Monday, March 25, 2013

Ekkremes: The Colour of Magic

HV: This pitch is by Antny.  Here are the pitches from rounds onetwo, and three.

What are the major mechanical themes in the set according to your vision?

Ekremes Tech driven colorless artifacts vs returning magical coloured creatures of myth and legend
Tech – metalcraft, operate, buildings
Magic – Anti-artifact/building spells and abilities, enchantments
Mixed – Metalcast – an option to allow players to use the card either
as a colorless artifact or a coloured non-artifact depending on what
suits their deck, hybrid coloured/colourless mana.

Cyber Gnawer
Artifact Creature - Rat Cyborg
When ~ enters the battlefield, target player reveals his or her hand
and discards a non-colourless card.

Awakened Dragon
~ enters the battlefield tapped. ~ does not untap during your untap
step unless you control 3 or more non-artifact creatures.

Roaming Andrik
{2/G} {2/G} {2/G} {2/G}
Creature – Beast
Metalcast -  ~ enters the battle with a +1/+1 counter on it if no
green mana was spent to cast it. If this has a +1/+1 counters it is
colourless and an artifact in addition to its other types.

Weaponised Plague
Destroy target non-artifact creature. Its controller loses 1 life.

Shigar Samurai
Creature – Elf Knight
~ has vigilance as long as an opponent controls an artifact creature.

Kavanara Skyknight
Creature – Drake
Metalcast -  ~ enters the battle with a +1/+1 counter on it if no blue
mana was spent to cast it. If this has a +1/+1 counter it is
colourless and an artifact in addition to its other types.

Homing Missile
~ deals 2 damage to target player or creature.
If red mana was spent on homing missile and the target was an
artifact, destroy that creature.

Bloodthirsty Vandal
Creature – Vampire Rogue
When ~ deals damage to a player, destroy an artifact creature at
random that player controls.

Reanimated Corpse
1 {2/B}
Creature – Skeleton
Metalcast -  ~ enters the battle with a +1/+1 counter on it if no
black mana was spent to cast it. If this has a +1/+1 counter it is
colourless and an artifact in addition to its other types.
1B: Regenerate Reanimated Corpse

Light Fantastic
Whenever you cast a spell using only coloured mana, you gain 2 life.


Wall of Silence
{2/W} {2/W} {2/W}
Creature - Wall
Metalcast -  ~ enters the battle with a +1/+1 counter on it if no
white mana was spent to cast it. If this has a +1/+1 counter it is
colourless and an artifact in addition to its other types.
If ~ is an artifact, during your upkeep you may name a player. Target
player can’t cast spells this turn.

Woodlands Reclaimer
Creature – Treefolk
When name enters the battlefield destroy target artifact or building.
2 / 5
“Many forests were flattened to make way for the cities. The trees
hadn’t forgotten the genocide; they were simply biding their time. ”

Overloaded Supercomputer
2 {2/U} {2/U}
Metalcraft – During your upkeep reveal the top 3 cards of your
library. Place one in your hand and the other two on the bottom of
your library in any order. Activate only if you control 3 or more


Doomsday Battlecruiser
Artifact Creature - Airship
When ~ attacks a player it deals X damage to each creature he or she
controls, where X is the number of creatures operating it.
Operate 2 - {2}: Attach an unattached creature you control to this
artifact, or unattach a creature from it. An attached creature can't
attack or block. Operate only as a sorcery.

There's quite a lot going on in this pitch, and much of it seemed overly complex to the judges. 

First of all, Ekkremes is also a tech-heavy plane, which means that we strongly want to differentiate it from Mirrodin. Metalcraft is not a good way to accomplish that. Returning mechanics in general should not be carrying too much flavor weight, because then they'll remind players of the previous plane where they appeared.

Twobrid is already a complicated mechanic. A common vanilla creature for (2/C)(2/C) can be cast for CC, 2C, or 4; isn't that enough? Metalcast confuses the message by adding a bonus for generating mana entirely of the wrong color. Is any deck really going to pay 8 nongreen mana for a 5/6 with reach? The idea of creatures that can be cast in either organic or artifact mode is promising, but pairing it with Twobrid sends mixed messages to the player. Also, why does Homing Missile reward me for playing it for R, where all the Metalcast creatures do the opposite?

There were definitely some interesting possibilities raised by this pitch. "Destroy target artifact or building" piqued our curiosity, and Doomsday Battlecruiser is a pretty good implementation of Operate. Still, we all felt that these cards were carrying around far too much text. The "colored vs. colorless" theme came through loud and clear, but the cards supporting it didn't appeal to me as a player.


