Should Color Pie Breaks Be Reprinted?

General forum

Posted on March 30, 2024, 2:22 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

In this post on Mark Rosewater's Tumblr account, a user asked why WotC continues to reprint color pie breaks, because doing so implies that they are acceptable, and I can understand that sentiment, because I severely dislike color pie breaks, as well, but others users responded that any card will become prohibitively expensive, if it is not reprinted, so the best way to deal with color pie breaks is to ban them in any format, and I understand that sentiment, as well.

What does everyone else say about this subject? How do you feel about color pie breaks being reprinted?

legendofa says... #2

I don't think blue land destruction + mass damage or green flying on demand is going to be reprinted any time soon.

Mass banning shouldn't be the way to go. The distinction between almost off-color and actually off-color is very thin and fuzzy. Ambush Viper is a classic example. Every individual part of the card is solidly available in green, but together they become very similar to a mono-black card. Is this a ban-worthy break? Dawn Charm is a hard counterspell in white, but it's a natural extension of the self-protection that white excels at. Is this ban-worthy? Thinking about that, about half of Planar Chaos and Future Sight would be under consideration for banning. Is it worth it to ban big chunks of entire blocks in all formats?

Reprints are okay, in my opinion. Chaos Warp is a good but not great card in a vacuum. The only thing notable about it is that it can temporarily remove a single enchantment. I think the idea that new players will think these are standard and typical effects won't happen as much as these people are claiming. Either a more experienced player can say "Yeah, that's a weird effect and not something that normally happens," or the new player simply collects more cards and notices that, for example, black is much better at forcing discards than white.

If you can pull together a full red-green counterspell deck from reprints, I say go for it. It's going to be less efficient than other red-green decks and other counterspell decks, but if style points are more important than winning, that should be a valid option.

Of course, I don't encourage printing new breaks. But for cards that already exist, I don't see any realistic long-term harm in keeping them in circulation.

March 30, 2024 4:18 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #3

I think pie breaks should absolutely be allowed, if the setting calls for it thematically. For example, what if there is a plane where the leylines are heavily corrupted, and mana has frayed apart and blurred?

That could be the basis for a fun precon set, which would give new utilities to colors in a very thematic albeit flavorful way. For example, nobody cried over the white zombies of Amonkhet, despite white being the anthesis of necromancy. Fact is, that was a plane-wide color break and nobody was upset about it because it made sense for that world.

We tend to think about breaks in terms of mechanical aptitude, but there is far more nuance to it. Toshiro Umezawa was also a good guy. That's another pie break.

Now to your question, will blatant breaks be reprinted? Maybe, if it serves the setting. Perhaps in some sort of Anthology set, perhaps as a Secret Lair, perhaps as a Future Sight prequel.

Not like in a Modern Horizons, although some of the lesser egregious ones could possibly be done for Draft purposes.

So theoretically yes they absolutely could, if a set was catered toward it. Now designing a carefully catered set would be a wholly different topic. The reason that would be considerably unlikely is because you need to understand Magics audience:

Veteran players and new players.

Veteran players won't appreciate a sudden upheaval of core concepts. Some, like myself, would find a once-and-done deal, such as a precon set, to be refreshing. White gets some draw, blue gets some land destruction, green gets a plethora of strong flyers and enchantment boons, etc. They don't even need to be so obvious. It could be small things, like red being able to target enchantments. Or black calling for specific land tutors.

Red is already good at destroying anything, enchantments included. It just doesn't SPECIFICALLY call for them. And black ABSOLUTELY can tutor you lands, but why would you waste a Diabolic Tutor on a land in the first place?

Anyway, so veteran players would likely argue with the majority against it and few in favor. It would be a more mechanical means, if nothing else.

But that's not the problem. The problem is the NEW players, who are actively trying to learn the game, who suddenly are thrust into a set that upheavals their expectations. What's worse isn't the new players who are several sets in that can reasonably understand it's a gimmick or mechanic and is a once-and-done sort of thing.


It's the BRAND NEW players, who have never opened a pack before in their life, who are now effectively learning the game wrong.

THAT'S the problem.

And for THAT problem alone, I highly doubt it, even if I would personally like to see it myself.

