Thursday, February 24, 2011

CCDD 022411 — Universal Might and the 'Universal' Mechanic

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.

2/24/2011 - When I originally scribbled down this idea, I keyworded the ability. Designers find it very useful to automatically keyword (or ability or action word) a mechanic when drafting because it helps identify a single concept across multiple cards and naming it can help galvanize the flavor—which sometimes informs or transforms the execution in return. That said, you want to think about whether your word is worth carrying over to the final design and in this case, it clearly is not. While "Universal" is great on auras and can easily fall onto any other permanent, it's highly unlikely to see print on more than five cards per set and pretty well guaranteed to only ever exist in one block.

On an aura, the purpose should be pretty clear: This is yet another attempt to undo the card disadvantage inherent in auras. If they kill your target in response to casting Universal Might, you're out the 2G, but at least you're not down a card. Your bonus card for the day capitalizes on the mechanic:

That could easily be a blue card in the vein of False Demise, but it just feels whiter to me.

On non-aura permanents, universal acts as a sort of Dodecapod/Obstinate Baloth anti-discard clause, with the upside that it works even when you cause yourself to discard, even as a cost. Sort of a free madness-cycling. That's pretty powerful, so I'd be surprised to see it on more than, say, one uncommon, one rare and one mythic, at best.


  1. I'm not a constructed expert, but I feel like this would be bonkers in Dredge. (And nobody would ever actually cast it.)

  2. Design comment: This is an interesting ability, very modular.
    Design comment: Put a mana cost on it to cause "shields down" moments?
    Design comment: Universality (or did you write Universalilty on purpose?) is very similar to Bequeathal, so probably that mechanic is Green.
    Development comment: I think HavelockV is right - Dredge breaks this. A mana cost might fix it.
    Templating comment: "When is put into a graveyard from anywhere, draw a card."

  3. All good points. I've updated the post to use the proper templating and fix the typo.
    I made the Sphinx as big and expensive as reasonable to actually encourage players to discard him and reanimate him, but I wasn't thinking about dredge at the time and I'm real sure you're right that dredge breaks universal hard. Adding a mana cost fixes or alleviates that issue, but it also deeply hurts the crux of universal, so I'm more inclined to chalk it up as an idea that just doesn't quite work.