Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Set Design: Unanswered Question #1

First, I'd like to apologize to our readers for the fact that our set design project has slowed to a snail's pace. The unexpected windfall of free time to which I alluded in this post has vanished. To make a long story short, I was unable to sing for a few months, but am now healthy again and hard at work. That's an excellent outcome for me personally, but not quite so good for having time to blog.

Nevertheless, I intend to keep this ball rolling, and hope that you're still excited about it too! We've narrowed the field to three worlds: Ankh-Theb, Ekkremes, and Frontier. While the original plan was to select one of the three based on the final round of pitches, there are some major unanswered questions that need to be addressed before we move forward. And so, since we have a big crowd of people who love nothing more than solving design problems, we're going to crowd-source those answers before making the final decision.

The first question is about Frontier, our Wild West candidate. We almost certainly want a mechanic to represent gunslinging. Of course, it won't be with actual guns- perhaps some sort of wandslinging? It might take the form of a keyword ability, a keyword action, or neither of the above. It probably goes on creatures.

Tell us, faithful readers: What kind of mechanic can we use to represent gunslinging?


  1. Two figures stand across from eachother, 20 yards apart and too close for comfort. A small crowd of spectators peeks around doorframes and through dirty windows, wondering. Who is faster? Who is smarter? Who is luckier? Who fights dirtier?

    In Westerns, gunslinging provides the empirical and irrefutable answer to one of those questions, in one simple test that, once initiated, takes less then a second to complete.

    In my mind, this wants to be a psuedo-fight mechanic - one of your creatures and one of your opponent's creatures are going to establish superiority between them.

    Here's my current thought:

    Sherrif 2W - Common
    Creature - Human Soldier - 2/2

    Dominance -- When ~ ETB, you and your opponent each choose and reveal a creature card in your hand or on the battlefield under that player's control. If your chosen creature has higher toughness than your opponent's, creatures you control get +2/+2 until EoT.

    Super wordy, but I think it's easy to understand once you see what it's trying to do. The templating could probably be better.

    There are a lot of valves to play with here, as well. It can look at power, toughness, CMC, and even other things, depending on what themes we want to play up in the set. Is multicolor a theme? Check dominance for number of colors. Is chroma back? Look for colored mana symbols.

    Here's a rare example:

    Doc Sparrow 1UU - Rare
    Creature - Bird Wizard - 1/1

    Dominance -- When ~ ETB, you and your opponent each choose and reveal a creature card in your hand or on the battlefield under that player's control. If your chosen creature has higher CMC than your opponent's, take an additional turn after this one.

    Any thoughts or feedback?

  2. I think we should look at the game "Deadlands: Doomtown" an old Wizards CCG set in the wild west.

    Fighting was handled with duels based on poker hands (Each card had a poker value)

    Some creatures were “studs” allowing you to play hand with more cards.
    Some creatures were “draws” allowing you to discard and draw more cards to improve your poker hand.

    If we go this direction I think it would be wise to include some uncommons that messed with the rules of duel.

    A version of duel similar to this also encourages “Battle Cruiser” magic as well as working very well with looters and other filter mechanisms.

    Tap or ETB or attacks or blocks or other:

    THIS CREATURE Duels target creature you don’t control. (Each creature’s controller reveals up to 2 cards. The creature who’s controller reveals the highest total converted mana cost wins the duel.)

    Anytime ~ wins a duel, the losing creature get’s EFFECT

    These effects could be:

    -1/-1 until EOT or counters
    “One Way” fight
    Tap, don’t untap
    Can’t attack or block

    I think at the moment it's too wordy but I think the idea is solid.

  3. Nice wandslinging link. :)

    My least favorite means of implementing this is with revealing cards and comparing CMC.

    (Daniel also did that in the Great Designer Search 2 http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/116g and http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/118g if you remember.)

    The reason I dislike it is the lesson we learned with landfall. Reward players for doing what the want to do anyway. Don't make them hoard cards in hand and not cast them.

    I also don't like a clash-like trigger with a varied effect. I much prefer something where the result of the effect is only varied in it's size, like Bushido. Trigger and reward is all this mechanic needs to be. If we junk it up with a complex trigger and varied effects it'll be too complex for common. And as a major resonant trope, we need to include more than a few spellslinger at common.

  4. If you're skilled with a gun, you can easily kill things in a single shot.

    Don't redesign things that already exist. The gunslinging mechanic is deathtouch.

    1. Or first strike. But I think you can have extras as well.

    2. In the context of real life, guns can represent death because they can kill people better than a knife or a baseball bat. But inside of a Magic set, firing a gun isn't going to help stop a rampaging Wurm or Dragon. A guy in a Godzilla movie doesn't simply take a gun and kill Godzilla. I don't see it representing death the way things like poison or a Gorgon's glare do; those things can kill a Dragon. Guns deals a certain amount of damage rather than cause insta-death.

      Other traits of guns which I think are important to represent are that they are long-range weapons, and they require ammo.

      Finally, reinventing things is very important in Magic. There's no reason to kill new ideas or not attempt them just because there's some previous mechanic that could take its place for the same flavor - as long as the new mechanic genuinely provides a new play experience. (Although I'm not quite sure deathtouch matches the flavor of guns for the reasons I mentioned.)

    3. First strike might be a better choice. But a gun is still just a powerful weapon. It doesn't need some weird mechanic that we've never seen before.

    4. A werewolf is just a powerful creature. It doesn't need some weird new mechanic we've never seen before.

      Magic doesn't need innovation. Just try to reuse old mechanics as much as possible.

    5. Did you really confuse my argument for a claim that Magic should introduce no new mechanics?

    6. We should try to capture the feeling of a gunfight.

      We should take a clue from how they handled Werewolves. The DFC mechanic created new gameplay that fits the feel of Werewovles. They're strong on some turns, weak on others. You try frantically to keep them from changing. There's a feeling of dread before they turn on.

      They didn't make a crazy new mechanic like DFCs just for the sake of newness or craziness. But they did do it to create a certain feel and make the game play a certain way.

      If we just take the stance that we shouldn't "reinvent things that already exist," then we could just assign Werewolves the Rootwalla ability and be done with it. But that wouldn't create a new game play that feels like it's about Werewolves.

      We should try to design a mechanic that makes combat feel like a gunfight. I don't care if some mechanics like first strike can reasonably represent a gun. That doesn't make the game play a new way or make the set's game play feel that a gunfight is happening.

    7. I was about to reply with the "They could have made werewolves Rootwallas" argument. Chah took the words right out of my mouth.

    8. Speaking of crazy ideas:

      Shotwand Blast 1R
      Shoot target creature. If you hit, ~ deals 5 damage to it. Otherwise, return ~ to your hand. (To shoot, throw this card from arm's length. If it touches the target, it hit.)

      Disappearing Act 1U
      Target creature is unblockable this turn.
      Shoot it. If you hit, it gains "Whenever ~ deals combat damage to a player, draw a card" until EOT.

    9. For more chaos (see what I did there?)…

      Shotwand Blast R
      Fire — Throw this card from arm's length. ~ deals 4 damage to each creature and planeswalker hit.

      This would require the same rulings as Chaos Orb.

  5. Clash. It builds tension. You can expand it with scry-like effects, cards that specifically add to clash results, and triggered abilities on creatures that act like Fire Juggler (but less crazy).

    After all, you've seen the 1994 film Maverick, right? That movie's climax is based on the best clash ever.

    1. I agree that it's an excellent fit. However, Clash was also Lorwyn's least popular mechanic. I'm reluctant to bring it back.

  6. I brainstormed Showdown variants elsewhere. I wasn't convinced by it at first, but I think the best suggestion was jmg:

    Showdown (Each player draws a card, then discards a card. If you discard the nonland card with the least converted mana cost, you win.)

    It's similar to clash, but what I like about it is:

    - you have some control over it, so it feels less random than clash
    - but still has most of the benefits of clash
    - if you keep several cards in hand, you have a lot of freedom
    - but even if you have no cards in hand, you still have a chance to win
    - the dramatic "reveal at the same time" feels just like a gunfight.

