In our time covering the goings on over at Blogatog, we’ve seen all manner of weird and wild suggestions. Utilizing the direct line to Mark Rosewater, MTG players have fervently requested what they want to see next. Throughout the past few months, for instance, we’ve seen players asking for fan-favorite mechanics and planes to return at last. Additionally, Blogatog users, affectionately known as Question Marks, have also been having a good ol’ complain at Mark Rosewater over the state of the game. Amidst all that hubbub, however, Rosewater fielded an interesting question that yielded a quite frankly baffling answer. According to Mark Rosewater, MTG players keep asking Wizards to get rid of a color from the game!
Arguably the most controversial topic in recent memory, Blogatog has recently been besieged with complaints about MTG’s overwhelming release schedule. Coupled with complaints about Universes Beyond products damaging MTG, Mark Rosewater has been subject to a lot of negativity recently. Giving Rosewater a break from that constant complaining, Tumblr user Obazervazi recently took to Blogatog to share their positive opinion. Highlighting how Universes Beyond not being to everyone’s taste isn’t inherently terrible, Obazervazi stated the following.
“A thought on Universes Beyond ruining immersion: it’s a problem, sure, but I imagine many more people are put off by Magic’s frequently gruesome and horrific imagery. I love the really frightening cards, but I’m not going to play them with my more sensitive friends. To those who don’t like UB, remember that there isn’t one single line in the sand, but dozens that Wizards has to choose whether to cross. There are absolutely people out there who hate your favorite parts of the game.”Obazervazi
In response to this well-worded statement, Mark Rosewater revealed a bewildering tidbit of information. “At least once a year, I get a letter from someone seriously proposing we remove black from the game.” Coming completely out of leftfield, many players were understandably baffled about this surprising reveal from Rosewater. “Huh, interesting. If you said there was a letter you received early about removing a color from the game, I’d expect it to be blue,” Raytyger commented on Tumblr. Following Rosewater’s remarkable reveal, many players went on to inundate Blogatog with questions to glean more information on the topic.
“Please tell us, is it just one very dedicated person asking for black to be removed, or is it a different person each year?” Tumblr user Huatli asked as a follow-up. Providing a little more information, Rosewater revealed that “it’s different people. Note it’s issues with the flavor of black magic, not a dislike of the effects of that color.” Delving into this answer, Question Marks continued to pry even further by giving more questions to Mark. Tumblr user Amateurauteur, for instance, asked the following.
“Are the people who ask you to remove black motivated by religious reasons, the idea that black depicts ‘evil’ and you shouldn’t depict evil acts (even absent of religious connotation), the idea that the art is too frightening, or something else? P.S. on the subject of frightening, I’m really looking forward to ONE. The art team has clearly cooked up something truly terrible (in a good way).”Amateurauteur
Answering this question, Rosewater confirmed that Amateurauteur is on the right track. “Usually it’s because black embodies things that they see as ‘evil’ which they think is inappropriate to be in the game.”
Could Black Actually Be Removed From MTG?
This might not come as a surprise, but the short answer to this section is no. Black isn’t going anywhere, no matter how many ones of complaints Mark Rosewater gets per year.
The Actual Argument
In actuality, the debate surrounding this topic is more interesting than the actual simple answer. While Mark Rosewater would eventually state that “Magic’s color pie is its foundation. I wouldn’t mess with it,” it’s clear that people aren’t entirely happy with the representation of every color. This isn’t an entirely outlandish opinion, as Tumblr user Liampk pointed out in a comment during this baffling saga.
“As much as I personally disagree, if I was a person who loved the game but whose religious beliefs made me uncomfortable with the more ‘satanic’ elements (necromancy, demons, etc.) I could understand how their presence would fundamentally stop me from being able to enjoy the game.”Liampk
To veteran MTG players, pushing back against black’s more “satanic” elements may seem ridiculous. Wizards of the Coast, however, is all too aware of the controversy that supposedly satanic game elements can cause. Back in the 1980s, for instance, Wizards’s Dungeons & Dragons game was whipped up into the Satanic Panic controversy. At the time, it was claimed that Dungeons & Dragons was actually a satanic cult recruitment tool that exposed children to occult practices. Thankfully for D&D fans, this controversy didn’t make Wizards cancel the game, ensuring it’s still around today. As a result of this, WotC isn’t likely to back down to requests to remove the occult in MTG.
Unfortunately, while black might not be going anywhere, this resilience to controversy might not be what all MTG fans want. As Obazervazi highlighted when kicking off this narrative, the issues some players have with black are equivalent to players’ anger at Universes Beyond. For some players, Universes Beyond is the harbinger of MTG’s end times. However, other players find it deeply enjoyable. Ultimately, as Obazervazi stated, “there are absolutely people out there who hate your favorite parts of the game.” Just because game elements are hated, however, doesn’t mean they should be removed from the game, however. If Wizards of the Coast did away with everything players disliked, there wouldn’t be anything left, after all.
“Each player has their own list of what they want in the game and what they don’t. And those lists are all over the place. Let me give you an example. Here are some of things that you would have to opt in to if we removed things that a number of players have asked be removed from the game(and this is just a small version of the list off the top of my head): violent imagery, land destruction, black cards, fairy tale references, anything using counters, double-faced cards, counterspells, hybrid mana, outside play aids, stealing effects, humanoid animals, other IPs, discard, anything creating tokens, skeletons, cards that are humorous in nature, copying effects, anything ’modern’, cards accessing cards outside the game/from the sideboard.
Everything you love about the game, that makes Magic Magic for you, someone else despises and wishes it weren’t part of the game. That’s why I like my buffet metaphor. The key to our success is to offer lots of different things and let the audience pick and choose which parts they want to partake in.”Mark Rosewater
A Broken Buffet
Recently, Rosewater’s buffet metaphor has been at the center of a controversy of its own. Used to describe Magic’s current philosophy and, more importantly, why Wizards won’t be slowing down with releases, this buffet has been incredibly contentious. Despite all the complaints Rosewater has received, this philosophy won’t change anytime soon. By providing options to as many customers as possible, MTG earned higher profits than ever before, even if players weren’t too happy about it. Ultimately, since the release strategy won’t be changing, Rosewater states that both Magic players and Wizards need to adapt instead.
“What I think is going on is Magic is at another flux point (and it’s had many over the years). It’s adapting to player desires and changing in new ways. When that happens, both the audience and R&D have to adapt as well. Maybe we have to change how we communicate new products. Maybe there needs to be a lighter track for those that want a sense of what’s coming without the depth that we normally provide. I agree that old systems might not make sense in the new world, but I don’t think it’s a reason to reject the new world. It’s a reason to figure out how to adapt.”Mark Rosewater