Saturday, September 10, 2011

M13 The Commons (1)

We have successfully made a working first draft of the white commons (which can be played as a very rough deck here on I'm quite certain this list will change before Design is done (much less before Development touches it), but it's sufficient to show one reasonable path for white in M13 as well as the value and fun of Terrain. Because of that encouraging result, our next step is to design the rest of the commons so that we can start visualizing the set as whole and making more context aware decisions.

Green is our first priority, because we'd particularly like to see what a two-color deck looks and plays like with terrain and white-green seems a bit trickier to design well than white-blue. I took the lead on the white list and made some executive decisions just to get a playable list out, but the vast majority of that work came from our awesome team*. Now is when we really feel the cost of internet-based collaboration because this would be a faster, more interactive task if we could just meet in person for a few hours, but that's just not an option. Moving forward, I'm willing to lead the design of the other colors if needed, but I thought it would be nice to turn over the reigns to other designers so the set's not too Jay-centric.

Based on the work already done in the Google Doc, I'm inclined to put Duncan in charge of green, Chah blue, Nich black, Pasteur red, and Jules colorless for now. By 'in charge' I just mean that I want you to maintain the tab in question and compile the initial list of commons based on everyone's input so that we can get testing as soon as possible. I intend for these posts to change before the next task because I want to give as many people chances as would like them and I would like as many perspectives as possible. If any of you can't accept leadership for this task or would prefer not to, just let me know and I'll adjust. Your work is accountable to me and the rest of the team.

* It's indisputable that Duncan, Jules, Chah and Nich have dedicated themselves to the task at hand and for that, I've listed them as full designers in the project. Pasteur is right on their heels and Ben & metaghost have also helped since our last installment and I want to thank all of these fine folk for their effort. I also want to thank our other readers and remind you that the team is fluid and everyone is still invited to contribute as much as you'd like or as time allows.


  1. I'd be interested in development, is that something you're taking community involvement in?

  2. Let’s also come to an agreement about the common terrain effects. We already have:

    As long as you control a Forest, NAME gets +1/+2. (Kird Ape and Proud Buck)

    As long as you control an Island, NAME has flying. (Crested Dodo and Vaportrail Imp)

    I think we shouldn’t get too stuck on making them keywords, either. It’s just got to be something simple that makes gives each ally color something exciting. And we should also think about the ways the effect will change the feel of each ally pair.

    As long as you control a Mountain, NAME has “R: This creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.”

    As long as you control a Mountain, NAME can’t be blocked except by two or more creature.

    So post your two common Terrain cards per color thinking about the way the effect will work in both a color’s ally pairs.

  3. Going through the red commons I keep running into how well both the Goblin Cannibal and Bladetusk-terrain-Boar work for the swamp side. It may be a matter of curve weight more than anything else (as they both have top-down flavor) as there currently seems to be more at four.

    Not sure how well firebreathing works in off-color terrain. Once you have mana symbols appearing, it feels distinctly like multicolor to me. If we were sure we wanted something in that vein, maybe something more like Lavaclaw Reaches?

  4. If we can move fairly quickly I'd be more than happy to take the reins on colorless, but I'm probably going to be a lot busier in a little over a week when school starts up. Fair warning.

    I also want to second Nich's comments on Terrain: it should be something that would make sense on a common without the land rider, though not quite at the apex of the complexity curve since we're adding some with Terrain.

  5. Here's something I think that would really help read your cards, as already looking at just the two you've posted, you have needless complexity.

    The reason they're complex is this: While keyworded, "Terrain" has TWO completely different variables; the effect and the land needed to trigger the effect.

    I'd suggest that at common, you keep it simple; you make the keyword specify the land type in the name of the keyword and secondly, you make it so that all commons share the same effect. For example, if you just want it to be +1/+2, I'd write the commons out as "Mountain Terrain — As long as you control a Mountain, CARDNAME gets +1/+2."

