Thursday, January 5, 2012

M13 White Removal

I've been talking a lot about removal lately. I guess I've got removal on the brain. Let's call it Removal Theme, uh, Fortnight. Today I want to talk about white's removal and specifically in the context of M13. There are a few key phrases I want to see on white's removal when all is said and done: "target attacking creature," "target nonwhite creature," "target permanent," "exile," "destroy" or "enchant," and "on top of its owner's library." Some of these serve a specific role and some serve any role. I'll explain each role that needs filling and the options for them.

White more than any other color is about defense and has access to a hefty array of spells that work specifically on defense. Rebuke is the cleanest example I could find and it would be a slam-dunk choice for this role if it weren't just printed in Innistrad. Prey Upon is proof that it's not only okay but occasionally imperative for a core set to reprint cards from the last block, but we don't want to use too many recent cards or the set will look too samey (whether it plays that way or not).

Divine Verdict is nearly as simple and filled this role in M10. It's absolutely reprintable but we also need to find a range of costs that allow white to defend itself from an early aggressive creature like Kird Ape and based on our other needs, this slot may need to be our cheapest.

Condemn fits that bill perfectly because it kills attackers and is dirt cheap. Unlike the last two, Condemn is strictly uncommon and that's fine (it worked in M11), but we also need to serve all of our roles with two common slots and two uncommon slots and I was hoping this could be common. I'm aware this hope and the last (keeping it cheap) are at odds.

Finally, there's Exile, which would fulfill the defense role as well as our "exile" and "nonwhite" requirements with some bonus life gain. It was printed as a common in Masters Edition but was a rare before then. Comparing it to the above items, I suspect common is doable. It would eat a few complexity points compared to Rebuke, but it may be worthwhile depending on our other choices.

Nonland Removal
I'm not a huge fan of this face, but white can handle every permanent type except land. Artifact and enchantment removal is important for all formats, but planeswalker removal is vital for constructed as we learned the hard way last year. We've got Solemn Offering to handle the first two, but we need something to answer the third. There's a popular sentiment against cards that specifically answer planeswalkers, so we need something that removes more than just 'walkers. Oblivion Ring has been the go-to card here for several years, but there's at least one more existing option: Faith's Fetters.

It doesn't handle static or triggered abilities that are common among artifacts and enchantments, but Faith's Fetters does handle activated abilities (on top of its Pacifism effect) making it relevant against all planeswalkers, most creatures, many artifacts and enchantments, and even a few quirky lands. Ultimately, we'll choose whichever supports the best set of four removal, but I'm leaning toward Fetters because it's different, well-loved and also serves a lifegain subtheme we're considering. Though it was originally common, it would need to be uncommon in a core set because of how texty it is (much like O-Ring).

We could also make a brand new card to fill this role. We could make a sorcery that destroys an artifact, enchantment or planeswalker permanently but there's a small visceral cost to explicitly using the word "planeswalker" and it might be too awkward to write "nonland, noncreature permanent." We could try making something new for this role that uses "nonwhite" but if the format is depending on good white planeswalker removal and that card makes an exception for Elspeth, Knight-Errant, then we're just asking her to run rough-shod over the metagame.

Excommunicate is relatively new to white's color pie, but a solid and welcome addition. White is one of the more likely colors to win a game through tempo. It's also a reasonable place for stalling which is next best use of this card. This role is somewhat optional, so it's okay if it only gets partially filled or even ignored.

What alternatives do we have? Right now, the M13 file has a card named Reproof which is identical except that it targets any nonland permanent rather than just creatures for 3W. As far as I can tell, it's different for different's sake since the set isn't otherwise hurting for multi-permanent answers. That's not a terrible thing since Magic is all about reinventing itself, but I wonder if Reproof is still worth it at 4 mana. Then again, we are in need of more marginal cards.

I'm also wondering if we can't marry Excommunicate with "target attacker" and make 1W instant "Put target attacking creature on top of its owner’s library." That seems reasonable at face value: It's Excommunicate with an in-color targeting restriction so the cost seems about right. What's dangerous is that it serves a very different role. This card can really only be used to blunt an offensive by negating one or two attacks, and eating a full turn of development in both mana and card draw. Huh. That still sounds pretty good. Time Walk-ish even. What I was about to say is that it can't be used on the offensive the way its predecessor is—exactly what you would expect from a defensive spell. I wouldn't name this Banish for flavor reasons, but let's use that label for now just to refer to this spell later on.

