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Mark Rosewater
Mark Rosewater
General Information
Born May 25, 1967
Status Active: Alliances to present

Mark Rosewater (born May 25, 1967 in Biloxi, Mississippi, USA) is head Magic: The Gathering designer for Wizards of the Coast and is one of the more influential and renowned card designers and employees at Wizards.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[ | ]

Mark Rosewater was born on May 25, 1967, in Biloxi, Mississippi, USA,[4][5] to a family of Jewish ancestry.[6][7] He has a younger sister, Alysse.[7]

Rosewater attended Orange High School in Pepper Pike, OH and, later, Boston University in Boston, MA, whereat he earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication.[8]

Career[ | ]

Hollywood[ | ]

Prior to his work at Wizards, Rosewater was a Hollywood "runner"[9] and a writer for the television sitcom Roseanne, having written the episodes "Vegas, Vegas" and "Take My Bike, Please!".[10][11] After being fired, he ended up working in a game store called The Game Keeper. About the same time that Alpha was making its first big explosion at Gen Con '93, Mark was being introduced to this new "trading card game".[12][13]

Wizards of the Coast[ | ]

Before Mark got a full-time job at Wizards of the Coast he still lived in Los Angeles, and made Magic puzzles for The Duelist.[14] At GenCon 94 he played at the World Championships. There he introduced himself to the editor of the Duelist, became a freelance writer first and later the chief editor.[15][16] Because of this official capacity, he was banned from sanctioned play, and got into judging.[17] At Wizards of the Coast R&D, he first was a developer and later became part of numerous design teams. In December, 2003, he got promoted to Lead Magic Designer.[18] In 2004 the title was changed to Head Magic Designer so as to not confuse the title with the lead designer of each individual expansion.[19]

Designing[ | ]

Developing[ | ]

Non-Magic: The Gathering products[ | ]

  • Mood Swings (own design, unpublished).[21]
  • Duel Masters (original design team, lead design for two small sets).
  • Star Wars: TCG[22] (original design team, lead design for first release)
  • G.I. Joe TCG (original design team).
  • Neopets TCG (original design team).
  • Dungeons & Dragons TCG (unpublished).[23]
  • Transformers TCG (original design team).[24]
  • What Were You Thinking boardgame (contributions).[25]

Writing[ | ]

Making Magic[ | ]

Rosewater is known for his weekly column Making Magic, published every Monday on[26][27] In "Making Magic" he gives Magic players insight in the design process of Magic cards and sets. His column discusses many controversial topics, such as the Color Pie and the sacking of Merfolk.

In his article Topical Blend #2 he parodied the MiseTings forum, which gave him that title and is home to many of his most critical fans.

He has explained in detail the Timmy, Johnny, and Spike profiles. He also coined the psychological profile "Melvin" and explained the differences between Melvin and Vorthos.

He has also written about the philosophies of each of the five colors. During Ravnica block, he wrote about each of the ten color pairs.

Philosophies[ | ]

In "Topical Blend #1 - To Err is Human", Rosewater related mistakes with women to mistakes in card design. The lessons were:

  • Don't Be Blinded By The Ideal
  • Learn When To Quit
  • You Have To Understand Why You're Doing Something
  • Don't Ignore The Obvious
  • Desire Isn't Enough
  • Think Out Your Problems Far Enough To See Where Decisions Lead
  • Avoiding What You Want Causes Problems
  • Harnessing the Past Can Be Dangerous
  • Idealism Is Great, But At Some Point Realism Needs To Poke Its Head In
  • Not Every Mistake Is Actually A Mistake

In "Life Lessons, Part I" and "Part II", he shared further life lessons and related them to Magic design. These lessons were:

  • Judge yourself (and your ideas) by the people that care about you. Don't give that power to people who are not invested in your well being.
  • Things happen for a reason; Even disappointments can be opportunities.
  • You seldom regret failing. You always regret not trying.
  • It's not my job to look out for the welfare of others at the expense of myself.
  • If you want things to happen you have to take the initiative to make it happen.
  • You can't be inflexible with your future.
  • The little stuff matters.
  • “I Can Do Better” is the path to ruin.
  • There are things that happen that you simply have to accept and move on.
  • Having priorities doesn't mean anything if you don't actually prioritize them.

In 2024, 18 years after the preceding articles, Rosewater wrote a tribute to his father who had died recently. Her recalled some lessons his dad had imparted on him and how those lessons had shaped his design philosophy, including how he designed Magic sets, mechanics, and cards:

  • If you're not enjoying the game, change the rules.
  • The players make the game enjoyable.
  • Do what fills you with joy.
  • Don't be afraid to take risks.
  • You want to surprise people every once in a while.
  • Raise your child for who they are.

