Monday, October 10, 2011

CCDD 101011—Excitable Elves & Trista the Eager

Cool Card Design of the Day
10/10/2011 - Cards like Squadron Hawk and the slightly less impressive Llanowar Sentinel are interesting. It's not just the card advantage, but the fact that they interact with an aspect of deck-building that most cards don't. Each instance of these cards cares how many more copies you have in your deck. Legends do too, but these wacky cards reward you for having more of them rather than punishing you for having too many.

How else can we play with this concept?

Trista doesn't need to be legendary (and probably shouldn't be), but it felt right since you'll probably only ever cast one copy. A 1/1 for one isn't blowing down any doors, but that's not the point. She thins your deck and almost guarantees you'll have a one-drop without clogging your hand later in the game with more one drops. In retrospect, I hadn't accounted for the situation in which you draw two of these in your opening hand. Sad panda.

Here's another take:

I'm not going to lie; I'm not designing for constructed here. Trista didn't stand a chance in that realm, and the Elves have a weak bid. That's okay, I'm setting up limited Timmies to draft multiple copies. Like, more than four, even. Since the card is common and absolutely terrible on its own, it will be ignored by most players, allowing one risk-taking players to nab all of them, and get quite the deal, potentially.


  1. Would Trista be better served with "Grandeur - Draw a card"? Different approach, similar but not the same.

    Elves is a 4/4 for 2G (in context) in constructed. Plausible.

  2. While I would never say this is a fruitless arena to examine, the concept of deck-thinning is something that I feel shouldn't really be emphasized in Magic, as it's one of these Spike-oriented statistical concepts that simply isn't exciting.

    To put it another way, the idea of a card that you put into your deck just so you can NOT HAVE IT IN THE DECK would seem strongly opposed to the ideal nature of the game, especially if the design isn't distinctly aimed at satisfying the most Spike of Spikes.

    Certainly Mana Severance, Selective Memory, and Thought Gorger explore similar territory, but again, you put them into your deck to play them and ultimately not play other cards, operating under certain risk/reward principles that aren't really present here.

  3. Metaghost has a good point, I think it's conceptually very interesting design space to explore, but perhaps wise not to stress it. I do like your designs.

    And I don't know -- maybe they'd find a home in a constructed deck? Would a green beatdown deck play 1/1s if they were likley to play it on turn 1? Maybe not, but surely it's possible if it gives them a 57 card deck? Maybe...

    It reminds me a bit of my joke card on the subject:

    "This gets +1/+1 for each card in your sideboard called ~" (with some templating tweaks, although it's still obviously unprintable.) That sounded totally ridiculous, which is why I thought it was funny, but it's using a resource not used much: it's not bad in limited, if you can grab several copies late when you didn't have anything good to play anyway, and then you just have to decide how many to play. And it's terrible in constructed because you don't want to waste sideboard slots on it, but would be good for casual players who don't know what to sideboard anyway, or people who count their whole collection as their sideboard :)