Monday, July 6, 2015

Tesla: Go Interaction

Hello again, everyone! Last week, I gave everyone the challenge to design progress mechanics that encouraged or facilitated interaction - but, because I like to be tricky, I didn't take any efforts to define exactly what counts as interaction. In your designs, many of you explored different forms of interaction in gameplay - and in the comments, there was some great discussion about what is interaction, and what isn't.

This week, I'm going to try to go over a few of the more frequent forms of interaction, using mechanics submitted or brought up last week as examples.

Battle-Forge, or Battle-Charged as it's been known before, has been a popular mechanic since its initial suggestion. Battle-Forge uses combat as its vehicle of interaction. Combat is an essential part of Magic, and is vital to every Limited game - so a mechanic that revolves around combat is definitely one of the best ways to encourage interaction. Battle-Forge follows the precedence of mechanics like Battle Cry, Renown, and Cipher, in that it explicitly calls out combat.

Battle-Forge is a mechanic with a lot of promise, simply because of the sheer variety of gameplay it offers. Combat itself varies a lot depending on the board state and the players' cards in hand - as Jenesis noted two weeks ago, certainty and uncertainty are both involved in combat at different times, giving it a lot of variety. In addition, Battle-Forge itself - as can be seen on these four example cards - has a lot of design space, so there's plenty of flexibility in how we use Battle-Forge in Tesla. I think, at the least, that Battle-Forge warrants further exploration and playtesting.

When the topic of interactive progress was brought up, many people, including myself, immediately thought of Outlast. Outlast gives creatures the ability to grow themselves, at the cost of lowering your defenses for a turn. (Really, as jack noted, "anything with '{T}, only as a sorcery' is somewhat interactive.) This shields-down moment is probably the second-most common form of interaction you see in Magic. Similar to the previous examples, Outlast uses combat to its advantage - but instead of encouraging you to actively engage in combat, it encourages your opponent. By giving them a temporary opportunity to strike, they're incentivized to attack that turn. Assemble, designed by Mike George and taking into account suggestions from Tommy and Jenesis, works similarly to Outlast. However, its multifaceted nature sometimes gives it even more of a shields-down moment than Outlast, if you tap down two creatures for it! That's pretty cool. I definitely agree that I tentatively love this mechanic, and I think it deserves further exploration!

Advance / Industrial Revolution is yet another mechanic that's been popular amongst the designers. In terms of interaction, it sometimes works similarly to Outlast in that, if you tap one or more creatures, you're left with a shields-down moment. However, its more prominent form of interaction is the idea of vulnerability - the mechanic is reliant on creatures, which are susceptible to your opponent's removal and attacks. Another mechanic that relies on vulnerability is advancement/progress, as lpaulsen brought up in his comment last week - and in the replies to this comment, a wonderful discussion sprung up, debating whether vulnerability was sufficiently interactive. I highly recommend reading the entire discussion!

One mechanic that squeezed under the finish line last week was the 'civilization counter' mechanic, designed by jack, with inspiration from Steam Fu. For this post, I took the liberty of melding it with "Poison counters that count up", which Tommy brought up. However, this fusion isn't necessary to make the mechanic exciting, as jack's submission shows. In this form, civilization counters foster interaction by giving your opponent agency. This includes choices, as seen here and in Tribute, but also mechanics like Jules' "if you cast the largest spell this game", which provide your opponent with the ability to directly compete with you in some way. 

However, there's an issue with this form of interaction: if too much agency given to your opponent, we run into 'the lawnmower problem'. In this case, civilization counters hold the promise of letting you win the game, but present your opponent with a choice - they can keep you from winning, or try to win the game themselves. Is this too much agency? Is this mechanic interesting enough to be worth that chance of frustration? What do you guys think?

One of the big questions brought up by HavelockV was whether our progress mechanic really needs to be interactive. I firmly agree with Jenesis that we want to avoid encouraging "solitaire resource accumulation games" with Tesla, and I think one route to fostering a healthy and normally-interactive format is trying to make sure our Progress mechanic is interactive, or facilitates interaction, in some way. 

