Tuesday, December 27, 2011

M13 Show a Little Class

Since the primary subtheme of Magic 2013 is multicolor without gold cards, it makes sense to find some way to support or reward players for playing two color decks other than Bond cards. So we're replacing the standard gammut of race lords (Elvish Archdruid et al) with class lords that can benefit creatures of multiple colors.

Soldiers will be the Wu class. That is, they'll be primary in white and secondary in blue. Tactical Captain is one of the two designs we're considering for this slot. The other is a 1/1 for W whose only ability is "Other Soldier creatures you control get +1/+1." Not very fancy, but very very strong for the Soldier tribal player.

Wizards are Ub. Blue will have a lot of wizards and black will have a few. We very deliberately chose classes that appear in these colors at these frequencies naturally. Highlord Conjurer is our main pick for the Wizard lord. There's another version that allows all of your Wizards to tap to create an even bigger and more resilient Illusion.

Rogues are Br. I'm pretty happy with Master of Deception. We could take a page from Oona's Blackguard, but why hurt casual/Modern rogue players chance at a variety of lords and synergistic effects?

Warriors are Rg. This is the simpler / more standard implementation. The other we're considering does away with trample but has "Whenever another Warrior creature you control dies, put a +1/+1 counter on Vengeful Warlord."

Finally, Scouts are Gw. There's some discussion whether Redwood Ranger's ability should be free or if it should require a mana payment (in which case we'd remove the word 'another' so you could cantrip her too).

What do you think? Can a core set survive without Goblin Chieftain? Are these the wrong classes to feature? Remember that we're not planning to hit this sub-theme hard, it's still just a core set. But people like to have build-around-me cards and it's not hard to argue that these classes are as iconic to Fantasy as elves and goblins.


  1. I love the idea of making the "build-around-me" tribes all class types. I think these are good ones to use, too. Using more Rogues in red is something I've thought of for a while and I'm glad to see it here, too.

    I'm not sure I like the Master of Deception, though, since he seems awfully boring compared to the others, but so does Goblin Chieftain now that I think about it. If I were to suggest an alternative, I guess it would be something similar to Night Dealings, where damage dealt by Rogues to your opponents collects theft counters to be turned into tutored cards, or drawn cards, or something else that feels like "stolen loot."

    I prefer the Vengeful Warlord idea over the current Bloodmad Warlord, but again it's not necessarily bad for one or two of the lords to follow the simple "+1/+1 and ability" model.

  2. I'm of two minds about this.

    One side says (1) awesome way to reinforce the multicolour without gold cards theme, (2) great cycle, (3) love that they are all human ... great synergies with Innistrad while it's around.

    The other side says this is tooooo wrong and we should go with more traditional, non-human lords, and this means we need to stay away from centering them on the Innistrad tribe colours or else it will look too asymmetrical.

    Just brainstorming here, I'm curious is it even possible to play up 2 colour tribes sticking with the more traditional tribes?

    Zombies - Bu would be ok but Innistrad-ish
    Elf - Gw would be totally fine
    Vampire - Br or even Rb would be good but even more Innistrad-ish than the zombies
    Goblin - Rb works, Rg would be a stretch but doable
    Beast - Gr works
    Spirits - Wu works but Innistrad-ish
    Illusions - Ub is the only 2 colour combo that could work and it would be a little odd
    Soldier - Wx works
    Merfolk - Ug or even Uw could work here

    I'm sure I've missed some and some of the above are weird but can we come up with a full set of non-human lords that work to give some off colour support to?

    Here's one try:

    Wu Spirits, Ub Illusions, Br Goblin, Rg Beast, Gw Elf


    Wg Soldier, Gr Beast, Rb Goblin, Bu Zombie, Uw Merfolk

    I think I like this last version the best.

  3. I like how in core sets, Tribal Lords can occasionally present an infrequent draft archetype, as well as be a cornerstone for a beginner to try to build a deck around.

    The main problem I see with this (if we want to try and emulate WotC) is that it will use up a theme that a future core set might want to use to establish its identity.

    In fact, that's one of the drawbacks of doing anything related to multicolor in a core set - multicolor is a very popular and very flashy theme, and doing it too often would take away its specialness. At first I felt it should be reserved for expert sets that can give it the full treatment.

    Now I feel that Bond without any true multicolor cards in the set is different enough from traditional multicolor and has its own strengths. It's a level of multicolor-ness that expert sets are not likely to do, so there's certain value in doing it here.

