Friday, June 01, 2012

Thoughts on D&D and Magic The Gathering

Well last Wednesday I had the opportunity to get back to playing Magic The Gathering which I haven't played for about two years.  It was with a group of players I just met, some of whom also role play.  The whole event gave me a lot to think about D&D.  The monsters were some kick ass things way stronger than I had played a few years back yet the rules where pretty much the same as when I started playing in the late 90's.  On top of that some of the players, who didn't role play, didn't do so because they though it was too hard.  To many die rolls and rules.  I was like are you kidding me?  Read these cards you have fifty something cards on your deck, complicated powers and compound powers, and spells, and enchantments, and what not.  A deck provides a huge combination, and that is only a subset of the combinations provided by Magic as a whole.

These players have hand picked those cards from a huge set of options.  Made a very strong setup of cards for play and yet they may win or they may lose.  It got me thinking why can't WotC owners of Magic also do the same thing for D&D.  No, I don't mean make D&D into a card game I mean:

  • Make D&D a game with long lasting rules.
  • Make D&D a game with simple rules.  The complexity in Magic appears in the cards not the rules.
  • Make D&D a balanced game no matter how strong the powers are.  Magic has standard cards and the special ones.  You can't play tournaments with the special decks, but you can have fun at home.  Yet even with the special decks it's hard to ensure a certain win.  There is still balance.
  • Make D&D a profitable game.
When I read the stuff coming out of D&D I see the opposite of Magic.  Very simple character classes (cards) and a very complex set of rules.  I wonder, shouldn't it be the other way around?  Shouldn't Mike Mearls and crew cross the isle and see what Magic is doing and get some tips?  For example:
  • Reduce D&D to no more than 10 rules or so.  Make it fit into 20 to 30 pages.  Like the basic edition.
  • Open up a zillion classes and powers.  Magic has the white cards, and the black ones, and the green ones, and the blue ones, and red ones, and probably more I don't know or recall.  It has creatures, and spells, and artifacts, and also more I don't know or recall.  Can't D&D do some equivalent to character class, skills, power, spells, etc.  with that?
  • Place the "modular" part on the "cards" (read: classes, spells, skills, powers) not on the rules.  Sell "modules" with ideas, thoughts, inspiration and all that which gets the campaign going.  Do what Magic does and "sell cards" or the equivalent you come up with for D&D.
Mike, based on your D&D Next if you were selling us Magic The Gathering "Next"  we'd get the following:
  • Forty cards.  That includes character classes, spells and some extra thing.  It would also be all the cards to ever exist in the Magic The Gathering "Next" universe.  Contrary to the thousands it actually has.
  • Three books (aprox 600 pages) on how to play Magic The Gathering "Next".  Contrary to the short booklet you get with the starter set.
Do you see the difference Mike?  Do you see how you're failing to fill us with inspiration, awe and desire to role play?  Your game is too freaking complex and has little substance.  Turn it around!!!  Give us a booklet of rules and a basic set of "sixty cards".  Then engage us with more and more "cards", not "rules".
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