In addition, I think approaching the goal of designing progress mechanics from a new and constrained angle is valuable, as it has lead to some interesting and fun new designs, that hold a lot of promise for Tesla. And this is a great segue into my discussion topic for the week!

This week, I'd like you to nominate one or more mechanics from last week's design challenge that you think deserve further exploration. Argue on the mechanics' behalf - why is it a promising mechanic? Why is it a good fit for Tesla? In addition, try to refine the mechanic further, develop it in new ways, or design some new cards with the mechanic that show off interesting design space.


  1. Battle-forged is great! I missed it before, but it seems like a good compromise of a creature that levels up, both that I like the new flavour, it gives a significant reward without growing completely out of control, and simple tweaks ("when you put a counter on this", "if its fully charged") give a lot of interesting gameplay options. I definitely want to see how it plays.

    I'm also pleased I had several suggestions show up. Thank you for mocking a civilisation counter, that's really pretty! I've messed with similar mechanics before, and I've definitely considered both "there's a win-the-game effect at 10" and "there's a use on each card" and both together. I think both (or some intermediate value such as an in-built reward less than winning the game, maybe that saves you from losing the game, or gives you some other power up to all creatures/to civil creatures) is likely best but I'm not sure where.

    1. Indeed, I agree that Battle-Forge is promising. My one concern is that its ability to trigger on blocking might be a problem, so we could potentially remove that.

      Intermediate values for counters is an interesting idea. One of my friends proposed a version along those lines, where you could remove five to cast a spell for free.

    2. None of these ideas are awful, but the one that really calls to me for further exploration is Battle Forged. My biggest concern with it is that it is going to eat up a whole lot of complexity points at common. Also, I really hope new players will immediately intuit what "fully forged" means. I don't think every battleforged card needs a fully forged ability either.

      Also, I think it will play better if it gets the counter when it attacks, instead of the current "if it survives combat" trigger.

    3. Renown requires the creature to survive combat and not be blocked. Will have to make all these creatures -1/-1 if they trigger on attack.

    4. Oh yes, definitely make them -1/-1, but I don't think any of htem have carefully thought out costs. That also (not so subtle-y) encourages you to attack with them instead of using them for defense, which I like.

      I like Renown how it is becasue Renown is a one time big reward. This is an incremental reward so I like giving the controller a bit more agency.

    5. I'm pointing out that the cards will look terrible once we balance for that. They won't be terrible, but appearance matters.

    6. I can definitely see the appearance being worse, although I don't think it will end up that bad. New players aren't going to look at the base stats anyway, they are going to see a 1/2 with Battle-Forged 3 and instantly see it as a 4/5.

      The players who will see it as a 1/2 and go "that isn't very efficient" are exactly the players we want being surprised when the card is better than they think. I also think that tier of player will know to add +1/+1 immediately.

      I could be wrong, but I don't see this working out like Undying (which from a developmental point of view is just a disaster as a mechanic).

    7. Tommy: I think new players are actually the least likely to see that the 1/2 might become a 4/5. If I remember correctly, one of the problems with cost-reduction and alternate-cost mechanics like Evoke is that players don't realize they can cast it for cheap, but instead only look at the 'actual' mana cost. I think the same problem might apply here... they see the 'terribly low' P/T and dismiss it immediately, but never take into account the effect in the textbox.

    8. Depends on how new I suppose. I tend to think of "Best Case Scenario Mentality" as one of the most classic new player problems.

    9. "Instantly" is certainly not accurate.

    10. I think Evoke was definitely more newbie-confusing than Battle-Forge could be in any state. It'd only take one use of an attack-trigger Battle-Forge creature to understand that every B-Forge creature is immediately stronger than it looks on the offense.

  2. A suggested riff on Advance from one of my friends, by the way:

    Advance (At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control ten or more tapped nonland permanents, you become advanced.)