Point Removal
The final role is being able to deal with a creature wherever it is on the board. At common, this has usually been Pacifism. In order to handle trickier creatures, it's sometimes Arrest or Journey to Nowhere. At uncommon, we're talking Path to Exile or Crib Swap (neither of which are terribly appropriate for a core set). It may not be an option, but I'd like to get away from Pacifism for a while if possible since it's been used in the last three core sets and because it's such an efficient answer to almost anything. The fact that it doesn't completely neutralize certain creatures and that it can be reversed with something as standard as Naturalize do it make it fair but I'd like to explore something either less efficient and more effective like Arrest or something less universal like Judge Soul. "Exile target nonwhite creature" is very elegant and very much in white's color philosophy. I suspect a spell like that would cost WW as a sorcery or 2W as an instant, but I wouldn't be shocked if it were more like 2W and 1WW respectively.

There aren't just a whole lot of other options in this realm. Iona's Judgment or a simplified Gaze of Justice are about all I'd consider. I'm inclined to try out Judge Soul, but if there's a better overall configuration that doesn't include it, that need trumps introducing something new.

Putting it all together
Let's try to put together some removal packages and see what group looks best for the set overall.

A. We'll start with Rebuke. That's a common defense card and it's presence excludes other common 3-mana removal—Arrest, Excommunicate and instant speed Judge Soul. As a side note, I believe Judge Soul could be common, but I'm not sure. It's very comparable to the common Doom Blade, but shifting the color and trading 'destroy' for 'exile' could easily have unexpected consequences in a ~1000 card Standard environment. It might be safer to print it at uncommon and let another set promote it after it's proven reasonable.

The only remaining tempo spell is Reproof and now we've used all our common slots. At uncommon, we can grab Faith's Fetters to deal with 'walkers and Judge Soul for nonwhite point removal. We'll use the sorcery speed version to round out the mana distribution. In summary:
Rebuke 2W (c), Excommunicate 2W (c), Judge Soul WW (u) and Faith's Fetters 3W (u).

B. Not bad. Can we beat it? Let's start the next batch with Banish. That covers our defense role and most of our tempo role. We could grab something like Vanquish to fill out the offensive tempo side of things. We've used a 1W common and 2W uncommon so far. Our other common shouldn't cost 2, so let's try Arrest or Judge Soul. Our uncommon would ideally not be 3cc, so let's take Faith's Fetters over O-Ring again. If we're using Fetters, we don't want Arrest so our total package is:
Banish 1W (c) Judge Soul 2W (c) Vanquish 2W (u) Faith's Fetters 3W (u)

C. Let's build around Oblivion Ring. If we pair it with Condemn, we've used our uncommon slots for the nonland and defense roles. We take Excommunicate for Tempo leaving us searching for common point removal that doesn't cost 3, preferably 2 since that is a hole in our curve. Sounds like sorcery speed Judge Soul.
Judge Soul WW (c) Excommunicate 2W (c) Condemn W (u) Oblivion Ring 2W (u)

C'. If we don't want to risk 2cc Judge Soul at common, it could also be Pacifism, but that leaves our package missing 'non-white'. Perhaps we tweak Excommunicate toward Reproof? 2w Sorcery "Put target non-white permanent on top of it's owner's library." Call it, uh, Reproach.
Pacifism 1W (c) Reproach 2W (c) Condemn W (u) Oblivion Ring 2W (u)

D. I almost forgot about Exile. Since this one card hits so many of our requirements by itself, it should open up some room for creativity in the other slots. Let's see. If we treat it as an uncommon, it fills Condemn's defensive role and O-Ring's mana slot, so let's pair it with Faith's Fetters. We still need a tempo card—maybe Excommunicate—and a common that costs less than 3: Fetters obviates Pacifism, leaving us with Journey to Nowhere or Judge Soul. Again, Judge Soul gets the nod because it's so much simpler than Journey.
Judge Soul WW (c) Excommunicate 2W (c) Exile 2W (u) Faith's Fetters 3W (u)

