Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tesla: File Sharing

Tesla seems like a prime location to capture the feeling of building your own machine. Looking at last week's discussion, a pretty common approach was directly grafting additional abilities onto artifacts from one another.

I want to pin down just how plausible an idea that is.


Making Space

First we need to take a look at how much design space there is for this sort of mechanic. We can't just go grafting cards' abilities onto one another willy-nilly, especially not at common. Or so I say. Why not just share all abilities?

Sure, there are power level concerns with grafting Darksteel Citadels onto High Priest of Penance,  but nothing that couldn't be accounted for if development were aware of the mechanic ahead of time. And yet we've never seen it. This is primarily because of rules issues with cards like Tarmogoyf. If you grant all of Goyf's abilities to Runeclaw Bear, how big is it. What if you overwrite Goyf with the abilities of Wind Drake? The rules could have defined answers, but there's seemingly no way to make them intuitive. This is why The Mimeoplasm looks like this:


and not like this:


Choosing Restrictions

In order to avoid issues with Characteristic Defining Abilities we need to either restrict the types of abilities that can be shared or limit the cards that can share their abilities to ones with our new mechanic. In the first camp, we often see ability copying limited to activated abilities.


















In theory this setup could be accomplished just as easily using triggered abilities, but activated abilities are more visually distinctive and less likely to feel bad (since most triggered abilities are enters-the-battlefield triggers that players can't make use of later).

The only other realm we've really seen explored is explicitly spelling out which abilities can be shared.


















If you have other ideas for restricting what gets shared, I'm all ears, but all that's occurred to me is only sharing abilities between a highly restrictive subtype or cards that share a keyword ability. I wouldn't say that's completely off the table, but they're as parasitic as you get, which is not the ideal space to be for a mechanic that's supposed to feel like it has endless possibilities.


Tight Fit

We've most recently seen this space explored with Ainok Bondkin and, well, kin, but even more extensively by Slivers. The only reason those worked (especially at common) was that they were granting simple creature keywords. Creatures have different base stats; creatures die regularly, making which one gave which ability relevant. Noncreature artifacts do neither of those things. That means the straight Sliver model is just going to be making more and more copies of the same permanent.

Luckily flavor had already lead many to instead explore building up a singular artifact from pieces. But this model brings a host of its own problems. Foremost among them: how do we make an artifact that does something relevant on its own, but also contributes as part of a larger whole.

Classical tap activations are more powerful separated than put together onto one permanent. Enabling effects like an artifact untapping itself do nothing on their own. Shared trigger conditions make for complex cards because they also need a way to initiate the triggers. How many cards can we come up with that skirt these issues while remaining simple and fun enough to print?

I'm not convinced that ability-grafting is the way to go, but I'd like nothing better than to be shown I'm wrong. Show us what you've got.

55 comments:

  1. This is probably one of your best title puns yet. (:

    My question is, if you're not convinced ability-sharing is the way to represent 'building a machine', what do you think is the way to go? I'm still in love with 'combining' cards a la BFM, but I can't think of many other ways besides that and ability-sharing to represent putting together a larger machine.

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    1. Thanks. (:

      I was going to address what I do like in this post too, but I've found that most people prefer these not being novel-length, so I thought I'd leave that for next week.

      Delete
  2. Also, I just got a pretty weird and fun idea...

    Restriction System {2}
    Artifact (C)
    Access ({7}: Access the Machine.)
    Whenever you access the Machine, tap target creature.

    Data Destructor {1}
    Artifact (C)
    Access ({7}: Access the Machine.)
    Whenever you access the Machine, put the top four cards of target player's library into his or her graveyard.

    Man in a Suit {2}{W}
    Creature - Human Soldier (C)
    Vigilance
    Whenever you access the Machine, Man in a Suit gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
    2/2

    Information Booth {4}
    Artifact (U)
    Access ({7}: Access the Machine.)
    Whenever you access the Machine, draw a card.

