Friday, January 13, 2012

CCDD 011312—Sylar's Wrath, Rage & Envy

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/13/2012 - Yesterday's discussion about the viability of the phrase "target planeswalker" on cards hasn't ended in consensus, but it has made concrete in my mind when and how we can use it. We shouldn't use it at common at all if we can avoid it, and definitely not in a core set. We shouldn't use it by itself except at higher rarities and when the flavor absolutely demands it. When we combine it with another type, it has to be clear why that spell can handle both types and the cost of that spell must be appropriate to the versatility granted.

One flavor path I stumbled upon that I'm quite enamored with is the idea of "a planeswalker hunter / serial killer who uses his own spark to hunt and destroy every other 'walker in the multiverse. Maybe one of them burnt down his home town and he believes they are a meddling blight. Maybe he just wants to be the only 'walker. We'll call him Sylar for now. This murderous planeswalker does have magic that can straight-up kill 'walkers and that magic could take card form the same way Garruk's Overrun and Ajani's Lightning Helix do."

I originally got too fancy with this one. It clearly just wants to be an Eradicate that can also hit planeswalkers. While killing all copies makes sense for a planeswalker since it's one person and you only have to kill them once (if killing them is what you're actually doing), it doesn't really make sense for (non-legendary) creatures.

As long as we're playing off Sylar for our new villain, let's see if we can't represent his ability to steal the powers of those he kills.

There are potential memory issues here. You could instead exile your target and put it under your planeswalker, like it had imprint. This is rare partly because it only hits a card type restricted to mythic rarity and partly because it does something much more unique than just destroy them.

One more because I found more art that needed carding:

Did you know you can deal noncombat damage directly to planeswalkers? I had to check the rules because no card has done it yet, but you can do it. The redirect rule was made so that all previous burn spells that could hit players could also hit planeswalkers as you would expect without issuing errata for them all, but sometimes it will make sense for a spell to specifically name planeswalkers as an eligible target for its damage. What's weird about Earthquake and effects that hit all players is that they hit a player or one of her planeswalkers, but not both/all. A card like Sylar's Rage makes it clear that you can hit a player and any number of her 'walkers (provided you can afford it).


  1. I feel like the more flavorful way of doing Sylar's Oath would be to use something fundamental to each planeswalker - their subtype. I don't know the perfect way of wording it, but here goes:

    Warding Measure 1W
    When ~ comes into play name a planeswalker subtype.
    Planeswalkers with that subtype can't be played.

    From the "planeswalker serial killer" perspective, I think the story is much more interesting if he steals/collects their sparks (damning them to their current plane, Ob-style) rather than killing them outright.

  2. nice top down junk

    another way they could have done the work around for planeswalker damage would be to change the word player to planeswalker

    3 damage to target creature or planeswalker

    since planeswalker cards don't have hands some tricks like 'target planeswalker discards a card' should sound awkward but be not illegal/impossible

    and it'd be cool if some planeswalkers had their own hands/libraries

    riffing off Pasteur- note planeswalkers can have more than one subtype so a team-up can be evoked flavorfully but putting two together

    Justice League [mc]
    planeswalker - batman superman wonder-woman

  3. Sylar is a much better basis of a planeswalker character for Goblin Artisan's M13 than Wyeth. A planeswalker who likes to steal powers has a clear flavor identity as well as a mechanical identity. Maybe we should merge the two.

    I can't picture why a planeswalker would continue to act as Pirate, limiting himself only to the sea and ambushing mere merchant ships, instead of moving on to bigger heists. (Unless we can invent some water setting that has big stakes and big adversaries where that actually makes sense, which would also be interesting but hard to communicate in a core set.)

  4. I was wondering about the potential to use Sylar for M13 myself, but the fact that he's main shtick is hunting other 'walkers makes me think he'll be better saved for an expert expansion.
    A pirate doesn't have to be on the sea to be a pirate. Steampunk has air pirates and Sci Fi has space pirates. Wyeth can be a planar pirate.