D'. If we make Exile common, it subs in for Excommunicate. It's also wierd for half our removal to grant life, so let's switch Fetters out for Oblivion Ring. Now we want uncommon tempo that doesn't cost 3 and doesn't need 'nonwhite' or 'target attacking creature', but none of our options qualify. We can ditch Judge Soul for a Reproach that only targets creatures, leaving us in want of uncommon point removal that doesn't cost 3. Not seeing one, so let's make a riff on Gaze of Justice. Hanging Jury? Seems plausible.
Exile 2W (c) Reproach' WW (c) Hanging Jury W (u) Oblivion Ring 2W (u)

Between packages A, B, C and C' (Both of D just feeling too sloppy in comparison), I'd say B is the cheekiest and C' is the most boring, in terms of how different or similar we are to past core sets. The middle ground is often best, so let's narrow it down to A and C. I'd like to find out whether two-mana Judge Soul is printable or not rather than guess, so I'm recommending C for now. It's a tough choice since these all seem like decent white removal packages. So you tell me, what did I overlook? I'm sure there must be another couple permutations worth considering, so feel free to share those so we can compare.


  1. I'd like to nominate Oust as a possibility for one slot. Though it filled a particular niche in RoE as a solid answer to Eldrazi that isn't especially relevant in M13, I think it offers a lot to core set as a very fair variation of the 1cc White Removal, and it's a simple enough concept that could fit in either rarity.

  2. Ooh, nice one. Oust is half point removal / half tempo, cheap and simple. Very solid uncommon. It's not too powerful for common, but "second-from-the-top" is too unusual for a core set common. This could fit into a number of packages.

  3. Goblin Tunneler, and Bloodthrone Vampire were both in Rise of Eldrazi and were reprinted in M11. I remember someone asked about this on Twitter, and an R&D member tweeted something along the lines of, "It's ok to reprint a recent card. Core sets are where they put perfect versions of cards."

    These fixed cards have the stats/cost that most make sense with their effect or ability. They also create really interesting archetypes like Goblin Tunneler with Fiery Hellhound/Child of Night/Scroll Thief, or Bloodthrone Vampire with Act of Treason/Fling/Reassembling Skeleton.

    For me, the cards didn't make the set stale just because they're familiar reprints. These gave me completely different experiences from the Kiln-Fiend deck or Elrdazi Spawn swarm decks I played before.

    But more importantly, the variety in strategies they created made the set still feel fresh after my 100th M11 draft. This is more important that looking different on the surface. (And there are other slots for creating excitement from change.)

    So I hope we can just select whatever commons and uncommons that create a good play experience as well as keep the constructed metagame in check, rather than limit our choices with a "must not repeat" policy.

    You said that there will be a feeling of same-ness if the cards just look the same. I don't think that assessment makes sense for a core set.

    When you consider the audience for a core set:

    Beginners get into Magic because they had a good time playing with simple cards that perfectly convey what they do. To them it doesn't matter at all if a card has been printed before.

    Heavily invested players buy tons of core set packs, even though they own most of the cards already, because they want to draft over and over, or they want some Titans and a few other hot Rares and Mythics. They don't buy it because they want a copy of Faith's Fetters that replaced Pacifism.

    Returning players want to see some familiar constants like Giant Growth or Serra Angel within a game that's shifted a lot in recent years.

    Now that I list them out, I guess casual players who buy cards intermittenly and don't play limited heavily might be bored. But I don't know how to achieve a better balance. If those players buy at a slow pace, they can still get new cards from expansions of that year.

    For core sets, it seems wise to prioritize game play and low entry threshold. If it's a perfect card like Excommunicate or Pacifism, just stick it in.

    If we there's some specific card we actively want for a particular purpose, such as creating excitement with the return of Lightning Bolt and Mana Leak, or calculatedly shift the metagame with them, that's fine. But it shouldn't be, "Ok, what card other than Pacifism is there?"

    I agree that sets need some things that just look different, even core sets, but we should consider what the balance of that is (Bond already changes things a lot), and also what type of effects should be the ones that create that feel of difference.

    Out of the packages, C' seems the best.

  4. Wobbles reminds me that Banishment Decree is a thing. That would fall under tempo. Fascinating how making it an instant makes it so much more expensive.

    He also proposes:
    Early Retirement 1W
    At the beginning of your upkeep step, exile enchanted creature.

    I like it for common in an expert set, but the timing thing doesn't feel core to me. Maybe at uncommon.

