Monday, June 18, 2018

Fecund 3.0

I wasn't really happy with the wordiness of Fecund 2.0, partly necessary to avoid immediate infinite combos. Also, I was kind of unhappy with the flavor of how the mechanic worked, which suggested a massive interspecies orgy going on. What I really wanted to do somehow is have a mechanic where an individual creature could create a token version of itself, but only once.

And then today, this lady was introduced from the upcoming core set:

So when she deals damage to something, she loses hexproof. And it's easy to remember if she's dealt damage or not. So it's a change while the card is in play that isn't signaled with counters or anything, but it is not likely to cause memory problems. So I was thinking of reversing that. What if a thing triggered only once when a creature did damage?

I made an additional hoop to trigger requiring it to damage an opponent. This keeps it a little bit more in check so that it can appear on common, and more importantly allows for fecund to remain on the token copy. The copy will need to do combat damage to another player, but if it does, again another copy.

There's the thing that because Palladia-Mors is an expensive mythic legend, you're only ever going to have one of her out. She's not going to cause memory issues for that reason. I'm not sure how difficult it will be to remember if a creature has dealt damage to an opponent or not yet if you have multiple fecund creatures out.

It's a way of capturing reproduction that has gatekeeping that keeps it being interactive with the opponent. The question will be how balanced it is, especially in a limited environment. And of course, this is only going to be able to be on small creatures. Well ... maybe one really crazy mythic. We'll see.

Friday, June 15, 2018

G/B Vermin Swarm

I thought about "batching" a bunch of small green and black creatures as "vermin" the way Dominaria has batched "historic" cards, but I don't think the set actually needs it. I'm creating many creatures that qualify as vermin, but not a lot of vermin "tribal" cards. Instead I'm caring about creature tokens, which will abound in both colors.

Ultimately I think I'm definitely cutting black out of fecund, so that mechanic will appear only in bant colors (G/U/W). Black has both mutate and reave. And it will be getting some zombie tokens, which will also be relevant for the B/W identity.

So some vermin relevant cards:

Reave isn't terribly compatible with the vermin concept because tokens aren't going to end up in the graveyard. But it is a way to get a second use of combat tricks, and not all the creatures are going to be tokens, obviously. There won't be many reave cards that this deck will want.

What fecund looks like in rare. I'm very curious to see how this plays out. Once the Warproot Ant Colony is on the battlefield, your natural inclination will to be target it with every subsequent creature with fecund that enters the battlefield. I'm not sure how dangerous this will end up being.

This is a bridge card that can also fit in B/W with zombie tokens, but obviously is also very powerful when comboed with green's fecund creatures.

And a new signpost for G/B. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep Vermin Frenzy as yet. I actually haven't decided on how many multicolor cards will be in the set beyond the signpost uncommons and the two planeswalkers.

So the play dynamic is to play vermin creatures. Use fecund to create additional vermin creature tokens. Swing in with your vermin creatures. When your non-token vermin creatures die, you make token snakes. When your tokens die, you drain your opponent.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

G/W Managing the Mutations

Because green and white also have a starring planeswalker, it needs a solid identity. This is slightly awkward because white is the color without mutate and green is very pro-mutate.

They do also share fecund, but again, I want green-black to be token creature heavy, and Janell just doesn't fit that kind of mentality. She wants the growth, but she also wants control. So that hit me with the idea that G/W should be the color pairing where you can spend +1/+1 counters for various effects. So flavorwise, you're having your creatures grow, but keeping them under careful control and management. There will be no wild reveling like in red-green and no secret evolutions like in green-blue.

So the mandatory elf mana dork:

She's also obviously a bridge common for anything else you might want to splash, especially if you get a strong mutate creature in red or blue.

Definitely a different idea for a card. Obviously you don't want this unless you're going to commit yourself into creatures and spells that give counters. I'm still working on the white-red identity, but you probably don't want it in there or if you're invested in the white-blue flyers token creature deck.

This maybe looks a little underwhelming. I may jack up the power level depending on how frequently it triggers and the battle effects. White will have plenty of first strike, though, so there's potential combat trickery here.

Green non-mutate common that's compatible with this color combo:

The humans have hounds (in white). The elves have cougars (in green) outside the Arbor helping deal with large beasts. Even though it doesn't have mutate, there are ways to give it more counters. But in all likelihood it will die when you use its ability. That's the point.

Here's the Green-White signpost. I'm kind of ambivalent, so it may change:

Maybe I should have it destroy a tapped creature? Destroy a large creature? Maybe it should be only four mana.

And here's my latest iteration of Janell:

Her ultimate was once my legendary angel's ability, but I think I'm going to change her to perhaps go with a red-white identity I'm working on. Note that Janell's ultimate exiles both creatures and artifacts, but only the creatures come back. Yes, I'm aware that her ultimate doesn't pair well with her +1. But the whole growth reset button is definitely part of her intended identity.

Also a fun thing. You can use her +1 on opponents' creatures to make them bigger, and then use her -3 to exile them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

U/G Identity: Grow Smarter!

Red and green just both want to grow bigger and overrun everyone. But in the secretive evolutionary battles going on in the Untended Cradle if you want to grow, you've got to adapt and survive as well.

The blue-green identity won't have a big footprint in the set, but the focus is on creatures that evolve, not just grow.

