Highcliff Felidar
20, May, 24

MTG Designer Reveals No Plans for Needed Creature Update

Article at a Glance

Since the very easiest days of MTG, creature types have always been fundamentally integral to the gameplay experience. Not only do they offer flavor for Magic’s vast multiverse, but they’re mechanically relevant too. Thanks to the myriad cards like Lord of Atlantis, it matters what creature type a card is.

As the years have gone on, Wizards of the Coast have created a massive number of creature types. In total, just shy of 300 unique creature types have been created for MTG, and Wizards isn’t stopping there. Recently, Wizards has been dramatically expanding the number of creature types by moving away from catch-all terms.

With Beasts being shied away from, MTG has been graced by Armadillo, Capybara, Coyote, and Detectives. In theory, these new types could have far-reaching implications warranting countless errata. Surprisingly, despite the awesome and much-needed potential for this, Wizards apparently isn’t doing anything…

Grand Creature Type Update 2: Electric Boogaloo?

Frontline Rebel

Back in 2007, along with the release of Lorywn, Wizards ushered in “The Grand Creature Type Update”. As Wizards handily described in the announcement post, this mass errata followed the introduction of the “race class” model. Debuted in Mirrodin, this once-new model made cards like Leonin Elder a Cat Cleric, rather than just a Cleric.

On its own, this change boosted the flavor and type-based function of cards, paving the way for modern MTG design. Unfortunately, as positive as this change has been, there was a problem that became increasingly annoying. As Wizards noted in their article, reprints were a huge problem, as while updates happened, they were incredibly selective.

Rather than slowly waiting for every applicable card to get a reprint, Wizards bit the bullet and changed everything. With 1197 cards being updated with new creature types or text, The Grand Creature Type Update more than lives up to its name. While this utterly massive Oracle text update was rather controversial initially, MTG may need another.

As we mentioned at the start of this article, Wizards appears to have changed their creature-type philosophy once again. Due to this, some MTG players are now asking whether or not we’ll get another mass errata to everything is up to date. Specifically, Tumblr user Planeswalker-umbral asked MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater, about exactly this possibility.

Noting the 15 years since the original Grand Creature Type Update, Planeswalker-umbral asked Wizards is planning a “smaller scale version to update old creature types?” Highlighting now miss-typed cards such as Frontline Rebel and Witch Engine, there’s a lot that could be changed. Unfortunately, according to Mark Rosewater, there are no plans for another major change.

“No Current Plans”

Dogged Detective

Responding to Planeswalker-umbral’s question, Mark Rosewater plainly stated “There are no current plans to do another Grand Creature Type Update.” Given the myriad cards that could do with being changed, this is obviously disappointing, but ultimately not unsurprising. After all, while the Grand Creature Type Update may have been for the better, it didn’t go down well initially.

While errata can be for the better of MTG, they’re also deeply problematic as they can cause immense amounts of confusion. Without reprints for every affected card, reading the card will no longer explain the card. Instead, players are forced to break out their phones and search for a card’s Oracle text on Gatherer.

Admittedly, if it’s only creature types being changed, this change wouldn’t be as problematic as the one to Companions. That being said, a card’s creature types do still have gameplay applications which would make things more difficult. For example, if Dogged Detective finally became a Detective, they’d start working with Private Eye.

To most MTG players, this would be a non-issue, since obviously Dogged Detective should be a Detective. If you missed the errata’s announcement, however, you may be unaware and miss out on an all-important buff. Even if it’s obvious, it’s a big deal when the functionality of a card doesn’t match up with its text.

Sadly another Grand Creature Type Update would undoubtedly cause a multitude of these wonky interactions that only reprints would reliably fix. Since Wizards can’t exactly reprint potentially hundreds of cards very quickly, these problems would persist for a long while. As a result of this, it makes a lot of sense that Wizards of the Coast may shy away from doing such a major update again.

A Missmanaged Menagerie

Baloth Woodcrasher

Theoretically, while it didn’t happen in Murders of Karlov Manor, cards like Dogged Detective can be easily fixed. Alongside Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth, both these cards could simply be reprinted with the Detective creature type. While this change would cause unseen errata to past cards, the new, hopefully more common, printings would mitigate any confusion.

Thankfully, while there’s no guarantee this would happen, this reprint-focused approach would suit a lot of seemingly missing creature types. Frontline Rebel for example, can just be reprinted with an updated type, just like Witch Engine. Similarly, a reprint of Magda, Brazen Outlaw could even make them part of the Outlaw batch.

While all these simple fixes are hard to argue against, these cards aren’t the only ones deserving updates. Despite Wizards moving away from Beasts to create Armadillos, Coyotes, and Porcupines, changes haven’t been retroactively applied. This has left many would-be creature types still relying on the Beast moniker.

Currently, Baloth, Felidar, Ferox, Gnarlid, and many other named species don’t have their own type. Should this be added alongside the existing Beast type, MTG would get a little bit more flavorful. In theory, this is a welcome positive change that could slowly build up new Typal archetypes. Sadly, this potential change isn’t all good news.

For starters, creating new creature types can often feel like a promise for new support coming soon. While Wizards has been bucking this trend more recently, there’s nonetheless still demand for more Beavers, Capybaras, and Varmints. Should this demand not be realized, once-excited players may be left feeling deflated and frustrated.

On top of this major issue, there’s also the fundamental problem with errata. Thanks to this, any change Wizards makes has to be worth the spike in confusion.

Balance Is the Key

Felidar Sovereign

Ultimately, as much as more unique creature types may be nice, it’s probably for the better another Grand Creature Type Update doesn’t happen. That being said, since players obviously want change, Wizards should consider a series of repeated smaller actions. Rather than doing everything all at once, timed reprints may be the most logical solution.

For example, if a future set contained a new Felidar, Wizards could finally give that card its own creature type. Alongside this, many of the existing Felidar cards could receive reprints via The List. Unfortunately, this solution isn’t as easy now the list is only 30 cards, but it’s nevertheless an option.

Alternatively, rather than carefully coordinated and somewhat lackluster reprints, Wizards could do nothing. Instead of causing arguably needless confusion, Wizards could simply look forward and create new cards, rather than changing old ones. Given that Wizards evidently has no plans for another Grand Creature Type Update, this seems to be the path they’re taking.

At the end of the day, while Wizards may not have plans right now, there’s no telling what the future holds. Should more new types and un-typed species get made, Wizards may change their tune, but there’s no guarantee.

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