Tuesday, 26 April 2022 09:23

Double-Tap: Yet Another Mechanic That Never Was

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Most of Magic: the Gathering's mechanics tend to be tried and tested well in advance. Many don't make it past the drawing board with a select few managing to make it into the game.

But then there are the few others that almost make it. We've talked about one or two before, like Forbidden. And here's another that got passed on during playtesting: Double-tap.

The year is 2006 and Magic R&D was looking into some new mechanics for the first expansion themed around MTG nostalgia. So, of course, they were going to have a lot of new and old things flying about. And, of those, one stood out a bit more than the rest: Double-tap.

It essentially worked like this: You can tap a card once, followed by a second time. But, instead of taking one turn to untap it, it would take two. (Think the exert mechanic from Amonket, but with additional steps.)

According to Mark Rosewater in a later interview: "At the time, we had a mechanic in the set that allowed you to tap certain cards two times. Here's how it worked. A creature with the double-tap symbol could be tapped twice within one turn. First time you tapped it normally, tapping it ninety degrees. You could then tap it again, turning it essentially upside down. Creatures only untapped one rotation during untap, so if you double tapped it, it would take two turns to untap fully. Obviously, this mechanic had to use abilities where there was an advantage to tapping it twice on the same turn."

So, basically it's a card with an extra move.

It got so far in development that not only was it being play tested, but a new double-tap symbol was also in the works. Presumably, it would just be the tap symbol with, again, extra steps.

But why is this not everywhere today? Well, turns out, after the initial double tap, most players would just let the card revert to one tap and just keep using it that way, essentially treating it like any other card. That's it. Double-tap was tap with one extra initial tap.

Rosewater recalled that it "obviously never made it into the set."

"While novel," he added, "it proved to be hard to design to and the play pattern ended up being boring—players tapped twice the first turn and then just tapped it once for the rest of the game."

While the exert mechanic was later spun off from this, double-tap was left behind in the annals of things never released by Magic. And it's a bit sad. Not only could it have possibly been a strategic move to save it for taking out an opponent more quickly, but this website could have been called "Magic Un-double-tapped."

You know what, scratch the latter reason.