Thursday, July 26, 2018

Krunanan, Skyprodder

I had an idea in mind that deep within the "Untended Cradle" is a creature that had evolved itself enough over a long period of time to become secretly extremely powerful U/G creature that manipulates in subtle, psychic ways, some of the high-speed evolution taking place there.

This eventually made me think of a highly intelligent dragon that the humanoid races of Guthreham are completely unaware exists.

And then as I was thinking about my U/G theme of self-directed evolution I hit on the idea of creatures learning to control triggered abilities. Multitriggering abilities has become an interesting, janky component of blue's identity. Tying it to a creature's abilities seems green. So I end up with Krunanan, here:

This card just seems like it's going to break stuff, but unfortunately I'm not really good at mentally recalling/thinking about what has been published in the past. I've attached it to an attack trigger and then set it target a single other creature to gatekeep it just a little bit.

Within the set itself, you can use it to trigger pretty much all the special abilities in this set. Mutate and Fecund are both triggered abilities. Reave itself is a casting cost, so it doesn't trigger reave, but if there's a creature with an ability that triggers when you pay a reave cost, you can trigger that.

I also had a story idea in my head that Krunanan becomes evolved enough to "spark" and becomes a planeswalker with a build-around focus on creature abilities. I'm still brainstorming what that might look like.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

If You Reave, I Won't Cry

Given the parasitic nature of reave and things triggered when cards are reaved (riven? whatevs), I'm a little concerned about its playability in limited. So I decided there should be a cycle of common sorcery/instant spells that would typically be used as useful if not terribly exciting tools for sealed/draft 40-card decks. The twist is that there's a bonus if they get exiled from anywhere. So you're essentially double-dipping with reave. The reave card itself gives you some sort of bonus if you exile a card from the graveyard. These cards also do something when they're exiled.

The bonus on this one is not terribly exciting. But it could be useful if you're playing W/B and need to be reaving out cards to make zombies in order to survive.

Keep in mind how this also triggers if you exile a card off the top of your library but are still able to cast it. Which you can do with Plundered Sanctum. And don't forget about effects that let you play a spell from your graveyard and then exile it.

The familiar land tutor. Note how this significantly boosts R/G if you reave it out and have creatures with the mutate ability. Each one you untap gets a +1/+1 counter.

Ashen Illumination as the typical discard/draw red card also has the bonus of putting another card in your graveyard for potential reaving. I haven't designed it yet, but I'm sure there will be a red spell of some sort that will let you exile, then cast the top card of your library in some fashion. Which means that if Ashen Illumination is the top card of your library it will cost only 1 colorless to cast (plus the discard).

This one might be too powerful for common, given that black has primary access to reave and other reave effects that create zombie tokens.

It actually taps for colorless mana, but I think the Magic Set Editor is old and doesn't have that symbol. I think I'm going to take the "non-land" restriction off of reave kickers. I don't think it's necessary.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

More Artifact Concepting

While Gutherham (and the Overgrowth set) is not an artifact-heavy plane, there are artifacts present due to its long history. It's Janell's anti-artifice mentality that's been purging them for the past several decades. So there are artifacts--and some of them are going to be quite impactful. Really they're going to kind of exist on the edges--either they're low in powerful and beneath Janell's notice, or they're very powerful but are hidden deep in places where Janell does not know they exist.

Some common artifact creatures:

As you can see, flavorwise the mages used to use artifact birds to pass along messages. They still have some in the Runetide Flotilla, but make sure the Arbor doesn't know about them.

An updated version of this early creation. These creatures are underground so Janell doesn't even know they exist. Note the spider creature type. This is compatible then, with black/green's vermin identity. Should I give it reach? Hmmm.

Since the cephalids are deep under the ocean, they obviously are not affected by Janell's efforts. That could have made it possible for a B/U artifact-heavy theme, but I've noticed that sets that try to sell an artifact theme in a color pairing kind of struggle unless there's a good as-fan of artifacts.

So even if Janell at the Arbor is very down on artifacts, I did want there to be some defensive artifacts accessible to white, given the emphasis on playing defensively in this set. In this case I flavored/balanced it as something very limited that only serves to protect.

I flavored the typical card-draw tome to go with the red hermits. Obviously anybody can play this artifact. It's going to be particularly good late game in red/black if you also have a reave card that cares how many cards left the graveyard.

Here are a couple of cards that tell a story about whatever secrets are hiding deep within Guthreham:

And the new version of Womb of Guthreham:

There's some stuff going down deep inside this plane. What does it mean? It's a secret. (Which means I haven't actually really figured it out yet.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Blue Library Manipulation

So the typical card draw/filtering for blue needs to deal with the fact that the blue-red and the blue-black identities are different. There needs to be consideration of both scrying for red and the possibilities of playing things from outside of your hand for black.

So let's start with this set's version of Telling Time:

Putting a card on the bottom of the library rewards the blue-red scry-to-the-bottom gameplay. Putting a card in the graveyard makes it accessible for possible recursion or playing out of the graveyard later, or even a reave kicker with a black or red card.

