Anmerkung: Ganz am Schluss kommt noch ein Teil auf Deutsch der etwas direkter ist als der etwas subtilere Text und ich erkläre wieso ich das genau geschrieben habe.
Part 1 Arguing:
(Part 2 will be about <>).
I think up until know everyone has read this blog: (I mean it is hard to miss when it is all over the front page;) )
I want to take my time here to show what a great arguing lies behind this article in order to teach you how to argue yourselfes! (Important read tags)
Why “<>” is the New Symbol for one Colorless Mana
This is the title, it is important to state your oppinion, as a fact! You are correct, so state this also that way to leave no doubt, else there could be some discussion, beware of such!
Alright, it seems I’m not ready – yet – to entirely quit blogging about Magic, having put my hiatus on hiatus. I just cannot not talk about this, and I am deeply bewildered that it hasn’t been made a topic yet in what’s left of the German Magic internet community (meaning MagicBlogs & PlanetMTG). Obviously, people only bother to use their keyboards if asked to post a spam comment in order to participate in some kind of lottery for free…
You are someone important, to make this clear to the reader start talking about you, not about the topic.
Also bash other people, even if it is with something yourself also do as well partially, or even as a whole. (As long as it is a German website it will be for the German community even if it is some foreign language!)
I cannot imagine how this can not be on the mind of every moderately invested Magic player; and as it has been on MY mind continuously for several days now, I do what I must and write about it. I am, of course, talking about those Oath of the Gatewatch cards which have been spoiled very early, and specifically about the meaning of the new mana symbol they feature. The first two cards were originally tweeted by @Mtgfocus (before that tweet was taken down again), while the third has been posted directly to MTGSalvation, from whose spoiler page I have taken these pictures. There is overwhelming consensus that these cards are real (including a confirmation by some shadowy authority with an excellent track record, which MTGSalvation has access to), and there are actually good reasons to believe that this may be an officially orchestrated “leak”, but I will not go into that. I will instead explain, why – assuming the authenticity of these cards – the new mana symbol shown on them is extremely likely to mean exactly one colorless mana, and nothing else, which is a hotly (and poorly) discussed topic in the Magic internet community where such a thing still exists.
Use strong words like „I must write about this“ and be confident in your oppinion, it is your duty to enlighten the stupid community!
Why I am absolutely convinced: There is overwhelming evidence for simply equating “<>”with colorless mana, while at the same time no evidence at all that it is anything else. There are, additionally, good arguments against any theories of it carrying any different meaning, while the arguments against the simple hypothesis do not hold at all. In fact, ca. 95% of all people arguing against it simply do not understand the rules of Magic, another 4% entertain additional misconceptions about the gravity of consequences from this change with regard to card errata, and maybe 1% actually have something like a valid argument, but one which is easily trumped by the arguments supporting this hypothesis.
After your introduction when the real article start, state at first that you are right.
State that you have the evidence, the arguments are on your side and everyone saying something different just talks shit because they are stupid.
You can even make up statistics, this make it more trustworthy!
Of course it is not important to state your arguments or the facts, you have them it is enough to let others know about this fact!
First, let me clarify the rules: There are exactly six types of mana in Magic – white mana, black mana, green mana, blue mana, red mana and colorless mana. No matter how mana is produced in this game, it will always have exactly one of those types, although it may carry additional restrictions (like being usable only to cast creature spells, for example), or aspects (like being snow).
Mana costs, however, may reference not only these types of mana, but additional categories which are neither necessarily inclusive nor exclusive with those types. The most prominent of those is generic mana, which means “mana of an unspecified type”. Others are hybrid mana (mana of either one or another specified type), snow mana (mana generated from a source with the snow supertype), and phyrexian mana (mana which can instead be paid for with 2 life). These categories of mana have their own symbols.
