Monday, May 23, 2011

CCDD 052311—The Embiggen Mechanic

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/23/2011 - I could have sworn there were more aborted Landfall alternatives discussed than I can find here and to a lesser extent here, but I can't find them. Regardless, I'm fairly confident R&D tried out the mechanic I'm showcasing today and shot it down in favor of the Landfall we all know and love (and rightly so). That doesn't make what I'm calling embiggen a bad mechanic, just inferior to Landfall. Check out an example before I go any further.

Like Landfall, this mechanic is here to make you feel less bad about drawing a lot of land. Landfall has two big things going over Embiggen: You're still happy to draw a land card the turn after you've played your guy; and Landfall encourages you to play all of your land which in turn encourages you to play bigger spells.

There's another problem with Embiggen that is less apparent until you go to make a weenie creature with it. Unlike Steppe Lynx, there really is no fair/safe weenie with Embiggen because we don't want players dropping a turn one 6/6 by discarding their entire hand. The above execution is a turn less abusable and still generally miserable. Yes, it's solid on turn 6 when you cast it along with another threat or removal and pitch the newly useless land in your hand, but in the early game (when most players imagine playing it) it's either a terrible bear or an ugly cousin to Rogue Elephant.

Okay, so we want to stick with medium or late-game spells. The mechanic is quite generic so it can be stapled onto a fair number of cards, but how many will actually be interesting? We've got two so far and I feel like the barrel's almost empty already. Yes, there are infinite variations, but they're going to start feeling repetitive and bland really fast.

The solution is to start slapping it on quirky rares and uncommons where it takes on a new context. Even still it feels pretty uninspired. I'd be happy to hear your ideas for other applications or variations on Embiggen but for now I'm tossing this one in the hopefully-never-have-to-use pile.

Did I just showcase a failed mechanic and some failed designs? You bet your ass. The day we can't learn from our failures at least as much as our successes is the day we've stopped learning entirely.


  1. Embigment (When this enters the battlefield, exile any number of land cards from your hand under this.)

    Embigment Elf 1G
    Elf - Druid
    When Embigment Elf leaves the battlefield, put the land cards exiled with Embigment Elf onto the battlefield.

    Embigment Bear
    Creature - Bear
    1, Put a card exiled with Embigment Bear into its owner's graveyard: Embigment Bear gets +2/+2 and gains Hexproof until end of turn.

    Embigment Wurm 5G
    Creature - Wurm
    Hexproof, embigment
    CARDNAME gets +2/+2 for each card exiled with it.

    Embigment Serpent 5U
    Creature - Serpent
    CARDNAME can't attack unless defending player controls a land of a type exiled with CARDNAME.

    Embigment Trader 3U
    Creature - Merfolk
    When CARDNAME leaves the battlefield, draw a card for each card exiled with CARDNAME.

    Embigment Pinger 3R
    Creature - Wizard
    T, Put a card exiled with Embigment Pinger into its owner's graveyard: Embigment Pinger deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

  2. The Embigment mechanic above can also be called "Territory."

  3. Reminds me of Nantuko Cultivator.

  4. Nantuko Cultivator, eh? Interesting. That's a pretty sweet card that had escaped my notice until now.

    Man, that Embiggen Demon is such a lame example. Needs to be something that uses the +1/+1 counters or the discarded land cards. Brain not know.