Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Suvnica Week 12 Review, Part 2: The Last Horizons I Can See Are Now Resigned to Memory (Rimid Keywords)

The Rimid are vampires that feed off of memories instead of blood. You all came up with some cool ways of representing that through keyword mechanics. Here are some potential guild keywords for the Rimid.

Circeus' Voidmind


Voidmind's big issue up front is that it doesn't actually work as an ability word. Ability words are considered keyword abilities to the extent that they take advantage of uniform triggering conditions with various effects. All Metalcraft cards care about having three artifacts, all bloodrush requires mana and discarding the card, and all Chroma requires you to count some mana symbolds. Voidmind plays in the morph design space, turning things face down and stripping them of their identity, but the examples given aren't uniform enough to really function as a guild mechanic. It could be treated as an action word (like clash, proliferate, scry) -- When ~ ETB, voidmind target creature (to voidmind a creature, turn that creature face down. Face down permanents are 2/2 colorless creatures.) Another issue is that, if used on your opponent's creatures, you can't really ask for a bonus beyond that, making the keyword relatively unexciting. If used on your own creatures, either it's going to create too much spikey-type tension for most players, effectively keywording a cost, or it's going to require so much support that it will be fairly parasitic, something we don't really want in a Suvnica/Ravnica type set.

Hubatish offered this as a support card.

Circeus' Cognizence

Cognizance works as a potential cantrip for every spell with the keyword that you have. I'd really have to playtest to see if this is too powerful or not powerful enough to just not be a straight-up cantrip. It is relatively parasitic - it has zero interaction with cards outside of the block, and those types of mechanics don't tend to fare too well. I would make the card draw optional or get rid of the 2 life requirement, otherwise this is invariably going to end in situations where the caster is going to have to sit on a potentially game shifting card out of fear of knocking out his last two points.

Benjammn's Deplete

Deplete is pretty solid. There are definitely some memory issues going on here, and I'm not super happy about black using -X/-0 instead of its more regular -X/-X, but I think that this captures the vampiric flavor (although not the memory-vampire flavor as much) of the guild. NWO would probably require the depleted creatures to not be penalized (or the depleting creature to benefit) beyond the actual depletion.

The Cozen's Court

A lot of the Suvnica mechinic designs have been essentially marker mechanics - they don't mean anything themselves, and carry no rules baggage beyond stating that a creature is, for instance, courted. I've come up with a few of these myself, and I think that ultimately, they're a major design error. The game has rules built in for tracking things - counters. Interestingly, it looks like R&D has tackled this semi-ellegantly with Monstosity. The counters are there mostly as a marking mechanic, and to keep it from being a boring dud, the one-time activation is always paired with a triggered ability. 

That concern aside, this has tremendous memory issues, requiring the Rimid player to track which of his cards are courting which of the opponents'. Board complexity like that has been virtually abolished since the days of Lorwyn. 

lpaulsen's Assimilate

This is a very powerful ability, particularly the ones that exile more than one card. I like this very clean version of it, but development probably wouldn't. If it were redefined to say "until end of turn, you may play cards exiled with ~" it would be more balanced, and run into fewer problems of having to track information in an effective second hand of cards. lpaulsen also suggested that the exiled cards could gain an activated ability requiring you to discard a card before casting one, which seems more fair, and will allow for even more aggressive designs. I do really like what Assimilate does for these two colors in particular, between milling, countering, discard, and removal.

lpaulsen also pitched Fateseal as a Rimid guild mechanic.

If any guild was going to get Fateseal, it would be this one. That said, it's notoriously unfun to play against, and Maro has said on Blogatog that the odds of it returning are pretty low. Also, reprinting/preprinting mechanics is not ideal if we want to generate excitement about a guild.

Jay Treat's Psychic

Because why not? Damage-based milling is something that frequently comes up as a keyword request over on Blogatog (also, just keywording milling), and it's something that can work as a guild mechanic. They chose to abandon the Dimir's milling mechanic in Gatecrash as the guild mechanic (although they did keep the idea as a secondary unnamed mechanic on a number of cards), but we could try it out here and see what happens.


  1. Milling-based keyword are going to be significantly parasitic in-block (see also the issues they generated in RTR block), hence why I strayed as far away from them as possible.

    Voidmind was done with the presumption that there might be support for a colorless/colored opposition. I too had made a support card:

    Zhavi Riffraff Dealer {2}{b}
    Creature -- Thrull (U)
    {w/b}, {t}, Sacrifice a creature: You gain 2 life. If a colorless creature was sacrificed this way, draw a card.

    I was envisioning cards like Voidmind Lieutenant and Memory Sipper as guys that could turn lowly cmc1-2 cards into colorless bears, especially in limited.

    On cognizance, my goal, in addition to making a noncreature keyword that fit the "incremental advantage" philosophy behind Transmute and Cipher, was to try to engineer a mechanic that was hard to splash outside {u}{b}, since I had the impression we were trying to push toward 2-color play, especially for limited.

  2. I like the voidmind ability a lot, using morph in a different way... however I can easily see the mechanic done uniformly like voidmind apprentice. simply permanents with an ability to turn themselves face down as part of the cost. you can then have cards that separately care about face down cards or cards that turn cards back over (for an extra activation). hogwash with some spells turning the target face down and some themselves, some offensively and some defensively is too broad but I think there is plenty of design space in just that one card.

  3. Yes, I think voidmind or a more restricted subset of it is a pretty good idea.

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

    Extract (Whenever ~ deals damage to a player, look at that many cards from the top of your library. Put one on top of your library and the rest on the bottom in any order.)

    Certainly more blue than black, and I think I prefer assimilate, but here are some cards anyway.

    Stuff of Nightmares {3}{B}
    Creature-Vampire Horror (C)

    Thoughthief {3}{U}
    Creature-Vampire Rogue (C)

    Crazed Torturer {2}{B}
    Creature-Vampire Rogue (R)
    {B}: ~ deals 1 damage to each player.