As of now, one type of mana shares a symbol with a category of mana: (1) etc. is used to denote colorless mana when referencing produced mana, but to denote generic mana when referencing a mana cost. This confusing double use of a mana symbol (or rather, a set of symbols, since it can be used with any natural number, and even with placeholders for numbers like X or Y) has – so far – only been possible because generic mana is never produced, and colorless mana has – so far! – never been part of a mana cost.
State some facts which are somehow related to your argument. They do not need to prove anything its enough if they are related!
Also be sure to tell the people that they do not know this facts, this is important for your further arguing.
It cannot possible be that people know this facts, even if they use them on a regulary basis!
(If the reader thinks he remembers sentences like „look at this card, the green symbol can only be paid with green mana like from your forest this 1 means it can be paid with any mana“ „this land produces 2 colorless mana“ when hearing people explaining magic, he must be clearly wrong of course!)
Also using a sentence stating facts and introduce your comments to this sentence is a good way to invent some arguments for your cause!
You can introduce almost any evidence this way!
(As an example consider the sentence „This confusing double use of a mana symbol (or rather, a set of symbols, since it can be used with any natural number, and even with placeholders for numbers like X or Y) has – so far – only been possible because generic mana is never produced – so far! –, and colorless mana has never been part of a mana cost.“
Just by placing your comment at a different place, the meaning of your argument is completely different!)
These are the basics everyone weighing in on this discussion needs to understand, and if they do not, their opinion is worthless, disturbing noise. Thus, you can safely ignore any reasonings including made-up terms like “true colorless”, “strictly colorless” or “dedicated colorless”; and most importantly, the whole argument that errata of old cards producing colorless mana to use the new symbol would in any way be a “functional change”! (Caveat: “Dedicated colorless” makes sense when referring to cards requiring colorless mana to cast or activate abilities. There is no need for any further specification of “colorless mana”, though.)
Arguments not rooted in poor rules knowledge
Now after you stated some (simple) rules and stated that most people do not know them, you can use this to bash most people and tell that their oppinion is useless.
When you hear some arguments later you can just say „oh you are one of this people“, this makes it a lot easier!
After getting those 95% out of the way, let me now address the 4% who say that, even if if it is only a templating change, such an errata would not happen. These people actually do not have a real argument, since similar (and even more drastic) changes HAVE happened repeatedly during the last years, and even for worse reasons, clearly showing WotC’s willingness to mass-errata cards for future gain. Just remember things like “cast”, “activate” and “battlefield”! With “<>” becoming the symbol for colorless mana, there will be a few hundred cards getting a new template, which isn’t unprecedented or outrageous at all; and even more importantly, this errata will finally remove the unnecessary ambiguity of the set of symbols which right now has two different meanings in different contexts. Even if this change would not open up a ton of new design space by finally introducing colorless mana in costs, it would have been long overdue.
Treating the above bashing as an argument, you can state that you have so great arguments that most concerns are now completely invalidated.
Also take a note how talking about the past and „how this was long overdue“ makes for another great argument. (I mean you state it as long overdue so it must be! There is no need for an example or some explanation why this is needed even though it no one missed it for 25 years.)
This brings us to the 1% actually having something like a valid point: Why make this change in the middle of a block? Isn’t it unnecessarily confusing to have two different templates for cards producing colorless mana in the same draft evironment? Well, yes, it may be a bit confusing, but it is done for good reasons. When is the best time to introduce something fundamentally new like an additional mana symbol? Obviously, when you introduce cards which make a fundamentally new use of it! While an introduction midblock isn’t especially elegant, these concerns pale compared to the desire to align such fundamental, connected changes. So, the only question left is if, just to avoid some temporary confusion, it would not have been a requirement to introduce both the new symbol and the new kind of mana cost in the first set of this block. Again, it seems pretty obvious to me that the desire to evolve the block mechanics for the second set in a flashy way to give that set a more interesting identity trumps these concerns. So, yes, one aspect of the timing of this change is an argument against it, but another aspect of this very timing is a much better argument for it, leaving this point maybe not completely refuted, but very weak.
