Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Suvnica Week 9 Review, Part 1: Bears and Bears and Bears (Oh My!) (Gilrog Keyword)

Here I thought that sticking to only one guild for the keyword, and doing three cards for a cycle would lighten the workload a little bit. Ha! You guys came up with 128 cards this week. Let's take a look at the keywords you came up with for our power-hungry Gilrog.

Ant Tessitore's Recycle

Ant had actually submitted this mechanic back when we were concepting the guilds, and I had stripped the keyword from the cards for the purposes of reviewing. I've put it back into the file now.

Aside from the usual "keywords really don't want to be activated abilities" line, concerns were raised about the power level of this, especially in a world with dredge. I don't think that one overpowered mechanic once should stop us from developing new mechanics. I like the idea in abstract, though maybe more in RG than BG.

I'm pretty sure that Recycle falls apart here, since you can't add {B/G} to your mana pool, only one mana that is either. Hybrid is a cost, not something you can add. This card notwithstanding, it could be an interesting mechanic to play with and develop, although I'm not sure that it especially matches up with our working creative vision.

Circeus' Rule of the Mighty

Jay Treat raised the point that once you reach the threshhold power, it mostly isn't going to make a difference. Normal sized flyers still weren't coming in against your spider before you started punishing them for doing so, and jumping through hoops to do a point or two of trample damage on a bear is not generally worth it.

I feel like if the abilities were more exciting, like bloodshot trainee, it might be a little more worthwhile, but I don't think this mechanic is going to make a lot of people want to claim the Gilrog as "their" guild.

Circeus' Leech

Circeus also offered the leech mechanic, which inspired about 12 or 13 iterations of developing the keyword. This fact alone makes me think that it might win the "Gilrog" keyword slot. Here's the initial version:

A nice, simple mechanic that has a huge vampiric feel to it. I could definitely see this capturing the feel of the Gilrog - instead of min-maxing individual creatures, it min-maxes an army. This inspired a whole mess of variations.

First, Chah proposed this (incidentally, a lot of people offered mechanics without examples. Where they did, I just made a bear, which may seem under or overpowered for a 2/2 common for 2): 

This variation triggers at the start of combat and can leech once from any number of your creatures. This seems very cool and strategic. Also worthy of a playtest.

Chah also suggested this:

This variation works similar to soulbond, except that it has negative ramifications for one of your creatures. That alone may make it unpopular.

Does leech get better at higher numbers? If you can't support it, it effectively adds a cost of saccing a creature on ETB. If you can, you just shrunk one of your fatties. Maybe as a one-off, but I don't think that generally we're going to want to see Leech at higher than 2.

Here's where things get interesting. Being able to reference and utilize the leeched creature carries a lot of potential rule ramifications. I'm sure we can work around it, but how much design space do we want to explore within a mechanic with relatively small space, in a guild set? If the soulbondleech is used in a larger context, I think that's a good place to start exploring with treating the leeched creature as a secondary resource.

Chah offered a few preprint support cards for the mechanic.

Chah also had another variation on the mechanic to consider:

Like Beta Leech, this one triggers at combat, but can only target one of your creatures and has a variable PT shift.

Jules offered another two options to consider:

This one triggers only if it engages another creature in combat, and requires that they be untapped. I'm not sure that them being untapped matters, as the PT shift already feels like a penalty for the leeched creatures.

This one feeds off of your other creatures already in combat. This variation really limits its use, although can make for some very strategic blocking decisions on both sides of the table.

Jay Treat had four more variations of Leech

AADWTBK. That aside, making it activated and temporary instead of triggered, compulsory and persistent dramatically shifts some of the downsides of the mechanic.

Leeching champions. I'm not sure if the intent was to only exile your own creatures, or if this is meant to be a 2 for one. If it is, it's going to have to be very conservatively costed to keep from being completely broken.

Here, I think the intent was specifically to be able to leech your opponents creature, and that opens up the discussion: Why not make leech a universally upside mechanic. Instead of all the variations above that only leeched off your own creatures, what if we could start thinking about permanently leeching off of another. I think that would really make the soulbond version shine (Gamma leech), and the benefit ends as soon as the leeched creature dies. I think that could be really fun, although balancing it would be tricky (there might be a lot of inevitable 2-for-1s).

