Thursday, March 1, 2012

CCDD 030112—Break Morale

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/1/2012 - It's been a while since my last post. There was a death in the family and then work exploded. I'm still catching up so I haven't had a chance to post another update on the M13 Dragon discussion, but I wanted to get
something up, so here's a quick CCDD.

This is a top-down design, so I'll let you read it before I explain anything.

Black doesn't need bounce. Bounce doesn't do something for the color that it's lacking, it doesn't even fit the color philosophy well. I used it here because it makes sense as a way to represent scaring creatures into fleeing the field of battle. In the same way that Terror and Kiku's Shadow bend black's slice of the pie for flavor, I'm suggesting this is nearly as valid.

I'm not trying to make a statement here and I won't be upset when people tell me it's a horrible abuse of the pie, but I think that morale is an underrepresented concept in the game and that this is a decent execution of it. Here's another version that I don't think is worth the added complexity but that arguably demonstrates how more of your army will break rank when more or their comrades are killed.


  1. Blah blah blah color pie.

    Scattering Bolt [uncommon]
    CARDNAME deals 3 damage to target creature. Other creatures can't block this turn.

    Unmaking Terror [uncommon]
    Return target creature to its owner's hand.
    Morbid - If a creature died this turn, return another target creature to its owner's hand.

    1. Yeah, I was thinking about this along the same lines as Scattering Bolt:

      Break Morale 3BB
      Sorcery C
      Destroy target creature with the greatest power an opponent controls. If that creature is destroyed, creatures you control gain intimidate until end of turn.

      Black has such a flavorful ability in intimidate here, that it seems like a shame not to use it.

    2. Another option along the same lines:

      Break Morale 2BB
      Sorcery U
      Target creature with the greatest power an opponent controls gets -3/-3 until end of turn. Other creatures that player controls get -1/-1 until end of turn.

  2. For a less satisfying (but distinctly black effect) I'd probably express the concept of diminishing morale as something like:

    Break Morale
    Sorcery (U)
    Creatures target player controls get -X/-X, where X is equal to 3 minus the number of cards in that player's hand.

    I prefer that your original design doesn't kill the opposing creatures, but I do like the physical impression of creatures shrinking out of fear that maybe their commander doesn't have what it takes to win the fight.

    1. That's an interesting design, punishing players for not holding cards is a space that hasn't been explored very deeply.

      It's also a pretty tricky math problem because you're dealing with weird negative numbers. I mean, if I've got seven cards in my hand, and cast this targeting myself, do creatures I control get +3/+3? I mean, that's how Death's Shadow/Platinum Angel work. It's totally crazy.

      Along the same lines, I'd go for:

      Under-Comet 3RR
      Instant (R)
      Under-Comet deals X damage to each creature target player controls, where X is equal to the number of cards in that players hand.

    2. I will be disappointed if Wizards doesn't print something like Under-Comet in the next two years.

    3. Sadly, Kamigawa block's use of hand-size matters design space seems to have soured R&D on exploring it in more detail. And honestly I can sort of see why. Not only did I totally fail to consider that you could actually get positive X values in my example, but if we think about Under-Comet in the real world, it has a lot of strange tension.

      Like, if my opponent has a bunch of cards in hand (which I want, so my Comet is powerful), what's the probability that my opponent A) has creatures on board and B) doesn't have an answer to this 5cc burn spell I'm casting?

      One of those cool in theory, awful in practice sort of things.

    4. There are still the occasional hand size matters card, think of Runeflare Trap or Hellfire Mongrel.

      That's one way to look at Under-Comet. At least in limited, it seems like either A) The rush out a lot of little creatures, in which case Under-Comet for 2/3 is going to do a lot of damage, or B) They've only played out a few larger threats. In which case the more cards in their hand will allow you to take it out. I mean, granted, it's pretty conditional. But I like how it really causes opponents to really think about how much they want to over/under commit (See what I did there?) to the board. I'd imagine it's about the same power level as Cerebral Eruption.

      But then, I am the master of cool in theory/ugly in practice.

    5. I know they still exist (I quite fondly remember Conley Woods' attempts at building a Runeflare deck), but I meant that the experience of Kamigawa seems to have soured them on exploring hand size in more detail. I hope they do at some in the future, at least before they totally eliminate the hand size maximum.

      And just so it's clear, I like Under-Comet, regardless of any developmental thoughts regarding real world application. My hypothetical questions were mostly rooted in exposing that I think these cards have a higher learning curve, that unlike most burn you can't just grab Under-Comet and expect it to kill things. Its conditionality is abstractly expressed with qualifiers that a lot of players (new and old) take entirely for granted.

  3. If we want to be top down yet respect the colour pie, we should make that give -X to attack on creature, probably turn it into an enchantment. However break morale is more in the red part of the colour pie.

  4. Perhaps Break Morale could be how red gets bounce. I'm still not sure I approve of red bounce, but it certainly makes more sense than black bounce and morale might be the best flavor for it.

    There's definitely an argument for using this exact flavor in blue where bounce currently lives or in white where super-bounce lives. The flavor makes almost as much sense in white as it does in red.

  5. Also, my best wishes to your family.

    1. Thanks, Havelock. It's been hard.

    2. Mine as well. You're under no obligation to do Magic design at a time like this, but we certainly appreciate the commitment. I can only hope things get easier, but rest assured you have whatever meager support I can lend over the internet.

  6. Frighten
    Remove target attacking or blocking creature from combat.

    Doesn't necessarily feel black to me, but it's not like blue or white need more ways to deal with creatures...

    1. Nice. This is an even more literal interpretation of fleeing combat and avoids putting bounce in black. It does put remove-from-combat in black, but that ability has MUCH less precedent. What history it does have is almost entirely white, but we're not proposing adding this ability to black's pie, just using it here once for a flavorful effect.
      Again, this could arguably be red as well.

  7. Your commitment to the artisans project is really impressive Jay. I hope your morale stays unbroken.