Saturday, March 3, 2012

M13 Mythic Dragon part III

This dragon discussion has been a lot of fun for me. Therapeutic, even. It's a real challenge to find red dragon designs that really deserve to be mythic, are appropriate for core sets in general and M13 in specific, and not trumped by some pre-existing design. That said, thanks to all your brilliant ideas and feedback, we've got some real contenders. Here's the latest version of my short list (I know, it's not that short; you all have too many great ideas):

Dragon Mage is one of only two reprints that I've seen support for. It's a big, splashy effect and worthy of mythic rarity. My primary concern is that it appeals much more to Spike than to Timmy. I will remind you that while appealing to Spike and/or Johnny would be a nice bonus, Timmy is without question our primary audience for this slot.

Form of the Dragon is the other reprint. This is a very Timmy card and easily mythic thanks to the nearly unique theme and ability. I hesitate only because it's not an actual dragon, even if it turns you into one and also because I can't help but wonder how this might be designed differently if it were created today.

We've considered a few more-than-one-dragon designs. This one, originally Jacob Munford's, is the only one that's struck me as awesome enough. And it is awesome. But I'm not sure it's mythic. Nor is "two dragons" really a big dragon trope, even if more is better. That said, if people supported this, I would readily print it.

Pasteur mocked this version up. metaghost's "Mo' Mana Mo Problems Dragon" is funnier, but ultimately we'll have to choose a serious name for this Manabarbs + Mana Flare dragon, if we go this route. I'm very fond of how this subtly redder version of Overabundance reads on a dragon. The final art should show rivers of lava erupting across the land and the name should evoke magma or volcanoes somehow. I wonder if this is still awesome to new players who don't know these old cards.

This is a similar thematic vein but referencing Blood Moon instead. Looks like Coiling Woodworm is the only other card whose size is based on all the lands of a type in play. It's also pretty cool how the two abilities interact.

I got the impression no one liked "indestructible as long as [condition]" with some flavorful condition, perhaps because we just had Angelic Overseer. I'll offer
one more: "Diamond Dragon is indestructible unless an opponent controls a Knight." Moving on... One way to make this simple design more exciting and more appealing to Timmy, while breaking Limited less is to just make it much bigger and more expensive. I still really like this guy.

As long as we're looking at honking-big dragons, this should interest a psychographic or two.

I was searching for dragons in Google and discovered a new "personal results" link. Curious, I checked it out. It reminded me that I proposed an uncommon dragon one year ago. Overall people liked it but they correctly pointed out that it needed to be mythic, not uncommon. Well that's just what we're looking for, isn't it? Trying it out larger and with new templating. Still needs work, but worth mentioning. "R: ~ deals X-1 damage to target c/p or it hasn't dealt damage to this round."? I don't know. You tell me.

Razing Hellkite is still totally printable, but it just hasn't gotten as much support as other designs. I've given up on Princess Snatcher because the ability is too far afield for red. Despite some impressive design, I'm no longer considering Gluttonous Tyrant variants because they read too similarly to demons. Even if they play differently, we want absolutely zero confusion in this most iconic card slot.

43 comments:

  1. Much better / cooler than before. You could use a dose of templating though.

    Dragon Bros is a little hard to read. Why not just make a basic token and then have r: dragons you control get +1/+0?

    Tempest's Ire is unreadable (most players will be totally confused by that wording, even I was very confused). I have three options:

    1) "The first time cardname deals damage each turn, it deals that much damage to target creature or player it hasn't already damaged this turn." (Not functionally the same.)

    2) "Whenever cardname deals damage it deals that much damage minus 1 to target creature or player it hasn't already damaged this turn."

    3) "When cardname deals combat damage, it deals 3 damage to target creature or player, 2 damage to another target creature or player, and 1 damage to a third target creature or player." (stolen from cone of flame)

    I like Ancient Red Dragon best... a 10/7 that arc lightnings for 7 and draws me a new hand? Pretty exciting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. #2 was my original templating but people didn't like that. I'm obviously just reaching with "X".
      I liked that the amount of damage was variable when it was a smaller creature, but at 4 power, a free Cone of Flame is clearer and still plenty incentive. Can anyone top that?

