Wednesday, August 24, 2016

CCDD 082416—Bandits of Blackwald & Dodgy Bugger

Cool Card Design of the Day
8/24/2016 - The idea of reverse ninjutsu has a lot of promise, but executing on it proves dangerously unwieldy. Here are three, and I'm not sure any of them make the cut, but one at least comes close.

Ruse reverses ninjitsu by making you worry about blocked creatures, rather than unblocked ones. It nudges you away from blocking instead of toward it, acting more as evasion for your attacking creatures than a saboteur effect.

Bait reverses which of your creatures the mechanic goes on, the apparent attacker or the villain lying in wait. Being able to bring any creature in opens your options up quite wide, but letting your opponent know where to expect trouble reduces the surprise; Bait becomes an evasion ability. It's a daunting one because it uses the unknown as a threat, and the unknown can be very threatening, but it's also dependent on keeping a creature in hand or bluffing that you have. So it's dynamic evasion, a bit like prowess, and that's cool.

Unfortunately, it's also problematic to execute. We either abstract what's happening (as above) or write it all out (on the right). When the short way is six lines, you're looking at a terribly expensive keyword in terms of rules box space and NWO complexity. Ruse isn't much shorter, but every bit counts. For that reason (and for developmental concerns with the more open-ended version), I'd push ruse over bait.

Aaand I accidentally made a bunch:

Let's see your ruse (or bait) designs (or fixes).


  1. Oh, interesting idea. Somewhere between ninjitsu and morph. I like ruse more than bait, it seems to make it more about that creature, whereas all bait cards are going to seem a bit similar unless they have interesting "when this deals combat damage to a player" effects, and scream "look for ways to abuse the CMC".

    Given the greater lattitude in reminder text, I wonder if you can get away without some of the explicit rules text. Something like "Ruse 1B (1B, exchange this card in your hand with a blocked creature you control. It enters the battlefield tapped and blocked by the same creatures.)"

    You *might* even be able to shorten the "blocked by the same creatures" reminder text the card has another ability that screams "block me, I dare you".

  2. What if we move the "tapped, attacking and blocking" into the rules for a specific word (similar to fight or create a token).

    Ambush 2RR (2RR: exchange this card from your hand with target blocked creature you both control and own.)

    In this instance, the rules for what it means to "exchange" cards would be expanded to include temporary states, such as tapped-ness, attacking, blocked by, etc.

    The word "Exchange" carries it's own baggage within the rules, so perhaps a synonym would be best...

    1. Good call, Jack and Mike. Looking at the CR, I think we could just add a 701.8f that clarifies when you exchange creatures between zones, if one was attacking or blocking, the other one enters attacking the same person/PW, blocked or blocking the same creatures.

      701.8d Some spells or abilities may instruct a player to exchange cards in one zone with cards in a different zone (for example, exiled cards and cards in a player’s hand). These spells and abilities work the same as other “exchange” spells and abilities, except they can exchange the cards only if all the cards are owned by the same player.

      701.8e If a card in one zone is exchanged with a card in a different zone, and either of them is attached to an object, that card stops being attached to that object and the other card becomes attached to that object.

    2. Cool!

      In fact, I was assuming the rules would just define "ruse" and "exchange" would just be normal english in reminder text.

      But if exchange were defined, it could be useful elsewhere -- eg. you could just make one or two bait cards without needing to keyword it. Or have an instant which exchanges two attacking creatures you control (each is blocked by the creatures which blocked the other one).

    3. Worth noting that the rules are the easy part, we still have to convey how the mechanic works sufficiently in the reminder text.

      Ambush 2RR (2RR: Exchange this card from your hand with target blocked creature you control and own. Blockers remain.)

  3. I fear Ruse would lead to a Zendikar-esque level of aggressiveness, because I think it basically means you should never block. Almost by definition, if you are attacking me, you have access to all of your mana. If there is a Ruse creature you could cast that would 0-for-1 me if I blocked any of your creatures, how could I possibly block?

    One could certainly try to make a restriction like the one they made for morphs like "No Ruse creature has power and toughness both >2" or something (that one obviously isn't quite right).

    There are a couple options to address this. The simplest is just not to have your new creature leap into battle. I think I like this option the best.

    Another is to narrow the options for what kind of creature you can return, for example matching color or such. That way a blocker who knows the cards available can at least know what the horrible things that might happen to them if they block are, and might deem it okay.

    1. We could borrow directly and say that no ruse effects cheaper than 5 mana trump a 2/2, but it'll be hard to justify such ruses.

      I lean much more toward restrictions like matching color (or subtype or CMC>=N, even <=power) but adding text is an unpleasant option unless we can justify the super-short 'exchange' wording.