Monday, January 14, 2013

CCDD 011413—Coordinate

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/14/2013 - I spent about half an hour searching this site for this post before realizing I'd never actually written it. I 'templated' the coordinate mechanic maybe a year or more ago after taking a look at a friend's custom cube. I say 'templated' because I didn't invent the mechanic, and because it's not a valid template under the current rules. Imagine that it is.

This custom cube is hilarious, by the way. Every card is designed by one of the store owners/employees at Redcap's Corner with the intention to be in the same league as the Power 9, or better. They're also designed with a sense of humor. I hate to tease cards like these without examples; I'll ask for some to share with you all.

In the meantime, here's coordinate on a card that might be reasonable in Standard.

Coordinate is the freaky lovechild of Splice and Allies; whenever you would coordinate one effect, you coordinate all of them… All the effects under the same banner, that is. I added that part so that you can make different sets that work exclusively of each other. It's entirely possible there isn't remotely enough design space to justify that, in which case we can just remove the qualifier and have all Coordinate effects stack with each other.

I wouldn't be surprised if it's still not clear how Coordinate works, so I'll illustrate: If you played Deneb Farmer to an empty field, you'd get a Saproling. If you played it to a field with a Deneb Champion, you'd get a Saproling and a card. If that Champion then attacked, you'd get another Saproling and another card.

The vast majority of Coordinate effects need to trigger just once per card, because they snowball very quickly. I considered putting Druid of Deneb's ability on a 1, T activation, but that's both terrible on its own and busted with almost any other Coordinate effect available. Every common should have just an ETB trigger (a dying trigger would be pretty awkward for checking effects on the field).

In fact, the only reason I think Deneb Champion's repeatable trigger is acceptable below rare is that you still have to find a way to help your 3/3 survive combat to actually reuse him.

Every mechanic needs its stars and its trash. Deneb Priestess is too weak to play by herself, but the ability to reuse your other coordinate effects by casting her will make her more than worthwhile in a Limited deck dedicated to abusing coordinate. That other drafters won't scoop her up gives that player a much-needed late-pick enabler.

If you did make a tap effect for coordinate, it would definitely need to be rare and have a cost. I wouldn't even bet Deneb River Maiden survives Development at this level based on how quickly these effects combine into monstrous card advantage.

You can also put Coordinate on Sorceries and Instants with effects you don't really want to happen more than once. Hmm, I notice that the reminder text includes "spells and permanents" which means you could respond to Mists of Deneb with either the Maiden's tap effect or another Deneb-aligned instant to gets its effect twice. That might have been worthwhile (for another effect) when Coordinate appeared on tap effects everywhere, but doesn't seem worthwhile currently.

This 'template' seems to use an ability word but give it reminder text, which is not valid. I'm trying to represent a keyword with two variables, the characteristic that it matches on (Deneb) and an ability. I don't think that tech exists currently, but if you can find an example where it does, or if you have another template you think is more kosher, please don't hesitate to share.


  1. "Deneb" isn't a characteristic unless you make it a super/subtype, no more than Island of Wak-Wak counts as an Island for purposes of islandwalk. Here's how I'd template this ability:

    When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, coordinate. (Add the text of all [COORDINATE] abilities of permanents you control onto this ability in any order.)

    [COORDINATE] would be a templating quirk, like level-up, to indicate something special is going on.

    When the card enters the battlefield, its triggered ability would go onto the stack. When it resolves, you'd perform the action "coordinate," figuring out what abilities are able to be coordinated then ordering them. Then you'd continue on with the rest of the ability's text, performing the coordinated effects in the chosen order. No player has priority to respond during this process.

    1. Typo, the last line of the sample rules text should read

      [COORDINATE]: (Effect)

  2. I like this mechanic, because of reasons you will soon see. Here's how I would template it:

    Coordinate – Whenever NAME attacks, copy each Deneb effect on permanents and spells you control.
    Deneb: Draw a card.

    Coordinate – When NAME enters the battlefield, copy each Deneb effect on permanents and spells you control.
    Deneb: Put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token onto the battlefield.

    Coordinate – When NAME enters the battlefield, copy each Deneb effect on permanents and spells you control.
    Deneb: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

    Coordinate – When NAME enters the battlefield, copy each Deneb effect on permanents and spells you control.
    Deneb: You gain 2 life.

    Coordinate – 3G, T: Copy each Deneb effect on permanents and spells you control.
    Deneb: Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature.

    Coordinate – Copy each Deneb effect on permanents and spells you control.
    Deneb: Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn.

    The Deneb effect has a colon to show that it has a cost to be paid before it happens. The cost is triggereing Deneb. Seperating the Coordinate trigger and the effect like this this also gets me exciting for some super-linear applications like:

    War Battlemage WBR (Uncommon)
    Creature – Human Wizard 3/3
    Biliz: Put a 1/1 white Soldier creature token onto the battlefield.
    Carak: Each player discards a card.
    Kugud: War Battlemage deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

    Survival Battlemage URG (Uncommon)
    Creature – Human Wizard 3/3
    Zomoc: Tap or untap target nonland permanent.
    Kugud: Survival Battlemage deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
    Deneb: Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

    Each of these creatures has three distinct triggers and would need Coordinate spells and effects that target each one by name. This type of design makes a few designers cringe, but I love them. Decoupling the trigger and effect on a cycle like this also lets us put powerful effects on the board in a controlled way.

    1. I wouldn't put effects without a trigger at common (because players will have no clue what's happening), but at other rarities that seems really interesting.

  3. I like the idea, but I think it's a clunky effect. It doesn't really matter when you trigger Coordinate if the creature entering the battlefield does the effect, or the original creature does. Basically, the more I think about it, the more the original Ally effect does what you want: you play a creature with a specific characteristic ("Deneb") and then it and all other creatures with that characteristic trigger their effects.

    The only real thing about the mechanic is the "Splice onto creatures" aspect, but that's very narrow as the only effects that matter are ones that refer to the creature doing the effect, like fighting or copying itself. Really, it seems like a fringe effect, that could be done like this:

    "When this or another Ally creature enters the battlefield, you may have that creature fight another target creature."

    "When this or another Ally creature enters the battlefield, draw cards equal to that creatures power."

    And so on.

    It's a nice idea, but I think you're pushing too hard and making it more complex than it needs to be. Hell, if the Ally flavour doesn't get you, it'd be a nice mechanic for Slivers.

    1. You have a very good point, Bass.

      The original concept was used on a cycle of lands. Sort of a super-Urza's Technocycle. As crazy OP as that was, it made sense in that custom cube environment. Trying to translate that into something usable in the real world, I figured out they couldn't be so repeatable but failed to reality-check that the result still merited the execution, which you're right to point out it does not.

    2. Though I still wonder if there's a usable kernel in there somewhere.