      Delete
    2. Tempest Ire is an interesting concept, but it suffers from the Havelock problem: It's still basically Inferno Titan. Dividing damage 3-2-1, 3-2, or 3 is different than 1-1-1, 2-1, or 3, but not by much. Especially when it usually can't hit players.

      Delete
  2. Ancient Red Dragon is super awesome, but you know what you have to do? Make it trigger off whenever an OPPONENT draws a card.

    Niv-Mizzet was blue, this guy isn't. Thus he gets Spiteful Visions instead of Electrolyzing... whatevers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always liked calling that ability "Fireminding". You may be right about the opponent-draw, however, and that makes him probably solid in EDH (I assume).

      Does that make him more petty and less regal? That he would stoop to pinging your opponents for drawing instead of shooting flame as you as a mage gather more spells? Do they play and/or read more or less the same?

      Delete
    2. The card you're looking for isn't really Spiteful Visions as much as it is Underworld Dreams, which still feels pretty black to me.

      And the original concept is very Niv-Mizzet. For big mythics, we probably want to focus on something without such an immediate parallel.

      But that's not saying there isn't a lot of good things going on with Big Red. At the very least I really like the wheel effect. Making him a 10/7 with Trample seems a little random and makes his ETB ability feel a little unnecessary.


      What I like about this card is the flavor: This dragon knows old magics. What if we ran with that?

      Ancient Banded Dragon 5RR
      Creature Dragon
      Flying, Haste
      When Ancient Banded Dragon enters the battlefield, each player discards their hand and draws 7 cards.
      Discard a red card from your hand: Ancient Banded Dragon gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is the converted mana cost of that card.
      5/5

      Who knew that 2 out of the 3 banned red cards played so well together?

      Delete
  3. My biggest problem with the new broodmate dragon is, even with the bigger size and firebreathing, it's a "basically not as good as broodmate dragon." If there was a flavor that was more different, it'd be less of a problem, but Double Dragon is as Double Dragon does, right?

    I've been liking Ancient Red Dragon, I just wish I knew for sure that that was a suitable name. The advantage I think it has over a lot of recent dragons is that it doesn't look like it's trying too hard, right? The numbers are especially clean, and you could even imagine playing it in constructed (with a way to cheat it into play of course).

    Almost all of these are worth filing away for another project (or a set where Tempest's Ire could be templated differently or part of a vertical cycle for ease of understanding.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree on Double Dragon. I like dragon bros, but Broodmate was a cleaner execution and doesn't want or need a makeover quite yet. When the eventual gold core set makes its debut, Broodmate would make an excellent reprint.

      Delete
    2. Agreed. Dragon Bros is out of contention for M13.

      Delete
  4. Ancient Red Dragon is pretty good, but I think it's too big. That effect is awesome, but not ten mana worth of awesome, and we want it to actually get cast. I'd make him 6RR or even 5RR, 7/7, and lose the trample.

    Alternately, riffing off metaghost's idea:

    Spellbook Hoarder
    4RR
    Creature - Dragon
    5/5
    Flying
    Whenever CARDNAME attacks, draw three cards, then discard three cards.
    Whenever you draw a card, CARDNAME deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

    ReplyDelete
  5. To the dragons that don't have a thread yet:

    Just like Nirkana Revenant, Overabundance Dragon really wants a place to sink all that Mana. Also, if we're making this card for Timmy, he's going to hate that his dragon hurts him, too. Maybe:

    "That'll only make him madder" Dragon 3RRR
    Flying, Haste
    For each tapped land an opponent controls, TOMHM Dragon gets +1/+0.
    4/4

    ____

    Look, I can nitpick my own designs too, Magmafire Dragon (I like the name) should probably cost 5R, since it's an interesting addition to a deck that might like playing lots of nonbasics only to turn them into mountains when the time comes. Also, it reads a little better with the abilities reversed so that you know to count nonbasics the first time you look.
    ___

    Diamond Dragon is indestructible. Yep.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not opposed to opposed to giving Overabundance Dragon firebreathing. Swings for 14 or 16 the turn after he lands, but he also dies to anything bigger than Lightning Bolt.

