What A Waste

Mark Nestico reviews the latest in a long line of Magic-ruining traditions! He bemoans the Wastes lands from the upcoming Magic release, then touches on the Oath of the Gatewatch spoilers that spoiled the party.

Magic Has Been Ruined. Again.

You just saw it and now things will never, ever be the same again

I wanted to talk about the Players’ Championship taking place this weekend, but I can’t be silent any longer.

Like many of you, I’m fairly certain the revelation that Wastes mana is a real thing is going to ruin Magic forever way more than the last time something changed and Magic was ruined forever.

Hear me out. I want you to look at this.


If you didn’t play back then, you retroactively fail to understand exactly the point I’ll be making, so pull up a chair unless you’re already sitting in one. In which case stand up and then sit down again.

Magic used to be a much better game. Despite multiple unintuitive mechanics and gaps in design that prompted extremely broken strategies while rendering other ones obsolete, it was way more fun. Did you click on that link I just put up there?

Begin scene

You’re battling an opponent who is playing U/B Psychatog. You are also playing U/B Psychatog.

End scene.

Can’t get much better than that, right? That trip down memory lane was brought to you by those of us that remember when Magic was still a game that took skill to play and Wizards of the Coast didn’t hold your hand through everything. You might scoff “wow Mark, you’re being really insensitive right now” and you’d be right. I am. I’m already really ticked off about Wastes mana. It’s all over but the crying, kiddies. Think of this as a eulogy for the game I once loved that is now dead and can’t be resurrected because we don’t live in The Mummy-verse where I could just read from a sacred golden text and breathe life into my favorite hobby.

2009: The Day the Music Died

Remember when damage stacked? I do.

One FNM I was playing against a new player with Boat Brew. It was a pretty neat R/W Midrange deck, and it played Mogg Fanatic. Give me a moment. I have to pour out some of this 40 ouncer for my friend the Fanatic.

So anyhow, this kid attacks me with his 1/1 and I block with Fanatic.

“Stack damage?” I say with a sneer. There is sweat visibly forming on his brow because he’s getting nervous.

“Y-yeah, I guess…” he stutters out. He has no idea what’s about to happen to him.

“Sacrifice Mogg Fanatic and kill your other 1/1!” I scream- slamming the Fanatic down across his unblocked 1/1 so hard that the table shakes and a rack of nearby comic books falls over. He flinches.

“Why does it work like that?” He questions. “It doesn’t even make sense.”

My sensibilities have obviously been offended. “Haven’t you heard of the hand grenade scenario? If a soldier pulls the pin and then dies, does the grenade still go off hitting all of those around him? That’s how stacking damage works.”

“What if he never got the chance to pull the pin? Couldn’t that also happen?” He asks.

At this point I’ve already knocked his deck off the table and he’s picking it up.

“Pleb,” I whisper under my breath. He doesn’t understand this completely easy to grasp concept that Wizards wantonly changed because sooooo many players couldn’t wrap their heads around it. Well that’s too bad for them. Just because the majority of people don’t like something doesn’t mean that it should be changed. Those of us that liked damage stacking, despite being outgunned and outnumbered, would have liked things to stay exactly the same and never change. Innovation is a tool of the devil. Progression makes things worse. I really wish I didn’t pour that alcohol out now. I could use a drink.

Why Wastes Mana Will Kill Magic Finally

Being a wildly famous writer means that people add you to Facebook groups in the same frequency that you get Candy Crush invites, so pretty much all day every day. One benefit is that I can see what a wide spectrum of players think about when it comes to new mechanics or spoilers. Magic players are, if anything, extremely rational people. They always take change with a grain of salt and are more “show me” than “tell me” when it comes to Wizards generating new content.

So color me surprised when I saw a pretty good percentage of them were going off the rails about Wastes lands and mana. What did this mean for the future of spell-casting? Were all of our spells going to be retrofitted with <.> on them? Was Mana Leak going to say “Pay <.> <.> <.>” on it? This was unacceptable even before a single one of us had played with it or seen it implemented. Outrage was at an all-time high.

Adding a sixth color to Magic was something all the rage a few years ago. Apparently it was going to be purple, and since that is my favorite color I immediately became angry when I found out it wasn’t going to be as such.

Fundamentally, Wastes isn’t even a color! In fact, it’s the absence of color. It’s colorless. How am I going to explain this to my children? I don’t have any right now, but I might someday.

“Daddy, it says to pay <.>. What color is that?”

It’s not a color, sweetie.

“Nothing makes sense anymore, Daddy. This world is senseless.”

Congratulations, WotC. You’ve turned my son or daughter into a nihilist.

The addition of Wastes you’d think makes sense. Colorless mana has always been represented in artifact form and is as big a part of Magic as Swamp, Island, Mountain, Plains, and Forest. Giving it a representative land and correlating spells only seems natural and progressive, right?


I don’t know if you’re familiar with change, but it sucks. It really does. Just because something makes sense in terms of progression doesn’t mean it should happen.

Say that with me: Just because something makes sense in terms of progression doesn’t mean it should happen.

Remember old Extended and how it was replaced by Modern? I think we can all agree that was a pretty huge mistake. They took something that was broken and fixed it, but did anyone ask them to fix it? There Wizards goes again…sticking their nose where it belongs but no one wants them to.

That’s what Wastes mana is. I can’t remember sitting around playtesting with my pals and saying to the group “wouldn’t it be cool if they printed colorless basic lands?” They would have told me I was insane and politely asked me to leave. I would have stayed on principle alone.

New players are going to have a devil of a time grasping the concept of Wastes. They’re going to try to cast their Rattleclaw Mystics and Siege Rhinos by tapping their Wastes lands, and I’m going to have to be the jerk that tells them that isn’t how it works and that they need to also tap a green, white, and black source in addition to the colorless. They’ll look at me like a little puppy dog and all of a sudden I’m the bad guy. This interaction should never happen, but it’s going to. Every single time someone tries to cast a spell. That’s how hard the sky is falling.

Bonus Cry Baby Section

How’d everyone enjoy spoiler season? I had a great time seeing the unveiling of all the cards WotC worked years on and perfecting confined to a single Imgur thread.

One of the most sacred things I hold dear in Magic is spoilers. I love having them very slowly get revealed in order to create a feeding frenzy by the time a new set is released. Midnight Prereleases usually have a pretty wild-west feel to them because so many players are seeing things for the first time and the fun is palpable when you see something new.

That, thankfully, got taken away from us.

Remember the New Phyrexia leak a few years back and how great that was? Who needs spoilers when you can just fully gorge yourself on all the cards waaaaaay in advance of them coming out? That’s basically what just happened, but on a smaller scale. That makes it okay since it wasn’t the whole thing.

It wasn’t the biggest Prerelease nor was it the most hyped because everyone was already working on full information. There were weeks leading up to it and the cards had already been discussed, put in decks, lampooned, and praised. It was Christmas where all your gifts were already unwrapped by the time you came down the stairs and sat next to the tree. Why go to all that trouble being excited and filled with anticipation when you can just be jaded and bored instead? That’s how we millennials roll nowadays.

So on behalf of the Magic community, I’d like to thank those who leaked all those new cards across the sets. The world is a better place for having you ruin things for people.

What a Waste.

Get it?

Because Wastes mana sucks.

Oh wait.