Monday, August 19, 2013

Designing Suvnica, Week 12: Bottom Feeders and the Ascended

Alright guys. We're halfway done with our first round of mechanics solicitations. This week we'll be throwing two more guilds into the ring. In the meantime, because last week's challenge went up late, I'll leave it open a few more days before reviewing the non-guild cycles.

The Memory Remains

For the current creative vision of the Rimid, take a look at their guild profile page.

The Rimid primarily vampires that feed on memories. Milling would be the obvious choice, but that plays too close to Dimir for my tastes (even though it was never their official mechanic). I initially thought delve would be a nice fit, but that would be feeding on one's own memories. Instead, I went with delve for your opponent's GY, which is a mechanic I'm relatively positive I've seen somewhere (GDS2 or GA) but can't be bothered to look it up. I limited it to exiling non-creature cards because it seems like it would be pretty broken/recursive otherwise.

Heroes for Just One Day

For the current creative vision of the Sahleen, take a look at their guild profile page.

The Sahleen are a problem guild - Convoke and Populate are just such solid mechanics in each of their respective blocks, among the best of the guild mechanics overall, so the bar is set pretty high. Additionally, the creative vision we ended up with for the Sahleen is fairly similar to the Selesnya, so I really wanted to play up how the guilds are different - focusing resources towards the good of one champion as opposed to the community as a whole.

Chosen is metalcraft for smaller creatures, and I think it can lead to some interesting board states. It is not without complication. If increased PT is a common bonus among Chosen creatures, then they could end up stuck in a loop of turning each other on and off. Likewise, the mechanic can discourage normal {G}{W} combat tricks to save smaller creatures if it would turn off champion (although those same combat tricks on creatures with Champion make them almost automatically turn on right there and then).

You Know the Drill

Those are my ideas for our priests and untouchables. What other mechanics might work for these two?


  1. My thought for Rimid was to represent their ability to feed. It's such a memorable aspect of their guild identity that you HAVE to include it in your guild mechanic. How to represent a mind erasure? Traditionally mill has been the way, but there is another possibility: have the vampire feed on creatures. How do you represent that? Removing abilities! Now I am thoroughly that you can make a full mechanic out of Snakeform, but there is already a way to remove all abilities from cards easily... turning them face down. My cards assume a slight flavor variant: that the rimid vampires can somehow draw powers and control their voidminded victims.

    Thoughtglaze {1}{u}
    Enchantment — Aura (C)
    Enchant creature.
    Voidmind — When Interrupt Thoughts enters the battlefield, turn enchanted creature face-down.
    {1}{b}: Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

    Voidmind Apprentice {2}{u}{u}
    Creature – Human Wizard (U)
    Voidmind — {3}, {t}, Turn Voidmind Apprentice face-down: Counter target spell.
    (This one is costed entirely for a cute Voidmage Apprentice reference. it probably needs development)

    Voidminded Lieutenant {1}{u}
    Creature – Human Warrior (U)
    Voidmind — As an additional cost to cast Voidminded Lieutenant, turn a creature you control face down.

    Thrallmaster {3}{b}
    Creature – Vampire (R)
    Voidmind — At the beginning of your upkeep, you may turn target creature face down.
    Thrallmaster gets +1/+1 for each colorless nonartifact creatures on the battlefield.

    Memory Sipper {u}{b}
    Creature – Vampire (C)
    Voidmind — {2}{u}, {t}, Turn a creature you control face-down: Draw a card.

    Reminiscent Whispers {2}{u/b}
    Instant (C)
    Voidmind — Turn target creature face-down, then for each colorless nonartifact creature on the battlefield, target player puts the top two cards of their library into their graveyard.

    I've used "colorless nonartifact creature" to refer to the face-down creatures, but assuming there is a colorless aspect as I suggested elsewhere, then there would not be any need for artifact creatures in the set (and the cards could work more broadly with artifact creatures in eternal formats).

    1. There is precedent for number of face-down creatures being counted in Ixidron. Aside from random out-of-set synergies, it seems that:

      Thrallmaster gets +1/+1 for each face-down creature on the battlefield.

      is probably better.