    Industrial Complex {5}
    Artifact (U)
    Access ({7}: Access the Machine.)
    Whenever you access the Machine, put a 3/3 colorless Golem artifact creature token onto the battlefield.

    Root Hacker {2}{U}{U}
    Creature - Human Hacker (U)
    When Root Hacker enters the battlefield, access the Machine.
    2/4

    Panopticon Panel {7}
    Artifact (R)
    Access ({7}: Access the Machine.)
    Whenever you access the Machine, search your library for a card and put that card into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

    Warning System {5}
    Artifact (R)
    Access ({7}: Access the Machine.)
    Whenever you access the Machine, untap all creatures and artifacts you control.

    Machine Administrator {3}{U}{U}
    Creature - Human Advisor (R)
    At the beginning of your upkeep, access the Machine.
    1/3

    Orbital Cannon {9}
    Artifact (M)
    Access ({7}: Access the Machine.)
    Whenever you access the Machine, exile target permanent.

    -

    So this mechanic is inspired by Person of Interest, which I've been binge-watching lately. I got the idea that each artifact is literally a piece of "the Machine" - each one has the ability to access it, but only access a part of it. However, the more parts you assemble, the more of the Machine you have at your disposal...

    I knew I wanted a single 'access trigger', and a bunch of 'access effects', to get across the idea of 'parts' of a larger effect. So I took from Tommy Occhipinti's "Revolution" idea. In his, the universal shared trigger had a one-time effect, transformation. But I thought a repeatable effect might be more interesting.

    I also realized you could have allies of the machine in your creatures, who give you bonuses when you access it, or even better, let you access it at unique times. I flavored each of them as a different character from Person of Interest. (:

    I'm really excited about this idea, and I think it has a lot of potential. I look forward to seeing what you guys think.

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    1. I could see a set story revolving around a collapsed society that discovers a massive computer and fighting for access to it's brilliant data and advice.

      Delete
    2. Oooh, that indeed sounds really compelling. My vision of "the Machine" was a universal network of devices and gizmos implanted into all of society eons ago by the Founders, which are almost completely autonomous nowadays. Some people are able to manipulate them, however, and the power struggles over the 'access points' to the Machine make up a large part of the conflict of the set.

      Of course, the mysteries are: who were the Founders? Why a society governed by a Machine? And what is the Machine's ultimate purpose?

      Delete
    3. it seems you made it pretty easy for accessing the machine with help of some other cards.... Access mechanic on the artifact feels quite useless because of it.
      Maybe you can made it harder accessing them with other creatures? perhaps made it quite conditional? since i look almost all of the artifact are quite powerful if it accessed.
      Especially one that can give: "Untap all creatures and artifact." and Milling library.

      Delete
    4. This is a cute idea, but I unfortunately I don't thing the gameplay is good.

      I think this is very rarely going to hit the sweet spot between completely irrelevant and totally oppressive. I'm also unexcited about spending a lot of slots on commons that don't do anything unless you get to 7 mana.

      Don't get me wrong, I love Invokers more than most, but the reason I love them is that they do something early in the game and late.

      I also don't like that if you do draft the activate the machine deck, then presumably once you have 7 mana you will spend almost every turn activating it, which will lead to a repetitive game.

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    5. Could you just do this with Landfall? It's a convenient way to mete out "universal cause->individual effects", and bounded on rate-per-turn.

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    6. Tommy: The activation cost can be altered. Lowering the cost allows for a more flexible archetype, but less interesting abilities. I thought 7 would be large enough to be a decision, but small enough that it would be attainable in a game.

      Pasteur: The problem with that idea is that it didn't feel liek you were doing any 'effort' to attain it. I considered triggers like Landfall, but I wanted to make it a large decision to access the Machine.

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    7. Network Terminal [cost]
      Artifact
      [cost], {T}: [Small effect].
      Network — [cost], {T}: [Big effect]. Activate this ability only if you control more artifacts than each opponent.

      Delete
    8. Inanimate: The problem is you have a whole mechanic pinned to one cost, and adjusting the cost doesn't change that. I think you haven't given development enough knobs to make this work.

