Monday, February 6, 2012

CCDD 020612—Eternal Embrace

Cool Card Design of the Day
2/6/2012 - On first blush, this probably just looks like a variant of Bone Splinters and/or another crack at Destroy target creature. Both of those are ultimately true, but neither explain how it came into being. I was reading MaRo's article today and thinking about cards that could enable more different strategies.

Usually, bigger creatures are better so how can make smaller creatures better? Mentor of the Meek does the job admirably. Smaller creatures tend to swarm, what about running fewer creatures? Creatureless turbo-fog decks have existed forever, can we find something that wants you to play some creatures? What if I could trade the potential of having a creature for my opponent's actual creature?

Eternal Embrace doesn't succeed at the original goal (enabling a deck with some but few creatures), but it fits a very neat mechanical space: It's a Doom Blade with no targeting restriction, but it's a one-for-two, but it enables reanimation and skaab strategies. Failing to reach your destination isn't so bad as long as you reach a destination.

When I thought about what flavor a card like this would have, that's when I fell in love. Eternal Embrace is romantic and twisted: "Hey, good news, Midnight Guard, I found your soul mate! The only catch is, that's not a euphemism."

I'm quite tempted to swap 'discard' and 'destroy' with exile because it arguably makes more flavor sense. That'd be a power upgrade on the front end (take that Doomed Traveler and Strangleroot Geist), but a downgrade on back end (much harder to take advantage of exiled creature cards than discarded ones). It also raises the question whether black should be able to exile creatures. Usually that's white's domain, but Sever the Bloodline shows that there can be exceptions. Black can do anything if it pays the cost, and exiling a card from your hand is hardly insignificant, but ultimately, I think the card is more fun if we keep 'discard' and enable the secondary strategies.


  1. I do feel like Sever's "exile" is in response to Innistrad being an active graveyard set, rather than a precedent for a coming trend.

    It's also interesting how much *worse* this can be than a Bone Splinters (mana costs aside). It seems as though not having to pay the mana for the creature first would be a serious upside; but with the ETB/"dies" nature of creature abilities today, you may actually be losing out on some value. Obviously, as you say, if you have any reanimation, that's another story.

  2. It works, but I'm not sure who the card is supposed to appeal to. I guess it works for some Johnny's, particularly the niche "I like to play around with bad cards", but on the whole it's rarely going to excite players. Bone Splinters and Innocent Blood have fewer hoops to jump through to come out ahead with the symmetrical effect.

    Mostly, this card reminds me of Waste Away. That card was actually pretty good in OTJ limited, but it was also a card that was too clever by half. OTJ pushed the mechanical pressures to the point where people did things they actively didn't enjoy.

  3. It's a Johnny-Spike card to be sure. As sharp as the pointy end is, no one is eager to 2-for-1 themselves. You would definitely only print this in a set like Innistrad where having creature cards in your graveyard is so important or in a set with Madness or something similar because we don't want a non-rare card that isn't relevant in Limited (I suppose this *could* be rare, but it just doesn't feel like it). There's almost no format in which Eternal Embrace wouldn't be Constructed-relevant, of course.

  4. I like this one. I like how discarding the card doesn't always feel like a drawback, especially with the right mechanics around it. (madness, unearth, etc)

    I would definitely keep it as "destroy". The interactions are more fun that way, even if it is less powerful.

  5. make the effect "destroy target creature that shares the same creature type as creature in target players graveyard, then proliferate."