    Note that it originally felt counterintuitive that the _lowest_ card wins, but if it's the highest card, there's always an uncomfortable tension that you're "supposed" to throw your best card, but it's probably not worth it to do so. Whereas in some ways "lowest" is a harder decision, since you're often throwing a card you can use right now, but it means there's always a decision, but the decision is more immediate and less swingy, both of which are good.

    Flavour-wise, discarding the cheaper card can be "quicker" instead of "better".

    And we decided it should be "nonland" else land cards would almost always win, and normally be the obvious discard. This way either player can get some benefit by cycling a land, so you don't know whether to do that, or chance on your opponent doing that and cycling something else with a chance of winning.

    1. This is good but the reminder text needs to take into account what happens if your opponent discards a basic land card (since your nonland card could no longer have a lower converted mana cost). It's also worth considered what Showdown would mean for card design in the set.

      If having low converted mana cost is a plus do weaker low mana cantrips become extra valuable as Showdown winners? Do high mana battlecruiser style cards become undeckable against opponents using Showdown?

  7. I think the keywording of Fight makes it very hard to find a solution which isn't just an inelegant version of that same mechanic. Even if you managed to find a "more elegant" version of fight (unlikely), people would still ask why it wasn't just fight. With that in mind, I wanted instead to explore what I find is the chief element that seperates "gunslinging" from "fighting": Something other than raw power (often, speed) deciding the outcome. With that in mind, here are some of the cards I designed (fight is being bled outside R/G at higher rarities but I feel like the twists justify it):

    Contest of Speed 1R
    Sorcery (C)
    Target creature you control deals damage equal to its power to another target creature. If that creature is untapped, the creatures fight instead.

    This is the hallmark spell of red's "gunslinging" - it might be a lot better at instant speed (to punish an attacker) but I'm not sure red wants that (especially not if it had to push the cost to 2R).

    Lonely Ranger 3G
    Creature - Human Scout (C)
    When ~ enters the battlefield, you may tap it. If you do, it fights target creature.

    Perhaps too good for common (or too easy to splash), this is a quality creature with an optional Prey Upon attached; the flavor here is obviously that the ranger is hidden and can choose to confront the enemy or not. Taking advantage of the ability leaves him unable to block, though.

    At uncommon, we can bend the fighting feel to the other colors:

    Lonely Lawbringer 2W
    Creature - Human Soldier (U)
    Protection from Red.
    When ~ enters the battlefield, it fights target red creature.

    A shout-out to the original Lawbringer and very on-theme for the Western setting, I feel.

    Coward Cutthroat 3B
    Creature - Human Assassin (U)
    ~ can't block.
    When ~ enters the battlefield, it deals damage equal to its power to target creature already dealt damage this turn.

    The standard "coward" ability sometimes seen in Black combined with a sneaky fight-like ability that I feel could flavorfully fit into Black.

    Of course, we could also add more powerful/swingy creatures in the main colors of fight at uncommon:

    Needlepeak Desperate 2RR
    Creature - Human Rogue (U)
    When ~ enters the battlefield, it fights another target creature.

    There's definitely a reward for having this guy survive his own ETB effect (which is mandatory - and can target your own creatures!): Trading creatures off to set up a situation where he can kill off a remaining blocker with less then two power is sure to swing the game a ton in limited, but there will also be situations where he is a Flame Slash - or can't be cast profitably at all!

    Valley Trappers 3GG
    Creature - Human Scout (U)
    T: ~ deals damage equal to its power to target creature if that creature has flying. Otherwise, it fights that creature.

    I only realized how similar this is to Stingerfling Spider after designing it, but I actually think it has a slightly different role; it's better against the decks with lots of small fliers while being a lot worse against "dragons". I think I like that. Still a very potent card in Limited, though.

    1. At the rare slot is where things get really juicy:

      Sudden Standoff 4RR
      Sorcery (R)
      Gain control of target creature until end of turn. Untap it and it gains haste, "T: this creature fights another target creature" and "whenever a creature dealt damage by ~ this turn dies, untap this creature".

      The Cavalry 4WW
      Creature - Human Knight (R)
      Flash, Vigilance.
      When ~ enters the battlefield, you may have it fight target attacking or blocking creature.
      "Just in time!"

      This has to be a card if we're doing Western!

      Man of the Wild 3GG
      Creature - Human Warrior (R)
      T: ~ fights target creature you don't control.
      3GG: Regenerate.

      This is the version of the ability which belongs to the Green rare, I feel. Simple and very powerful. I felt like adding flavor text talking about how he hangs out with the savages and dabbles in their shamanistic rites to explain the regeneration - I think that's perfectly fine.

      ... Where's blue in all this?

      Blue can't have the fighting keyword, not even in bleed. But it can add to the "fighting feel" through the use of flash and can work in its own way around it with the use of hexproof and power-reduction.

      Swift Shooter 2U
      Creature - Human Archer (C)
      "It's impressive how few of these rogues realize that not all fights are one-on-one - before it's too late, at least."

      Keeper of Order 3U
      Creature - Human Soldier (C)
      ~ has hexproof as long as it has not dealt or been dealt damage this turn.

      Coppertown Confiscator 2UU
      Creature - Human Advisor (U)
      When ~ enters the battlefield, target creature an opponent controls gets -2/-0 until end of turn.

      Elias the Lucky 3UU
      Legendary Creature - Human Rogue (R)
      Whenever a spell or ability an opponent controls would target ~, you may change the targets of that spell or ability.
      "I make my own luck."

    2. I just realized the Lonely Ranger needed the words "you don't control". I wanted that to be a difference between red and green, at least at common (red can kill your own dudes - perhaps something that would go well with on-death triggers - in red and especially in black?).

    3. ... And Swift Shooter (in post #2) is supposed to be a 2/2.

    4. Interesting. Mark Rosewater actually discussed this in one of his Gatecrash articles that the original Gruul mechanic was Ambush, basically a kicker that let the creature fight when it ETB. They wound up not using it because it gave a lot of removal to common slots, and wound up killing too many small creatures. It's described in more detail here:


    5. I did read that column, and I kept in mind when designing it; I pushed the power-level on only a couple of the cards (at least at common/uncommon), but I could see why having a theme of the set be carefully costed/implemented to avoid it being overpowering - it would make it less exciting. I think the difference here is that while this theme could lead to some powerful cards, it not being a keyword (like "kickboxing") means we can control how many of the effects push their power limits. Replacing a number of instant/sorcery removal spells with the creatures that fight (ie. Needlepeak Desperate taking the slot of something like Homing Lightning) could also help control it.

      Note that I designed this theme and these cards without having followed the process of the set. There might be other themes we have to tie into, etc.

  8. Sorry to hear about your tough few months. Do you know when you will finish posting the final round pitches, I'm still waiting to see the feedback from mine.

    1. Hmm, I never received your final round pitches. Do you want to re-send them? [tweetforcealpha@gmail.com]

    2. I resent the pitches last night, I can't work out why the first email failed, hope this one gets through.

    3. Yes, got it! We'll have a look at them as soon as I get a free moment.

  9. The Spellslinger mechanic is adapted from my Frontier pitch. Spellslingers can cast a spell from their 'wand-guns' going into combat:

    Glare Wielder 1W
    Creature - Bird Wizard
    Spellslinger - When ~ attacks, you may pay W. If you do, tap target creature.

    Fume Caster 1B
    Creature - Zombie Wizard
    Spellslinger - When ~ attacks, you may pay 1B. If you do, target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.

    Grow Caster 3G
    Creature - Human Wizard
    Spellslinger - When ~ attacks, you may pay 1G. If you do, target creature gets +2/+2 and gains trample until end of turn.

    1. I'll make the same comments on this that I did on Trailblaze (same idea, but for Seas of Higaro):

      I don't know what rarity these cards are, but I strongly believe common cards should only affect themselves. Otherwise, repeatable paying and targeting anything can get really complex.