    Since I forgot to address it at all, Path to Exile is tempting. It was actually in the file for the first three months. We figured it interacts with bond, it's got to be an interesting addition to the set! Some well placed arguments have changed my mind: It's not very appropriate for a core set because it works so differently than the standard and the land/bond interaction is purely negative for the person playing it, so it will feel bad to a lot of players (possibly allowing others to get them late and blow them out).

  5. Don't forget that Path leans much closer towards "degenerate" on the power scale than many other options. If you guys are concerned about an 8-mana sorcery that can steal other folks cards, imagine how terrible it feels when someone invalidates your Titan by tapping W. No refunds, no raise dead, just a basic land as compensation.

  6. Well said, Chah.

    One of the core goals that I stated when this project began was to make a core set that felt more unique than the last two. That was born of a lot of "oh look, pacifism *again*" that I experienced playing M13. Despite a great deal of new cards and a shiny new pace of play, I was disappoint in M13 not because it had so many reprints but because it had so many of the same reprints.

    I still feel like that's a valid sentiment and not one unique to myself. Despite that, this experience has taught me a lot about why some of these cards get reprinted over and over again. I agree that you shouldn't avoid a reprint just because it's been used recently: the choice should be relevant to the set. Sometimes you can make that choice relevant to the set but sometimes you can't and forcing it just wastes your time.

    That's why I'm hesitant to print Reproof. If there were something about the set that made non-creature permanents more worthy of bouncing than usual it would serve a purpose, but if not, we might as well just print Excommunicate.

    Pacifism is a very straightforward, very white removal spell and that's precisely _why_ it's been reprinted so many times. If we can't make a set without Pacifism that is just as flavorful and elegant, then we won't. That said, this is all a big experiment and we learn a lot more from trying new things (whether we fail or not) than by doing the safe thing.

    Of this much I am sure, if we used all the same cards that have been printed 2x or 3x in the last three core sets and every other card is completely novel, the set will be a failure because we will only have done half our job. Good design isn't automatically using Pacifism because it's the best, it's questioning every card choice every time—provided that you give all due respect to the classics and staples.

    It's very likely Pacifism is the best choice for our set. But if we don't question that and verify it for ourselves, then we've failed before we've even started.

  7. Guard Duty is also a card. As is Muzzle.

    Or we could "improve" Sandskin/Ghostly Possession:

    Marbling W
    Enchantment - Aura
    Prevent all damage that would be dealt to and dealt by enchanted creature.

    (Ground Stall for all!)

    I originally proposed Reproof as a replacement for Banishing Decree for those reasons. I think the justification for the "non-planeswalker" is flavorful: Phyrexian's don't directly mess with Walkers.

    I still like PtE, if only because of the AH HA moment when a player uses it on their own creature to fix their mana or turn on bond. Then again, I really enjoy cards that have multiple functions (see Marbling)

    What I'm not sold on is the non-white clause. A) This makes the removal feel a lot like the white removal in Innistrad B) It feels very Planar Chaos to me. In fact, most of the cards with a nonwhite opt out clause are from PC. I'm not saying that it doesn't work in the colorpie, just that it feels weird.

    Speaking of Planar Chaos, Lapse of Certainty is another card. Could be a neat replacement for Rebuke.

  8. I originally wanted Reproof because I wanted each color to have some way to interact with lands at common. That said, White really doesn't get much in that department. 4W Sorcery Return target permanent could work, but I don't know if its too far out of the scheme. I mean, I'm not trying for the next plow under, this slot just needs to be limited filler.

    On Early Retirement. I was trying for a card that seemed "fair". I'm not sure what exactly you see as the justification for Expert Level vs Core here. I could also see

    Parole W
    Enchantment- Aura
    If enchanted creature attacks or blocks, exile it at the end of combat.

  9. As-is, isn't Reproach very, very strong? Bounce your opponent's land on T3 or bounce their heaviest creature later in the game?

  10. All right, one final comment on Early Retirement.

    I was also trying to think of a removal spell that would be better in one archetype than another. Specifically, a bit of removal for the "I never get removal" GW deck.

    My solution to this was to put a common Auramancer into green. That way, a marginally playable 1/1 creature slot in Green becomes an extra removal spell exclusively in the GW deck (because Retirement doesn't sit on the board like Pacifism). Granted, Early Retirement is a bit lack luster compared to Pacifism, but I though this synergy would be worth it.

