Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CCDD 031313—Desert Warlord

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/13/2013 - Some wish for power. They are weak. Some are born with power. They are fools. True power is taken. You cannot be given power, for it is the act of taking that is power.

I have been called a barbarian. A bandit. A monster. Call me what you will, your words mean nothing because you mean nothing. You think because we had the same mother that we are equal. You preach that your education makes you fit to lead, that wisdom is the only prerequisite. You are not wise. You are a child. You shout that someone will feed you, cry that someone will make your dreams real. Your dreams are pathetic, brother.

All that matters is what's real: The burning sand under your boots. The shining rings on your fingers. The weight of this scimitar in my hand. The warriors who stand behind me, whom you would call thieves, but are merely happy to bring food home to their families.

You will bow to me. Today you will bow to my blade. Tomorrow you will bow to my legions. And finally, you will bow to my rule. All will be mine, and that which I cannot possess will be destroyed. Give me your home and I will guard it. Give me your wives and they will live. Give me your loyalty and I will remake you. You will fight for me and it will make you strong.

Perhaps when you die, your name will not blow away like your ashes.


  1. While I like this card in theory, I'm not sure it's really a red effect any more. Stealing lands is blue and black now isn't it?

    1. I'm honestly not sure. I started with green. Black makes sense though.

    2. Robert, is this a color pie policy or did they just happen to not print Conquer effects recently?

  2. Stealing only tapped lands is clever-- Only if you summon a challenger and fail will he take your land, but if you're intimidated into not casting anything, he'll just deal damage.

    I think it's fine in red here, but in general I'd like to see Black as more of the Stealing color. The zero-sum idea that 'in order to gain anything, someone else has to lose' feels very Black.

  3. I'm not too keen on Land Supremacy, as it's another in a long-line of "curving out is now even better than you thought!" mechanics, which are in essence "win-more" mechanics.

    That it's difficult to interact with in a proactive manner is also frustrating. Unless I'm playing a green deck and have access to Rampant Growth effects, I'm at the mercy of my library to increase my land count, and increasing my land count naturally will usually mean that I'm flooding out.

    I'm guessing you've already considered these aspects and just wanted to test the waters, but this is looking like a design in need of rehabilitation.

    1. You would definitely need an abundance of land-searching effects in a set with Land Supremacy, to put more control into the players' hands.

      The first pass on Desert Warlord had Creature Supremacy which I agree will tend to be a win-more mechanic (but not always—particularly if you only put it in colors with swarms and without fatties).

      While curving out is definitely something that doesn't /need/ a reward, that's exactly what evolve does and it hasn't broken anything. More importantly, land supremacy doesn't reward you for curving out, it rewards you for drawing too much land. Just like landfall.

      Yes, when your opponent is land-screwed, land supremacy will be the nail in their coffin. But most games like that are lost on turn 1 anyhow and land supremacy will just help end them sooner.

    2. That's not to say Land Supremacy can't be improved upon nor that a much better mechanic couldn't fill the same role. Just debating individual merits and flaws.

    3. Can the game support an increase in land-searching effects? Land Supremacy would certainly dictate a return of White's Land Tax effects, most recently seen on Knight of the White Orchid (I believe), and Black did just get Liliana's Shade in M13; but is it appropriate to jam all that, plus say Wanderer's Twig, into the same environment?

      And no, Evolve didn't "break" the game, but of all Gatecrash's faults, the way that players are punished for stumbling ever so slightly is its greatest. And much of that is because Evolve, Battalion, and Bloodrush each exacerbate the "nut-draw" effect while being individually poor at mustering a riposte if they fail to curve out. This is not a quality that I would look to use as a foundation.

    4. I did say "land-searching" but any method of obtaining more land will do. Dig/Prospect/Scry, etc. I agree we don't want to add too much literal searching of any kind.

      GTC does punish stumbles harshly, and that is a weakness of the set, but GTC is far from being a bad set. I know a lot of players that really really like it. I don't think we should be afraid to make a set that has just one of the three mechanics that contribute to the fast nature of GTC. (And Land Supremacy isn't like any of them.)

  4. I'm not sure how I feel about Land Supremacy as a mechanic. It's not as annoying to track as the Saviors hand size comparisons, but it still asks players to track something they usually don't (opponent's land count). On top of that, it puts the winner of the die roll WAY ahead of their opponent, which may fundamentally unbalance the game.

