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4, Jan, 23

Flavorful MTG D&D Mechanic May Not Return!

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Article at a Glance

Occasionally, a review of Mark Rosewater’s Storm Scale is released to MTG fans discussing recently created mechanics from MTG sets that have been released over the past few years. For reference, the Storm Scale measures the likelihood that a mechanic will return in the future. If a card mechanic gets a higher number on the Storm Scale, it generally means that the mechanic is less likely to return. We’ve discussed some mechanics that have a surprisingly likely chance of returning according to this scale. One mechanic, in particular, is ranking surprisingly high on the scale. This means that it’s pretty likely that the MTG Party mechanic may be less likely to return than we thought.

MTG Party

tazri, beacon of unity

While the mechanic is flavorfully a slam dunk for the Dungeons and Dragons crossovers appearing in MTG, it actually debuted from Zendikar Rising. Basically, the Party mechanic grants extra rewards based on how big your ‘party’ of creatures is. In order for a creature to qualify for your Party, it needs to be a certain creature type.

If you have a Rogue, Wizard, Warrior, and a Cleric, you are considered to have a full party. Before you jump the gun and ask about cards with multiple creature types, they can only count for one of the four Party slots. You need to have four creatures representing one of the four creature types. Duplicate typing also will not count towards a full Party. If you want to know more about the mechanic, we talk about it here.

A Difficult Mechanic

Burakos, Party Leader by Caroline Gariba

Seem like a lot of hoops to jump through? That’s precisely the issue with the Party mechanic. Mark Rosewater goes into further detail discussing Party’s ranking and why it received a doubtful eight on the Storm Scale:

“Party requires a lot of structure to support it, not just in the set itself, but in the sets around it. One of the biggest strikes against party (and my guess why the rating was low) is that it was hard to successfully build competitive Constructed decks with it. It just required too many different pieces to all work. Not a lot of Constructed decks can manage to keep four different creatures on the battlefield, for example.”

When talking about the mechanic’s versatility, Rosewater had the above to say. This points out what may be the biggest strike against Party: it has too many moving pieces. You need a lot to go right for Party cards to start paying off, and the payoffs, while quite powerful, are not worth the effort invested in getting a full party. The rigidness of the Party mechanic becomes more apparent when Rosewater discusses how it affects the design space of a set:

“If you’re talking about the larger use of batching creature types together, there’s a decent amount of space. Focusing specifically on the batch that is party, the design space gets a lot smaller. The effect needs to have an upgrade and tie into creature strategies, as party requires having a lot of creatures on the battlefield.”

It seems like, overall, besides how much design space this mechanic takes up, it’s also not super viable as a competitive strategy. Too many things need to go right for the Party mechanic to pay off, and since removal is all over the place in Constructed, it becomes very difficult to create a mechanic that needs a bunch of specific creatures to stay in play:

“This was one of only two mechanics that Andrew dubbed “problematic.” Party requires a lot of support to be viable, and it’s dependent on a heavy creature-based strategy that’s hard to make work in competitive formats.” – Mark Rosewater

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It Still May Return

Split the Party by Zoltan Boros

Regardless of all these negatives, Party still has a chance of coming back in future sets. Unlike the problematic Storm and Companion mechanics, Party is only a problem because its too clunky. In terms of flavor, the mechanic definitely presents the adventuring vibe associated with exploring a new world amongst friends. There are some fans of this incredibly flavorful mechanic so, given the right climate, like another Party-themed Commander deck (where competitive play doesn’t really matter too much), Party fans could see more support for their beloved mechanic. As a huge Mutate fan myself, I really do hope Wizards of the Coast finds a way to support these unique but clunky pieces of Magic. The Storm Scale article does talk more about other mechanics seen in recent sets. If you’re interested in that, you can find Mark Rosewater’s article here.

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