These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Magic The Gathering
Author's Saving Throw: At various times, the popularity and longevity of the game has supposedly been in danger due to poor decisions from the designers (for example, after the tepid response to Homelands or mounting player frustration at the dominance of Necropotence decks), which then demanded that Wizards of the Coast pull out all the stops on their latest product to assuage the masses. For example, after the insanity of the Urza cycle and the blandness of the Mercadia sets (which was an intentional effort to counterbalance Urza), many feared the game would flounder, but the well-received Invasion block undid much of the damage and radically changed the way that players approached deck design. Magic is, however, much more stable than many believe.
Broken Base: Different people like and hate different things about Magic. They argue endlessly about it on the Internet.
Yawgmoth started out as a blend of all the worst parts of Adolf Hitler and Josef Mengele. This was when he was still human. After gaining control of Phyrexia, he ended up as the multiverse's equivalent of Satan.
Nicol Bolas has been becoming this towards this since he started getting featured more prominently. It's repeatedly stated that his only aim is to gain power, and he'll go to any lengths for it, which so far have included releasing the Eldrazi.
Yawgmoth, and Phyrexians in general. When they first appeared, they were barely a footnote in the flavor of the Antiquities expansion; eventually, they morphed into the main villain in Magic's Rogues Gallery.
Fan Dumb: Concerning any number of things, but the color pie itself seems to be the most frequent source. Some people have too simple a view of the colors and others just don't have any clue what's really going on.
Even more so, Chandra and Gideon Jura had even more build up, including a implied romantic subplot in the novel, The Purifying Fire. It makes for an interesting relationship, as they seem to like each other, but openly despise what the other one stands for; Chandra being all about personal freedom, and Gideon about the importance of law and serving the greater good.
The never-legal (and really unplayable even if it were legal) card Splendid Genesis◊, designed to commemorate the birth of Garfield's daughter, would qualify if it were ever played. He did, however, propose to his then-girlfriend, Lily Wu, over a game using Proposal. She accepted. (It did, however, take him four games to actually draw Proposal.)
I Knew It: Usually rare due to the many rumormongers who try to spoil each upcoming set, but the "priceless treasures" promotion from the Zendikar set qualifies.
Law of Chromatic Superiority: The Sligh Deck (named after Paul Sligh who pioneered deck building mathematics needed to make it competitive) is known generically as Red Deck Wins for just this reason, although which color is the most powerful is a matter of fierce debate. In modern times, Blue is considered the most powerful, even following several years of deliberate depowering by the designers.
Yawgmoth, whose original, human incarnation is best described as "Hitler, but sexy."
Nicol Bolas, the oldest known planeswalker and the last Elder Dragon, is one of these. He's over 30,000 years old, has ruled empires, and is the Big Bad in more than one story. Currently, he's taken Yawgmoth's place as the current supreme threat to Dominia's safety and happiness, although in a more behind-the-scenes fashion.
Meta Twist: In the Scars of Mirrodin storyline, Phyrexia has vastly superior forces, the element of surprise, and is the bad guy. Any Genre Savvy player worth his salt would think The Good Guys Win against overwhelming odds, right? Nope. Welcome to New Phyrexia, folks.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Atog was a scrappy thanks being the most printed card other than basic lands for a few months after Revised, but by the time Mirage made atogs an iconic race, not only had the haters disappeared in a puff of apathy, but the people who liked the atogs' goofily-large toothy grins and power in decks built to feed them were more plentiful than ever.
Mark Rosewater is the head designer and is essentially the public face of Magic design and development. If something goes wrong, it's his fault. Even if he had nothing to do with it, it's always MaRo's fault. People often mistakenly call him the head of Magic R&D as a whole. The game's inventor, Richard Garfield, seems to have escaped this.
The Reprint Policy, featuring the Reserve List: cards that can't be reprinted ever again, not even with another name. This was originally done to protect secondary market prices on certain older cards; now kept pretty much only due to promissory estoppel laws that would punish them if they broke it. Many people gripe about it because it prevents reprintings of several cards that would be average power under current metagame conditions, like Thunder Spirit, while not preventing several powerful cards that weren't rare from being reprinted...which Wizards has done with cards like Sol Ring and Demonic Tutor. Wizards also ran into trouble when they tried to exploit a loophole in the original policy wording which allowed them to reprint reserve list cards as foils; they eventually closed that loophole in deference to the collectors, breaking the base even further.
The rules for the "Bands With Other" mechanic have since been changed to be more intuitive.
Banding. Banding is easier to understand than "bands with other" and many times more versatile, but it's still complicated and unintuitive, and has been the butt of many jokes over the years as a result.
"Affinity for artifacts," although often acknowledged as a fair mechanic in a vacuum, gained infamy through its association with the "Ravager Affinity" deck that dominated the format at the time, so much so that its key cards were banned from tournament play. The backlash was strong enough that when Scars of Mirrodin revisited Mirrodin, the designers chose not to bring it back in fear that its new incarnation would inherit the Scrappy legacy of the mechanic.*
Cards that require a coin flip have consistently been among the least popular cards in their respective sets, according to Wizards of the Coasts's market research. Head Designer Mark Rosewater explains.
Countering. A countered spell or ability simply fizzles. All the cost of it must still be paid (and sometimes, that's much worse than just mana), but the user gets nothing. This is very frustrating and the methods to get past it are rarely obvious to new players. This is a big reason the scrubs mentioned below say "no blue". In fact, countermagic is so unpopular that R&D has deliberately been reducing its effectiveness.