      If we want to make him all upside for Timmy, why not
      "Whenever an opponent taps a land for mana, it deals 1 damage to him or her. Whenever you tap a land for mana, add R to your mana pool." I wouldn't want firebreathing on that version so much.

      Fine with giving Magmafire Dragon trample.

      Delete
  6. Duncan's comments on Ancient Banded Dragon made me think:

    Tempest Dragon 1RRR
    Flying
    T, Sacrifice Tempest Dragon: Target opponent may pay 10 life. If that player doesn't, he or she reveals a card at random from his or her hand. You may cast that card without paying its mana cost.
    3/3


    I see the argument that Ancient Red is too large/costly/unwieldy, but to me he's trying to play with Kozilek and Jin-Gitaxias. I suppose he doesn't need trample, but I don't see it as a big problem either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jin-Gitaxias was actually the example I had in mind when thinking, "What can a ten-mana mythic do?" Ancient Red Dragon's ability doesn't even come close- he's more like a Bogardan Hellkite. Right now, the body outclasses the ability, which is unfortunate.

      Delete
    2. We could reprint Cone of Flame and give Tempest Dragon "search your library for a card named Cone of Flame and cast it w/o paying its mana cost."

      (Makes me want "whenever ~ attacks, may X and search your library for a red sorcery or instant with CMC X and cast it for free" but I think we've already been down that route?)

      Delete
    3. Sorry, I was making a "let's reprint Tempest Efreet" joke in reference to pasting banned cards onto a dragon.
      Search-for-Cone-and-cast is cool enough in how it works out, but not really worth going down that avenue, I think. Arachnus Spinner worked, but I don't think Magic is better for going that direction often.

      Delete
    4. Why not skip the searching and just have it cast whatever spell it feels like?

      Tempest Archwyrm
      5RR
      Creature - Dragon
      7/7
      Flying, Haste
      Whenever CARDNAME attacks, reveal the top seven cards of your library. You may choose a sorcery or instant card from them and cast it without paying its mana cost. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.

      Delete
    5. While the haste helps, I think that just reads like Hellcarver Demon with smaller hoop and smaller upside?

      Delete
  7. The Overabundance Dragon and the Bloodmoon Dragon are my favorites of these. I'd like to see the Overabundance guy get firebreathing (he needs a mana sink), and the Bloodmoon guy get trample (my Timmy senses demand that giant monsters get trample!).

    The rest of them I don't like very well. For a core mythic, I'd really like to see a clean, elegant card, like a Baneslayer in dragon form. The card-drawing and damage dealing stuff just seems messy. Diamond Dragon is nice and clear-cut (hah!) but indestructible is weird on a red critter.

    The most consistent dragon tropes are flying and firebreathing. Red's unique evergreen keyword is haste. Why not put those things together on an efficient body and call it a day? It actually hasn't been done before -- the only dragons with that combination are Pardic Dragon (which has suspend), and Hellkite Overlord (which has other extraneous junk and is too expensive to actually play with). So for example:

    Classic Dragon
    4RR
    creature - dragon
    5/5
    Flying, Trample, Haste
    R: ~ gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

    Also, can it have trample? I really like firebreathing and trample together. P/T could vary; any combination of 4, 5, and 6 seems defensible.

    (I apologize if this got discussed already, and I'm just necroing a rejected idea. Also, I can't type.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's an interesting card. It's Shivan Dragon, with Trample and Haste. That certainly brings Shivan more in line with current power level of creatures.

      That said: Does it feel mythic? Not really. Most Mythics do something unique and original, and while this is just stapling trample and haste on. Baneslayer was just a vastly improved Serra Angel, but the "Protection from Demons and Dragons" at least gave it some unique personality.

      Alpha Dragon 3RRR
      Creature- Dragon
      Flying, Haste
      Alpha Dragon can't be blocked except by dragons
      R: Alpha Dragon gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
      5/5

      Delete
    2. I agree with Duncan about the mythic needing something to make it unique.

      Not a fan of Alpha Dragon, but maybe we can find something along these lines.

      Could be pro:Angels+Sphinxes or to be less analogous to BSA, it could destroy a target Angel and/or Sphinx when it ETB, but that feels uninspired.