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    9. Tommy Occhipinti hit all of the points I wanted to make. This mechanic is just inherently problematic to develop: the sort of thing that would get cut in Devign if not caught sooner.

      As for Network, I'm a little wary of mechanics which are best foiled by themselves. If the Network deck is too good your best recourse becomes to play it yourself so you can out-artifact your opponent. I could see using a fixed number, or perhaps having a huge cost that's {1} less for each artifact you control.

      Delete
  3. I think the problem can be solve by reversing the mechanic. Instead of a mechanic that causes its bearer to gain other abilities, you make a mechanic that can copy the bearer's ability to something else.

    Suffuse {N} ({N}: target artifact gains all of this permanent's other abilites until end of turn.)

    If you want it to be more controlled, you can make sure it's sorcery speed only (that's what I did with ) or have the original bearer lose it. An ability that triggers when the permanent is tapped allows for a definite "build your machine" feel.

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    1. I like this mechanic a lot. If also refrains something I've increasingly noticed lately in my design - whenever I get stuck on a troublesome mechanic, sometimes reversing the direction really helps accomplish the goal.

      I think sorcery-speed only would minimize board state complexity here. It's already a bit tricky to gauge how many activations they can get out of a single ability, you know?

      I think the next step here is to make some example cards. How many different ways can we use Suffuse? Here are some of my own ideas. Also, while I love the mechanics of this, I think it needs a name that more heavily implies its artifact nature - how about Distribute? (As in distributed computing)

      Now, all the different ways we can use it:

      Method 1: Tap Abilities
      The obvious application. Normally, a tap ability can be used only once. But when you can share it with other artifacts...

      Dictator's Device {4}
      Artifact (C)
      {4}, {T}: Tap target creature.
      Distribute {3} ({3}: Target artifact you control gains all of this permanent's other abilities until end of turn.)

      Method 2: Sacrifice Abilities
      Common on, er, common artifacts, sacrifice abilities limit useful stuff to one-time-only. Or do they? With Distribute in the mix, they get much more interesting...

      Explosive Engine {2}
      Artifact (U)
      Sacrifice Explosive Engine: Explosive Engine deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
      Distribute {4} ({4}: Target artifact you control gains all of this permanent's other abilities until end of turn.)

      See how powerful a 'simple' sac ability can get when spread among all of your artifacts? You can also do it with stuff like Traveler's Amulet at common.

      Method 3: Abilities That Stack
      Artifacts, being the kind of fluid entities they are, have had plenty of static abilities. But imagine if these static abilities could spread like a plague...

      Amethyst Grove {4}
      Artifact (R)
      Noncreature spells cost {1} more to cast.
      Distribute {1} ({1}: Target artifact you control gains all of this permanent's other abilities until end of turn.)

      Subliminal Network {3}
      Artifact (R)
      Whenever another permanent enters the battlefield under your control, each opponent puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
      Distribute {1} ({1}: Target artifact you control gains all of this permanent's other abilities until end of turn.)

      -

      So... yeah! I think this mechanic suggestion is great. Circeus, you have a wonderful idea here!

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    2. Dictator's Device's activation cost quite over costed for a just "tap target creature". remember that Icy Manipulator's activation cost only require 1 for tapping artifact, creature and land. and its uncommon.
      Perhaps 2 or 3 for tapping a creature for this might be better, what do you think?

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    3. Icy Manipulator is a bad baseline for power level of this kind of effect in the modern era. I think instead you should be looking at Tyrant's Machine.

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    4. Subliminal Network can target itself, and any number of times.

      Distribute {1} ({1}: Target artifact you control gains all of this permanent's other abilities until end of turn if it doesn't already have them.)

      Delete
    5. Great call Circéus! Unfortunately it doesn't quite solve our rules issues since a player could do something like respond to the distribute activation with Polymorphous Rush, but that's probably enough of a corner case that we can just have the rules define some behavior for CDAs and not worry about it being unintuitive.

