Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CCDD 05211—Fire Dance

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/24/2011 - Yesterday on Twitter @andrea2s1 mused that a Lava Axe that can also target creatures would be a reasonable card today. Beacon of Destruction fits that bill but at rare. I believe Lava Arrow could be a common. That got me thinking about other red effects that could use a boost. Toss in Mr. Rosewater's article about the value of the mana system and I was reminded how lousy Pyretic Ritual is. Consider this improved version:

I know the whole point of moving the Dark Ritual effect to red was because of red's willingness to sacrifice the future for the present (since spending a card on the mana boost will net you less total mana than a land would have in just three turns), but at the same time we're grappling with the Ritual's legacy of enabling plays so quick that the purpose of the mana system is bypassed and the game ends too quickly thanks to your turn 2 hasty dragon or whatever. That's why a card as terrible as Pyretic Ritual exists.

I put it to you that Fire Dance is a fair card and justified in its color. On the face of things, you are netting one mana at no cost and even making your deck effectively smaller (and so more consistent), and indeed, that's the draw and purpose of the card. But there is a cost. It's subtle, but those of us who played with Manamorphose back in Shadowmoor learned it the hard way. It's fine or great when you have a spell to cast with it, but when you draw it on it's own, it's often terrible. You pay your 2 to cycle it and draw another land. The mana empties from your pool and you still have nothing to do that turn (which you would have if you were running a real business spell in its place). This seems like the exact kind of short-sided optimism that is perfectly red.

For the sake of completeness, let's briefly explore the other options to improve Pyretic Ritual. It could add RRRR for a total of two additional mana. That's very good. In fact, it's a Dark Ritual except you can't cast it on turn one. That's the same mana profit as Seething Song but a turn earlier. Too good. The other solution is to decrease the cost (with the same mana profit). That's not unreasonable. Actually, it's so reasonable that it already exists in Rite of Flame.

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