March 31, 2024 1:41 a.m.

legendofa says... #4

TypicalTimmy Why is Toshiro Umezawa a color pie break, just because he's a good guy? can be supportive, helpful, and even generous, as long as they stand to benefit from it somehow. The "good" side of will encourage others to improve--after all, there's no point in demonstrating your value, power, and general amazingness to people who don't represent any sort of challenge or threat, and having a good rival to push you even harder is a good thing. The philosophy of isn't just cynical selfishness, or pointless death and torture, or making one-sided contracts with demons. can absolutely believe that the world can be improved, and that they have (or can get) the skill and knowledge to improve it. If they gain everyone's adoration in the process of becoming more capable and powerful, that's just one of the perks.

Also, I don't think new players will encounter severe breaks in high enough volume to become convinced that they are normal. If for some reason they're learning the game by themselves without someone helping them, the non-breaks hugely outnumber the fuzzy breaks, which hugely outnumber the obvious breaks. So they might get the wrong idea for a few days, or weeks if they're especially isolated, but the truth should become clear over time. It's theoretically possible that someone's first exposure to the game is Control Gruul with Lifeforce, Glacial Crevasses, AEther Membrane, and Windreaper Falcon, but I don't think that's especially likely in practice.

As a separate thought on color breaks, and related to the point about Amonkhet Zombies, it's currently possible to make a functional Boros Vampire decks, and a Jeskai Zombie deck, and Dimir Elves. None of the individual cards are breaks, but in a carefully curated aggregate, it's possible to reinterpret almost any color mechanically and thematically.

I'm not a hardliner on breaks. I believe that the limitations and weaknesses of colors should be closer to "the color can do this rarely and inefficiently" instead of "the color can never do this." Anyone can get rid of anything at instant speed for - or draw a card and gain life for . While these cards wouldn't make sense being printed directly into or , respectively, they do allow those colors access to those effects at common.

March 31, 2024 3:40 a.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #5

He's a color pie break, not mechanically, but flavorfully.

April 1, 2024 3:15 a.m.

I think new players are in so much trouble already that color pie breaks are pretty far down the list. I got to play with two pods of new players last week, which was great, but all but one of them had the fallout precons. Watching them struggle to keep track of all of the triggers was rough. Magic has always been complex, that’s part of why we all like it, but effectively all of the decks are staxs decks: each player had triggers on top of triggers and it was laborious to say the least. I think that breaks are fine, if for no other reason than to reenforce the color identities. And as far as reprints are concerned: I don’t think they’re even necessary, as they’ll just make new cards that are those old cards with additional attributes/modifications. Crucible of worlds is (was?) expensive, but they made that snake guy who is a CoW that can also attack (and be combat-killed). Frankly, reprints are something I don’t even think about anymore.

April 1, 2024 10:45 a.m.

legendofa says... #7

TypicalTimmy Could you please elaborate that a little more? Pretty much everything Toshiro does in-story is in line with black's philosophy.

April 1, 2024 12:24 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #8

Does anyone here believe that Hornet Queen is a color pie break? It is wrong for a mono-green creature to have both flying and deathtouch?

April 1, 2024 8:30 p.m.

wallisface says... #9

DemonDragonJ Mark Rosewater has mentioned multiple times on his blog that the card is a break in green.

April 1, 2024 9:19 p.m.

legendofa says... #10

Hornet Queen's deathtouch is generally considered okay. It's the efficient flying power that's the problem. Green is the weakest color for flying, and almost all of its efficient flyers are part of a Dragon cycle. Virtually all of the exceptions are very old, require blue mana to be meaningful, are non-cycle Dragons, or are Time Spiral-block Insects. 6 flying power for 7 mana with offensive and defensive utility and resistance to spot removal is heavily reinforcing what should be a core weak point for green.

April 2, 2024 3:30 a.m.

shadow63 says... #11

The cards already exsist so I don't see much harm in reprinting them

April 2, 2024 7:49 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #12

legendofa, that makes sense, but I am glad that Hornet Queen exists, since I have a copy of her in my Ghired, Conclave Exile EDH deck.

April 2, 2024 8:25 p.m.

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