    Because we are already using up this resource, we shouldn't also use up "light tribal."

    I understand that it's a very light subtheme, and most drafts won't revolve around these class lords. However, just having class-based lords instead of race-based lords will be something memorable, and will take away from future sets that want to do that.

    All of this only applies for real sets. Since there's no guarantee that there will be a Goblin Artisan's M14, if we don't care about emulating WotC, we might as well try out all of our ideas as long as it doesn't flood the set.

    I'd like to point out that this won't actually encourage 2-color decks, because in drafts you are not going to get mono-tribal decks anyways. There is no reason for a player drafting a tribal deck to not dip into another color for a flyer or a removal.

    I also feel that this set already encourages allied color pairs enough, so extra themes should be used to give enemy color decks something they're good at, although at the moment I can only think of UR Wizards and BW Knights/Clerics in terms of classes.

    Finally, if we could move our Konda's Banner variant to Uncommon, it could be the source of an occasional tribal brew in draft, just like a single Uncommon like Burning Vengeance can create an archetype. It would support all tribes, and it would be less fragile than a creature based tribal incentive.

  4. Chah, the problem with doing enemy-color tribal is that a core-set should be encouraging allied colors. A fundamental part of Magic is realizing some colors have more synergy than others (are 'allied'), and while all colors work together, they still oppose each other in how they do this ('enemy').

    Reinforcing ally colors is an important part of the 'introduction to multicolor', as it were, and would help a new player understand "Why do these two colors always show up together?" If you were to do enemy-color tribal, it'd have to be very subtle, or only at the higher rarities (to make it seem 'special-er'.)

    Just my thoughts.

    Also, I am glad Gw is Scouts - I've always wondered why Scouts don't get focused on more in white. Personal suggestion: it seems like Scouts want tapping abilities and cantrips, but mostly "Search your library for a land" and various types of Landwalk.

  5. I think Chah makes a lot of good points. I also have to wonder whether or not this pushes the allied-colors clockwise?

    I also have to question, as usual, whether we gain a lot by making this a five-color cycle? I do think having lords which individually reflect some of the subthemes of our set is an option over this cycle. (Red coin-flips, green basic-land-play, possibly White-attacking [since this is a common trigger in white]?)

    I don't see using tribal in this way as good progress for reading the board or deckbuilding, but maybe that complexity just won't come up?

    I don't think enemy-color tribal is the way to go either; but I think Chah's points still stand.

  6. We're talking about five cards. Five rares. It won't come up in Limited terribly often. You're right that it will make a bigger mental impact though as the difference will stand out like a sore thumb.

    As for stealing future theme, (1) class lords have already been done once before in Shadowmoor/Eventide and (2) seeding is a long and important tradition in Magic. Steel Overseer was printed in M11 to seed Scars of Mirrodin. Back when core sets were strictly reprints, they printed cards in expert sets just so they could reprint them in core sets. These cards might seed a future set too.

  7. I'm all for class based heroes. That said, this is a core set. We should be looking for reprints wherever and whenever possible while still feeling fresh.

    There's no reason to reinvent the wheel on all of these. Field Marshal or Captain of the Watch, for example, are great tribal lords and have seen core set time.

    G/W seems like a great time to reprint Greatbow Doyen. Especially if your GW bond is going to be Sunblessed Archer.

    Sage of Fables could come back in blue, even at Rare. It's certainly complicated enough for Rare, and it's got a neat ability.

    Rogues need a new one.

    Warriors do too, although I don't like trample on little guys. I'd aim for a Captain of the Watch style fatty.

  8. I like very much this little cycle of class lords. I just can't understand how a Soldier can be Blue. Oh, and I want Pirates for Ub!

  9. Reprinting Class Lords instead of Race Lords isn't a problem for the set, but if there's any chance of doing that as a future core set theme, I imagine WotC wouldn't do it here.

    Kird Ape and Sedge Troll seeded our set. But if there was a precedence of a core set with a cycle of Kird Apes in every color, it would make GA M13 feel less special, even if that one cycle wasn't enough to affect how that set played at all.

    A core set that wants to do class tribal will still approach it lightly and probably only have a cycle for Rares (Maybe with support at common and uncommon) so doing a whole cycle in M13 will detract from that. It's not like printing a single Knight lord or Soldier lord as they did in core sets before.

