Thursday, March 7, 2013

CCDD 030713—Great Pharaoh, High Priest & War Pharaoh

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/7/2013 - I've been looking for the universal thread woven into the great Egyptian tapestry and—wow, labored metaphors are really lame. Innistrad's Horror theme revolves around transformation. Ankh-Theb's Egyptian theme revolves around… greed and ambition. At least, that's making a lot of sense so far. If you think you can find something more central, please do share.

So, the big mechanic of Ankh-Theb—the one that makes this plane play differently from other destinations in the Multiverse—should read, look and/or play like the limitless ambition of a king who would make thousands of men sweet, bleed and die in the desert in order to build him the grandest monument of all. Like the unflinching greed of a slavemaster who would shackle, whip and dehumanize his kin so that he can wear the finest silks, drink foreign wine and buy girls for his harem. Like the mighty gods who demand sacrifice and tribute and repay doubt with death.

Of course now that I've built up what I'm going for, you can only be disappointed with the execution. But this is only meant as a starting point. Do better and we'll build upon our efforts like a pyramid. A Great Pyramid of LEGOS! *cough* Or something.


You can only put "sacrifice a creature" on so many cards, but as a mythic rare Great Pharaoh stands at the top of the food chain, consuming the strength of the masses to ensure his own immortality.


Gold counters seem like a reasonable mechanic to consider when greed is the underlying theme. Do they play differently enough? We can make them. What if gold is really expensive to gain, but really powerful? The sacrifice effect on High Priest might seem black, but maybe everyone's willing to pay whatever it takes for gold in Ankh-Theb.


Another take on the black pharaoh, this time presenting an early pass at an ability word that could suffuse the set. Like landfall, dominate asks you to value cards a bit differently than usual while rewarding you for doing what you want to do anyhow. In this case, you want to play a lot of creatures. Dominate isn't as game-changing as landfall so it's not ready to headline any sets yet and it has other problems like the amount of counting players will be forced to do when they've got a few dominating creatures of different costs.

But it's a step in the direction of showing the struggle for power that the big players in Ankh-Theb hold so dearly, and the way they'll use anyone beneath them to ensure their place in history.

Presenting a rare and two mythics that are enticing is kind of cheating. These cards are strong enough to turn heads regardless of the egyptian-ness of their rules text. But I did that to try and show potential and spark interest enough to get you all brainstorming the better mechanics and the set-defining commons that drive home the greed and ambition of Ankh-Theb.

Now, go, my minions, into the ni—What's that, you're not my minions? Pfft, next your going to say I'm not a divine ruler nor sovereign over all the land, much less Lower Merion county. Crap, my taxes are due!

56 comments:

  1. Not a headliner mechanic, but something to play off of the Disdain for Minions theme:

    Scornful Jackal 3B
    Creature - Hound Cleric (C)
    Prevent all damage that would be dealt to ~ by creatures with lower power.
    3/1

    or

    Scornful Jackal2 3B
    Creature - Hound Cleric (C)
    ~ Can't be blocked by creatures with lower power
    3/1

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    Replies
    1. You could do Protection from Lower CMC, but I suspect we're moving away from protection in general and I think these are nice designs, and much better for common.

      Delete
  2. Gold does fit the setting. Maybe it would be appropriate here to let gold pay for colorless mana or life payments, along with a minor theme of paying life? It also sets up a nice contrast with the life-bearing nature of the river.

    Metallurgy Servent 1R
    Whenever ~ becomes tapped, gain 1 gold (gold may be spent as colorless mana or life payments)
    1/1

    Unspeakable Symbol 1BB
    Enchantment
    pay 3 life: put a +1/+1 counter on target creature

    Stream of Life XG
    Sorcery
    Target player gains X life

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    Replies
    1. Gold that pays for life payments does seem to make more sense here than in Frontier.
      We should try it as something that can be either 1 mana or 1 life, but we should also try it as something entirely more valuable, as enabled by specific cards. Something to /really/ fight over.

      Delete
  3. A couple of possibilities:

    Power-Hungry (At the beginning of your upkeep sacrifice another creature and put a number of +1/+1 counters equal to its power on ~.)

    Usurp (Whenever another creature dies you may pay X, where X is its power. If you do, put X +1/+1 counters on ~.)

