Increased usability and understanding of cards

Tilwin90Tilwin90 Posts: 638 Critical Contributor
I come as a short-time MTG player and probably longer time amateur MTG card designer. Therefore I found formatting and wording on cards as of utmost important when we discuss about things like quality, uniformity and easier understanding of the cards.
MTGPQ definitely lacks this. There are multiple ways of expressing the same thing, out of which some are either incredibly complicated or even confusing.
While I understand this is not top priority, I hope that some attention is given to this as it's still an important aspect (and requires 0 coding, so it's not like development has to do it!)
After having done this experiment myself over the Origins, here is a list of things I consider important:

1) It's not always obvious when a card can be cast or not. In paper magic there are four aspects:
1.1.  A card without a valid target can't be cast. Again, please notice that in paper magic TARGETS are extremely important. There is a difference between
     -- "Destroy TARGET creature" (at least one creature needs to exist on the board and be targetable)
     -- "Destroy TARGET creature an opponent controls" (at least one creature controlled by an opponent needs to exist on the board and be targetable)
     -- "TARGET opponent sacrifices a creature" (Players can have hexproof in MTG, so if all opponents have hexproof, you can't target any of them)
     -- "Each opponent sacrifices a creature" (Doesn't target the player, it bypasses player hexproof)

Note: A card with multiple mandatory targets can only be cast if all targets are valid. (there is a difference between AND, OR, and AND/OR)

All this is left in the air in MTGPQ as targetting vaguely exists but it makes sense why it wouldn't always be the  mandatory condition to casting or not a card.

1.2. Additional costs - you cannot cast a spell without paying additional costs (such as discarding a card, sacrificing a creature, tapping creatures etc.). Such costs are not made clear in MTGPQ and they are super relevant.
    - You can cast Pull from Tomorrow even if you have no cards in hand (and wording suggests such)
    - You can't cast Cathartic Reunion, though wording is highly similar. (should specify "As an additional cost to cast Cathartic Reunion, discard two cards")

1.3. Instant vs. sorcery timing - not relevant in MTGPQ
1.4. Specific conditions
     -- Example: Cast "..." only if you control two or more goblin creatures
     -- Another example: Split Second for instance prevents any other spell from being cast while the Split Second card is on the stack

And there are super many examples in MTGPQ where this is not clear. Of course the implicit rules could address more than targetting for allowing/disallowing casting the card. 
My favorite example here is Anguished Unmaking vs. Doomfall.
- Anguished Unmaking: "If your opponent has a creature on the battlefield, Destroy the first creature your opponent controls. If your opponent controls a Support, Destroy a Support your opponent controls. You lose 6 life." 
- Doomfall: "The first creature your opponent controls is Exiled. The first card in your opponent's hand is Exiled."

While the difference in behavior and wording might seem obvious to everyone, it actually isn't. Can Anguished Unmaking be cast if opponent has no creatures or supports? If no, then why the double condition

2) Are all triggers optional?
For now it would seem so - as long as you have to choose a target, you can always choose to "cancel" that operation.
This is usually made obvious in paper magic using the word "may". 
    -- Reclamation Sage: On ETB, you MAY destroy target enchantment or artifact (you can choose not to destroy your precious enchantment which is the only valid target at the moment when Reclamation Sage enters the battlefield)
    -- Indrik Stomphowler: Same as above, except it's missing the may. Assuming you cast it while the only enchantment (no artifacts) on the board is your own cast out, you will be forced to destroy it (you don't have a CHOICE).

MTGPQ definitely misses this in the wording, but the rule is kind of clear - wherever you make a choice, you can most often choose to cancel (unless it is the target required for casting the spell, such as say for Exquisite Firecraft). A great example is Fleshbag Marauder (in paper magic you are forced to sacrifice a creature).

