Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Set Design Pitch: Ankh-Theb

HV: This set pitch is by fading shadows of a memory beloved.  My comments are in blue.

What is the name of your set?

Ankh-Theb

What is the core concept of your set?

An egyptian plane (top down designs) has its 3 kingdoms fighting over the control of sacred areas. Whoever controls them can influence the set of planar rules that determine who gets to have a pleasant afterlife and who will be left to the dead-eating gods. The plain is crossed by a river like the Nile. There are 3 kingdoms (Low, middle and high, corresponding respectively to the end at the seaside, the rocky middle part of the river and the swampy sources of the river). The High kingdom is black (minor green) aligned, the middle kingdom is Red (minor green) and the low kingdom is White (minor blue). The priestly organization tries not to interfere, with the kathari (as seen in Shards of alara) gathering knowledge, while the river priests care for the fertility rites.

Submit seven designs for common cards which represent some of the basic mechanical themes of your set.  All five colors must be represented.  You may repeat colors and/or design colorless cards.



Scribe of the lore.
2U
creature - bird scribe
Whenever ~ enters the battlefield, you may draw a card.
1/3
[The guardians of Tho forsake the sky for knowledge. Their feathers are only useful for them as quills]

The non-flying bird is a nice flavor touch.  Still, something like this could go into just about any set, with a small change in creature type.

Fertility of the river
1G sorcery
Search your library for a forest or an island card, reveal them, shuffle your library then put them in your hand.
[While the kingdoms fight for the next life, the priest of the river know it gives life right now]

Lay of the Land and Caravan Vigil would like a word with you.  Power level aside, this is an interesting if questionable direction; does the life of the river encourage blue splashes?

Desert
Land [reprint]
T: Add 1 to your mana pool.
T: Desert deals 1 damage to target attacking creature. Activate this ability only during the end of combat step.

This sort of repeatable colorless removal definitely isn't common.  There needs to be another way to portray deserts.


Viashino Sandscout [reprint]
1R
Creature — Viashino Scout
Haste (This creature can attack and  as soon as it comes under your control.)
At the beginning of the end step, return Viashino Sandscout to its owner's hand. (Return it only if it's on the battlefield.)
2/1
[the middle kingdom is assailed by both its neighbors, so it has to run and it has to hide and do both correctly]

Interesting.  Is this a mechanical theme that the middle kingdom will make significant use of?


Onyx Scarab Amulet
Enchantment - Aura
B
Whenever enchanted creature would be put into a graveyard choose one:
return ~ to your hand or return enchanted creature to your hand.
[The lower kingdom's rules are the furthest away from the current laws of Reo, so most people choose to seal their soul in amulets, hoping their family will break them once the rules have changed]

This choice just seems silly; is it really worthwhile to cast a Disentomb pre-emptively and maintain the option to change your mind?  Also, an amulet should really be flavored as some sort of artifact, not an enchantment.

Pharaoh's Embalmers
3W
Creature - Human
2/2
Whenever a creature you control dies, you may gain 2 life.
[The high kingdom's applied their custom of mummification as a law of Reo during their last control of the temple of Sehk]

A nice on-theme design.

Tablet of the law of war
CMC = 3 Artifact
4,tap: all attacking creatures you control must be blocked this turn if possible.
[The middle kingdom has never lost control of the tablet of the law of war in all known history]

This is a reasonable top-down rare, but it's certainly not a common.

Summary

Egyptian mythology is a rich thematic source, and the basic ideas are solid.  But the hits are all one-off cards.  The big challenge with this set is to find actual mechanical themes that hit the same flavor notes.  Assuming you stick with the "three kingdoms" idea (which may or may not be necessary), how are you going to set those kingdoms apart?  What is the mechanical reflection of controlling the sacred grounds that determine the afterlife?  Right now, flavor text is carrying too much of the weight.  Find some design space that feels Egyptian without relying too heavily on art, flavor text, or card names.

88 comments:

  1. I agree with the comments. Again, there's no actual mechanics to flesh out the flavor of the set; there's a lot of possibility here, and a lot of amazing routes to victory.

    Obviously Egypt cares a lot about the afterlife, and so we want to harness ideas of that. The graveyard could be a resource -- but we just saw that. :/

    We'd also probably try to find ways to represent the rich religious aspects of Egypt -- gods, clerics, pharaohs, etc. -- and the brutal wars they waged against their enemies.

    A desert set has a lot of potential. Let's explore this potential fully.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. When working on a design we are supposed to be working 2 years ahead of time normally. So even though we saw death matters recently, hopefully we could do it again a bit differently this time!

      Thank you for your input.

      Delete
  2. I love the theme of the afterlife and I'd really love for that to be pursued. You have a lot of solid, inoffensive designs here, but nothing about your mechanics is screaming "Egypt" at me. I can think of a bunch of Egypt tropes off the top of my head - mummies, tombs, pyramids, hieroglyphs, the Nile, sphinxes, etc. - and I really don't see a lot of that on display here. Warring kingdoms are a fairly uninteresting concept (we've seen that a million times before); I would ditch it.

    Pharaoh's Embalmers is a very strong design. I like the connection it establishes between the worlds of the living and the dead. Play off that! "Egypt" may be your theme, but life and death is definitely the mechanical territory to plow here.

    As with all designers, I would avoid submitting flavor text - it distracts from your design and isn't really part of design.

    What I'd like to see from this set: Show me how sphinxes work in your set that is different from their other portrayals in Magic.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. As for the kingdoms at war, they are there to provide an element of strife to the set, which, I believe is very important to get the audience emotionally invested in the set. I am willing to change that however, if we find another stife factor.