      However, I still side with Lobster that fighting is the way to go. I think we can up the amount of fighting to get the flavor across with maybe one or two cool duel cards.

    2. Spellslinger is a very simple execution of wand magic and could have been quite at home in the Wizard school setting. It's a better version of Spellshapers because you don't have to pitch cards, and it's tied to attacking, which feels natural. The strategic complexity is low, because you only get to use the effect at one specific time. For an as grokable, but more strategically complex version with deeper design space, I'd suggest changing the trigger from an attack trigger to a Bushido trigger "Whenever this creature blocks or becomes blocked".

    3. Though my post below this might look like a response, I hadn't seen James' spellslingers when I submitted. That said, I agree that this is simple and compelling and should be considered for Frontier. I also agree that most—if not all—commons should have less flexible targets. Glare Wielder and Fume Caster probably target defending creatures while Grow Caster probably just grows itself.

    4. It's worth noting that most of the battalion triggers in Gatecrash at common affect the creature itself, but there is room for some simple targeted effects at common, such as Bomber Corp's pinging.

      For Frontier, the targeted effects feel more like "shooting" to me, so a better option might be to not keyword Spellslinger, but let it show up on one or two commons, or in a single vertical cycle.

    5. I really like this, but you've got the problem that this really wants to be reusable. That really limits the type of effects you can have at common


      Firewand Brigand (common)
      Creature - Human Spellslinger
      Spellsling 1R (When this creature attacks, you may pay 1R. If you do, search your library for an instant or sorcery card with the same mana cost as this card. You may cast it without paying its mana cost. Then shuffle your library.)

      So this is more "Spellsling transmute". It certainly gives the feel of the creatures casting the spells, plus it builds in some natural limits for limited play. Some times these guys will be shooting blanks, because you don't know how many shots they have in their deck

    6. Very Interesting.
      Another template:

      Firewand Brigand (common)
      Creature - Human Spellslinger
      Spellsling 1R (When this creature attacks, you may search your library for an instant or sorcery card with mana cost 1R and cast it. Then shuffle your library.)

  10. While I definitely think we need a duel mechanic or at very least one really amazing dueling card, I will point out that not all gunslinging is dueling.

    I agree that deathtouch is a fine representation of gun/wandslinging, as are first strike and even flash. I agree that fight should be featured prominently in the set, though I'm not convinced we need to bleed it into other colors.

    Something that might reinforce the wandslinging, is if a lot of creatures had mana-activated abilities. W: Gain first strike, B: Gain death touch, etc. Whether those should be on-color of off-color is a larger question.

  11. I'm actually having fun designing some magic sets of my own. One is a Wild West set.

    For "Gunslinging", my current idea, which I've yet to playtest, is creatures that get bonuses when equipped. The common equipment would be "wands" or "guns" or what-have-you. It's simple, modular, and should play fine at common. The problem with an instant-speed gunslinging mechanic (equipping at instant, flashing, activation costs) is the exact same problem the GDS2 plane had: flash doesn't work at common as a theme. You can have a couple of cards do it, but mechanics work at sorcery (Scavenge, Level up, etc) because those that work at instant-speed just make gameplay unnecessarily more complex. The "bonus while equipped" just creates the idea of an 'armed' creature and an 'unarmed' one.

  12. Idea 1:

    Duel (This creature can't be blocked by more than one creature.)

    Idea 2:

    Dual Wield (This creature deals both first-strike and regular combat damage to creatures)

    Idea 3:

    High Stakes (Whenever ~ blocks or is blocked, you may pay X. If you do, it gains +X/+X until end of turn.)

    1. Dual Wield isn't different enough from Double Strike to be worth a keyword (and is a little confusing in that regard.)

      High Stakes is interesting. As a triggered ability, an attacker and a blocker both with High Stakes will have to choose their X in APNAP order, which may be fine. More concerning is the complexity it introduces by adding dozens or hundreds of permutations of combat math.

      Duel prrrobably doesn't need a keyword, but it's justifiable. Either way, it's an ability I want to see in this set.

    2. I agree. Dual Wield was a stretch at best. I was mostly looking for a "bushido without being bushido" and that's what I found first. Ci La Vie.

      High Stakes is really the highlight here, I think. (although I do think Duel is a neat ability for the set to bleed a little) High Stakes is certainly Bushido-esq while being different enough to play significantly differently. I would point out that Jay's post is unclear: In a dual between High Stakes creatures, the abilities will activate in APNAP order, but the blocker will always have to choose what to pay first (Because that's the ability that resolves first and a blocker is always the nonactive player).

      Now, some might call that a flavor miss (It's a little deliberate for a "Draw!" type effect), but I think it certainly catches a poker style push your luck element of "I'll see your 3 and raise you 4" idea.

      It's also nice because it provides an automatic use for excess lands, and I think it's more flavorful that dualing wizards would shoot mana at one another instead of some of the other options suggested.

      It does add some complexity to combat math, but of all the things to count, it's much easier to see the number of untapped lands a player has than cards in graveyard or calculating a decks CMC probabilities. Untapped lands are already a factor in combat math under normal circumstances.

    3. I like Dual Wield, but this would be clearer:

      Dual Wield (Whenever ~ blocks or is blocked, it gains double strike.)

      Also, a top-down Johnny card based on the name:

      Matched Pair 2WW
      Enchantment - Aura (R)
      Enchant Equipment
      Enchanted equipment gains a copy of all its abilities as long as there are no other equipment cards attached to the same creature.

    4. Firewand 1
      Artifact—Equipment (cmn)
      Equipped creature has first strike.
      Equip 1

      Twin Firewands 2
      Artifact—Equipment (unc)
      Equipped creature has double strike.
      Equip 2

    5. Suppose you're attackign with a 1/1 and a 3/3, and I've got a pair of 2/2s. All vanilla.
      1—I can take 4.
      2—I can kill your 1/1 and take 3.
      3—I can kill your 1/1 and chump the 3/3.
      4—I can double-block the 3/3, taking 1 and losing a bear.
      BUT, why would you attack with your 1/1 if you didn't have a trick? So now I have to re-factor for Shock and Giant Growth. The double-block seemed good, but would be a blow-out if you have a trick. Blocking the 1/1 costs me a guy if you have Growth, but not Shock. But it might be worth my bear to trade for your Growth.
      OR maybe you attacked with the 1/1 as a bluff because he's disposable and worth keeping me from double-blocking your 3/3.

      That's a lot to think about for four vanillas. Now suppose your 1/1 and one of my 2/2s has High Stakes and we both have four mana up. I can't block your 1/1 with my vanilla 2/2 at all, because you'll kill it for 2 mana. I hear cheap repeatable creature kill is pretty good. I can block it with my 2/2 with high stakes, but I'll have to pay 4 before you pay anything or I lose my best dude. But if I do that, you don't need to pay at all, and can use your mana to summon a four-drop after combat. At least you can't respond to my payment by shocking my guy (since X isn't set until resolution).

      In this case, its clearly better for my high stakes 2/2 to block and kill your 3/3 for a mere 2 mana and let your 1/1 through unblocked.

      What if its your 3/3 that has high stakes? If I'm at 4+ life, I probably kill the 1/1 and let the big one through. I could double-block, and pay 4 and hope you don't have a trick, in order to trade my bear for your awesome guy and no mana.

      The upside to all this, is that these scenarios were dynamic and interesting. The downside is that there was quite a bit to process with a very small board, and that one-sided blowouts won't be remotely unusual. I'd be happy to try High Stakes out and see if it's actually much simpler in practice, or if the awesome gameplay outweighs that cost, but I'm non-zero skeptical.

    6. This, exactly. I'm excited for High Stakes and it seems worth testing - I just don't know what sort of creatures we can put it on and still keep the math reasonable, *especially* at common.

    7. I mean Gatecrash has 8+ common combat tricks. Combat math is always going to be one of the most dynamic parts of the game, it's certainly the most lenticular element the game has. I mean, inexperienced/risk adverse players may just always let a High Stakes creature through unless they're guaranteed on the board to kill it. That's fine, and how most combat situations work anyway. It's actually less punishing because the base stats on a High Stakes creature will be a bit lower anyway.