      This is kind of where I was going with "indestructible as long as no opponent controls a Knight". Simple, evocative and very strong. But boring, apparently.

      Delete
    3. What about:

      Shivan Redux 3RR
      Creature- Dragon
      Flying
      R: ~ gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
      5/5

      I mean, sure, it doesn't really pick up anything super unique. But it's Shivan Dragon for 5! It still attacks for 10+ the next turn!

      It's splashy, while clearly nostalgic. At the very least, it feels less wrong than Baneslayer vs Serra

      Delete
  8. Ancient Red Dragon is the best of the new designs here in my opinion.

    Tempest's Ire has a lot of potential but I think it would work better as an artifact that tapped to do 4-3-2-1 damage to 4 different targets than a creature, and that makes it into some kind of machine gun instead of a dragon.

    But I think there is just TOO amazing of a synergy between Form of the Dragon and Fateful Hour to ignore. Despite not actually being a dragon, I think this would just appeal so well to all three psychographics, and also to the people who whine about the fact that there always has to be a mythic dragon because if we do this technically there isn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Fateful Hour connection is what tips Form of the Dragon into contention for me, yeah.

      Delete
  9. One of the things I would really look to do with a dragon in M13 is make it constructed playable in Standard. Honestly, it's seems like such a shame that one of the coolest creature types in Magic sees so little tournament. After the fall set rotates in, there will be a dearth of competitive large creatures, and M13 will probably need to provide some finishers.

    That being said, I still would want Timmy to be impressed with whatever dragon that gets printed, which is going to be tricky to balance with constructed playability. It has to do something cool, splashy, and unique while still being strong enough for tournament play (yet not broken).

    Here are some constraints I think necessary to accomplish these goals.

    1. Its converted mana cost is 6 or 7.

    I think it's pretty obvious that it needs to be no more than 7 mana to get cast in Standard realisticly. Even 7 mana is kind of pushing it, and I would look to try and make it 6 mana. 5 mana is theoretically on the table, but I just can't imagine that 5 mana gives us enough space to design a good mythic dragon.

    2. Its P/T is no lower than 5/5

    I think it's a mistake to print dragons with small/medium P/T's, at least at mythic. Big numbers on a card go a long way to wowing Timmy, and P/T is one of the most visible numbers.

    3. It should be all upside and universally good.

    Casting a dragon should be the high point of a game (for anyone, but especially Timmy). It is going to feel horrible if you have all the lands to play your giant dragon, and yet because of the board state, it's technically better to just hold on to it. This restriction should by and large prevent these feel-bad moments.

    4. It passes the Doom Blade test.

    The test: If the dragon gets killed by spot removal, have you gotten any value from it? This restriction seemed like the easiest way to help push it into tournament play, as historically expensive creatures that do nothing if they are killed immediately have not done well. Being hard to kill in some way also would be acceptable.

    The obvious way to go about this is some sort of Inferno-Titan-with-flying variant, but I think we can do better than that. Of the dragons suggested, I like Dragon Bros the best for this role, and just making it 7 mana to cast. 10 power for 7 mana is pretty sexy, and the power level might be there for it to see play.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we can build a (standard) constructedly playable dragon at or around ten mana - if we make the upside high enough. I'm not naive enough to expect players to hardcast a dragon, but Frites and/or Unburial Rites will still be around after Elesh Norn has left the building.

      It's true that we should be attentive to the holes the Titans will leave in the format, and if we can make a six-mana dragon that sits in Inferno Titan's stead but reads as exciting and independent, more power to it. But I do think Ancient Red Dragon has potential to see play as a serious reanimation target (though we may want to tweak it even further in that direction.)

      Otherwise, I wonder - how could we entice players who do have access to Huntmaster but don't have access to Primeval Titan to play big finishers?

      Delete
    2. Razing Hellkite and the original Diamond Dragon both meet Luke's parameters.

      These parameters for tournament-playable are fair guidelines but far from exhaustive. Iona, Sheoldred and the Eldrazi saw play despite their cost. The card just needs to be worth the tighter hoop you have to jump through to get it into play. A 10/7 double-evasive creature that refreshes your hand and deals 7 damage immediately could make that cut.