    Now, if you want different effects, then I'd make it so that every colour has a different effect. Red gives +1/+2, White gives flying, etc, so it's much, much easier to process once they're on the battlefield, but also when drafting. The problem with just the blanket "Terrain" keyword is that not all Terrain cards work in the same deck. You assume that if you can trigger one Terrain you can trigger the rest, but that's not how it works. You could make it so that all Green terrains trigger off Plains, White triggers only off Islands, etc, but I sincerely think you should just have something like "Island Terrain" and a single effect per colour at the most.

    Hope that helps.

  6. n10doefrk, yes, we do plan to develop this set after design is finished and we'd love to have your help with that.

    Jules, I'm all for working fast. The bad news is, the colorless cards will probably change the most before we're done; the good news is, that means we should worry less about getting it right the first time.

    I think there's consensus that the terrain bonus for each land type should be the same at least for the commons. Right now, forest terrain gives +1/+2, island terrain gives flying... I had proposed on the wiki that mountain terrain give first strike, but I like the two-headed option. We should try both out and see which fits better. Terrain-Firebreathing is functionally identical to firebreathing, so that's not an option. For plains terrain I had suggested lifelink and for swamp terrain deathtouch.

    We've been using "terrain" as an ability word and Bass suggests putting the name of the land in the ability word. I had the same thought early on and think we should test it both ways. It definitely deserves another name in that set-up though. Forest Biome? Swamp Habitat? Mountain Friendly? Island Adaptation? Plains Visitor? (I'm not suggesting different words for each land, just running through possibilities.)

  7. I assumed we'd come up with another suffix to template land terrain similarly to landhome and landwalk. Then again, as an ability word...

    Assuming two cycles at common, do we like Deathtouch in blue and red or Intimidate in blue and red?

  8. I like deathtouch for swamp terrain because it can be defensive in blue and offensive in red, where intimidate is just always offensive.

  9. I'd suggest not using Firebreathing for this only because it then wants you to only splash the color needed to play the creature itself and then use Mountains. Same for anything colored mana intensive, really (shades, etc.).

  10. BTW, the last useful thing I did on Multiverse was to standardize the skeletons for each color. As the lead for a given color you can use the one from the Wiki, the one from Multiverse or whatever you like.
    Multiverse Skeleton

  11. I'm all for keeping the land effects for a given color consistent between commons. But with that in mind, I'd also want to make sure those cards play differently. I mean, you don't want Kird Ape and Loam Lion in the same set. That said, Vaportrail Imp and Dodo might be a little close as well. Deathtouch is great for this though.

    Also, are we doing planeswalker tie in cards? If so, at C/Uncommon like M11 or C/Rare like M12?

  12. To make the Terrain cards with standardized bonuses play differently, I think the simplest abilities like haste and flying could be allowed in addition to another keyword.

    I don't want them to feel like a purely mechanical cycle, but rather like they each represent a unique species in the game world.

  13. I mean, I felt Shadowmoor was a world designed too mechanically, with all those cycles. 3/3s with "Can't be blocked by color" in every color. Mimics of different colors all saying "this becomes a huge beater." It's a mathematical solution to make colors matter, but flavor suffers. Not everything has to line up like that.

    You can differentiate two lifelink guys or two deathtouch guys much more if one of the pair has flying. They become much more characterized as creatures.

  14. Oh, I thought you were suggesting a new race for all the creatures with terrain. Like "The Tellerin," Nomads, or Changelings. We should consider that possibility.

    As much as I love cycles, I think you're right that flavor should trump form, at least when it doesn't push overall complexity.

    Duncan, I aim to answer your question in another post.

  15. Oh, you thought I was suggesting a species that adapts to land. That would be interesting! Although it may require some kind of tricky ret-conning with Kird Ape.

  16. Turns out Kird isn't a region, it's a mutation! Or... something. Hmm. Yeah.

  17. That could work, actually!

    Forest Mutation
    Mountain Mutation
    Swamp Mutation
    Plains Mutation
    Island Mutation

    We don't even need to make them mutants, have it be more of a Evolutionary thing than TMNT Ooze thing.

  18. For the terrain you could have a guy that is:

    qwerty (Cant think of a name)



    Terrain- (If you control a plains when qwerty comes into play, you may draw a card?)