Wednesday, May 15, 2013

CCDD 051513—Focus

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/15/2013 - Yesterday I introduced Twin, which is a neat card-sink mechanic, but it is limited in scope because it only doubles effects, and not everything can be doubled. Today, I share Focus, which is basically the same idea but with a more flexible execution. That costs us some consistency (and thus identity) as well as some elegance, but I suspect it's worth it.

Take a look:

We can still double effects the same way twin did, but we can also upgrade effects in other ways, many of which turn out to be just as appropriate, if not more so. I'm curious to hear whether you prefer focus or twin. Or does the idea of a card-sink mechanic not appeal at all? To me, it's like cycling except instead of getting a random card, you get more of an effect you wanted anyway. (The similarities with cycling drop-off quickly after that, since focus isn't a mana-fixing or -smoothing mechanic.)


  1. So, this is exactly "Kicker- discard a card." That is not bad in itself (to my surprise, this kicker cost has actually never been done before), but it does make me wonder why the mechanic is called focus.

  2. I wonder if you could support focus in other ways. For instance,
    Concentration Mage
    Human Mage
    T: CARDNAME deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
    Whenever you focus a spell, you may untap CARDNAME.

    While obviously better with focus spells, it's still useable without, say in limited or if you don't draw yours.

  3. The added versatility is nice, but we're not just losing identity and cleanness: we're losing grokkability. It's much harder to remember "the discard spell lets you choose instead, the card drawer gets an extra card, the burn spell hits an extra target, and the bounce spell puts it on top" than just "cast the spell twice." Part of Clash's failing was certainly the feeling of loss of control, but I imagine the disconnect between effects had plenty to do with it as well. Look at how much text is on the commons!

  4. I like focus quite a bit better than twin. It's definitely got a lot more versatility than twin does. Twin could only go on a certain number of cards because the effect had to be double-able. Focus, though it's only a kicker variant, has certain flavor applications as well that twin lacks.

  5. When I heard the word "focus," I thought it was going to be something like "Up to three target creatures get +1/+1 until end of turn. If you targeted the same creature each time, it gets +5/+5 until end of turn instead."

    I know that doesn't work exactly with the targeting rules, but weh templating

  6. I prefer Twin, which was easy to remember/grokkable, and reads better. Players will think "I get to copy spells?!? Sweet!" even if the spells themselves are weaker. Also, all of the effects above could have been done as Twin spells - well not exactly, but doubling up on any of the above spells could be just as powerful as the listed effects.

    1. I agree, Twin was a lot more exciting than Focus. With something like Focused Expulsion, upgrading from Unsummon to Time Ebb doesn't feel like it's worth an extra card. With Twin, there's a much more tangible relationship between the Cost and the Reward (especially if Twin lets you change targets for the copy, which I think it should).

  7. Twin beats Focus. Good to know. Thanks for the great feedback!