    In this case, you have to find a way to get everything tapped. This is probably best connected to combat interactivity, as with creatures, the usual way to tap them is to attack with them.

    The fact you can also 'solve the puzzle' by just making a deck with creatures that tap-as-a-cost, or artifacts that tap-as-a-cost, is a nice benefit. This encourages you to be interactive with combat, but the mechanic can be utilized in other ways if you put in more effort, which is a great way to avoid some of the problems that HavelockV noted.

    1. I think I have controlled 10 or more non-land permanents (never mind tapped) in less than 1% of two player games of limited I have ever played.

      I think "control lots of tapped non-land permanents" is a non-starter for a mechanic because if you control lots of tapped non-land permanents, you're already winning the game.

    2. Good point, Tommy. We want to make our 'achievements' that the cards ask for big, but not big enough that they're representative of you already winning the game.

      Jay: EOT could certainly work.

    3. 10 is obv just a ballpark guess. Might go as low as 7.
      Note that while the fastest way to get there is to play lands and permanents, advance could save a land-flooded player too. Just doesn't play well with prowess / spell mastery.

      EOT if you want it to care about combat.

    4. We could also try something like presence (which metalcraft was a riff on).

      Exotic Slime 2GG
      Creature - Ooze (U)
      Developed--When Exotic Slime enters the battlefield, if you control 10 or more permanents, destroy target noncreature permanent.

      Ability word or keyword or just an upkeep trigger like Advance.

    5. Jay: Ah, right. Untap, upkeep, draw. My bad, I forgot about that. :P

      Ban Nassau: That's really interesting!

    6. @Jay It specifically says "nonland" so it will not help a land-flooded player.

      @Ben I do not like putting ETB abilities on Threshold mechanics because it is very feel bad to play them without it, even though it is often correct to do so. In particular many players will hold it until they meet the requirement which could be disastrous. I'm much more okay with this one very easy to meet thresholds like Raid, and much less okay with it on harder conditions like metalcraft (Lumengrid Drake being the worst offended i that regard, I think).

    7. I vote for "N or more permanents." Emphatically.

    8. I think controlling N permanents as a constant condition you need to keep up would seriously encourage defensive play.

      Hi, Inanimate's friend here! Neither of us remember exactly what I said, but my preferred version now is either the original Advance at sorcery speed or "During your untap step, if you untap [#] or more permanents, you become advanced." simply because it gives your opponent a bit more of a meddling window than EOT does, and because I love thinking about it as a super untap step.

      It's like, for this one untap step, you're untapping more than you started with, and it's amazing. You (& your Advance permanents) advance at the exact same moment you come back to full power. Doesn't that sound great??

    9. Hello Droqen! Welcome.

      For the record, I do like untap/upkeep Advance as opposed to end step so that people can mess with it. And the feeling you describe is excellent as well.

      In terms of developed, it may encourage defensive play, but if your development consists of 2/2s and virtual vanillas, chances are your opponent will be able to punish you for just sitting and doing nothing. In limited at least, constructed is a different story, but I'm focused on limited with my designs. I'm not too worried about being able to discourage that. Developed triggers can be non-defensive things like "creatures you control get +1/+0 until EOT" or "When this attacks, if you control 10+..."

      @Tommy, that's fair. Developed can also be used as upgrades on one-shot spells, attack triggers, upkeep stuff that checks each turn. There are ways around it.

    10. Cool alternative template to "if you control N or more tapped permanents", taking a page from Inspired:

      Advance (Whenever N or more permanents you control become untapped, you become advanced.)

      On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd like the gameplay of that version. It's a huge shields-down moment, and getting hit with a Murder or Smelt (or even Craterize!) that puts you back down to N - 1 is pretty much the definition of "feel-bad".

    11. That Murder and Smelt will keep a player off of advance regardless of when/how it occurs. The untap version seems worth trying.