3) Zones are not specifically and consistently mentioned. Make it very clear when a card references other cards, to mention the zone:
    - Library: Where you start with all your cards (though the mechanics of the library remain a mystery...)
    - Hand: When you draw a card from the library you put it into your hand and may cast it from your hand
    - Battlefield: Where creature cards are put after they are cast.
    - Board: This becomes relevant unless you also want to consider that gems also exist on the battlefield. But then where do supports go, on the board, or on the battlefield?
    - Graveyard: Where spells are put after cast, supports after destruction, creatures after destruction. => cards are into the graveyard, not DESTROYED.
    - Exile: Where creature (or supports, or maybe even some spells) are put after having been exiled.

Supplementary, actions associated with moving from a zone to another are super important and I have seen lots of inconsistencies here as well:
    - Cards with full mana on your turn get CAST (put from hand to board). Right now in MTGPQ there is no such thing as directly putting from hand onto the battlefield. (there is no such thing as SUMMONING)
    - Cards from graveyard or library are directly PUT INTO hand/ONTO THE battlefield
    - Cards/Permanents are returned to hand (from graveyard or battlefield)
    - Cards are always discarded when put from hand into graveyard (not destroyed!)
    - Cards from the library can either be drawn or fetched. Drawing is special because effects that respond to it should not trigger from fetching.

And finally, instances of the cards are always referred to as cards (creature card, spell card, support card etc.) as long as they are anywhere but on the battlefield/board or actually being cast (where in paper magic are referred to as spells, which obviously would be confusing here). On the battlefield they are simply referred to by the card type (creature, spell, support, etc.)
    - Destroy all creatures (it's obvious it refers to creature cards onto the battlefield)
    - Support cards in players' hands cost 3 more to cast. (obviously are in hand)

4) In MTG it's generally players who perform actions. Things don't just happen.
    DESTROY all creatures vs. All creatures ARE DESTROYED (the first one is correct)

5) Confusing terms not really making sense (due to card translations and adaptation from paper magic I assume) - and can have functional impact
- Lifeloss vs damage! Anguished Unmaking refers to loss of life on caster. Demonic Pact states damage is dealt to the owner when it is destroyed. Functionally it's damage in both situations - in MTGPQ there is absolutely no difference between lifeloss and damage. This is super relevant in events where double damage kicks in, and also effects that might trigger upon damage on a specific player.
- MTGPQ refers to players as both players and planeswalkers. They are either one or the other. Exquisite Firecraft deals damage to a planeswalker. Day's Undoing instructs players to draw cards.
- Creatures can be cast or put onto the battlefield. Sometimes it seems the game makes no difference between the two or actually refers to one when it's the other. Same for supports. Blightcaster is triggered by clues and other tokens PUT onto the battlefield.
- Drain mana vs. lose mana. If drain would refer to opponent losing mana and the other player gaining the same amount of mana, then it makes sense. But it seems like an extra word for the same thing.
- Repeated triggers use "whenever" (attacks, blocks, is tapped, is disabled, you cast a spell etc.). Non-repeatable triggers per instance use when (enter the battlefield, is cast, is destroyed, leaves the battlefield etc.)
- This creature, this, etc. can be written as the full name of the creature being cast. It's more explicit and helps tremendously during exceptional situations on determining what is what. 
- When looking at the top cards of the library, that's what you do - you look at them. Afterwards whether draw or put into hand (a.k.a fetch) is involved depends on the specific effect - different functionality.
- Tokens are always created. They are not spawned, or put onto the battlefield, or summoned.

The list is of course not exhaustive but should give a general idea why you need to come up with a set of very specific rules to follow. The only reason why I recommend paper magic is because it already has most of these setup - the only differences are associated to gems and actions on gems, the board, etc. Everything else can follow paper magic standard.


  • FurksFurks Posts: 149 Tile Toppler
    Excellent post and I agree 100%. I would also like to add the following to inconsistent wording, which has already been mentioned many times:

    - When referring to the player, MTG always uses "them/they/their". In Mtgpq, I've seen both "it" and "his" being used (though in most cases it uses the more explicit "your opponent", which is ok)
    - When referring to "a creature's owner", mtgpq seems to use "its owner" and "their owner".