  1. Yet another how-you-cast-it-matters mechanic to consider, based directly off of metalcast:

    Goblin Cybercandidate 1R
    Creature-Goblin (cmn)
    Synthetic (If you cast ~ using colorless mana, it ETB as an artifact in addition to its other types)

    That does nothing on its own, but the flavor is neat and it combos with… things. Of course, I'm not sure how we then care about artifacts in a way distinct from both Mirrodin and Scars. Maybe:

    Bionic Eye 1
    Artifact—Enhancement (cmn)
    Enhanced creature can block creatures as if they had no abilities.
    Enhance 2 (2: Attach ~ to target artifact you control. Enhance only as a sorcery.)

    Which is just a limited (and therefore lame) version of equip …unless we also use it for jury rig.

    1. Biobic Eye 1
      Artifact - Equipment
      Enhancement (Cardname can only be equipped to artifact creatures)
      Equipped creature may block creatures as if the had no abilities
      Equip 2

    2. General rule of thumb: do not keyword restrictions.

    3. Extra Arms 1
      Artifact—Equipment (unc)
      Equipped creature has first strike. If it's an artifact creature, it has double strike instead.
      Equip 3
      The new universal socket allows for quick integration with cyborgs.

      Alternately, it always grants double strike, but it costs less to equip artifact creatures.

  2. Looking back on it now I mostly agree with your points but one particular confused me. If Metalcraft is a poor choice because it evokes Mirrodin then surely we have to eliminate Sunburst as a mechanic from Ekremmes as well. In fact if anything Sunburst is more closely tied to the plane as it reference the five suns whereas metalcraft is simply referring to number of artifacts.

    Anyway thanks for the feedback, all comments are appreciated.

    1. You're right. I've never particularly wanted to use Sunburst in Ekkremes anyway, since it's Yet Another Mana Cost Mechanic, but that is definitely another good reason to avoid it!

    2. Its certainly debatable whether this is enough to warrant Sunburst's inclusions, but for the record, the argument is this:

      Sunburst appeared on just 16 cards (7 common) in the third set of a block that is now a decade old. It was used only on colorless artifact cards. Very few players have any personal experience playing with it, and those that do don't have very much. Bringing it back and using it in a new way (on colored, possibly non-artifact cards) would be an upgrade and an homage. We want to keep Ekkremes distinct from previous artifact blocks, but designing it as if they never should have happened would be ignorant.

      In contrast, Metalcraft was one of the two headliner mechanics in a set that only rotated out of Standard a year ago, appearing on 31 cards (17 cmn) across a large set and two small sets. Everyone and their mother has played Metalcraft to the point of exhaustion.

    3. You have some interesting points Jay but I'm not sure timing issues are something which need to be too important. It's worth remembering our set isn't about to debut this Autumn and any artifact themed sets would be kept apart by at least a four year gap by wizards (I'm sure I read somewhere that after the Alara block, Wizards put this in the place following negative reaction to two multicoloured so close to each other).

      Sunburst may have half the number of cards but appeared in an earlier set but both reference Mirrodin. If our main focus is to expand Sunburst beyond colorless cards, and Ekkremes could be moving towards a twobird/artifact/operate/juryrig block why not see if we can move sunburst to one of the other sets. Could Sunburst work for Ankh Theb? Why not, imagine a desert backdrop with a few pyramids, a majestic pharoah and five suns on the sky. The set already wants an absolute power theme, why not allow cards t get greedy with sunburst:

      Disciple of Ra
      "A disciple spends years praying to a single sun. He must gain favor with all five if he is achieve immortality."

    4. The biggest diety is a sun god… That could work!

  3. I considered something similar to metalcast in origins (i.e. "cast with colorless/no {color}") and rejected it precisely because it caused the brain-breaking effects of colored cards you wanted to play in decks WITHOUT that color. I'm also not sure that signature color effects like Weaponised Plague's should be in twobrid (I have a similar concern with Archester's Sheriff's Warning).

    1. I think they're a stretch, like Dismember, but not necessarily a color pie problem.

    2. Admittedly, it's not as bad as Sheriff's warning can get (instant speed colorless tap for {2} that easily becomes a Swords to Ploughshare)

  4. This pitch seems very much like earlier pitches - all about 2-brid and cost. Why are there no common or uncommon operate/jury-rig cards? Also I agree that 2-brid is complex enough that most creatures with it should be very simple. Interactions will come from the rest of the set - if 2-brid creatures are colored artifacts creatures, they'll go very well with cards that care about artifacts and cards that care about color.

    1. Just to clarify: Antny's pitches were intended to be part of the final round of pitches, so they were designed some time ago. They somehow missed my inbox, but I felt it would be unfair to our readers not to give feedback anyway.