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    Replies
    1. Pharaoh's are basically demons, yeah.

      Delete
  4. If we want to talk about dominance and power, shouldn't we be rewarding high power?

    High Priest of Ra
    2BB
    Creature - Human Cleric (R)
    When High Priest of Ra enters the battlefield, sacrifice any number of other creatures you control. If you do, put a black Horror creature token onto the battlefield with power equal to the total power or the sacrificed creatures and toughness equal to their total toughness.
    1/1

    or

    High Priest of Ra 2
    2BB
    Creature - Human Cleric (R)
    When High Priest of Ra 2 enters the battlefield, sacrifice any number of other creatures you control. If you do, put an X/X black Horror creature token onto the battlefield, where X is the number of creatures sacrificed this way.
    1/1

    This kind of card would reward both having a bunch of dorks out and also play into high-power game play.

    I think this works because it rewards the player the same way landfall does. People want to play big creatures. Let them!

    Reward the Strong
    3G
    Sorcery (C)
    Dominance--Put X +1/+1 counters on target creature, where X is the greatest power among creatures you control.

    Spell Rupture
    1U
    Instant (C)
    Dominance--Counter target spell unless its controller pays X, where X is the greatest power among creatures you control.

    Or we could even do some design design, Wild Pair style: total power and toughness.

    Altar of Anubis
    3BW
    Enchantment (R)
    At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a creature. If you do, put X worship counters on Altar of Anubis, where X is the total power and toughness of the sacrificed creature. Then, if Altar of Anubis has 100 or more worship counters on it, you win the game.

    Alright, I admit, this is a bit outlandish for a starting card with this mechanic. But come on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like all these ideas.
      I'm torn between High Priest of Ra 1 & 2. The former rewards the mechanical theme of high power better, but the second is fits the flavor much better.

      Delete
  5. Subjugate (whenever a creature with lower power or toughness enters the battlefield, put a +1/+1 counter on this.)

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    Replies
    1. That should be under your control. Basically just a reverse evolve.

      Delete
    2. I'd be curious to see how that plays out. There's no dream of a curve, but Lingering Souls automatically gives a Subjugator four +1/+1 counters. And the bigger he gets, the easier it is to get more counters. Could be terrible. Or perfect.

      Delete
  6. I feel that this power struggle between Pharaohs (or even deities) captures what Ancient/Mythological Egypt was about much better than the (Innistrad - 5 monster types + Mummies) direction some other proposals seemed to be pointing to.

    A set with power struggles between powerful Tyrants is cool. As a story, it's not that new because almost all of the background stories are about some kind of power struggle and domination. But I guess there hasn't really been mechanics that solidify the Domination/Power-struggling Tyrants flavor.

    I still think that an Afterlife element is important. It would put this set over the top and make this world really different.

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    Replies
    1. Eqyptian Human W
      Creature - Human
      Afterlife 1W (Exile this from your yard. If you do put a token into play that is a copy of this accept it has shadow.)
      1/1

      Delete
    2. this way shadow is a catch up feature. If you are losing the game in "the living world" you can pay for the chance to win the game from the "shadow world or afterlife"

      Delete
    3. also then we can have a milling sub theme in blue, flavored with a subjugation or "tax" theme of the pharaohs (which would play well with afterlife)

      Delete
    4. Also i love this idea for an Egypt Themed card:

      Greed of Pharohs R
      Enchantment (Rare)
      Whenever a creature dies, that creature's controller sacrifices all equipment on that creature.
      "you cant take it with you when you go, but i can"

      Equipment cards become the same as creature enchantments as far as card advantage goes!

      This is a great representation of how pharaohs would get buried with all of their treasures (i think)

      Delete
    5. I'd still be curious to see how Shadow-Afterlife plays out (because as Ant points out, it could act as a catch-up mechanic and because it will also help end games), but:

      I was thinking if all these spirits are just 1/1s, then they won't swing the game as crazily, then what if they're all just 0/1s and exist solely to be used by the tyrants. And finally the simpler:

      "You may sacrifice any number of creatures and exile any number of creature cards from your graveyard…" cost to let our gods and pharaohs really use up their people completely.