      Greek sphinxes used to be blue, asking riddles etc. Egyptian ones were protectors.

      My idea for sphixes in this set is that they should be white, not blue. They are defenders of sacred temples. I would choose mechanics that would showcase that, such as, when * blocks a creature, that creature must assign all its damage to *. (thereby protecting the other creatures that block the same creature/creatures)

      Delete
    2. No one should feel compelled to submit flavor text if they're not feeling it, but I strongly disagree with Evan's suggestion that it should be omitted in all cases. The flavor text on Scribe of Lore made that design three times better and really helped sell the set to me.

      Delete
    3. I agree with Jay. Since we are in the world-building stage, flavor text can help with that.

      Delete
  3. First of all, thank you for the comments. I will try to first present my general view of my thought process, then reply to specific comments in another post.

    The main problem here for me was that I did not want to give any complicated major mechanics, since I was aiming more for a top down design. I cannot stress that enough. I hoped major mechanical themes would emerge progressively.

    So the thematic ideas here were:

    a) In the Egyptian mythology, how you lived your life in this world determines the way you get to live your next life. This can be set aside for many things:

    -Proper burial to preserve the body in the next world
    -Proper burial to prevent from going to the next world if you have been "naughty"
    -Changing the rules of what is and what is not "naughty"

    b) the river and the different areas. In Egypt you have:

    -the river with the commerce, and the fertility it brings, but also destruction when it floods.

    -the swampy regions where the river begins way inland

    -the coastal cities with the commerce and the temples

    -the desert, filled with nomads raiders and caravans

    The rest was just decoration. How do we get people changing the rules of the afterlife?

    How do we present strife in this world?

    __________________


    Now for the mechanics. They must appear in common or they are not our theme as states MARO. First I will present the colour pie association with the world then present some mechanics I like.

    White and Egypt is all about guardians of laws, caravan guards, embalmers and priests, and white reanimation. Races: sphinx (yes they are white in Egyptian mythology), humans, elephant (?)

    Mechanics:
    -if you were good in your life i.e. meet specific game requirements, and die then something positive.
    -an other mechanic could probably be convoke/ convoke for artifacts (?) (the loyal citizens help the pharaoh get his tomb built so he can get an afterlife) this could be shared with black (the loyal citizens are whipped into building the tomb for the afterlife)

    Blue in Egypt should tie to the commerce on the river, and the scribes, that are the only ones that know how to transform words into script, or how to decipher it. Races: Birds, Humans, djin?

    Mechanics:
    -trading: like with trade secrets, you give your opponent cards or other advantages in order to get more. Examples: target opponent draws a card, you draw 2
    -if you have at least X more cards than your opponent bonuses.

    Black in Egypt: tomb looters, people that escape from the afterlife using unlife rituals, sealing their souls inside this world, ancient malevolent gods that eat the souls of those who are unworthy, tyrants oppressing the population assassins fit here. Races: crocodiles, snakes, humans

    Mechanics:
    -Convoke(?)
    -cost efficient creatures that penalise you when they (or another creature you control) die.

    Red in Egypt would be about the desert, the tribes that raid those that go too far from the river, and the heat induced craze that comes to people. Races: viashino, snakes, humans, illusions, efreet?

    Mechanics:
    -At the beginning of the end step, return ~ to its owner's hand. Cheap creatures that are immune to removal and play well with ETB effects.
    -I would like to move heat-induced cannot block/ attack effects to red for this expansion

    Green in Egypt is clearly my weakest link. I would appreciate any help given. I believe I have to tie this to the fertility of the river, but I am pretty stumped apart from that. Where are there forest in Egypt? Should I associate it with oasis too, where there can be strange and deadly creatures, and shamans trying to break the set of afterlife rules or something?

    Mechanics:
    -I have to admit I am stumped here.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I like your themes a lot. Desert. Pyramids. Afterlife. Gods. River. They're all bursting with ideas.

      I'm not sure about the mechanics, but I think we easily can find mechanics that express the themes of Egypt.

      I didn't think green was especially a problem: everything to do with fertility and the river valley is green, and so are wild desert animals. (I'd like to see some green sphinxes as well as white.)

      That doesn't give a specifically-green mechanic, but mechanics usually span 3-4 colours anyway, so assuming we find some appropriate mechanics, I expect they'll fit in green.

      Delete
    2. Nice follow up, Fading. I'm eager to see crocodile-headed and jackal-headed humanoids, much like your Scribe hints at.

      My initial response to this submission was: "While I would've liked to see a mechanical theme, I think the flavor here is out of the park and I just see so much potential for an Egyptian set."

      What I'd like to see from the people who use this plane in their round two submission is continued exploration of the rich theme and the integration of one or two marquee mechanics. I think there's potential in Fading's brainstorming: Hopefully we can find a mechanic that cares about either the graveyard or death in a unique and interesting way.

      Delete
    3. Thank you both.

      I am still a bit stumped with green. Oacis, and desert creatures are not enough for me. Elephants however are, and they were present in Egypt.

      Delete
  4. ________

    I will now attempt to answer HV's remarks.

    I admit that lay of the land is probably better. As I admitted above I have a serious problem with the green design space in this set. And I keep wanting to write "Desert twister for president!" somewhere.

    Desert used to be a common, but it is true that it is too strong. I would however like some sand-dunes as non-basic-lands

    The viashino return at hand at eot mechanic (also seen recently on Archwing Dragon) is something that I really would like to see more of.

    The amulets have already existed as a circle of enchantments in white in the past (http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Search/Default.aspx?name=+[Scarab]). I believe that the card could be important with the black creatures that punish you when they or another creature you control go into the graveyard. What if you get to return this creature and another creature you control from your graveyard to your hand)

    As for the last one, I agree that it is more of a rare material.