Finally, Jay Treat made a -1/-1 counter matters mechanic, similar to some space we were playing with in fate counterville. I really like this idea, and it makes for some very strategic decisions about where to throw around those counters. I am worried that it's going to lead to some incerdibly complex board states, what with constant reevaluation of p/t based on other creatures on the board and how leeched they are. Unless it's a temp boost until EoT, and then it's much more NWO-friendly.

Jules' Amalgamate

Amalgamate is delve for making giant creatures. That's a fun idea, although the 0/0 stats may leave a lot of your early creatures sitting helplessly in your hand while you try to find a way to get stuff in your GY.

Jules' Outdo

Outdo plays in a similar design space to scavenge. I feel like this makes a good one-off mechanic, but as a guild keyword, you always have to wonder whether you want to build a deck around it. Here, if you have three or four creatures with outdo on the board, each of them is going to want to trigger off the same creature's death and won't be able to. It's a good mechanic, but I don't think that an Outdo deck can really be supported.

Benjammn's Dominate

Dominate sparked a whole number of conversations and alternative suggestions. Before we get there though, this was the original mechanic submitted. I feel like reveling in triumph over a defeated enemy is both {B} and {G}, and very much plays into the power-centric vision of the guild that we're currently pushing.

Benjammn tried to put the ability word on this card, but it won't work on spells, since the spell effectively wants to give dominate to a creature, and not have it itself. Since ability words can't be referenced by other cards, it didn't really make sense to have it on the spell.

Vanquish was an alternative model that wanted to make sure that it was the creature with vanish that dealt the final blow to the creature. While I appreciate the impulse to try to link the bonus with actually triumphing over a creature, I think that it ends up jumping through unnecessary hoops to get there. Even since Sengir Vampire, it didn't matter whether the vampire actually finished draining the victim - only that creature was dead. While this was a small flavor disconnect, it made for much more intuitive (and fun) gameplay.

Another discussion that came up was whether to formalize "kill" as a game term, meaning to deal lethal damage to something. It's used informally that way, and while I think it makes sense (although I can see strong counterarguments against it as well), the Suvnica project is likely going to have very little impact on R&D's thought process, so I'm not sure that we should be in the business of formalizing common game terms.

I should have stripped the ability word on this one - it just forces some verbal contortions.

lpaulsen suggested tying the trigger to combat, and I think that's a lot more clean than trying to figure out lethal damage rules (which, as far as I'm concerned, goes up there with mentioning the stack as far as NWO is concerned).

Aura's Enhance

Enhance lets you give other creatures you play a +1/+1 counter as they ETB for a modest cost. The mechanic is ok, and really starts to shine when you have multiple enhancers on the board. It does have a more {G}{W} feel to me, since it's a group enhancing others, as opposed to enhancing one's self at the others' expense.

Jay Treat's Tyrant

Jay pitched a reverse-evolve. That makes sense for a {B}{G} mechanic, although I feel like it may lead to encouraging bad plays by players (holding off on a small creature for a few turns until it can boost a tyrant you're dropping turn 4.

The next iteration is evenmore limited, requiring that the power match exactly. That would probably be a tough sell.

That's more like it. Build a small army, then drop your fatty. Green decks will love this mechanic. Black decks mostly see small creatures as sacrifice fodder, so it may not feel super-at-home in Gilrog.

Jay Treat's Unkillable 

See? That's what {B} uses its small creatures for.

Jay Treat's Enriched

Triggered card draw at death. I like that. It might need to exile as part of the cost to prevent some degenerate combos, but it can lead to some fun gameplay on its own.

Jay offered an alternative mechanic, that loses the cost but limits what you're able to draw from it. I think I prefer enriched.

Jules suggested that it should dig for a creature instead and let you cast it immediately, which I really like. I would like to playtest it and see how frequently you end up being unable to afford the excavated creature.

lpaulsen's exploit

Exploit wants you to maximize your resources, rewarding you if you tap out to cast it.