It won't have a huge footprint because it's hard to do at common. It's a little too complex, and at common we mostly want french vanilla mutate and fecund creatures. Here's a common:

It doesn't have mutate. Instead it grows as it takes down the flyers it has evolved to feed on.

I haven't really brainstormed many rares yet. Here's a blue drake:

This is an ability you have to think before using. Obviously you can duplicate any combat trick. But if you want to play some high-risk evolution games, you can copy a low-level damage spell or some sort of tap or detain spell in order to trigger mutate.

I've already introduced the Acre Breaker, but I've iterated it a little bit. And I've bumped it from rare to mythic:

Instead of a signpost creature, I've redone Self-Directed Evolution as an aura:

Given that there's no humanoid races in the Untended Cradle, don't think too much about how this spell is getting cast in the first place. Or perhaps you should, and worry just a bit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Fecund 2.0

I was not happy with the wording for my first version of fecund, which takes up so much reminder text that you can't realistically do much with it.

So I cleaned it up, and by doing so, kind of loosened it up into a weird Animal Kingdom/"Do it like they do on the Discovery Channel" kind of place.

Here's the new version:

So, yeah, we've got crossbreeding going on all over the place. You can make a token of one of your other fecund creatures or even one of your opponents'. They're animals. They're apparently not very choosy. Something in the water in Guthreham.

Some other simple commons:

So these are obviously very simple french vanillas in common. When you start making them more complex, you really have to be careful:

When I initially made this octopus, he drew you a card when he died. But then I realized that essentially made him a bomb, possibly bumping him up to rare. He would be the selected creature of every single fecund creature you played and you'd keep trying to make tokens of him. I don't think that makes him broken, but I didn't want blue to be the primary fecund color. It does make for an interesting identity with green, but it might compete with the black-green vermin theme.

R/G Revel in the Overgrowth

In the deep tangles of the overgrowth, far away from where people live, various nature denizens absolutely luxuriate in the wild growth of the plane of Guthreham and don't want to be restrained. Some of the sentient races like dryads can feel the growth and grasp the energy being pushed up from somewhere deep within the plane. But they don't know that the plane is "pregnant," and don't care. They just like the way nature reacts to it and the strength it grants them.

So red-green is all about embracing the mutate mechanic and becoming monstrous beaters. Not exactly an unfamiliar role of the two colors. Admittedly, I find this color pairing generally uninspiring, though I did end up liking how the dinosaurs worked out in Ixalan. The enrage mechanic had more gameplay to it than I recognized on paper.

So, some creatures designed for the R/G mutate archetype.

This is a mutate version of a riff on a fun thing to do with enrage in Ixalan. Yes you can use this to kill an X/1 or ping your opponent. But you can also ping one of your own creatures with mutate and even the lizard itself to give it a +1/+1 counter.

I almost absurdly put this as a common. Yeah ... no. I'm gonna have to be careful about granting unblockability in the set.

While iterating some cards for this I began realizing that green's "ramp" identity is very different in this set. It's not about getting out lands and mana-producing creatures to get out big beasts. It's about getting beasts out and then making them grow larger. So there may be a little more emphasis on enchantments and targeted/activated abilities and a little less on getting more lands out.

Now that I'm settling on pairing archetypes I'm also keeping in mind cards that can bridge between color pairings to be versatile in limited formats. The Bonfire Furiant works well in both the red/black reave decks, and if you use this ETB effect on a creature with mutate, it's quite effective. It will get the counter before the effect is resolved. So if you use the ability on the Warproot Dryad, she'll get the +1/+1 counter for being targeted, and then she'll get +2/+0 when the ability fully resolves, making her 4/2 until the end of the turn.

Also, I have no idea what the hell a "furiant" even is. I just wanted some weird angry word to represent a fire elemental.

And the signpost uncommon for Red-Green:

This is another one where I'm not sure about the strength level. Until I playtest it's hard to predict how frequently we can expect a creature to get a counter in a given game. I have a feeling this is probably going to be fine in limited, but I wonder about it in constructed.

Monday, June 11, 2018

U/R Race You to the Bottom

So after experimenting with a couple of cards that reward you for scrying cards to the bottom, I kind of ended up thinking about the idea that the wizards in both blue and red are the ones who understand that something is really wrong with Guthreham and all the growth and the ones who have isolated themselves (either up in Nightscrape Mountains or on the Runetide Flotilla) to research.

Thematically, I started thinking that this manipulation with scrying could be a neat little theme for a blue-red identity to mechanically represent the relentless push to find answers. It's tough to do anything new and interesting with the color combo because of its tendency to focus on spells over creatures (unless you go tribal with them).

So as I stared at it, I realized that technically Snap Spark could be mono-red. Red can scry, though typically it doesn't get as much as other colors. Since blue is primary in scry, I can sort of bend it by making sure they work best together.

Note the cost drop. I realized that when it was two mana it would likely feel very bad if you really needed both cards and didn't put either of them on the bottom. If I kept it red-blue, I'd probably bump it up to scry 3.

Cheap blue Opt substitute:

I worry this one also feels bad if you don't put both on the bottom and get the card draw. I could bump up the cost and have the player draw a card for each one they put on the bottom.

There are elemental shaman folks on the flotilla helping keep tabs on the environment so everyone stays safe:

Note the "leaves the battlefield" trigger instead of death. So they scry if they get blinked or bounced.

And my stab at an uncommon signpost creature for the duo:

Might possibly be too strong for uncommon. But Dominaria really raised the game for signpost uncommons.