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    6. is Icy Manipulator really bad baseline?
      well you should see Siren Song Lyre then. or maybe Benalish Trapper, Blinding Mage, Goldmeadow Harrier etc. and not forgetting our Rathi Trapper. Most of the name i mentioned are do the same thing.
      if u want me to look at Tyrant Machine, i'd rather look at Crown of Empire. cost 1 less thant Tyrant's but with additional effect when certain conditional are met. :)

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    7. Crown of Empires is certainly a fair comparison. The white cards (like Blinding Mage) aren't colorless, and so aren't really fair to compare to artifacts. Note, though, that it has been a fairly long time since they've printed something like Blinding Mage / Gideon's Lawkeeper, I think they got sick of having cards that powerful at common, all part of the general powering down of common removal. You can have Akroan Mastiff though! I expect we'll see Blinding Mage and friends back at Uncommon some day, and maybe Pacifism/Arrest too, we'll have to see!

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    8. in case Arrest, i think they printed on a wrong rarity. you know how screwed Magic is back that day. now Arrest reprinted in RTR as Uncommon.
      well i don't think Pacifism would be printed as uncommon. if they really do, then cards like Lightning Strike, Naturalize etc will become uncommon too. I would like to see that lol. if they really printed in uncommon, then what common would get? and with that kind of thing, i really doubt new players will come.
      remember Magic reprinted lots of good o' broken card in order to inviting new players in?

      Delete
  4. EDIT: Woops, there was a major mistake in one of these cards. It is fixed now. I really wish there was an edit button. :P

    Also, talking about reversing directions in my comment with Circeus - heh, reversing the polarity, a fitting solution to Tesla problems :P - I got the following idea. What if the artifacts weren't the ones spreading abilities? What if it was the programmers?

    Life Hack {1}{W}
    Instant (C)
    You gain 3 life.
    Program (Then you may exile this spell card programmed onto all artifacts you control until end of turn. You can tap any programmed artifact and pay this card's mana cost to cast a copy of this.)
    In a world dominated by electronics, 'life' is increasingly losing to 'hack'.

    Read-Only Memory {2}{U}{U}
    Instant (C)
    Draw two cards.
    Program (Then you may exile this spell card programmed onto all artifacts you control until end of turn. You can tap any programmed artifact and pay this card's mana cost to cast a copy of this.)
    "We live in a world with infinite comptometer-assisted memory. Yet it seems like each mistake is forgotten swifter than the last."
    —Kinnon, leader of the Vision

    Terminate Process {2}{B}
    Instant (C)
    Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
    Program (Then you may exile this spell card programmed onto all artifacts you control until end of turn. You can tap any programmed artifact and pay this card's mana cost to cast a copy of this.)
    "Control in order to alter, and all to ultimately delete."
    — Stux, Machine sovereign

    Burn to Disk {2}{R}
    Sorcery (C)
    Burn to Disk deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
    Program (Then you may exile this spell card programmed onto all artifacts you control until end of turn. You can tap any programmed artifact and pay this card's mana cost to cast a copy of this.)
    "Some say war never changes. Did they forget what it was like without giant robots, or are they just blind?"

    Bios Update {1}{G}
    Instant (C)
    Target creature you control gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
    Program (Then you may exile this spell card programmed onto all artifacts you control until end of turn. You can tap any programmed artifact and pay this card's mana cost to cast a copy of this.)
    While the Ludnet yearn for a world that requires no technology for one to survive, in order to accomplish their dream, they must master the very thing they despise the most."

    The reminder text is unwieldy, but it's the best I could do. Too many of them were unclear as to whether you could use all of your artifacts, or required some seriously weird backflips if I tried to grant the ability to all artifacts.

    Also, it could be argued that the cost should be specified in the ability, but I thought the first iteration should be kept as simple as possible.

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    1. Ooh, I like this idea a lot. It's like cipher for artifacts. My main concern would be power level and repetitive gameplay, since Program is basically "Buyback-- tap an untapped artifact you control".