Prophesy had a few cards that played in similar space, and they weren't hugely popular. That said, if the power level is right and the feel-bad moments are kept low, it may be worth exploring again.

We thought of a few possible alternatives to this.

Jay went the other direction with it, giving your small creatures a boost in the later turns when they're not as relevant. This version of the mechanic wants you to play multiple spells a turn.

I stuck with lpaulsen's original idea, but instead of tracking the mana spent since your last upkeep, which can sometimes have more memory issues than simply counting tapped land. I thought it would be interesting to just count the land on ETB to see if it matches the CMC of the card. This allows for some shenanigans with things like mana elves and whatnot, but has fewer memory issues than exploit.

The Cozen's Outmatch

The Cozen suggested this mechanic. It plays similar to the punisher mechanic of Red spells, giving your opponent a free "out" if by losing cards and life to counter it.

At its core, this is a drawback mechanic. It doesn't matter how cheap it makes the spell you saddle it onto; Maro has said numerous times that players just ultimately don't respond well to drawback mechanics.

Lobster667's Siphon

And with our final bear of the evening, we look at Siphon. I love this mechanic. It's a simple idea, converting one type of resource into creature bonuses for your creatures. It can eat planeswalkers (maybe the biggest strike against it, but also really awesome). This is making it onto the playtest list.


And with that, we finish up the third exploration of guild keywords. Next up we're going to see how everyone developed a cycle over different sets.



  1. The best mechanics here for B/G are easily Dominate (visceral, easy for players to understand, and plays very well) and Beta Leech (keywords with numbers are icky for new players, and with 10 keywords, we want simplicity).

    Tyranny is a fun keyword, but works best in G/W.

  2. I think Amalmagate is actually brilliant, as long as it goes on creatures that aren't just 0/0.

    Also, I'm not sure I agree that AADWTBK. I can understand not wanting keyword actions embedded in keywords, like "Respawn G (G, Gain 1 life: Regenerate this creature (The next time it would be destroyed...))"

    That seems bad.

    But activated abilities as keywords work fine: cycling, ninjutsu, equip (which is evergreen), level up, scavenge, and unearth don't seem problematic to me.

    1. Regenerate is a rules nightmare, and that's the main activated keyword. Equip is activated, but it is super-grokable to make up for it. Scavenge, unearth, and cycling all activate from a very specific nonbattlefield zone, which makes them outliers.

      Activated abilities can be keyworded, but most of the time, you don't gain all that much by keywording them. They tend to not be intuitive, and thus require frequent reminder text, even at higher rarities. Activation costs appear after the keyword, which is the complete opposite to how activation costs normally look.

      I actually think that, other problems aside, recycle would be ok as an activated keyword.

    2. Amalgamate has the issue of play and appearance fighting for space. I actually started the keyword on non-0/0 bodies, but it made the creatures feel worse on a visceral level when I looked at things like a {4}{B} 2/2. With 0/0s I know from the start that they have to get bigger. I'd love to hear more thoughts on the matter to find out if bigger amalgamate creatures are printable. How does this look to you?

    3. It could be that we just need to limit Amalgamate. If it were "remove each card in your graveyard with the same CMC as ~" or "choose a card type, remove each card of that type" then the ability has tighter bounds and we can put it on more efficient creatures.

    4. See, I like the 3B 1/1 lifelink. Maybe that's just me.

      Could we cap it? So Amalmagate 4 (You may exile up to 4 cards from your graveyard...)

      I feel like CMC would be annoying to track.

      Cards that share a color? (Lands are colorless)

      Or even just lands.

    5. If they start out as 0/0s, that might make it hard to play multiples of them in the same deck. Of course, there will be Mulches etc. to feed the graveyard, but I feel that will make the deck very swingy rather than let it operate smoothly. It might be like "This game, I drew my Grisly Salvages so my lifelink flyer enters play as a 4/4. The next game, I didn't draw my enablers and I'm stuck with two 0/0s in may hand unless I kill off my creature to feed the grave, in which case I get a 1/1 and a 0/0."