    ___________

    Once again thank you for picking this one up. I remain open to any suggestions and comments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, and Fertility of the river
      was meant to have an and/or clause.

      Delete
    2. Re: Scarabs, I don't think you should be citing cards that were printed 17 years ago as precedent.

      Delete
    3. True. I mentioned it not as precedent exactly, just mentioning it as part of my research of the gatherer for egypt related things. It would look better as an equipment that returns the equipped champion to hand when it dies.

      Delete
  5. I love this submission. The tablets, viashino, and kathari complement the feel of the world really well.

    Strangely, I misread your submission and I could have sworn it was about WB vs. GU. I'd like to suggest what I misread:

    WB is a highly advanced society dabbling with Necromancy and prolonged life, while GU is a kingdom of oasis or fertile fields and relying on nature and water to grow. The conflict could be something about Unnatural Prolonged Life vs. Natural Life. I don't know what Red is - some low-tech nomads?

    It's impossible to convey the locations of the Kingdoms relative to the river using cards, so I suggest making them very different, like the Desert kingdom vs. Fertile Kingdom example above. For people too, you could have these sophisticated but sickly court people on cards and you could tell it's from "manipulating life and death" faction (WB).

    While history is important too and we shouldn't do something that does injustice, I think we should also have plenty of pop-culture tropes like curses from mummies.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I agree, the pop-culture are what sells it.
    I do like the WB vs UB idea.
    From what I understand it is in your hands how the sets goes on. I agree that it is difficult to portray the kingdoms locations with the cards, so that could solve my problems. Red would be nomad raiders I guess.
    The conflict you propose is a good one, and could be further split up in each faction. Red also is the colour of the phenixes, and egypt is quite appropriate for a phoenix to rise.

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  7. I really love this one. The flavour is excellent, and I can think of lots of good ideas for it.

    I think three kingdoms feuding is a reasonable background, but could be that or something else: the setting is the important bit.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tying colors to areas on a plane is hardly new. Mirrodin and Kamigawa immediately jumps to mind.

    Duality was a central concept in Egyptian myth. That makes me want to toy around enemy color pairs. It's easy to add a blue faction to the thing: merfolk or maybe some mystical nomadic boat-people could inhabit the Elin river (I needed a convenient name so I don,t just always refer to "the river"), or there's an archipel at the river's mouth, and the people that live there can control to a degree what leaves the port of the white nation. If we decide that archipe is more tropical, then we've got our green.

    So we could have Wb, Bg, Gu, Ur, Rw as our main factions, with the secondary being present, but with little multicolor (I do have an unholy love for monocolor gold, sorry about that). I'm generally better at worldbuilding than top-down concepts, but I think some sort of flip or DFC mechanic (alternatively, split cards for spells) would be needed to play into that concept of duality if it is thought to be useful.

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    1. If it was a block design, we could structure it like that, I guess, but this is a single set. In my opinion therefore we need to have few major players already in a crisis. As far as the name of the river goes, that is up for grabs, but I would rather it was not an anagrams of Nile :p

      I also would dislike personally to revisit more than one past mechanic, and I feel it is too soon for DFCs.

      Delete
  9. If anyone has suggestions for mechanics or suggestions for a different name or cards, it would be a great time to hear them.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I see lots of potential for cool designs, but I'm also trying to think of good mechanics. I haven't thought of anything I really like yet, but thoughts I've had:

    * Pyramid building. Eg. Pyramid of Samson. Level up: Sac a creature. Levels 1-2, creatures you control get +2/+2. Levels 3-4, creatures you control get +5/+5.
    * Traps, a la pyramids
    * Any mechanic about journey to the afterlife. Any way of repeatedly recurring creatures from the graveyard without getting repetitive? Shadow?
    * Seasons of the river, if there's a way to do that without turning into homarids?
    * Desert Djinn, perhaps expand Djinn of Wishes to a cycle in different colours?

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    1. *Level up artifacts, while a nice concept would probably be changed to another name, or just an activation cost without keywords. But I do like the idea. A something between Helix Pinacle (http://gatherer.wizards.com/pages/card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=150992), Mayael's Aria (http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=180620) and level up, perhaps?

      *The subtype "Trap" was not a very popular mechanic from Zendikar. I believe that we can make some reactive instants feel like traps without burduning ourselves with the subtype.

      *I do not think we should focus on that journey personally. I feel that the afterlife is worthy of a different approach in this set. Either you get a good one, in which case you if a creature dies and followed some criteria (like having a specific counter on it or attacked this turn, or blocked this turn) you get a positive effect. If the creature dies while not following those criteria, you get a negative effect (discard, loss of life, mill). Then we spread the laws through uncommon and rare cards, perhaps the level up artifacts, or important people? At least that is the way I feel it, please tell me if that sounds good to you.

      *I like using the flux of the river as a mechanic, but I see no way to portray that as a general mechanic. Perhaps a mechanic similar to Vampire Nocturnus? (http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=275151)

      * I would like Djinn to be blue-white and efreet black-red, but I feel that they are a flavor miss for the ancient egyptian set.

      Delete
    2. "if a creature dies and followed some criteria (like having a specific counter on it or attacked this turn, or blocked this turn) you get a positive effect. If the creature dies while not following those criteria, you get a negative effect (discard, loss of life, mill)."

      I like this idea! It'll take some fiddling to see if we can find good conditions or not, but it makes a mini-puzzle of "can this creature fulfil its destiny"?