    2. Well, this wording is based on the idea that there would be a prevalence of colorless creatures as "glue" allowing 2-color instead of 3-color decks, so that these cards have extra build-around-me potential, but of course, there's nothing presenting those from referring to face down cards (in which case reminiscent whispers goes down to {1}{UB})

    3. This is a pretty neat mechanic. Without morph there isn't very much design space, but that's fine. If Gatecrash's cipher is anything to go by, we only need about 13 cards with the mechanic. At common I like the cards that turn your guys down as a cost, and at uncommon and rare they can turn your opponents creatures into 2/2s.
      Designwise, I think Thoughtglaze should instead have 1B: Enchanted creature gets -2/-2.
      I'm also imagining support cards as small creatures with good ETB effects, or super parasitic guys like
      Blood Sack B
      Creature - Human Idler
      When CARDNAME is turned face down, gain 2 life.

    4. I seriously miscosted my Thoughtglaze (it is FAR too cheap for this effect on a common, especially since the base creature will be a 2/2), but I can't get over the neatness of something that can be either a creature booster or a Pongify.

  2. Rimid mechanic: Deplete

    When this permanent enters the battlefield, another target creature gets -1/-0 for as long as ~ remains on the battlefield.

    Mindwrench Geist - 2UU
    Creature - Spirit (c)
    ~ and its depleted creature have flying.

    Spinal Probe - 5
    Artifact (u)
    Whenever Spinal Probe's depleted creature attacks, draw a card.
    T, sacrifice ~: Draw a card.

    Vengeful Mindfeaster - 5BB
    Creature - Vampire (MR)
    Flying, deplete
    When ~ attacks, destroy all other creatures except it's depleted creature.

    Mesmerizing Vampire - 5U
    Creature - Vampire Wizard (R)
    You control Mesmerizing Vampire's depleted creature for as long as ~ remains on the battlefield.

    1. This might be a bit more interesting as a scaling mechanic:

      Deplete N (When this permanent enters the battlefield, another target creature gets -N/-0 as long as ~ remains on the battlefield.)

    2. My revised cards would have the following:

      Mindwrench Geist - Deplete 2
      Spinal Probe - Deplete 3
      Vengeful Mindfeaster - Deplete 1
      Mesmerizing Vampire - Deplete 2

  3. Rimid:
    Court X (When ~ enters the battlefield, it courts X target creatures.)

    Hungering Ghast 1U
    Creature - Spirit (c)
    Flying, Defender
    Whenever an opponent draws a card, that player reveals it. If a creature card is revealed in this way, Hungering Ghast loses Defender until the end of your next turn.
    F: All that remains of it is a few disparate scraps - but that doesn't make yours any less desirable.

    Seeking the Rimid 1BB
    Instant (c)
    Target creature has -3/-1 until end of turn. If that creature isn't blue or black, destroy it instead.
    "It isn’t called a lonely spire because it desires guests. The souls that drift there are damned by the pact, and yours is no exception."

    Vassal of Wastes UB
    Creature - Human Citizen (c)
    Court 1
    Whenever a creature is courted, its controller loses 1 life.
    "My master begs your forgiveness for not arriving personally. He hopes his message rings clear even from the keep."

    Rimid Identifier 3UB
    Creature - Vampire Rogue (u)
    Court 1
    Whenever Rimid Identifier courts a creature, that creature loses all abilities and becomes a 0/1. Rimid Identifier has all abilities lost by its courted creature while that creature is on the battlefield.

    Lamb Astray 3UB
    Enchantment (r)
    Court 2
    You control each creature courted by Lamb Astray.
    Sacrifice three creatures: Lamb Astray's controller sacrifices it. Any player may activate this ability.
    "Surely of all the fools on Survica, a councillor should know the toll for straying on our lands."

    Grimloft Doppelganger 3UB
    Creature - Shapeshifter (r)
    Court 1
    Whenever a creature is courted, you may have Grimloft Doppelganger become a copy of that creature and gain this ability.

  4. Sahleen:
    Keyword: Silence (When this creature enters the battlefield, choose a creature and silence each other creature under your control. Silenced creatures have Defender until another creature with Silence enters the battlefield under your control.)

    Chronicler's Chant 2W
    Instant (c)
    Silence any number of target creatures until end of turn. You gain 1 life for each creature with Defender you control.

    Bulwark of Fate 1W
    Creature - Human Cleric (c)
    Creatures you control with Defender have +0/+1.

    Champion of the Meek 1WW
    Creature - Rhino Warrior (u)
    Champion of the Meek has +1/+1 for each creature you control.