  11. Now for some specifics:

    Pacifism or Arrest?
    I think it's important that there's removal that can handle both weenies and fatties efficiently, but that it has holes and doesn't answer everything. When a removal spell is cheap, it allows comebacks, and it also creates more choices about how and when you play it.

    I think the more varied and different a removal spell is from just killing a creature, the better, especially for a White removal spell. Arrest handles every aspect of a creature except static abilities, and is almost like killing it. I like Pacifism better because of that reason.

    Oblivion Ring vs. Faith's Fetters:
    I think Faith's Fetters isn't as elegant as Oblivion Ring because the life gain feels tacked on. Divine Favor and Dark Favor also use life bonus/penalty to balance its effect, but they also manage to make it very flavorful as well as aesthetic. Faith's Fetters feels forced to me.

    Oblivion Ring is the perfect grokkable introduction to what exile is. The text may be long, but it's something the mind takes in as one effect: "Exile something while this is in play." It doesn't do something complicated like negate activated abilities while keeping triggered abilities and static abilities. For beginners, the distinction might not be clear. Triggered abilities might feel like they're being "activated" by a trigger.

    Divine Verdict, Rebuke, Condemn, Exile:
    Maro often talks about how many beginners are deathly afraid to attack. We have to make sure that a player's first attempt at attacking doesn't end up with a bad experience. So if we do this effect, it should be uncommon. Divine Verdict and Rebuke are too clunky for an uncommon removal.

    Condemn is good because it give the attacking player life, and also puts the creature in the library, which are things beginners overrate so they won't feel so bad about having attacked. Although I like Exile as a card, and it even has that non-White clause you want, it might make beginners feel worse when it happens.

    Judge Soul:
    Judge Soul basically means shifting black's removal role into white. That would make it the color that removes everything efficiently. The 3-mana version also feels a lot like Dark Banishing.

    You mentioned how White removal has been characterized by negating only one aspect of a creature (Pacifism) or removing only temporarily and being undoable. We should keep that. It's far, far more important that each color's removal behaves differently, rather than just have a different targeting clause.

    Reproof, Excommunicate, and Oust:
    Excommunicate is the perfect execution of the effect.

    Reproof doesn't add much value. A lot of the value of Excommunicate comes from the tempo gain, which would be lost due to clunkiness of a 4-mana spell. It doesn't gain much from targeting non-creatures as much. When you Excommunicate a creature, you remove a blocker and also force it to go through summoning sickness again. With troublesome enchantments and such, removing it for 1 turn doesn't do enough. Making it an instant might create uses. I wonder if 4cc is ok, since Banishment Decree didn't feel very playable.

    Oust is also good, except the life gain part feels random to me. It could lose the life gain and cost more, or maybe there can be a good flavor for the life gain? "Send on Vaction...?" I don't know what yet.

    I also think Banish in Light that I suggested would be a good fit. (XWW, Instant, put target nonland permanent into its owner's library, X cards from the top. X can't be 0.) It's new, but it also feels like a simple, basic form of an effect. (At least, it's not a tack-on vairant.) Maybe it could cost XW and target only nonwhite.

    Hanging Jury isn't for general use, but it's grokkable and flavorful.

    Harm's Way is very White removal as well.

  12. Not to beat a dead horse, but I found another way to state my position on tired/classic reprints. I don't want to trust that they're the best choice, I want to understand why they're the best choice. I won't learn anything by making that choice blindly, but I will learn by doing something 'wrong' and experiencing it and realizing why that negative/suboptimal thing wouldn't have happened if we'd made the obvious choice.

    That has already happened for cards like Naturalize and Giant Spider and I'm a better designer for having taken the path less traveled and discovering that it leads to nasty dead end.

    @metaghost Yes, that's another reason I don't want Path. It pushes the power curve where I'd rather ease up a bit.

    @Pasteur My mistake. Reproach should also have "nonland" in there.

    @Duncan I like Early Retirement and I like what you were going for with it. I would happily stick that and an elvish auramancer in an expert set with an aura sub/theme. The reason I feel it's not quite right for a core set is the fact it isn't immediately obvious what it does. I'm not saying it's tricky or too texty, it only takes a bit to 'get it' but it's that bit that concerns me. A new player is still getting the gist of 'destroy' and 'exile', he's not going to know what to make of the time delay. It's not a big thing. We could it at uncommon. I'd rather save it for a set that cares about enchantments since it is effectively an aurifaction of a sorcery.