Scales[ | ]

Main article: Rosewater Scale

Rosewater is well known for creating several "scales" measuring his personal, unofficial assessment of how likely and frequently various Magic game elements are to return to the game.[28] The Storm Scale ranking game mechanics is most famous, and it in turn led to the Rabiah Scale for planes, the Venser Scale for planeswalkers, the Beeble Scale for creature types, and the Gotcha Scale for silver-bordered card mechanics.

All scales go from 1 meaning evergreen or likely to appear in almost every standard-legal set, to 10 meaning nearly impossible to appear in future standard-legal sets. Each scale is named for a "rank 10" example of the category, so for instance Storm is expected never to return to standard.

These scales originated with Rosewater's Tumblr page "Blogatog", but the Storm Scale now receives regular updates under his "Making Magic" series on Wizards' main site.[29][30] The Rabiah Scale has been summarized there as well.[31]

Blogatog[ | ]

Blogatog is a blog run by Rosewater where he answers questions submitted to him. The blog also regularly features a series of Magic related one-panel comics entitled "Tales from the Pit" (also the former name of the blog) as well as links to Rosewater's Making Magic column and a weekly audio podcast he records on his morning commute entitled "Drive to Work".[32] Some of the concepts which Rosewater eventually writes about in his official column originate here, such as the Storm Scale.[33]

Recurring characters[ | ]

There are some recurring characters featured in some of Rosewaters's less serious posts:

  • Sally, the legendary squirrel
  • Englebert, the planeswalker least likely to return
  • Rosewater's toaster
  • Evil Maro

Storyline[ | ]

Weatherlight saga[ | ]

Rosewater was co-creator of the original Weatherlight Saga and the plane of Mirrodin.[34] In addition, he also was responsible for writing flavor text and overall flavor of sets (most notably during Tempest block).

Rosewater and his friend Michael G. Ryan plotted the original Weatherlight Saga, with additional help from Bob Kruger, Kij Johnson, and Pete Venters.[35][14][36][37] The plot lines were based on universal themes as recognized by the famed scholar Joseph Campbell.[38] Ryan and Rosewater also created all members of the original Weatherlight crew (except for Captain Sisay who was an already existing character).[39]

Ryan and Rosewater were removed as the people in charge of the story during the end of Tempest block (during Exodus) and that event created a schism between R&D and the creative team for a number of years.[40][41]

Unstable[ | ]

For Unstable Rosewater provided a storyline article.[42]

Pro Tour[ | ]

Rosewater was also heavily involved in the creation of the Pro Tour, which he attended regularly until 2003 and made it a point of visiting at least once a year.

Personal life[ | ]

Rosewater married Lora Montrose in a Jewish ceremony.[43][44] They have three children; Rachel and twins Adam and Sarah.[45][46] Lora used to work the night shift at the Game Center of Wizards of the Coast, and that's how they had met.[47]

Awards[ | ]

In 2023, Rosewater was inducted in the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design Hall of Fame.[48]

Miscellaneous[ | ]

  • The "Un" sets, Unglued and Unhinged, were his idea and mostly his creation, and has a special connection to these silver-bordered sets.[49] For this reason, he answered the Ask Wizards "Un" set-related questions, and even drew the art of Look at Me, I'm the DCI. He would only accept a check from Wizards for 1 dollar for the artwork, which he has framed on his wall, along with a copy of said card and the original artwork.[50]
  • Mark Rosewater has admitted to visiting rumor sites, such as MTG Salvation, because he loves reading rumors and theories that people come up with; however, he has a distinct hate for unofficial spoilers.
  • Rosewater jokingly refers to the rules manager as his arch-nemesis. Mark Gottlieb most notably filled this role.
  • Mark Rosewater came up with the idea for The Great Designer Search.

"MaRo"[ | ]

One of Rosewater's nicknames is "MaRo", an abbreviation of his name. When he designed a card to fit in an open rare slot in a Mirage development meeting, Bill Rose wrote "Maro" as a placeholder name of the card because it was what Rose typed into the Wizards email system to get Rosewater's name.[51] The creative team was aware it was named after him, but thought it sounded okay and left it. This predated R&D’s no vanity rule. Rosewater later purchased the artwork himself. Today, creatures with power and toughness equal to the number of cards in the controller's hand are commonly referred to as Maros. Fans of Rosewater sometimes claim to belong to the "Cult of MaRo", a play on Mark Gottlieb's "Cult of MaGo".

