Kamigawa Remastered

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This is a followup to my article All that was wrong with Kamigawa. Therein, I claimed that this setting was not so much doomed to be a failure from its very conception, but instead just misdesigned and, most of all, terribly developed. To underscore this, I put in the effort to design a remastered version of Kamigawa block, following the precedent Wizards did set with Tempest Remastered. While obviously I could not address all the issues Kamigawa had this way, I feel it’s surprising how much more fun this environment looks if you just reduce its contents to the better designs (and shuffle a few rarities around). Honestly, I believe that my Kamigawa Remastered would even play better than the lukewarm received Tempest Remastered, because the structural issues of that ancient, venerable environment were actually greater, even though its contributing sets were far more liked!

When crunching numbers for my Kamigawa Remastered set, I adhered somewhat closely to existing formulas, only fudging a little with the rares and mythic rares, because there was no real reason not to – Tempest Remasterd never got printed, only published on Magic Online, so its numbers did not need to add up in a way conforming to printsheets. I’m not even sure that is generally still a concern nowadays, but I am aware that with the usual 53-15 distribution of rares and mythic rares in big sets, you get to print two copies of each rare and one of each mythic rare on that good old 11*11 printsheet which used to dictate set sizes and rarity distributions in Magic’s early era.

If that would ever become a real issue, I certainly could cut nine cards from among the rares and mythic rares in my Kamigawa Remastered set, but since it will almost assuredly never be, I allowed myself to deviate a little from that formula for symmetry reasons, while of course still observing the rule that the frequency with which a specific mythic rare shows up should be (very closely to) half of that with which a specific rare shows up, assuming that still every eighth rare will be replaced by a mythic rare in booster packs. This is how I got to my 60-17 distribution that fulfills this condition just as well as 53-15 does.

Umezawa's JitteSo, my set has 101 commons, 80 uncommons, 60 rares and 17 mythic rares. With the commons and uncommons, I still had to cut quite a bit of decent stuff in some colors (especially Green), while already running rather thin on others (namely Blue), and this numbers happened not only to be the usual ones, but also the best solution overall for this set. A general note about my choices: The large majority of cards is in there to enhance limited play (the designated main purpose of my set, just like with Tempest Remeastered) and to focus on recognizable aspects of the original environment (which were worth being brought back), but a few rares and mythic rares I put in there as „value“ cards – that is, cards people would be happy to open and which could drive interest into the set in addition to its appeal for drafting. (I had to do a little research here, since I’m not too familar with MTGO singles prices, especially from older sets, and there were a few cards which surprised me.) One card a thought I just had to include, even though it would have ruined nearly every limited game when it was cast, was Umezawa’s Jitte, but when I looked it up I realized with much relief that it is actually not that valuable, and could be left off my list.

Not all themes or good single designs made it, although I managed to include most of them, especially at lower rarities – the percentage of utter trash in the original expansions was so large that I had been able to cut down the number of candidates to an already reasonably-looking number after the first pass. Possibly the most glaring ommission are the common zuberas, and (relatedly) Devouring Greed. The set just had enough power-1-creatures without them, and the very linear strategy making the best use of them wouldn’t have made for good gameplay. In Modern Masters 2015, the overall density of spirits had been lower, while at the same time the overall power level of decks was much higher, so Devouring Greed was acceptable there, but it would not have been in Kamigawa Remastered. Waxmane Baku fell to the wayside for the same reason, although I wasn’t too keen on that cycle in general, since I wanted to cut down on the number of counters used in games.

Dampen ThoughtsThe other big omission was Dampen Thought. If you weren’t around at that time: This instant was to triple Champions of Kamigawa draft what Spider Spawning was to triple Innistrad draft – a build-around uncommon leading to a very unique deck which was really hard to interact with. Many people call that „fun“, while I call it „shitty gameplay“. I did not only cull that card to avoid those non-interactive games, though: Just like Waxmane Baku it had already been strong when you had to struggle to get enough playable cards synergizing with it, but in a set with plenty of such playables it would have been repressively overpowered.

Another theme that had to be adjusted for similar reasons is soulshift, whose creatures mostly moved from common to uncommon. Spiritcraft is now a bit less unevenly spread over the colors, which required a few unexpected cuts (for example, Elder Pine of Jukai lost out in the crunch), and splice onto arcane should play an important part in the environment. Samurai and snake tribal are now on much more equal footing with other themes, and ogre/demon synergies should work more reliable as well. I also moved a few more legendary creatures down to uncommon, to finally make that theme relevant. Ninjas will show up quite frequently (but not too frequently). Soratami, Hondens, Genjus and spirit dragons are all still there at rarities which make sense, the more playable of those weird equipments have made it, and each color got at least one cool flip card.

One thing I did was to adjust the set’s removal – it’s important that there’s plenty of it, so I upped its frequency, but the original rarities didn’t always check out. Even more important was to give each color a solid creature base, which proved a bit tougher – the overall quality mostly works out, I believe, but I could not prevent a noticeable weakness of Red in the lategame, and a similar weakness of Blue in the earlygame. However, in 2-color-decks one should be able to find balanced decks with those colors as well.

Kodama's ReachThat reminds me of a third big omission: Green manafixing, specifically via Sakura-Tribe Elder and Kodama’s Reach. Now, if you follow my thoughts on cube-building, you know that I do not like Green being the color enabling you to play other colors, but I did not design Kamigawa Remastered in the way I design one of my Next Level Cubes. The thing is just – these cards are too good in an environment which features practically no other fixing (yes, those lands are just unplayable), forcing non-green drafters to restrict themselves to two colors, and even heavily encouraging them to priorize one of those. I had them at uncommon for that reason, so that they enabled at least a buildaround multicolor archetype, but I realized they still would have made it too easy to play the best-of splice deck while ramping you towards big legendary creatures and incidentally allowing you to use all Hondens. Also, Green was the one color which was absolutely crammed with solid designs (compared to the other colors), and something had to go. In the end, it wasn’t a tough choice.