  3. I'd just like to note that Battle-Forged commons don't even have to have anything that cares about them being fully forged. I think caring about being fully forged is suitable for common - none of the common examples look obviously wrong to me - but there's definitely space for a couple of very simple French-vanilla creatures at common like

    1 mana, 1/1, Battle-Forged 2. (Compare Stromkirk Noble)
    2 mana, 2/2, Battle-Forged 2. (Compare Slith Predator, Bloodcrazed Neonate.)
    3 mana, 1/4, Battle-Forged 3.

    We could also take inspiration at higher rarities from Markov Blademaster and Falkenrath Exterminator.

    I also just wanted to mention that your gushing about Assemble reads slightly oddly. The thing that you as a designer love about outlast and love even more about assemble is exactly the thing that players will dislike. Shields-down moments are very good design, but players don't like them. I can envisage plenty of board states where I'd be able to cope with activating outlast, but just can't get away with assembling an artifact creature. "Being harder to use sensibly" seems like a slightly odd quality to proclaim "pretty cool".

    1. Totally agreed about Battle-Forge. I was just trying to show off what it's capable of - I agree that French Vanilla has a lot of fun potential. :D

      Regarding Assemble: I was gushing about it from a designer's perspective, since it really perfectly captured the kind of interaction I was talking about. It was a great example, and I thought it was nice and nuanced in that sense.

      Regarding how it plays, I agree that it potentially can be harder to play. But the cost of a shields-down moment is a lot subtler than a usual cost, so I don't think it'll read so bad for most players. Additionally, granting +1/+1 counters to any artifact creature is quite strong.

      I agree that it's tricky to help players "get away with it", but some keen development could help, if we decide to follow through it. Of course, perhaps it's unsalvageable, and the issues are too great... but I think, since people like it, and it nicely captures both progress and a more subtle form of interaction, that it holds some promise. Hopefully we can make it play as cool as it is designed. :)

    2. Of all these mechanics, Battle-Forged seems like it'd need the fewest design modifications to become printable. There's a lot of space to put it on French vanilla commons and such. However, I'd have a hard time selling it as a marquee mechanic, since at the end of the day it is just reworking +1/+1 counters and combat-matters in a more "progress" way.

      Considering the number of LSPs who do everything during precombat main for no good reason, I don't think assemble would be that feel-bad. The main minus point for me is that you can't have multiple Riggers work together on assembling the same Contraption. Why? Anticipated to make games too swingy?

    3. Jenesis: A lot of people expressed concern that being able to build a creature up and block with it in the same turn might be too much, so I took the liberty of adding the 'assembled creature taps' thing. Of course, development might reveal this to be unnecessary.

    4. I like that addition, but agree it's unfortunate I can't double up mechanics on it while it's in the shop. If we move the tap into the effect and remove 'untapped' then same difference (except that we can attack with it or tap for its activation prior to upgrading).

    5. Attacking with it / tapping for its activation seems acceptable, since it won't be getting the bonus if you do it afterward, solving the issue I mentioned. Sounds like a version I'd love to playtest alongside this one.

  4. Working with jack's "Contested". I know Flailing and Rhystic are both no-goes, so contested might be out as well, but just to try it out and see. It may be that, like civilization counters and Planeswalkers, we just want a Structure sort of set-up where we accrue and lose charge counters. But let's try wholesale trading first and see.
    Contested (When a creature deals combat damage to you, its controller gains control of this.)

    Tezzan Datamine 2/B 2/B
    Tap two untapped creatures you control: Draw a card.
    Whenever you draw a card, lose 1 life.

    Tezzan Armory 1W
    Attacking creatures you control get +1/+1.

    Mercenary Company 1BB
    Put three 1/1 black creature tokens with Contested onto the battlefield.

    1. I think the major proble here is that this is 100% a downside mechanic. I do think that the idea of a give-and-take in some sense is interesting, but it's tricky to develop to be fun as well.

      The two Tezzan cards are quite cool in how they subtly work with Contested. (The first making it more likely you're at risk of dying / lowing your shields, the second encouraging you to attack and take more) Nice work on them.