      They should start out with some power and toughness, and to make up for that they could have some other limiting factor that prevents a single one of them from exiling all the cards in your grave at once. Maybe you need to pay an additional 1 for each card you exile from the grave to get a +1/+1. Or maybe you remove up to one card from the grave each upkeep (rather than when it ETB) to get up to one +1/+1 counter each turn.

    6. Both good suggestions. They require playtesting, but my inclination is that growing every turn plays better since players won't lose while sitting there waiting to draw more lands so that they can take full advantage of the graveyard. I'm not sure if upkeep is the ideal trigger though since it saps a lot of surprise from the game. Could we make it trigger on a card being put into your graveyard from anywhere? A creature dying? Landfall? A creature entering the battlefield under your control? There are lots of possibilities to test, but in the end they may lose too much grokkability to justify the more complex triggers. What about just:
      "Amalgamate (Whenever ~ attacks, you may exile a card from your graveyard. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on this.)"
      so that players can't just stall the board and grow their army.

    7. I like these ideas, especially the second one. I just get irked every time I see an upkeep trigger because they take some of the fun uncertainty out of the effect. Here especially I'd like to avoid creating board stalls while you build up a creature. Perhaps:

      Amalgamate (Whenever ~ attacks, you may exile a card from your graveyard. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on this.)

  3. I like unkillable and tyrannosaur, although I'm not sure if they're enough to support a guild keyword.

    I like Recycle a lot, despite being similar to dredge and scavenge, it has a feel of "more interesting dredge" which wizards have said they'd like. But I think it's bound to be broken if I can play for several turns, and then cast a massive fireball. In fact, it feels perilously close to making viable a combo deck full of dredge cards and recycle cards and no lands.

    But if there could be some limit on it. Maybe just once a turn, or spending some other resource to activate the recycle, or producing something other than mana (or +1/+1 counters).

  4. Fertilizer should be called Reincarnate or Rebirth.

    Overall, Golgari did such a good job of portraying a kind of BG, we automatically think of a sludge of decaying organic material feeding oozes and zombies when we think of BG, but the more we can find an alternate interpretation, the better.

  5. I think Leech should give your own creature -X/-X rather than give an opponent's creature -X/-X. Here's my reasons:

    1. This is a case where it shouldn't be all upside.

    I know there's an incentive to try to make mechanics be all upside, but it's not an iron rule and in many cases I don't think it's the best way, considering what the cards will look like once they are developed to be balanced.

    Tom LaPille talked about the difficulty of balancing 2-for-1 mechanics like Golgari's Scavenge. He says "I retched in horror when I first saw scavenge. It's a beautiful, simple, and clean mechanic, but I knew the numbers we were going to have to put on scavenge cards were going to look ugly to a lot of people."


    For Bloodrush, Dave Humpherys talked about how they considered a version where you get both the creature and the pump effect, but they decided not to because the cost on those cards would be really high.

    "We toyed with a couple of variations that were more all-upside, but these versions subsequently cost more mana and weren't fulfilling the aggressive-minded role we wanted."

    And Maro talked about how they considered the Rowdy mechanic and kickboxing mechanic for Gruul, where your creatures have the ability to fight opponents' creatures, but that turned out too oppressive, and 2-for-1s like that were too powerful to put on commons.


    So I think it would be a mistake to make a Guild full of Farbog Boneflingers and Keening Banshees (even if they only give -1/-1 and get +1/+1).

    1. The second reason is that it will make combat decisions unclear. This "soulbond that can leech opponent's creatures" version means that there would be a creature on the opponent's side of the board that's being leeched by your creature, and you won't be sure if you want to attack into it (or block it) and kill it.

      Some may argue that it's a cool, strategy-inducing side effect. I do think it's still worth testing, but I think it's usually bad tension when you don't know if you want to kill an opponent's creature or not.

