Monday, September 9, 2013

Suvnica Week 12 Review, Part 1: And the Champion Is... (Sahleen Keywords)

I've fallen pretty behind on reviewing cards, and I'm sorry for that. The Sahleen/Rimid challenge ran several weeks ago already. I'm going to try to catch up on my backlog over the course of this week. First up are the Sahleen, which inspired a pretty cool collection of keywords.

The Cozen's Silence

Silence is a mechanic is a little on the complex side, a problem that isn't helped since it is being used both as a keyword ability and as an action word. First of all, it actually is a mechanic that has a few different abilities built in (which is a NWO complexity flag). This first group of cards already shows off some of the complexity. As a keyword ability, it's tacked onto permanents and acts as an etb triggered ability that then "silences" (an action word) all creatures but one. Silencing in turn means granting defender (another keyword ability, this one static) semi-permanently. All of that layered rules meaning is a major strike against it. It would be helped slightly if the keyword ability and the action word were different words, but not enough to make much of a difference. 

The other major issue is that the keyword itself is effectively all downside for your creatures. The secondary abilities on the permanents with Silence provide the upside, but this just adds to the complexity of the individual cards. This ability would never work at common under NWO, which means it can't work as a guild mechanic. 

The support cards that The Cozen came up with show further some of the confusion this ability creates. Sometimes silence, as an action word, only lasts until end of turn. Sometimes it's permanent, and can result in situations where every creature on the board, including your would-be champion are sidelined with defender. That sounds way too unfun to follow through on.

lpaulsen's Devoted

Devoted is a marking mechanic that doesn't have any inherent rules meaning, something I'm not a big fan of in general (although I've made my fair share of these mechanics). That said, lpaulsen's execution of the marking mechanic and its support is pretty solid. He definitely captured the champion feel that Sahleen is looking for. The inability to change your champion if you have one on the board will create some decision-making tension that will appeal to spikes especially. If there were someway to make devoted, or being a champion, matter inherently beyond the extra rules text on Devoted cards, I think the mechanic would fare a lot better.

lpaulsen's Reincarnate

lpaulsen's Reincarnate functions a lot like Scavange from the battlefield. It was pointed out in the comments, correctly, that this doesn't feel especially like reincarnation since the creature is already on the battlefield. That minor nitpick aside, this is a fine mechanic, even if active sacrifice would feel more at home in a red or black aligned guild. 

lpaulsen offered an alternative template, that instead of being an activated sacrifice ability, was a death trigger instead. I like this better as it feels better in-color. 

Pasteur's Favor

I really like Favor. Hits the right flavor and color pie notes. Pasteur had submitted it so that the bonus only lasted until end of combat, but bonuses to toughness that don't last the turn create unintuitive combat math, where a creature will survive combat and then die in the second main phase as a state-based effect. I changed it so the bonus lasted until end of turn.

Jay Treat's Destined

Destined grants an extra bonus on top of whatever bonus the aura enchanting a creature with the ability is already getting. Very on-color and flavorful, although, as was pointed out in the comments, this encourages spreading the enchantment love around (you don't get compound bonuses for having multiple auras) which runs contrary to the "build one champion" flavor Sahleen is striving for. Jay suggested this mechanic before Theros spoilers started in earnest. I'm curious whether what we've seen since preview season started would impact the direction Destined would go.


  1. I do think Devoted is one of the best candidates for the Sahleen mechanic. It looks like it'll have interesting gameplay, the cards read well, and it very much fits the flavour of the Sahleen.

    Favor seems a bit too similar to Exalted to me. Which is pretty in-flavour for Sahleen too, but it just looks like it'll feel like a familiar playstyle given exalted has been in a core set as well as a block.

  2. I was ludicrously busy while these challenges were going, but I thought I'd throw out a couple of mechanic ideas now:

    Champion's Mantle (Whenever a creature you control with greater power than ~ dies, put a +1/+1 counter on ~.)

    The ability feels a bit more at home in green-black from a mechanical standpoint, but it may be a good enough flavor fit to justify its place here.

    Sunkeeper {2}{G}
    Creature-Spider (C)
    Champion's Mantle

    Light of the People {1}{W}
    Creature-Human Cleric (C)
    Champion's Mantle

    Once and Future King {3}{G}{W}
    Creature-Human Soldier (R)
    Champion's Mantle
    Other creatures you control get +X/+X where X is ~'s power.