Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Set Design: Frontier 2

HV: This pitch is by Prophylaxis.  My comments are in blue.  The pitch from round one is here.  The wiki page for this set is here.  

Gunshot Blaze 2R
Sorcery (C)
Gunshot Blaze deals 3 damage to target creature. If that creature dies this turn, you get a gold counter.

Making the gaining of the gold counter conditional is a very clever way to avoid glue-gun design.  Nice.

Rageful Outlaw 1R
Creature - Human Berserker (C)
Hire - When Rageful Outlaw enters the battlefield, if you spent any gold counters on it, Rageful Outlaw gains haste until end of turn.

Great flavor.  I think this sort of ability belongs on a larger body; see Ken Nagle's comments here.  

Avenging Brothers 3R
Creature - Human Mercenary (C)
When Avenging Brothers enters the battlefield or dies, put a 1/1 red Human creature token onto the battlefield.

This is pretty reasonable as a top-down design, but I don't know if it has anything to do with a mechanical theme of the set.  Also, I think that "avenging brothers" as a trope makes more sense on a rare card, possibly a Brothers Yamazaki or Stangg sort of thing.

Reckless Cowboy 1R
Creature - Human Cowboy (?)
When Reckless Cowboy deals combat damage to a player, you get a gold counter.

Yeah, I'm not sure whether "Cowboy" should be a creature type either.  "Scout"?  In any case, this is a well-designed bad card that will be good often enough to make things exciting.

Distant Explosion 2R
Instant (C)
Distant Explosion deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
Hire - If you spent any gold counters to cast Distant Explosion, it deals 4 damage to that creature or player instead.

Putting Hire on spells opens up more space for effects, which is a reasonable trade-off for the slightly looser flavor.

Steal the Coffins 2R
Sorcery (C)
Until end of turn, whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to an opponent, you get a gold counter.

Fun!  I want to draft a deck with lots of one drops, this, and a few Eldrazi.  I'd lose a lot, but the wins would be worth it.

Gold counters only add mana and don't subsitute for life payments.

Also a good choice.  Life payments as a theme doesn't make much sense in Cowboy Land.


We already know that gold counters are a generally solid mechanic from Devon Rule's experience in GDS2.  These are some good executions along those lines, and the Western flavor is coming through as well.  What I'm hoping to see next is more mechanics; we're going to need a lot more than gold to get this wagon across the plains!  In particular, what are the Eldrazi up to?  (Or are they even still in this set?)


  1. I liked this submission a lot. The use of gold counters is taken to a good direction with hire. I am still unconvinced that having both gold counters and eldrazi tokens, which are so close in design space is appropriate, but since I saw none in this submission I am very interested to see the evolution of Frontier.

  2. Yay! I am glad that my submission got chosen.

    I decided to cut the Eldrazi because it's just way too silly for me. When exploring a new element you don't need to add old ones. Also, I've worked on far too many sets that had Eldrazi or some form of Eldrazi in them. I like Eldrazi too and I understand the appeal of battlecruiser Magic, but I am unconvinced that it should be main conflict of the set.

    1. Fair enough. But we do need something to spend all that gold on; maybe there are more (or larger) common fatties than usual?

    2. There could also be some cards that demand a payment of gold by the opponent or have a stronger effect, as well as some low-powered X-cost effects, and upkeep costs.

    3. I'm not in love with gold, but it has potential. If fits the Western theme, but it also fit Mondombre's Diablo theme. I do think simplifying them to remove the life rider is smart and the Hire mechanic, though parasitic, is pretty interesting. I agree that there needs to be something both mechanical and thematic that demands their inclusion. If there aren't Eldrazi to spend them on, maybe there should be some other force trying to kill all the cowboys for their better-than-mana gold counters.

      Jules' submission was solid and featured Wobbles' quick-draw mechanic which I'm still not sold on but am certainly curious enough about that I hope we don't forget to explore it further.

      Jacob included costs that could only be paid with gold, which is also worth exploring. Maybe we could get a symbol for it like they did for snow mana? I also have to mention that Jacob included the most bad-ass token: a 7/7 with Annihilator! I want one.