  5. What does a planar pirate do though? Are there interplanar travellers? (Other than Planeswalkers, because waylaying Planeswalkers would just make him Sylar or a duelist.)

    If the Consortium actually sends lots of convoys across planes and there's some force that waylays them, that might be ok.

  6. Wyeth wasn't born a planeswalker, right? Being a pirate can still be part of his identity, even after he begins walking to other planes. Isn't the equal lust for adventure and treasure a part of the pirate mythos?
    (As opposed to real-life modern pirates, which could be considered more of an economic inevitability or stationary bandits.)

    What I mean to say is that he doesn't need to necessarily intercept travelers between the planes, but could just raid individual worlds in sequence, or go on complex treasure hunts, or just generally be a salty, swarthy cutthroat.

    While there's a lot to say about Sylar, to me he doesn't seem like a good pitch for the core-set (or at least, to start out there.) I also have to wonder - how could you ever cast him? Why would he come to your aid, if he hates all planeswalkers? Even though you could express that tension through abilities that damage you or cost both players, I still feel like there's a disconnect.

  7. You can take a pirate out of the sea, but you can't take the sea out a pirate. I agree with Pasteur. Blackboot doesn't need a ship to be a pirate. He can hunt treasure across the multiverse and summon his crew to his side at will. Hell, he could give up all forms of pirating, and he'd still be a pirate at his core.

    Good point that Sylar might not be card-able. Why would he come to your aid? The only reason I can think is the same scheme our namesake used in the series, making other heroes think he was going to help only to kill them instead. But how would you put that in a card? A card that players would still want to play? Not all characters need PW or even legendary creature cards, they can exist via the spells they bring to the table and/or the story on them.

  8. I can understand a character having a former job as part of the things that define his identity, but you would still need a strong identity on what the character is now.

    When I say Sylar I mean taking inspiration from the character, not using the actual character from the TV show. The character we make doesn't have to be hellbent on destroying all planeswalkers. Maybe he just wants to establish rule with a clique of powerful planeswalkers and remove all other planeswalkers out of the way for that purpose. Or maybe he just likes stealing abilities for himself, but doesn't care about destroying other planeswalkers. Whatever we choose, it would be a strong identity that can be reflected on the card's mechanics.

  9. What's really weird about Sylar's Rage is that you can use it to deal 4 damage to a planeswalker.

  10. Ugh. You're right, Havelock. This is the wonky crap that happens when people puts hacks in their code/game.

    Good point, Chah. Sylar was one model for a planeswalker who kills other 'walkers and he shouldn't be a card (but could be named on cards), but that doesn't prevent us from making a 'walker that is printable who only kills some 'walkers. Could be a bounty hunter, a righteous avenger or even Garruk.

  11. We were just discussing a few days ago the prospect of spells that can deal damage to multiple planeswalkers controlled by the same player, over on Multiverse at Siphoning Sootcloud. That card has a good reason for saying "any number of target creatures, players, and planeswalkers", and as a bonus it's not vulnerable to the hack HavelockV points out (because it already allows free division).

    I do love the concept of Sylar in the M:tG multiverse. It feels like if there were a planeswalker card for him, it would have to have abilities that harm you as well as the opponent, or something like an ETB or LTB trigger to make you lose life or something (although triggered abilities on planeswalkers are very dubious design at the moment).

  12. Also, lots of current planeswalkers can kill other planeswalkers. Ajani Vengeant, all three Chandras, Karn, Nicol Bolas, Sarkhan the Mad, Sorin, and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas can all either destroy them directly or do damage to the face. Even Gideon can attack other planeswalkers. So I don't feel like there's really a flavor gap for "planeswalkers fighting each other", since we can already do things like, "Chandra burns Liliana for 1, then Sorin finishes her off."

  13. Yeah, the story behind a walker-hunter is cool, but as a PW card for that character would be too narrow and not entirely unique. What the addition of that character to the story gives us is the ability to print non-PW spells that answer PWs, which I believe is vital.