      But more experienced players have lots of opportunities to outplay opponents here. As you recognized, there's a lot in play when a creature with High Stakes attacks. Maybe you bluff not having anything else to do with your mana to get a creature through. Maybe you make your opponent really commit to a High Stakes attack before bouncing the creature and massively swinging tempo.

      One of the final things I really like about it is that it's anti-parasitic. It's kinda worse to have two High Stakes wandslingers out because then you have to split your resources between them. Things to think about.

    8. Right, but combat tricks in hand are completely different from those on board. I don't think anyone's contesting that High Stakes will likely be awesome when it's played out, but there's a very real chance that this mechanic will cause analysis paralysis for less experienced players because they KNOW that they shouldn't run into it, but can't figure out all of the relevant permutations in a reasonable time frame.

      I honestly believe there's less than a 50% chance it will work out, but the other side of the coin looks promising enough to make me want to gather up some new players and test it anyway.

      I'll echo Jay on Dual Wield, but I wonder if Duel has potential. In it's present form it doesn't excite me, but perhaps it could also require the creature to be blocked if able. It might lead to problems with a second big creature that can block so that there's no way to avoid having small creatures eaten, but if that issue can be avoided it should offer just as much interesting decision making as High Stakes (thinking multiple turns ahead to "corner" blockers), but while being, I imagine, more lenticular. I doubt that most of the players who would freeze when faced with High Stakes will even consider the consequences a few turns down the line.

    9. Interesting. I considered a "must be blocked" concept for Duel, but it felt a bit too much like provoke and I was worried that it would be oppressive to small creatures.


      Mano a Mano (This creature must be blocked by exactly one creature if able.)

      or maybe

      Lawbringer (This creature must block and be blocked if able. If it's not blocked, untap it.)

    10. Semantics quibble, but anti-parasitic is parasitic. Both tell you to play more of one thing and less of another thing.

      I like Mano A Mano a lot. Testing may negate it, but I definitely want to test it.

      Must block and be blocked is interesting too. The untap clause feels extraneous. I'd rather add that to one Lawbringer card.

    11. High Stakes doesn't particularly feel like gun combat to me, which is a big strike against it for me.

      It reads exciting as if it's about a risky contest of power where you try to "win" combat by pumping the creature by variable amounts, but the actual game play it would create is "just don't block this creature; I have mana on my turns." I actually don't think it adds much strategical twist to the game, because you see the number of lands out and know the outcome of battle. It's just a powerful deterrent to getting into combat with the creature. It doesn't make the blocking choices more interesting.

      The mechanic tries to introduce a strategic twist by posing the question "But what if the opponent has an instant? If you pump, your mana might be wasted!" But combat tricks and removal are already supposed to make combat interesting by making the outcome unpredictable anyways. I feel that a mechanic shouldn't require these things to bring out its strategic depths. For example, mechanics like Bloodlust or Exalted add a new strategic twist to combat on their own without requiring players to have a particular card in hand to make it strategic. Without the aspect of tricks and resulting mana wastage risk, this mechanic is just "don't block this."

      Also, it doesn't seem to have much visceral appeal. It would if it were actually about pumping a creature to win combat, but it's more about deterring combat, or about these guys only getting blocked when the opponent has removal to waste your pump. There are some mana-management choices that crop up but that appeal of that seems to be purely for players who really like thinking about optimal mana use. I think a good combat-related mechanic should have at least some amount of visceral appeal too; Some examples of mathy abilities that are very visceral that I can think of are Levelers, Scavange or Battle Cry.

      Some good points I agree with:
      - It lets aggro creatures attack past blockers without having too efficient bodies and being too fast of a clock
      - It helps fight really large creatures, such as in battlecruiser magic
      - It allows flooded players to hold the ground until they draw more gas.

      However, I'm not sure this mechanic is the best way to achieve these things. This mechanic means that unlike Bushido, there is this creature you can't kill in normal creature combat and you're just waiting to draw removal or combat tricks if you want to interact with it. I'm not saying that's overpowered in any way, but I just don't think it's adding more tactical interest to combat; it's just reducing an avenue of interaction.

    12. I agree with Chah. It's very math-y and doesn't feel like guns.

    13. I get that. After considering it further, I think I can do better:

      Rapid Fire (1: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature blocking or blocked by it.)

      Lets run it through Havelock's check list:

      * Guns fire bullets as instantaneous events.
      This ability is instant speed. It's faster than first strike, it can be used in response to removal. Check

      * Bullets deal damage or otherwise harm the creature being shot.
      Yep, 1 mana=1 damage

      * Guns can be used from a distance.
      This is a bit of a miss. Unlike previous machine gun abilities (Masticore, Olivia Voldaren), you can't just gun down their entire squad. That said, this ability can still happen "from a distance" in that it can hit a creature before even first strike has a chance.

      * Firing a gun takes ammunition. (Possibly less important?)
      You've got to feed this mana. Mana is the core costing mechanic in the game, and creates the most dynamic choices because it's the resource everything uses. If you're going to gun down a big creature or save mana for defense, it costs you the ability to cast other cards.

      I like a few things about this over High Stakes. First, it uses the existing gun metaphor in Magic, the Masticore ability. Now, that ability is obviously insane in limited and could never be reprinted. But by limiting it to creatures engaged in combat, it really changes what it can do. It's a lot harder to just use this to finish off a creature, because then the creature still gets to deal damage.

      Second, a battle between two creatures with Rapid Fire has a shoot out feel. Because of the way that Rapid Fire is worded, if the creature is no longer in play when it resolves the ability fizzles. (That's the way it works with Goblin Snowman) So if a 1/1 and a 1/1 start firing at each other, it's only the first one to run out of mana that dies. Now THAT'S a shoot out, and a game of one-upsmanship.

      It's still a bit mathy. This version is WAY weaker, but it still involves some calculations that might slow down combat.

      It still reads as "Don't block me/don't attack into me." Again, it now takes a lot more mana to truly gun down a creature, but this still has a "deathtouch" feel to it. That might not be fun enough.

      This thing would be a pain on MTGO. Ideally you need to have each instance of the ability resolve before putting the next one on the stack. That way you don't activate it 4 times to kill a 4/4, only to get you guy doombladed in response to all of them. If you ping it 3 times individually, you only need to ping it a fifth time to kill it. That's easy enough to shorthand IRL (although annoying and rules lawyer-y), but I can't think of how to template it otherwise.

      So, yeah. There you go.

    14. This version certainly feels much more like gun combat to read, but given Chah's points I'm not convinced it will play out that way. That makes me want to wrap in a must be blocked clause or saboteur trigger, but that's likely too complicated.

      Also, the Goblin Snowman ruling makes for some potentially cool gameplay (well, except that you know how the firefight will turn out from the start based on the number of untapped lands). It's also slightly strange that you "shoot" but the bullet goes away if you die, though I get that the flavor is supposed to be that you only shoot as it resolves.

      Rituals could make things more interesting, but they'd have to be cheap so that you don't tip your hand, in which case they're hard to balance.

      What I want is:
      Rapid Fire ? ({Pay a resource that you have an indeterminate number of}: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature blocking or blocked by it.)

      What is that resource? The only option I see is revealing a card with a specific property from your hand because your opponent can't know about it, but if you don't know about it it'll just feel random.

      Rapid Fire B (Permanently reveal an instant or sorcery card from your hand: This creature deals damage equal to that card's converted mana cost to target creature blocking or blocked by it.)

      That version would lead to a lot of blowouts because they shouldn't play around it and as such you'll often get a free card from an instant/sorcery. Time to take a lesson from Bloodrush.

      Rapid Fire C (Discard a card: This creature deals damage equal to that card's converted mana cost to target creature blocking or blocked by it.)

      But players might feel bad about using their good cards, so I'll also propose one more version.

      Rapid Fire D (Permanently reveal a creature card from your hand: This creature deals damage equal to that card's power to target creature blocking or blocked by it.)

