Tuesday, December 27, 2011

M13 Common Bonds

This last week or two the team made a number of Bond cards to explore the new common schema. You'll recall that we're happy with Island bond granting flying and Forest bond granting +1/+2, but we wanted to put another P/T bonus in another color and try to get deathtouch out of the equation. We made a number of different cards with Mountain bond granting +2/+0, Swamp bond lifelink or intimidate and Plains bond vigilance or first strike. These are my favorites so far.

Mountain Bond (+2/+0)
While not aesthetically symmetrical to +1/+2, +2/+0 is about equal in power level and ultimately more natural a bonus for black or red (Unholy Strength excepted). Ultimately, it made more sense to put this in red because red has the fewest good options for keywords, and having forests and mountains next to each other will make a brutal synergy that feels very red-green.

Swamp bond (intimidate)
Several of us had concerns about intimidate as a bond ability because it's another form of evasion and so isn't terribly impressive next to flying. There was also some concern about people confusing how it works on blue and red cards. Lifelink was a stinker. It looks good on black cards, but the blue and red cards we tried with swamp bond = lifelink were terrible and made no sense. We then tried intimidate just to see how it looks and, well, I love it. It makes sense thematically and mechanically. As far as it being too similar to flying, yes they're both evasion, but they work completely differently. It actually feels great that you can make a blue-black deck with multiple kinds of evasion.

Plains bond (first strike)
I liked lifelink as the plains bond ability, but we did our due diligence and explored the alternatives. Vigilance worked well in flavor and appearance, but generally exists only on terrible cards or oppressive cards. First strike seems to fit rather well as you can see here and is definitely more normal for core set common than lifelink.

Unless the majority feels otherwise, these are probably the bonds and cards I'm going to add to the file.


  1. The cards all look good! Clean and simple commons.

    I have a bit of an objection to including the basic land type in the italicized pseudo-keyword text, but that's a templating complaint rather than a design issue.

  2. I'm perfectly happy with the mechanic choices, but I'd like a bit more differentiation between the cards, and I don't want Sunblessed Archer and Cylian Elf both at common. As for intimidate, I prefer Bloodchild as one drop 1/1 to present some different clocks in the format.

  3. I was leaning toward the R 1/1 swamp=intimidate guy, but we have so many X/1s in red and so few X/2s that I think Bloodchild just fits better.

    Agreed we'd have to replace Cylian Elf if Sunblessed Archer is the green plains bond card we run with.

  4. I'm happy with most of these mechanics, but I miss the deathtouch. Did it actually prove to be problematic? I kind of liked the red "must attack" creature with deathtouch.

    Lots of sets have 2 deathtouch commons, and in our set the red one didn't really count as a defensive deathtoucher.

    Too many small guys like Typhoid Rats, Ambush Viper, and Deadly Recluse in the same set might be problematic, because they make fatties bad, but I don't think it's a problem if there's one small deathtoucher, one that doesn't block, and one that's a 4-drop flyer.

    A 3U 2/3 flyer that gains deathtouch would attack past Spiders, be good in a UB deck with Grave Diggers, yet it wouldn't be too advantageous when it trades with a 5 or 6-drop fatty. I liked how all of the deathtouchers are very different in that way.

  5. That said, I also like the idea of lots of different types of evasion existing, rather than lots of flyers canceling each other out. The Pirate ship is distinct in that it can also block. Maybe we can put "must attack" on the red one, as a 1R 2/3, to make them even more distinct? (Although i don't think it's quite as cool as the deathtouch version.)

    It would be nice to have some artifact blockers... Although we only have one common artifact slot.

    I think the Archer can be a 3/1 for 2G that gains first strike. Big-butt elephants & crabs can stop these. Evasive guys can get past those elephants & crabs. And the Archers can be more efficient early beaters than the evasive guys. Hopefully, they can all face off in a rock-paper-scissors battle!

  6. I haven't done a draft or sealed yet, to know if deathtouch is a problem in practice. I do like the cards we made with them, but I don't know that I like them better than the intimidate versions. We could test both ways.

    If it's not too good in practice, I can get behind a 3/1 2G archer that gains first strike via plains.

  7. I feel like the bond cards should have abilities that are used more commonly on their color. For example: Lifelink on island bond, so black and white cards both get it. Hexproof would work on plains, and intimidate on mountains. I still like +1/+2 on forests for the Kird Ape/Loam Lion reason. Not sure of what to do with swamps...