      Delete
    6. with afterlife they can literally be anything.

      Hound warrior 1BB
      Creature - Hound Warrior (Uncommon)
      Haste
      Afterline 1BB
      3/2

      Dragon Tyrant 5RR
      Creature - Dragon Pharaoh
      Flying
      Afterlife 3RRR
      When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, attach all equipment you control to it.
      T: gain control of target equipment and attach it to CARDNAME.
      5/5

      Delete
    7. What if Afterlife required a sacrifice?

      Hound warrior 1BB
      Creature - Hound Warrior (Uncommon)
      Afterlife B (B, Sacrifice a creature: Return ~ from your graveyard to the battlefield. Activate this ability as a sorcery.)
      3/2

      Delete
    8. Reminds me of the Orzhov mechanic I wanted for Fakecrash.

      Hound Warrior 2
      1BB
      Creature - Hound Warrior (C)
      Reap (At the beginning of your upkeep, you may return Hound Warrior 2 from your graveyard to the battlefield. If you do, sacrifice a creature.)
      3/2

      Just putting this out there. I think Jay's makes more sense.

      Delete
    9. would have to be careful with this.

      EXAMPLE

      Shock trooper 2R
      Creature - warrior
      When ~ ETB, deal 2 to target
      Afterlife R (R, Sacrifice a creature: Return ~ from your graveyard to the battlefield. Activate this ability as a sorcery.)
      1/1

      and

      Rat Man 2B
      Creature - Rat
      When ~ ETB target discards 1
      Afterlife B (B, Sacrifice a creature: Return ~ from your graveyard to the battlefield. Activate this ability as a sorcery.)
      1/1

      Creates a state where each turn you get a mini blightning for every BR you can muster

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    10. Also that version of afterlife creates repetitive play. would need to be a one time thing ala flashback, unearth, scavenge, etc.

      Delete
    11. Jay's version gave me a great flavor-driven idea-- what if the cards with Afterlife *are* the spirits, and you can invoke one by killing off one of your creatures?

      Hound warrior 1BB
      Creature - Hound Spirit (Uncommon)
      Afterlife (You may cast this card from your graveyard by sacrificing a non-spirit creature in addition to paying its other costs)
      3/2

      Delete
    12. riffing:

      Hound Spirit Warrior 1RR
      Creature - Hound Spirit (Uncommon)
      Haste
      Afterlife (You may cast this card only from your graveyard. When it dies, exile it.)
      R, Discard ~: Target creature gains haste until EOT.
      3/2

      Hound Spirit Warrior 1RR
      Creature - Hound Spirit (Uncommon)
      When ~ ETB, target creature gains haste until EOT.
      Afterlife (You may cast this card only from your graveyard. When it dies, exile it.)
      Evoke R
      3/2

      Delete
    13. problem then becomes tracking the cards already brought in with afterlife. How do we remember what needs to be exiled when it dies? a counter? (now its just persist or undying) give it haste and make it exile at the end of turn? (unearth does this).

      That was part of my thinking for making the card exile from the graveyard and producing a token copy with shadow. no bookkeeping is involved, and when the token dies, POOF its gone.

      Delete
    14. Are you talking about my last pair? If they're on the battlefield, they got their from the graveyard and will be exiled when they leave. Nothing to track.

      Delete
    15. good point I missed the "can only be played from the graveyard" part

      Delete
    16. Careful Jay. The way you've worded it, a creature with Afterlife can only be evoked from your graveyard, which is going to be counter intuitive to a lot of players.

      Delete
    17. I like the Channel version better than the Evoke version for that reason. I dig the cards' stories, where you pray to the spirit/god and get a small effect, and then later they actually come out to fight for you.

      Delete
    18. Oops. Not what I meant then. Scratch the evoke idea. Channel is it.

      Delete
    19. Oooh, I do like Channel-esque abilities. I'm not sure about the best way to make this all work together.

      Hound Spirit Warrior 1RR
      Creature - Hound Spirit (Uncommon)
      Prophesy R (This card may only be cast from the graveyard. When it dies, exile it. R: Discard this card from your hand.)
      Haste
      When Hound Spirit Warrior is prophesied, target creature gains haste.
      3/2

      That puts everything together into a neat package, while still allowing interactions with things like dig that might mill these cards into your graveyard.