      This feels really weird, but I'm pretty sure there's a manga/anime in which they have magic spirit guide animal bullets, so who knows.
      Anyway, this version supports tense battlecruiser Magic without giving away all of the players' hidden information.

      /stream of consciousness

    15. How about:

      Landed Shot (Permanently reveal a land card from your hand: ~ deals 1 damage to target creature blocking or blocked by it.)

      This discourages players from playing lands, but only until they've been used. It also give a "free" mechanic a real cost.

      It would also play well with land cycling or

      Homestead 1 (1, discard this card: reveal cards from your library until you reveal a land card. Put that card into your hand and put the rest at the bottom of your library in random order.)

    16. Wait, that's just Dig, right? A "spend your land on a shot right before you play it" mechanic might play well with that, as well as helping a general lands-matters sort of theme. I'm definitely interested in exploring this some more.

    17. Found it. Rapid Fire is Fiery Deadeye from Deadsands except keyworded to appear on 10+ cards.

      The Goblin Snowman ruling (which I couldn't find anywhere except your conversation with Arthur on Twitter) isn't intuitive. Some players will assume Last Known Information will let all the bullets resolve once shot. Also flavor.

      And, as you point out, it still has the biggest problem Chah pointed out of just being a wordy version of 'unblockable' that also makes attacking back crazy.

      Maybe just having a single creature with this ability or a single aura to slap it on a creature is the way to go.

      I like Landed Shot, and if we go with permanent reveal of individual cards, would like to test that.

      One more option to consider:
      Rapid Fire E (Whenever ~ blocks or becomes blocked, choose a number. Put that many cards from the top of your library into your graveyard. ~ gets +X/+0 until EOT, where X is the highest CMC of cards milled this way.)

    18. I'm worried that
      1. Players won't want to mill themselves
      2. If we printed any cheap for 3 mana or less it would lead to degenerate combo decks.
      3. Because these actually get killed in combat the milling might not actually be dangerous, at which point this is just deathtouch.
      That said, I really like that they'll actually want to block so the mechanic will trigger.
      Milling until you hit a land would alleviate the deathtouch and combo issues, but might feel too random. We could also go until you hit a nonland instead to ensure some boost (but fewer cards milled on average).

    19. Lucky Shot (Whenever this creature blocks or becomes blocked, flip a coin. If you win the flip, it deals damage equal to its power to target creature blocking or blocked by it.)

      Do you feel lucky punk?

  13. My idea for wandslinging is a pair of abilities. One charges the creatures wand with ammo, culled from spells you’ve previously cast, and the other tracks those charges to boost its attack. Here’s the template:

    TYPE Spellcharge COST (COST: Exile target TYPE card from your graveyard. Spellcharge only as a sorcery)
    NAME gets +X/+0, where X is the total converted mana cost of its spellcharged cards.

    Using “spellcharged cards” in the second ability is a way to simplify the concept and make it grokable, like Cipher’s use of “encoded cards.” Here’s a card with the basic set up:

    Ghosttown Gunner
    Creature – Spirit Rogue
    Spirit Spellcharge W (W: Exile target Spirit card from your graveyard. Spellcharge only as a sorcery.)
    Ghosttown Gunner gets +X/+0, where X is the total converted mana cost of its spellcharged cards.

    I used Gunner to see how close to gun terminology we can get with wandguns.

    Of course we don’t always have to have the Spellcharge keyword on a card, even if we use its terminology:

    Marshal’s Deadeye
    Enchantment – Aura
    Enchanted creature gets +1/+1. If it’s spellcharged, it has first strike.

    Spellshooter Greenhorn
    Creature – Human Wizard
    When Spellshooter Greenhorn enters the battlefield, you may spellcharge it with target Instant card from your graveyard. (You may exile target Instant card from your graveyard.)
    Spellshooter Greenhorn gets +X/+0, where X is the total converted mana cost of its spellcharged cards.

    “You may spellcharge it” is another attempt to make it more grokable. Is having reminder text even necessary then? I don’t know.

    I also don’t know if Auras and exiled cards will play well together, or whether it will be too confusing to keep straight.

    I considered adding “When it dies, put its spellcharged cards in their owner’s graveyard” to these cards somewhere, but it’s pretty complex as is. Also, if they stay exiled after a wandslinger dies, players will be incentivized to keep playing spells to feed future wandslingers.

    Wandslinger Adept 5U
    Creature – Bird Wizard 1/4
    Instant Spellcharge 2U (Reminder text.)
    Wandslinger Adept gets +X/+0, where X is the total converted mana cost of its spellcharged cards.
    When Wandslinger Adept dies, you may return one of its spellcharged cards to its owner’s hand.

    Shotwand Wielder 3G
    Creature – Ox Warrior 2/3
    Shotwand Wielder has trample as long as it’s spellcharged.
    Sorcery Spellcharge 1G (Reminder text.)
    Shotwand Wielder gets +X/+0, where X is the total converted mana cost of its spellcharged cards.

    One of the reasons I like the effect being a simple +X/+0 is that you can put it in all five colors without needing to justify the color pie too much. I think it’s as universal as +1/+1 counters really, because it’s not a one shot effect which should be only in Red or Green (or previously Black). It’s a permanent boost to the creature, which has an undefined color identity. It’s unexplored design space.

    And finally,

    Heirloom Spellshooter
    Artifact – Equipment
    Instant Spellcharge 2 (2: Exile target Instant card from your graveyard. Spellcharge only as a sorcery)
    Equipped creature gets +X/+0, where X is the total converted mana cost of Heirloom Spellshooter’s spellcharged cards.
    Equip 1

    One of the best things about spreading the effect over two abilities is that equipment will be able to function correctly. Imagine if the exile and +X/+0 effects were all in one keyword. Equipment wouldn’t be able to just grant creatures the keyword, because the exiled spells would attach to the creature, and not the wandgun. You’d need to exile new things each time you pass it around, and you’d have unequipped creatures with exiled cards and no boost. It would be a mess. The way I did it, it’s clear the spells are charging the wandgun.

    1. I think this is awesome. I'm not sure if +X/+0 is the exact implementation we want or not yet, but it really feels like a wand gun. Using charges (ammo, etc) is how guns are different from other weapons. An because it exiles spells for ammo, it doesn't feel like a gun that's just nominally calling itself a wand.

      If the spellcharge requires tapping the creature as a cost, it would feel like taking a break from shooting to reload.

      While it's interesting to keep the type of ammo open to all types of descriptors (like Spirits) and I hope we try that, I suspect in the end it would make more sense if this technology uses one type of ammo for charging, and my guess is that it would probably work best with Instant or Sorcery.

    2. I also think this idea has a lot of merit. We're using a resource that there's normally no competition for and it can support the flavor of wandslinging. Only caring about instants and sorceries might be a necessary simplification, both mechanically and thematically.

      This also sparked a new possibility for Duel:
      You and target opponent simultaneously exile a card from your graveyards. If you exiled a card with higher CMC, effect.
      There's no feel-bad for discarding a card you want. It's no longer a fixing mechanic, but that's what Dig is for, right? Speaking of which, Dig could fuel this if the cards go to your GY. This Duel rewards you for doing what you want to do anyhow: play spells and do combat.

    3. I really like this Spellcharge, but I don't know if I like it conceptualized as part of a western-ish setting, it doesn't feel obvious. But the idea is really neat.

    4. @Jay: I tried that idea when I was working on the setting on Gathering Magic (http://www.gatheringmagic.com/julesrobins-exploring-the-frontier/). The fact that the information's already public outside of mind games that are only present if there's an enormous amount of dueling kills it because even with instant speed enablers there's little suspense during the actual showdown.

      On spellcharge, I like the idea, but I wonder if we need to key off CMC. If we did away with that they could actually exile single cards to get single +1/+1 counters without getting way too much toughness and it would be much easier to track size. That said, exiling creatures is going to make it feel like Scavenge rather than spellslinging, so I'd want to go with the instant/sorcery idea unless that simply doesn't provide enough cards.