    2. I've been thinking about how Contested could work as a B/R, kind of reckless mechanic, in a way like Hellbent did. Sadly for that, I don't think there's much hope for Contested at common, and this sort of resource-trading doesn't always blend perfectly into Tesla. But I think I've found a flavor that could fit:

      Airship Piracy 1R
      Enchantment - Aura
      Enchant nonland permanent.
      Enchanted permanent has Contested.

      Gul, Pirate King 1RR
      Legendary Creature - Goblin Pirate
      When Pirate King enters the battlefield or deals combat damage to a player, target noncreature permanent gains Contested.
      "Bring me that horizon!"

      And while development would tune these to find the right band of power/playability, a cycle of mana rocks that call back to our old friends, Legends' Batteries:

      Azure Cache 3
      2, T: Put a charge counter on Azure Cache.
      On your turn —
      Remove any number of charge counters from Azure Cache, T: Add U to your mana pool for each charge counter removed this way, plus an additional U.

  5. Mimeofacture {3}{U}
    Replicate {3}{U} (When you cast this spell, copy it for each time you paid its replicate cost. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
    Choose target permanent an opponent controls. Search that player's library for a card with the same name and put it onto the battlefield under your control. Then that player shuffles his or her library.

    1. Um. I don't follow.
      The brief here was "nominate one or more mechanics from last week's design challenge that you think deserve further exploration... Argue on the mechanics' behalf - why is it a promising mechanic? Why is it a good fit for Tesla? In addition, try to refine the mechanic further, develop it in new ways, or design some new cards with the mechanic that show off interesting design space."

      I don't recall replicate being suggested last week; I don't see that it's a good fit for Tesla (both Izzet mechanics have been criticised for feeling insufficiently Izzet); and reprinting a card is pretty much the opposite of refining a mechanic or exploring a new direction for it. So... could you clarify what suggestion you're trying to make?

    2. You're right that it doesn't fit the challenge at all, but I mention replicate now because it is a progress mechanic (rewarding mana production, like kicker) and it feels steampunk. It's not interactive, but it does feel like a great fit for Tesla thematically, and seems to have been largely over-looked so far.

    3. This is definitely a fun idea for a returning mechanic. I don't actually recall much discussion of returning mechanics in the past, beyond monohybrid (which isn't quite on the same degree), so it's nice to see a suggestion.

      AlexC: The discussion topic for the week isn't the only thing we can talk about. It's just a suggested conversation starter. As long as the comments are productive and talking Tesla, it's all good. ( :

    4. Hee. Oh, certainly - I wasn't *objecting* to Jay's post, just being confused by it, because of the context and the absence of commentary.

      Having played back in Guildpact, I'm not entirely convinced how steampunk replicate feels. I guess it has those connotations now thanks to its association with the Izzet.

      I'm also not convinced that all mana-sink mechanics feel like "progress" mechanics either. Mana-sink mechanics from recent sets included dash, outlast, monstrous, bestow, extort, and overload. Of which I'd say monstrous and outlast definitely feel like progress, bestow and overload sortof do, and extort and dash really don't.

    5. Your prompt was appreciated, Alex.

      You're right that mana-sinks aren't necessarily progress, even though they reward a lot of mana, which can be. Kicker effects like multikicker & buyback, as well as big-mana alternatives like flashback and kicker-cycling, or mana-nuance like sunburst or colorless-matteres, do/can.

  6. Growth Serum {2}{G}
    Target creature gets +3/+3 until EOT.
    Innovate — If you cast the largest spell this game, put three +1/+1 counters on that creature instead.


    Giant Progress {G}
    Target creature gets +X/+X until EOT, where X is your progress. (Your progress is the largest generic mana cost among permanents you control.)

    1. I still think Innovate is quite the interesting mechanic. Comparing it to Progress is actually quite interesting - I hadn't noticed their parallels until you pointed it out on the previous post. Both of them definitely occupy a 'grey space' of interactivity, being at least theoretically interactive, but maybe not playing like it. However, as noted earlier, though interactivity is the goal, it's not absolutely necessary.