      Delete
    20. Also, with Channel in the set, Legendary creatures making an appearance, and "Hand size matters" as a theme, can Offering really be far behind?

      High Priest 3UUU
      Creature Hound Cleric (R)
      Creature offering (You may cast this card any time you could cast an instant by sacrificing a creature and paying the difference in mana costs between this and the sacrificed creature. Mana cost includes color.)
      When High Priest enters the battlefield, draw cards equal to power of target creature card in your graveyard.
      3/3

      Delete
    21. Wobbles, I had to go all the way back to the original Ankh-Theb post to find my goofy Offering-oriented suggestions: http://goblinartisans.blogspot.com/2012/10/set-design-pitch-ankh-theb.html?showComment=1351395961656#c9012899141617826492

      Delete
    22. It's too repetitive if you get to keep sacrificing weak creatures you draw to keep bringing back one strong creature. If it's about sacrificing a creature to convert another dead creature into a shadow creature, at least that would be a strategic choice rather than blunt in-your-face repetition.

      Delete
    23. A variant of the revelation mechanic from Frontier would work better for the "discard as a one-shot spell first then cast from grave" guys. Here's something I've been thinking about for Ankh-Theb:

      Oasis Deity 5WW (Rare)
      Creature - Deity
      Inspiration W (W, Exile this card from your hand inspiring target creature.)
      Lifelink
      Creatures inspired by ~ have lifelink.
      4/7

      Rather than be an Aura, it could be a one-shot as well.

      Guide to the Oasis 2WW (Common)
      Creature - Human Scout
      W, Exile this card from your hand: Target creature gains lifelink until end of turn.
      Eternal (This can be cast from exile.)
      Lifelink
      2/3

      Delete
    24. I considered exile instead of the graveyard, but A)Graveyard is more thematic B)There are more interactions with the graveyard and C) Exile really should be removed from the game, basically forever.

      Delete
    25. If you're going to have creatures that can only be cast from the grave, which I really like, they should have a cool border. That would make them easier to distinguish and make sure they don't get accidentally cast and that they are exiled if they die.

      Delete
    26. @Wobbles,
      About A): Exile is also thematic. It feels like a Deity guiding some ambitious warlord.

      About C): Exile doesn't need to be removed from the game forever, there's also the category of effects that tuck things away into exile temporarily to achieve some effect, like Champion, flicker effects, or Rebound. Here, I'm making a card that's first a spell then becomes a creature. I think it makes sense to use it this way. Maybe it should say it can only be cast from exile if it was exiled with its own ability.

      About B): Graveyard interactions exist in theory, but what that means in practice is that you've got cards like Grafdigger's Cage or Bojuka Bog alternately hosing the enemy completely, not getting drawn when needed, or not mattering. I think it's swingy and I don't think it's a particularly good kind of interaction. I wouldn't want there to be a mechanic that's about dumping most of your cards into the grave and just be able to cast them as if they were in your hand.

      Delete
    27. Putting "Can only be cast from graveyard" only to negate it with its own self-discarding ability feels very awkward and contrived to me. Imagine a card that says "Destroy target creature if it's White. Bleach (Creatures targeted by this spell are White)." It's an exaggeration to get a point across, but that's the kind of feel I get from this (or the current iteration of this at least).

      The difference between that example and this mechanic is that there is a cool end result where you get a spell out of the card first, and then you get a creature. But there's got to a more straightfoward way to have two-step spellcasting like that (like revealing from hand permanently for an initial effect, then casting it normally for its second use, which I posted before for Frontier).

      Delete
    28. I really liked Jay's "flashback into a different spell" mechanic that he posted before. Also, I think the revenge mechanic someone posted, where the creature turns into a flashback spell after it dies, is cool.

      Maybe the "can only be cast from grave" creatures can be DFCs, where the Day side is an Instant or Sorcery, the Night side is flashed back from grave and is a Creature representing the cause of that Instant or Sorcery.

