Monday, August 10, 2015

CCDD 081015—Earthen Retainer

Cool Card Design of the Day
8/10/2015 - Here you go, Melvin. Now be nice and share with Johnny.


  1. Love the idea; iffy on the execution. As written, this would lead to a lot of judge calls.

    How does Titan's Strength interact with Earthen Retainer? There's a case to be made for three outcomes:
    - it would get one +1/+1 counter and +2/+0 until end of turn
    - it would get one +1/+1 counter, and that's it, because the entire effect is replaced
    - Titan's Strength's effect isn't replaced at all since +3/+1 isn't +X/+X

    What about this? "Effects that would increase CARDNAME's power or toughness until end of turn change its base power and toughness by that amount instead." It's got memory issues this way, but no moreso than Omnath.

    1. I think your in the right track, but I do like denoting it with counters. I think that it should just be honed in on a specific aspect. power or toughness. I'd lean toward power.

      Earthen Retainer 1G
      Creature - Plant Elemental

      If an effect would increase Earthen Retainer's power, put that many +1/+1 counters on it instead.


    2. Not necessarily. Floating mana is free information in tournaments, so it's not unreasonable to request an opponent to have a visible indicator keeping track of it. Storm and High Tide players are already used to doing this. In the case of Omnath, it also only cares about one number at any given time.

      Earthen Retainer's size is derived information, so figuring that out would require using the free information of "past or current actions that continue to affect the game state", potentially meaning laboriously reciting multiple instances of P/T changes whenever the opponent wanted to know how big it was.

    3. In thinking about this more, the card Tree of Redemption functions similarly to my design (its base toughness is repeatedly influenced by effects throughout the game.)

      One category of free information is "details of current game actions and past game actions that still affect the game state." In that context, I think the base P/T of objects that change their base P/T is free information. Ask a judge!

    4. "How big is Tree of Redemption?" is not free information.

      "What was your life total the last time you activated Tree of Redemption?" could be, but it requires the player knowing to phrase it in that specific way, and requires the player knowing how counters and other enhancements interact with Tree.

    5. I can't ask my opponent how big her Tree is?

    6. I asked the judge chat.

      [15:39] I am in a competitive REL event, and I control a Tree of Redemption that I activated several turns ago. My opponent asks what its toughness is. What am I obligated to say to her?
      [15:40] You must tell her what your life total was when the ability resolved.
      [15:40] Which is basically telling her the toughness of the Tree.

    7. Thanks for checking, Evan. This information is depressing.

      It's backwards rulings like this that punish new and casual players away from tournaments. Anything that Magic Online would track automatically HAS to be entirely public and all players capable of answering such a question must be explicitly required to do so.

  2. LOL. Yes, great for Melvin.

    I wonder if there's any more traditional way of getting the same effect?

    "{1}: If CARDNAME's power is greater than its base power, put a +1/+1 counter on it and it gets -1/-1 UEOT". Even more Melvin-y, alas.

    "When UEOT effects wear off, if this had power greater than its base power, put +1/+1 counters on it equal to the difference"

    "At the beginning of the end step [as above]"

    None of those are better, but there might be some wording that is.

    It's certainly a nice idea, useful, but not as open-ended bizarre-ity as "Staying Power" in unhinged!

  3. This is a completely different card but it's one idea I've had for Staying Power in black border land:

    Spell Pupil 1G
    Creature - Human Shaman (R)
    Whenever you cast a spell that targets CARDNAME, exile that card under CARDNAME instead.
    At the beginning of each upkeep, you may cast any number of cards exiled under CARDNAME targeting CARDNAME.

    1. It's supposed to:
      I cast Giant Growth on it, then every turn after that it casts Giant Growth on itself.

      Lots of problems with above wording though - need instant & sorcery as well as cast copy wording, so it should probably be:

      Spell Pupil 1G
      Creature - Human Shaman (R)
      Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell targetting CARDNAME exile that card instead.
      At the beginning of each upkeep, copy each card exiled this way. For each copy, you may cast the copy without paying its mana cost. Each copy targets CARDNAME

    2. None of the spells ever resolve because they're all exiled as soon as they're cast. Do you mean to exile upon resolution?

  4. I like the idea, but it's obvious there's enormous templating problems here. Should probably be mythic.

    Can't we just put Staying Power on it?

    "Until end of turn" and "this turn" effects that affect CARDNAME don't end.

    It's probably even whackier.

    This is one of those things where "gets +X/+X until end of turn" doesn't have a name, like board wipes, which makes it hard to reference the thing. We all kinda know what the effect is until we try to reference it, then it gets all ephemeral.

    One thought would be to name "gets +X/+X until end of turn" as "a boost". So something like Giant Growth would read, "Target creature gets a +3/+3 boost until end of turn." Then you could have effects like the above which would simply be "Whenever this creature's power would be boosted, put that many +1/+1 counters on it instead."

    But... you'd need a name for when something gets weakened, and then what about +X/-Y? It seems not worth it.

    Maybe there's something simple I'm missing...