Again after artificially creating an argument, state how you have killed tons of counter arguments!
At this point it makes sense to cite some of the counter arguments and just say they are not really important see how „Well yes it may be a bit confusing“ was used to say that there is this argument, but I do not think it is important, so it cannot be important“ (It is only a maybe and only a bit!)
This way your (potentially pretty weak ) argument triumphs over the other argument!
It is important to not critize your own argument! It needs to be untouchable.
(So it was really clever to not mention any other points in magic history where cards where used to make hints at the future (Tarmogoy, shield of Kaldra, some parts of rule changes, which only later became relevant or the verry fitting Eye of Ugin).
Edit: Some people consider it a real argument that the new symbol would somehow be graphically associated with the eldrazi, pointing to its identity as “eldrazi mana” or something. I thought this was just trolling, but just in case, I will refute it: 1) This is a very simple, graphically abstract symbol, just as befits a symbol for colorless mana. 2) It actually has no real semblance to the hedron symbol of Zendikar, having rounded instead of straight edges, being concave instead of convex, and showing symmetry with regard to four axes instead of just one. 3) The hedrons are not even of eldrazi origin – they are the things built by Nahiri to contain them, which would make them an exceptionally poor choice to base an eldrazi mana symbol upon.
This is another nice example how some simple incomplete arguments are used to kill some resistance!
– It is a simple symbol this is true (like all Mana symbols).
– They are clearly not the heldrons (which are somehow eldrazi related)
Using this 2 premises you conclude that it cannot be eldrazi related!
Of course this is no sound conclusion (and the fact that they resemble the Rise of the Eldrazi Symbol is completely neglected),
but your reader will most likely anyway now know how logic works so this is perfectly fine!
The evidence of Kozilek
Now that I have explained why there are no good reasons to rule the hypothesis ” “<>” is the symbol for one colorless mana” out, let me elaborate how everything we know points towards it: First of all, the new Kozilek is unambiguously colorless because of flavor, but also because this is shown by the color of its frame (since it does not have devoid). So, whatever “<>” stands for can not be colored mana at all (I think noone believes this anyway). The only question left is if this symbol possibly denotes colorless mana with an additional aspect. The most popular theory here is that “<>” is a specific type of colorless mana which can either be paid for with “<>” (obviously), or with two colorless mana. This is by far the least unlikely competing theory and shares fundamental aspects with all other dissenting ideas, so I will let it stand in for those here.
Again making up some argument you have to tell the readers, that you have made some great argument! Now with the 3rd made up argument you can be sure, that you are right, and there is no need to further disprove the opposing arguments.
Picking one opposing theory ignoring all others and telling „the other theories are just more stupid“ is also a great way to not having to actually make real arguments.
I mean this theory sounds stupid right? (you said so!) Than there is no need to look at other theories and since it is stupid we do not even have to look at this theory!
Edit: The theory that “<>” means “can only be payed with “<>” (but can be used as generic mana)”, while still being different from already existing colorless mana, is again considerably less likely, because this would effectively create a new color, making Kozilek not colorless. (Or it would create two different kinds of colorless mana, one of which shares a symbol with generic mana, which would be incredibly confusing and poor design.) It would also mean that this new mechanic is even more parasitic. This idea just shows how far out you need to go to deny the obvious, simple explanation.
However, this theory is exceptionally weak from the very start! Before Oath of the Gatewatch, we have not had colorless mana in costs at all – and now, instead of introducing those as the first step, we get an additional tweak on the thing that we did not even have before? (And yes, it would be “instead”, not additionally, because otherwise we would need yet another new symbol for “simple” colorless mana introduced in the same set – I shouldn’t need to explain why this idea is completely absurd…) This is already immensely unlikely.
„We did not had A- before, so we cannot have A now!“ Great argument this can be used for a lot of things remember it well! (A- means a weaker form of A).
