Wednesday, 23 November 2022 08:30

Hedronize: The Chaotic Dice Mechanic That Almost Was

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Hedronize: The Chaotic Dice Mechanic That Almost Was WOTC

One way or another, dice have been part of Magic: The Gathering for a long, long time. And one Magic expansion nearly took dice to a whole 'nother level.

The year is 2015 and a new set was returning the game to a familiar setting.  That set was Battle for Zendikar, an expansion went all in on the Eldrazi.

As the Eldrazi were chaotic by nature, Wizards of the Coast wanted a mechanic to reflect that chaos. As card games are generally limited to what's printed, that didn't leave a lot of room there. So, they thought of a keyword action involving an eight-sided die. Each number was a different thing, so every time the card was played, it could be something else. They called it "Hedronize."

An official hedron die.
An official hedron die / CARDMARKET

In playtesting, this wasn't exactly easy though. Not everything could fit on the cards, so rule cards would have to explain it. And that doesn't even get into the fact that not everyone had dice. But the fact that they could make an Eldrazi spawn, or gain you life, or whatever, it seemed too good to pass up.

New eight-sided Hedron dice were ordered to be made and it seemed like they would be integrated fully into the game

But, as the release date came closer, and cards were to be printed soon, Hedronize was suddenly at risk. Further playtests found that dice rolling was just a bit too chaotic for players (which is ironic now thanks to the Dungeons & Dragons Magic: The Gathering sets that have come out since). A card of chance was just confusing everyone, especially one that didn't really put strategy on top, or, at least as much as blind odds would allow.

Even though Battle for Zendikar didn't have hedronize in the end, it helped influence future die-based cards and other features. Just because hedronize was chaotic didn't mean that others had to be. Plus, many found the expansion to be chaotic enough - Eldrazi can do that.

But Magic almost got an expansion that was based even more on chance and threw strategy out the window. Almost.