Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Suvnica Week 10 Review, Part 1: Power of Equality (Suiroza Keyword)

Well, we have a whole mess of new keywords to consider. Let's dive in. First up, we'll consider submissions for the Suiroza.


My initial idea for the Suiroza mechanic had some nice flavor resonance, but didn't sit too well in {W}{U}'s color pie, nor in the strategies that they generally prefer. That said, the mechanic sparked a number of spinoff ideas.

(As a quick aside, I renamed a number of mechanics for bookkeeping purposes)

Jay Treat pitched Reflector as a possible modification. The mechanic is a more limited version of replicate, allowing copying once for each potential target. This sparked a short discussion as to how novel we want guild keywords to be.

Suvnica exists in a strange place, conceptually. We're all as into it as we are because the set is piggybacking on a tremendous amount of good will from Ravnica. The guild model just works, and it is super fun as a design springboard. So on the one hand, we occasionally create a design fiction for Suvnica that Ravnica never existed, but simultaneously Suvnica can't exist without our understanding of what made those sets tick. 

Every guild is someone's favorite. There's no doubt that guild mechanics need at least some novelty or else someone will feel like their guild was overlooked. In a vacuum, Reflector is a great mechanic, and one that would be perfect for Suvnica (although I'd have to think a little more as to whether it made sense in Suiroza specifically over another guild), but it loses so much of its appeal when it's effectively a tinker of Replicate. I think that our fiction of Ravnica not existing has to cave in situations like this, if only so our designers (and hypothetical audience) has the chance to be excited about a Suvnican guild without Ravnican guild baggage. 

lpaulsen pitched a mechanic that gets a little mathy, but is relatively easy to understand all the same. I do have some rules concerns, but overall, I like the idea. Definitely a variation I would like to see some playtesting done with.

Circeus made a limited version of Reflect, only allowing a single copy for a different target. I'm not sure that alleviates all of the concerns that were raised about Reflect, but it's still worth considering as an option.

Teach was the farthest version of reflect that could still be said to be a modification of it. Instead of copying spells across the creatures, it gives temporary aura copies.

I love teach. It's a fantastic mechanic, perfect fit for the colors and the philosophy of Suiroza. But it's not going to work. It requires a high density of enchantments in the set, something that is going to draw very limited mechanical space away from other guilds. If there's a common theme through a number of guilds of liking auras or enchantments it might be a different story, but I don't think that's a feasible approach given how dense guild sets have historically been.

I'm pretty sure this was sitting in the back of my subconscious when I pitched the phantom weapon in last week's WAC.

Lobster667's Strive

As far as philosophy goes, strive makes sense for Suiroza. Everyone should be the same, so as long as there's somebody better, there's room to improve. As far as color pie goes, this type of growth feels much more at home in a green-related guild than in {W}{U}. I can't exactly say why. Blue had a similar mechanic in Gatecrash with Evolve. White gets +1/+1 counters all the time. But it still doesn't feel quite right in these two colors.

Circeus' Mechanics

Circeus had a few different ideas for Suiroza mechanics.

The first played in a similar place to Condemn, the Zhavi mechanic that I pitched. The concept here seems to be that the guild escapes destinies and has power of those that are subjected to destiny. It's a cool concept.

Circeus' second idea was for the guild to provide aid to colorless creatures, another way to treat everyone as equal. Circeus proposed that, similar to fate counters, different guilds could interact with colorless creatures in different ways. It could be interesting to see that play out, but tacking colorless creature token generation onto spells doesn't seem an especially blue thing to do. This is another mechanic that might work a little better in another guild from a color pie perspective, even though it makes sense with Suiroza's philosophy.

Circeus last idea for Suiroza was Bestow, an ability that can go on creatures or auras that share their abilities across your other creatures the turn they come into play. Of the three mechanics proposed, I think this one makes the most sense for the guild, both in terms of philosophy and color-pie. It does look like it has a pretty narrow design-space, which might be a problem, but we might be able to squeeze fifteen or so cards out of it.

TehWERR's Aspire

Aspire is a cool idea, flavorful, but it would never see print. The memory issues involved with having a guild full of creatures that have different PTs than what they're printed with would just lead to very messy play. It would work nicely on MTGO, but never in paper magic (until MaRo gets his digital/physical card wish).

Jay Treat's Mechanics

Jay offered a few different ideas for guild mechanics.

Tabula Rasa is similar to Aspire. Having every creature be modal is sufficiently spikey for a {W}{U} guild, but, like Aspire, it seems like there are just too many memory issues to really work. Even though the possibilities are much more limited, if you have two or three TR creatures on the board, it can quickly become easy to forget what modes were chosen. Maybe playtesting would prove me wrong about this one. 

Mentor is a souped up version of forecast, the original Azorius mechanic (which went over like a lead balloon). This could be fun, or it could create repetitive game play. Playtesting required.

And that's a souped-down version of forecast. If we're testing anything, it'll be Mentor before Teacher.