      Delete
  11. Sacred Tomb
    Land
    T: Add 1 to your mana pool.
    3, T: Entomb a creature card. (Choose a creature card you own from the battlefield or your graveyard and exile it entombed under Honored Tomb.)
    Creatures that share a color with the entombed card get +1/+1.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a nice idea, but has problems on a land. This is a repeatable effect while it should not be, and giving all colours access to anthems with a land tingles my spider-senses.

      However the idea of "Entomb" as a keyword that activates when a creature dies is worthy of being further explored. Perhaps on artifacts or enchantments, or even creatures like embalmers and tomb-guards.

      Delete
    2. I originally started this as a tribal effect, but changed it to an anthem effect because it felt more like "Religion." I don't think it would be unbalanced as a tribal effect.

      I intentionally made it a land; I love cards like Coat of Arms or Adaptive Automaton but they never seem to have much of a role outside of casual. By making it a land, it can be good in draft or in constructed. Even if it's constructed level, it won't be broken in draft because it's hard to collect just one creature type.

      I really like the idea of an "entomb" card actually taking a creature card from grave and putting it under another card. It would be like Imprint though, and would only go on higher rarity cards because of complexity. There might only be room for one such keyword.

      Delete
  12. Life Transfer 2B
    Instant
    Sacrifice a creature. Put a number of +1/+1 counters on target creature equal to the sacrificed creature’s power.
    Punish intruders (You may pay an additional X, where X is the converted mana cost of a creature that dealt damage to you this turn. If you do, you may sacrifice that creature this turn as if you controlled it.)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. This cannot be supported by the mechanics of the game currently. You cannot sacrifice creatures your opponent controls. Even though it could be reworked to fit the role of rare removal, it feels like a card that should come latter in the process.

      Delete
    2. "As an additional cost to cast Life Transfer, target player sacrifices a creature. If you own that creature or if it dealt damage to you this turn, put a number of +1/+1 counters on target creature equal to the sacrificed creature’s power."

      Delete
    3. You cannot force other players to pay the additional costs of your spell, can you?

      Also this will make the opponent sacrifice a creature that did not attack you.

      Delete
    4. Is there a reason why the rules wouldn't allow sacrificing if the card said "as if you controlled it?"

      I know this looks like a Grab the Reins style of card that's only balanced at high rarity, but I actually think it would be balanced to have lots of cards like this at low rarity, even on commons (with simpler effects). Player's can't afford to hold up 6 or 7 mana forever. Bombs and evasion can be answered, but only after they get to attack and deal damage. Also, you can use a Punish Intruders card in response to an opponent's Punish Intruder card.

      But mostly, I'm trying to find a way to create the feel of venturing into a forbidden tomb and getting cursed. "Destroy target attacking creature" doesn't feel like enough of a horrible fate.

      Delete
    5. I don't think this mechanic would actually help define any of the faction or color play styles, but I'm just trying to throw around ideas about cursed tombs.

      Delete
  13. Law Maker King 2UW
    Creature - Human Lord?
    2/4
    When Law Maker enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a Tablet card and put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.
    When Law Maker dies, put that Tablet card on the bottom of your library.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Assuming we do put the tables of laws in the set, this could be a nice card. Its only problem is memory issues. Perhaps more of a Hoarding Dragon effect? (http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=205235)

      Delete
  14. Pop culture Pharaohs like to exert authority and have people bow to them, and I think the higher power mechanic might work well for that.

    Pharaoh of the Watered Field 2GU
    Creature - Human Lord?
    3/3
    Tap target untapped creature with power less than Pharaoh of the Watered Fields’ power. If you do, add G to your mana pool. Activate this ability only during your main phase and only once per turn.
    (makes opponent's creature into a mana elf for you.)

    Glorious Pharaoh 3WW
    Creature - Human Lord
    3/5
    Whenever Glorious Pharaoh attacks, tap all creatures opponents control with power less than Glorious Pharaoh.
    "Bow before me."

    I also love the convoke suggestion by Fading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These seem like interesting rares. What themes do you think you could find for common Chah?

      Delete
  15. There could be a graveyard theme with cards like this:

    Eternal Thrall 2B
    Creature - Spirit
    2/1
    Flying
    Whenever Eternal Thrall enters or leaves a graveyard, target opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.

    The "enters or leaves a graveyard" clause is to make it feel creepy, like the distinction between life and death is blurred and these guys enter and leave a grave like they enter and leave a house.

    To dig this guy out, there could be lots of grave-theme cards like Corpse Lunge, not just straight-up reanimation and Grave Diggers.

    Mummy Lord 4BB
    Creature - Zombie Lord
    3/6
    Whenever Mummy Lord attacks, return target creature card with power less than Mummy Lord from your graveyard to the battlefield, tapped and attacking.

    Grave Watcher 3G
    Creature - Human Druid
    2/3
    Deathtouch
    Whenever a creature enters the battlefield from a graveyard, you may have Grave Watcher fight it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the grave-watcher as a melvin card.
      Some very interesting cards here.

      Delete
  16. Could this be a time/place to try out fortifications?
    Something that really fascinates me about Egypt isn't "pyramids having been there" but "pyramids being built!" What if you could build pyramids on your lands?

    Maybe there's some "cultivating the Elin" fortification, or a "makeshift camp against the harsh desert" one? If it's allowable to bring-back Convoke and introduce Fortify as something "new", you can imagine the two working together on a rare/mythic rare, really epic construction.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. As Fortifications have been officially vetoed by MaRo, and land destruction has been hugely minimized, I'm not sure there's any real need to explore what amounts to glorified land enchantments.

      Delete
    2. Indeed the fortification's design space seems pretty limited. If you have any good examples we could play-test them latter on, and perhaps they have something interesting, but for the moment I would shy away from them, while we try to find the common themes in the set.

