Sunday, December 25, 2011

Nature's Fighters

With the new evergreen term "fight" that was introduced in Innistrad, Green gains a lot of potential to be able to battle creature threats and obstacles in a Green way.

Here, I designed some Green fighting creatures.

This was inspired by Eager Brute by Pasteur.

While the card works a lot like Unyaro Bee Sting, it does benefit from being a creature since it can sometimes survive and attack. It could also work with creature pumping effects like Gaea's Anthem or Primal Forcemage.

It would also be interesting to have a version that has the ability "G: this gets +1/+1 until end of turn" although it's rare for Green to get that ability nowadays. (While Unyaro Bees' pumping ability was an homage to older designs, Timbermaw Larva arguably did have a similar ability.)

This card pushes the color pie somewhat. I don't like the idea of Green getting a strictly worse direct damage spell like Unyaro Bee Sting or Hornet Sting to show that Green is worse than Red at damage spells. It should get an ability that plays differently, such as Black's drain spells or White's "ranged damage" effects (dealing damage to an attacking or blocking creature.)

While I don't think this card ultimately breaks the color pie because it has a Green flavor and it only does things that an Artifact can do at this mana range (both in terms of flying and direct damage), it would be sad if it's only justified because of inefficient cost.

I tried to see if I could justify a Green flyer at a lower cost by making it more belligerent (and thus likely to die.)

I thought of making it cost GG, but realized that against a deck with many small creatures (like an Elf combo deck), this bee would be like a Green delayed Arc Trail that also gets to attack sometimes, which might be too good.

I do think that a cheap flyer might somehow be justified in Green through having a short life span. Not because of a countdown timer like Fading, but rather because it keeps getting into fights with other creatures. That would be a niche that's not occupied by other colors' flyers.

But I also think this would be more Green if the caster didn't have so much control over dealing damage. Prey Upon is very Green, because you need to provide the creature yourself. When a fight spell comes with a body attached it's too similar to direct damage.

I thought the fight effect would feel more like a combat encounter between creatures if it was like this:

I think this card feels like a bee. Bees attack whatever violates their hive. They sting something once and then die.

The fact that it eventually dies fighting another creature, rather than continually hitting the opponent through the air until blocked or removed, arguably makes it different from Blue or White's flyers.

I like the fact that it makes you want to play Giant Growths and Auras. In fact, it might even be slightly oppressive in Limited when it gets an Aura on it. But the opponent can attack back with multiple creatures.

The next card is a rare that makes these guardian bees:

This is like Master of the Wild Hunt, except less oppressive. Your opponent has to try and attack you every turn so s/he can squash a bee and keep the population down. Otherwise, s/he will quickly be buried under a swarm of bees.

The wording of the second part is somewhat weird and could use some massaging. I wanted a straight up "Whenever a creature an opponent controls attacks, each bee you control fights it." But that would create a lot of unnecessary triggers if you have many bees and the opponent attacks with many creatures. I wish the term fight could be tweaked to handle fighting multiple creatures at once (such as the victim of a Master of the Wild Hunt does), but that would be tricky.

I hope you enjoyed this, and I would like to know if you think this fits Green or not.


  1. I like the idea, but I would be looking for ways to break it. Deathtouch is a start...

  2. Really interesting stuff here Chah! I like the idea of green getting temporary fliers, and the one sting thing on Guardian is awesome. Your point about the danger of Fight with a body attached is an important one (as we've been seeing with Rancorous Hydra), and definitely something to be aware of.
    You've explored the battlefield and attacking you as lines for the bees' territory, but the one other thing that immediately jumps out to me is targeting. Since Avoid Fate, green's been protecting it's own stuff from targeted effects. Admittedly, it's harder to make work, and doesn't put as consistent a cap on the bee's life, but I could see a couple of options:
    "Whenever a permanent you control becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, ~ fights target creature that player controls."
    "Whenever a permanent you control becomes the target of an ability from a creature source, ~ fights that creature."

  3. I'm not a fan of flying in green at all and justifying it with "but it'll die quickly" does nothing for me. That said, I love the Unyaro Bees callback (which I loved because of the Killer Bees callback).

    To the untrained eye, Guardian of Unyaro looks like it might as well just be "must block if able" but the ability it actually has works very differently. First you attack with it, then your opponent swings back, and the tapped bee deals 2 damage to her entire team. Provided she's aware that's how it works, she can just attack with a 1/1 and trade or a 3/3 and overrun your bee.

    If we use the clunkier wording from Beekeeper it works more as expected: like it has vigilance and "must block if able" but that block happens before anything else. (Still weird)

    Along similar lines:

    Bee Colony 2G
    Whenever a creature attacks you, ~ deals 1 damage to it. [If it has flying, ~ deals 2 damage instead.]

  4. I think Bees are the smart way to reintroduce flying into Green in a meaningful and flavorful way where it feels necessary rather than arbitrary. They are small, tied to growth and vibrancy (pollination), and live in hives in wild untamed places. Insect is also a frequent Green creature type. Fight provides a strong flavor connection to help them feel like bees. It locks the resonance in. I have two notes. Don’t forget to include the fight reminder text in your designs. “Each deals damage equal to its power to the other” needs to be included to see how busy the card looks. We want these to be quick reads that clearly confirm the idea the player already gets initially from the resonant concept about what they’ll do. Second, with the attack trigger one, it needs to be clear that the it can only fight a creature if the Bee’s still on the battlefield. If five creatures attack and the first one kills it in combat, the other triggers won’t produce any damage trades.

    Switching gears, Here’s a suggestion similar to Territorial Hornets:

    Unyaro Drone
    Creature – Insect Drone
    Whenever Unyaro Drone or another Insect Drone enters the battlefield, Unyaro Drone fights target creature you don’t control. (Each deals damage equal to its power to the other.)

    We can make all the bees in the set Insect Drones so that, like the Eldrazi tokens, they are easy to manage.

    I don’t know yet how to keep the attack trigger “fights an attacking creature” from feeling like “vigilance, can block any attacker and must block if able” but am looking forward to continued exploration of this concept.