Literature[ | ]

In-game references[ | ]

Associated cards:
"All Things Maro":

References[ | ]

  1. Mark Rosewater (October 10, 2005). "Twenty Questions". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Evil Mark Rosewater (February 25, 2008). "Rogue Operative". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater (April 19, 2019). "I made a list of all the mechanics I had a hand in creating.". Twitter.
  4. Mark Rosewater (June 1, 2015). "The (Not So) Secret Origin of Maro". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Mark Rosewater (March 6, 2006). "Life Lessons, Part II". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (August 27, 2007). "Topical Blend #3: Sessions". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. a b Mark Rosewater (July 30, 2012). "Celebrity". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (December 07, 2009). "Playing With Blocks". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater (March 05, 2007). "Tales of a Runner". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewater (December 26, 2011). "A Roseanne by Any Other Name". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Mark Rosewater (February 16, 2009). "25 Random Things About Magic". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Mark Rosewater (August 23, 2004). "An M:TGer at Gen Con". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater (June 01, 2009). "Once Upon a Time". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. a b Mark Rosewater (December 3, 2007). "Weather(light) Report". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Mark Rosewater (November 28, 2005). "A Different Worlds". Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Mark Rosewater (October 11, 2004). "Forgotten Lore: 10 Mental Locks of Magic". Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Mark Rosewater (February 14, 2005). "Land of the Rising Fun". Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Randy Buehler (December 12, 2003). "News from the World of Magic". Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Mark Rosewater (August 23, 2004). "Odds and Ends". Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Mark Rosewater (January 22, 2020). "I’m not officially listed on the design team for Onslaught even though I’m the person who pushed for the tribal theme and convinced R&D to do morph and bring back cycling.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  21. Mark Rosewater (April 29, 2016). "Could you reveal all you're allowed to about Mood Swings?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  22. Mark Rosewater (May 13, 2002). "Through the Riftstone". Wizards of the Coast.
  23. Mark Rosewater (February 24, 2016). "Other than Star Wars and Duel Masters, what other properties did you help with?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  24. Mark Rosewater (March 14, 2018). "Did any MTG staff work on the upcoming Transformers ccg?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  25. Mark Rosewater (September 23, 2018). "May I please have some trivia from any board game you've worked on?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  26. Mark Rosewater (January 07, 2002). "A Nightmare To Remember". Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Mark Rosewater (December 4, 2006). "Making "Making Magic"". Wizards of the Coast.
  28. Mark Rosewater (March 31, 2019). "You said storm scale is just your opinion and for entertaintment purpose.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  29. Mark Rosewater (February 29, 2016). "Storm Scale: Khans of Tarkir Block". Wizards of the Coast.
  30. Mark Rosewater (March 25, 2019). "Storm Scale: Kaladesh and Amonkhet". Wizards of the Coast.
  31. Mark Rosewater (November 12, 2018). "The Rabiah Scale, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  32. Mark Rosewater (January 25, 2016). "No Two See the Same Maro". Wizards of the Coast.
  33. Mark Rosewater (February 29, 2016). "Storm Scale: Khans of Tarkir Block". Wizards of the Coast.
  34. Mark Rosewater (March 21, 2011). "Looking in the Mirrodin". Wizards of the Coast.
  35. Insider Trading, by Mark Rosewater. The Duelist # 16, April 1997, p.17
  36. Mark Rosewater (November 19, 2018). "Face Cards, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  37. Mark Rosewater (December 3, 2018). "Face Cards, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  38. Making Wine of the Grapes of Rath, by Rob Dalton, The Duelist # 23, March 1998, p.44-47
  39. Mark Rosewater (December 6, 2014). "Could I get some cool trivia on Captain Sisay or the Weatherlight?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  40. Mark Rosewater (February 17, 2014). "Being Inspired, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  41. Mark Rosewater (December 16, 2013). "Can you give us some idea of what the Weatherlight story was supposed to go?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  42. Mark Rosewater (November 29, 2017). "World Class". Wizards of the Coast.
  43. Mark Rosewater (December 22, 2008). "Cosmic Encounter, Part I". Wizards of the Coast.
  44. Mark Rosewater (October 27, 2008). "Cosmic Encounter, Part II". Wizards of the Coast.
  45. Mark Rosewater (January 26, 2004). "Special Delivery". Wizards of the Coast.
  46. Wizards of the Coast (January 22, 2004). "The Rosewaters design a new split card". Wizards of the Coast.
  47. Mark Rosewater (March 07, 2005). "Topical Blend #1 – To Err Is Human". Wizards of the Coast.
  48. Jeffrey Dohm-Sanchez (February 2, 2023). "Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Announced".
  49. Magic Arcana (December 1, 2004). "Mark Rosewater Makes an Ass of Himself". Wizards of the Coast.
  50. Mark Rosewater (June 28, 2012). "Framed copy of the original artwork for Look At Me I’m the DCI.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  51. a b Mark Rosewater (July 8, 2022). "On the note of maro the story you have told was...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  52. My 62 Secret Magic Playtest Cards! (Video). Good Morning Magic. YouTube (February 20, 2023).
  53. The Gavin Unknown Playtest Cards of MagicCon Chicago! (Video). Good Morning Magic. YouTube (February 28, 2024).

External links[ | ]