    Contest of Kings 4GW
    Enchantment (r)
    Unsilenced creatures have First Strike.
    Whenever a creature enters the battlefield, silence each other creature under the control of its owner until another creature enters the battlefield under that player’s control.

    1. I wish this put more emphasis on making your one chosen guy better rather than making the other guys silent.

    2. Faith's Conduit 1G
      Creature - Elf Cleric (c)
      T: For each creature with Defender you control, add G or W to your mana pool.
      [Prerequisite mana dude, to supplement the Defender subtheme this keyword loves. See, this is one of the things I hated about RTR block - they had awesome like Axebane in, but never actually followed it up. Axebane didn't even have any X spells to power out!]

      Grove Guardian 3GG
      Creature - Hydra (u)
      As Grove Guardian enters the battlefield, tap any number of creatures you control. For each creature tapped in this way, put a +1/+1 counter on Grove Guardian.
      F: "The Gilrog empower their creations with all the hatred the world has borne against them. We have faith in our guardians, and they reward that with their strength."

      Introspection W
      Instant (u)
      Silence target creature. Its controller draws a card. (Silenced creatures have Defender.)
      "Whats the point of attacking if you can't defend the ones you love?"
      [Silence is a state as well, and its only the Silence keyword that removes it. Unless you're in a mirror, Introspection is going to keep that creature from hitting you.]

      Fate's Devotee 1GW
      Creature - Rhino Warrior (u)
      Silence, Vigilance
      As a creature is silenced, put a +1/+1 counter on Faith's Devotee and it loses Defender until end of turn.
      “If you won’t rise to accept the challenges Survica faces, then fall back in line so that I can.”
      ["Oh no, my Silenced guys don't contribute!" Devotee does. He gives you your second creature, and is huge to boot. He is also never a 0/1.]

      Radel Varov, Sahleen Paladin 3GW
      Legendary Creature - Human Cleric Knight (r)
      Indestructible, Lifelink
      If Radel Varov is attacking, any number of creatures you control may become attacking creatures as well. If Radel Varov is blocking, any number of creatures you control may be declared as blocking creatures as well. (They attack or block the same target as Radel Varov.)
      ["Oh no, my creatures are silent! I have to act as though I have an Exalted game plan!" Nope. Radel rises, and your creatures hear his call to war.]

    3. Silence gets really messy when you start using it as both a ability keyword and action keyword.

  5. Sahleen keyword proposal #1:

    Devoted (Whenever ~ or another creature enters the battlefield under your control, if you don't have a champion, you may make it your champion.)

    This is just a mechanism to keep track of who your champion is. The real work is done by the card text:

    Sahleen Bear 1G
    Creature- Bear (Common)
    Your champion gets +1/+1.

    Sahleen Turtle 2W
    Creature- Turtle (Common)
    Your champion has vigilance.

    Sahleen Armadillo 1GW
    Creature- Beast (Uncommon)
    Your champion has trample and lifelink.

    Sahleen Tracker 2GG
    Creature- Human Scout (Uncommon)
    GG, T: Your champion fights target creature.

    Sahleen Guardian 3GW
    Creature- Elemental (Rare)
    Your champion has defender and indestructible.

    Sahleen Pilgrim 1W
    Creature- Human (Rare)
    1W: Exile your champion. Return it to the battlefield under its owner's control at the beginning of the next end step.

    1. Man, I love this mechanic. Very clean design. However, not every card that affects champions needs to have devoted I think. Sure, it lowers the power of the card, but you can get some interesting designs and flavor that way.

    2. Wow, yes, this is very cool.

  6. Sahleen keyword proposal #2:

    Reincarnate [cost] ([Cost], sacrifice this creature: Put +1/+1 counters equal to its power on target creature.)

    Reincarnate (= reinforce from the battlefield, or premature scavenge) is meant to encourage "build-a-champion" play. I'm not sure of the rules behind power-measuring-- I think the layer system might cause some problems--but my intention is for +1/+1 counters already on the creature to be counted. Cards:

    Sahleen Acolyte 2W
    Creature- Human Monk (Common)
    Reincarnate 1W

    Sahleen Monk 3G
    Creature- Human Monk (Common)
    ~ must be blocked if able.
    Reincarnate 1G

    Sahleen Spirit 1GW
    Creature- Elemental Spirit (Uncommon)
    ~'s power and toughness are equal to the number of creatures you control.
    Reincarnate GW

    Sahleen Novice W
    Creature- Human Monk (Uncommon)
    Reincarnate 0

    Sahleen Martyr 2GG
    Creature- Human Soldier (Rare)
    Reincarnate G
    When ~ dies, creatures you control gain hexproof until end of turn.