    2. Totally agree. I think the best iteration is the original leech (as long as it targets).

    3. If you do some playtesting in the future, I hope you try out the Soulbond Leech.

      With the right support cards, it might be a lot easier to activate than it looks. You don't need to shrink a fatty to boost a guy, you can shrink a wall. Other good mechanics like Battalion and Cipher don't work unless you execute them on the right cards and provide the right support, and I just think of Leech as the same way.

      Also, you seemed to imply that the leeching was mandatory, but it's a choice.

      I do think the risk of getting blown out by instant removal is a real concern, and that's something that needs to be alleviated somehow.

      But I don't think the fact that it shrinks your guys is a problem. In order to grant players a powerful effect without unbalancing the game, you need an actual cost, so it makes sense to grow your guy by shrinking another one of your guys.

      Soulbond had the problem where the power-boosting ones like Druid's Familiar were simultaneously unappealing (a 4-drop 2/2?) and unfairly strong in Limited (A 4-drop that adds 6 points of power to the board?) It's telling that they only had one of these P/T boosting soulbond cards per rarity.

      With Gamma Leech, you can have creatures that look ok for the curve (say, a 3-drop 2/2 flyer), and they can grow to monstrous size if you choose to take the risk.

      I also think that thematically, this risky way of pumping a creature is a good representation of a BG style of growth. I know it won't appeal to everyone, but not everyone is a BG mage at heart, and that's why there are ten Guilds. I can totally see people not wanting to be Rakdos because it's too reckless. Of course, it would be a problem if enough people hate it after playing with it, but if it turns out that it merely looks bad but plays great, then I feel it should be ok in a set with multiple parallel strategies.

      The main appeal I see is that
      1) You get to make a choice about which mode to play your creature in, and see it transform.
      2) You get to set up a relationship between your creatures.
      3) You get a huge creature on an earlier turn than you would usually get.
      I think many people will experience that as fun, even if they don't initially like the words they see in the text.

    4. @Ben Nassau
      Yeah, the initial Leech might be the best one, as you don't 2-for-1 yourself and you have the option to kill off one of your low-toughness guys in a Nantuko Husk style if you really need to, as Circius commented earlier. I would move the trigger to the beginning of combat, though.

    5. Both Leech and Siphon stand out to me as very GB mechanics that play into a zero-sum mindset that's distinct from the Golgari and suitable for the Gilrog. Of the leech iterations, I think the first version is the best (though I agree moving the trigger to beginning of combat might play better). Soulbond-leech is frustrating that you don't get the bonus if your leeching kills the target, limiting its utility.

    6. I think leech is drastically closer to being mono-black than black-green, and I don't think it fits into the play-style that fans of black-green decks are accustomed to. They're not about zero-sum shifts, or risky plays, they're about attrition, through virtual card advantage and/or graveyard recursion.

    7. I think Populate also had the chance to be very frustrating (because you might not have a token to populate), but they made the right designs to make them not frustrating.

      For example, there could be a Llanowar Sentinel with Soulbond Leech, so that you can fetch a partner to leech off of. There could be a 0/4 wall for 3 mana that you can sac to draw a card, to feed Leech cards safely.

      I like the first Leech too, but the condition is easier (you can leech a guy that wasn't going to attack anyways for virtually no cost), so the cards that can be designed for it are different.

      Cards I think will be balanced with soulbond leech:
      1B 1/1 Imp with lifelink, flying, Leech 1
      2GB 3/3 Hound with leech 2
      2G 1/3 Spider with leech 2
      4GG 5/5 Wurm with trample and leech 3.
      I think these would be both balanced and exciting in Limited.

      The costing method here is that they're completely fine creatures for their cost without leeching (although not top-tier commons), but with leech, they're amazing, the same way a creature with an Aura on it is amazing. (Which is allowed because you're putting two cards together to get one good creature.)

      With the first leech (I'll call it the Triggering leech), the kind of designs I expect to be balanced are this:
      3B 1/1 Imp with flying, lifelink and leech 1
      2G 2/3 Plant with leech 1
      2G 2/2 Hound with leech 2
      3G 3/3 Elephant with leech 1
      4B 3/3 Zombie with leech 3 (to be used Nantuko Husk style half of the time)

      I think the cards have to be toned down like this because the cost of shrinking a creature that wasn't going to attack anyways is almost a nonexistent cost. You would probably have an outclassed Bear lying around. You could shrink a Giant Spider during your turn, and it will turn back into 2/4 for blocking during your opponent's turn.