      Delete
  7. There could be a Legendary theme to support the flavor of Power-struggling Tyrants and powerful Deities. It wouldn't feel so much like a high-stakes battle of ambition if you only draw the slaves and taskmasters, and the Pharaohs don't show up. But the Pharaohs might feel out of flavor at low rarity. So the Pharaohs can be mostly rare, and there can be some effects that search for legendary cards from your deck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Best excuse for a new Legends since Kamigawa. Better, actually.

      Delete
    2. i think a legend subtheme should be saved for our inevitable Greek Mythology Block.

      Also whats stopping us from having a greek mythology/egyptian mythology combo block? playa nd themes could be similar. egyptian themes more driven by greed (Black) while greek ones more the desire to be a hero / legacy / control your fate (W/U?) and plenty of monsters RG.

      Delete
    3. Personally, I can't wait for Greek Mythology block. But it's such a rich source that I don't think we need its debut to be mixed with Egyptian.

      Delete
    4. Prince of the Sun Kingdom 2WW
      Creature-Human Noble (rare)
      Vigilance
      Pay two gold: Put a divinity counter on ~. It becomes Legendary and indestructible. Activate this ability only during your upkeep step.
      3/3

      Delete
    5. paying for divinity? some evil gods would allow that... interesting...

      Delete
    6. I don't think the legendary theme needs to be off limits because of a future Greek mythology block. If it happens that this set needs it, it should use legendary with its own twist. Any future sets can use legendary with their own twists. It's like Innistrad used some graveyard mechanics and some tribal mechanics, but only as much as it needed. Another example is Rise of the Eldrazi making use of Tribal Eldrazi spells. It's not a tribal set, but they used it because it fit the set. And legendary is an evergreen mechanic anyways.

      It's possible that the theme of this set is the power struggles between ancient gods, in which case the set can feature all sorts of divinity-backed Tyrants from around the ancient world dominating the heck out of each other. But I'd rather focus on just Egypt since it is such a rich evocative world.

      Delete
  8. Army—As long as you control more creatures than any opponent…

    Command—As long as you control more creatures than any opponent, if ~ has the greatest power among your creatures…

    Sovereignty—As long as you have more lands than any opponent…

    Wealth—As long as you have more gold counters than any opponent…

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    Replies
    1. all of these are good, but they are all "win more" mechanics.

      Delete
    2. batallion isnt necessarily "win more"

      threshold mechanics are different.

      if you have 5 creatures, and i have three, but they have batallion, when i attack i get a bonus that may even us out.

      If i have 5 creatures and you have three, and some of my creatures have ARMY, then i am just winning more.

      same goes for metalcraft. having a set number does not necessarily mean im winning more.

      now when i have three and you have one, and i have batallion going, then yes its win more. but its not 100% certain as it is with mechanics that just check to see if you have more lands or more creatures.

      Delete
    3. What if I have five 1/1s and you have three 3/3s? Am I still just winning more?

      You're absolutely right that Army is a win-more mechanic, I don't disagree with that. I just disagree that win-more mechanics are non-starters, as proved by Battalion which is at least as likely to exacerbate an existing advantage as Army.

      Delete
    4. this is true. I just think that mechanics like this tend to work better when the threshold is a set number. they could also all work as inverses of themselves.

      Famine - have less lands than opponent
      Reinforcements - have less creatures than opponent
      Come back - less like than opponent

      something like that

      but yes i think army works as is.

      Delete
    5. ** comeback - less LIFE than opponent

      Delete
    6. I like the concept! I think it fits well and creates interesting tensions in game play.

      Ideally, you'd want to choose things that are going to be mutually exclusive. Otherwise you're going to have more of a run away leader effect because ALL of you cards will be powered on while none of your opponents. That leads me to these three:

      Master of Empire- If you control the most permanents...

      Master of Wisdom- If you have the most cards in hand...

      Master of Death- If you have the most cards in your graveyard...

      It is a bit of a hassle to track all of these things at once, but what is nice is that while one player might hold one or two of these titles, they'll rarely hold all three at once unless they're generally in complete control of the game.

      Delete
    7. Nice, it creates mini subgames which fit with what your trying to do. Would it fit to have each tribe/faction focused on a different mastery?

      BW - Master of Immortality (most life)
      BG - Master of Death
      GU - Master of Trade (most gold)
      RU - Master of Wisdom
      RW - Master of Empire

      as an example.

      Delete