    Sahleen Elder 3W
    Creature- Human Advisor (Rare)
    Vigilance, lifelink, indestructible
    Other creatures you control have reincarnate W.

    1. Actually, I'm not sure the cost is an important part of the mechanic. It could be dropped and the casting costs changed. Either way, feedback appreciated.

    2. This doesn't feel like reincarnating, because the other guy has already been born! Maybe it can be called "bequeath destiny" or something.

      If you're able to freely sacrifice it, it might be too complex in combat. It could be a death trigger.

      An unkeyworded version of this could work well with lpaulsen's champion mechanic. The counters are always placed on the champion.

    3. I like the death trigger idea (probably without an associated cost). In that form, it's basically modular with fewer limitations (uh-oh?).

      Doing this with the champion mechanic would be cool, but it would feel really bad if the creature that dies *is* the champion. What about putting +1/+1 counters on the champion when the creature enters the battlefield?

  7. Sahleen:
    Favor N (When this attacks, you may tap up to N creatures you control. For each creature tapped this way, this gets +1/+1 until end of combat.)

    Attended Champion 2G
    Creature - Snake Knight (c)
    When ~ enters the battlefield, put a 1/1 Human creature token onto the battlefield.
    Favor 2 (When this attacks, you may tap up to two creatures you control. For each creature tapped this way, this gets +1/+1 until end of combat.)

    Paladin of Sahl WW
    Creature - Human Knight (u)
    First Strike
    Favor 3 (When this attacks, you may tap up to three creatures you control. For each creature tapped this way, this gets +1/+1 until end of combat.)

    Rhox Inspired 2WG
    Creature - Rhino Knight (r)
    Favor 4 (When this attacks, you may tap up to three creatures you control. For each creature tapped this way, this gets +1/+1 until end of combat.)
    At the beginning of each upkeep, untap all creatures you control.

    Temple Cleric 1W
    Creature - Snake Cleric (c)
    When CARDNAME becomes tapped, target creature gains lifelink until end of turn.

    Favor is generally going to be weaker than Exalted, but it also allows for more powerful creatures as a result. It breaks board stalls and allows you to make interesting choices in combat without making every combat complex (since the decision happens at a specific, known time). The name I originally worked with was "Rally", but that doesn't feel very Sahleen; it could just as easily be "Sovereign" or something similar as we develop the world better.

    1. The bonus shouldn't end until end of turn - otherwise things will start dying immediately after combat even though they survived during combat.

  8. Rimid keyword proposal #1:

    Fateseal! It's only been printed on two cards, both blue future-shifted cards, and it fits the Rimid's mind-attacking flavor really well. If it needs to be 'officially' new, we could tweak it by sending cards to the graveyard rather than the bottom of the library. Cards:

    Seal Fate 2BB
    Instant (Common)
    Destroy target creature. Fateseal 2.

    Alter Mind U
    Instant (Uncommon)
    Draw a card. Fateseal 2.

    Spin into Myth 4U
    Instant (Uncommon, preprint)
    Put target creature on top of its owner's library. Fateseal 2.

    Fate Sealer 1UB
    Creature- Vampire Rogue (Common)
    Whenever ~ deals combat damage to a player, fateseal 1.

    Demon of Doom 4BB
    Creature- Demon (Rare)
    Flying. When ~ enters the battlefield, fateseal 4. Your opponents can't search or shuffle their libraries.

    1. Fateseal is compelling and very U/B, but it is so terrible to play against. I believe the word of god has come down that JTMS is likely to be the last fateseal card ever printed.

  9. Rimid keyword proposal #2:

    Assimilate (You may cast cards exiled with ~.)

    In other words, keyword the Nightveil Specter / Praetor's Grasp ability. There are a couple of potential issues here: it's hard to do at common and leads to weird color requirements. Here goes:

    Extract Information 1U
    Sorcery (Common)
    Exile the top two cards of your library.

    Steal Mind 4B
    Instant (Common)
    Exile target creature.

    Stealer of Brains 2U
    Creature- Zombie Vampire (Uncommon)
    When ~ deals combat damage to a player, exile the top card of that player's library.