      Delete
    3. Desert Tomb
      Land - Desert
      T: Add X to your mana pool. X is the number of Stone counters on ~.
      X, T, Sacrifice a creature: X is the number of Stone counters on ~. Put a Stone counter on ~.

      Great Pyramid 1WB
      Enchantment-Aura
      Enchant Land
      Sacrifice a creature: Put a Stone counter on ~.
      Sacrifice ~: Return target creature with CMC X- from your graveyard to the battlefield, where X is the number of Stone counters on ~.

      Delete
    4. Desert Tomb: Nice riff off from city of shadows

      Great Pyramid: The basic idea is interesting but I would rarely want to play this. It could use some tweaking in price, activation cost (adding tapping for instance), and final effect, depending on the rarity this card would end up in.

      Delete
    5. I suppose most of the really cool fortifications could just be made with mono artifacts. Building just the right "awesome pyramid" (or vertical cycle of them?) is definitely one of the goals of the set.

      Delete
  17. This is my 2nd favorite pitch, and bound to get a lot of support. Egyptian flavor is an idea I explored in a small set I made called Gemsites. It had three color shards, but with enemy wedges. And my Egyptian themed set was the GWB wedge. Here are some things I came up with at that time.

    Only include anthropomorphic creatures that come from the Egyptian concept. Cat-folk, croc-folk, bird-folk, and jackal-folk fit the setting. Viashino do not. I get that lizards and deserts go hand in hand, but I wouldn't blur the flavor needlessly. Human Warriors can be the red creatures, reflecting the armies of the kingdom.

    You need to represent servants and slaves. I used 0/1 Thrull tokens which were created in all three colors, and each color had effects that you could sacrifice creatures to make. Sacrifice some Thrulls to build a pyramid, or resurrect a warlord, or drain some life, etc. Thrulls are a good type to use, so you aren't depicting human slaves, but also because they have a history in the game as being magical servants.

    Here's the mechanic I creature for the wedge: Rebirth 4 (When this dies, you may pay 4. If you do, return it to the battlefield.) It's simple enough to be on common cards. Now that the phrase "when it dies" can be used, it's really short. Plus, it worked well with the sacrifice theme, without being broken.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Sacrificing creatures would be more of the tyranical way to build things, while there are proofs that the Pyramids were actually not built by slaves. So I would like to keep the pop culture reference and the possibility to sacrifice to build, but I would prefer to limit it to black.

      The Viashino felt a medium fit for the desert raiders to me too, and could be easily replaced with something else.

      The number 4 after the Rebirth suggests different activation costs. While I like Nim Deathmantle, I would have to playtest it a lot, and I fear it would create too much repetitive play if this was one of the major mechanics of the set.

      Delete
    2. The Viashino can be the lizard-headed people. Just like Kamigawa didn't match Japanese folklore exactly, but did things similarly, I see no reason the Viashino can't be here.

      Delete
    3. Although the Kamigawa block was a flop in terms of flavor, if they were re-styled to fit the plane they would be ok.

      Delete
    4. A straight-up Unearth would be more balanced than Rebirth.

      Another variation I thought of is an Unearth which only sacrifices the creature instead of exiling at end of turn, so you can do it again.

      Or, there could be an Unearth variant which you can only activate while you are attacked, to represent Mummies coming out to punish intruders of the tomb. The Unearth guy gets exiled at the end of your turn, so besides blocking, you could attack once with it.

      I'm not sure if the variants will feel new enough, though.

      Slaves feel very pop-culture Egyptians.(Let my people go!) One way to define slaves without getting to parasitic is to treat creatures with power 0 or 1 as slaves. The Pharaoh cards I mentioned above could take advantage of creatures with power 0 or 1, rather than creatures with lesser power than the Pharaoh. Pharaohs feel like they should be at Rare, so there could be Taskmaster cards at Common and Uncommon to do the same things. Another way is to define that tokens are slaves. These would be less parasitic than assigning a specific creature type as slaves.

      (Although the Thrull creature type also feels like it fits in strangely well, just like the Katharis)

      Delete
    5. Maybe a cross between Transmute and Rebirth:

      Sage of Sobek 3B
      Creature-Crocodile Advisor
      Reincarnate BB (BBB, Sacrifice a creature you control with the same CMC as ~: Return ~ from your graveyard to the battlefield.)
      4/2

      Delete
    6. The biggest trouble with straight-up-Unearth is that Egyptish mummies tend to linger, rather than being flash-in-the-pan undead. I really, really like the look of Reincarnate, but it would require a lot of fine-tuning to get the CMCs, costs, and creatures to play just right.

      Thrulls, viashino, and kathari all are solid hits in my book, as are anthropomorphic Crocodiles.

      The returning mechanic could be "Offering"!

      Delete
    7. I really like the sound of bringing back Offering.

      Delete
    8. Re: Thrulls and slaves, it seems like you could go either way. Making it "CMC=1 or less" = slaves would allow for tokens and little guys to both work, while setting up "CMC-counting" as a possibly-consistent thing to do in this environment. If you make it creature-type-Thrulls, however, that gives you the ability to make higher-cost but still-slave Thrulls.

      Delete
    9. Also, "creature with converted mana cost one or less" is much more of a mouthful than "Thrull".

      Delete
    10. It's hard to play a deck with lots of 1-drops, and it's easier to have lots of playable power 1 creatures (evasion, deathtouch, firebreathing, shade, fetch a land, etc.). We could make it "power 2" or "CMC 2" but they might not feel as lowly as a slaves anymore.