Here's the draw three sorcery:

I had an idea of having blue and black spells that have inherent bonuses if they're played from outside your hand. I don't want push into that too much because it's so very parasitic and not terribly compatible with reave in black. But I might have one or two cards. Scour for Answers does go great with the set's mandatory Weird Blue Enchantment:

I think this is okay as rare and not mythic. To explain what's gong on with the scry components: In a limited environment with less emphasis on sorceries and instants, players might be concerned about exiling a bunch of cards they can't play. The scry on ETB before the exile is intended to let the player improve their chances of getting playable cards. They can bottom lands or creatures. And then the activatable scry is simply to make sure it's never a "dead" enchantment if you don't get any castable cards or after the cards have been cast. And it also makes the card compatible with red-blue.

Drumbeat Enchantments 2.0

Now that I have the mechanics and color pair identities nailed down, I went back and looked at the drumbeat enchantment cycle to see if I wanted to keep it.

I think I do, rather than having a uncommon creature auras. So what I did is to create them so that they grant appropriate color-associated bonuses that aren't typical combat keywords. So they're not granting menace, or flying, or hexproof, or what have you. Those will come from typical auras and combat tricks. But with mutate in mind, I wanted to have thoughtful bonuses that rewarded strategy but didn't give the typical +X/+X bonuses.

So here's the new iteration of the cycle.

White probably has the most powerful of them (especially when combined with the U/W flyers archetype). But white doesn't have access to mutate on its own, so it makes sense.

I am still unsure as to whether these enchantments are too powerful with the flexibility or too weak with the mana requirements. It will have to be tested.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

R/W Identity: Purge the Monsters!

The last of my color pairings here is probably intentionally going to have the smallest footprint in the set.

Red and white combined will be the best pairing for taking out the various corrupted, mutated, and overgrown beasts of Guthreham. That's not really much of an identity. It's what the two colors already do. 

I don't see this being a set where people would be drafting red and white. They just really don't have a lot of identity in common. But I did want to make sure they are at least playable together.

Here's a common red creature who will be helpful early on against mutating decks:

So this is going to be a little different from U/W's control of big beasts because it's based on aggression. U/W is much more defensive. R/W is going to destroy them all.

Here's a way for white to both control and be aggressive in its typical exile enchant effect:

So you remove an opponent's creature and potentially make one of yours a bigger beater. And there are red mutate creatures, so this could partner well with your own monsters if you want to be a big ol' hypocrite.

The signpost card is a sorcery, which is about as big a sign that you can get that this set is not trying to push you to play these two colors together. But it is a nice card:

So I've defined identities as best I can for each of the color pairings. I need to figure out what the artifact components look like and what I want to do with non-basic and dual lands. A set about an overgrowing plane begs for some land weirdness, but I'm really not sure of an approach yet.

B/W Identity: Survival at Any Cost

People who have been afflicted with the various plagues that have cropped up along with the overgrowing abundance of life get pushed out of The Arbor and other communities and end up in various small encampments. There's a long collection of them along what's now known as The Blightcoast. 

There people struggle to survive, and to deal with the horror of their own pending zombification when they do. It's a riff on the familiar zombie apocalypse trope, but in this case, the zombies aren't inherently predatory and they're not just randomly attacking and eating people. They don't need brains. They don't need anything, actually. They just shamble along in a brutal unlife. They respond to threats. So when the encampments get attacked by raiders or outsiders, zombies will actually help defend the humans.

The B/W identity is focused on using recursive creatures and token creatures as resources to help survive. The G/B vermin theme is about going wide in attacking with your tokens. B/W is about using tokens and recursion as tools to keep yourself alive.

Reave in black will play significant role. Here's what will likely be a staple common:

A simple zombie that would be too odd in any other set but makes sense here at common. Whenever you have a reave kicker show up on a card, you can target this zombie and he'll return to the battlefield instead of being exiled.

Here's an important uncommon build-around for this playstyle:

Note that you can get several zombies from this card. This is why I separated reave as a cost from the effect. At common, reave will cause a thing to happen once. At uncommon, a reave effect can iterate multiple times from a single trigger. At rare/mythic, a reave effect can be a recurring trigger.

Getting white involved is a little tricky. This all reads pretty black. In fact, I'm looking at this next card, and it feels black instead of white. I may need to tweak how it works:

I want white to represent some devoted healer types who were not willing to abandon people who have been touched by plagues. The way the sacrifice is triggered here feels black, not white I need to figure a white way to trigger a very limited recursion effect with Desperate Stitcher.

Here's a weird rare that I think works with this color combo:

I'm not really sure it's actually rare. Note that white will have access to fecund, so this actually also works as a bridge rare with other color combos that aren't focused on zombie tokens. There's a rules question here as to whether spells that create tokens directly, as with Disrupted Peace, count as being cast from your hand. Should it? Maybe the card should read "wasn't cast from your hand as a creature spell."

And the signpost uncommon:

Pretty straightforward.