Wednesday, January 16, 2013

CCDD 011613—Gamble

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/16/2013 - Gamble was inspired by ANTHroplasm's comment on yesterday's post. What if you could take a chance at getting a huge discount on a free spell? You have to pay for the chance and you may get nothing, but you may just hit the jackpot too.

While random effects tend to turn off Spike, this one might not as much: There's a fair bit of skill in knowing how much to gamble based on what's in your deck, what you need right now, and how else you could be using your mana.


  1. The first change I would make is to change it to exile or put the card on the bottom of your library if you 'miss'. Otherwise, it'd be correct most of the time to attack with two Dirty Cheaters, pay 0 for the first trigger, see what the card is, then pay half that card's CMC for the second trigger.

    Trying to think of how much to gamble seems like a difficult choice. But maybe that's the point? Another possibility is to change it from an X cost to a fixed cost, perhaps based on the creature's power?

    Dirty Cheater 2B
    Gamble 2 (When this attacks, you may pay 2 and exile the top card of your library. If it costs 2 or less, you may cast it without paying its casting cost.)

    Unfortunately this version feels less like gambling, though it does decrease the decision process every time you gamble.

    1. I originally ended the ability with "You may put the revealed card on the bottom of your library" but removed it because the nice bit of fixing wasn't central enough to the effect to make it so much longer.

      Forcing you to get rid of the card so you can't re-gamble it has mechanical merit, but honestly I have no problem with two Dirty Cheaters letting you cheat dirty.

      That said, exile is an excellent solution because it's short and adds to the gamble: If you pay 3 and reveal your Griselbrand, it's gone forever.

  2. I'm not convinced that gambling is an exciting enough idea to warrant a mechanic, after all, people you be doing that in real life instead of Magic, are they really going to want to pretend to gamble instead? That said, if we do want gambling, this is definitely an implementation worthy of testing.
    I assume this is supposed to have a nonland clause since you used cast, and James' point about multiple sequential triggers is a good one. We need to balance that concern against the feel-bad of bottoming your best card and honestly I have no idea which is better.
    An interesting development question is how this pushes decks. On the one hand it makes casting expensive spells easier, but a deck with a low curve (and thus fewer lands) will be able to utilize spare mana while still casting spells, and will also hit more often.

    1. I don't gamble in real life. Doing it in games for zero IRL stakes is the only place I gamble. Not that gambling in a game is in any way exclusive to gambling outside of a game.

      That is an interesting development / deck-building question.

  3. I like the mechanic a lot, but I think it needs to be a bit less generous, without being so arbitrary it's unfun to play.

  4. I like the gamble mechanic idea but I think it's far too strong. Swinging with dirty cheater getting to cast your top card before it's drawn is going to offer significant card advantage in the late when you have mana to spare and nothing to lose. It is also going to get seriously broken with any ponder effect or future sight. But a gamble mechanic is still pretty fun. How about:

    Dirty Cheater 2B
    When ~ attacks, Gamble (When this attacks, you may pay X, then shuffle your library and reveal the top card. If has CMC X you cast the spell for free, otherwise place the card into your hand. X can't be 0)

    The biggest downside is this produces a lot of shuffling of libraries but does guarantee randomness.

    1. As you said, the shuffling is a huge downside - especially when this wants to be a quick, tense moment of revelation.

      I think it's ok if players can manipulate the library with spells before gambling as long as it's balanced with it.

      Red and Black could have the gamble mechanic so you could build a RB "heavy gamble deck." A few triggers like the one below will make it play like a linear theme.

      Hot-headed Gambler 2R
      Human Rogue
      Whenever you lose a gamble, ~ deals 3 damage to target opponent.

      Blue could have a few library manipulation cards with a con-man theme so that there will be a RU or BU "cheat at gambling" deck.

    2. I have just seen the spoiler for unexpected results and notice how similar it is to my version of gamble. I like Chah's cheater idea though, some sort of simple card.

      Devious Cheat (R)
      Human Rogue
      You may look at the top card of your library at any time.

    3. Wow, they really are similar.

  5. So, "everything is a miracle, as long as you guess what it is before you see it." Interesting. This is a cool mechanic but I don't think it's deep enough (or something you would want to use enough) to support keywording. Maybe as a one-off, though?

    Fixed Dice (rare)
    {X}, {T}: Reveal the top card of your library. If its casting cost is equal to or less than twice X, you may cast it without paying its mana cost. Otherwise, put it on the bottom of your library.

