Dear Maro, EMN is going to be awesome and we’re on board. Liliana looks super cool.
But here is how me and my Magic-playing friend experienced this mystery.
First, coming off of OGW, knowing that Shadows over Innistrad is coming. Thinking “OK, Emrakul is probably in SOI”.
Then the first couple of cards and images come out and we’re like “Yup, looks like Emrakul for sure!”
Then the mystery angle is pushed, and we’re like… “hmm maybe there is a real mystery here after all”
We hear rumours about a puzzle hidden in the journal, we start bringing up other weird theories about what these tentacles and mutations can be caused by (our beloved Marit Lage comes up a lot in these talks). Because we’re like “It can’t be so obvious that it’s just Emrakul” – yes, this is where we’re at, the awesomeness of great Emrakul – favorite among Eldrazi – reduced to “just Emrakul”.
And then we hear that the journal puzzle has been cracked and the text is “Remember this they came as three”. And we’re disappointed, we’re like “Emrakul? But we already knew it was going to be her…” We never ever forgot that they came as three.
Some of us start clingin to straws that there’s gonna be Emrakul vs Marit Lage or something like that.
And then the revelation comes and we’re like.. “yeah.. ok I guess… we knew that”.
And the new story and art are great. But this was lessened because of the mystery. So we feel bad, disappointed. Disappointed even though Emrakul is awesome and a great character and the trailer is great and Liliana is great and Gisela and Bruna are great but we feel like… really, this was the mystery? Something we started thinking as soon Emrakul wasn’t in OGW?
I don’t think this is only about enfranchised players. The enfranchised players found the journal puzzle and brought other clues together. That puzzle was hard enough – but what the puzzle concealed wasn’t. Even Jace comes across looking bad because he considered this a mystery. Emrakul on Innistrad was so expected.
Maro, we love you guys. Please, please, don’t think of this mail as rude. Magic is a great game. I’ve come around on the “story cards” too. Everytime I play Declaration in Stone, I feel like I’m “Hollywood Nahiri” walking away from the ruined manor.
But this is something for your state of design, for sure. This mystery was well executed and as such should’ve hid a more unexpected revelation, I feel.
The movie “Rope” is one of my favorites. In it, the audience knows who the killer is but there’s tension anyway. In the mystery of Emrakul, the audience were treated as fools, it’s like the elephant hiding behind the tree on Elephant Ambush, it’s like… so much effort was put into concealing something that was obvious before the concealation efforts even started. It doesn’t make sense to us. I’m thinking:
Either have it be Emrakul but not try to conceal it so bad. We could’ve seen Jace and Tamiyo try to figure it out but without being hidden in such extreme ways to us – because that hiding failed since Emrakul is such a big missing third of the Eldrazi trio.
Or, play the mystery just as you did but have the true secret be something unexpected. Have the puzzle journal not be “Remember this they came as three” but rather something weirder. And then Emrakul can show up at some other time or place.
It makes sense and is awesome that Nahiri would bring Emrakul to Innistrad – she is the Harbinger in this story – but it doesn’t make sense to expect even many casual players wouldn’t pick this up.
We are enfranchised, yes. But most people I know know that Ulamog, Kozilek and Emrakul is a trio.
It’s like Huey is seen in one comic book, Dewey in the next issue. And then there’s a big mystery who is going to be in the third issue. And the clues are difficult and everything’s well hidden and the hoops you have to jump through to find out are appropriate and difficult.
And after a while the enfranchised Duck readers start thinking: this is so convoluted… they’ve got to have brought in Phooey or Fethry or some other deep cut.
And the revelation of the cover is delayed. And then the big day comes. And… it’s Louie!
And we as an audience… even the casual audience, are like… “Yes..? Duh?”
Maro, these are the first days of the big revelation for you and we know it’s important to you to celebrate and we are, we are going to celebrate and overall this is a good thing and looks like a good set. OK? SOI was a good set too.
It’s just… you did a good job with making us feel like it was a mystery. You are very skilled at creating emotions in us. So, we wanted a mystery where there wasn’t one.