    I very much like Parole. It's very clear what's happening and why it's white. *Maybe* it should cause sacrifice instead of exile.

    Regarding 'non-white',
    I claim that if someone were to study the color pie as much as they could without ever seeing a Magic set or knowing Magic's history, that white is far-and-away the color in which she would expect to see the non-self restriction. It makes so much flavor sense it hurts.

    The reason it feels so alien to us is because we've been lied to for so long. Terror was a flavorful card, but it shouldn't have become the staple because the effect (as opposed to the flavor) is not representative of black's philosophy; it's diametrically contrary to it. Every single 'nonblack' effect that followed, followed mindlessly in Terror's footsteps and that has hurt the game. The color that should have non-self the absolute least is black. That is core to its identity in the color pie, even as literally dozens of cards blatantly demonstrate otherwise. Prodigal Sorcerer should have been Prodigal Pyromancer and Terror should have been the last nonblack targeting card.

    One of my favorite things about M10-12 is that they've finally started killing some sacred cows to improve the future of the game. Every one complained about the rules changes but each of them helped make Magic a better game. "Nonblack" is the sacred cow I intend to kill with M13.

    Planar Chaos is like the Rule 34 of Magic. Once an argument invokes Planar Chaos, no more good can come of it. They did a lot of things. Many good, many bad, many that fit only in an alternate universe. Some cards should never be used again and some already have. We're better off pretending it never happened, at least when looking for historical precedent.

  13. Something I had designed as a Guard Duty variant after deciding to move Pacifism (more or less) into green, was:

    Watchmen's Agreement
    Enchantment - Aura
    Enchant creature
    When enchanted creature's controller is dealt damage by a creature, exile enchanted creature.

    It's wordier than ideal, but such is the penalty of top-down design. One aspect that I enjoy is that it's a piece of fairly strong removal that would really only be desired by certain evasion-oriented or pinger-oriented archetypes, rather than any deck that wants to splash white or something.

  14. I agree with everything you said in your last post, Chah, with the exception of "Divine Verdict and Rebuke are too clunky for an uncommon removal." That's so opposite that I'm forced to assume you got distracted and put the wrong word in there. They're both super elegant: very concise and instantly clear.

    I'm still not a fan of Banish in Light. Oust is pushing the bar in terms of "put a card n from the top." Anything beyond that is busy work and very hard to verify in a tournament. The X also isn't worth it. Unlike Fireball, I'm not going o hold Banish in Light until I get my seventh land so I can deal with your threat, I'm just going to tap what I've got around and get rid of it as long as I can. Unless I also want to cast a bear, in which case I'll just excommunicate your guy.

    We could probably make an Oust for 1WW or something without the life gain rider.

    I love Harm's Way. Very cheap, usually a 2:1 and well within white's wheelhouse. My only concern is that it might be too good. If you think Rebuke is bad for new players, Harm's Way is at least twice as bad.

    You've sold me on O-Ring over Fetters. I loved Fetters back in the day, but it's just got too much going on for core even at uncommon.

  15. Guard Duty is cheap, simple on-color removal too. Good point.

    Watchman's Agreement would work in an expert set but I'd make it trigger only on combat damage. Interesting flavor.

  16. Jay, do you think white should've had Seeker all along? /Isn't one of the reasons black so strictly didn't get enchantment removal was so it couldn't remove its *own* enchantments? I always thought "if you have a dark confidant/abyssal persecutor/juzam djinn in play (under your control), not being able to doom blade it sucks but is fundamental to the cards themselves".

    Should Day of Judgment also be in this discussion? If we push "nonwhite", is it an issue since white and black's creatures are so dynamically different?

    I wouldn't harp on this, but I want to make sure we've got our bases covered.

    I also have to wonder where the line is, flavorfully, if we push black's "destroy if tapped" and white's "destroy target attacking". They may be different words, but I feel like there's not a strong delineation on "what to kill" there.

    I would go so far as to push for none of white's spot removal to say "Destroy", if we can manage well enough between paralyzing (guard duty/marbling/pacifism), excommunicating, and exiling.

  17. There are also probably a number of flavors that could make "Enchanted creature can't attack you or a planeswalker you control unless its controller pays 3." work, but I think that's enough worse than Guard Duty to be out of consideration.

