Once again the new Wizards of the Coast (WotC) expansion set makes a drastic change in the formats that we love so much. Ikoria, Lair of ~Companions~ Behemoth brought this new mechanic, which practically means "start the game with an extra card", as long as your deck meets certain requirements. This card advantage made a big impact on non-rotating formats, especially with [[Lurrus of the Dream-Den]], which I would say is the card that defines Modern at the moment. Sam Black, a pro player recognized by his deckbuilds, dedicated [link](https://articles.starcitygames.com/premium/companion-is-the-worst-mechanic-for-the-health-of-magic-since- phyrexian-mana /)(an entire article explaining why this mechanics is bad for the game.) This pattern of revolt in the magic community has been repeated with each expansion release for almost a year. And it all comes from a key point, a misinterpretation from Wizards of the Coast (WotC) to what is the better for the non-rotating format's player base. And that is what I will cover in this article. * WHEN IT ALL STARTED * Many consider Modern Horizons (MH1) to be the expansion set in which the design of the cards started to go wrong. In fact, the impact on non-rotating formats was immense, with several cards becoming staples on famous decks and others causing new decks to emerge and old ones to become obsolete. However, we had many harmful cards, to the point that MH1 had a card banned in each of the non-rotating formats in which it is valid: [[Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis]] in Modern, [[Wrenn and Six]] in Legacy and [[Arcum's Astrolabe]] in Pauper (probably would be in Legacy too if banlist was by popular vote hahahaha). [image](https://mtg.cardsrealm.com/images/cartas/en/mh1-modern-horizons-arcums-astrolabe-220.jpg) Although I think this is a big design error, I will give the benefit of the doubt to WotC in my analysis, since MH1 was an expansion set with a new idea to release cards directly to Modern. Theoretically, they were stepping into new territory here and as it is an expansion set with a proposal to be released every one or two years, players would have time to adjust to the new format after possible bans (which in fact occurred). In the standard expansions, that they release every 2~3 months, this will not happen and they will continue to release one to three cards relevant to the eternal formats. So everything would be fine and life goes on, right? Well, we got a big No with the release of War of the Spark, which happened one month before MH1. Cards like [[Teferi, Time Raveler]], [[Karn, the Great Creator]] and [[Narset, Parter of Veils]] became necessary on several Modern and Legacy decks. Teferi in particular was a card criticized for its design that annuls mechanics like Suspend, Cascate and even eliminates the drawback of cards like [[Spell Queller]]. Following MTG's timeline we had [[Veil of Summer]] at Core Set 2020, yet another card criticized for its design that in practice counter spells and abilities with a better efficiency than the blue color, which is the one suppose to do it at the best level. And the last straw was with the release of [[Oko, Thief of Crowns]] in Throne of Eldraine, which "elkified" MTG into a great meme. [image](https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn%3AANd9GcQO_Bc1TF00OYu9F8aGkD2SJw_cUHggSanhiwzpBdAUOPtwvVX7&usqp=CAU) After receiving heavy criticism about the state of Standard with Oko, WotC was forced to ban it along with Veil of Summer and [[Once upon a Time]] (another card that later revealed to be a problems in non-rotating formats and had to be banned in Modern and Pioneer). Followed by the ban announcement, Bryan Hawley (from WotC's Play Design Team) wrote an [link](https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/play-design-lessons-learned-2019- 11-18)(article portraying the problem). During his justifications, we were presented to a new design methodology, called F.I.R.E., that the Design Team decided to adopt for its process of creation. Basically they explained that starting in Guilds of Ravnica the power level of the cards would be increased, as they thought it was the best for Standard. But what about the best for non-rotating formats? * WOTC'S STANCE * Over the past year, the phrase that echoed among redditors was "guys... they already said they don't playtest for eternal formats" (ok... actually it was "WotC is destroying Magic!!", but this one we hear since MTG was created hahahaha). I consider not playtesting a huge mistake, but I will leave that discussion for my next article. So let's assume, for the sake of this analysis, that WotC is right in that stance, and that in fact taking into account 25+ years of cards (or 15+ years in the case of Modern) limits the space for innovative designs, and that they don't want Standard to always be "more of the same". Sure, no problem. We will solve the problem by banning possible cards that happen to be a problem and eliminate in the design those that we don't even need to test to know that they will be problematic in eternal formats. After all, there are cards that just by reading it we already know will make Modern or Legacy a complete mess, right? [image](https://mtg.cardsrealm.com/images/cartas/crop/mh1-modern-horizons-hogaak-arisen-necropolis-202.jpg) I'm sure you, the regular