Monday, May 9, 2016

CCDD 050916—Abundant

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/9/2016 - Here's a kicker variant. It doesn't actually require you to spend extra mana, just to have it, so it encourages more surge-like gameplay than kicker.

I got a little carried away finding uses for it.

This was the card idea that inspired the mechanic. While Wrex is the biggest card you can afford, it's just an efficient creature. While it's not, it pushes you further ahead: The rich get richer.

You can make a 1/1 for {W} that gets +1/+1 with abundant, but it might need to be uncommon?

I liked the style of Sky-Eel a lot, but it was harder to replicate than expected. Still.

To be clear, abundant has much more limited design space than kicker, because it's effects generally need to be worth less than one mana, at least at common.

You can also front-load the value of those effects. By paying more for Prey Upon, I can get a better abundant effect than one mana would usually buy.

Of course, what Defend the Young is really about is rewarding you for playing more spells with those untapped lands.

Because having spare mana is harder at higher costs, we can grant bigger rewards at the top of the curve.

It was bugging me how I couldn't make Search the Stars conditionally comparable to Sift, until I realized the Sift variants we print today are all strictly worse than Sift. Even so, it's notable how tight the room between Divination, Sift, and Inspiration is when you're not looking to make a six-line common.

At uncommon, we can start counting the number of untapped lands, scaling with them.

Probably this could be {2}{U}{U}... I'd have to play it to see.

If abundant gets associated to two colors, I lean toward green and blue. That said, it can certainly work in any color.

The simpler version of Arcobatic Murder targets any creature (or any black creature) but only gives it one counter. I went flavorful because design-in-a-vacuum.

Again, it's fun to encourage the player with untapped lands to try and use them.

Deathforge Shaman, but arguably sexier.

This design's a bit of a push. IDK.

You can do crazy things at absurd mana costs.


  1. This is pretty cool! The only one I'd be especially wary to print would be Frog In Your Throat, If only because I'm picturing it being a little stronger than Mana Leak at the end of the day. But that's a development concern.

    This doesn't necessarily cut through The Kicker Problem of players holding on to their cards for fear of not getting the bonus, but some of these at least lean away from it. I think the Wrex is a little funny - it seems like "oh, if I have enough lands in hand, I'll play him on curve as an efficient blocker/beater" and "oh, if I don't have enough lands in hand, I'll wait to cast him", but often if you're wanting more lands, you may be stuck on 3! That could be frustrating.

    1. At three mana, Wrex doesn't exist to help you cheat on lands or avoid mana screw, it exists to help you accelerate to fatties (and abundant cards) while putting something relevant on the field. That said...

      Completely Unrelated Wrex {1}{G}
      1/1 unc Beast
      When ~ ETB, if you control five or more lands, put two +1/+1 counters on it. Otherwise, search your library for a Forest card and put it into your hand. Shuffle.

      Another Unrelated Wrex {1){G}{G}
      2/2 rare Beast
      When ~ ETB, search your library for a Forest card and put it OTB tapped. Shuffle.
      At your upkeep, if you control six or more lands, put a +1/+1 counter on ~.

    2. "Kicker 0.5" seems like a super narrow mechanic to me, I have a hard time imagining this being worth a whole mechanic.

      I think I would rather trigger on something like having 4 or more untapped permanents.

    3. Would these designs be more or less fun with flicker-effects?

    4. Abundant is much more narrow than kicker. Most things are. That there are already 14 cards shows it's not to narrow to print.

    5. Flickering one of those would feel great, but if that's easy to do, Dev would have to nerf them hard. I think Standard would have fewer and more expensive flicker effects surrounding this, but we would want some.

    6. While it is certainly true that I think almost every mechanic that WOTC prints is too narrow to print, I didn't actually mean narrow in that sense.

      What I actually meant is that the reward you get is proportional to the hoop you jump through. If the hoop is too easy, the reward is bad. This is half of the fundamental problem with Spell Mastery (that we discussed on Twitter recently). Having one untapped land is just so little effort, the reward is going to have to be miniscule, and is going to lead to a bunch of really uninspiring cards.

      Development gets, maybe, the occasional Arrow Storm, where the upgrade is something that is completely yawn inducing. (Though, Arrow Storm's upgrade ended up making a huge difference, and I probably think they shouldn't have printed it anyway.)

      When Abundant makes it through development you're gonna have a bunch of 1G 1/2s that ETB with a +1/+1 counter if you have Abundant.

      (Btw, I called it Kicker 0.5 not because it is a worse kicker, but because the cost you are asking is actually much less than Kicker 1, since you don't even have to spend the mana.)

  2. Yeah, I like it. I was expecting abundant X, if you control X untapped lands, do blah.

    1. I could see it. I wanted to try the simplest version first. It might be good enough.

    2. Oh sure, "Abundant 1" may well be all you need in set #1. But you mentioned restricted design space, and I immediately thought, there may be more if you want it. Having the number lets dev tweak it, or design come up with other variants for future sets or higher rarities.

  3. This is an excellent mechanic. I like that it works well with flicker, too, that rewards Johnnies very nicely!

    It reminds me of another mechanic that looked for mana in your mana pool. That one forced you to 'dedicate' the untapped lands, either to casting something or letting the mana fade. This version plays better, I think, and it's more obvious how it's meant to work. I like that a lot.

    Overall, I think this has a lot of potential. Definitely intriguing, and I want to design some more stuff around it.