Monday, September 19, 2011

Innistrad – Double Faced Cards

Each new Magic set always has something that makes people squeal with delight.  In case you haven’t heard, Innistrad has double-faced cards.  These cards have two “front” pictures with different attack/defense stats.  Kruin Outlaw transforms into Terror of Kruin Pass.  (You can read about the new rules here and the official Innistrad card image gallery is here.)

At first I was very excited because I thought Wizard’s was doing something radically different.  Before reading the rules article I guessed what the rules would be.  I thought that you would hold the double-faced card in your hand, thus revealing the information to your opponent.  Then my mind starting racing and I started to think about how Magic Online would show this new type of information. 

After my initial rush, I read the rules article and it explained that you could use card sleeves or an official checklist card (which is shown below).  The checklist card feels very forced and unnatural.  Where exactly are you supposed to keep you double-faced card secret?  In your pocket?  Obviously this problem is more pronounced in casual games, which are less likely to use sleeves, versus tournaments where most people probably use sleeves.  

(My previous statement about card sleeves is just a guess because I don’t have much experience playing Magic.  In real-life I’ve only played three games with one guy, no kidding.  Of course that was all that was needed to get me hooked.  Magic Online taught me the many intricacies of the rules which the rulebook couldn’t quite explain.  Magic Online helped me to instinctively understand the rules.  And as a side note, I’ve read that Magic Online really helped Magic explode because everybody learned to play the game with the exact same rules.)

In conclusion, I think Wizards could have radically changed the game of Magic with double-faced cards but instead they chose the easy, boring solution.  If your opponent knew that you had a double-faced card in your hand that would have profoundly changed the game, it might even strike fear into your opponent.  Obviously Wizards has hundreds (and maybe thousands) of hours of playtesting and I have exactly zero. 

And any good trading card game should be strenuously playtested, much like software.

Keep on forging,

--I don’t play Magic Online anymore because although it was fun, it cost too much money.  Now I exclusively play Forge and other freeware programs.  Long live open source!

--The latest version of Forge doesn't have any Innistrad cards.  I'm sure that the next version will probably have 20-30 cards but that is just a guess.


Chad said...

Amen to the long live open source! This game could be so much better if it wasn't fueled by the "collectable" portion of it. Such great strategy marred by an extremely heavy buy-in and upkeep.

zethfox said...

if you remember the "flip" cards of kami...these new double faced cards are just rip offs of that ability, designed to boost sales in WOTC sanctioned card sleeves, and extra "checklist" cards which im sure they will start selling on thier site, overall i agree 100%, they dropped the ball with this, if could have been so much more, but is nothing more then a rehashed "flip" thats been geared toward product sales.

zethfox said...

heck if you think about it, they could have gone crazy hybrid "phasing"/flip...where on your turns its "daytime" and during your opponents turns its "nighttime" and you flip the card at the begining of turns. even that would have been way better.

Zirbert said...

"The latest version of Forge doesn't have any Innistrad cards. I'm sure that the next version will probably have 20-30 cards but that is just a guess."

Actually, try well over 100 Innistrad cards! They're already coded up and posted to the forum. By the time the set actually comes out, I wouldn't be surprised if Forge has 150 or more of its cards standing by.

Innistrad looks like it's going to be a great set! The flavour alone is more than enough to sell me.

revolt268 said...

I find the idea of them very cumbersome. If you use sleeves, then every time you play with one of those cards you have to take the card out at some point and eventually put it back in. This will just ware on the card and sleeve more than normal. I also feel it will break the flow of the game. The check list is just silly and, like the sleeves, adds another product that is required to purchase (if it isn't freely included in ever booster pack that contains a double faced card, but then again, if they are random like the advice cards/tokens then you may find people buying packs use to get those things). I would have to say that they really should have stuck with the Kami that zethfox mentioned. They worked well enough for what they need all be it a little cramped due to the space allowed.

Anonymous said...

i wish i know how to code so i can help add new cards

Hellfish said...

anonymous: You don't need to know how to code java to contribute cards.You'd have to learn Forge's scripting language of course but it is way smaller and more focused than Java.

I'm not sure wether to call it "unfortunately", but we are at about the stage where we'll need a pretty big breakthrough to make many new cards scriptable. The last such breakthroughs were the Trigger system and AbilityFactory system(huge boost there, in particular) and now we're looking at multi-state cards(Innistrad DFCs and Kamigawa Flips) and possibly scriptable replacement effects. Otherwise we have most cards Forge is capable of already scripted. Of course, that doesn't stop you from trying to add cards from sets of your own design for instance. It could be cool to design a set specifically for Forge with all-scripted cards to show off the scripting system.

Man this turned into a long,rambling post... Sorry!

moomarc said...

Last I checked Innistrad was 71% scripted (including reprints). The team is doing amazing work!

Eric said...

The real problem with double-sided cards isn't with the hand, but with the deck. There's no way at all to shuffle them fairly.

Fortunately, a computer game can easily bypass that problem.

Rick Woods said...

@zethfox -- please check your facts. The checklist cards come in booster packs, 3 in every 4 packs, which is more than enough to cover the 20 double faced cards in a 270 card set.

zethfox said...

@rick woods, which is great if you purchase boosters....

I'm sure im not the only MTG player that flat out buys the playsets i want rather then play the cardboard crack game and buy boosters.
which means we,the players that don't blow their money on "random chances", will also have to buy checklist.
:) not everyone cares to buy a booster just to toss 13 cards in the "junk bin" at your local card shop. hope that clear it up.

FACT: not every player buys booster packs.

Anonymous said...

Just ask a friend to use some of their many checklists.

Mahmood Ali said...

Fabulous! its looking so gorgeous i like it...
Plastic business cards 
Plastic Cards