Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Set Design Pitch: Sephorgia

HV: This set pitch is by Ben Nassau.  My comments are in blue.

Name: Sephorgia (the plane on which it takes place)

Core concept: The enchantment block. Finally.

Cards (all common):

Baquiana's Regiment
Creature - Human Soldier
Affinity for enchantments

I already talked about why I like this card a fair bit here.  It's still a fine choice.

Sirensong Gilder
Enchantment Creature - Illusion
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may have target player put the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

To me, this still doesn't solve the, "Why is this an enchantment creature?" problem.  You could print this in any other set without the extra type, and nothing would change.  

Nightmare Umbra
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has intimidate.
Totem armor

Sure, totem armor would be a great thing to bring back for an enchantment set.

Frenzied Bladedancer
Creature - Human Berserker
Harmony -- Whenever an enchantment enters the battlefield under your control, Frenzied Bladedancer gets +2/+2 and gains first strike until end of turn.

And here we have "enchantmentfall".  Certainly a printable mechanic, but the good thing about landfall is that it rewarded something that players do anyway.  This pushes harder towards linear decks, which isn't necessarily bad, but it's something that Affinity also does.

Instill Dread
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature can't block.

I suppose this is fine, but how does it support the theme other than being an enchantment?  Or is it just demonstrating that an effect which would be a sorcery in other sets will be an enchantment here?

Brasswillow Guardian
Enchantment Creature - Elemental
Other creatures you control have reach.

Now this makes a bit more sense as an enchantment creature.  I don't think this sort of effect is common, though.

Valley of the Lost
T: Add 1 to your mana pool.
4, T, Sacrifice Valley of the Lost: Return target Aura card from your graveyard to your hand.

I'm not sure this is a common, but it's an eminently reasonable card.

Everything is up for grabs: Set name, mechanics, flavor. I just thought this would be a good starting point.


Enchantment world is definitely a viable theme.  These mechanics are individually fine, but they all point in the same direction: "Play lots of enchantments".  There need to be subthemes that give players a bit more deckbuilding direction.  Also, almost all these mechanics are versions of existing mechanics.  I don't see them really getting players excited about the set.  Give us some more spice!  


  1. AssI'm assuming we want to follow "traditional" magic design rules. If so, I'm not sure bringing back _two_ existing mechanics (affinity and totem armor) is a good idea. Figuring out a new aura-centric mechanic would probably be a better idea: IMO Affinity is a much more interesting way to tell people "PLAY ENCHANTMENT".

  2. I'm not sure we need an "enchantment block," and that's probably the deepest problem with this set. What is an enchantment? Well, you have Auras, which are basically equipment that don't come off, and enchantment permanents, which are essentially colored noncreature artifacts. That's it. The "land block" worked because lands go in every deck, and the "artifact block" worked because artifacts *can* go in every deck. Something I think you're missing here is that an enchantment creature is not interesting in and of itself. You need to give me a reason to want to put enchantment creatures in my deck beyond "I have cards that linearly interact with them."

    Baquina's Regiment is the strongest design, though it's a bit straightforward.

    What I want to see from this set: a card that makes me want to play enchantment creatures that does not feature the word "enchantment" anywhere in its rules text. That should be a reasonable challenge : )

    1. I think you've summed up the challenge perfectly, here. I don't have an answer yet, outside of making Tarmogoyf a vertical cycle.

  3. I like the idea of this mechanics world. This is the only submission up until now where I do not feel a need to create a back-story for the setting. Sure that will progressively become a necessity, but for now we need to find things that will make you want to cast auras that do not get you 2 for oned. Bounce and removal that is only castable on unenchanted permanents, will be important here, and black and red should get a way to interact with enchantments.

    You still miss the poster mechanic for this set. I feel that affinity for enchantments is not enough.

    1. We could probably afford to go one more round without attaching a real world/plot/theme to this idea, but remember that landfall didn't make Zendikar awesome by itself. It was the creative transition from "lands matter" to "adventure world" that defined the set and made it the resonant bag of tropes players enjoyed. I can almost guarantee Sephorgia won't make it to the finals without finding its thematic hook.

    2. I actually disagree with Jay on this. If we did "lands matter" and found Landfall as a mechanic, played with it, and found it fun, that would be enough for me to want to design the set that went on to become Zendikar. The mechanical heart is the part I care about; flavor for bottom-up sets can get fleshed out during the design process.

    3. I guess it is a matter of taste, melvin vs vorthos.
      However if I correctly read through MaRo's lines, Wizards have been recently incorporating creative way earlier in the design process. Even for Zendikar you site, they brought creative in very early, and from there they went from land matter to exploring the land to adventure world.

      Here we still need to find the major mechanic before finding the creative aspect, since the basic idea of the set is melvin focused "enchantments matter". In my opinion however we need to quickly have both the melvin and vorthos cores figured in a set design team.

  4. I think this set has potential, but what we don't want is some linear reward-you-for-playing-enchantments-fest.

    It's easy to make a set where some tag or label like "legendary" or "enchantment" is important because other cards check for that tag and reward you for it, but that kind of one-dimensional tag-checking shoudn't be all.

    For example, artifacts in Mirrodin gave you a unique play experience not just because some cards counted for artifacts or checked for artifacts, but also because artifacts are colorless so a high number of artifacts affect how you can build your deck, there were Myrs in every color, and Equipment behave differently than other cards.

    We have to think how enchantments makes play different. I think Auras would be really important, although I can't tell what.