      I'm not convinced we need to fill the hole the Titans will leave. In fact, I think that's a pit we should be steering clear of, less we suffer a tragic slip.

      Delete
    3. Oh — Ancient Red Dragon as a 10/14!
      I agree with everything you say here, though.

      Delete
    4. I think Magmafire Dragon also passes these. The trickiest is the Doom Blade, but potentially locking an opponent out of black mana goes a long way towards protecting it. That's not foolproof, but it's what makes Magus of the Moon Vintage/Legacy playable, so it might work if standard gets fairly inundated by nonbasics (Because we are printing uncommon dual lands, for example).

      Delete
    5. I know it plays differently, but I can't look at Magmafire Dragon and not think "oh yay it's a red stormtide leviathan." It does have the good fortune of surviving Tragic Slip a portion of the time, though.

      Delete
  10. Dragon's Roost
    Land
    ~ ETB tapped.
    T: Add R.
    T: Add RRR. Spend this mana only to cast dragon spells or activate abilities of dragons.

    Could make an expensive Timmy dragon tournament playable. Just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eye of uDragon
      Legendary Land

      Red Dragon spells you cast cost 2 less to cast.

      4RR, T: Search your library for a red creature card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

      Delete
    2. That's Not a Dragon /Statue/! 3
      Artifact
      T: Add R.
      X, T, Sacrifice ~: Search your library for a dragon card with cmc x- and put it OTB.

      Delete
    3. Dragon's Ruby 0
      Artifact
      T: Add R

      Delete
    4. Dragon's Ruby? that's a literal functional reprint of Mox Ruby, way too powerful, especially for something like a core set

      Delete
  11. I like most of those and think any would do well.

    A few specific comments:

    Magmafire dragon is great, but doesn't feel quite right for mythic and I'm not sure why.

    Tempest's Ire is a great idea, but I'm not sure the current form is the best implementation of it. The thing I like most is the recursion element, so I'd rather it were an aura so the different sorts of possible damage mattered more, but also, I doubt that it can ever actually be templated with the recursion intact because it _does_ work under the rules, but most people won't understand it. And if you find a simpler to understand but less elegant way of phrasing it, I don't think it's as exciting any more.

    Jack V

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought Diamond Dragon would be better at lower mana cost? Since it's invulnerable anyway, you get a lot more upside playing it for 6CMC, and the extra power will only matter if someone has an X/7 flying blocker.

      OTOH, I'd like to see it with another really simple ability. Indestructibility is awesome, but somehow it needs to _do_ something to really wow us. But not something complicated or it'd obscure the elegance of "indestructible".

      On the third hand, a 5/5 indestructible flier doesn't _have_ to be a dragon, so maybe designs which _have_ to be red are better?

      Jack V

      Delete
  12. Three top down dragons based on famous literary characters:

    Trogdor, the Burninator - 3RRR
    Creature - Dragon
    6/6
    Flying
    RR: Put a burn counter on target land. Lands with burn counters on them do not add mana to their owner's mana pool.

    When ~ dies, remove all burn counters.

    Smaug - 3RR
    Creature - Dragon
    5/5
    Flying
    Smaug has doublestrike and trample when attacking as long as the defending player controls an artifact.

    This can also read:

    Smaug - 3RR
    Creature - Dragon
    5/5
    Flying
    When Smaug enters the battlefield, target player gains control of target artifact you control. (This effect lasts indefinitely.) Smaug has double strike and trample as long as a player controls a permanent you own.


    Pete - RR
    Creature - Human
    0/1
    Defender, Pete can't block.
    When Pete enters the battlefield, put a 5/5 red dragon creature token named Elliott onto the battlefield with Flying and "At the beginning of each end step, if you control no creatures named Pete, sacrifice this."

    Also, Jay - can I have a link to the skeleton?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of these, I like Pete the best. It might translate to something more bad-ass in the Magic world:

      Dragon Master 2RR
      2/2 Human Knight
      First strike
      When ~ ETB, put a 5/5 red Dragon creature token with flying OTB.
      When ~ dies, exile that token.

      Delete