Interpreting the Invocations

Hello fellow Magic players!

I know I said next time we would talk about how we can bring back Core sets to the game, but Wizards of the Coast dropped a bombshell on us today, and I figured out a few new things with my new blog so there’s no better time than the present to discuss the news.

Coming this spring with the release of Amonkhet we will get another subset of cards in the Masterpiece series. These special versions of cards first appeared in Battle For Zendikar (called Expeditions), in Kaladesh (known as Inventions), and now called Invocations in Amonkhet. You may be wondering why Shadows Over Innistrad did not have any, however you have to keep in mind that Battle For Zendikar was initially designed as a 3-set block, and changed mid-design when it was announced we would change to a 2-“block” (what I like to now call “story”) design. We will discuss more about that article (released about 2 1/2 years ago) when we discuss core sets. Once the design was completed they probably did not have time to inset Masterpieces within Shadows Over Innistrad.

If you ever collected sports cards think of this subset as game used bats, or jerseys, that can only be found in few packs (or cases). These cards will be delivered in a somewhat similar fashion within booster packs.

Nevertheless we are getting our first looks at some of these Invocations, and to be honest I have not seen this much vitriol from the community at large in a while. Let’s take a look at a few of them that caught my eye.

Invo Counterbalance
Counterbalance
Invo Counterspell
Counterspell
Invo FoW
Force of Will
Invo WoG
Wrath of God

These are but a few of those spoiled so far, and you can view an updated list by visiting the Amonkhet page at Mythic Spoiler

At first glance you may be wondering what in the heck is happening. Amonkhet was designed to be an Egyptian themed world. Magic has never truly embraced an Egyptian world before (although Mirage was close), and it appears they are trying to have this set ooze as much flavor as possible. Each of these cards will be quite rare to obtain, and many of them relate back to various eras in the history of the game. When I first saw them I was not sure how to react, until I saw Counterbalance. That makes me feel like WotC will not be banning anything out of Miracles in Legacy (and hopefully that conversation can come to an end now). With how burned the players felt when Splinter Twin was banned less than a year after it’s printing in Modern Masters 2015 I doubt WotC will make that mistake ever again.

These cards though have not brought the same reaction as previous Masterpiece cards. A lot of people have concerns, and some are understandable, however I think some things may have been missed on both sides.

For starters these cards quite simply scream Egypt when looking at them. There is no confusion what type of world they project, and where it sends ones imagination. Some have stated that these look like Egyptian fireplaces, and that it takes away from the art. We were not going to get full art versions of these, because it would not fit the theme.

Cropped Invo Counterspell

Look at the frame work here. The hieroglyphics surrounding the text box as it also surrounds the top part with the art leading one into the other. Look at how the staves are symmetrical on the bottom corners of the art, and the Nicol Bolas symbol (with the hologram) in the middle. This tells me they did their homework on how an Egyptian themed set should look.

However people still hate it.

I get it. Art is subjective. Let’s repeat that though. Art IS subjective. One person may like it, and another not so much. I honestly can not fault WotC for designing the cards this way as these truly look like they belong with the set (in some way). While we will only be able to play with these cards in Drafts and Sealed events they do belong with the upcoming set.

That being said let’s take a look at a few things that could have went better.
Name Crop Invo CounterspellName Crop Invo CounterbalanceName Crop Invo WoG

Can you read those card names? Probably not. Granted the same hieroglyphic theme is used, but one of the key things when playing this game is being able to clearly read the name of the card. If we can not do that it may prove to be difficult, and players could misread what is in their hand. Aesthetically I can see where not being able to read the card can turn some people off too. The inability to quickly discern what color the card is may be an issue too.

I think there is another thing that may have been forgotten though. Through this article the discussion has been mostly for us, the veteran players. If you’ve been playing for a year, or (like me) since the beginning, the impact on brand new player needs to be considered. This seems to have been forgotten with this design.

Imagine the look on a new players face when they see this card? Unlike getting a foil Planeswalker (which is cool regardless of age or experience with the game) opening something this challenging to grasp may either cause joy, confusion, or dislike. From a company that has told us veterans that their focus is on growing the game (ie: getting new players) this may not be the correct angle to do that. Another thing to think about is the growing push to “become an eSport” (whatever that is). What would be clear to you what happens to the board state when looking at a video stream of a live paper tournament?

WoG Beta

WoG EMA

Invo WoG

While I appreciate the art in the Invocation of the game’s most iconic board wipe there does not appear to be the same amount of devastation conveyed. Perhaps that’s because the action seems so far away? Perhaps it’s how arid the surrounding art is? With cards that have the impact of Wrath of God the text should always be simple (which it is here), and the art should show the impact of what is about to happen upon resolution. Remember when watching a stream you are seeing a much smaller image of the card (smaller than what I posted), and perhaps watching from your phone. Try to view this article on your phone and compare the three arts to get a better view of what I am describing. Now put the phone down and step back a few feet still looking at the screen.

Sure not everyone will have the Invocation version, but those who play Magic at the highest tournament level want to show off their collection, and the Masterpiece series does just that, but to me for a company to push new players and eSport so much lately the way these cards were designed seems to send a contradictory message. Of course that could be viewed as subjective as well.

All things considered I like the approach, but they are not for me. Why? Well you see I either play with original versions of cards (going back to Beta as it was the first set you can legally play cards without sleeves and is the current card shape), or the original pack foil of a card. While I personally am not a fan of reprints, or special set cards, I know others may be. It is subjective after all. So let’s not hate on these cards for being what they are, and hope Counterspell winds up being in Amonkhet. Hey, I can invoke my wish anyway I want.

That’s all for today everyone, and I hope you enjoyed this look into the new subset of cards coming our way. I’m sure you have thoughts so please share them below, and don’t forget to like and/or share this with your friends.

Until next time (when we really will talk about adding Core sets back)…

TAP MORE MANA!!!

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