    1. Some potentially helpful words and phrases toward this end:
      Non-creature permanent
      From your graveyard

  5. I think Juniper Spirit from Ekkremis by Jean-Sébastien Girard (what a cool name) would be a good fit in this set:

    Modified Juniper Spirit {3}{W}
    Enchantment Creature — Elemental
    Creatures you control get +1/+1.
    Ethereal {1}{W} (You may cast this spell for its ethereal cost. If you do it enters the battlefield as an enchantment with no other types or subtypes.)

    I like how there are legit reasons for casting it either way - as an enchantment it's harder to kill, but as a creature it gets the +1/+1 bonus from itself.

    1. There are all sort of odd interactions that arise from this duality. For example enchantment creatures means green's enchantment removal suddenly doubles as creature removal. The memory problem noted by Havelock remains, and I am not suer if tehre is a neat solution to it. Flip cards and DFCs allow two versions of something to coexist, but then the whole "Enchantment Creature" neatness is lost.

  6. I think Dual Faced Cards would be good here - Auras that turn into creatures when the enchanted creature dies, or creatures that turn into Auras when they die.

    Or a kind of "Phasing" creature like this:

    Flying Dream 3U
    Creature - Elemental
    At the beginning of your upkeep, transform this.

    which transforms into:

    Dream of Flight
    At the beginning of your upkeep, transform this.
    T: Target creature you control gains flying until end of turn.

    I think this set should be about dreams, since it represents the ethereal-ness of Enchantments well. There was another set submission about fighting inside of a dream that didn't make the cut, we could use ideas from that set as well.

  7. Enchantments with vanishing to represent a fluctuating dream state:

    Informative Nightmare 1BB
    Vanishing 3
    At the beginning of your upkeep, lose 1 life and draw 1 card.

    Violent Dream 3R
    Vanishing 2
    Creatures get +3/+0.

    Courageous Dream W
    Vanishing 3
    Creatures you control get +1/+1.

    1. Vanishing is a downside mechanic that requires busywork.

  8. I like the idea of an enchantment block, but not sure if we'll have mechanics for a whole block. The community set on had "enchantment matters" in white, and it was quite difficult to design commons, but fairly interesting when it worked; it was hard but possible to make common enchantments that affected the battlefield in addition to auras.

    1. I'm sure we'll never be able to reach the artifact levels of Mirrodin, but we might be able to reach the land-matters levels of Zendikar. Not sure. I definitely agree it'll be a little tricky to do and very tricky to do well.

  9. If it turns out this set is going to be about dreams, this card from Jacob Munford's seafaring pitch might fit here:

    Zealous Revenant
    Creature - Zombie Pirate
    Plunder a card in your hand (When this enters the battlefield, exile a card in your hand. When this leaves the battlefield, return each card exiled with this card to where it was exiled from.)
    Bloodshed, at a price.

    It would represent transforming inside of a dream. I think it would be cool to have the card reference what it plundered and gain characteristics of it.

  10. I thought about this set a bit, and I would like to propose the following idea for the vorthos part: Magic teh gathering fallout style.

    a postapocalyptic world where the only thing left standing are the enchanted structures and functionalities. This apocalypse could be the result of a spell gone bad or of a world war of magic. Those who "survived " on the surface of the planet are mutated/ trying to survive and rebuild, while some survived in enchanted bunkers and retain the older technologies. The strife is between those trying to rebuild, those trying to survive and those trying to rule the remains of this once beautiful plane.

    This way the enchantments are essential since they represent what survived the destruction, and we get a theme to work with too.

    1. Post-Apocalyptic enchantment world? Wow. I don't know if it'll work, but it's an impressive suggestion and it's the first thing that's got me legitimately excited about this concept. Follow that with a mechanic that screams this theme and you'll have yourself a full-fledged fan.

      (Remember that impressing me isn't as useful as impressing Havelock or the entire team.)

    2. That brings forth the question of how the judging works, but yes I have some ideas for this set...

    3. All the authors worked together on judging this round. We'll keep that structure for all three rounds, but the final decision of which set we work on will be mine.

      I'm totally cool with post-apocalyptic Magic, though that has already been done somewhat in Time Spiral.

    4. Time spiral was more about nostalgia than post apocalyptic magic though... I will think a bit more about this set since I cannot submit anything for mine on the next round...

  11. MaRo has said on his Tumblr, "Enchantment set: it's not a matter of if but when". However, he's also pointed out that one of the biggest problems with the enchantment set is that the colours that like enchantments are the same as those that hate enchantments: green and white. Red and black are prohibited from destroying them, and it'd be pretty odd for blue, red or black to care positively about enchantments.

    I think anyone submitting a pitch for this set needs to avoid green or white, as they're far too easy, and focus on how to solve the much trickier problems of black and red.

    Having posed the questions, some potential answers:
    * Make things that would be sorceries / instants instead be enchantments (e.g. Galvanic Arc or this submission's Instill Dread, and Indomitable Will etc)
    * The red connection between creativity and enchantments. There was a GDS2 contestant who had red making enchantment creature tokens as an expression of creativity, and I really liked that.
    * I also like red as the trickster colour that moves attachments around. An Aura version of Magnetic Theft (i.e. a colourshifted Enchantment Alteration into red) seems just fine to me.

    It may also be worth remembering that Avacyn Restored was a recent set whose two major themes ("Angels" and "people working together") were in monowhite and in everything-but-black. They had a completely different theme for black. On the other hand, it wasn't very well received, partly for this reason...

  12. I just submitted 6 cards for this set using a "King Arthur and his Knights" flavor, though that was tough to demostrate fully, when I submitted 6 black cards.