      Unlike the Soulbond version, which can be costed like normal on-curve French Vanilla creatures, the Trigger version would have to be costed more like Exalted creatures, looking weaker than their cost unless they're very small to start with.

      The Imp here looks super unimpressive as a 4-drop 1/1, but I suspect it would also be super powerful even at this cost, almost always behaving as a 2/2 lifelink flier with marginal cost.

      I expect the the Triggered Leech to feel very much like Banding creatures in play. With the Triggered Leech I like the ability to "sac" a creature when necessary.

      I think the choice you make when you play the Soulbond Leech will feel like "choose your mode." Also, they will have good stats on their own so you don't mind playing them without Leeching something.

    8. @Jay
      "BG=Attrition" is the definition that Ravnica gave BG. Do we want the Guilds to have the same overall playstyle and just assign them different skins?

      Each two color pair has more than one way it could play. UW is associated with slow control, but it could also be aggro-control. While RW is a good Weenie color, it is theoretically possible for a RW deck to be a slow control deck with the ability to blow up every type of permanent. Like some Day of Judgment/recursive Phoenix deck.

      By the same token, taking risks for power is Black, growth is Green, so accelerating out an early fatty while taking risks seems like a valid strain of BG to me.

    9. I think the guilds were assigned their playstyles based on the kinds of decks players tend to build with those color pairings anyhow.

    10. I'm not sure that's how they were chosen. For example, was there was a definition of UB=Mill in people's minds before Ravnica?

      In any case, what I asked still stands. Each color pair has different playstyles they can take. Do we want the Suvinca guilds to have the same playstyle definition as Ravnica Guilds, doing the same things like "reuse the graveyard" only with a different flavor explanation?

    11. Not if we can find another playstyle that will also appeal to the player who loves that color combination.

    12. I think what's important is that the new playstyle is fun, not whether the people who like Boros are the same group of people who like the new RW Guild for Suvnica. For example, Lowryn's RW Giants deck doesn't play like a Boros deck - it plays big guys and punishes the opponent for playing small guys, which is the opposite of Boros - and that kind of difference should be fine, as long as it's fun in its own way.

    13. I want to point out that although the guilds in Ravnica have made a really strong impression on players, the ways that colors can combine really isn't fixed and it would be fascinating to explore.

      For example, in ancient times, many players thought of a RW deck as a control deck because it had all the mass destruction effects and efficient removal for every type of permanent. In Ravnica 1.0, I think they invented the identity of RW as an aggro color. Before Ravnica, for the most part aggro decks that used Red or White wanted to be either mono-red RDW decks or mono-white Weenie decks for mana consistency (...I think, constructed history isn't my strongest area). I'm guessing it's only because they provided the dual lands, hybrid cards, and the strong multicolor cards for RW aggro that Boros became a thing.

      I feel it would be cool to find a new way to weave a strategy out of the strengths of two colors and design the cards that make that strategy operate smoothly. Finding new ways for colors to combine seems to be central to this project anyways (although it's been focused more on thematic elements so far rather than Guild strategy). Just like Boros in Ravnica, it doesn't have to fit player expectations, it just has to be fun.

  6. Technically you can produce {BG}; you just choose which mana it is at the time you produce it. BUT Wizards is clearly not comfortable with letting their audience guess about that.