      For Innovate, I think we might run into the 'lawnmower problem' a bit too often, where your opponent just happens to have bigger spells than you do. Nothing you can do about it, no way to fight back against it, which is frustrating. However, this certainly isn't a guaranteed problem, and as I mentioned last week, if there are ways in the set to dig for your big spells - a smoothing mechanic alongside scry, probably - then Innovate gets more interesting. As it is, definitely worthy of some playtesting to see how 'interactive' it truly feels. (I envision turns where you have an interesting decision between casting more optimal smaller spells, or one bigger spell to cement your Innovator status. That sounds exciting!)

      Progress/Advancement is another one of my favorite mechanics. My issue with it is that, on one-time permanents, it might not really capture a sense of progress or advancement - on effects that continually refer to it, like Karametra's Acolyte or Thunderous Might, then it feels more like progress, as you're constantly thinking 'if only this was bigger!'

      Speaking of Progress, do note that we typically want to avoid nonpermanents that refer to progress at lower rarities, just as Theros did for devotion. Giant Progress is fine, as you need a creature to play it anyway and almost all creatures have generic mana costs - but other effects are trickier. The reason they usually always came on creatures at common was to ensure there was always at least something to get.

    2. Inanimate's concern about Innovate is a good one, which I think can be mitigated in the following ways:
      1) Design the majority of Innovate cards to impact Limited play. In general, Limited mana curves tend to follow a bell curve distribution much more so than for Constructed, and the set can always seed some durdly 6-7 drop artifact creatures to go around a draft late just in case anyone really wants sideboard insurance against the Innovate/dinosaurs archetype.
      2) For Constructed, make the big marquee Innovate cards either best in the control mirror, or only good against aggro as a finisher when the control player already has the game locked up. This should mitigate the lawnmower effect against decks whose entire mana curve is lower than the CMC of the format's boardwipe of choice.

      The big issue with this mechanic is going to be memory issues involving X spells.

      I think caring about generic mana costs, as a mechanic, makes even less sense than caring about CMC (and doesn't solve the NWO issue either; I was a judge for a few years before it occurred to me that "generic mana cost" was the correct term to refer to the little grey number in the mana cost of a card). Why should a Hill Giant count as "more progress" than a Rumbling Baloth, but "less progress" than a Frogmite, when the relationship of their p/t is exactly the reverse?

      I am also leery of a mechanic that plays around in a space that development needs freedom to tweak. Devotion was fine because you had five distinct devotion themes to compare against each other, whereas changing one card's progress affects its valuation relative to every other card in the set that doesn't have an all-colored cost, especially if mana-fixing is sufficient that players are encouraged to play three or more colors to gain access to the widest range of potential progress effects.

    3. Frogmite > Hill Giant > Rumbling Baloth is progress in the exact way that Rumbling Baloth > Hill Giant > Frogmite in devotion. It's an untrue oversimplification of reality, that science and religion are opposites, but it's a popular and simple notion.

      That said, I agree with everything else you said, most importantly that we'll have to define 'generic mana cost' for players.

      Innovate's memory issue is something we should keep a close eye on. That said, my guess is that playtesting will show it's not as hard to track as it sounds. I also would expect tournament players to naturally gravitate toward writing down each game's innovate level or using a die.

    4. I don't want to encourage tournament players to write down innovate just to bluff the mechanic when neither player has innovate cards in their deck, the same way that MTGO had to implement a "pause on draw step" function so everyone could bluff miracles, but a note every few turns is probably less time wasted than a pause on everyone's draw step, so it should be fine.

