Explaining Timely Reinforcements

Posted on August 11, 2011


by Matt Sperling

We had some questions about the printing of the card Timely Reinforcements in Magic 2012, so we sat down with the lead developer of Magic 2012, Tom LaPille.  Here’s what he had to say about the new life gainer and token generator:

MTG Lampoon: Tom, thanks for taking time away from overanalyzing Lady Gaga songs to speak to us.

Tom LaPille: No problem.  I’m always happy to discuss M12, which I’m very proud of.

ML: Are there any plans to print a core set that doesn’t give blue-white control a bunch of 1/1s for one card?

TL: After we decided to not reprint Squadron Hawk, we briefly considered not invalidating a bunch of aggressive strategies that are bad against 1/1s, but in the end, it just didn’t feel like the right time for those decks to have a chance.

ML: That makes sense I guess.  As color hosers go, Chill and Warmth are generally considered too oppressive, while Flashfreeze and Celestial Purge are just about perfectly balanced wherever the appear.  Where do you think Timely Reinforcements fits in along the anti-red hoser spectrum?

TL:  I fucking hate red decks.  There, I said it.  That being said, people don’t generally like their entire deck getting shut off by one card (especially when that card isn’t even too narrow to maindeck).  Timely Reinforcements still lets red mages play all their spells, so it still feels like they’re in the game.

ML:  You say it “feels like they’re in the game,” but shouldn’t red decks actually have a chance of winning?

TL:  There’s an ebb and flow to the power level of the various archetypes.  Mono red was fringe playable for a couple of years with Goblin Guide and Lightning Bolt, so now it gets a turn at being terrible.

ML:  Was it when Zaeim Beg won a PTQ with mono red that you guys decided to print Timely Reinforcements?

TL:  That was one  factor among many.

ML:  Without using the phrase “We wanted the card to see play,” can you describe why all the numbers on Timely Reinforcement (the low cost, 3 tokens, 6 life) are so powerful?

TL:  Well, we had other versions in testing that cost more or did less, but since we make a new core set every year, the new cards have to be splashy.  We wanted the card to see play in tournaments, so we made the numbers such that people would play it.

ML:  Any regrets about the card’s impact on red decks, Thrun, Vampires, or anything else from future sets?

TL:  Look, we didn’t reprint Squadron Hawk for a reason.  That reason was so that people could add Bladed Pinions to their deck and attack over the Timely Reinforcements tokens.  The real world just hasn’t caught up to the FFL yet.  Give them time, Matt.

ML:  Fair enough.  Thanks for your time.

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