    I imagine that if this was WotC we'd be looking for additional cool things for the set to be remembered by, but it would be something modular like a cycle of cool spells like Commands or Titans, or a limited subtheme like Auras or Mill or Illusions that's only in a few colors.

    I do think we can say "what the heck" and do a cycle of Class Lords anyways, if we want to. It won't be overloading the set or making it inconsistent. It might be a good experiment.

    If we decide to do it, I think Duncan's reprint suggestions are awesome, especially the Archer.

    Doing Pirates for UB is neat. The Wizard class feels more like UR. Although there aren't many Pirate cards in print, it's possible to give a single tribe some more support than usual, like Soldiers in M10 and Illusions in M12.

  10. I agree we should use reprints where possible. If we go the primary classes route, I'd use Field Marshal or Captain of the Watch.

    If we're going to use an Archer or Pirate lord, I think all the class lords we do have to be obscure classes or we're implying that Magic will be promoting Pirates to a major class type (like they did with Vampires recently).

  11. I think we need to reframe this conversation. Traditional Race Lords promote single color decks or decks with very small second color splashes. Outside dedicated Tribal sets, Iconic races (like goblins, zombies and elves) are bound to one color. But classes are not. Even in non-tribal sets, classes have wider ranges of color interaction. That’s why I originally suggested Class Lords. And I would clarify Jay that we’re not promoting specific two color class combos. This isn’t a tribal set. Or Innistrad. Those colors will naturally have creatures with the supported class. There are a lot of Rogues in Blue, for example. There are blue Soldiers in non-tribal sets (like Maritime Guard in M11.) And we’ve got Scouts in Red, Green and White already in the M13 Master List. Since it’s not a Tribal set, we don’t need to support these Lords by building creatures for them. We can be much more hands off about it. Mindful, but not overly calculating.

    Chah’s “save it for later to keep it special” comment is the wrong way to go about this. Maro talks all the time about how “now” trumps “later” in design. He wanted to do colored artifacts in Phyrexia, but Esper needed them first. And the philosophy was “we’ll figure something out for Phyrexia when we get to it.” We should do Class Lords now because they don’t conflict with the central message of our set the way Race Lords do.

  12. The only Lords we would really be able to reprint for this plan are Adaptive Automaton, Captain of the Watch, Greatbow Doyen, and Knight Exemplar. Every other Lord you’re thinking of won’t work for one on many possible reasons. It doesn’t give creatures +1/+1. It lacks the “you control” clause modern Lord design requires. It’s Legendary. It boosts Races rather than Classes. It has a keyword or something that doesn’t get printed in Core Sets.

  13. "If we're going to use an Archer or Pirate lord, I think all the class lords we do have to be obscure classes or we're implying that Magic will be promoting Pirates to a major class type"

    Disagree, see Knight Exemplar. Sure, there may be more archers in the next few sets, but as long as there are more than 3 archers in all of M13, Great Bow Doyen going to be more supported than Exemplar. Gilt-Leaf Archdruid could be another choice, although I'm not as much of a fan of Druids in White. I don't think +1/+1 is necessary, but it is nice.

  14. Nich, MaRo also talks about conserving design resources.

    When they do take something from a future set, it's only when it's something crucial for a current set. They won't take away a central component from a future set in order to add a secondary element to the current set.

    I don't think Race Lords would conflict with the set, even if they promoted mono colored play. Not every card in a core set should nudge players in the same direction. We already have a Mountainfall creature creating mono-color. Also, many Bond creatures like Elephants don't fit in a Class deck. But those are not problems, right?

    Jay, it's true we don't want Pirates to be seen as a major tribe. But they did have an Illusions lord appear with Goblin lords, and they didn't print Illusions in Innistrad. So maybe its ok.

  15. I mean within the game of Magic as a whole, as opposed to the set. While there were only 3 knights in 2011 aside from Knight Exemplar. There are 161 knights in the game where there are only 17 pirates (and 71 illusions). Printing 3 pirates other than the lord in 2013 will suffice for the pirate-build-around-me in limited, but it's a tease for casual gamers (either that we will be printing more or else here's a lord that we have on intend to support--haha!)

  16. That makes sense. We shouldn't make a Pirate lord with no plans for the deck to have enough members.

    However, I think most Illusion decks are entirely composed of Illusions from M11 and M12. At least it's not impossible to support a deck with Pirates, not that I'm pushing for it.