Urabrask got some love and why Thalia and the Gitrog Monster are a thing: March of the Machine and MTG's future
Mark Rosewater, Head Designer at Wizards of the Coast, talks about the design of Battle cards and teases the future of Phyrexianized characters.
The New Phyrexians attempted to conquer 36 planes (many of which are still unexplored in any Magic: The Gathering sets), but ultimately met their demise in March of the Machine after the Multiverse got together to put up a better fight .
Besides concluding the New Phyrexia arc, the set also included a new permanent type and some... changes... to beloved characters and creatures gathered from Magic's history.
In an email interview, Yahoo Southeast Asia asked Mark Rosewater, Head Designer from Wizards of the Coast, about the invasion of the Multiverse, as well as the design of several characters in March of the Machine.
Battle cards are the latest new card type (in a long while) to be introduced in March of the Machine. What exactly was the inspiration and process behind the design of a brand new card type for the game?
Mark Rosewater: We started with a desire to represent the totality of a plane on a card. Lands and Planechase planes had represented particular locations from various planes, but we wanted a card that was the plane as a whole.
We didn’t know whether or not that would result in a new card type, or a new subtype, or just a new take on an existing card type.
In the end, we decided to focus on the invasion of each world and make a new card type, Battles, that we felt could be applicable to other sets.
There is a whole new cycle of Praetors in March of the Machine, considering that there is already an Elesh Norn in Phyrexia: All Will Be One, and three other Praetors (Vorinclex notwithstanding) released over the last year. How does the team balance powerful characters like the Praetors that are seeing new releases within a year?
Mark Rosewater: This was the big finish of the Phyrexian storyline, so it felt wrong for the five Praetors not to be there.
Play design balanced the new Praetors like they balance any card, pushing the cards that lead to the most compelling and dynamic gameplay.
Urabrask is now a decent Praetor compared to the rest! The last two Urabasks were a little too expensive to cast for what they do, and perhaps that has to do with the red Praetor being the weakest of all five. Is there an army of Urabrask simps in Wizards of the Coast who asked for the new Urabrask to be more useable across formats?
Mark Rosewater: Whenever we redo a cycle we’ve done before, we look back to see the players’ reaction to the previous cycle(s).
Players had communicated that they felt Urabrask was the weakest of past cycles, so we made sure to give him some extra attention this time.
March of the Machine is introducing some unique pairings of characters from different planes, and the one which really caught my eyes was Thalia and the Gitrog Monster. What was the thought process behind the pairings of characters?
Mark Rosewater: Two main things: one, we wanted to communicate how devastating the Phyrexian attack was, so we liked the idea of characters that would never work together having to do so.
Second, when your set takes place on every plane, there are a lot of characters that you can do.
The team-ups let us double up the number of characters we could have appeared on cards in the set.
Many famous characters like the elder dinosaur Etali and the Theros God Heliod underwent phyrexsis, and their March of the Machine cards do not allow them to Transform back in any way to their front facing un-Phyrexian beings. Is this a deliberate design choice which reflects their fates in the story?
Mark Rosewater: De-Phyrexianization is possible on a case-by-case basis, but the majority of creatures Phyrexianized are not going to survive.
Look to future stories to see what happens to the various Phyrexianized characters.
Jay is a content creator who likes to hoard vintage photographic lenses, and loses too often in Dota 2 and Magic: The Gathering after work.
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