You can disprove with this all kinds of stuff like
– the ability to play Spells as Morph creatures: „We did not even have the possibility to play a normal creature as a morph so why should we be also able to play spells as morph creatures?“
– getting multikicker: “ We did not even have double kicker yet, why would we have a infinite useable kicker before or instead?“
However, what makes this argument even better is the second part. Stating that we clearly do need to have A- and telling people how complicated it would be if we would have it, makes it sound even more sound!
The evidence of the Wastes
But then, we also have that new basic land to look at. A BASIC land! We know that WotC have been extremely cautious with this fundamental kind of card after being burned by snow-covered lands. Now, assuming that they would use that concept on a card producing a both very specific and complicated type of mana (instead of a simple, fundamental colorless mana), which then would very likely be tied to the flavor of the eldrazi (or even just Kozilek), and thus to not only one block, but one set, is downright absurd. There is parasitic, and there is extremely parasitic, and WotC have been very conscious about implementing parasitic mechanics during the last years. Using up the uniqueness of introducing a new basic land for such a narrow concept is downright inconceivable. 1995 was a different era, but when WotC nowadays prints a new basic land, it is meant to be relevant forever!
Here we can see, that even some sound arguments can have a place in your speach. But it is important to pimp them up, using nasty words for other theories!
Other stuff is parasitic, downright inconceivable!
Also when some part of the past speaks against your theory, that was a different time, it cannot be compared to know!
Even more importantly, cards costing “<>” would be downright unplayable in draft, since this format uses only one booster from the new set. (In sealed it would probably not be much better, either.) Everyone who doesn’t realize this just lacks enough experience as a limited player (or, better, as a cube builder). It will never be worth it to go for both the cards costing and those producing it. (And no, you will not be provided the new basic lands by your tournament organizer any more than you would in a Coldsnap draft. This is not only logistically impossible, it also defeats the very purpose of such a mechanic.) Of course, you could just default to paying double on this mana, but that would mean that this completely new type of mana, spectacularily introduced just for this one set, would not even matter! I really do not agree with all of WotC’s designs, but such an epic design fail is definitely beyond them.
Edit: It has been brought to my attention that this block will be drafted new set/new set/old set, other than former formats. This means that “unplayable” becomes merely “playing badly”, which is still not something we should expect.
Another nice method! State some argument which is completel wrong and use it for a sound reasoning.
Later state that your argument was wrong, but that this does not really change your conclusion.
Also never do math it is complicated and it could prove you wrong!
On the other hand, “<>” just meaning one colorless mana plays great in draft. Notice all those eldrazi scion tokens? The Blighted lands? And especially (since we are looking at the new Kozilek) Kozilek’s Channeler? Oh, and you should also take note that Evolving Wilds can fetch this new basic land. The latter doesn’t make a difference to both theories directly, but it addresses another concern which has been voiced:
Another classic type of argument. „It must be great, because examples with some synergy“
Proof by example. Can be used at a lot of times!
„Infect must be a great idea for draft, it works well with all this pump spells and equipment!“
(Also here you can make it sound whatever you want „Colorless mana would be great in draft, since you do not have too many sources in the old cards, so you have to plan for it in the first 2 Boosters!“ )
Why print a land which is clearly inferior to a gazillion existing lands? Well, DUH, it is not! Being basic is an extremely relevant advantage, both in limited and in constructed. Evolving Wilds, Fertile Thicket, Blighted Woodland and Natural Connection prove the former. In constructed, there are also many cards specifically looking for basic lands. Oh, and let us not forget the new dual land cycle which just happens to care for basic lands as well! Saying that such a land is useless is stupid even before considering its value for commander players running a colorless general (which might actually have been a major impetus to creating this land).
Okay, it breaks the rule “non-basic lands should not be clearly superior to basic lands if you disregard the quality basic”. Note, though, that this rule was driven by the desire not to make basic lands obsolete, and applied to the design of new non-basic lands to make sure those did not get too powerful! Applying it inversely to not print a new basic land which is needed for other reasons makes no sense. That rule was never meant to be an end unto itself. And this basic land was long overdue: There are six types of mana in Magic, five of which have been associated with a basic land producing it since the beginning of the game. With the introduction of colorless mana as a specific cost requirement, finally filling this gap became inevitable.