      I think Thrulls are awesome in this world, but not necessarily as the definition of slave, unless there are no other parasitic mechanics in the set.

      I wonder if wording like this could work:
      "Pharaoh
      Creatures with power 1 or less are Slaves.
      Tap target Slave. If you do, gain 1 life. Activate this ability only on your turn."

      Delete
  18. A hyper-literal interpretation of people struggling to be the one to make the afterlife rules:

    Tablet of Afterlife Rules
    Whenever a creature dies, if it was attacking an opponent, exile it and draw a card.

    Exiling it means it went to heaven.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've put up a bunch of things on the Wiki page, for those interested. It makes it a lot easire to get a global view of what's been suggested: http://goblinartisans.wikidot.com/ankh-theb

    ReplyDelete
  20. Praying Druid 2G
    Creature - Elf Druid
    1/2
    T: Add G to your mana pool and gain 1 life.
    Afterlife 3G (3G: Exile this card from your graveyard with a divinity counter on it. Its activated abilities can be activated from exile as long as it has a divinity counter on it.)

    OR

    Praying Druid 2G
    Creature - Elf Druid
    1/2
    T: Add G to your mana pool and gain 1 life.
    Afterlife [Die during combat] (If this dies during a combat step, exile it. It gains, "activated abilities of this card can be activated from exile.")

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trying to find the right implementation of this. Is this better than exiling?

      Visionary Warrior 1G
      Creature - Human Warrior
      2/1
      Enchanted creatures you control have trample.
      Afterlife [Die while enchanted] (If this dies while enchanted, return it to the battlefield with a heaven counter on it. Creatures with a heaven counter can't attack, block, be targeted, damaged, or destroyed.)

      Delete
    2. Chah, this sounds like something that would be much better suited to something like a cycle of Mythic legends, as the creation of non-interactive objects in any sort of frequency would just be a headache.

      But I can definitely see the flavor potential of representing a deity in each color akin to the Myojins that turn into Emblems if you satisfy a certain condition upon their death.

      Delete
    3. Just had some fun brainstorming mechanical relationships between Offering, a tweaked form of Nich's Rebirth, and an idea for a deity.

      Ra, the Falcon-Head
      3WWW
      Creature - Spirit Warrior (M)
      4/4
      Flying
      Protection from all colors
      When ~ dies, if three or more creatures you control died this turn, exile it. If you do, you gain an emblem with "At the beginning of your upkeep, creatures you control gain protection from the color of your choice until end of turn."

      The trigger is intended to diffuse some of the pain of putting Wraths in your White Weenie deck, while also interacting with Offering.

      Mandjet Oarsman
      7W
      Creature - Spirit (C)
      3/3
      Human offering (You may cast this card any time you could cast an instant by sacrificing a Human and paying the difference in mana costs between this and the sacrificed Human. Mana cost includes color.)
      First strike

      Since Offering offers a chance to cast creatures with Flash, on top of the risky cost-reduction, I'm not sure quite how high the costs on common Offering creatures would have to be. But if "very expensive" seems reasonable, it might be fun to include a "big mana" type theme.


      Pyramid Laborer
      2W
      Creature - Human Artificer (C)
      2/2
      Whenever ~ becomes tapped, you gain 1 life.

      While I like the idea of thrulls in black (and maybe blue), I thought this was a simple way to convey a creature that is "employed" by other creatures, though it also just works with attacking (obviously). Very tempting to put Vigilance on it for chuckles.

      Obelisk Overseer
      4W
      Creature - Human Soldier Advisor (U)
      3/5
      3W, tap another creature you control: Put an 0/2 white Construct artifact creature token onto the battlefield.

      Goofy defensive creature, like an alternative to Puppet Conjurer. You could reprint flavor-shifted versions of the Krark-Clan guys for a R/W limited deck.

      Duat Philosopher
      1W
      Creature - Human Wizard
      0/3
      Defender
      When ~ enters the battlefield, draw a card.
      Rebirth 3W (Whenever you sacrifice this creature, you may pay (3W). If you do, return it to your hand at the beginning of your next upkeep.)

      Wall of Omens w/Rebirth.

      Rebirth suffers from a lot of the same problems as Dredge, the main one being that it creates a repetitive gamestate. But the trick here, for better or for worse, is that it doesn't actually take advantage of Offering as well as it could.

      Basically, since Offering is tied into also committing to cast a big creature, Rebirth typically converts Offering into an additional cost to casting that big creature, albeit one that diminishes the card disadvantage.

      The format would have to be carefully sculpted to avoid things like Bloodthrone Vampire or Nantuko Husk, and the ability is probably more headache than it's worth, but it sure is could be flavorful.

      Delete
    4. Convoke seems relevant here.

      Delete
  21. For the record, here's a summary of the mechanics proposed so far (with some edits to them and two more of mine). I borrowed Hidaro's plunder because tomb pillaging was very present in the history of Egypt.

    * Plunder from (To plunder, exile a from . When this permanent leaves the battlefield, return all cards plundered with it to .)
    * Entomb a card. (Choose a card you control from the battlefield or your graveyard and exile it entombed under this permanent.)
    * Punish N — (You may pay an additional to target a creature that dealt damage to you this turn with converted mana cost N. If you do, you may sacrifice that creature this turn as if you controlled it.)
    * Reincarnate (, Sacrifice a creature you control with the same converted mana cost as this creature: Return this creature from your graveyard to the battlefield.)
    * Rebirth (Whenever you sacrifice this creature, you may pay . If you do, return it to your hand at the beginning of your next upkeep.)
    * Afterlife — When ~ becomes exiled, . If ~ would leave the battlefield, exile it.
    * Triad (This permanent has no other abilities unless you control exactly three permanents with triad.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Argh. all my variables in angle brackets vanish because they are taken as HTML tags!

