Friday, June 7, 2013

Suvnica Week 5 Review, Part 1: 50 Ways to Kill Another (Rakdos)

Hey guys! The week 6 exercise has already been posted, in case you missed it.

I don't know if I told you this, but following the week 5 submissions, we had collectively designed, and this figure excludes reprints and preprints, over 230 cards. That means we had designed more cards than see print for a typical large set. The rarity and color distribution for a multicolor set looked about right too. I'm super impressed.

In any event, let's see what you all had to say about Rakdos.

Zefferal's Vision

Suvnica gives us a guild looking to gain power and advantage through seeding chaos. That description reeks of terrorism. This is the guild that takes advantage of the loss of faith in the powers that be by orchestrating disasters that question the ability of governments and societies to protect their constituents. Plus, all the dead bodies make for ample opportunities to bolster their standing zombie army...
Lobster667 offered some designs for my vision:

Nice and simple. Maybe a little undercosted, but it's hard to tell with deathtouch. I like the idea Black emphasizing germ warfare in the terrorist motif with red handling the things-go-boom route. This could play up -1/-1 counters, enchants that reattach to new creatures at death (Nettlevine Blight), and a few other ways.

More deathtouch. The ability tends to show up on three creatures per set, so we'll probably need to diversify Rakdos a little more. Also, {B}{G} is going to want it more than {B}{R} is, so if they end up in the same set, Rakdos won't likely get more than one deathtoucher.

Very nice design. I might make it rare both for power level and weirdness, but it really works to keep a player on ropes once you've started your offensive.

A very nice Rain of Thorns mirror. Definitely a guild rare worthy of the Rakdos, no matter what vision.

Jules' Vision

The Sodkar yearn for power above all else. Power over people, the ability to make people act the way you want them to. But controlling people isn't about making them agree with you, people rarely act rationally anyway. You need to control how they feel. To that end the Sodkar practice magic that ellicits emotion. Sometimes so subtle that you don't notice you're being manipulated. Sometimes so forceful that you are powerless to resist the urge. Either way, you're choices are not your own.

Jules offered an alternate take on the black goals/red tools approach. Red harnessing emotion is unfortunately something that doesn't often get to shine in the game, since the emotional spectrum that lends itself to creature-oriented combat is pretty narrow. In the meantime, {B} is no stranger to using emotion as an offensive weapon all on its own, mostly focusing on fear and despondency. This could be a really interesting vision to tease out further.

I've started using purple rarity symbols for (p)reprints. For those wondering why I generally have little to say about them, it's because I don't really have much authority to offer critique for cards that have seen print. They exist  somewhere on the design scale between barely printable and design exemplar, but they've been printed en masse on cardboard whereas my own designs, alas, have not. I still throw them in the file because they do help illustrate the creative visions, which is just as much a part of this exercise as the card design.

So the only time the slith ability has ever shown up at common was on Innistrad vampires, where it was kind of their mechanical gimmick. I do think that it eats up complexity points for NWO commons, so unless it's a recurring mechanic across the guild, this would probably have to be bumped up a notch in rarity.

I'm also not sure how much I like Intimidate on multicolor cards. It kind of has a reverse-lenticular quality about it. Only two multicolor creatures have had the ability (Immurwolf and Vela the Night Clad). I'm not sure.

This I like a lot. Manipulating your opponent's minions causing some sort of psychic backlash -- it's a cool concept. It also has some weird tension - if I wait for the other player to cast a creature, the cards effect is bigger, but potential to remove problem cards decreases. It makes for some very Spikey moments, if you can get the spike to play discard.

The Mountain to Act of Treason's Hound.

Treading similar ground as Lobster's Barricade Breaker. This might make an interesting mechanical theme for the guild. Maybe even worth a keyword - whenever a creature you control becomes blocked, you may pay {B/R}. If you do, target blocking creature gets -1/-1 until EoT. Might be too busted to show up with keyword frequency though.

Jay Treat liked Jules' vision, thinking that it could be the home of grifters on Suvnica.

Sounds like a Archenemy scheme. A very narrow metagame hoser. Normally the kind of card I find completely boring, but I really like this twist on it. Might be more at home in Dimir than Rakdos from a flavor perspective, given the control aspects and the outwitting your opponent flavor, but very fun nonetheless.

Anyone else read Deadpool #25 in the late '90s? No? One of my favorite moments in comics history.

Anyway, this plays well with Rakdos' Hellbent mechanics and aggressively costed creatures. That's definitely a strategy that could carry over to the Grifter vision, but I would think that they might be more unilateral in the discard and life loss (at higher CMC obviously).

lpaulsen's Vision

The new Rakdos are actively despotic. They aim to control people, and they are very good at using fear, emotion, and sheer brutality to do so. They're an organization that's part mob, part paramilitary, and part dictatorship, and they run most of the poorer areas of Suvnica. Mechanically, they are bigger and less all-out aggressive than the old Rakdos, and they play up the "griefer" and control roles.

Definitely feels like a collection of demons and devils to me. Less focused on the short game, more interested in maximizing opportunities. Let's see the cards.

I really like this mechanic. He becomes an effective 3/3 when blocking or blocked, can take out X/1 first strikers, and invites Johnnies to find a way to break him. The ability seems easy enough to get to be at common.

Works for me. It raises an interesting contrast with Diabolic Edict. On the one hand it's better since the subset of sacrifice options is much more narrow and predictable, but on the other, it won't get rid of your opponent's only creature if it's of decent size.

That is potent. I feel like there at least needs to be some additional cost to the repeatable creature kill beyond just turning it sideways.

I missed a comma when I was rendering it. I forget the informal name for Browbeat mechanic, but this is an interesting interpretation of it. Definitely love the flavor. Development may have to tweak the numbers here, since I'm not sure that too many people would ever really choose between discarding 3 or losing a land, but I do like the design overall.

lpaulsen added a sixth card to his Chant cycle. This one is a very interesting interpretation, and it can play wildly different from game to game, which I think is a point in its favor. I might remove the "without flying," as it makes the dynamics of casting the card way more complicated than it needs to be - red {X} spells don't always have the Earthquake restriction that they did back in the day, and I don't think that the flavor of the chant requires it to be ground-based.


That's it for Rakdos. Simic is coming up soon.



  1. Could relentless assassin fight instead of ping?

    1. In theory, but it would be less of an assassin and probably {B}{G} instead. I don't think the problem is with the ability, but rather in the lack of cost for repeatable creature kill.

    2. Well, red gets fight, but it does end up being simply "{t}, sacrifice ~: destroy target creature." Mind you, that effect has not been done much, and makes a great representation of a suicide bomber.

    3. I remember considering "fight" for the design, but it doesn't make much sense on a 1/1. Maybe it could be a 1/3 (or similar stats) with {R}, {T}: fight target creature. That would probably have more interesting gameplay, but I agree that it would feel much less red.