Tuesday, November 13, 2012

CCDD 11/13/12—Reform

Cool Card Design of the Day
11/13/2012 - Sometimes people buy two of the same antique car so they can rip the good parts out of one to replace the bad parts from the other. Fallout uses this model for repairing all your equipment (and it's a great way to handle the So Many Guns problem). Is there a Magic mechanic there? (Hint: I think so.)

Each pair of Reforming Ghouls in your graveyard let you get one back. As written, an entire playset would give you 3 extra Ghouls: Nothing to sneeze at. You could reduce that to 2 by requiring the cards to be exiled (and creating a token), but then you could only use the keyword on creatures.

Spells with reform play a bit differently than permanents because you have to wait for your creatures to die to reform them, while spells can be reformed immediately after casting the second one.

The biggest problem with these cards is that you really need to get as many of them as possible for it to be worthwhile. So much so that it would really only shine in a Coldsnap-like triple-small-set-draft environment, which isn't going to happen again any time soon. How can we make cards that reform each other without naming specific cards? Reform2 lets you key off of any Reform cards in your graveyard.

Three Saprolings for GGG and two cards isn't amazing but when you can use these to reform bigger spells they should prove quite handy.

This version requires you to exile a lot of reform cards, with the upside that you get the reformed card totally free. This is clearly not the direction to go because now we'd have to put reform on at least two dozen commons and that's just way too much. Not to mention 'free' is bad when you're talking about a mechanic Dredge can enable.

Can we prevent reform from being parasitic at all? If it can't reference itself, what can it? You could exile any X cards to cast a reforming creature with CMC X, but that feels mighty similar to Tombstalker's delve. I tried briefly to find something that required you to match mana symbols from one or more exiled cards, but that's both wordy and unconventional. I considered requiring you to match the card's converted mana cost, but that's dangerously easy and then I really wanted to add a color rider, which makes the text even longer.

Matching mana cost is a tough requirement, but I suspect would prove about right. We don't really want players recasting the same spell a million times so a narrow requirement seems correct. It's not parasitic because it works with any card ever printed… with that exact mana cost. In the case of Reforming Parasite, there are nine 2BG spells for Casual and Legacy players to choose from. We would also be sure to print at least one more in the block this belongs to. That does mean that the most appealing reform cards will need unusual mana costs so a player can't build mono-Reforming Rats

What do you think? Does Reform(4) appeal to you? Is there another iteration that does? Ultimately, reform causes cards to be recast, which is the definition of repetitive gameplay; Does that kill it on the spot, or is there a discussion about how repetitive it is and how much repetition is too much?


  1. So reform can be characterized as "~ has Flashback as long as there is a card with the same in your graveyard?".

    1. "same [something]" (stupid angle brackets argh)

    2. Flashback with the added cost of exiling a card with the same name, yeah.

  2. I don't think the ability to be repetetive kills it off the bat because, as you note, the amount of repetition is adjustable. I'm not sure that it can both be nonrepetetive enough AND feel relevant though...

  3. I think "repetitive gameplay" is one of those pendula that R&D are on a downer on at the moment but won't stay that way forever.

    I do like Reform4. I thought Reform1 was unusable due to density limits, Reform2 was still a bit too parasitic, Reform3 (as inferred from your text as allowing cast for free? the image has the reminder text of Reform1) is a bit too dangerous with enablers, but Reform4 sounds rather cool. Evokes a little Mental Magic feel: "So I want to build my deck with as many {2}{U}{U} cards as possible?"

  4. Looking back at this years later, I think reform2 is the most promising, despite being parasitic.