Saturday, March 25, 2006

Magic: The Gathering Syndrome (or what was bad about AD&D Second Edition)

A recent post asked the question: does no one love Second Edition?

To which you're asking, the Second Edition of what? Isn't this a history blog or something?

Just roll with it man.

We're eclectic.

Anyway, here's the problem as I see it: 2E gets no love because its the worst of the three rules sets.

First Edition had all this charm and energy and pure... Gygaxian Mania.

Sure, none of the classes were balanced.

Sure the DMG was organized by an Old One determined to drive the unwary student of its many, insurance-adjuster-inspired tables mad.

But the classes were fun. They had pizzazz (that's a technical term only a real game designer can dish out). In short, you wanted to play the game.

Third Edition has those clean mechanics. Its like a sheet you can bounce quarter off of. Its tight.

Sure, some of that verve is gone. But the classes still have enough spunk (another technical term) to make them all enjoyable play options.

Second Edition manages to achieve a goodly amount of balance. But it does so at the expense of all the fun. In fact I'd say that 2E is as balanced as 3E, just without any of the fun options (skills and feats, Im looking at you) that 3E brings to the table.

But the way 2E achieves its balance is by whitewashing everything. You're left with something that, while still good, is just not as good as either the edition that preceded it or the edition that came after.

So why didn't I call this post the "Jan Brady Syndrome" you ask? Ok so you weren't asking.

Something the Magic card game does on a regular basis is whitewash the entire system. If a card is too good, its gone. What you're left with, to my mind is something bland.


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