Exclusive Q&A With Magic‘s Head Designer


This is Azorius Week, and I had a chance to get a few Azorius-flavored questions answered by none other than Magic Head Designer, Mark Rosewater! Read on to learn a bit about the lore and mechanics of the law-and-order Guild of Ravnica.

The Escapist: Within the confines of the lore, in what ways does the Azorius Senate exercise their rule of law? Do they have a police force? Do they operate prisons?

Mark Rosewater: “The Azorius oversee the government. They are the executive, legislative and judicial elements of Ravnica. They don’t enforce the law though. That’s left up to the Boros who function as the police force/army of Ravnica.”

The Escapist: How did the Detain mechanic evolve to become what it is?

Mark Rosewater: “We tried a whole bunch of different mechanics for Azorius. It was by far the most troubling of the guilds of Return to Ravnicato design for. Once we had detain though it didn’t evolve much from what was submitted. Most of the design work was figuring out how best to use it and on what kinds of cards.”

The Escapist: What exactly motivates Isperia to take part in the Azorius fight for law and order?

Mark Rosewater: “Isperia took the mantle of leadership not because it was something she wanted but rather she felt it was something the Azorius needed. As a sphinx she values solitude so it took her a long time to agree to run the guild.”

The Escapist: Will Azorius spells and/or lore be playing any significant role in Gatecrash, or will that be entirely dedicated to the remaining five guilds?

Mark Rosewater: “Gatecrash is mostly about the other five guilds but just as those other five guilds get a little face time in Return to Ravnica so too will the first five guilds get some face time in Gatecrash.”

The Escapist: Where did the idea for using “Filibuster Counters” for [mtg_card=Azor’s Elocutors] come from and might we be seeing more filibustering in the future?

Mark Rosewater: “The idea of filibustering counters came from the top down design of the card. A top down design means the designer started with an idea and then made the mechanics to fit the flavor. Will we ever see filibustering again? That depends a lot on whether the players like it and whether another card ever has a flavor where filibustering makes sense.”

The Escapist: In terms of Alignment, where do you think Azorius falls?

Mark Rosewater: “Azorius is definitely lawful good.”

The Escapist: Given the color identities which restrict what abilities can be in a color, do the guild color combinations impart their own unique identity, or are they just mash-ups of the two colors?

Mark Rosewater: “The guild’s are finding a unique identity that comes from the combination of the two colors. I believe that the overall guild feel is greater than the sum of its parts, so no, I don’t feel they are just a mashing of colors together.”


The Escapist: Izzet’s Overload mechanic seems designed with Multiplayer in mind, but Detain definitely favors 1-on-1 duels. Were Azorius spells in general designed more for 1v1 than larger games and was this done deliberately based on the lore of the guild?

Mark Rosewater: “Our goal for each guild mechanic is to make it popular to the style of player that likes that guild. Azorius does like creating rules to make everyone else follow, so I do feel there’s room for an Azorius multiplayer deck although I’m not sure detain is a big part of that particular strategy.”

The Escapist: What was the most fun Azorius card to design and why?

Mark Rosewater: “I didn’t design it but I’m a big fan of [mtg_card=Sphinx’s Revelation]. I always enjoy when we can take two iconic spells and staple them together in a way that feels like its own spell.”

The Escapist: If you had to pick one Azorius spell to represent the whole lore and flavor of the guild, what would it be?

Mark Rosewater: ” I would have to chose [mtg_card=Detention Sphere]. Play by Azorius’ rules or else.”

That’s all we’ve got for this week, folks! In case you missed the Selesnya Q&A over at Forbes, you can check it out here. Also, be sure to check out our new Hexproof Return to Ravnica League video mini-series!

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