13, Feb, 22

Is The Wording On MTG Cards Getting Even More Complicated?

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At what point does this simply become too much?
Article at a Glance

It’s fair to say that we have more reading to do than ever before in Magic: The Gathering. You only have to look at the sheer volume of words on cards from nearly any set last year, to see just how much more time the average player has to spend on reading each card.

When you combine that fact with the fact that we’re also getting more cards than ever before, it all adds up into making it harder than ever to remember every single card. We all know, or are, players that could recall every card like a magical MTG Siri a few years ago, but it’s definitely a bigger challenge now. With all of that combined, it brings us to the fact that the wording on some of the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty cards seems to be needlessly complicated.

I need to do what now?

We’ve got two examples of this. The first is March of Burgeoning Life. which reads, “As an additional cost to cast this spell, you may exile any number of green cards from your hand. This spell costs 2 less to cast for each card exiled this way. Choose target creature with mana value less than X. Search your library for a creature card with the same name as that creature, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle.” That is, according to this word counter, 63 words.

Now, we get what we need to do, but it’s so damn easy to read that card and come away with the wrong impression of what it does, or how you can disrupt it, or what the point of it is. The second one is Invoke Despair, which is only 27 words long, but reads, “Target opponent sacrifices a creature. If they can’t, they lose 2 life and you draw a card. Then repeat this process for an enchantment and a planeswalker.”

Is that really the easiest way to phrase that? Surely there are better ways of writing things to make them more approachable than this. Now, we’re not saying that MTG players can’t read, but for players who maybe have issues with comprehension for whatever reason, or those who struggle to keep information in their heads, it’s an impossible expectation for them to be able to manage this. Magic is getting more and more complex because, in part, of power creep, and it’ll become harder to get into as a result. It might not be an issue when MTG Arena does all the work for you, but it’s not good for paper players.

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