Thursday, August 11, 2011

CCDD 081111—Condescending Wizard & Predict Folly

Cool Card Design of the Day
8/11/2011 - Designers are always on the lookout for ways to make old cards mean new things. A near-unplayable card from a core set like Shatter becomes an all-star in Mirrodin. Lord of the Unreal turns Phantasmal Dragon and friends from risky to nasty. See Beyond makes conditional sideboard cards maindeckable and solves the problem of drawing your Polymorph target.

I've been lured more than once by the idea of using a card in hand to defeat the same card played by an opponent. Predict Folly is a fairly straight-forward interpretation.

This card is pretty much unplayable outside of a mirror match. Even then it's not all that great. I actually made this one last as an intro to the splashier version:

'Free' countermagic is very powerful. While this version is much more limited than Force of Will and Pact of Negation, it also has the least downside—acting as a full-on Cancel in the worst case. But even this is just build up to the card I'm really excited to share with you today. What if having that spell in hand didn't just negate your opponent's copy?

Boom. How's that for a free counterspell? Sure I have to pay for my copy, but I was planning to do that anyway. Countering yours for free seems pretty awesome. I love that this feels like Commandeer but really drives in the flavor that you are showing your naive opponent how to really cast some spells. (Originally, you could cast your copy for free, but that was way too strong—rendering mirror matches into an unfun race to stick a Condescending Wizard first.)

I was tempted to make this an artifact so it's not limited to blue players, but we don't want every deck running four of these in their sideboard. Maybe 2U would be a better cost to make it more splashable. I do fear that my primary goal failed. I wanted players to consider running a card in their deck just to counteract that same card from their opponents. I suspect instead that these will just be played in the sideboard of whatever deck can play them, for the mirror. Probably going to have to file these ideas under cute-but-impractical.


  1. I think I'd rather Condescending Wizard be Ice Cave-on-a-stick, just because it enables more diversity in the format (assuming either card would be playable).

  2. Something along these lines would be interesting, because they say that sideboard hate cards for the mirror match help the metagame balance itself.

    The dominant deck is basically forced to put those anti-mirror hate cards in the sideboard (because his/her opponent sure will), and that gives the deck less sideboard slots for beating other decks.

    This card idea is interesting as an artifact, because it would help any deck prepare against its mirror, without requiring R&D to predict what decks will be the dominant decks that need anti-mirror cards designed for it.

    While countering is not an artifact ability, I think discarding a card of the same name is a special condition and narrow enough to make it different from normal countering.

    The execution is difficult. Just discarding to counter doesn't seem good enough. While some spells are important enough to spend 2 cards to counter, you'll be losing the chance to cast that powerful spell yourself.

    On the other hand, the Condescending Wizard version would be bad if it worked too well, because it makes players not want to initiate action.

  3. How about:

    Orb of Countermeasures 1
    2, T, discard a card: Draw a card. You may counter up to one target spell with the same name as the discarded card.

  4. Variation of Chah's card.

    Madman's Orb 2
    1, T, Discard a card: Draw a card.
    Whenever you discard a card, you may counter target spell with that name.

    Less clunky, more modular.

  5. I would perhaps even suggest trying a version where you search your library and find a copy of the spell cast from it, pay its cost and exile it to counter the spell, but would make it an activated ability with a high cost or up the cost of the counterspell.