      I realized in the middle of writing that last paragraph that this isn't what the ability does at all-- it's just what I assumed based on your description and your templating approach. (I thought it was "build your own Isochron Scepter", which I still think would be pretty cool.) What your 'Program' actually does is basically 'Replicate-- [mana cost], tap an artifact you control'. The 'programmed' wording doesn't add anything to this except flavor.

      But I like the idea of instants (and sorceries?) becoming permanent-ish via artifacts. That could really go somewhere.

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    2. It's different than Replicate because of untapping effects, but yes, that's the idea. (: The other wording that I alluded to in my reminder text complaining paragraph was more clear about the temporary limitation, but less clear about... well... everything else.

      I briefly thought about "build your own Isochron Scepter", but realized that'd be horrendously repetitive and broken, unfortunately. If Cipher had difficulties in development, I have no doubt that would have even more.

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    3. Elite Arcanist exists, and is an Icochron Scepter without the cost≤2 restriction. But there's no way something like him could be a common. Power of Fire isn't likely to be reprinted at common any time soon either.

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    4. This mostly amounts to a replicate variant with the extra cost "tap an artifact you control".

      Delete
    5. most of the spell gained a good effect albeit its quite overpower for a common except white....
      isn't gaining 3 life are a little bit underpowered?
      might be good if white gets a 1/1 white creature token or returning a 1 cc creature to your hand / battlefield for 2W might be better?

      Delete
    6. I can get behind this. It rewards a density of artifacts without being on artifacts itself, which gives a lot of knobs for development to tweak.

      In a more traditional fantasy universe, this could easily be flavored with runes/runebranding as well.

      Delete
    7. I think the name Program is really going to throw people off, and make them think (as Ipaulsen and I did) that this is an Isochron Scepter/ Cipher variant, rather than a Replicate/Multikicker variant.

      I don't like that on the three mana spells, this is basically a threshold one mechanic. It is rare I will get to 9 mana to use it twice, so it hardly matters if I have multiple artifacts. Why not eschew copying (which is an ugly thing to have showing up on commons) and instead just scale appropriately:

      Machine Burn 1R
      Sorcery - (C)

      ~ deals 2 damage to target creature.

      Fed by the Machine -- ~ deals an additional damage to that creature for each artifact you control.

      Delete
    8. I like the idea of a replicate variant that requires artifacts. Other templates/variations:

      Burn to Disk 2R
      Sorcery (C)
      Burn to Disk deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
      Program {R}(Artifacts you control gain "{R}, {T}: Copy CARDNAME" until EOT.)

      Burn to Disk 2R
      Sorcery (C)
      Burn to Disk deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
      Program {R}(Artifacts you control gain "{R}, {T}: Cast a copy of CARDNAME" until EOT.)

      Burn to Disk 3R
      Sorcery (C)
      Burn to Disk deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
      Program (Whenever an artifact you control becomes tapped this turn, copy ~. You may choose new targets.)

      That one has balance issues

      Burn to Disk 2R
      Sorcery (C)
      Burn to Disk deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
      Program (When you cast ~, tap any number of artifacts you control. Copy it that many times. You may choose new targets.)

      Delete
    9. I like your second template the best Jay, though I fear it is going to have the Cipher problem where development won't push it because it is scary, and it will ultimately end up unsatisfying. Even the version you list feels more like a build around me uncommon enchantment than a regular common burn spell.

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    10. Yeah, I'm having a lot of trouble seeing this at common as well. Even if we make a Scorching Spear it quickly becomes Arc Lightning, and the Scepter version is even harder to cap. That said, I really like the concept. What if we made it a rebound variant so there was only one additional casting?

      Imbue (If you cast this spell from your hand, you may exile it under an artifact you control as it resolves. You may cast it by paying its cost and tapping that artifact. Then put this into your graveyard.)

      Delete
    11. Burn to Drive 2R
      Sorcery - Contraption(C)
      Burn to Drive deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
      Assemble (As you cast this spell, you may tap an untapped Rigger you control. When you do, copy it and you may choose a new target for the copy.)