      The nightmare scenario I envision goes something like this:

      Timmy and Jenny are playing at FNM. Both players are in topdeck mode and have missed multiple land drops. On her turn, Jenny draws, plays a 5 mana 5/5 creature, and passes. On his turn, Timmy draws, taps all his lands, and points a Fireball at the 5/5. Jenny puts it into the graveyard since it's obvious that it's going to die. A few turns pass. Both Timmy and Jenny play some creatures, drop some lands, and keep a card or two in hand. On her turn, Jenny draws a 7-mana card with an Innovate bonus that will almost assuredly win her the game from her current board position. She plays it, claiming that Timmy's largest spell had a CMC of 6. Timmy claims that when he tapped out to cast Fireball, he actually cast it off 8 lands for X=7, and therefore Jenny hasn't cast the largest spell this game. A judge is called. Cue hair-tearing as time is taken to walk the game backward through multiple turns to figure out exactly when each of Timmy's land cards in excess of 6 were dropped.

    5. That's definitely terrible, but it's mighty rare too, no?

  7. Geas Owl {1}{U}
    1/1 flying Bird
    When ~ ETB, rummage. (Choose a number. Exile the top 4 cards of your library. You may put one of them with that CMC on top of your library.)

    This isn't progress, but it is a fixing mechanic that can help players find expensive cards (or lands, or the widest part of their mana curve, or simply something that costs what they can afford).

    1. This is really neat. I like the many ways this can apply. Your best shot is a land, or the widest part of your mana curve. But if you really need a more powerful card in this situation, or are gambling for a specific card, call out that CMC.

      This looks like a lot of fun.

    2. Looks a lot of fun. Not sure if it'll lead to feel-bad moments in practice, but I'm definitely up for trying it.

    3. If you're really looking for a card or set of cards at a certain price point, it will always help, even when it just trashes 4 cards that were between you and your goal.

      If you're just looking for gas in general, though, it could very well speed you past 4 good cards toward a patch of dead ones, and that would def feel bad.

  8. Of the known mechanics, Battle-Forged is my vote. Its simple, works in all the colors, and its incremental progress towards a goal.

    After last week, I did some thinking on how I would execute Player Levels. I came up with this:

    I used the levelers frame since it was the only thing available that got remotely close. The creatures have a static p/t, and as you hit the level thresholds that text unlocks. That's why they don't have the 1-4, etc, that the previous levelers had.

    The cards themselves are just conceptual. The idea being that the creatures contribute to player leveling, but also to their own leveling. So you can play a Progressive creature on its own, but if you play multiple Progessive creatures they all contribute towards you getting to higher levels. Unlike Infect, you don't win when you hit 10 counters. This is just you making your cards more powerful over time. I like this because it means that the Level you are trying to hit can vary deck to deck. Are you trying to get to 5? To 8? Its also got lots of knobs for development to tweek. Mana cost, starting level, p/t, etc.

    I think it creates a lot of drama about getting levels.
    Agent of levels is attacking you. Your opponent is at level 3. If you block with your 2/2, he can just regenerate, so you don't want to. However, what if he has a Gargantuan of Levels in hand? Do you want him to possibly advance his nonboard state level cards further? I do think what's missing is some central reward card for levels. Probably something at uncommon or rare that is a knockout when level 9-10.

    1. This is pretty neat, and I can see myself tinkering with this deck.

      It is a little unfortunate that all of them are vanillas until you hit with a "progresser" at least once, but I'm assuming there will be level manipulation mechanics ala Proliferate to help out with that.

      Pretty sure that also demands the following:

      Super Munchkin {5}
      Whenever you gain a level, if you're level 10 or higher, you win the game.

    2. Oooh, this is a very nice way to do the 'level up' mechanic. I like it a lot.

      Unfortunately, we lose out on the ability to have our noncreatures level up alongside our creatures - unless we give them other possible mechanics to give you level counters as well.

      Overall, I think this iteration is super impressive, probably the best 'you-level-up' mechanic I've seen yet, and I'd love to see more exploration of its space.

    3. Jenesis, Blitzer of Levels has haste immediately. His text unlocks at level zero. He pays the price though, and his second unlock doesn't happen until 7. This was to demonstrate that they don't need to be immediately vanilla, but that its probably best to play with where the thresholds are.

      Inanimate, I don't think this iteration precludes the use of levels on non creatures.