  6. I like exactly this. A rare top-downy artifact, maybe a key card in a block-constructed deck, but just a one-off.

    1. (this was meant to be in response to evan's Fixed Dice)

  7. I think this is a great mechanic to be used as a Sub-theme for a faction in the set. Maybe the "evil" humans who have abandoned a proper lifestyle for one with less...rules.

    I do not think it would be a set mechanic, or even need a keyword, similar to the "Mindgrind" mechanic that MaRo talked about using for Dimir. The gamble mechanic could be there, but subtle.

    Human Gambler 2B
    Creature - Human Gambler
    When CARDNAME attacks, you may pay X. If you do, reveal the top card of your library. If you reveal a nonland card with converted mana cost equal to double X or less, you may cast that card without paying its cost. If you dont, put that card into your graveyard.

    Goblin Gambler R
    Creature - Goblin Gambler
    T: Reveal the top card of your library. If the revealed card is a land card, you may put that card onto the battlefield tapped, If not sacrifice CARDNAME.

    Russian Roulette BBBBB
    Sorcery (MYTHIC)
    Search your library for 5 spells and reveal them. Target opponent names one of the five cards, then you turn each spell upside down and shuffle. Target opponent chooses one of the 5 face down cards. If they chose the named card, they may cast that card without paying its mana cost. If they do not, you may cast the revealed card without paying its casting cost.
    (i love this idea but have no idea how to format this one)


    Russian Roulette 1R
    When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, exile your library accept for 5 land cards and one nonland card. Shuffle your library.
    Play with the top card of your library revealed.
    At the beginning of your upkeep, if the top card of your library is a nonland card, and you only have one card in your library, you win the game.

    hahah SOO red.

    anyway im glad i could inspire a cool design out of ya!

    ALSO all in is an AWESOME card.

  8. I really like this. I feel that some form of this would make a very cool mechanic that makes combat feel different from other sets, chance-y, and very Western. (Although it doesn't need to be a major mechanic and could be a minor one like Cascade.)

    With the current version, I don't think there's enough strategy. It's a no-brainer to pay like 3-4 mana so that you nail a free card every time as long as it's a non-land card that costs 6-8 or less. 3 or 4 mana is the normal price for drawing an extra card with a Tome effect, and if I also get to cast it for free, why not? The gambling should be a little more strategical to make you think how much you want to pay.

    I think it would be ok for the ability to be powerful, if it triggered off of some condition that's harder than just attacking. For example, it could trigger off of dealing combat damage to a player. Or, it could trigger off of the creature blocking or getting blocked by a creature? In that case, should both creatures' controllers gamble? Would that be weird? Anyways, we should generate lots of weird variants in the beginning to serve as stepping stones.

    I guess the attack trigger version does create neat situations where you can suicide-attack a creature as a true gamble, if you want to, while if you're a conservative player you can just attack with it only if it survives, like a Scroll Thief. The gamblers should mostly have low toughness though, because otherwise, attacking a gambler into a wall repeatedly sounds too easy to me.

    Another way to fix it might be, "To gamble, you may pay X. If you do, look at the top X cards and cast a card with converted mana cost (exactly) X for free?"

    It's still gambling because not only do you not know if there will be such a card, but also because you don't know what the effect would be. But it won't feel like stupid chance that flipping a coin feels like to many players, which might be what Jules is concerned with.

    If you know that you have a Battlecruiser creature in your deck that costs 9, once you reach 9 mana you can start gambling for 9 and it would help people find their fatties.

    By the way, I like the art for the Dirty Cheater. The typeline says Human Rogue, but that art could be what a "Western" Goblin looks like.

    1. We would definitely need to test several versions of Gamble. It's entirely possible that <=2X is way too generous. I suspect that the number of times you'll get a land or an effect you don't currently want will balance it for Limited and that it's hard to make a mechanic that will skew Constructed any more than Restoration Angel or Snapcaster Mage. But playtesting would sort that out pretty quickly. <=X or =2X or =X or '>=X & <=2X' could all easily prove better.

      I almost made Dirty Cheater a goblin, but backed off because it's black and we're not on Lorwyn. But I agree.

    2. And I certainly agree Gamble wouldn't be a major mechanic. I personally suspect it is deep enough to keyword and put on ~12 cards, but again, testing could quickly determine that, no, there are only three interesting cards and we make a vertical cycle without a keyword.

    3. I really like "To gamble, you may pay X. If you do, look at the top X cards and cast a card with converted mana cost (exactly) X for free?"