      Diligent Server 2
      Rigger Artifact (c)
      Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, you gain 1 life.
      When ~ assembles a contraption, you gain life equal to that spell's converted mana cost

      Delete
    12. I like Imbue a lot Jules. That is a lot of lines of reminder text, but it is the first thing here that I feel like I could work with as a designer. It is the sort of mechanic I could see putting only at uncommon up, if we felt it was too complicated.

      The only downside to that is that it doesn't really reward you for having more than one artifact. Perhaps if we specify non-creature artifact it will be in the right space?

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    13. Conspire?

      Encode (As you cast this spell, you may tap two untapped artifacts you control. When you do, copy it and you may choose a new target for the copy.)

      For something more novel (but not common):

      Power Blast {X}{R}{R}
      Sorcery (unc)
      Power (As you cast this spell, you may tap an untapped artifact you control. If you do, X becomes its converted mana cost.)
      ~ deals X damage to target creature.

      Delete
    14. I'm not opposed to the cleaner Conspire version, though as far as I know Conspire didn't release to rave reviews. Unless there's some reason to think this will be a whole new ballgame, we should keep looking for something that will meet our needs while pleasing players more.

      On Power: This could just as easily work on non-X spells:

      Power (As you cast this spell you may tap an untapped artifact you control. If you do, replace all numbers in ~'s text with that artifact's cost.)

      Even so, I'm a little bit concerned about space. We can deal more damage or gain more life, but changing number of targets simply isn't going to work.

      We also have an option of simplifying to something like this:

      Forestall UU
      Instant (C)
      Counter target spell unless its controller pays {2}.
      Amplify--You may tap an untapped artifact you control as you cast ~. If you do, counter that spell instead.

      Delete
    15. Find New Paths {1}{G}
      Sorcery (cmn)
      Resonate (You may tap an untapped artifact you control as you cast this. If it has the same CMC, copy ~.)
      Search your library for basic land card and put it into your hand.

      Delete
    16. We could also look to my earlier proposed mechanic, Galvanize. (Each artifact you tap while casting this spell pays for {1}.)

      Delete
  5. I feel like modular was a cool mechanic that got completely overshadowed by affinity. +1/+1 counters are a fun 'ability' to share.

    Modular Cleric {W}
    Artifact Creature-Construct (cmn)
    Modular 1
    When ~ dies, gain life equal to its power.
    0/0

    Modular Saboteur {2}{U}
    Artifact Creature-Construct (unc)
    Modular 1
    When ~ deals combat damage to a player, draw that many cards.
    0/0

    Modular Detonator {3}
    Artifact Creature-Construct (unc)
    Modular 2
    {2}{R}, Sacrifice ~: It deals its power in damage to target c/p.
    0/0

    Modular Ghost {4}
    Artifact Creature-Construct (rare)
    Modular 3
    ~ costs {1} more to target for each +1/+1 counter on it.
    0/0

    Modular Santa {1}
    Artifact Creature-Construct (rare)
    Modular 2
    -1/-1

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    1. I like Modular a lot, and these designs certainly show the potential to be built around. It doesn't offer much in the "be the inventor" vein, but if we forego that I'd certainly like to try it as our returning mechanic.

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  6. Why can't these Artifact cards copy all abilities? The easiest way to avoid Characteristic Defining Abilities is to avoid putting the ability on creatures. I can't think of any Characteristic Defining Abilities that aren't about setting power and toughness in other zones.

    Sidebar: Come to think of that, with the new 'base power and toughness" technology, I feel like all the */* creatures should be changed to 0/0's, like:

    Tarmogoyf 1G
    Creature - Lhurgoyf 0/1
    Tarmogoyf’s base power and toughness is +1/+1 for each card type among cards in all graveyards.

    or

    Nightmare 5B
    Creature - Nightmare Horse 0/0
    Flying
    Nightmare’s base power and toughness is +1/+1 for each Swamp you control.

