I recently spoke with Mark Tuttle, the executive producer of Sony Online Entertainment's Magic: the Gathering – Tactics about the game's first expansion Secrets of Terisiare.
M:TG Tactics has come a long way since its release, with numerous changes to how cards work and the addition of instants. In fact, one can say that it is a completely different game. How did this happen?
"There were a lot of the cards in the game that just didn't feel right as sorceries. So we asked ourselves “Why can't we do instants?” Before instants, you would spend your entire mana pool each turn. Now, its been official to hold back on that Lightning Bolt or Giant Growth. It changed the game over night, and now it feels a lot more like Magic."
Secrets of Terisiare introduces two new powerful mechanics to Magic: the Gathering Tactics, Charge and Cloak. Could you please tell us more about them?
"Charge was added to all three of the minotaurs in the set: Canyon Minotaur, Talon Minotaur, and the alpha minotaur (Hurloon Minotaur). Charge allows a character that has line of sight to another game piece to cross the distance across the board. It adds a real tactical element to the game. Players will now have to think more about using the obstacles.
Cloak makes a character invisible until they strike or are hit by a spell (like Fireball). If an opponent's character cloaks it'll completely disappear, and you won't see it at all on the battlefield. It kind of introduces submarine warfare. In addition to a few new cards from Secrets of Terisiare, we also added Cloak to one of the pieces from set one."
What card from Set 1 did you add Cloak to?
"A real classic cloak and dagger type of card that just isn't as powerful these days....
For Secrets of Terisiare, how closely did you work with Wizards of the Coast?
"In the original release we worked very closely with Wizards of the Coast. Now we have the full reign. The art, card lists, and game play changes are all still submitted to Wizards of the Coast, however we have the freedom to create what we want."
What was the greatest challenge for creating Secrets of Terisiare?
"Time. Trying to get everything done and get it looking right on time. Our designers are experienced Magic players, are very passionate about the game. It takes a log of work to create a piece in Tactics because its not just a 2D card. You need to creating a rig, skeleton, skin, animate it, and really do justice to the art.
Take for instance the Magic card Augur of Skulls. What is this guy? It looks like he has four legs, these weird things sticking out of his back, and a mystical shroud. We really had to dissect that image to create the full 3D piece."
Was there a pet card that you snuck into the set?
"I'm really fond of the angels of the game, and we've got a couple of different angels in Secrets of Terisiare. I also really liked Canyon Minotaur."
Do you still plan on releasing M:TG Tactics on PlayStation 3?
"Yes. First we want to increase the amount of content though. The biggest complaint we've heard about the game was that there wasn't enough cards. There are tens of thousands of paper Magic: the Gathering cards out there. We want a similar wealth of depth and rich content before introducing it to console, making it a full Magic experience."
In Innistrad booster packs there was a pomo code for a free Serra Avenger. Do you plan on adding more promo codes to booster packs of Magic: the Gathering?
"If wizards will have us, then yes we'll do it again. The code redemption system is there, so it'll definitely be taken advantage of. We've got a lot of cool initiatives for the game over the next few months."
Is there anything else that you'd like to add about Secrets of Terisiare?
"Set 2 will add new avatars to the game, and that's something that we'll be expanding on. Some of them will be for sale, others as prizes in tournaments, and etc.
We will also be bringing new functionality with different ways of playing the game. Right now there are pick up games, three tournament formats (Open, Constructed, and Draft), and scenarios. We have have another style of play coming, one that is unique to online gaming."
Secrets of Terisiare goes on sale Tuesday, December 13th, 2012.
Magic: the Gathering - Tactics is "an online, 3D turn-based strategy game". There are "single player scenarios" and "PVP action". Additionally, Magic: the Gathering - Tactics "features regular content expansions, a robust tournament environment, and an achievement and rankings program".
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