Even if some important rule is broken by a new print (older prints allready broke those rules) do not worry, there is an easy way out for it, just state that this rule is meant for other situations not this, why should it be meant for this situation?!
Also it is a clever use to state that this rule is not that much broken first!
(The nice thing is that you most of the time can make up situations where something is not the case! „Grizzly bear is not strictly worse than kavu predator, you could have Muraganda petroglyphs!“)
Also after such a long article you can easily neglect part of the known fact, because no one will keep track.
Above we have seen the picture of a new Mythic Land card, which is the second card known to produce <<>>.
Unlike a lot of other lands which produce colorless mana (which would be strictly better than the new basic land) this new mythic land is not stricly better, since it enters play tapped!
(There are almost no lands producing only colorless mana which come into play tapped (most of them producing special colorless Mana), but a huge amount of lands producing some special mana coming into play tapped!)
1) ” “<<>>” equals 1 colorless mana” is by far the simplest explanation.
2) Errata to old cards producing colorless mana is not just possible, it is needed, even without considering a new type of cost; because of the old template’s ambiguity, and the confusion it evidently causes all over the player base.
3) This is a fundamental, yet simple change to the game which opens up enormous future design space, while the alternative theory would imply a complicated, extremely parasitic and short-lived gimmick actually obstructing future design space.
4) A new basic land simply producing one colorless mana has been a gap to be filled anyway, but has also specific uses in both limited and constructed.
5) “<<>>” as just colorless mana plays great in both limited and constructed, while the alternative sucks in limited, and only a bit less in constructed.
6) The timing of this change is easily explained by marketing concerns trumping temporary confusion concerns. (And I’m sure WotC will go out of their way to explain how things work prior to the Oath of the Gatewatch prerelease.)
If these cards are the real deal (which I am convinced of), “<>” is now the symbol for one colorless mana. End of story.
Concluding with some of the „arguments“ used above making it feel more important!
Also if some people do not completely agree with you in comments, it is important to defame them!
Stating they have nod read your stuff is good.
Or telling them, that they do not know some facts.
Or just telling them they are stupid or what they write makes no sense is also mostly applicible.
Part 2 the <> or what speaks against the theory above :
We have heard a lot (or at least some) arguments for the theory above (the best is actually Kozileks channeler which was only mentioned in a verry small part), so I also want to provide some argument against.
This does not mean I do not find the theory above bad, it is quite elegant it could be good for the game and I think I would like that version the best, but the way the theory is presented is just wrong!
There is a lot of discussion for a reason, and not just because everyone is stupid… If people have the urge to discuss something, one should discuss this or at least let them discuss it but not just difame them!
0. Introducing the production of generic mana (and making every or etc. to generic mana being produced instead of colorless), while <> being the new symbol for colorless would also be easy and elegant! (Quie similar to the lifelink change).
Actually it is quite harmful for the theory!
When we have <> Symbols in draft and cards which have „add “ and both meaning the same, wouldn’t it make sense, that „your colorless spells cost less to play“ would also mean the same?
I am sure a lot of people would be confused by this! And yeah it actually is not logical that add means something completely different than „your spell costs less“.
Up until now this 2 things made the same for playing cards (or at least mostly the same stupid trinisphere…)
With the above theory they could, however, never do the same again! Either they make the card cost 1 colorless less to play or 1 generic mana. (Unless there will be some strange special rule, which than would make this card work different from Edgewalker which cannot reduce the generic cost!)
2. Ally Encampment is a strictly better waste. This is really strange from a flavour point… Not speaking about the other lots of Mana sources producing exactly the eldrazi kind of mana!
We have the eldrazi gods send their drones etc. to make wastes from the lands, but actually they could just leave the wastes Ally Encampments or one of the other 100 of places producing the right mana.
