Monday, October 22, 2012

CCDD 102212—Thrashing Crabat

Cool Card Design of the Day
10/22/2012 - I made this card in September before Ravnica was fully spoiled. At the time, it was a black-green mutant horror, based purely on the art. Before sharing it I thought I'd update it as if it were going to be in this block, in which case I wanted it to fit in the future multicolor-matters deck alongside Lobber Crew and Pyroconvergence.

So why is this blue-green? Even though they're mono-colored, both those cards seem more Izzet than Rakdos (or any other Rx combination) so I made this red-blue. Except that didn't explain why it was so creature-tastic. Obviously Simic makes crazy creatures—particularly mutants—and this card will shine in the RUG deck that blends Simic and Izzet (Gruul notsomuch) come the final set in the block. Maybe.

10/23 Update: Thanks to your comments, I've updated the card to a much better design. It's simpler and more appealing at the small cost of some unnecessary symmetry and flawed player interaction.


  1. I like this - I can see strong appeal here for Timmies (make a giant creature!), Johnnies (build around), and Spikes (5/5 for 3cmc is insane value.)

    I'd also like to see it as 0/0 that starts out with five +1/+1s on it, though, so it can be killed dead by monocolored spells, which strikes me as more interesting than just turning into a bear.

  2. Oops. I typo'd while updating this. It was meant to be a 0/0 with N +1/+1 counters on it (probably 3, for 1GU). Image updated. I definitely agree it should be killable by its own abilities.

    1. 3 mana for a ground beater that dies to Shock as soon as it hits the board? This is significantly less exciting, and definitely no longer rare territory.

      I thought the fact that it hits the board as a 5/5 was exciting enough to justify the significant drawback of your opponent being able to keep it under control. It's too weak for Constructed at that point, and when you would draft this over, say, Centaur Courser is suddenly a very valid question.

  3. Why not just, "Whenever you cast a multicolored spell, put a +1/+1 counter on CARDNAME"? I don't put cards in my deck for my opponent to enjoy.

    1. I think in this situation it's arguable as whether the "drawback" is something that the opponent will enjoy. This card, being in some sense conceptualized for Gatecrash or Sinker, puts pressure upon the opponent to design their deck in a way that may be in opposition to how they'd instinctively build it.

      That is to say, when your most powerful cards are often multicolor, being forced to put more monocolored cards in your deck to counteract the Crabat is a level of strategic influence that I think benefits the Crabat's controller.

    2. @HavelockV - I can't stand that way of thinking. WOTC has been making that move too with a move away from a downside. Like making a clear change to hexproof from shroud. It is good that it has a downside. It could be stronger. maybe 2 cmc or 4 counters to start with. Or a 3/3 body with the abilities to add and subtract counters. I think taking off all pro-opponent interactions limits design space in an unnecessary way and does not challenge players to know how to build decks and play. It leads to easy and OP design too. Just look at the power creep in creatures over the last few years. But god forbid they reprint counterspell.

    3. I don't mind cards with downsides. The problem I have is with downsides that are completely under the opponent's control.

      I may write an article about this at some point.

  4. So this card could just be 1UG 3/3 Whenever you cast a multicolored spell, put a +1/+1 counter on CARDNAME.

    Not only does removing the downside make it much more appealing to the majority of players, it also immediately removes 1/3 of the text from the crowded text box. With that gone, it's no longer relevant that it's a 0/0 with three +1/+1 counters on it instead of a 3/3, so we can make that change and now the card is both simple and attractive.

    That's clearly much better, and leads me to ask why I didn't go with that in the first place (in the same way a player has to examine what play or tendency of their own prevented them from winning that game/match/tournament in order to get better).

    What's terrifying is that I don't think I was lured by the idea of creating an interesting back-and-forth, because it's not like your opponent is going to avoid casting his Skull Rend just to keep from adding another counter to your guy nor are you going to let your Isperia Skywatch rot in your hand just to keep your mutant one point bigger. (And if you did, it wouldn't be fun.)

    I think it was the symmetry that drew me in. I know that I have a weakness for symmetry, but it usually rears its head in the form of over-wrought cycles. Here it is ruining a single card in a vacuum. I can't even claim that the original version is more poetic because it doesn't even match the two cards I was trying to match. Lobber Crew and Pyroconvergence only care about you casting multicolored spells—not your opponent—and they don't care about monocolored spells at all.

    In fairness, the text was unchanged from the pre-spoiled version, so not matching these cards is partly just due to me not thinking hard enough about the existing design before positing it. Hopefully, I'll think twice about overly-symmetrical single designs in the future. Thanks all!

  5. IDK. First off I think that it was more interesting the other way. We are aloud to challenge players. And yes if at that moment keeping skywatch in my hand was the better play, of course I would. Cards have become too easy to play and build. Every time I see a standard decklist, it looks like a list of modern mythics and rares and some control or library manipulation.

    I think that magic has failed in this way over the past few years. It has gotten better with delver, and caw. But really it is pretty bad.

    i will saw though that either version of this card would be very fun, escpecially in limited, which WOTC has gotten much better with. RTR limited is very fun.

  6. The differences between the versions (and our temptations as designers) are definitely interesting. The one thing I would change with the final design is changing the name - "Thrashing" was a fun callback to "flailing", but now that it only grows, there's probably a more evocative (simic?) name.

    Also, spot-on flavor text.

    1. Inquiring Crabat 1GU
      Creature - Mutant Beast
      Whenever you cast a multicolored spell, put a +1/+1 counter on Inquiring Crabat. 3/3
      "Science requires asking a lot of questions. Not all of them are intelligible." - Momir Vig

  7. What about:

    Enchantment (cost)
    Whenever you cast a multicolored spell, put a charge counter on ~.
    Creatures you control get +1/+1 for each counter on ~.

    Probably 2WG? But I don't know what flavor to assign to it or whether that sort of anthem would be fun *at all*.