    (I suppose Moat, Tabernacle, and Peacekeeper effects could all be valid, tangent avenues to the white removal ouvre, but perhaps their rarity/power will keep them out of this discussion for now.)

  18. I don't know if Seeker's compelling enough on its own, but I haven't heard anyone complain about Spectral Rider. Not sure what the question implies?

    The trouble with the Dark Confidant argument is that black has no trouble killing its own creatures. In fact, it does so regularly. For profit. The only thing black can't sacrifice is enchantments and that's what makes Phyrexian Arena and Lich's Pact deliciously dangerous temptations.

    Day of Judgment and Damnation are both fairly easy to justify within their colors' respective philosophies. Are you suggesting a Wrath effect that specifies 'non-white?' Mass Calcify? Not sure where this is going either.

    I was wondering if "destroy target tapped creature" and "destroy target attacking creature" were different enough as well. If you think about it, it's kind of the difference between removal and countermagic. One works any time after the event and one only works in immediate response. In that context, it seems sufficiently relevant.

    Creature-specific Ghostly Prison seems entirely printable, though perhaps not in the average core set. Didn't know Brainwash was a thing.

  19. Well, Parole works the same way in terms of killing the enchantment so that it can be brought back. I'm not trying to massively push the theme, but having little two card synergies work well. After all, the original Auramancer made M12 without a hitch or making it feel "enchantment heavy". Thinking about these cross color combos are important, because otherwise you don't give players interesting decisions during deck construction. Bond does this naturally when it gives you a solid body with an upside for certain decks.

    For some cards that doesn't matter, what deck doesn't want Brimstone Volley?, but for most interesting draft formats those kind of synergies are great. It's especially true of removal, because it's so essential to limited.

  20. When I said Divine Verdict and Rebuke are too clunky, I meant the mana cost was clunky. It seems White's Uncommon removal spells tend to be efficient. (Other colors get Fireball, Mind Control, Drain Life, which tend to be for Limited nowadays...)

    The X in Banish in Light makes sense to me. X costs aren't about always waiting for the biggest X possible, it's about flexibility. I would love the choices involved in deciding when to pull the trigger, how to buy the most time for whatever I'm trying to do.

    I can't be sure if it's physically a hassle. But there have been effects that are much more difficult to execute - like cascading in a deck with only one target, or putting half of your library into graveyard, or Haunting Echoes. Even a Terramorphic Expanse costs more time to execute than Banish in Light.

  21. Banish in light is an interesting one. I mean, I think you can largely do away with all the hassle by just using it as

    Balk 2WW
    Put target creature on the top or bottom of its owner's library.

    It's still flexible, but is does away with having players mess around with their libraries too much. I mean, honestly the difference between putting a creature on the bottom or 4+ cards down is pretty minor.

  22. A couple more packages based on your great feedback:

    Guard Duty W (c) Excommunicate 2W (c) Judge Soul WW (u) Oblivion Ring 2W (u)

    Parole W (c) Excommunicate 2W (c) Judge Soul WW (u) Oblivion Ring 2W (u)

    Muzzle 1W (c) Excommunicate 2W (c) Harm's Way W (u) Oblivion Ring 2W (u)

    Pacifism 1W (c) Reproach 2W (c) Harm's Way W (u) Oblivion Ring 2W (u)

  23. I'm in support of Muzzle-Excommunicate-Harm's Way-O Ring.

    Muzzle seems like it would play interestingly with the number of "attack" triggers in the set.

  24. I really don't have a dog in this fight. I like Guard Duty because it's weaker than JtN(which Jay said he was looking for) and it represents Defender which is underrepresented in the set. For the other Common, I like Excommunicate or Reproof. I don't really care which. maybe I like Banish more than those two. For Uncommon, I guess Oblivion Ring and Judge Soul are my choice. It is interesting that none of these four Destroy anything. That's cool. Aren't we having an equally tough time with the Red Direct Damage spells? And the Black Removal. And whether to use Naturalize. Sheesh, removal is tough!

  25. It's a damn good thing we have so many cards to choose from or this balancing act would be impossible (or have only one right answer).

    Just a thought:

    Get thee Gone 2W
    Sorcery (c)
    If target creature is white, put it on top of its owner's library. Otherwise, put it on bottom.