    Thoughtgrab 2B
    Sorcery (Uncommon)
    Target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a nonland card from it and exile that card.

    Necromancer of the Void 2UB
    Creature- Vampire Shaman (Rare)
    Whenever a card would be put into an opponent's graveyard from anywhere, exile that card.

    1. EDIT: The ability should probably say "play" rather than "cast". That lets you use the opponent's mana to cast the opponent's spells, which seems like it should help with the color requirements. This also means that Extract Information should probably be a 2U Sorcery.

      Further fun-sounding ideas:

      Steal Ideas 2U
      Sorcery (Common)
      Exile the top three cards of target opponent's library. Assimilate

      Secondhand Thoughts 2UB
      Instant (Rare)
      Exile the top seven cards of target opponent's library. Assimilate

      Feedback welcome and appreciated.

    2. This looks too card-advantageous as is. It needs some other cost or hoop, such as discarding a nonland card. Or maybe you can only play them until end of turn.

      Also, if you have a lot of assimilated cards in play, it will be information overload and may slow down play. Both players have to think about what assimilated cards you might cast.

    3. Discarding a card is a good idea, but I'm not sure it's necessary. Most of the above designs aren't overly broken if you change "assimilate" to "draw a card". And drawing one of your own cards is typically better because your deck is already designed to cast it.

      That being said, I agree that some of the above designs are aggressive in terms of their power level. If the mechanic needs to be changed, I propose:

      Cards exiled with ~ have "Discard a card: You may play this card this turn as though it was in your hand."

      But that makes the gameplay more complicated, and it feels a bit more Izzet than Dimir to me.

    4. Ones that work like Divination or Mind Rot should be fine.

      However, Extract Information is really a Divination that costs 1 less, and Steal Ideas is no different from a Concentrate at Common. (Assuming you can play lands exiled with them, and I think you should be allowed to do that if you're going to be exiling cards from the opponent's library.) They are too strong.

      Steal Mind is almost as powerful as a Control Magic, even if it's slower.

      When you have a deck full of cards with this keyword, every spell you cast with this keyword will give you extra cards and the advantage is really going to add up.

  10. Saheen Tiger 1G 2/2
    Destined — As long as ~ is enchanted, it gets +2/+2.

    Saheen Monk 2G 2/3
    Destined — As long as ~ is enchanted, it has hexproof.

    Saheen Prophet 2W 2/2
    Destined — As long as ~ is enchanted, draw a card at the beginning of your upkeep step.

    Saheen Knight WW 2/2
    First strike
    Destined — As long as ~ is enchanted, it has pro: black and red.

    Saheen Blessing G/W
    Enchanted creature gets +0/+3 and spells that target it cost opponents 3 more to cast.

    1. Seems solid to me, but maybe not good for Sahleen, since this encourages having multiple enchanted creatures and doesn't reward going big on a single creature. In any case, I really like the Blessing design.

    2. Enchantments could be a very solid theme for Sahleen, as it's more common ground for Green White that Ravnica didn't touch very much.

  11. Rimid Cuthroat 1B
    2/1 Rogue
    Psychic (Whenever ~ deals damage to a player or a creature he or she controls, that player puts that many cards from the top of his or her library into his or her graveyard.)

    1. I like it a lot! Very relevant in Limited and easy to create synergies for in Constructed. The templating is a little tricky-- who does 'he or she' refer to exactly? How about "Whenever ~ deals damage to an opponent or a creature an opponent controls, that player" etc.

    2. "Whenever ~ deals combat damage, defending player puts that many etc". That way it even works when attacking planeswalkers too.

    3. Although it then mills you if you use it to block.

  12. A card advantage mechanic for rimid:

    Cognizance (When you cast this spell, reveal the top card of your library. If it is a card with cognizance, you lose two life and put that card in your hand.)

    Amnesia Expedition {2}{U}{U}
    Draw two cards, then put a card from your hand on top of your library.

    Memory Holder {B}{u}
    Creature -- Vampire
    Lifelink, Hexproof

    Rimid Assassin {U/B}{U/B}
    Creature -- Rogue
    When an opponent draws a card except the first one he or she draws in each of his or her draw steps, you may cast Rimid Assassin without paying its mana cost.

    Mind Shear {B}
    Target player discards a card.

    1. On second thought, that is a good fit for the Kismi...