Thursday, 4 July 2013

Oracle Reviews

One of the things I'll be doing with this blog is reviewing Oracle text of Magic cards. The Oracle is the official source of card text for the game. For older cards that were written when the rules were pretty loose the Oracle text can vary a lot from the original text of the card. I'll be rating them based on three criteria:
  1. Oracle wording does not functionally change the original workings of the card
  2. Oracle wording does not create any bizarre interactions with newer cards
  3. Oracle wording has class, elegance and pizzazz
I find overly complex rating systems to be distracting rather than useful. Counter-intuitively, having more options for a review seems to increase rather than decrease the ambiguity. Siskel and Ebert perfected the simple rating system but I don't think I'm going use a simple thumbs up or down. Instead I will be rating oracle words on a zero to three star system.

An oracle wording that gets three stars is one I heartily approve of. It represented the original intent of the card well, any bizarre interactions with other cards are hilarious, and it has a great aesthetic. I like these.

For the most part, a two star rating means that I find the wording quite serviceable but that it doesn't have that special something that would make it deserve three stars.

A one star rating is an oracle wording that has something lacking. It may fail to capture something about the original card, or it may be really dull.

This rating is self explanatory. Presumably I will have already spewed invective at an oracle wording I give this rating to.

Obviously rating oracle wordings of Magic cards is a kind of insider-baseball-geekery that will be of interest to very few people. Fortunately for me, I don't have any illusions that anyone will like what I am doing anyway. First up will be a review of the wording of Animate Dead and it's successors, Dance of the Death and Necromancy.

Thanks very much to Aleksandra Wolska for her beautifully hand-drawn star, and to the folks at for allowing me to find it.

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