    5. Did you playtest it? I agree there's less suspense, but there is still a mind game as well as strategic considerations:

      "You've got a 6 and my biggest is a 4, so maybe I'll exile the 1, so that I can win the next duel. But if you figure I'll do that, you might exile your 4 and win both."

    6. Permanent pump feels to me like runeswords, not wandslinging. Firing a gun is a singular event.

    7. Hav, I can see that. I was thinking of it in terms of charging the wand, more than loading a gun. There's no reload built into the idea. Buuut, what are the differences between guns and wandguns in your mind? Is each bullet just an elemental blast of energy? Which resonant elements of a gun are most important to you to duplicate in the effect?

    8. Good question. Here are a number of things about guns that I think our mechanic should imitate.

      * Guns fire bullets as instantaneous events.
      * Bullets deal damage or otherwise harm the creature being shot.
      * Guns can be used from a distance.
      * Firing a gun takes ammunition. (Possibly less important?)

      I think the exact flavor of wandguns should be left somewhat unspecified for now. The goal is to find a mechanic that feels like shooting guns, and then to re-skin it with fantasy trappings.

      (BTW, the reason I didn't list these criteria in the original post is that it wasn't obvious until after looking at a bunch of mechanics what the most important resonant factors were.)

    9. .44 Hexcaster
      Artifact – Equipment
      X: Exile target Instant or Sorcery card with CMC X from your graveyard. Equipped creature gets +X/+0 until EOT.
      Equip 1

    10. @Jay: I didn't playtest it, but I was the one to propose it and have been swayed away. There are two possibilities as far as I can tell:
      1. The mind games don't get played and there's no excitement.
      2. Both players are in on the mind games and now everyone has to keep track of a bunch of cards between graveyards.
      The bluffing has no value unless there are enough showdowns to make setting up for future ones important, and if the players have identified that as important there's no way that they aren't going to want to know what's in the graveyards to plan ahead. Result: information overload a la Odyssey.

      @HavelockV: Those are potentially important, but I'd posit that the Western trope is more about the quick draw than the fact that guns are what's being drawn. There's a definite overlap between the still before a sudden shot in a duel at high noon and the moment before the hands are spread in a game of poker. That is the moment I think we need to capture.

    11. Duel (Whenever ~ becomes blocked, put a card from your hand or the top of your library into your graveyard. The defending player does likewise. If your card had a higher CMC, ~ gains first strike until EOT. Each player that discarded a card this way draws a card.)

    12. I'm failing to see why we want this over just draw, then discard. The player can always discard the fresh card to replicate the milling. Are you trying to get people to clash without forcing it upon them?

      It's also kind of awkward that this triggers even when the first strike might be irrelevant (i.e. attacking with two 2/2s with Duel into an 0/3).

      That said, I do like the creatures dueling since designs that do things like gain life if you win a duel feel really strange. Maybe we could grant double strike. As is this ability is weaker than first strike, and double strike will make the trigger irrelevant way less often (assuming these guys are small enough that they're not getting chumped).

    13. Agreed on all points.

      The weird execution part was a mutation to explore the possibility of avoiding looting/discarding for players who hate that. But its too awkward.

      The main thrust was that a creature who wins gets to hit first. You're right that it's worse than first strike as written. Double Strike might be worth it.

  14. Whether you call it something really cool like "Desperado", or something less plane-specific like "Duel", Bushido is the right pick to represent gunslinging.

    If it didn't already exist, we'd leap on it as the perfect mechanic for the set. It's clean, creature-based, combat-oriented, and works well at common. Flavorwise, it shows that these are unassuming creatures- then, they get into combat, and you see how deadly they are. Mechanically they are exceptional, especially for a battlecruiser set: overall, their power when dealing damage to players will be lower, allowing for exciting creature combat early on while still weighing slightly towards the longer game.

    There's also a reason why the best Westerns- movies like For a Few Dollars More or The Magnificent Seven- are based directly off of samurai classics. Eastwood's Man with No Name is Mifune's Sanjuro, and so on - this legacy, too, is part of the Western.

    It was a popular mechanic with Spikes, Timmies, and Vorthoses alike before, but it's coming on ten years since it last saw print. Might this not be the perfect opportunity to give the fans what they want, bring it back, and make the coolest wandslingers we possibly can?

    1. I would certainly playtest a new Bushido here. We do need to find a name that can both be evergreen and won't feel out of place in our Western.
      Veteran? Skirmish? Scrapper? Mounted?

      I kind of like Veteran and Skirmish, but I got designer chills when I heard Mounted. It fits the most common flavor among Flanking and a repeated flavor among Bushido, while nailing Cowboy Western.

    2. Bushido was a fine mechanic, but it's hardly flashy. I mean, I'm all for making the coolest Wandslingers possible, but that doesn't seem like the time to brush off a 10 year old mechanic from one of the least popular blocks and just give it a new name. It might sell a Core Set, but the premier mechanics of a block should really be something new.

      I think we can do better. One of my suggestions, High Stakes, lets you make your creatures gigantic during combat. It's certainly like bushido, but your gunslinger can take down dragons if he has to. Some of the other mechanics listed scratch a similar itch.

      Off topic:
      I'm not sure it works for Bushido. After all, it's not like you hop of your horse to fight a Wild West dual. Most of the time you hop off. That said, this could be a neat fit:

      Ursine Mount 1G
      Enchantment - Aura C
      Mount (Target an unpaired creature as you cast this. This card enters the battlefield paired with that creature. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.)
      Mounted creature gains +2/+2 and hexproof.

      The idea being that they are high powered auras that you can only play as a one of on a creature you control. And your riding a bear.

    3. Yes, we should definitely cover mounts in some way as well as gunslinging.

      As for your +X/+X mechanic, how's this:

      Standoff (Whenever this creature blocks or becomes blocked, you may exile a card with converted mana cost X from your hand. If you do, ~ gets +X/+X until end of turn. The exiled card may still be cast as if it were in your hand. OR: You may cast the exiled card as long as you control this creature. OR: When this dies, returned all cards exiled with it to its owner's hand.)

      This is a "permanently reveal from hand" mechanic with less ambiguity about how permanently revealed cards behave. But it reads a bit weird though.

      The point I want to make is that I just think it's better if the ability requires some sort of resource rather than the creature being virtually unbeatable in combat turn after turn. (Even if it only pumps while in combat with another creature).

      However, maybe the showdown mechanic should not be merged with this combat mechanic, because for showdown I'd like to see it on some spells.

    4. Ursine Mount 1G
      Enchantment - Aura C
      Enchant a creature with no other auras
      Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and gains hexproof.

      Of course, hexproof then becomes a bit ironic, but that's what happens when you try to fix a broken mechanic.

    5. Regarding reflavored Bushido, I really like how well it plays in a Battlecruiser Magic block, if we still go that direction for Frontier (and I do think it makes sense in a Western setting, trying to get a ton of land makes thematic sense).

      There's still room to make interesting interactions with Bushido:

      Short-Tempered Duelist 2R
      Creature (U)
      "Bushido" 3
      Sacrifice ~: ~ deals damage to target creature equal to its power.

      Healing Fighter 1W
      Creature (C)
      "Bushido" 2

  15. Spellslinger Ruffian 3R
    Spellshot 1R (1R, Permanently reveal an unrevealed card from your hand: ~ deals damage equal to its power to target creature blocking or blocked by ~ unless that creature's controller permanently reveals an unrevealed card with higher converted mana cost.)

    If two creatures like this face off, it will induce a contest of shooting and taking cover from both sides. I know this is complex, but I have a feeling it's as close to the feel of a gunfight as you could possibly get. I hope we try it to see how it feels so that we can consider some more streamlined version if it has promise.

    1. This sounds fun, I'd definitely like to play with it to see if the fun pays off

    2. I think you might be thinking of: http://www.gatheringmagic.com/julesrobins-exploring-the-frontier/#comment-426704461 which was different than the one I proposed earlier.