Transform is the new Scrappy Mechanic, as its cards are the first to have different backings. They need to be able to flip over during play, making them incompatible with sleeves, but also must be sleeved or else count as marked cards (and illegal in tournaments and any casual group with common sense). The solution is to print placeholder cards that garbage up booster packs, with Transform cards in a pile on the side. Since all the Transform cards had to be printed on the placeholder, they are few in numberómeaning your opponent has a pretty good idea what deck you're running when he sees you have a pile of Transform cards off to the side.
Scrub: As always, in contrast to the "Stop Having Fun" Guys: any card that the Scrub's deck can't deal with is "cheap", and anyone using it is trying to ruin the game for everyone who wants to play real Magic. It's common for people seeking casual games in Magic Online to put something similar to the following in the description:
No blue, no land destruction, no goblins, no elves, no nonbasic lands...
Seinfeld Is Unfunny: New players may be mystified as to why certain famous/infamous cards have such a reputation. Sometimes this is because of their still immature grasp of the game, but other times it's because those cards were simply good in their particular metagame, making their dominance a matter of context. Or even that the rules of Magic have changed so that whatever made them good in the first place doesn't work anymore.
"Stop Having Fun" Guys: As strong a force as the scrubs. Usually found battling against anything perceived as making the game easier.
So Bad, It's Good: A handful of cards, particularly from early sets such as Legends, are so thoroughly useless that they're regarded with a degree of affection by players. Chimney Imp, for example, is a particularly iconic one, attaining a status of Memetic Badass on the official forums, but is by no means the worst creature; that dubious honour probably goes to Wood Elemental.
Squick: Uktabi Kong, a card (tap two apes to produce an ape token) which invokes a number of sex tropes, but especially:
Technician Versus Performer: One of the oldest ongoing disputes amongst competitive Magic players is whether netdecking or not is more "pure". Netdecking is the concept of taking a well performing decklist, and fine-tuning it to your meta. The alternative being to develop a rogue strategy specific for the anticipated metagame.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Too many times to count. The most recent example (as of mid-2009) are the rules changes introduced here, but the game has to tweak itself a little every year, and each year brings a plethora of complaining, along with the beeping of cash registers to drown them out.
The major rules overhaul with Sixth Edition caused a massive outcry among players at the time.
Perhaps the biggest Internet Backdraft occurred in 2003, when they made some rather drastic changes to the cosmetic layout of the cards.
Four words: Planeswalkers as playable cards.
Tier Induced Scrappy: The most powerful cards and decks, as players grow tired of seeing the same cards at the top tables of every tournament. Victims have included:
The Jund deck that dominated Standard after the release of Alara Reborn.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor's unprecedented price tag (about $100 at its peak), combined with his status as a staple in multiple formats, has earned him a lot of unpopularity among some segments of the player base. It got to the point that Wizards had to ban Jace from decks.
This applies to the Homelands expansion. Almost all of the cards were too weak to see any play, even outside of tournaments, giving it a reputation as a set consisting of nothing but useless junk (The Duelist once admitted the only worthwhile card in the set was an ok anti-weenie card, and people only played that when there were block rules that required decks to contain cards from every expansion in the current rotation; later, Merchant Scroll gained some popularity as well). Packs of Homelands cards were still available in stores for next-to-nothing long after it had "officially" gone out of print.
Fallen Empires, too, for about the same reasons. Although it did have several cards that saw tournament play, its best cards (such as Order of the Ebon Hand and Hymn to Tourach) were common, so players didn't need to open many packs to collect all the cards that they actually wanted. It was also massively over-printed, with almost six times as many cards printed as any expansion set before it (approximately 350 million cards, compared to the 62 million of the preceding set, The Dark) and almost as many as the then-current base set, Revised Edition (estimated at 500 million cards over its lifetime.) This imbalance between supply and demand kept the price of Fallen Empires packs very low for a very long time.
After the overpowered Urza's Block, Mercadian Masques looked weak and underpowered in comparison. One big problem with Mercadian Masques was all the reprints of weak cards. (Kyren Glider < Goblin Glider, Moment of Silence < Festival, the return of storage lands from Fallen Empires.) Some of them were even from the granddaddy of Scrappy sets, The Dark. The great reception for the following block, Invasion, also hurt Masques' popularity.
Likewise, Kamigawa block, coming out hot on the heels of Mirrodin. It was followed by Ravnica to boot, a reasonably powerful set that's been a fan-favorite since printing (even the less powerful cards are considered fun).
Too Dumb to Live: The writers of the Guildpact, for intentionally writing in an antagonist for whom failure was NOT the only option, because "hey, there's an empty slot." The spoilered mistake sets in motion the plots of the entire original Ravnica trilogy.
Yawgmoth's rational, scientific and analytic mindset is in open contrast with any kind of mysticism, romaniticism, and/or devotion towards "magic" typical of the biggest part of characters. Needless to say, he's the Big Bad.
The card Triumph of Ferocity (part of a two card cycle with Triumph of Cruelty) caused a fair bit of controversy with its artwork, which depicted Garruk pinning Liliana against a rock, one hand raised to strike. The resemblance of this scene to Domestic Abuse did not escape notice; Wizards eventually acknowledged their decision to use that art might not have been in good taste and apologized.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: From the Mirrodin blocks, Glissa Sunseeker. Can they do anything to make the poor elf's existence any more outright soul-crushing? Her family is violently murdered by little automated thresher machines. She endures a great many difficulties in collecting the Macguffins of Power only to have them turned on her almost immediately by the Big Bad. Her Heroic Sacrifice allows Slobad to save the people of the world, transporting those who were abducted from other planes back to their original planes... including every one of Glissa's friends (except Slobad) and her only surviving family member, but not her, ensuring her heroism is totally forgotten by everyone else. When she gets back, she's blamed for everything bad that happened in the last several years before being corrupted by Phyrexian oil and turned into a powerful enemy of the same world she'd worked so hard to save.