      Leveling shock R
      Deal two damage to target creature or player
      Level 3 Deal two damage to target creature or player.
      Level 8 Deal two damage to target creature or player.

      The problem being that they can't level themselves up with Progressive. So the spells become payoffs instead of incrementally increasing their own power. I think that's fine though since they are hidden information. Also, the whole idea that spawned this was Proliferate, which I think would be a strong rider for a lot of these spells. That example was pretty linear, here's a different one:

      Progressive 2U
      Level 2 Scry 2
      Level 5 Draw a card

      Sure, it doesn't push itself to be a higher level like the creatures would, but it contributes to your growth. The same idea can be used for permanent noncreatures as well, though obviously the creatures are the heart of the mechanic. The provide the baseline for level growth and, being combat focused, provide the most opportunity for interaction.

      Also, while I liked decoupling the mechanic from, "Count to 10", I absolutely wouldn't do it without a card like Jenesis suggests.

    4. This really is a great start with a lot of potential.

      Note that levels here stack where they don't on level-up creatures, and that's an issue.

      Other possibilities for non-creatures:

      Leveling shock 2 {R}
      Deal 2 damage to target creature. If it dies this turn, you gain a level counter.
      Level 3—Deal 4 damage to target creature instead.

      Leveling Spear 3 {1}{R}
      You gain a level counter.
      Deal 2 damage to target creature.
      Level 5—Deal 2 damage to any number of target creatures instead.

    5. Proliferate would be a great mechanic to bring back.

      Supposing we put Battle-Forged, Progressive, and some form of charge counter technology in the set, we can get all the utility that Proliferate had in SOM, while playing differently enough that it doesn't feel like a straight rehash of SOM.

      Using multi-targeted leveler spells will probably require no losing levels at instant speed. It's probably not a great idea anyway, but I could definitely see something like this:

      Back to the Stone Age {2G}
      Sorcery (U)
      Destroy target artifact or enchantment. Its controller loses 2 level counters.

      This would be another way to differentiate it from SOM's poison and ROE's level up.

    6. EDIT: That was supposed to be {2}{G} -- I'm not suggesting we bring back twobrid as well. Preview pane doesn't show formatting.

  9. Jay, what do you mean by they stack? If you mean that the level up creatures only get to have on set of text, that is true of the originals, but my creatures get all of their text. That's why they only have thresholds listed, instead of ranges. I think leaving off instants and sorceries with levels is correct for exactly this reason, and just having Proliferate be the mechanic that advances your levels.
    Removing level counters from the opponent is one way of impeding their progress, but I don't think its worthwhile. You have to be connecting with creatures in order to be gaining levels consistently. There are enough opportunities to interact with the strategy before you get your level counter.
    I do think that it can go on noncreatures, though I think it would be best on permanents.
    Aether Wellspring 2
    When ~ enters the battlefield, proliferate.
    Level 2 When ~ leaves the battlefield, draw a card.
    Level 8 TAP: Draw a card, then proliferate.

    This way you can probably SEE the consequences of getting to continue to level. Instants and sorceries hidden information might be important enough to warrant figuring them out, but they will definitely take the most time to develop because of their one shot nature.

    1. Because the levels on level-up creatures were discrete, players will expect the same to be true of these cards. The 2+ unbounded threshold is clever, and does help indicate that the levels all count (stack), but you've still got to overcome the inertia level-up set in place. Not having P/T change helps there.

    2. I think one of the other important reasons to do noncreature cards that are affected by levels is that it differentiates this mechanic from Level Up. It helps players notice that the Level counters go on You The Player instead of on the creatures or other permanents that would have leveled text. That leaves room to do something like Battle-forge since wotc only likes doing 1 type of counter that goes on creatures at a time.

    3. In the light of that, I like Leveling Shock. Shock is not a hard card to have strictly better versions of, and like Galvanic Blast its fine in draft without doing Levels as your archetype, and powered up if you are. I think there going to have to be a careful mediation of spells that give you levels though, since creature combat is one of the biggest ways to interact with the strategy.

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