      Delete
  22. If you don't reprint Vengeful Pharaoh in this Egyptian set, then this is how he got his name.

    Also, returning Curses in this set would be so fantastic. It's because of the fact that Curses are a part of Egyptian lore that I believe strongly Wizards will do an Egyptian set someday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. either Curses or Traps have definite potential for the set; it may be that curses work better as enchant-creatures than Subtype-Curse enchant players, but we will definitely see!

      Delete
  23. Here's a tentative Black pitch for round 2. I'm still waffling on whether or not include the second clause of Afterlife (which I see as a kind of "fixed Haunt"). Pillage is a streamlined version of Jacob's plunder.

    Sanctuary Guardian 1B
    Creature — Horror
    When ~ enters or leaves the battlefield, pillage the top card of target player's library. (Exile that card. When this creature dies, return all cards pillaged with it to the top of their owners' decks in any order.)
    1/2

    Priests of Khem 1B
    Creature — Hound Cleric
    Afterlife — When ~ becomes exiled, you may pay 2G. If you do, put target exiled card you own on the top of your library. If ~ would leave the battlefield, exile it instead.
    1/1

    Tomb Robber 2BB
    Creature — Human Rogue
    Whenever ~ attacks, pillage a card from target player's hand. (Exile that card. When this creature dies, return all cards pillaged with it to their owners' hands.)
    2/2

    Astral Entanglement 3B
    Instant
    Target player loses life equal to the number of exiled cards you own.
    Redemption (You may cast this card from exile by exiling a card from your hand with the same converted mana cost in addition to its other costs.)

    Grim Outlook 1BB
    Enchantment — Aura
    Enchant creature.
    Enchanted creature gets +1/-1 and intimidate.
    Afterlife — When ~ becomes exiled, target creature gains intimidate until end of turn. If ~ would leave the battlefield, exile it instead.

    Canopic Jars 6
    Artifact
    Whenever a creature card becomes exiled, you may pay 2. If you do, draw a card.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They've been getting away from cards that interact with the Exile zone, so that it remains Removed From the Game rather than just becoming another zone of play.

      Delete
    2. Pillage is the same sort of "removal" as Oblivion Ring. Priests of Khem and Redemption at least require that the card be replaced (and the latter does not make it easy). The issue of return aside, I still think Afterlife and Pillage/Plunder (no one complained about it in Jacob's submission) are sound mechanics. I don't think making another graveyard-matter set while Innistrad is Standard legal is really a good idea.

      Delete
    3. Design is working 2 years in advance. Designing a graveyard set for the fall of 2014 is not that bad of an exercise, in my opinion.

      Delete
    4. We're making this set in a vacuum, roughly speaking, since it's not actually getting published. Don't worry about cross-block synergies for non-eternal formats.

      Delete
    5. My point is more that it'd be hard not to feel some influence from recent sets (curses, DFCs, traps, level up have come up in half the pitch discussions! I'd bet stuff from scars block is coming up in at least one of the pitches you already received), and I wanted to avoid that. Plus a set that toys around with exile without cards like Pull from Eternity feels like interesting design space.

      Delete
  24. Whoa. So many ideas.

    I like the idea of the ebb and flow of the river. Possibly the first set of the block could be the ebb and the second could be the flow.

    I also really like the idea of the Viashino that returns to your hand. I think a whole slew of red creatures with that ability would be cool. As long as the creatures are aggressively costed or there's some other upside, it will really encourage the all out 'i'm red, i attack' mentality thought it might play poorly in a two color deck with other colors. I found the flavor of a group of cursed people who live in the desert and sink into the sands to be really attractive.

    I also really like the WB vs GU mentality. I'm only worried that the WB faction will be way too similar to the Orzhov and that people might react poorly to a blue faction that isn't intelligent. (when i read the pitch i assumed that the WB were the wealthy elite and the UG were the poorer people who lived in the countryside. maybe that was wrong of me.)

    I misread Reincarnate to think you could bring back OTHER creatures of the same CMC by saccing the creature with reincarnate. Needless to say i thought that was broken in older formats. The real version is a lot better.

    The 2GU Pharoah is too powerful I think. Tapping an opponent's creature as a cost has never been done. All opponent-tapping has been worded so the creature could be tapped (for an ability) in response. I think the pharoah might be pushing it.

    Afterlife seems like it'll take a whole lot of thought into figuring out the correct wording and i think either curses or traps are a must. (i'm voting for curses because traps seem like they belong inside of pyramids but curses could easily exist anywhere on the plane)

    I've wanted to do an Egyptian themed set forever and I would have pitched one myself had I had the time. The flavor is so rich that it would be a shame to miss out on it.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Returning Mystic 2U
    Creature - Human Shaman
    2/2
    Spirit life 4U (3U: Put ~ from your graveyard onto the battlefield with an afterlife counter on it. As long as it has an afterlife counter on it, it can only block or be blocked by other creatures with afterlife counters on it.)

    Inspired by the mention of Shadow. For Green creatures with this ability, since Green doesn't usually get evasion this way, it can get 0-power creatures with utility activated/triggered/static abilities, or defender creatures instead.

    Another way is to put them in exile, and allow them to attack or block in exile. Not sure what the wording should be to allow them to activate abilities or make their static/triggered abilities work again from exile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spirit Life has amazing flavor. Nice. I might template it as Persist and "As long as ~ has a -1/-1 counter on it, it has shadow".

