. Because of my family I travel very little. I leave town only twice a year for work, once to San Diego Comic-Con (where I run a Magic panel) and the Magic World Championships.
Why can’t every pack have a token in it?
The sixteenth card in the pack is what is known as the “ad card”. It is in the booster packs because the Magic brand team has discovered that for some players the only way to reach them with advertising is through booster packs. The ads are about Magic-related things and are meant to educate newer players on the many other aspects of Magic.
The cards exist in the booster packs because marketing pays for them. The Brand Team lets R&D have one side of the cards and we put things there like game tips, links to useful sites and tokens. Because R&D wants to use “their side” for various things and all tokens are on that side, not every ad card has a token.
Couldn’t we take off the ad to include a token?
As the ads pay for the cards to be there in the first place, no. It would be kind of like asking a magazine to stop running ads because you find the articles more interesting.
Why is __________ (your favorite color) so weak?
Why is __________ (your least favorite color) so strong?
Magic’s power level ebbs and flows and at any one time certain colors will be weaker and stronger. It is R&D’s goal to have all the colors balanced over time.
Then why is blue so good in older formats?
R&D is capable of many things but we can’t change the past. Early Magic had many broken blue cards and making new cards will not make those broken cards disappear.
Could you use errata to make the nephilim legendary?
No, that’s not how we use errata these days. We don’t make mechanically functional changes with it.
Why is green’s iconic hydras? Why not ________ (green creature type you like)?
We tried numerous creatures as green iconic over the years (treefolk, wurms, various types of beast, etc.) but none of them were anywhere as popular as hydras have become.
Aren’t hydras red?
Richard Garfield put the first one in red because it was connected to stone. Those in the next few years followed Garfield’s lead. While looking for green’s iconic nothing worked in green so we started looking for things we could move. Hydras are beasts which constantly grow - that felt pretty green. We moved them over and it worked, so we’re sticking with it.
What is Ashiok’s gender?
Ashiok is a being of great mystery and doesn’t feel it’s any of our business.
These are all frequently asked questions? Really?
I get asked a lot of questions.