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CardShark Content - Beatdown Bedford Crenshaw (9/23/2005)

One of my favorite websites is Wrestlecrap.com, which is a museum of the worst ideas ever inflicted upon professional wrestling. When the Pro Players Cards were announced in Brian David-Marshall’s “The Week That Was” on 9/16/05 to near universal disgust, I could not help but wonder where it placed in the worst ideas of all time that Wizards of the Coast ever came up with for Magic. Well, it’s a little too soon to place it on the list (it’s been less than a week as I write this), so instead we’ll look at the worse ideas previously made for Magic by WotC. These are not just ideas that were poorly implemented (phasing, ninjas, snow-covered); these are the ideas that were detrimental to the game.

10) ALPHA ART’S DEPARTURE

One of the things that truly made Magic stand out was its beautiful artwork made just for the game. One could truly play Magic with someone who spoke none of the languages they themselves could speak just because of the artwork. However, the artists had sweet deals on the use of their artwork, being paid royalties every time they were used on cards. As Magic got big, WotC got greedy and tried to force a new deal of the artists, insisting on paying a flat fee instead of the royalties they had promised the artists. The artists resisted and as a result, 5th Edition was the first set to feature new artwork that had never before had a black-bordered form. The lost of such iconic pictures is a great loss; compare the artwork of BOP or Llanowar
Llanowar
LlanowarSet: Planechase
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Plane
Sub Type:
Dominaria
Rarity:
C
Number:
22
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
All creatures have "{T}: Add {G}{G} to your mana pool." Whenever you roll {C}, untap all creatures you control.
Elf in Alpha to the poorer artwork used for them in 7th Edition. Sad.

9) NON BLACK-BORDERED CARDS

Nearly every Magic player agrees that black borders just look better than white borders. But since Unlimited WotC has insisted on using white borders for the core sets, no matter how much the players want them blackbordered. In fact, WotC was once so rude about it that they purposely make Portal Three Kingdoms white-bordered, even through it featured entirely new artwork and all but 1-2 were brand new cards never before seen in Magic. Let’s not even get into the stupid silver borders on the Un sets; just look at how bad an Unhinge
Unhinge
UnhingeSet: Torment
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
87
Text:
Target player discards a card from his or her hand. Draw a card.
d foil looks compared to a normal foil, just because it’s silver.

8) EIGHTH EDITION CARDFACE

Ever since Alpha, Magic cards had a certain look. Previous changes that were actually good, like rarities and collector’s numbers, were well regarded, and bad ideas like changing where the mana cost was on the card was squelched. But WotC decided to utterly screw how the cardface looked, and to heck with what the players thought. One of the fears of players was realized, as artifacts were too easily confused with white cards, forcing WotC to redo the artifacts look in Fifth Dawn. Even still, it is almost impossible to discern the collector’s number on a red or green cards, and there is no call for that.


***** TENTATIVE SPOT FOR PRO PLAYERS CARDS *****


7) EXTENDED ROTATION

Extended was meant to be the bridge between Type I and Type 2, allowing players to play with their older cards without having them dominated out of the environment by the broken cards from Alpha – Legends. It was a great environment. But WotC couldn’t leave well enough alone. First they got rid of the Dark and Fallen Empires, whose cards were easily attained by all, although the fact that these were not available to Asian players gave some reason not to include them for Extended. However, from 4th Edition on all the players around the world had access to the cards. Ice Age Block and Mirage Block, along w/ 4th, gave vital cards to give Extended a healthy format. But then WotC had to set a policy of set rotation, so that eventually paper Extended would match Online Extended. This forever damaged Extended from being a fun environment. And now with the upcoming rotation, all but one of the greatest sets WotC ever made from Magic will be gone for good, as most will never make it in Vintage/Legacy the way they did in Extended. Shame, Wizards, shame.

6) POKEMON

Due to WotC being blind towards doing everything to push Pokemon, the game that made Wizards, Magic, took a serious hit. The Duelist was an excellent magazine. It gave excellent advice on how to play Magic, and dealt very well with all the various aspects of the game. However, the Duelist was strongly tied to Magic, and WotC was all too willing to throw everything away for Pokemon, so Duelist was replaced by Topdeck, which was mostly about Pokemon and what little was left for Magic essentially catered to 8 year old mentality (i.e. the squirts who played Pokemon players and Kentucky Wildcat fans). But squirts are fickle, and Topdeck was forced to stop, and since then Magic has been without a home magazine. To make matters worse, Pokemon also killed off the Unglued 2 expansion, which cost us Magic players the joy of playing with poisonous vegetables (I so want to have Mad Beetdown).

5) SIXTH EDITION CHANGES

Ever since Revised, WotC had been doing everything possible to make the core sets bad, with the first power drain of Revised, for the continued power drain in 4th, to the absolute castration of 5th Edition. They were in a quandary…how could they possibly make the core set worse. Well, they did an excellent job. First they made a bunch of new stupid rules changes, the more notorious of which was the stack, which was absolutely a goldmine for blue to sap the fun from other players. Then they removed both trample and protection, two essential abilities that were absolutely required for Magic but without which fatties and White Weenie were impotent. Plus, they absolutely destroyed red by getting red of Pyroblast
Pyroblast
PyroblastSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Kaja Foglio
Text:
Counter target spell if it is blue, or destroy target permanent if it is blue. (If this spell targets a permanent, play it as an instant.)
, Incinerate
Incinerate
IncinerateSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Incinerate deals 3 damage to target creature or player. Creatures damaged by Incinerate cannot regenerate this turn.
, and Ball Lightning
Ball Lightning
Ball LightningSet: Fourth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Ball Lightning
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Quinton Hoover
Power:
6
Toughness:
1
Text:
Trample Ball Lightning can attack the turn it comes into play. At the end of any turn, bury Ball Lightning.
, forever destroying Sligh and instead leaving other less thoughtful red decks to take up the mantle but not truly worthy of the name Sligh.

