Magic: The Gathering Designer Explains Converted Mana Cost Change

Magic: the Gathering

Magic: The Gathering is making a small but very noticeable change (to existing players, at least) to the way it explains one of the card game’s most fundamental concepts.

With the arrival of Standard expansion Strixhaven: School of Mages next month, folks will no longer find the term “converted mana cost” on any creature spell, sorcery or enchantment, but rather, “mana value.” The former, used to describe the total amount of mana required to put anything (other than lands, of course) into play, has been printed on cards for almost three decades largely without issue. So why now has Wizards of the Coast decided to alter what seemingly wasn’t broken?

The answer, as provided by principal product designer Mike Turian in a recent presser, is quite simple. Just because something already works doesn’t mean it can’t be made better, and that’s the exact line of thinking that the team followed in order to reach this outcome.

Speaking during the event, Turian describes how converted mana cost had long been considered an unnecessarily confusing term for newcomers and certainly one far more obtuse than mana value. Both describe the exact same process but the latter gets the point across in a much more efficient manner.

Of the now-defunct original terminology, Turian said the following:

“That’s a pretty hefty phrase to be putting on cards, where space is very valuable. So through testing and in discussion, we found that mana value really would capture a lot of that same information.”

To cut a long story short, then, Magic: The Gathering‘s ever-increasing complexity (and, by extension, the need for free space on a card to explain what it does) directly contributed to what will surely become a signifier of just how long someone has been playing in the years to come.

As for Strixhaven, you can enroll in the titular school of wizardry starting April 15th.