Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CCDD 071311—The Many-Eyed Serpent

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/13/2011 - Before you continue with today's CCDD, if you haven't seen the addition of Omniscient Hydra to yesterday's post, thanks to Nich Grayson, check it out real quick. It's pretty sweet.

The Many-Eyed Serpent is actually the least favorite of my Hydra designs this week (not that I hate it), but I share it with you today because it has a relevant new Hydra ability and because it's interesting to discuss the possible executions. First let's take a look at the original version:

So the Hydra has a 2/2 body (in the literal sense) and each head adds +1/+1, but more importantly, each head gives The Many-Eyed Serpent the capacity to block or be blocked by an additional creature. That's cool. That's a thing having multiple heads should allow you to do, as demonstrated by The Two-Headed Giant of Foriys and kin. The thing that makes me hesitate about this execution is that the number of creatures it can block matches the number of counters on it, but not the power (or toughness). Can we clean it up by doing away with the body conceit?

This version is more in line with the traditional X-based Hydra and all the numbers are perfectly square. Its power, its toughness and the number of creatures it can block all equal X. That makes it easier on the old noggin' and I don't think anyone really misses the 'body' thing.

I wonder if this version could even be uncommon. It's smaller than Monday's Royal Hydra, but its evasion ability is better: A 5/5 that can't be blocked except by five or more creatures seems more troublesome than a 6/6 trampler, for example. That said, it's pretty wonky for uncommon so maybe it needs to be rare and for rare it feels underpowered...

Using the templating from Royal Hydra, we can make The Many-Eyed Serpent just as efficient, while retaining its more complicated and usually better evasion ability. It starts to tread on Royal Hydra's toes, but adding GG helps differentiate visually and enforces a minimum size.

I'm also tempted to add vigilance. It makes sense for a creature that looks in every direction at once and it would make the multi-blocking ability relevant (since you want to be attacking with your evasive fatty most of the time anyhow).

Taking one last look at the number of +1/+1 counters we use, I really prefer the balance of the first version. At 3/3, the first version attacks and blocks normally. At 4/4, it's double-headed and, at 5/5, it requires three blockers. That's quite solid. These last two versions are two sizes more unblockable, probably to the point where the card says 'unblockable' 95% of the time. We don't want to lose interactivity. The big question though, is it worth the cost of P/T not matching the minimum-block number?

I don't know if it's right or not, but my favorite version is the first with the addition of vigilance:


  1. A very nice design, although I'd say at least the last one feels very mythic. Having a big-ass hydra that is virtually unblockable AND blocking all of your opponent's creatures is pretty brutal at rare in limited.

  2. If I may be so bold, I'd cut out the "cannot be blocked by X or less creatures" clause, as it starts becoming virtually unblockable at any decent size and isn't worth the complexity. It's also not a monogreen ability except for two cards or so, but it doesn't feel wrong.

    Maybe it would have the ability to reach out and snap at your opponent's other monsters?

  3. And that brings me back to the idea of giving green limited amounts of creature-based direct damage. *shifty eyes*

  4. The blocking ability scales MUCH better, especially with vigilance.

    It might also help to just not make it a X Creature.

    Fourheaded Hydra of Eightiys 4GG
    Creature- Hydra
    Can block up to Four creatures.
    Can't be blocked by fewer than 4 creatures.

  5. Hmmm.
    Omnipresent Hydra 4GG
    ~ has P/T equal to the number of creatures on the battlefield.
    ~ can't be blocked except by all of the defending players' creatures.
    ~ can and must block any number of creatures, even while tapped.