Voyaging the Planes: Why We Need Conspiracy

Posted May 27, 2014 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Nerdy Bits

When was the last time Wizards of the Coast did something truly different with their flagship card game, Magic: the Gathering? Sure, each block that they put out is unique unto itself, and that’s great. Each block adds new mechanics, new lore, and shakes up the gameplay, keeping Magic interesting. But let’s be honest: that’s just standard fare for them at this point. Blocks and core sets are child’s play for the team at Wizards of the Coast to come up with, and eventually players start to get burned out. Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of the Return to Ravnica block, but I know that that’s wishful thinking. And no matter how interesting new blocks are, Magic inevitably remains the same old card game.

rod of spanking

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I mean, plenty of people just keep buying Magic with every new block, myself included. But, for every person like me, there’s someone out there who’s gotten burnt out on Magic. To be honest, I can understand that completely. At its core, Magic hasn’t changed too much since its inception in the ‘90’s. So WOC is faced with an interesting dilemma: how do they keep Magic interesting? How do they make it fun for those people?

In the past, they’ve answered this with their un-sets, Unglued and Unhinged, which were often downright hilarious in their sheer absurdity. Cards like Rod of Spanking made every game with one of the Un-sets feel different. Of course, un-sets aren’t the only way to make Magic feel fresh again, a particularly unique block, like Ravnica or Return to Ravnica, will do that on its own.  But after the Theros block, which was kind of a dud (looking at you Born of the Gods), WOC needed to shake things up for players, and do something that they’ve never done before. They needed to take a risk. And somewhere in their genius R & D department, they came up with the idea of taking drafting to the next level.

For those who don’t know, drafting is a type of Magic that is often found at Friday (or Thursday, in my part of the world) night Magic. It involves each participant purchasing three booster packs, and then passing those around the table, with each participant choosing one card from the pack, and then passing it along. Once this is completed, players will build decks based off of the cards that they drafted from the boosters. These are never the best decks, but it’s a fun way to pass the time for a lot of players, and a good way to get cards that you want when new expansions are released.

lore seeker

With the Conspiracy set, WOC is revolutionizing the draft. Conspiracy consists of 210 black bordered cards, 65 of which are completely new additions to the game. Many of these cards are artifacts, or artifact creatures, that have an effect on the way in which a draft plays out. The first of these that we saw was a card called Cogwork Librarian, which enabled a player to draft two cards from a single booster pack, eliminating some hard decisions (Like if you open a booster and get a foil rare and a non-foil mythic rare) faced by the drafters.

Another card that will change how the draft works is Deal Broker. This card will allow trading of drafted cards among those involved in the draft, something that is usually strictly prohibited. These may seem like minor changes, but the make drafting a far more engaging activity than it’s ever been before, simply because there are more possibilities as to how the draft could play out for those involved. And isn’t that what WOC’s goal should be? Making Magic feel fresh?

After the draft has been completed, players will take their decks and face off against one another in a tournament. This plays out like any other tournament, though with decks of considerably lower quality. However, Conspiracy not only changes the process of drafting, but cards like Paliano, the High City change how the draft tournament works. Sure, the effects of Paliano and cards like Aether Seeker will be null after the draft is over (Unless someone were to keep track of everything that happened in the draft), but they make the draft tournament more dynamic than it would be otherwise. Conspiracy will change the face of the draft, making it a new experience, and doing away with the same old same old that has characterized drafting for years. Even within a few weeks of a new expansion being released, drafting loses much of its allure.

paliano the high city


But wait! There’s more! Not only does Conspiracy revolutionize drafting, but it is also the first set with cards specifically geared towards Multiplayer games, like Star (A weird but fun twist on free-for-alls). It introduces new mechanics and key words that are targeted at making multiplayer games more interesting, and, all in all, more fun. One such is example is the new keyword Will of the Council, which actually forces every player to vote on an outcome. It gives players choices, forcing them to choose between their life total and their creatures, in the case of Tyrant’s Choice. It just makes multiplayer games that much more likely to ruin friendships. Furthermore, there are specific cards that impact Will of the Council, such as Brago’s Representative, which gives you an additional vote, allowing you to sway the outcome to where you want it. And then there’s the new mechanic Dethrone, which makes alliances in multiplayer games ever more important, giving creatures +1/+1 counters when they deal damage to the player with the most health.

Power Play

Finally, Conspiracy introduces an all new card type, called Conspiracies. These cards act, in some ways, like enchantments, except that players can begin games with these already on the battlefield. Conspiracies have numerous effects on the game, some specific to drafting, others that allow you to draw two hands at the start of the game, rather than one. Again, these cards add new things to player’s arsenals, changing the shape of the battlefield in ways that are unimaginable.

Unfortunately, most of the new cards are banned in standard. But really, who cares? People who play standard all the time are, well, boring. I mean, Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH) was created because of how boring and dry standard could get, right? The Conspiracy set seems to be doing something similar, offering an alternative to the same old same old that is often experienced when playing Magic. Of course, that same old same old can be fun, and oftentimes it is. But Conspiracy promotes multiplayer and drafting, and makes those experiences totally unique, shaking them up in numerous ways. At the end of the day, it’s as simple as this: WOC is making Magic a more interesting, dynamic game to play. And that is undeniably good for all parties involved; retailers, consumers, and producers.

About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.