  26. Guard Duty would create board stalls. Imagine your opponent plays a Serra Angel (or a bigger flyer) and you Guard Duty it. What happens over the next few turns?

    It didn't cause that problem in ROE because every deck had something catastrophic waiting to go off in the late game, even aggro decks.

    Muzzle has a similar problem. At least you can potentially attack into a Muzzled creature with multiple creatures, but it's not easy in the majority of games.

    Muzzling the opponent's creature and attacking into it with a creature that says "whenever this attacks, do this" would be interesting, but I don't think we're doing that ability intensively enough for that to be more relevant than the board stall.

  27. Hmm. Good point. See any problem with Parole?

    Another possibility:

    Probation W
    Enchantment-Arua (c)
    Enchant non-white creature
    Tap a white creature you control: Tap enchanted creature.

  28. There's nothing wrong with the possible board stall created by Guard Duty or Muzzle. It only creates a systemic problem when multiple cards are contributing to clogging up the board. Like if we included Guard Duty, Sandskin, and Muzzle in the same set. But Jay specifically said he wanted something less powerful than Journey to Nowhere. The creature still being able to block is the prce you pay for a one mana removal Aura. Ohmygod, in the scenario where an opponant has a Serra Angel you use one of the other forms of removal you picked before grabbing Guard Duty.

  29. Serra Angel is an amusing example, certainly.

    On Muzzle, rather than "attacking into a Muzzled creature", it seemed interesting to, for instance, have your Elephant Rider Muzzled and still be able to untap a creature. (Or similar situations we end up using any of Nich's attack-trigger Pirates etc.)

  30. Since there's only going to be 1-2 common white removal spells, the change that comes from losing a board-simplifying Pacifism and gaining a board-clogging Guard Duty would be huge.

    A white Aggro deck would have trouble if it only has Excommunicate and Guard Duty in the White commons, even if it has a 2nd color.

    Removal is always scarce in Limited and you may be "forced" to cast Guard Duty on a big threat, creating a board stall.

  31. I just stumbled on another elegant white removal spell I created last year:
    Avenge 1W
    Avenge deals damage to target creature equal to the damage it dealt this turn.

  32. We could use Avenge for our defensive role in a couple packages:

    Avenge 1W (c) Excommunicate 2W (c) Judge Soul WW (u) Oblivion Ring 2W (u)

    Avenge 1W (c) Reproach 2W (c) Condemn W (u) Oblivion Ring 2W (u)

    As long as we're using Oblivion Ring, I feel like the removal-that-can-be-undone requirement is fulfilled, meaning we're not bound to Pacifism.

  33. I think there's a good reason they've printed Reciprocate and Repentance but not Avenge, and that's that Avenge is just too limited AND has a drawback.

    If I have to not only let something attack me, but allow it to damage either myself or one of my creatures, I want my removal to get rid of it absolutely. But Avenge says: "Destroy target creature with power greater than its toughness that probably already traded with one of your creatures, but maybe you just let it punch you in the nuts for 5 points of damage. Sucker."

  34. Reciprocate does outclass Avenge and maybe that shows that Avenge can cost just W, but at least it's not strictly worse. Hide behind a 0/8 wall, for example, and Avenge is arguably better.

    All that said, there's nothing wrong with printing a card that's largely worse than something that has come before. We need cards of mediocre power level for Limited play. If they happen to resonant, all the better.

  35. My criticism isn't so much about power-level as it is a statement regarding the fact that actually casting Avenge will often make you feel bad. I was drafting Masques last night, and I'd compare it to something like Excise: the situations in which I was able to successfully exile a creature with Excise made me feel like I had gotten the worse end of the deal. Brainspoil wasn't a good removal spell, overcosted quite a bit because it doubled as a tutor and hindered by a strange clause that kinda mattered in Ravnica, but it didn't make me feel bad when I got a 1 for 1 out of it.

  36. Hmm. Was thinking the sweet sweet vengeance of it would be fun, but I kinda see your point. Cantrip?

  37. Would cantrip-Avenge and cantrip Finishing Blow want to live next to each other?

  38. Wondering the same thing. Is that poetry or plagiarism?

  39. Just a thought

    exile target non wight creature with toughness of 1 or less

    this would be a strong card for the preview and launch events as well as for drafters as it is a good removal spell