      Pasteur's submission combined dueling (Wobbles' version) and Madness which I want to play with right now. He also included Dig, which offers a simple smoothing mechanic that's reasonably thematic.

  3. Okay, after I sent in my submission, I thought of two more mechanics.

    The first are tracking counters. They are basically this set's parasitic mechanic. Hire is slightly parasitic but it can definitely be played regularly. I would highly pick a Distant Explosion even if I didn't use gold counters.

    Aside: Gold counters. My vision for gold counters for this set is "rare and not easily obtainable". I believe for the environment to work I would like the number of gold counters running in circulation to be low. Players should be holding 2 or 3 gold counters each Limited game, and a deck focusing on gold should probably get 7 or 8. I believe that at common the ratio should be something like 1 card = 1 gold counter, and at uncommon and rare the ratios can be increased. Steal the Coffins is an exception, more like a ritual effect or Druid's Repository.

    Anyways, tracking counters. An idea I had was cowboys vs bandits. Cowboys usually duel and use gold counters, while bandits are the parasitic class for the set and focus on tracking counters.

    Bounty Collector 1B
    Creature - Human Rogue (C)
    When Bounty Collector enters the battlefield, you may (?) put a tracking counter on target creature.
    Whenever a creature with a tracking counter dies, draw a card.

    Bounty Bleeder B
    Creature - Human Rogue (C)
    When Bounty Bleeder enters the battlefield, you may (?) put a tracking counter on target creature.
    Whenever a creature with a tracking counter dies, that creature's controller loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.

    My second mechanic is what Ken Nagle "proposed" as a fix to the duel mechanic Daniel Williams used.

    KEN: Perhaps your opponent reveals one card, and you reveal one card to try to match its CMC or card type or something?

    I express desire to combine gold counters and revealing. I feel like some of William's revealing mechanics had some potential, but then we have another problem with too many revealing mechanics. Hmm.

    For Eldrazi, I won't mind if they are included in the set if they really need to be there (as I have some sweet 'drazi designs) but the idea still seems silly to me.

    Also: Does gold bleed or break the color pie? I can see gold counters across all colors.

    1. An interesting idea, I thought of a similar thing for Dimir using spy counters when I was mulling over possible Gatecrash mechanics (as we all do). The one hurdle I couldn't get past was what happened if multiple players were using specialised counters, particularly in large multiplayer games. In my spy case, it didn't seem sensible to have all players benefit from all spy counters (even those all players have placed on their own creatures).

      Tracking may have a similar issue. What happens in a larger game where all four players have cards using tracker counters? Does each player Bounty cards get the bonus or is each player placing their own style of counter on different creatures (i.e. when my Kraken Hatchling dies and it has a bounty county that your Bounty bleeder placed on it, do I still get to draw a card because my bounty collector is in play). It might be that this is what you intended for tracking counters to do, in which case no problem. Otherwise the easiest fix I found was simply to focus on creatures you don;t control with bounty counters.

    2. I'd describe Hire as entirely parasitic, given that it doesn't do anything with cards from outside Frontier. Kodama's Reach is fine without Arcane, but that doesn't make Arcane not parasitic.

    3. "I would highly pick a Distant Explosion even if I didn't use gold counters."

      You would pick a Shock that costs 2 more highly?

    4. Am I the only one who can't find Ken's duel discussion on the page linked?
      There has been more discussion on the subject since the GDS2: 1 & 2.

  4. Antny pointed out something on the wiki that I think is BRILLIANT: cactus treefolk. It might be that in Magic they'd translate as Plants, depending on how sentient they are? But magical cacti (either shooting needles or with boxing gloves) seems sweet.

  5. I was originally thinking of Buried Treasure for the pirate set, but you could use it or something similar here with Dig.

    Another execution:
    Prospect (Whenever you reveal this card, gain a gold counter)
    combined with Clash as the dueling mechanic or
    Quick-Draw (Permanently reveal ~ in your hand: Target creature gets +2/+0 until EOT.)
    Dig (Reveal the top card of your library. If it's a land card, put it into your hand.)