View Full Version : Superficial Constellation/Inspire Comparison & Keyword Necessity

04-21-2014, 11:50 PM
I just wanted to draw attention to a coincidence (I assume), where in the next set to be released in Magic, Journey into nix, a new keyword has appeared that looks vaguely similar to inspire. And of course, there will be similarities between hex and magic, but the two obviously aren't "copying" each other.

The exact definition of the key word being found here:

Now putting aside that the game really didn't really need a new keyword for what it does (and that the evolve keyword is really more like inspire than constellation), I'm just curious to what extent keywords are really necessary in some instances. Sure, in the theros set, it adds to the flavor of the plane, but we know it probably won't show up in future sets.

So, if in hex, a card like pact of life were to appear in set 1 , which would do affect X when a resource is played, would it be beneficial to have an additional keyword added (ignoring, of course, that set 1 is obviously here to set a precedent, in which case one off keywords like evolve wouldn't be warranted)?

I'm not a game designer and I would just like to know what people think goes into the discussion about keywords and their application.

04-22-2014, 12:44 AM
Constellation and Inspire are only vaguely similar in the sense that they trigger on stuff entering the battlefield. In the world of keywords they are no closer related than your great aunt Marry who may or may not have left you a sizable inheritance if you stay a night in a haunted mansion. If you look at keywords this coarsely you'll find that half of MtG's keywords are essentially just Kicker in disguise.

Keywords serve an important design purpose outside of mere gameplay. They signal important information to players. "This thing behaves like something else you are already familiar with." "This is an interaction that is important in this set so you should pay attention to it." Keywords help people understand the Gordian Knot of rules interactions and set design that can be rather intimidating to new players. That's also why they tend to work better if they are more specialized and why we don't see Kicker printed in MtG anymore but rather see a new Kicker-like ability year after year, it helps give sets an identity of their own and focus on the specifics of what matters in that set instead of using a generic keyword to replicate the specifics of the set design.

In that vein, one of keywords are entirely worthless because they add artificial complexity for literally no gain. It doesn't make the card any easier to understand, but rather adds confusion because people expect there to be more to they keyword than there actually is. It makes them feel like they are missing a piece of the puzzle that hasn't even been printed yet, which is a valuable design tool you want to carefully and deliberately use and not waste on something as pointless as keywording an ability that may or may not be used two years down the line.

04-22-2014, 03:17 AM
When I think back to WoWTCG, there was a card in the very first set called blood guard Mal'wani (http://tcgbrowser.com/#!/cardid=1388) his power was: Blood Guard Mal'wani has +1 ATK for each damage on him.. The exact same power was used more often for several other trolls in the first block. Ya'mon (http://tcgbrowser.com/#!/cardid=2465) and Ash'Ergi (http://tcgbrowser.com/#!/cardid=1335).

It was clear that this power was something vital to the trolls.

Flash forward several sets (on the release of the 7th set), which was meant to flesh out the races a bit more and give them all a specific keyword. Trolls gained the keyword "Berserking (http://tcgbrowser.com/#!/search=berserking)", with expanded text being: This card has +1 ATK for each damage on it..

This for me caused a huge disconnect with the older cards, because they have never been "erratad" to Berserking. This errata would indeed have a slight mechanical effect, particularly when card affect any card with a keyword. However, I think it would've done so much more flavour wise if those older cards would've been updated to actually have the "Berserking" keyword erratad to them.

I hope CZE goes this course with Hex. If a keyword comes out that is an exact copy of an older card's power, I hope they errata the older card to have the new keyword instead. Disclaimer: it has to make sense thematically. If it was a human with that power, it wouldn't make as much sense to make it have Berserking.

The big thing this would do is that it would make even the first set cards feel a whole lot more modern.

04-22-2014, 04:27 AM
The "when you play a resource" effects (Wild Root Dancer, Pact of Life) are pretty much an exact match for the Landfall mechanic from Zendikar block. They were basically "Whenever a land enters play under your control, do X."

Personally, I think Magic hands out keywords too readily. Especially since most of those keywords still include the rules text on the card anyway. Landfall is a good example, especially since it didn't become a staple. There's no need to apply a keyword to something that's not going to be long-lasting or often-used.

04-22-2014, 08:59 AM
Upside of a keyword is search capability on Gatherer. It's much easier to just type "landfall" in the search field.

04-22-2014, 10:11 AM
True. Also, digitally, you can list just the keyword on the cards and then have a popup explaining the rules (instead of having to spell out all the rules on every card anyway, like in MtG).

The whole keyword thing doesn't work as well with complicated or variable mechanics like Inspire or Landfall though, since every card has detailed additional effects - all the keyword tells you in those cases are the trigger, not the result. Mechanics like Crush or Rage X, on the other hand, are much simpler. They make for nice, short card descriptions. Those kinds of effects are perfect for keyword-ization. :)