3. Mirror Pool in any Mono Color Deck. You could easily play Mirror Pool in a lot of Mono Color decks, since it is so easy to get cards adding or etc to your mana pool.
Sure the comes into play tapped hurts (but this hurts the same in a colorless deck) however you have such a typical blue effect (or blue red) in just any deck with almost no problems. From the color circle perspective it makes a lot more sense if you need some eldrazi mana to use this effect.
The eldrazi having „producing more of what they allready have“ as part of their „part of the color pie“ makes more sense than having it relatively easily accessible to all colors.
The next arguments where also mentioned somehow above:
4. You could have made such a nice tease for the second set, if in the first set the cards would have allready produced <> when it meant colorless mana!
There would have been no harm doing this, but there would have been a lot of discussion for the first set additional (the same as know) when seing cards producing <>, but additional for the second set people would have been hyped even sooner, since they would have been wondering, what was the reason behind this!
Things like this have been done in the past especially with eye of ugin as a teasy this would have made a lot of sense!
5. Why making a basic land which is strictly worse than about 100 cards, especially when the new mythic rare is not!
It is a rule in magic to not make non basic lands strictly better than their basic counterparts. There are old cards which break this rules but the rule was made after this cards so that cannot be fixed.
Now one basic land would be introduced which makes 100s card (even commons and uncommons) break this rule, but the new mythic rare (which whill be mainly for EDH players anyway) is not allowed to break this rule?!
This seams especially strange since having a land producing only and no colored mana having enter the battlefield tappes is rare.
Also having (colorless) lands with such a strong in color effect is something new. If it is just the old normal colorless, why not start with something which does more fit in colorless like tapping, drawing, milling?
6. Printing cards (and tokens) for which you know that they will get an errata 3 months later is insane! Of course the errata is nothing big, but still having 2 functionally equivalent cards (or tokens) in the same block which have different wording is something which can confuse people and is just inconsistent.
(Cards in magic are normally worded really consistent! The enter battlefield change was for good reason done starting with a core set!)
I have thought about editing this Text about 5 times, to have it all over the front page, but I just decided to leave it this way;)
Wieso habe ich das hier geschrieben? Nun zum einen weil ich das mit den Eldrrazis und dem neuen Manasymbol durchaus ein interessantes Thema finde, genauso wie ich es schön fände wenn in der Deutschen (sprache) Magicszene ein wenig mehr laufen würde.
Wenn man möchte dass in der deutschen Magicszene was läuft, dann sollte man für diese schreiben UND man sollte versuchen in ihr Diskussionene zu fördern!
Dieses Thema wäre ideal gewesen zum darüber auch auf Deutsch zu diskutieren, nur kann man sehr sehr schlecht diskutieren wenn die „Diskussionseröffnung“ in so einem Ton geschrieben wird!
Andreas Pischner kann sehr gute Artikel schreiben, er kann aber auch sehr gut so arrogant sein, dass die Leute keinerlei Lust mehr haben zu kommentieren und diskutieren!
Ich bin sicher er hätte (auf Deutsch) einen sehr schönen informativen Artikel schreiben können der sich objektiv mit den verschiedenen Theorien beschäftigt Argumente für und gegen alle aufzählt und auch auf geschehene Dinge referenziert (wie andere Releases etc.)
Bei so einem Artikel hätte man sehr gut diskutieren können, vielleicht mal viele Kommentare ohne Preisaussichten, sowas wäre schön für die Deutsche Community!
Hingegen diese sehr voreingenommene Art und das Diskussionsabwürgende verhalten (das nicht erst hier zum tragen kam) sind einfach zwei Punkte die immer wieder dafür Sorgen, dass weniger geschrieben wird anstatt mehr.
Es ist einfach Schade wenn ein guter Autor lieber über die Deutsche Magicszene wettert als versucht ihr zu helfen. (Nach Magicuniverse kann ich deine Frustration verstehen jedoch hilft frustration wenig!)