Wednesday, October 31, 2012

103112 CCDD—Bare Troll & Friends

Cool Card Design of the Day
10/31/2012 -The random thought occurred to me that a fairly natural regeneration cost for a creature is its casting cost. Regeneration is a little like getting to recast a creature right after it dies, so what does it look like to make that metaphor more concrete?

The immediate concern when I mused about this on Twitter was "Bad gameplay- ties up way too much mana in future turns" which is fair—A card like Selesnya Sentry will rarely be regenerated because it costs so much to do. That said, who's to say the card is only good if it can be regenerated? Sentry is efficient enough to play without the regeneration ability. Can we make cards with matching costs that don't suck?

I wanted to make a bear that fit this mold. 1G for 2/2 with 1G regeneration seemed a touch aggressive given the precedence of Drudge Skeletons and Grim Roustabout. Granted, green does get better creatures, but a common creature that's aggressive, on-curve and can regenerate fairly cheaply will be too much for most Limited environments. Instead, this takes the niche of Garruk's Companion or Elvish Warrior.

Stepping up the curve, we've got something that smash well, but takes a significant chunk of mana to keep smashing. Do remember though that Regenerate has two effects on the game, one of which requires mana and one of which does not. While you have to spend actual mana to save your creature after it blocks, you really only need to keep your land untapped when attacking to dissuade most blocks or removal spells. Sometimes your opponent has no choice but to trade their creature for your mana, but much of the time regenerate reads as "As long as you could produce 2G, ~ is indestructible."

Here's a Hill Giant I'd be happy to play. Canyon Minotaur reminded us that sometimes a 3/3 for 4 is entirely playable. You'll regenerate War Troll even less often than Troll Ritualist, but it will happen and it'll be worth it when you do.

This is a lot harder to defend. You'll need the ability much less often than a smaller creature would, and you're hoping to be doing other things with your mana but there will be occasions where regenerating Cave Troll will let you block favorably, or press the advantage, and situations where you've got nothing better to do with your mana. Is it worth printing this line of text on the card for those unusual cases? I'd guess generally not, but I don't think it's out of the question for every set imaginable.


  1. The last one's ability is actually pretty relevant as it means they won't block with a bunch of small guys to force a trade. It would become more so as a 6/4.

  2. These are Limited-playable, certainly. But threats are probably going to be answered by cards like Pacifism and Paralyzing Grasp in Limited as often as they are by burn or destruction, so I think the utility of these cards diminishes the more their cost increases. The 3/1 beater is probably the most attractive of the bunch, as much as I appreciate the punny name of Bare Troll.

    Is 1/1 for G with {G}: Regenerate too good? Young Wolf was a solid card that didn't dominate the format, and I think that would be similar.

    1. I wondered about the 1/1 too. Strictly better than Drudge Skeletons isn't the worst crime green can commit. It's certainly not too good offensively, the concern is defensive. But I guess if we're talking about a near-Defender, it doesn't matter much if it costs 1 or 2 or 3. Probably okay? Definitely fine at uncommon, just not sure about common.

    2. Fog Bank is uncommon, and this is essentially a Fog Bank you have to pay to keep alive. Young Wolf is common, though. I'm not sure. 0/1 might be more defensible at common.

    3. I feel like any common that regenerates for C needs to be at least a 4-drop, probably more. 1C seems to be the new standard.

  3. The problem with the board is that it just completely stalls out the game if it's efficient.

    Your opponent can't effectively attack into it because there's no way to profitably engage it in combat, and you need to keep up your mana every turn so you aren't doing anything to advance the board state.

    Wizards has become a lot more aware in recent sets about the problem of board stall and acted to curb that by decreasing toughness and making regeneration pretty rare at common. Of the modern regenerator, most don't have high power because that just makes it worse. You can't just attack into a Bare Troll because it's going to eat your attacker.

  4. Of all the creatures, I like the 3/1 the best. The low toughness means that first striking creatures and 1/4 horned turtles shut it down as an offensive threat, and the 3 mana regeneration provides ample opportunities for "shields down" moments where your opponent can pick it off with burn. The low toughness also makes it vulnerable to the -X/-X effects that black is so fond of.