    Also, it's not really our job to fix these cards but it would be useful if this post could contain an actual list of dubious cards and their corrected text. 
  • wereotterwereotter Posts: 2,053 Chairperson of the Boards
    Since this seems not just to be about verbiage on cards but also leaks into mechanics of play, I would add that any time a card is sent to a graveyard from play, it goes to its OWNERS graveyard, not it's controllers. It's incredibly frustrating in certain events to see my opponent take control of a Prized Amalgam, it dies, then when they use their loyalty ability to create zombies every turn, they get back MY Prized Amalgam.

    That's just one example, but this happens with literally any card that is taken from your opponent. It doesn't go back to its owner's graveyard.

    Also I second the confusion as a paper magic player regarding what the term "spell" means here verses what it means in paper magic. Considering instants aren't thing here, perhaps they could do us a favor for the sake of clarity and replace that term with sorceries, and then change "whenever you cast a card" to the more consistent "whenever you cast a spell"
  • KinesiaKinesia Posts: 1,576 Chairperson of the Boards
    The wording pass has to include the wording for event objectives too, they have to obey exactly the same rules as the cards.

    And I disagree with @wereotter, Blue can't answer Amalgam any other way, there is no way to exile and you can't get enough mana and cards to steal/bounce an Amalgam every turn after Lilliana's Oath which blue also can't remove. While it might be different from paper magic stealing is the only permanent removal blue has, you can get rid of it from them again with doomfall and play another, but at least that has proper back and forth gameplay.
    At _most_ it should go to NOONE's graveyard, it definitely shouldn't go back to yours where you could get it immediately back in play again.
  • wereotterwereotter Posts: 2,053 Chairperson of the Boards
    In the real game, cards you own go to your own graveyard. Prized Amalgam is the main offender, but it’s also a problem with Bolas. Someone steals my creature, I kill it, then I can’t use Bolas’s loyalty ability to get it back because it’s not in my graveyard. 

    Also, not to be rude, but you’re wrong. Blue can absolutely answer it. Every color has access to Scavenger Grounds. Also since it has defender, there’s a high chance blue can deal with it using Claustrophibia.
  • KinesiaKinesia Posts: 1,576 Chairperson of the Boards
    Nod, I thought of Claustrophobia, but that's 1 card not a strategy. Stealing and bounce have multiple cards and are a proper strategy not a once off. Disable is a strategy for white but not blue.

    And, no, it's not rude because you aren't adding an insult to your correction. Grin. (I know people are thinskinned these days, and it's safer to put that kind of thing in to pre-protect yourself. But I'm going for total transparency on every side and trying to get discourse back in the middle where it should be!)

    I can absolutely see your point but I like this behaviour better than the paper version.
  • KinesiaKinesia Posts: 1,576 Chairperson of the Boards
    Oh, and scavenger grounds is _new_, a single card is not a strategy, and things need answers available solely in their own set and Origins. Or in strategies that colour gets in _every_ set.
  • FurksFurks Posts: 149 Tile Toppler
    Blue also has a lot of flying creatures that don't really care about a 2/2 defender.

    Also, with paper magic, the reason why cards always go back to their OWNER's hand/graveyard/decks is because otherwise people would get their actual paper cards stolen/lost. Either maliciously or by accident. It's a limitation of the paper format.  After each game you would have to sort your graveyard and give cards back to their owners, tedious. Mtg has made a very conscious decision that the only place where someone can control cards that aren't theirs is when they are clearly visible on the board.

    None of these problems apply in a digital card game, I don't really mind cards bouncing/dying going to their controller rather than owner. I'm pretty sure mtgpq doesn't actually track who owns a card currently and it would certainly become confusing once stolen creatures get reinforced. They would have to add a visual language signifying that you control a creature but don't own it. To someone that has never played mtg, it just makes sense that once you steal a creature it's yours, no ifs and buts. 

    Anyway, we're kinda getting off topic. 
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