player of Friday Night Modern in your LGS, already said a big No while reading my question, remembering the traumas that this zombie tsunami caused while drowning your favorite format. Well, here again I’m going to play the devil’s advocate and defend Wizards. Don't hate me, please. And keep reading because we are reaching the "climax" of the analysis ;) Hogaak was a huge problem for Modern because it was the card that gave absurd consistency to BridgeVine, a deck that appeared on Modern right after [[Stitcher's Supplier]] was released. This was a deck that was successful in August 2018 after [link](https://article.hareruyamtg.com/article/article_en_361/?lang=en)(Jacob Nagro popularizes it by taking 7th place on the Pro Tour 25th Anniversary using the list ), but a few months later, with the increase of [[Surgical Extraction]] and [[Leyline of the Void]] as a meta response to the release of [[Arclight Phoenix]] and [[Creeping Chill]], it became a vanished deck from the meta. For someone from WotC's Play Design to identify this problem without testing the card, they would need a little deeper knowledge of the format, at least more than knowing the staple cards and decks of the format like Jund, Humans, Death Shadow, Tron, Burn, etc. So it’s not a card that with just one read you say it’s going to destroy the format. So I leave here one more benefit of the doubt for Wizards. I could go on playing the devil's advocate for cards like [[Wreen and Six]], [[Arcum's Astrolabe]], and all the other problematic cards from last year, but I won't do that because I don't want this negative karma for me hahahaha. And also because in 2020 they released a card that breaks completely with all the arguments I used above. [image](https://mtg.cardsrealm.com/images/cartas/en/thb-theros-beyond-death-underworld-breach-161.jpg) Breach resembles a card that made history in Magic as an example of what "broken" means: [[Yawgmoth's Will]]. If you have the history of banned cards at your disposal, it is assumed that you will at least take some precautions when releasing a pseudo-copy of a problematic card to promote your new set's mechanic. Because otherwise it would be the same as me releasing a new [[Gitaxian Probe]] costing 2 Phyrexian mana instead of one and thinking that this solves the problem. In addition, you don't need to have a thorough knowledge of Legacy to know about the existence of [[Lion's eye Diamond]]. It is not an obscure card for a specific deck, but instead a staple on multiple decks of the format. It was such an obvious mistake that at the very first opportunity they banned the card from Legacy (which seldom happens in this format). As I said, this card breaks all the arguments that I used in the case of Hogaak. And makes it clear that the phrase should not be *"Wizards does not test eternal formats"*, but instead *"Wizards does not care if there will be problems with eternal formats. If the card will cause problems, but it is good for the Standard design, so be it"*. * SO, WHAT IS THE KEY POINT? * Quick answer: The metric of how much the card is being used is not the correct one for non-rotating formats. One of the reasons we like them is that they don't rotate, and the release of a single card may be enough to give a little shake in the metagame and bring new play patterns that innovate the gameplay experience. Now moving to the long answer. In the reddit post [link](https://www.reddit.com/r/ModernMagic/comments/g5o75n/modern_no_longer_resembles_a_nonrotating_format/)(Modern no longer resembles a non-rotating format) the redditor VintageJDizzle made an analogy that I really liked. He compared Magic to music to explain why Modern looks like a rotating format like Standard today. The cards released are like songs from WotC albums, and if everyone is "listening" to the new one, it is because the expansion set was a success. The problem is that we like our favorite bands not only for what they do, but for what they have done throughout their history. I would not like to go to a concert of my favorite band and hear only the songs from the last album. I want to sing along with the classics too. Otherwise, it would fell that I'm not watching the band I've always loved to hear and watch. And with MTG this is what's happening. You see the top32 decklists of the Modern and Legacy tournaments and the images are always from the cards released in the last 10 to 12 months. It gives the feeling that for you to have a minimal competitive chance in the game, you have to include about 20 new cards in your 75 (or 95, right [[Yorion, Sky Nomad]]? ...). This is very frustrating for those who have had their pet deck for years, who always cultivated it and had fun when they released a new card that was going to be a good addition that they could test 2 or even 3 on the list. And out of nowhere you see that you either have to buy 20 new cards and play with version 2.0 of your deck, or just give up on it. It is as if the game had turned into something completely different during these 10 to 12 months. Non-rotating formats have always been famous for their stability. Drastic changes were never a good proposition. And the gradual changes, for example when a new deck appeared or an existing deck gained a new toy that made it stronger, already gave that little shake in the format that brought the fun of unpredictability back. Following the VintageJDizzle analogy, we are not listening to all these new songs because we like them. We are listening because we are being forced to... *CONCLUSION* This article brought a review of key points in the history of Magic in the last 10 to 12 months to support my opinion about the problem in the way that WotC is analyzing what is success for a new expansion, and how it affects the playerbase. For my next article, I will talk about what steps WotC and the playerbase itself may take to solve this problem. I will also address attitudes that are already being taken on this issue. I hope you enjoyed it, and I look forward to your feedback. Stay awesome eternal players!!