    It even makes oddballs that want you to first choose an opponent, like Caller of the Hunt and Entropic Specter, consistant.

    Chameleon Spirit 3U
    Creature - Illusion Spirit 0/0
    As Chameleon Spirit enters the battlefield, choose a color.

    Chameleon Spirit’s base power and toughness is +1/+1 for each permanent of the chosen color your opponents control.


    I think the coolest thing about this implementation is that the abilities stack. So if you somehow could combine Nightmare and Chameleon Spirit the creature would get +1/+1 for each Swamp you control and each permanent of the chosen color your opponent controls.

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    1. One of the defining features of CDAs is that they function in all zones, which these don't currently. We could make them do that so that old cards can be errataed, but it would require some "at all times" wording like Changeling has or the Mistform Ultimus: "(even if this card isn't on the battlefield)".

      Delete
    2. Are you sure this wording won't work in all zones? I don't see how the regular wording is so different.

      Delete
    3. Compare Eidolon of Countless Battles. It's base power and toughness is 0/0 everywhere except when it's one the battlefield because it's ability gives it +1/+1 for all the creatures and auras. My wording on Nightmare should let it have base power and toughness equal to your swamps in every zone because the ability specifies the bonus is to base p/t. I think calling out the base p/t is what makes it special.

      */* is so misleading. I mean, Chameleon Spirit looks like it has a CDA, but not really, because you need to first cast it and choose an opponent.

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    4. Technically Chameleon Spirit does have a CDA, the rules just set "undefined" to 0, but I see where you're coming from.

      Delete
  7. Hmm. If we're brainstorming ways to capture the "building a machine" feeling of making artifacts work together, perhaps it might be worth me sharing an idea I used in my steampunk set 4 years ago. It playtested okay: some players really liked it, one was really vocally against the idea. I got comments like "When I got two power cards that linked together out it felt fantastic, like I was assembling a contraption and it worked!"

    The core idea is that there's a "power pool", similar to the mana pool (or equivalently, there are five new types of mana). Each of the five power types is affiliated with two colours of mana: [Chemical] - {G} - [Torque] - {U} - [Steam] - {R} - [Electrical] - {W} - [Radiation] - {B} - [Chemical]. Things can add power to your power pool, and abilities can cost power to activate, often with an alternative mana payment. It is unfortunately parasitic as anything.

    There were three common cycles. One cycle of coloured creatures that each produce power and consume the same kind of power to produce some useful effect:

    Smythehold Levitator {1}{U}
    Common
    Creature - Human Artificer
    1/1
    {T}: Add [Steam] to your power pool.
    [Steam]: Target creature gains flying until end of turn.

    Galvanic Mindfuser {1}{R} Common
    Creature – Goblin Artificer
    {T}: Add [Electrical] to your power pool.
    [Electrical]: Draw a card, then discard a card at random.
    1/2

    A common cycle of manafixing/power-production, intended to parallel the Talismans: (note this was before the "no more 2-mana rocks" rule)

    Amber-Preserved Relic {2}
    Common
    Artifact
    {t}: Add [Chemical] to your power pool.
    [Chemical]: Add {B} or {G} to your mana pool. Amber-Preserved Relic deals 1 damage to you.

    And another common cycle of lands that ETBT, tap for one coloured mana or one colour of power.

    At uncommon, there was a great cycle that activated for mana or one power type, to produce an effect and a different power type. Like the Fifth Dawn Stations, if you got all five on the table it went infinite in several ways at once.

    Chargecoil Station
    Artifact Land
    Uncommon
    {T}: Add {R} to your mana pool. Chargecoil Station deals 1 damage to you.
    [Steam] or {3}{R}: Chargecoil Station deals 1 damage to each opponent. Add [Electrical] to your power pool.

    Refractive Cagemail {1}
    Uncommon
    Artifact – Equipment
    Equip {2}
    [Electrical] or {1}{W}: The next 1 damage that would be dealt to equipped creature is dealt to target creature instead. Add [Radiation] to your power pool.