      At the time, I was pretty hyped up about the possibility to really bend the game rules, so I liked the "stay revealed" aspect. I still do, but I think it's probably easier to avoid it if possible. My current iteration just uses mana, the games most steadfast and reliable resource.

      That said:

      Spellshot (Permanently reveal an unrevealed card from your hand: This creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)

      could be pretty fun. I don't really like how it encourages hording lands in your land and it's not necessarily a fair fight against "unarmed" creatures, but it's also easy enough to figure out how big a creature could get and whatnot.

      Thanks for reminding me!

    3. I suspect any permanently-reveal cost needs to live on the card to be revealed itself. Otherwise, players will mostly just reveal the card they'll be playing the very next time they get priority. We also don't want players revealing their entire hand, right?

    4. @Wobbles, here's where I first proposed merging the GDS2 Showdown mechanic with your Quickshot mechanic's "stay revealed" clause.

      With this Spellshot version, I took additional inspiration from Quickshot in that it's about dealing and preventing damage based on hidden info.

      I think permanently revealing from hand is a rich vein to explore. I think it fits right into a Battlecruiser set.

      If it reveals hidden cards from hand, it should care about what was revealed. I wouldn't just uniformly put a +1/+1 counter on the creature regardless of what was revealed.

    5. @Jay, there should be nothing wrong with revealing a card that you're about to play right away.

      The reveal is there purely to create a contest of CMC. Once that is settled, it doesn't matter what that player does with that card. The point of the Perma-reveal (at least for this particular mechanic) is that it keeps players from revealing the same 10cc card over and over, without using discard as the GDS2 Showdown did. It's not so much about some kind of "drawback" of giving up secrecy as a cost. (Although I would like Battlecruiser cards to be revealed from players' hands in the process for extra emotional buildup for the late game.)

      Also, I think there's great game play in permanent-reveal costs that reveal other cards because they let you CHOOSE what you reveal. Cards like Induce Despair show that there shouldn't be a blanket guideline that cards should only reveal themselves as a cost.

      It's true we have to be careful because any card revealed in hand adds to complexity just like on-board tricks do. But then again, Spy Network never destroyed the game, and in a way, it's easier on players than cards like Peek or Induce Despair because you don't have to memorize what you've seen.

      Maybe we just need to be careful that it doesn't happen too early and often while players' hand sizes are still large. Also it needs to be phrased so that while players can reveal cards from their own hand as a cost if they so choose to, you can't easily reveal the opponent's entire hand.

    6. Agreed. I'm concerned about too much reveal.

      "Permanently reveal an unrevealed card from your hand: This creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn."

      is often

      "Permanently reveal your hand: This creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn for each card revealed this way."

      Reveal is dangerous territory in limited quantities, but definitely a problem when most hands are revealed most of the time.

    7. Any new territory is dangerous because we might not get it right. But it can open up new intriguing game play.

    8. I'm saying that revealing large numbers of cards is more dangerous territory than new territory already is. We know it has problems that make the game worse, by reducing hidden information and thus suspense and the possibility of bluffing.

    9. No, revealing cards is just dangerous territory in the way most new mechanics are. There is no such thing as "this is the standard amount of dangerousness new territory usually has, but this territory is more dangerous because it has known problems."

      I would compare it to Infect making players start games with 10 life, DFCs being identifiable from their back side when put into a deck, level up creatures being complex, etc. - they all had recognizable problem going in. If you talk about making the game worse, these mechanic really did make the game worse, in all the predicted ways. For example DFCs did introduce some logistics hassle to the game. They made their sets worse, AND they made their sets much, much better. It makes no sense to say "this is new territory, but since it makes the game worse in these known ways, it's different from exploring new territory in an ordinary sense." No, this is exactly what exploring new territory is all about.

    10. If you have some cards in your hand revealed and others not, then you end up basically having two hands to keep track of, which seems like a major pain. For that reason, I'm in favor of reveal mechanics being single events (like Amplify) or making the whole hand open. And since the latter really does cause problems, I prefer the former.

    11. Honestly, the biggest problem I have with the mechanic is the flavor disconnect.

      Why are cards (in hand, from library, from graveyard) bullets?

      If anything, mana should make bullets for the creatures, because mana powers everything else. Revealing information for bullets was my solution to having the mechanic be free, but I'm just not sure that makes sense.

    12. @Havelock The cards can be held in hand, just like the others, but turned facing the other way. If it turns out that it makes the games interesting, it would be worth it. Or it might lead to some other ideas. Right now we're just guessing how it might feel to have multiple cards revealed as used-up bullets but we should try it.

      @Wobbles I think it's ok for a mechanic to represent something in an abstract way. The Werewolf mechanic is a good example of that; there's no direct logical connection between the number of spells cast in a turn and what time of the day it is.

      I believe the mechanic doesn't need to simulate the thing it's representing in a hyper-literal way as long as it shows some aspect of that thing while capturing the overall feel of that thing. The Werewolf mechanic does capture the aspect that Werewolves change, and operate as a pack. The overall feel is that players can work frantically to avoid it, but without complete control.

      There are several aspects of gunfire or cowboy duels that we can bring out, but if we choose to bring out the "limited ammo" factor, then keying it off of a limited resource (like cards in a particular zone) will match the overall feel, even if the connection is abstract.

      If we want to bring out the flavor of Wand-guns having limited charges, mana might not be the best way. An example would be artifacts with limited charges like Tumble Magnet. Since they represent magical artifacts infused with energy, it may make flavor sense to make them use mana instead of charge counters. But then they would have unlimited charges, so they won't play like artifacts with limited charges anymore. I think the same is true for substituting bullets with mana. (Although we don't necessarily need to focus on the limited ammo aspect of guns, and focus on ranged combat, or the unpredictable "showdown" aspect of a cowboy duel instead.)

  16. BluffClaim a number. The defending player may call your bluff. If he does, you may permanently reveal an unrevealed card in your hand with that CMC. If you do, or if he didn't call, good effect. Otherwise, bad effect.

    Just brainstorming.

    1. I like the concept, but why wouldn't your opponent always call your bluff?

      Some different takes:

      Shadowbluff Shade
      Creature - Shade
      BB: ~ gets +1/+1. Bluff2. (Claim a number. If an opponent calls your bluff, reveal a card in your hand. If you claimed that card’s converted mana cost, you may copy this ability. If it doesn’t, counter this ability.)

      This version is probably the simplest, and it can be used on creatures with an activated or triggered ability, as well as spells. I can't see a way to do that without making the copies free, so that's a development concern.

      Warning Shot
      ~ deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
      Bluff3 (Claim a number. If an opponent calls your bluff, reveal a card in your hand. If you claimed that card’s converted mana cost, you may cast a copy of this spell with a different target. If you didn't, counter this spell.)

      This version could only be used on spells, but is much easier to balance.

      Choosing another target make the card more versatile without the longer "and you may choose new target for the copy" text. I also like the idea that you get two "warning shots" before I can deal 2 damage to a single creature. The longer text might be more intuitive though.

    2. Bluff2 should end, "If you didn't, counter this ability."

    3. Why would you ever not just name a number that's in your hand?

    4. Bluff (Name a card. Target opponent guesses whether a card with that name is in your hand. You may reveal your hand. If you do and your opponent guessed wrong, you win the bluff.)

      Liar's pendulum for the masses

    5. Chah's right that I forgot not being called out can't equal being proved wrong. New version (which is mighty wordy):
      Bluff — Claim a number. The defending player may call your bluff. If he or she doesn't, good effect. If that player does, you may reveal a card in your hand with that CMC. If you do, great effect. If you don't, bad effect.

      Here's another version based on Chah's:
      Double Dealing 1U
      Sorcery (unc)
      Bluff—Draw a card. (You may draw two cards instead. If an opponent calls your bluff, reveal a card named ~ in your hand. If you do, draw three cards instead. If you don't, counter this spell.)

      Wobbles' Liar's Pendulum also seems solid.

