Making_Magic

Mark unveils a reader surprise that requires your immediate attention.

It’s About Time

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The letter W!elcome to Tempo Week! Now I'm probably the biggest fan of theme weeks of all the columnists (I've been on theme for every theme week but one, when I announced that Unhinged was actually happening), but every once in a while a theme week comes along that really doesn't make it easy to play along. Tempo Week is one such week. My first instinct was to talk about how the timing of cards work from a design standpoint. You know, how do we decide when something is an instant or a sorcery. But then I discovered that I already wrote a column on instants (“Instant Winners”) and one on sorceries (“Slow and Steady.” No, not the column on Azorius, I actually had an early article with the same title about sorceries – during Sorcery Week no less; oops).

Then it dawned on me that perhaps I could write an article on the difference between instants and sorceries that functioned very differently from those two articles. Yes, this week I will teach through the use of pop quiz (a grossly underused genre). A surprise pop quiz, as I didn't warn anyone they were supposed to study. Worry not. All you need to do well on this quiz is to have been paying attention to your Magic cards. Here's how it's going to work. I will show you a number of potential cards that could show up in a design file. Your job is to figure out whether R&D would make the spell an instant or a sorcery.

A few guidelines before I start. First, I am not going to include the mana cost, as that wouldn't be decided until after we know the card type of the spell. I will simply write it as follows: (assume I'm doing a red card) ?Red Mana. This means some amount of mana as yet unknown which will include at least one red mana symbol. Two, I am looking for the answer R&D is most likely to give. Yes, there are exceptions. Yes, many of the tournament quality cards tend to be the exceptions. Yes, we break our own rules. The point of today is to look at general trends in design. I am not looking for the exception today, but rather the rule. Three, I'll do my best to get the template as close to real as I can, but please be aware that most design files try to get the gist of the spell rather than the exact text. Four, have fun. (I mean, if you can't have fun with a pop quiz…)

Card #1

Brain Surgery
?Black Mana
_______?

As an additional cost to play CARDNAME, sacrifice a creature.
Target opponent reveals his or her hand. Choose a card from it. That player discards that card.

Instant or Sorcery?

Make your guess and click here.

Card #2

Scorch
?Red Mana
_______?

Destroy target land. CARDNAME deals 3 damage to that land's controller.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Cards #3

Divine Action
?White Mana
_______?

Target creature you control gains protection from the two colors of your choice until end of turn.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #4

Toughen
?Green Mana
_______?

Target attacking creature gets +4/+4.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #5

Investigate
?Blue Mana
_______?

Look at the top four cards of your library. Put two of those cards on the bottom of the library in any order and put the other two cards in your hand.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #6

Start Over
?White Mana
_______?

All players sacrifice all creatures and lands.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #7

Postpone
?White Mana
_______?

Target player cannot play spells for the remainder of the turn. Gain 3 life.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #8

Fry
?Red Mana
_______?

CARDNAME deals 6 damage to target blue creature.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #9

Double Your Pleasure
?X ManaBlue Mana
_______?

Copy every instant or sorcery spell on the stack. You may choose new targets for the copies.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #10

Power Grab
?Red Mana
_______?

At the start of your next upkeep, gain control of all permanents controlled by target player until end of turn.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #11

Block Me Not
?Red Mana
_______?

Up to two target creatures cannot block this turn.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #12

Friends Forever
?Black Mana
_______?

Put two target creatures that share a color from the graveyard into play.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #13

One More Time
?Green Mana
_______?

Return up to two instants from your graveyard to your hand.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #14

Upgrade
?Green Mana
_______?

As an additional cost to play CARDNAME, sacrifice two lands.
Search your library for up to three basic lands and put them into play. Then shuffle your library.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #15

Persuade
?Red Mana
_______?

Untap target creature with a power of three or less and gain control of it until end of turn. That creature gains haste until end of turn.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #16

Look Within
?White Mana
_______?

Do not draw a card for the current turn. Instead gain 10 life.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #17

Final Jeopardy
?Red Mana
_______?

Take an extra turn after this one. At the end of that turn, you lose the game. Draw a card.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #18

Learned Tutor
?Blue Mana
_______?

Search your library for a blue card and reveal that card. Shuffle your library, then put the card on top of it.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #19

Dark Conversion
?Black Mana
_______?

As you play CARDNAME choose two creature types. All creatures of the first creature type become the second creature type. (This effect does not end at end of turn.)

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Card #20

Absorb Aura
?Green Mana
_______?

Destroy target enchantment. Gain 5 life.

Instant or sorcery?

Guess and click.

Pop Goes the Quiz

You may put your pencils down. I hoped this pop quiz was less painful than those you might have taken in the past. I you liked this format let me know, and perhaps I'll do another like it sometime.

Join me next week when I speak my mind about a topic that's been bugging me.

Until then, may you move at whatever speed serves you best.

Mark Rosewater

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