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Q: What is precedence?

ThreadAnon Dec 9th, 2015 3,204 Never
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  1. A: Precedence, when it comes to Magic, is an indication of how likely effects, types, and/or colors are to be used with each other. Precedence is very important when it comes to making custom Magic cards, because it gives us a standard by which we can judge whether or not a custom card would ever be made by Wizards. Generally speaking, if a card is seen as having very little precedence, it is hard for others to give suggestions that would benefit the card without having first used the card in an actual game of Magic. As well, if a card is seen as being in direct violation of a set precedent, it will likely be suggested to change to fit precedence, or it will simply be ignored.
  3. Q: Is precedence set in stone?
  4. A: No. While some effects will be restricted to some colors (easily seen in evergreen keywords), even these effects can appear on cards in violation of precedence, something Wizards has done from time to time. In fact, this is where much discussion comes about when it comes to making custom Magic cards. As the game is over 20 years old as of this writing, it shouldn't be surprising to know that much of it has changed, which of course what grants precedence and what violates it. In the interest of helping people understand the concept of precedence, I'll make two lists of factors that grant precedence and violate precedence.
  6. Factors that grant precedence:
  7. + Appearing in a recent set.
  8. + Being explicitly stated by Wizards themselves as something they are trying to do.
  9. + Having a very long history in the game which continues into the more recent sets.
  11. Factors that violate precedence:
  12. - Appearing only in older sets, as the game was still very new and even the designers had little knowledge of exactly what they were doing.
  13. - Being explicitly stated by Wizards themselves as something they are trying to avoid.
  14. - An effect on cards of a certain color in the past, which was later changed to another color later (if trying to apply the effect to the older color).
  15. - Being part of any of the following sets or blocks:
  16. -- Ravnica block and Shadowmoor block, but only for the hybrid mana cards. Because these were the first sets to use hybrid mana, the design of the cards using hybrid mana was very different to the design used for later hybrid mana cards.
  17. -- Time Spiral block and Coldsnap set. All of these sets were made as nostalgic, throwback sets, and deliberately violated precedence to evoke the earlier times of Magic, before much precedence had been set.
  18. -- Alara block. Maro has explicitly said that, while Alara was originally made as a tri-color block, they realized during development that tri-color cards and effects didn't have enough design space as they thought it did, forcing them to bend the color pie and violate precedence in order to get a full block out of the theme. This is exactly why, in the Khans of Tarkir block, only the first set focused on tri-color mechanics, instead of the whole block.
  19. -- Scars of Mirrodin block. The Scars of Mirrodin block saw the return of the villainous faction of Phyrexia, previously in black only, this time in all colors. However, in order to keep the "feel" of Phyrexia, Wizards deliberately violated precedence by printing a number of non-black cards with black effects, such as forcing a player to lose life, or paying life to cast cards.
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