Thursday, June 30, 2011

CCDD 063011—Gift Dragon

Cool Card Design of the Day
6/30/2011 - I'd been meaning to get around to making some multiplayer-centric cards in honor of the recent Commander release and today's card, Gift Dragon, is much like a creature version of the Vow cycle. Suppose you want to help your buddy to survive a bit longer or that you want to earn an ally for yourself out of an otherwise doomed player. Handing them a creature that can attack and block in the air (but can't attack you) seems like something most anyone would appreciate.

That's the cleaner, simpler and imminently more printable version, but I thought it would be cool to create a version that doesn't have vigilance (because that's not really blue), yet could untap at a cost. Originally I was thinking you, the owner, would be the only one able to untap it. But then I thought it might be nice if the controller still had the choice, though he or she would be making a choice that benefited you, the owner.

Ignoring for a moment how much some players hate the untap symbol, if we were to go this route, we may need to add a mana cost. Effects like Brooding Saurion and Homeward Path might make it too easy to grab this guy back for yourself and then put a Power of Fire on it for an infinite card-drawing (and damage-dealing in this case) engine. In fact, since the card-draw isn't a 'may', the player you give it to might just slap his own tapping aura on it and mill you out.

Oh, and maybe it should be bigger. Depends on whether it goes in a normal set and can be played in Two-Headed Giant or if it will only be played in Commander.


  1. First one is better by virtue of simplicity. The Vows were excellently designed and this is a logical extension; a cycle would quite appropriate.

    At some point in the past, before these Commander-only-cards with their multiplayer-centric designs, while brainstorming for a mythic Greek setting I'd had the idea for creatures that were big scary monsters you donated to your opponent, and then gave you a reward if you could "defeat" them. In hindsight, such a thing would be an interesting political tool by giving all players an incentive to attack another player. Something like this:

    Example Hydra 3GG
    Creature - Hydra
    When ~ enters the battlefield, target opponent gains control of it.
    When ~ dies, each of its controller's opponents may search his or her library for up to four land cards, put them onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle his or her library.

    That design could use some work, but it's just a proof of concept.

  2. Gift Dragon is awesome.

    I think the politics of the card is tricky enough by itself that it doesn't need another "maybe I'll untap it, maybe I won't" mind game behind it. Maybe "Whenever this deals damage, its controller and its owner each draws a card" might be enough.

    I think the Example Hydra should have "this must be block" or "this must attack" to induce combat.

    Also, just giving it to the opponent and then Doom Blading it right away would be anticlimatic. What if it only gave the bonus to the controller of the creature that last dealt damage to it?

    I think you can afford to make it very undercosted.

    I'd like to see a version where giving it to the opponent is an option.

  3. How's this?

    Rampaging Hydra 1GG
    Creature - Hydra
    ~ attacks each turn if able.
    Whenever ~ attacks a player, that player gains control of it at the beginning of your end step.
    When ~ dies, put four +1/+1 counters on each creature that dealt damage to it this turn.

  4. A simple ETB effect ("Owner draws three cards") that benefits you seems reasonable.

  5. Wizards has stated that all printed cards must be playable in duel. Even the vow cycle is playable in duel. These cards aren't.

  6. But Command Tower isn't playable except in Commander. It's ok because it can be used in 1-on-1 Commander duels?

  7. Playable in a duel != good in a duel.
    All of these are *playable* in a duel.
    It just becomes an uber-Johnny card where you have to figure out the value in giving your opponent a guy.

  8. Using that reasoning, Commander Tower is playable outside commander because an über-johnny can combo it with political trickery. In simple terms, you can stretch your definition of "playability in a duel" until it matches anything you want, but that only leaves you with an useless definition.

  9. Right, but if we don't put any stock in the definition to begin with, rendering it's meaning useless just means we've got one less thing to worry about. Down with "must be playable in a duel!"

  10. I just think this type of card is uninteresting because it doesn't play well in 99% of Magic games. And there's an easy fix to that

    Fickel Sphinx 3UU
    Creature Sphinx U
    You may have Fickel Sphinx enter the battlefield under an opponents control. If you do, it has Gratitude. (It can't deal damage to you or a permanent you control.)

    Vows are cool because they give you options. Gift dragon doesn't give options.

    Other things: Does that fact that this card is a BLUE SERRA ANGEL DRAGON not weird anyone else out? Why a dragon? Why vigilance? Why blue? Just seems extremely weird.