Thursday, September 6, 2012

CCDD 090612—Karmic Channeler

Cool Card Design of the Day
- Trying to remember the inspiration for today's card, I think I was either looking for a Spellwild Ouphe with an effect more inspiring than cost reduction or else some kind of reverse hexproof—Sort of a modular Wild Defiance.

Something's bugging me that a card like this already exists, but I can't find it in Gatherer. If you know, do share. I guess Precursor Golem is similar.

Giant Growth and Wildsize are obviously quite good with Karmic Channeler, even though it remains entirely vulnerable to Murder and the like. What might be less obvious is that cards like Orcish Cannonade and Repulse deceptively don't scale up since your Channeler won't be around when the original copy would resolve. (Though Afflict and Electrolyze remain killer responses.)

Many of you will have noticed that I slipped "or ability" in there. The good news is, that does work and could be fun/interesting. The bad news is that it's sloppy design for the simple reason that it's not what players are used to: "Sorcery or instant" is a familiar phrase, as is "spell or ability" but "sorcery, instant or ability" isn't and that will throw people off, regardless of how much sense it may make once you do absorb it.

This led to a related but different idea:

Rather than echoing the spells cast on her, this UG version remembers them and then lets you cast them when she shuffles off this mortal coil. That plays a bit like hexproof in that it gives your opponents reason not to kill her at the same time that it gives you reason to buff her. Whether you should get those spells for free or not and whether the death trigger is optimal are both entirely debatable, as is the rarity.


  1. Jay, you're probably thinking of Ink-Treader Nephalim, which Radiates all spells that target it.

    1. Yes. Thank you, Ink-Treader Nephilim is very similar. And from Ravnica, to boot.

  2. JVWoodward points out that the green version infinitely copies everything that targets it under the existing wording. Is their wording that doesn't?

    He also points out that you won't get any removal spell that kills the green-blue version, because Channeler will be in your graveyard before the spell resolves, so it won't be exiled and the death trigger will already have passed. I guess that answers the question of how optimal this choice of trigger was. Again, there's probably a template that makes this work. Can you find it (or disprove it's existence)?

    1. I believe the two easiest solutions are:

      A) Add a cost.

      This is the most obvious and traditional means to bound infinite loops.


      B) Add language into the Magic lexicon that distinguishes copies of spells from their original source.

      We would thus have something like "Whenever Karmic Channeler becomes the target of a noncopy Instant, Sorcery, or ability, you may copy that Instant, Sorcery, ability. (The targets stay the same.)"

    2. I can't think of anything clean, but you can use the brute force method found on Psychic Battle:

      Psychic Battle 3UU
      Enchantment (R)
      Whenever a player chooses one or more targets, each player reveals the top card of his or her library. The player who reveals the card with the highest converted mana cost may change the target or targets. If two or more cards are tied for highest cost, the target or targets remain unchanged. Changing targets this way doesn't trigger this ability.

      Giving us:

      Whenever ~ becomes the target of an instant, sorcery, or ability, you may copy that spell or ability. Becoming the target of a spell or ability this way doesn't trigger this ability. (The targets remain the same.)

      Alternatively, replacement effects can only replace a given event once, so you could use something like:

      If ~ would become the target of an instant, sorcery, or ability, instead it becomes a target of that spell or ability, then copy that spell or ability. (The targets remain the same.)

      As for the cards, I'm addicted to copying things, so I'd love to have more things like this. The first version seems like a fun limited and constructed build-around card for Johnny. That said, the spell copying feels weird in green when both red and blue have such a long history, and I agree that the instant+sorcery+ability clause is going to weird people out. So is the lack of target changing ability. Either of those is probably fine on its own, but I'm unconvinced that we want to do both.

      Ultimately I'd push to put this in red without the ability copying clause. Red may not have Giant Growth, but Fists of the Anvil is still worth copying, and it feels more natural.

      I really like version II more or less as is, but I think it belongs at rare in most sets. The gameplay that comes with building around this is just going to offer a lot more splash than is normally seen at uncommon, and at that point I'd want free spell casting (with tweaked numbers to balance it) so that you could focus on targeting it instead of ramping.

    3. Just saw metaghost's solution for #1, and I prefer it to either of the ones I came up with.

    4. I believe the following template is correct:

      "Whenever a player casts an instant or sorcery spell or activates an ability that targets CARDNAME, copy it. (The targets remain the same.)"

      This doesn't loop because copies of spells are not cast and copies of abilities are not activated.

    5. Ari nailed the wording I'd intended. And so well I'm sorely tempted to keep the ability rider.

      I also quite like metaghost's suggestion to add a mana cost. Clearly, the cost of the spell. Payable by anyone?

  3. It is inelegant, but:
    Whenever ~becomes the target of an instant or sorcery spell or of an ability, if there are no other instances of that spell or ability on the stack, you may copy it. The copy has the same targets.

    1. It'd work, but you can't forget that mentioning the stack is technically a no-no.

    2. You can, but only in high rarities, and even then it needs to be for something very unique. Which, I guess this is not.

    3. I was quite surprised to check Gatherer and see that there is a Modern-legal card that explicitly mentions the stack at uncommon! It's Lightning Storm, from Coldsnap.

      Oh, Coldsnap... you never cease to surprise us all.

    4. Also raises the question: If I Mutagenic Growth this, and then Mutagenic Growth it again while the first is on the stack, are they instances of each other?

    5. If you mutagenic it once, aply the copy and while there still is the stack mutagenic it again, you get 3 mutagenics. If you mutagenic it, copy it, resolve it, resolve the intitial then cast and copy again you get 4. If you cast one mutagenic then a second in response you get no copies. But that would be a very very circumstential play, and as such is not a problem. It is true however that my version is not as good as some of those presented before, especially Lord Vetinari's.

  4. I assume the template for the 1UB Karmic Channeler is that you can cast the spells from exile without paying their mana cost? Assuming it eats a Lightning Bolt or something, it'd be better to cast it right?

    1. Here's a template that I think solves the removal problem, allowing you to cast any spell that ever resolved targeting Channeler at any time during the game:

      "Whenever a spell targets ~, exile it as it resolves. You may cast cards exiled this way."

      That said, I agree with Jules that the card might be better as a rare that lets you cast the spells for free:

      "Whenever a spell targets ~, exile it as it resolves. When ~ dies, you may cast any number of spells exiled by it without paying their mana cost."

      And if you're intent on making the Channeler cast the spell that killed it, replace "When ~ dies" with "At the end of the turn in which ~ dies."

  5. Oh!

    Karmic Channeler GUB 2/2 (R)
    When ~ dies, you may exile it instead. If you do, you may cast any instants or sorceries from any graveyard that could've targeted ~.

  6. Karmic Channeler 1G 2/2 (U)

    Whenever Karmic Channeler becomes the target of an Instant, Sorcery, or Ability for the first time in a turn, copy that spell or ability with the same targets.

    Reference to Kira, Great Glass-Spinner. Cannot "Go Infinite" yet in most cases works the way the original intended. In a set with a good amount of common & uncommon cantrips it could even be a draft archetype similar to Roaring Primodox in M13. That set would make a great place to reprint Symbiosis as well.