Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CCDD 072011—Aether Leak

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/19/2011 - Mana Leak is a simple, effective card. Why would anyone want to create more variations of something so perfect? Because variety is the spice of life. I love Mexican food, but if I had to eat it every day for a month straight, I'd be about ready for a culinary break. Naturally, I'm not the first to think about this: There are already ~47 uses of this same effect in Magic from Force Spike to Spell Syphon. Well, here's one more.

Because of its reference to an unusual concept—the amount of colorless mana in a mana cost—Aether Leak may need to be uncommon. Of course, it's probably not appearing in just any set, but one with a theme of caring about colored / colorless mana in mana costs, where it can help reinforce the concept. Otherwise, we'd just reprint Rethink.

Like the difference between Remove Soul and Negate, what makes Aether Leak interesting is how much better it is against certain cards than others. It's better than Mana Leak against Solemn Simulacrum, Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, and Terastodon, at the same time it's worse against Oversoul of Dusk, Phyrexian Obliterator and even Sol Ring. As long as its not the only countermagic in its set (when has that ever happened?), it just adds a new way for blue mages to be tricksy and clever (whether that cleverness is knowing whether to run it or knowing not to run it depends on the metagame).


  1. I love counterspells like these. There is so much space that can be explored, and I can show that with two examples:
    There is a card I designed for a contest on using the released art from ROE. Since we knew that the set was going to have colorless creatures, I felt that this was a good area to explore a narrow counterspell for: spells that are better versus certain colors. It also had the interblock interaction with both Alara (the spell being much weaker vs. BBE) and, inadvertantly, Scars of Mirrodin (much better vs. Wurmcoil Engine).

    The other design is this:
    Greed's Folly -- 1U
    Instant (Unc)
    Counter target spell unless its controller pays 1 for each card in their hand.

    A situationally better or worse Mana Leak. It might need another effect, like "If that player pays this cost, draw a card" or something like that as it still has the problem of being really dead late-game, even moreso than Mana Leak. I like the flavor around it though: mages with lots of cards in hand (and clearly ahead in the game) should be punished for their greed! :P

  2. Shouldn't the wording be something more like "the amount of generic mana in its mana cost"? As a cost, the {2} is "generic," not "colorless." Which is why cards used to spell out "add one colorless mana to your mana pool" rather than "add {1} to your mana pool." Then they changed that and now the symbol means different things depending on where on a card it appears.

  3. As a rule of thumb, don't expect flawless wordings from a designer, but any fix to make their cards work under the rules are always appreciated.

  4. Just want to make sure things are as clear as possible.