Thursday, December 14, 2017

Multiple Choice Magic Design Question of the Day 2

2) Assuming R&D is going to make a card with four of the following five changes to Giant Growth, which of the changes shouldn’t be made?
 a) Add 'you control' after 'target creature'.
 b) Change 'target creature' to 'each creature'.
 c) Make it a sorcery.
 d) Add "Then it fights target creature you don't control."
 e) Change the mana cost to {3}{G}{G}.

Click through to see the answer and my rationale.

If we make every change but A, then this card causes each creature on the battlefield—even those you don't control—fight that creature you don't control. Those fights aren't sequential, so the target will deal its damage to each of your creatures. Given the +3/+3 you gave them, that's not necessarily a problem for you, but it's far too confusing an effect for a common card. (That's why Polukranos, World Eater has its effect spelled out, rather than using fight.)

If we make every change but B, then a single creature you control grows and then fights one you don't: Wild Instincts +1

If we make every change but C, each creature you control gets +3/+3 and fights target creature you don't control at instant speed. That card would be rare at any cost.

If we make every change but D, that's Overrun minus trample. Given that Overrun was determined largely too strong for uncommon (see Overcome), omitting trample isn't going to make that a fair card at common. Righteous Charge comes close, but is uncommon (partly due to its low cost).

If we make every change but E, then we have an insanely powerful card that costs just {G}.

B is the best answer because it's the only result appropriate for Giant Growth's rarity.

D is the only other defensible answer, but just barely.

The trick to this question was considering the complete card each answer would render and not missing the fact the Giant Growth is common and none of the options change its rarity. That B and D both significantly change the nature of the card was also a bit of a tip-off.


  1. Nice question! I love the way all the different changes turn it into really quite different changes.

    I really couldn't tell if you meant it to be common or not. I *thought* you did, but I admit, then I forgot I'd guessed that.

    I didn't put as much thought into several of the answers as you did. I reasoned, if you have change B and D, then whatever the card does, it says "Each creature gets +3/+3 UEOT. Then it fights target creature you don't control" or "Each creature you control gets +3/+3 UEOT. Then it fights target creature you don't control" and at any rarity, any cost, any speed, that involves a whole bunch of simultaneous fighting which is just never possible (even if you assuming the templating works out ok).

    However, then it comes down to Wild Instincts+ or Overrun-. I thought both of those were plausible prints, but R&D would prefer not (because +3/+3 fight is too close to straight up removal, and because overrun is now too strong). If I'd remembered the rarity I would have got it, but I guessed the other way round.

    1. Rule of Jack: no question is so simple Jack can't overthink it and fail to see the wood for the trees :)

  2. There’s no way that we can have both B and D at common, which rules out A, C, and E.

    Removing B makes this a big expensive Prey Upon plus pump. Given Hunt the Weak, this seems fine.

    Removing D gives Overrun minus trample. This is already Uncommon with +2/+2 - no way it could be common at +3/+3.

    B is my answer. This one seems more clear cut than others we’ve discussed.

  3. My answer (without seeing Jay's answer or the discussion):

    I quickly narrowed it down to (b) or (d), since making both of those changes would lead to a super-swingy card with confusing templating. If we leave out (d), this is an Overrun variant without the trample, which seems reasonable. If we leave out (b), this is a bigger Wild Instincts variant, which also seems reasonable. Ugh. On balance I think (d) is the better choice to leave out. Overrun effects of this size are printed in many sets, but we've never seen +3/+3 on a fight card (+2/+2 is the max) and I think that's because it's getting too close to unconditional removal. Also, the template is slightly nonstandard-- fight effects of this kind omit the word "then". So D is my answer.

    1. Oh, I see-- I didn't interpret the question to imply that the resulting card would have to be common. In that case I'd agree with Jay and R Stech that B is the better answer. But if the card can be any rarity, then I still think Jack and I are right that D is the better choice.

  4. Can I just ask: What is the deal with Really Epic Punch? Do you think they just unintentionally left off the until end of turn bit and decided to just roll with it? Green can't get two +1/+1 counters and a fight for 1G sorcery even if it's limited to a single creature type, right? Or is Prey Upon just that weak?

    1. And why doesn't it put counters on the creature? If it was intentional, why go with a weird Ride the Dilu Horse template that is really hard to catch? It's already Un for it's reference to Augments and Hosts!

    2. I think I saw Mark say on Twitter that Really Epic Punch's +2/+2 not ending was intentional, but I'm not convinced, for the reasons you stated. I think Unstable just wasn't edited as rigorously.

    3. I thought it was an intentional homage to Riding the Dilu Horse myself.

      Due to Savage Stomp existing, I think it’s in the realm of doable, but still fairly pushed.

    4. Unstable's power level at common was REALLY high (GO TO JAIL is up there with Path, Magic Word is strictly better Claustrophobia, the removal flows like wine and UB Evasion is stupid good) with upside.

      I think it just wasnt very developed.

    5. Definitely under-developed. It was also designed years earlier, and suffered from some older philosophies.