    104.3g If an effect would add mana represented by a hybrid mana symbol to a player’s mana pool,
    that player chooses one half of that symbol. If a colored half is chosen, one mana of that color is
    added to that player’s mana pool. If a colorless half is chosen, an amount of colorless mana
    represented by that half’s number is added to that player’s mana pool.
    104.3h If a cost would be reduced by an amount of mana represented by a hybrid mana symbol, the
    player paying that cost chooses one half of that symbol at the time the cost reduction is applied
    (see rule 409.1f). If a colored half is chosen, the cost is reduced by one mana of that color (or, if
    the cost can’t be reduced by one mana of that color, the cost is reduced by one generic mana). If
    a colorless half is chosen, the cost is reduced by an amount of generic mana equal to that half’s

  7. Modular-esque:

    Food-Chain Bear {1}{G}
    Creature-Bear (cmn)
    Dog Eat Dog 2 (~ ETB with 2 +1/+1 counters on it. When it does, you may move any number of +1/+1 counters from other creatures you control to ~.)

    1. It's also kind of reverse-Graft, I guess. We can also borrow from Rule of the Mighty to give players more incentive to use the optional ability:

      Food-Chain Shambler {2}{B}
      Creature-Zombie (cmn)
      Dog Eat Dog 2 (~ ETB with 2 +1/+1 counters on it. When it does, you may move any number of +1/+1 counters from other creatures you control to ~.)
      ~ has intimidate as long as it has P 3+.

    2. The concept is neat, but I think it needs a way to interact with non-keyworded Golgari cards, the way Evolve or Scavenge do for their Guilds. Otherwise, it's like a tightly knit linear tribe with only a few cards per rarity, and those cards would be isolated from the rest of the Golgari-marked cards.

      I think the best way to make size matter on the Commons is to give them abilities like lifelink, trample, vigilance, "can only be blocked by one creature" or "can't be blocked by smaller creatures" rather than a condition turning an ability on and off.

    3. @Chah: I think its safe to say that if we end up using POPOCs as the default, at least three guilds will have mechanics that utilize them. Probably the case no matter what type of counter we use.

    4. Even with a few non-keyword cards in Gilrog sporting +1/+1 counters, and other guilds sporting them too, Chah could still be right that Dog Eat Dog is too insular. I'm not sure about that though, maybe it clicks at a certain threshold of counters across the set.

    5. My concern isn't about having enough +1/+1 counters across the set to support a Limited archetype based on them. It's more about Guild identity.

      Each Guild should have an overall play style, and each card with a Guild watermark should be contributing in some way to that style. Only about three cards per rarity would have this keyword. What are the other cards with the Iraglog Watermark going to do?

    6. You can see the "Wear out the opponent" style in the Golgari watermark cards in RTR. You can see the "attack recklessly and deal lots of damage" style in Rakdos watermark cards. How are the cards with this keyword going to have a common overall style with the other watermark cards?

  8. I agree some version of Enhance would be good for GW. That really matches the flavor of fostering a hero.

    1. It fits well, but draws focus by not appearing on the heroes themselves. I'd also like to try:

      Destined for Greatness (As an additional cost to cast ~ you may pay {X} and tap X untapped creatures you control. If you do, ~ enters the battlefield with X additional +1/+1 counters on it.)

    2. Gilrog Ritualist 2G
      Creature-Elf Shaman (cmn)
      Eat the Weak (When ~ ETB, you may sacrifice another creature. If you do, put X +1/+1 counters on ~ equal to the sacrificed creature's power.)

      Gilrog Hearteater 1B
      Creature-Horror (cmn)
      Eat the Weak (When ~ ETB, you may sacrifice another creature. If you do, put X +1/+1 counters on ~ equal to the sacrificed creature's power.)

    3. Personally, that feels far too close to devour to me.

    4. So why not just use devour?

    5. Eat the Weak is actually a much better fit for Gilrog than Devour would be in my opinion. They're constantly trying to improve, and being able to add each previous monster to the new one in a satisfying manner makes it click better.

  9. I'm not sure that Siphon is a good idea; it requires the opponent to be playing a very specific strategy to accomplish much. For example, if this were RtR, it would do a lot against Simic, Golgari, and Rakdos, but do nothing against Boros and Azorius. Should a Guild mechanic be so matchup dependent?

    Otherwise, it belongs in a very Johnny deck with an abundant source of counters like Dark Depths, but that doesn't seem ideal for a Guild mechanic. You would want the guilds to speak very clearly about what their main strategy is (even if there are sideways strategies also possible).