Thursday, November 17, 2016

CCDD 111716—Bestial Call

Cool Card Design of the Day
11/17/2016 - Here are five variations on the same basic idea—rewarding vanilla creatures without increasing their stats—across three rarities.

Here's the first pass. The idea is you can tutor for your best vanilla, and you can put as much gas on top of your deck as you want, knowing that at some point you may prefer the ability to draw a non-creature or non-vanilla creature, ala Gravepurge.

A rare wants to offer a bigger dream than that I think, especially if you're going to search your library for all those cards, so this second rare simplifies the effect (by complicating the cost).

This is the uncommon version of the first rare. It lets you set up as many draws as you want, but doesn't replace itself with a card draw. That has enough potential to be uncommon, but we can expect the player really wants to be able to play one of those creatures the same turn:

This version replaces itself, and so has to put some kind of limit on how much you can stack your deck. That's safer for players who don't know how deep to stack their deck, and safer for formats where players might run only vanilla creatures so they can set up some crazy combo like Charbelcher.

Finally, I wanted to see what a common version of this would look like. I could see this played in Limited, if you've got multiple vanilla creatures you're really eager to play, and that's about it.

What do you think? Which card do you prefer as a player? As a designer?


  1. I'm not a big fan of tutors that stack multiple cards to the top of the deck. Grabbing one card is fine, but beyond that it really diminishes the variance and makes the game feel scripted. It's also easy to stack yourself into a losing situation because you tried to plan too far ahead.

    The second is that if you were building a set with a minor vanilla theme, I would use the "basic" super type on the vanilla creatures in the set. That means that you can have a critical mass of vanillas for it to be a linear strategy in constructed with enough support while not clogging the set with too many bland vanilla creatures.

    Using "basic" also means that the cards that you made here would have the option of grabbing a creature or a basic land. Allowing them to fix you mana makes them a more likely to always be relevant and significantly ups the power level. After all, if I'm clogging my deck with subpar creatures there needs to be a pretty strong payoff in the spells I get to play.

    1. If we're concerned with multi-tutor removing too much variance from the game, shouldn't we be concerned about letting players play 36 copies of the same creature?

    2. There's still some variance in what you draw with a Relentless Rats deck. Congregation at Dawn just removes draw step tension all together.

      Also, unless you're planning on vanilla creatures with really weird stats, you can probably play 36 copies of a vanilla in older formats already. It's not like 36 2/1s for W is hard to find.

  2. I'm a little sad this doesn't work with cards like Imperiosaur.

    1. I'm not sure if there's any way of fixing it, but in a set with a vanilla theme, I'd certainly like to see cards like Imperiosaur included as "vanillas". And for that matter, ideally cards which have no printed abilities but have one granted by an effect.

    2. Yeah, the problem with trying to build off Muraganda Petroglyphs is that 'vanilla' is an invisible label relevant only to the practice of creating the game. "Has no abilities" is the closest functional translation, and that is a Mel-only distinction because it arbitrarily excludes creatures that technically have abilities that don't feel like abilities (and because having rules text on the card or not means nothing to game flavor). It's too late to retroactively apply a supertype or subtype to all such creatures, so doing that for a set wouldn't have nearly the same effect. Ultimately, vanilla-matters doesn't seem useable as a set theme (except maybe a carefully developed introductory product, but the flavor fail still sucks). Does that mean we can't use it on one-off cards every couple years? Actually, it might, as what purpose should those cards be serving to their set?

  3. I think the fun way to do this is probably to base it off of creature type. Are most rats unproblematic to tutor? Let's tutor a swarm of rats! Though Ratcatcher already did that. Cultivate for Beasts? Or Birds? Whatever the "vanilla creature type" is for a given set.

    Call of the Quiver 1G
    Sorcery (u)
    Choose a creature type, then search your library for up to three cards with that creature type and reveal them. Shuffle your library and put those cards on top in any order.
    Archercycling 2G

    In dedicated tribal decks, yeah, it's congregation at dawn/a setup for Ringleadering. But fair at the cost, I think.

    1. Goblin Orphan Matron {2}{R}
      Creature-Goblin (rare)
      Search your library for any number of Goblin cards with different names and exile them face-down.
      At your upkeep, reveal a card exiled by ~ at random. You may cast it this turn.