      Delete
    2. The alternate you suggest would probably be something like "(4U: put this exiled card on the battlefield tapped and blocking target creature or attacking. Exile it at the end of the combat phase.)" I would personally never do the "permanent unearth that gives unblockable" version. That's just asking for trouble.

      Delete
  26. I like a lot of the ideas on the wiki, but probably don't have time to actually contribute anything for the next couple of weeks.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Desert haze 1R
    RARE Enchantment
    Whenever a creature etb it gains unblocable until eot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why not make it explicit?
      "Creatures you control with haste are unblockable the turn they ETB."

      Or—since it's rare—why not make it awesome?
      "Whenever a creature ETB under your control, it gains haste and is unblockable until EOT."

      Much less exciting but more poetic:
      "Whenever a creature ETB, it gains haste. Return it to it's owner's hand at EOT."
      Viashinofication!

      Delete

  28. If I were to submit, for the red commons I would submit this:

    RED

    Viashino Ambushers 2R
    Creature – Viashino
    First strike
    ~ cannot attack or block unless another creature has entered the battlefield during your last main phase.
    3/3
    [They stay still on the dunes, waiting their brethren to lure the enemies towards them, or even better the hapless pilgrims to fall upon them]
    Desert’s shimmer 2R
    Instant
    Until end of turn, creatures you control cannot be blocked by only one creature
    [When Rha’s will burns the most, twine your vigils or be lost]
    Soh’s Scarabs 1RR
    Creature Insect
    Trample
    4/1
    [We still do not know which removes the flesh from the bones faster: being naked in a sandstorm or being disrespectful to Soh]
    Rah’s gaze 3RR
    Sorcery
    Convoke
    Rah’s gaze deals 5 damage to target creature.
    [Rah’s law is of the many against the few.]
    Sandsworn fighter 1R
    Creature viashino
    Afterlife : combat. When this champion dies, exile it. If it was dealt combat damage this turn, you can add RR in your mana pool at the beginning of your next main phase.
    2/1
    [The oath to the sands brings a solitary life, yet at its end brings prosperity to the tribe]
    Sandtribe’s tithe 3R
    Enchantment-Aura
    Enchant creature
    Enchanted creature gain delay (whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, creature spells he would cast on his next turn cost 1 more)
    [Each caravan must pay the tithe, be it in time, in goods or in blood.]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why not submit? You can submit for any number of planes. There's real potential here.

      Delete
    2. Since I was the one that proposed the initial pitch, I am forbidden to do so. I did submit something for Sephorgia, though.

      Delete
    3. I intend to do this for every color in this set. Hopefully I will inspire people to submit some of these :) In the end the set will be better off!

      Delete
  29. If I were to submit, for the blue commons I would submit this:

    BLUE

    River trader 3U
    Creature Crocodile
    Whenever river trader deals combat damage to an opponent, he may draw a card. If he does you may draw two cards.
    2/2
    [The secret of the river traders is to always trade you what you need for twice what it cost them to acquire it]
    Pilgrim of Thoh 2U
    Creature Bird
    flying
    Afterlife: knowledge. When this creature dies, exile it. If you have in your hand 2 or more cards than an opponent, you may draw two cards.
    2/2
    [The priests of Thoh either stay in temples and consign the knowledge, or travel wide and far to gather it]
    River’s flood 1U
    Enchantment – Aura
    Enchant opponent’s land
    Enchanted land is an island.
    When ~ comes into play, you may draw a card.
    [The flood brings disaster but can also bring prosperity to all]
    Erasing the name 1U
    Instant
    Return target non-land permanent to its owner’s hand
    [Only the priests know how to write the names of things and capture its Ka. They will erase a name only to remove a danger to their temple]
    Sacred Hippopotami 4U
    Creature Beast
    Islandwalk
    3/4
    [Free as the Hippopotami -proverb of Ank-Theb]
    Pharaoh’s Chronicler 1U
    Creature bird priest
    Whenever a creature with afterlife dies, you may sacrifice ~. If you do, draw a card
    1/1
    [Assigned to the future ruler from birth, they catalogue everything he does, then follow him to his afterlife, to present it to the gods]

    ReplyDelete
  30. GREEN

    Oasis truce 1G
    Instant
    Convoke
    Prevent all combat damage this turn
    [Water in the desert is so rare, all agree that risking to soil it with blood is unthinkable]
    Loxodon river priest 3U
    Creature Elephant
    Fertility - At the end of your first main phase, if all your lands are tapped ~ gets +2/+2
    2/3
    [The priests will protect, with their lives if necessary, the natural temples that flourish during the fertility season]
    Growth of Khmer 4G
    Sorcery
    Convoke
    Target creature gains +2/+2 and trample.
    For each creature tapped to pay for its convoke cost, it gets an additional +2/+2.
    [The prayers of his faithful gave Ranset the strength to withstand the mummies curse, break its tomb and retrieve the second table of Khmer]
    Desert roses 1G
    Creature - Plant
    Afterlife: combat. When this champion dies, exile it. If it was dealt combat damage this turn, you can add GGG in your mana pool at the beginning of your next main phase.
    0/1
    [Often confused with stones shaped by the wind the desert roses are one of the few organisms able to harness the heat of the sun.]
    Sandspider 2GG
    Creature - Spider
    Reach
    ~ gets +1/+1 if your opponent controls a creature with flying.
    2/4
    [The sandspider does not spin a web. It uses its silk threads like a whip to snatch its pray from the skies]
    Sanddune Elemental 5G
    Creature – Elemental
    5/7
    [Unmovable yet unstoppable. What am I? –Ank-Theb riddle]

    ReplyDelete
  31. That is it for today. Hope I inspire some people :) I might contribute once more tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete