Hey everyone! As part of Simic Week, I got the rare opportunity to ask Magic Head Designer Mark Rosewater a few questions about the flavor behind everyone's favorite freaky fish guys. Without further ado, here is my brief interview with Maro himself.
What direction was given to the creative team when designing the style guide for the Simic Combine?
"The driving theme of the Simic is "improving upon nature," so the obvious place to go is experimentation that changes the nature of existing creatures into something new (sort of an Island of Dr. Moreau feel). An issue we had with the original Ravnica block was that it came on the heels of Kamigawa block, which had done a lot with animal/human hybrids. To keep the two blocks from overlapping, the creative team opted to go in a different direction.
When we came back to Ravnica, the creative team was no longer restricted by the need to differentiate from Kamigawa, so they decided to return to the more obvious take on Simic. They chose to embrace the "experimenting on nature" feel. Also, merfolk, which were on hiatus from Magic in the Ravnica block, are back, and the creative team wanted to integrate them into the Simic."
I was on hiatus from Magic during Kamigawa block, but knowing what I do of Asian mythologies (read: playing video games and watching the occasional anime), I can definitely see what Mr. Rosewater is talking about. Oni come in all shapes and sizes to be sure, so I can see the difficulty in trying to differentiate between the two blocks.
Can you describe the selection process for which types of creatures were chosen to make up the Simic guild and which type weren't? For example, why no deep-sea creatures?
Okay, if I am being honest, that was a loaded question. I really just wanted to plant the idea of the Simic secretly hiding these hideous shock troops that are combinations of the most terrifying creatures on our own planet. Imagine an anthropomorphic anglerfish and gulper eel hybrid. You're welcome.
How difficult was it to design a marine-based guild in the middle of a cityscape? Can you describe some of the challenges involved in designing a marine-based guild?
I don't know, there are a lot of merfolk, sharks, crabs, jellyfish, crocodiles, fish, fish mutants, and leviathans in Gatecrash. I'd say that's pretty marine-based, but what I really want to know is how do whole sections of Ravnica not just collapse into the vast ocean that resides directly under it? Never mind the other ten guilds in Ravnica—the most powerful guild on the planet is Ravnican Mason Union Local 223.
What approaches were taken to keep Simic's flavor fresh but still familiar?
For those of you not in the know, last time in Ravnica Momir Vig, the Simic guild leader, sort of lost his mind and tried to make the perfect living creature in the form of Experiment Kraj, but his plan didn't quite work out and a lot of innocent Ravnicans died. A whole lot in fact. It was a messy affair that almost destroyed Ravnica itself. Luckily, Rakdos came to the rescue. You read that right, Rakdos saved the world…by being absorbed by Kraj and falling into a coma…but the world was still saved. It counts. Chalk one up for the murderous hell spawn.
Shambleshark has been a big hit in the flavor department amongst players. Were there any other designs that mish-mashed creature types this way that didn't make it to print? A brief follow up: will you at any point be providing drawn butter counters for evolve creatures?
And as far as drawn butter counters go, we got you covered Mark.
I would like to thank Mr. Rosewater for talking the time to answer my questions. Hopefully, I'll be able to further pick his brain in the future. One day I will find out the story behind the Phelddagrif. Until next time, don't forget to have fun!