Rehash Central: The Savior Of Magic

Look at me, I’m : What do , , and have in common? Answer: They were all bases for later cards. And it’s my opinion that the recycling of ideas is what will keep Magic alive for a long time. Now, I admit that wasn’t really a predecessor for the other Spikes; it was simply…

Look at me, I’m Mark Rosewater: What do Spike Drone, Lobotomy, and Mystic Remora have in common? Answer: They were all bases for later cards. And it’s my opinion that the recycling of ideas is what will keep Magic alive for a long time.

Now, I admit that Spike Drone wasn’t really a predecessor for the other Spikes; it was simply a sneak preview of what was to come in Stronghold and Exodus. However, the other two cards are definite ancestors of currently legal cards.

Although I don’t like the idea that every Rhystic card is based on Mystic Remora, who am I to argue? The mechanic is similar, and so is the name. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but the similarities help to support my point, so I’ll go with it. Many people have given Rhysticism (?) excellent reviews, and they’ve complained that the ability didn’t come out earlier. But, this good mechanic wasn’t something that was dreamed up overnight and thrown into Prophecy at the last minute: It was a rehash of an obscure Ice Age card.

Similarly, the fondly nicknamed "Lobotomizers" from Urza’s Destiny were based on the card Lobotomy from Tempest. Lobotomy was a card that removed a card and all copies of it not already in play from the game. Similarly, Scour, Splinter, Quash, Sowing Salt, and Eradicate remove an enchantment, artifact, instant or sorcery, nonbasic land, or creature, respectively, from the game, as well as all copies of it. (My, wasn’t THAT sentence easy to choke on?!) In the current field, all of these cards have great uses. Splinter and Eradicate take care of Masticore. Sowing Salt deals with Rishadan Port, Dust Bowl, City of Brass, Manlands (Menland?), etc. Quash effectively takes care of Hammer of Bogardan and Replenish, and Scour deals with Opalescence, Parallax Wave/Tide, and the ever-feared Carnival of Souls.

So, what’s my point? Well, it seems that old ideas can be reused to effectively create field-changing cards. I also believe that recycling old ideas is what will save Magic from an early grave. So, those of you who can’t stand those "Magic is going to die" articles, pull up a chair (if you’ve been reading this standing up), and observe my logic.

There are a certain number of ideas that can be put into Magic. There can’t be a new mechanic every year forever. Eventually, every aspect of the game will be covered. Card drawing? Cycling. Card advantage? Buyback. Speed (or lack thereof)? Haste and depletion lands. Deck manipulation? Tutors. I’m not saying it’ll happen over-expansion, but eventually, ideas are going to run thin. And, unless Wizards decides to add another phase (the Damage Clearing Phase: It comes between Combat and Second Main Phase. Damage clears here as well at end of turn. That might make for a few changes) or alters the mechanics of the game (draw zero or two cards a turn, only if you did the other one last turn), ideas are going to have to be reused.

Now, I’m not saying that they have to re-issue Buyback. Old themes could be reused in different ways. For instance, does anyone remember the Keepers from Exodus? There was a Keeper of the Light, Beasts, Mind, Flame, and Dead. Each of these creatures was a 1/2 with a double-color casting cost. They gave you something (life, creatures, cards, damage, and destruction) only if your opponent had more of something than you did (often the things you received). Now, how do these shape up to Spellshapers (no pun intended, but you can laugh if you want to)? Well, they’re almost opposites. Whereas the Keepers were a one-per-color theme, Spellshapers are everywhere, in all shapes and sizes (from 1/1’s for one to 3/3’s for five). Keepers checked to make sure your opponent had an advantage before you could reap the rewards, and Spellshapers give you a disadvantage to mimic a different spell. It’s not too difficult to see the strands of reincarnation in the Spellshapers. I’m not putting words in anyone’s mouth, but it seems that they were at least inspired by the Keepers.

But, would it be so bad if Wizards put Buyback or Cycling back into play? Wizards seems to be really uptight about reprinting things it already has, but I don’t really see why? Say they reprinted Buyback. Not only would a really good ability come back into existence for old players to relish in and for new players to discover, but older cards would actually be able to INTERACT with newer ones. Personally, I think that would be a healthy addition to Magic. And, after a while, when ideas are running thing, perhaps Wizards WILL rerun some of its older abilities. Hopefully, I’ll still be around to enjoy it.

And now for something completely different . . .

Well, August 32nd has rolled around, and it’s time to announce the person who has proven me human. {Drum roll, please.}

Wait a second! You mean to tell me that you don’t know what I’m talking about? Sheesh, don’t you people pay attention? A month or so ago, I ran a contest to see who could give me the most constructive criticism. I tallied up the amount of helpful emails I got, and the reward for the most helpful reader is public recognition. The award goes to . . .

Richard Young.

Rich originally sent me an email with some suggestions for my writing. After the initial contact, though, we retained email correspondence for quite a long time. Talking to him, I not only got help with my writing style, but he also suggested ideas I can use in my articles. Overall, he was the most helpful reader that responded to me over the past month.

Let Rich be a role model for you all. If there’s one thing that a writer loves (and I’m generalizing here), it’s to get feedback from his or her readers. So, if you have an opinion on what we’re writing, or you just want to say hello, I can feel pretty confident that most writers would love to hear from you. And, it’s been made so easy these days! Here at Star City, the Ferrett has graciously added email links to all of the articles. Enlightening correspondence is only a click away, so get started!

Daniel Crane
[email protected] (This week, why don’t some of you try using this little thing down here. I don’t add it for my health. :-))