Earlier this week, my girlfriend had lunch with me at work. As usual, she was nice enough to bring me one of my favorite treats, a green apple slushy.
Slurping on this slushy isn’t usually a long term effort for me. It’s typically something that occurs quickly. I’m a bit greedy with my slushy consumption, often to the point I inflict brain freeze.
After drinking a slushy as quickly as I do, it results in all the flavor being removed and some unflavored ice remains at the bottom of the cup. This colorless ice slush ends up getting thrown away.
Later in the day, after work, I logged onto my favorite news source for Magic: The Gathering news and saw this…
Without any context I immediately knew what this was. This was not just a basic land with a new strange mana type.
It was a slushy.
I know this sounds strange but hear me out. Look at Zendikar as a green apple slushy. The Eldrazi, a race of gigantic slushy connoisseurs, consume colored mana or flavoring from Zendikar. What remains is uncolored, tasteless ice byproduct, this basic land Wastes.
Many people are a bit shocked by this Wastes card. I’m not.
Mark Rosewater has made several comments over the years about the way colorless and generic mana is represented in Magic. Here is a great example of how he would like to represent generic mana symbols, an article written by him about if he could go back in time and change the game. You can find the exact passage just under the picture of the Tarmogoyf. Although it does not specifically talk about strictly colorless mana, it does illustrate his desire to have defined symbols for these types of mana.
“I would change two things, though. One, I would have the mana symbol start with the colored mana. It’s the most important info and it’s how players just want to talk about the mana cost. It also would make the colored mana symbol be closer to the corner for easy reading while fanning. The second thing I’d do with the mana symbols is I’d change how we represented generic mana. I’d have a mana symbol that represents one generic mana, and if a card has more than one then the mana cost would list more than one. For example, a Hill Giant would have four mana symbols, first a red mana symbol and then three generic mana symbols. I’d probably have to have a larger generic symbol to represent five colorless mana to allow bigger colorless mana costs to be written. The reason for this change is I think it’s just the way to write it that makes it the easiest for newer players to be able to read and understand. Each mana would be represented by one mana symbol.” – Mark Rosewater, Making Magic January 26, 2015
I couldn’t pick Mark Rosewater from a police lineup but I’ve seen plenty of things he has done over the years. Mark Rosewater loves to drop breadcrumbs everywhere he goes. He leaves miles of spoiler tidbits behind him. You just have to look for them.
This moment has been in the making for some time now. Over the years, Magic has morphed from Richard Garfield’s very primal and raw game into Mark Rosewater’s functional and polished vision. Small steps have and will continue to see his vision through.
Will Wastes see other sets and take a main role in the color wheel? I doubt it. The basic land will likely see some cameo role occasionally as the set’s theme sees fit. I fully expect that mana giving artifacts will be tapping for this colorless specific mana symbol however and spells needing these in their casting costs will be few and far between, much like Snow mana of the past.
So next time you finish a slushy and look into the cup at that clump of colorless ice, thank the Eldrazi for Magic’s progression into colorless mana’s future.
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