4) FALLEN EMPIRES SHIPPING

In its early days, WotC was forced to more from its little garage at Adkinson’s place to a legit business. Art of these growing pains was the inability to ship all the orders it had attained for its sets. :Legends, in particular, was undershipped. It was a policy of WotC to ship only 10% of an customer’s order to them. Well, the small shops that were living off of Magic saw this trend, and responded by overordering how many boxes of Fallen Empires they actually intended to buy, so that WotC continued this practice, they would instead get almost exactly the number of desired boxes. Well, it was a long time between Fallen Empires and Fourth Edition, which gave WotC lots of time to produce and send EVERY SINGLE BOX that was ordered. So not only did many of these little shops got more boxes than they intended, but they also had to find the extra money to pay for them all. To make things worse, Fallen Empires was a set that had all of its good cards AT COMMON, where it didn’t take too many packs to get a complete set. Many game stores went under, and the others that did stay open did so by the skin of their teeth.

3) CHRONICLES

Going back to the previous problem mentioned of WotC undershipping Magic cards, there was a great desire by many casual magic players of some of the high priced cards printed in Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and Legends. Hearing this, WotC decided to try to do the right thing and print a special set of select cards from the previously mentioned sets and The Dark. The problem was that WotC chose poorly, as few of the cards printed (City of Brass
City of Brass
City of BrassSet: Fifth Edition
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Tom Wänerstrand
Text:
Whenever City of Brass becomes tapped, it deals 1 damage to you.T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
being the main exception) were any good, and their increased numbers proved how bad the cards were. Cards that were before Chronicles worth $20-30 were now worth only $2-$5. Many collector’s got burned, causing WotC to form the Reprint Policy, making rules about which cards they would ever reprint and which they would not; this policy would prove to be a straightjacket even to this day, as the original dual lands would have been printed in 9th had it not been for the policy.

2) URZA BLUE

Blue is the slowest of the five colors for a reason. Should it ever be fast, the various abilities WotC has given it will dominate all the other colors. So when blue becomes speedy, all hell breaks loose. It is due to speed concerns that the three non-artifact cards of the Power Nine are all blue, due to the speed they give blue. The speed of blue is what makes Type 1 such an undesirable format for all but a few diehards, and more power to them. But it was the return of speedy blue in Urza
Urza
UrzaSet: Vanguard
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
7
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Power:
-1
Toughness:
+10
Text:
3: Urza deals one damage to target creature or player.
that nearly killed Magic. With the help of Tolarian Academy
Tolarian Academy
Tolarian AcademySet: Urza's Saga
Color:
Land
Type:
Legendary Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
330
Artist:
Stephen Daniele
Text:
T: Add U to your mana pool for each artifact you control.
, which could make a load of blue mana with enough artifacts in play, plus blue’s free mechanic, cheesy counters, cheap card drawing, and cheesy special abilities like Mind Over Matter
Mind Over Matter
Mind Over MatterSet: Exodus
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
40
Artist:
Keith Parkinson
Text:
Choose and discard a card: Tap or untap target artifact, creature, or land.
, and the only things that had a hope against them was Sligh and a very lucky mono-black deck. People left the game in droves, only to come back in Invasion or Mirrodin, if at all. The one good thing to come out of it was encouraging WotC to hire pro players who could better judge the abilities of cards much better than they ever could.

AND THE WORST DECISION BY WIZARDS OF THE COAST OF ALL TIME

1) HOMELANDS ERA

After the shipping of Fallen Empires, the 4th Edition neutering, and the Chronicles fiasco, WotC needed in 1995 to end the year on a high note. Instead, they released HOMELANDS, widely regarded as the worst set ever. Now, there are some things to recommend it, if you are a fan of fairies, vampires, minotaurs, or falcons. Other than that, Homelands offered little. It was the first set to be widely available even when first released. To make matters worse, it was EIGHT MONTHS until another set was released. EIGHT MONTHS!!! In 1994 Wizards had released Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends, The Dark, Revised, and Fallen Empires. Those eight months were practically an eternity. Interest in Type II took a serious hit, and many of the stores that had barely recovered from Fallen Empires were doomed by Homelands. Was it not for the strong interest still in Type I, magic may have very well had died, and we would not be reading this article now. Magic almost became like Nuclear War, a game fondly remembered from yesteryear as a fad, and nothing more.

Right now, the pro-players cards are hated and despised, as they 1) make Magic players look stupid, 2) add an expense to WotC that might make WotC once again raise prices, and 3) could have been something that Magic players would have wanted, like token cards. Even still, the Pro-players cards have stiff competition in being among the worst ideas of all time by WotC. Only time will tell where it will finally place.


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