Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CCDD 022311 — Erratic Denial & Desperate Denial

Cool Card Design of the Day
Every day, I design a new card and discuss it briefly. Sometimes I will examine new possibilities for colors or mechanics, sometimes I'll re-examine existing executions and sometimes I'll just design something I think is neat.

2/23/2011 - While I expect many Spikes will disagree, I believe that a lot more (but certainly not all and probably not even most) countermagic should be uncertain. Playing against a playset of Cancels isn't a big deal, but add two more sets of counters to that and—while you still have a great chance of winning (your opponent is playing very reactively after all)—you're probably not having very much fun. A counterspell that you don't know whether will work or not when you cast it adds chance to the equation and makes things interesting again. To that end, Erratic Denial is modeled after Erratic Explosion. Okay, it's more closely modeled after Explosive Revelation because you get a card out of the deal. You've got to get something back to make up for the possible whiff. It could also cost UU, but this seems like a good spell to allow multi-color decks to splash for.

Here's another execution:

This version only gives you the card when the countering fails, so it can be costed more aggressively. If it does fail, the card you get is guaranteed not to be a land.

For those of you tired of converted mana costs, I present Desperate Denial:

Here you never get a card out of the deal, but you do get a very cheap potential counter that gets you closer to your gas by filtering out any lands you would have been drawing.

Would you play any of these in limited? In constructed?


  1. The second Denial looks strong, I think it would see play. The first one only looks viable in an environment with an efficient card like Top or Jace to reorder your library. I don't think the third Denial would see play other than in a narrow sideboard situation (Pyromancer's Ascension mirror match?).

    What about tweaking the first design with a Reviving Vapors type approach - look at the top 3-5 cards and pick one to reveal. Now you have a little more of a Showdown effect: "I can beat that. Watch this!"

    Anyway, these cards wouldn't be commons. Probably Uncommon? The second one has about 52 words of text.

  2. Oh, heh. I didn't even think about the rarity. Yes, I agree, none of these are common. The first and second for mentioning "converted mana cost", the second again for being so long, and the third for being so narrow.

  3. Those cards make me think of an interesting design area: conditional spells with rewards equally good if it works or not. I like card #1 the most, but would even see it with drawing 2 cards instead. Playing a counterspell, especially one worth 3 mana, would make me think that the reward could be better if it fails. I could see this card cost going up to 2UU, and giving 2 cards in case the counter fails.

    By the way, great idea guys to create this blog! The first articles are very good and have a good length. Insta-add to my Google Reader!

  4. I like the first one most because it's straightforward. The more I play, the less I like ancillary actions (shuffling, revealing cards from the top of my library until, etc.) just the play a spell.

    They're all pretty cool though.

  5. I feel like you're trying to Timmy-fy a Spike mechanic, and here is the problem with that: if you don't commit strongly to one side or another, nobody will like it. Clash had this problem, being a Spike-ified Timmy mechanic. They reduced the swinginess to get Spike to like it, but in the end Spike just used the clash cards as a draw smoother, and Timmy didn't like the cards very much because they just weren't exciting.

    I am alarmed by the statement "a lot more (but certainly not all and probably not even most) countermagic should be uncertain". I could not disagree more - while there is design space for uncertain counterspells that reward you in some other way if it doesn't work out, I don't feel it's fun enough to make a major part of the game. While I agree that we are well rid of the Cuneo Blue days of twenty-odd hard counters, the answer to "a critical mass of hard counters is no fun" is to make soft counters - Spell Snare, Negate, Essence Scatter, and the like. Those allow the players who do enjoy countermagic to play their spells knowing that if they need something stopped, they can stop it, while at the same time forcing them to put more thought into deckbuilding than "three playsets of hard counter du jour, profit".

  6. I agree with two_eyes, if uncertain counters are more fun, it's only because counters aren't fun for most people. The answer isn't to make all of the cards that people who like counter magic have to use feel bad, but rather to make sure that they can't just counter everything willy-nilly through conditional counters, really expensive counters, or simply controlling the number of counterspells in the environment.