Jules' Mentoring

That last one is a mouthful. Mentoring is another ability sharing keyword that triggers off of an attack. There's nothing necessarily wrong with giving {W}{U} a combat-centric keyword, but it does somehow feel off. I wonder whether if it was taken in the other direction it would make more sense. Something like, "At the beginning of your upkeep, you may exile ~. If you do, creatures you control gain abilities. Return ~ to the battlefield at the end of turn."

Benjammn's Mastery

Benjammn proposed an alternative level up mechanic that invests time instead of mana. I feel like the payoff here might be a little on the low end for the investment of losing a creature for a whole turn.

Mastery's alternative template (no reminder text here) is to leave it tapped during the untap step for a counter instead of tapping it during the upkeep. For either version, the biggest issue is that even once they hit their next level, you can't use them, as they'll be too tapped to use the activated or attack in with flying. I like the idea of a non-mana level up mechanic, but I think leaving these guys tapped is going to be too slow in general to be much fun.

lpaulsen's Exemplar

Exemplar is a great mechanic that absolutely captures the feel of the guild. The costs might be tricky, and we would have to figure out how to make it more relevant to care that the cards are initially auras instead of just wanting the global effects to begin with, but there's a lot of potential in this mechanic.

Jules suggested a slight tweak to address the memory issues of remembering whether or not the global mode had been activated.

As an alternative, Chah suggested that the global mode be temporary and require the enchanted creature to tap down to activate. I think that's legit. It's less powerful, but makes the two modes more relevant based on the situation (whereas you'll almost always want to turn the enchant global ASAP under Exemplar.)

Jay offered a creature-based variation, an activated ability that shares all abilities of the creature, regardless of where they came from. I screwed up the reminder text here, but this is the temporary version.

lpaulsen suggested a more permanent version. Either way is interesting, although, as Chah pointed out, we would run into problems when it comes to characteristic defining abilities. We could make exceptions for those, but mentioning "characteristic setting" in card text seems taboo under NWO in the same way that mentioning the stack is. It's a concept that most players understand intuitively rather than through in-depth rules knowledge, and calling it out would probably cause as much confusion as it would alleviate.

Schooling needs some tidying up, and I'm not sure if the trigger or the effect is constant across all creatures. For now I'll assume that it's both. I like the ability, although of course the issue is that if you target the creature with a spell that gives it first strike until EOT, the schooling ability is going to resolve first, meaning it won't share the first strike it just gained. Maybe templating can help that. I think this specific variation is a very strong implementation of the creature versions, making the Johnny in me super happy.

The Cozen's Archive

Archive replaces your card draw with fate counters and an outlet for them. The Cozen described the concept as giving the guild's students the opportunity to learn and specialize instead of you, the player having that chance. I like the direction he's taking this in, although there are some definite rules issues that need to be ironed out as far as replacement effects go. I'm not enamored by the effects that let you cash in for the cards anyway, but there's definitely space to expand this mechanic.


That's it for Suiroza. We had a really nice range of different ideas. They were a tricky guild to design for, especially since their creative identity wants to be realized in ways that feel more {R} or {G} than {W} and {U}. Still, there were some really solid ideas that came out of this. Next up, we'll look at what everyone came up with for Grohm.


  1. Maybe we were being overly theoretical when discussing how Teach takes away space for other things. We shouldn't discard it.

    If you count the number of Auras in Return to Ravnica, there were actually a lot. There were even two linear Enchantments that counted the number of enchantments you have in play.

    There were a lot of creature Auras that were played, and a lot of land Auras that didn't get played. If we convert all those slots into playable creature Auras, and throw in a Tallowwisp or Totem-Guide Hartebeest among the common creatures, it could be made to work without taking space away from other themes.

  2. Regarding the "Fiction" we refer, I've been working on the assumption that although ravnica didn't happen, the mechanics it generated still existed, tough possibly from other sets.

    Regarding the comment about tokens, blue has always made tokens. I made my example card create tokens to make sure that, as the splicers did, it would never be a dud, but assuming there is a significant undercurrent of colorless (my Rimid mechanic idea creates colorless creatures), then it works even with blue not making many tokens. Another obvious design space for this in blue is making colorless token copies.

    1. Colorless tokens representing unguilded citizens would be a neat element for the set. Boosting colorless creatures fits great in blue and white for another reason-- artifact robots are the ultimate Tabula Rasa.

  3. I forgot to post my final idea, but it was the following:

    "Whenever ~ becomes tapped, put a mastery counter on ~."

    A more interesting design space. You can get designs like this:

    Flamesword Apprentice - RR
    Creature - Human Soldier (unc)
    Mastery (Whenever ~ becomes tapped, put a mastery counter on it.)
    Base: 2/2
    Mastery 1-3: First strike, 3/3
    Mastery 4+: First strike, trample, 4/3

    And designs like this:

    Tactical Prodigy - 1W
    Creature - Human Wizard (unc)
    Base: 1/3
    Mastery 1-5: T: Tap target creature. 1/3
    Mastery 6+: Vigilance, T: Tap target permanent. 3/5

    Aggressive and defensive; pretty much what level up was. It's a shame because I think level up sums up this guild perfectly in everything except the name.

  4. the mechanics that I think would work the best are exemplary and bestow and archive. they don't have much design space but ravnicas blocks are great for mechanics with low design space, like cipher.