      High Stakes Bluff (Whenever one or more creatures attack, you may put an unrevealed card from your hand face-down under ~. When it blocks or becomes blocked, permanently reveal that card and return it to your hand. ~ gets +X/+X until EOT where X is the revealed card's CMC.)

    6. HavelockV: If you pick a number your opponent knows you have, then they don't call your bluff and you don't get the copy.

      Jay Treat: Do I need to use a different account to avoid being mistaken for Chah? ;) Or did he make a similar point somewhere else?

      I forgot that a bluff would involve a single reveal, not the chain of bluff, copy, bluff that my version had. The Double Dealing version seems like an efficient way to do it.

    7. Oops, sorry Chops. I guess I saw "Ch" and a short word and automatically filled in the rest.

  17. Quick-Draw Revolver (uncommon)
    Artifact - Equipment
    Flash, quick-draw (This enters the battlefield attached to target creature you control.)
    Equipped creature gets +2/+0 and has first strike.
    Equip 2

    1. Quick-draw is pretty cute. And not in a derogatory way.

    2. I don't like how quick-draw is just cost reduction without flash, but maybe I'm overestimating the inelegance of always having both. That said, there's some concern that it's impossible to make a balanced common quick-draw card that doesn't look absolutely atrocious. For instance
      Shotgun 3
      Flash, quick-draw
      Equipped creature gets +2/+2.
      Equip 4

      would likely be a first pickable card, but looks kind of so-so.

    3. It's probably worth noting that this exists: http://magiccards.info/query?q=grifter%27s&v=card&s=cname

      Not that it invalidates the card, just that it might be more interesting on one or two equipment than as a keyword.

    4. Quick-Draw Wand 2
      Artifact-Equipment (unc)
      When ~ ETB, target creature gets +1/+1 until EOT.
      Equipped creature gets +1/+1.
      Equip 2

    5. I wondered if flash should be built into quick-draw. Thoughts?

    6. I think this wants to be a legendary creature.

      Quick-Draw Sloan
      Legendary Creature - Human Scout
      Equipment cards you own that aren't on the battlefield have flash.
      Equipment cards enter the battlefield attached to ~.

  18. I've had some ideas as well:

    Firewand Brigand (common)
    Creature - Human Rogue
    Spellslinger - When ~ enters the battlefield, you may tap it and discard a card. If you do, it deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

    It's a one-shot spellshaper. White could get one that detains, blue bounces, green kills a flyer, and black assassinates. That's the common cycle- at uncommon, we can use some splashier effects for big guns.

    1. Interesting. The limited window of opportunity allows us to cost these cards attractively, but also slightly exacerbates the casual-player feel-bad of discarding your own cards. If you play this Brigand on turn 2 to get some beats in and there are no enemy creatures on the field, do you pitch your fourth land to effectively give it haste? What about your third? What about your Shock?

      Apart from making a common spellshaper possible, what does the ETB trigger win us?

    2. I think this is not so bad with the "discarding your own cards" problem, because you get to decide when to do it. That means you'll do it when you can get value out of it, much like Bloodrush.

      The ETB trigger lets the player do something cool with their Spellslinger immediately, instead of having to wait for it to get over summoning sickness. It also lets us use effects that would be too oppressive if repeatable: common Shock, uncommon Pyroclasm, common discard, etc.

      This came from the idea that wandslinging really wants to be Blisterstick Shaman, but having a whole keyword's worth of automatic 2-for-1s isn't going to work. Discarding a card makes them 2-for-2s, and also creates the feeling that they're expending ammunition. Tapping makes the choice of whether to shoot or not more interesting, although I'm not 100% certain it's necessary.

      I was also thinking that discarding as a cost would support putting Delve on some big guys, although that would somewhat conflict with having a more exciting keyword on the Sandwurms.

    3. Random thought:
      If you would draw a card, you may tap CARDNAME instead. If you do, EFFECT.

    4. I was on a similar page:

      Diligent Farmer 1G
      Creature-Insect Farmer
      Harvest (Instead of drawing a card at the beginning of your draw step, you may draw a card after combat)
      When you harvest a card, add G to your mana pool.

      "After combat" is reminder text shorthand for "at the beginning of your first post combat main phase". I was saving this for Ankh Theb, but westerns have farmers too.

    5. I definitely prefer delaying draw to omitting it, (variance reduction = dangerous) but I don't like having to remember it. It's also not obvious from that template when you get the G.

    6. Yeah, I think after combat is grokable, but it isn't magicese. You get the mana at the beginning of you second main phase.

    7. With the delayed trigger, you still get the draw even if the Farmer dies in combat, right? (just not the G, obviously.)

    8. Why the middle of the turn? All that means is you can't cast a guy with haste or play pre-combat pump.

      Harvest (Instead of drawing a card at the beginning of your draw step, you may draw a card at the beginning of your end step)

      Now it's actually costing you something.

    9. True. I really like that, especially because it really hurts to use it if you need to make your land drop that turn.

      @Pasteur. Yes, the delayed trigger means you still get to draw the card, even if the creature with harvest dies. It's also nice because all of your creatures with harvest will trigger if you decide to harvest at all.

  19. After reading all the comments how about this?

    Duel X:
    Choose target creature an opponent controls. You and that creatures controller may cast an instant with converted mana cost x or less. Any player who does so may draw a card.

    When creatures duel they each cast a spell.
    Most common creatures could be duel 1.
    The duel activation could be any number of things.

    1. You pay for the instant you cast, right? So Duel just gives you a card if you happen to have a cheap instant you're willing to cast?

    2. I think it could be cast for free. I know free is dangerous design space, but I think if it's kept to 1 or 2 and always works symmetrical.

      The Flavor I'm going for is the creatures in the duel cast the spell.

  20. Your opponent fires at you, you respond in kind, and a flurry of spells fill the air between you.

    Spellflurry (Draw a card, then choose a card type and a card from your hand. Target opponent guesses if the card is that type. Discard the card. The winner may pay {1} to copy this spell and may choose a new target for the copy.)

    This came out of brainstorming from Jay Treat's "Bluff" mechanic. I don't love the name, but its hard to find a word that could either be a battle or a one-sided attack.

    1. This seems like a good design for a single rare, but way too complex for a mechanic that goes on multiple cards.


  21. Thinking about being the quickest gun in the west made me think about speed in general and reminded me of magic’s fastest ever creature Rocket-Powered Turbo Slug. I’m not sure whether super haste can work at common, of whether it’s really right for the set but it did make wonder how quick we can get creature onto the field and it made me wonder about miracle for creatures.

    Quickfire Sheriif
    Creature (C )
    Quickfire – You may cast this card for its mana cost when you draw it if it's the first card you drew this turn. If you do prevent all damage that would be dealt to target creature you control this turn.

    Quickfire Wildebeast
    Creature (C )
    Quickfire – You may cast this card for its mana cost when you draw it if it's the first card you drew this turn. If you do ~ gains haste until the end of turn.

    Quickfire Sharpshooter
    Creature (C )
    Quickfire – You may cast this card for its mana cost when you draw it if it's the first card you drew this turn. If you do ~ deals 3 damage to target creature you don’t control.

    I also became inspired to produce this card. I am aware Ante use to be part of magic but started playing long after people had stopped doing that. Ante here is mainly a poker reference (which is probably where Richard Garfield got the original idea anyway).

    Ante Up R
    Sorcery (rare)
    Starting with you and going clockwise, each player may look at the top card of his or her library and then choose whether or not to exile that card face down. When each player has chosen whether or not to exile a card, all players who exiled a card this way reveals them, then the player with the card with the highest converted mana cost places it into his or her hand. (If there is a tie all players tied with the highest converted mana cost place the card into their hands)
    If ~ would be placed into a graveyard from anywhere shuffle it into its owners’ library.

    1. Unfortunately, it's going to be hard to sell players on any mechanic like Miracle, even if the implementation is better. Otherwise, I like the idea. I would remove the "if it's the first card you drew this turn" clause since you're paying full-price.

      Ante Up is 10 (!) lines long on a Magic card.