Urza's Fun House
3, Oct, 22

MTG May Be Getting Cards That Require the Internet

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With nearly 30 years of history behind it, it’s no secret that Magic has innovated a lot over its lifetime. Typically, these innovations that broaden the game’s horizons are well received, with players enjoying a set’s new mechanics. Recently, however, Wizards of the Coast has been pushing at the boundaries of what MTG players are willing to accept. Through Universes Beyond Secret Lairs and Unfinity, many players feel Wizards has gone past the point of no return. Unfortunately for concerned players, however, Magic: the Gathering’s future is primed to look a whole lot weirder. Before too long, there may even be MTG cards that require the internet for you to use on paper. 

Coming to an MTG Card Near You: The Internet!

Urza's Fun House
Urza’s Fun House | Unfinity

As if Stickers, Attractions, and vowel matters cards didn’t already cause enough commotion, one of Unfinity’s strongest and strangest Acorn cards was almost Eternal legal. With the ability to generate literally infinite mana, Urza’s Fun House was undeniably an Acorn card. If the infinite mana symbol didn’t ensure enough, Urza’s Fun House also mandates MTG players to use the internet. Utilizing the AskUrza.com website for its third ability, players didn’t blink twice at Urza’s Fun House’s Acorn security seal. Surprisingly, however, it appears that Urza’s Fun House was a lot closer to being Eternal Legal than players initially thought. 

To try and gauge how close it is to being Eternal legal, Nicolbolas96 recently asked on Blogatog, “could Urza’s Fun House be Eternal without the infinite mana ability?” In response, Mark Rosewater unsurprisingly pointed the finger at another somewhat more apparent culprit for the card’s Acorn card stats. “We thought ‘have to go to a website’ crossed the line into Acorn,” Rosewater revealed, shocking no one. Compared to its internet-based antics, Urza’s House House’s infinite mana-generating ability is actually relatively tame. Requiring all three Urza’s lands to be in play, Urza’s Fun House is honestly relatively slow as infinite mana generators go. 

Despite not being the best infinite mana generator, Urza’s Fun House is undeniably an Acorn card, thanks to AskUrza.com. In a shocking twist, however, Mark Rosewater stated that “maybe one day it won’t [be].” Just as die rolling from Un-Sets became Eternal-legal over time, it appears AskUrza.com could similarly be Eternal-Legal one day. Thankfully, Rosewater clarified that “we’re nowhere close to it currently,” however, it’s clearly an option on the table. 

Pushing the Boundaries

Urza, Academy Headmaster
Urza, Academy Headmaster | Unstable

Perhaps even more so than Stickers and Attractions combined, the AskUrza.com mechanic could seriously threaten the integrity of MTG. Understandably, players quickly voiced their concerns once Mark Rosewater revealed the possibility of online components being an Eternal-legal MTG mechanic. “It definitely feels like strictly acorn territory to me,” bravelion83 stated. “I really hope it stays Acorn.” Similarly, philippesaner said, “I really hope that doesn’t change,” and incredulouspasserby pleaded “don’t bring that into paper Magic. Please.” 

Despite how it may look at first glance, AskUrza.com may not push the boundaries of Magic: the Gathering as far as you think. Urza, Academy Headmaster, for instance, could absolutely be an Eternal-legal card. Surprisingly, this was proved when the original AskUrza.com website was unintentionally killed via a rebranding. While this should have been the killing blow to this mechanic, it actually exposed just how feasible it really is. Essentially, AskUrza.com was little more than digital dice, randomly generating numbers between 1 and 20 before showing the relevant ability. This is entirely possible to do on paper, so much so that it’s now how Urza, Academy Headmaster works. 

With AskUrza.com now devoted to Unfinity cards, Urza, Academy Headmaster players are now required to generate random numbers themselves. After rolling a D20, players must now navigate to a PDF to find the relevant ability rather than a website. It may seem like a lot of faff. However, this is ultimately doable in paper MTG. Admittedly, fitting 60 abilities and over 900 words onto an MTG token isn’t easy, as you can see below. However, scaled-down versions could absolutely work. Even if Wizards wanted to give every internet requiring AskUrza.com card twenty abilities, it’s not out of the question to mandate MTG players bring a PDF with them. If players already have to bring tokens, Stickers, Attractions, and their deck to events, what’s one more piece of paper?

The Edge of Acceptability

Urza, Academy Headmaster 'Token'
Urza, Academy Headmaster ‘Abilities Token’ | Unstable

Ultimately, with tokens of PDFs providing redundancy, AskUrza.com would merely make using these complex cards easier. Nevertheless, should these cards be Eternal-legal, they poke at the boundaries of what’s acceptable in MTG. As Mark Rosewater notes, however, Magic: the Gathering has been poking at those boundaries for some time already. In responding to a question about Unfinity’s design sensibilities, Mark Rosewater revealed these boundary-pushing innovations are “a by-product of a game that keeps making new game pieces.” 

“Most games can stay away from the edges because there’s enough content to do so, but the nature of a trading card game that keeps regularly expanding ends up having to play at the edges,” Rosewater explained. As Far Out proved, the line between what works and what doesn’t isn’t always obvious to players. This can cause immense uproar should a new mechanic be too spicy for players’ tastes, even if it works within MTG’s rules. Due to the complexity of these rules, the line between what works and what doesn’t is incredibly precise and ill-defined. Even Mark Rosewater admits that “I do this for a living … and even I’m not sure where the line is.” 

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