For those who don't know me, I've been playing Magic: The Gathering (MTG) at a competitive level for some time. In other words, I have been studying the game in detail for a long time, analyzing the metagame, following news and playing in a competitive scenario, among other initiatives. My goal with this article is to present a MTG player's view of the new RIOT cardgame called [link](https://playruneterra.com/en-us/)(Legends of Runeterra). My expectation is that at the end of the article you will be able to answer the following question: Should I give Runeterra a chance? And for that, I start by saying that I already played some other cardgames, like Hearthstone, Pokemon, Gwent, Legends, Keyforge ... and none of these managed to hold my attention for a long time, I ended up getting bored quickly. Runeterra apparently tries to combine strengths of different games, which could turn into a Frankenstein or masterpiece, there was no way to say before testing for a few days, understanding the metagame, watching other reviews, etc. Among some of the things they looked for in other games, we have Hearthstone's “mana crystals”, “positional combat” as in Artifact and the famous “stack” of Magic: The Gathering. YES, you read it right, they implemented the stack, having cards that are analogous to “instant”, “sorcery” and even the old “interrupt”. *They solved the main reason why I was not attracted to other card games, the lack of interaction during the opponent's turn. * I believe that this lack of interaction is what makes the other games a little monotonous, boring and less complex, requiring less of the players and, consequently, not rewarding good players in the deserved way. I couldn't list many negative points and the game has been in its final version for a very short time (a few weeks ago it was in Open Beta), so I will list positive points, some points "to be improved" and only one negative. I don't think we have any structural problems in the game, since almost everything can be fixed with minor updates. *STRENGHTS* • I need to credit Elba, from the brazilian channel [link](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1d8dOzpr5o)(Fazendo Nerdice), for making me realize this: I didn't complain about bad luck or things like that in any game that I lost. It seems to me that the luck factor was VERY well resolved with the use of "mana crystals" and the "reserve of crystals for spells". This second is really a innovation brought by Runeterra so that we can choose to “save mana” and cast some heavier cards a few turns earlier, giving life and balance to Control and Midrange decks. • The look of the game is very good, the battlefield is very clean and intuitive, allows the player to understand very well what is happening. The animations are very cool and the problem that existed in the Closed Beta (where many people complained that the animations took too long during the turn) was solved. This is great, as it shows that the company is willing to solve and care about the problems pointed by players. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1588949190.jpeg) [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1588949250.jpeg) • The “stack” was implemented in a much simpler, more visual and beautiful way than Wizards managed to do on MTG Arena. This rule, which has always been a barrier to entry for new players because it is “very complicated”, ended up getting more understandable and less visually polluted. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1588947583.jpeg) Note: the balls in the center are the spells on the stack. The stack resolves from left to right. • There is interaction between players in all parts of the turn, both being able to answer instant cards and abilities. Although this is not new to Magic, these mechanics are very interesting and rarely found in cardgames. • The game has a model of rewards and wildcards that is much more generous than the MTG Arena one, which rewards players who prefer to dedicate hours playing instead of spending money to grind Tier 1 decks (I finished one in 2 days, without spending any money). The game is also not expensive and you can buy wildcards, rewarding also the players who prefer to pay to finish the decks. On MTG Arena, buy wildcards directly is not a option and instead you have to keep purchasing a certain amount of boosters to craft the wildcards of different rarities. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1588950325.jpeg) [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1588950365.jpeg) • It is not news that online cardgames can nerf cards from time to time, that is, make it a little worse so that the metagame is balanced again, but Runeterra proved to be very efficient doing not only that, but something a little less common, they also increase the power level of some cards. Cardgames in general only ignore cards that are bad, but Runeterra showed that they care when they improve underused cards, in order to keep the game balanced. These buffs and nerfs are always very well explained in official update posts. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1588948330.jpeg) • The abilities are balanced and work well in the game, as most of them were based on Magic and Hearthstone. For example: "Overwhelm" and "Elusive" that would be the "Trample" and "Shadow" of Magic or "Barrier" that would be the "Divine Shield" of Hearthstone. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1588947858.jpeg) • The regions are like the colors of Magic, but there are 7 regions instead of 5 colors. Each deck can use a maximum of two regions and it is very interesting to see how mixtures of regions and champions can generate different mechanics. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1588948073.jpeg) • The app is also very good and works normally, an aspect that Wizards of the Coast seems to be having trouble developing on MTG Arena. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1588948583.jpeg) • Riot sent products and gave several cards to content creators, encouraging the growth of the game in Brazil. • There is a Lore behind the game. Although it is early for me to state how good it is, creating a player's identification with their cards and the game is always a great upside. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons that Pokemon remains strong in the market, even with unbalanced metagames and lack of interaction on the opponent's turn. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1588949431.jpeg) • The eye that shows the partial stack and combat results helps a lot in the calculating, saving a lot of game time. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1588949462.jpeg) • Positional combat is something new for Magic players, although other games have already implemented it. I found it very interesting, often changing the outcome of games, with combat becoming more strategic. This mechanics means that aggro decks similar to Stompy and Burn have to make relevant positional decisions that can decide the game. *TO BE IMPROVED* • Many people say that they sometimes faced difficulties to log in because the server is crowded. In particular, I only had the problem once and when I tried again, 20 minutes later, it was already normalized. Therefore, I cannot say whether it is an exaggeration or a real problem. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1588950591.jpeg) • The drafts are great, but the rewards, in my view, are a little low and could be increased, as it is a game mode that demands a lot of time from the players. They nerfed the draft, as many players complained that some rewards could only be earned on it, benefiting draft players. Listening to the players, they changed the award, placing this special item in the weekly rewards, so that everyone had access. So, in terms of the number of items that the game gives to the players it is still very good, well above the average, but the draft has become not so interesting in terms of return (except in cases where the player has many hours to play per day and reached the rewards limit in all game modes that day). • As of the date I'm posting this article, there is still no spectator mode. *NEGATIVE POINT* • The game does not show the graveyard and there are still no mechanics that use it. Also they cherished the cleanest look. It really is not something that gets in the way, as games in general are not that long... but they should include that. The graveyard often reminds you of cards and helps with valuable calculations. It is worth mentioning that the [link](https://mobalytics.gg/)(Mobalytics) provides a program that connects with Runeterra, putting this and other information during the game, but it is so much that I found it a bit polluted and I preferred that Riot just included the graveyards in the game, the other information I don't think is necessary. A suggestion would be to base it on how Gwent or Arena do, where the graveyard is "hidden", only opening when we click on it. If there is a need not to pollute the battlefield, it could be just a button. *CONCLUSION* In general, good aspects of the game far outweigh the negative ones. It must be admitted that Legends of Runeterra is becoming a very popular cardgame and, in my opinion, it is better than most on the market. Even if you are a competitive MTG player and do not have time for other games, I recommend that you try it. Runeterra is certainly worth as an alternate to releave the stress of having a losing streak on Arena or while you're for Mol's next challenges. I certainly haven't gone through all the nuances of the game, there are other points that can be discussed in other opportunities. I've only been playing for a week and as the days go by I will notice other details. So feel free to add something I haven't commented on. Would you like to see more Legends of Runeterra content here on the website? I hope the article was helpful. I remain available to answer questions in the comments.