You might want to compare my design decisions with the remarks I made towards specific mechanics in my previous article. Obviously, I couldn’t get rid of everything I considered a mistake – Kamigawa Remastered is still roughly 50/50 about spirits and non-spirits, and I embraced slice onto arcane instead of cutting it – but the most glaring issues should be solved. I was a bit concerned that without the handsize matters theme Saviors of Kamigawa might not contribute much, but while it certainly suffered somewhat, there are still many cards from that expansion in my set.

A file with the complete list of my set is at the end of this entry.

Commons, Teil 1:

Commons Teil 1

Commons, Teil 2:

Commons Teil 2

Commons, Teil 3:

Commons Teil 3

Uncommons, Teil 1:

Uncommons Teil 1

Uncommons, Teil 2:

Uncommons Teil 2

Rares, Teil 1:

Rares Teil 1

Rares, Teil 2:

Rares Teil 2

Mythic Rares:

Mythic Rares

 

Die XLS-Datei:

Kamigawa Remastered

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6 Gedanken zu „Kamigawa Remastered

  1. Max sagt:

    This is very interesting. I am amazed by how much work you put into this.
    Unfortunately, I cannot judge how well your Kamigawa Remastered actually plays just by looking at the card list, but my first impression is very positive.
    I am honestly tempted to acquire all the cards and build the set.

    If you were to build this as a cube draft set, how many of each card at the different rarities would you include?
    Just 1 each, so the difference in rarity is only expressed in likelihood of appearance, or would you allow for multiples at lower rarities?

    This set should play differently compared to your Next Level Cubes, but do you think gameplay is (almost) as good?

  2. Zeromant sagt:

    Originally by Andy:

    I really enjoyed your redo posts. How many of each common, uncommon and rare do you think would be needed to put together a draftable kamigawa remastered set in Paper? Of course assuming mythics will be only one ofs in the draftset.

    • Zeromant sagt:

      (I copied Andy’s comment because there are some issues with the MagicBlogs update, and there is a guerilla version of my entry directly on that site, splitting up comments.)

      Andy and Max asked essentially the same question, so here goes my answer:

      You need more than 1 copy each for both commons and uncommons, making a cube version of Kamigawa Remastered somewhat cumbersome. That is because the synergies of the set do not work without multiples of those cards showing up. (Also, the number of total commons in 24 boosters is obviously a lot higher than 101.)

      Note that Kamigawa Remastered is NOT a Next Level Cube set, with the main difference that it isn’t designed to be drafted with 4 players, but with the usual number of 8. As such, you’ll need mock boosters with a distribution close to that of real boosters. I would suggest 11 commons, 3 uncommons, and 1 rare, with 1/8 chance of the rare being replaced with a mythic rare. (Modern sets replace 1 common with a basic land, but there is obviously no need for that, and the environment can use the extra commons. Oh, and I guess noone wants to bother with foils…)

      To closely reproduce real life variance with copies of commons and uncommons, you’d need unreasonably large numbers of those – in the area of 6 commons and 3 uncommons at least, I’d guess. That does not sound feasible to me. However, you should not go below 4 copies for each common and 2 of each uncommon. 1 each is enough for both rares and mythic rares. That makes a total volume of 641 cards, which is a reasonable „cube“ size.

      Preparing mock boosters thus would work as follows: Separate all cards by rarity (unfortunately, not trivial after having played with them, since Remastered rarities differ from printed rarities). Shuffle the cards of each rarity thoroughly (you will not be able to reproduce color-balancing collation, which is yet another reason why the 11th common is important). Take 3 cards from the mythic rares and 21 from the rares, shuffle those together and put them down as the first card of each of the 24 boosters you will draft. Then, fill those boosters up with 3 cards each from the uncommons and 11 cards each from the commons.

      Note that this method does not prevent multiple copies of the same card from ending up in the same booster. It requires even more setup to prevent this (shuffling the six common and uncommon playsets separately helps a little, but does not even suffice), which I do not believe anyone would be willing to do, so you’d have to live with boosters containing multiples. In the end, there are reasons why cube-style draft sets are being used…

      If you’d put the effort in, yes, I believe gameplay would be (almost) as good as with Next Level Cubes (and I would really love to hear about your experiences!), but the differences to cube drafts in general would be very noticeable. You should end up with something like a better Kamigawa block draft experience though, which was my goal after all!

      • Andy sagt:

        I guess you just need a bigger box to lug things around if you go with 6 of each common an 3 of each uncommon. If I attempt to put it together I might just as well do it right. A man‘ s gotta a goals in life dontcha know.

        • Zeromant sagt:

          I appreciate your enthusiasm!

          However, it’s not just the extra weight. Shuffling time goes up as well, and I’m not even really sure you get a better variance approximation, since real cards use print runs. You might see too many clumps of single cards this way; and other cards might be missing completely too often at the same time. My estimates of „6“ and „3“ came about because these sound like realistic maximum numbers for copies of a card per draft for me, but overall distribution might actually be worse that way – you’d need to do some medium-advanced math here.

          My advice is to start off with 4 and 2, and then see if you feel like you’re missing something. My guess is you won’t.

  3. jashinc sagt:

    Well, you obviously put some serious work in this and I learned something from your thinking process behind this.
    But sadly the end-product (the list) gives me nothing.
    It is cumbersome to read and thing about it and it will (sadly) never come to reality.
    I’d prefer some more relevant entries.

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