    Birthing Chamber {3}
    Uncommon
    Artifact
    [Radiation] or {2}{B}: Put a 1/1 black Thrull creature token onto the battlefield. Add [Chemical] to your power pool.

    Rodent-Run Automaton {4}
    Uncommon
    Artifact Creature – Construct
    [Chemical] or {1}{G}: Rodent-Run Automaton gets +1/+0 until end of turn. Add [Torque] to your power pool.
    2/4

    Heat-Compression Centrifuge {2}
    Uncommon
    Artifact – Connector
    Connect {2} ({2}: Attach to target artifact you control. Connect only as a sorcery.) (This was another thing my set did - not an innovation for this one card!)
    [Torque] or {2}{U}: Untap connected artifact. Add [Steam] to your power pool.

    There were assorted miscellaneous other cards using power at all rarities as well. Needless to say, if the community happen to think you'd like to take this idea and develop it, feel free.

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    Replies
    1. I think this is extremely fascinating. Adding an entirely new resource to the game is really cool, and the way these work in introducing new draft archetypes alongside traditional ones is really neat.

      I especially like how each of them can serve just fine by themselves, but become so much better with more 'generators'. That's awesome.

      I think this idea is incredible and worth exploration. Is it actually doable? Probably not! But it's totally fascinating and worth thinking about.

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    2. yep, certainly cool. however, avoid adding too many new resource. since that would be really hard to be played on any other sets.
      you know that Magic only adding 1 new resource on one of their set, thats only in Coldsnap. :)

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    3. I'm with Candra. I don't even love adding one parasitic new resource, but if we add multiple new resources they definitely should feed on something the game's already generating (e.g. Delve).

      You noted this mechanic was parasitic, but more than that, it doesn't offer anything new that mana doesn't except for scarcity of sources. Color screw happens slightly more than enough already (that's some of the reason all blocks have a smoothing mechanic), so I'd rather just have Avacyn's Pilgrim and Llanowar Cavalry.

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    4. In one sense, you're absolutely right. However, scarcity of sources is precisely what's needed to allow the feeling of assembling a machine out of multiple parts. If I play Forest and cast Elvish Mystic, that does't feel like a combo, because mana is plentiful. Even casting Fleecemane Lion isn't much of an achievement except on turn 2. Casting spells is too inherent to the game to restrict it (if you try, you end up with Stone Rain, Winter Orb, Iona, and other cards that epitomise unfun). To give the feeling of assembling a machine out of multiple parts, I think you're going to need something more specific than mana.

      Avacyn's Pilgrim and Llanowar Cavalry is an interesting comparison. To achieve a similar feeling using the existing five colours of mana (and assuming that the set will have cards of each colour and so on), you'd need cards that provide mana that can be used for activated abilities, and cards with "poly-activated abilities" costing mana, preferably matched up at some standard costs like 1C or 2C. But tapping to produce 1C mana is way too effective as ramp for any colour other than green, unless you restrict the mana to not be spend on spells somehow. Even with a rider like "spend this mana only on activated abilities", a bunch of existing cards are balanced on the assumption that to spend 2C you're going to have to tap three turns' worth of land drops.

      By contrast, if the sources are scarcer than lands, then we can provide more powerful effects without accidentally enabling ramp into crazy things from Magic's history. In other words, scarcity of sources can be a good thing, as long as almost all the cards are at least some use on their own.

      Admittedly, though, yes, I can see it would be more elegant in some way to avoid the need for "{2}{U} or [Torque]:" by combining both of those concepts into "{2}{U}".

      We've come up with many other attempts to provide resources that tie more naturally into what Magic does. Gold tokens, Battery tokens, triggering off artifact taps and untaps, and so on. Gold tokens and Battery tokens need lots of words, though. The benefit of the power pool is that by resembling mana so much, it can piggyback onto all the Magic player's existing concepts of how the mana pool works.

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    5. Valid points. I was about to suggest just requiring more colors, but that might trap LSPs building tru 4-color decks and losing to color screw.

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