    I really like this card's Catch-22 in concept, but I worry that it's too swingy. They'll think they're safe to play a 3/3, then you'll Searing Spear it and put them really far behind.

    1. I tend to be pretty keenly aware of my opponent's land count until she reaches 6+ land. There's a distinct edge in actively thinking about what kinds of spells your opponent will be able to cast next turn, as well as watching the pace of their land drops to get an idea how many of the cards left in their hand might be land. If a mechanic comes along that gives players an incentive to pick up that habit, seems like a free tutorial.

      I didn't think about the first-player advantage when designing Desert Warlord, and I agree that makes him too good even as a rare. Of course, having an indestructible 3/3 wouldn't be a problem if it didn't also steal your land. As sexy and thematic as the second ability is, it probably can't be balanced on a card that costs much less than 6. I mean, it's even better than destroying a land! I was way off on that one.

  5. Okay, here's my idea. These there is a problem with the master mechanic in that it tends to be a bit win more, especially because if you are the master, it means your opponents not only have to deal with a stronger creature, but all of their own land master cards are turned off!

    Somewhat would be ideal would be a Rock-Paper-Scissors system where if you weren't Master of one thing, at least you'd be master of something else:

    Master of Arms- If you have the most creatures in play...
    Master of Wisdom- If you have the most cards in hand...
    Master of Health- If you have the most life...
    Master of Riches- If you have the most enchantments and artifacts ...
    Master of Death- If you have the most cards in your graveyard...

    In order for the cards to work, you'd want to have two things: First, put Master Of cards into then token slots in packs. That would make it easier to track and easier to see visually.
    Second, you'd want to divide these abilities up across the color pie: Arms G/R, Wisdom U/B, Health U/W, Riches G/W, Death R/B.

    Each of these would have different favors for each color, Green wants to become master of Arms by making creature, Red wants to burn away an opponents. Red wants to fill its graveyard with spells, black wants to grave rob it's opponents. That lets each color fight over its own thing, instead of having everyone focus on lands or whatever. H/T to the guy who commented on this idea in my last post.

    1. I'm undecided whether the set wants multiple Master of X / X Supremacy things, but I would definitely try out a set of five like this before settling on just one. Being able to master different things is absolutely a good goal and would surely lead to better gameplay than just one …provided it's not too much to track and think about, which I suspect it may be.

    2. One adjustment that I think could be made (albeit at the cost of increased complexity) is to not have masteries attached to a quantity but rather a quality.

      That is to say, G/R's relationship to Master of Arms would likely be more appropriate as "If you control the greatest total power among creatures" (or however that should be phrased), that way a player can achieve that goal through a few fatties, many creatures, or by killing the opposition.

    3. If we count number of creatures, it could help you when your opponent has bigger guys that outclass yours. If we measure your biggest creature, it could help when your opponent has more enough to chump-block and/or attack past it. But if we add up total power, supremacy will always* be a win-more mechanic. *Short of Pacifism effects, etc. It's also a lot more math.

      Another option is to remove any form of counting:
      Creature Supremacy—Whenever a creature ETB under your control, [effect].
      Or even simply:
      Creatures you control get +1/+1 or something.

  6. really cool card Jay. also the art is so perfect for ankh-theb!

    my take:

    Desert Warlord 1BB
    Creature - viashino warrior
    Sacrifice a land: ~ is indestructible until the end of turn.
    Whenever ~ deals combat damage to a player, gain control of target tapped land he or she controls.


    Dessert Warlord 1GG
    Creature - Viashino Chef
    Snack Supremacy - As long as you are eating more snacks than your opponent, ~ is indestructible.
    When ~ deals combat damage to a player, gain control of target snack that player controls.

    1. What if some parents sue WotC for causing obesity in their child?

    2. That would be the parents' fault for defining "snack" as something non-nutritious.


  7. Dessert Warlord takes Fat Ass to an all new level. Now if we can just get a Chef Lord our set will be a bestseller. :)

  8. Doesn't that hit issues with a) cards that change according to the difference between your and someone else's resource (R&D has said the Kamigawa "hand size matters" that did similar, were a bad idea) and b) being win-more cards (as metaghost rightfully point out)?