Monday, November 4, 2013

CCDD 110413—Unbelievable Being

Cool Card Design of the Day
11/4/2013 - I recently explored other options to express the illusionary creature concept. I've got three variations below all based on the core idea that an opponent must actively disbelieve the illusion's existence (but unlike Phantom Beast, they don't need a targeting effect to do it).

This first one lets them use any card as removal, but doesn't cause you card disadvantage when they do so.

The second costs them nothing but mana, but they usually don't know whether it will work or not each time they try, which makes waiting until the last moment dangerous.

The simplest method requires no cards and involves no chance. It's simply very expensive / very color-intensive. You would obviously only use hybrid mana in a set that already has it, but I like that it's easier for a fellow blue mage to see through your illusion. In a regular set, you could just set a high colorless cost. You could set a static cost like {3}{U}, which might cause some interesting sideboarding choices.

Which execution do you prefer? Do you have an even better one?

EDIT: Here's a triggered version of the first execution which isn't shorter but should be much clearer.

Here's my favorite iteration which this last re-working led me to:

This last version obviously shares a lot in common with Mana Leak / Force Spike, which is a neat design asthetic, but dangerous just like those cards are. The difference is that you're not responding to an opponent's spell with Unbelievable Being but casting in on your turn. In Limited, you'll only get to do that safely on turn 2 if your opponent cast a spell (probably a creature that can trade with it) and thus is less likely to be blown out by an aggressive early creature. In Constructed, you'll often cast it safely, but your opponent will usually have an answer. Where it really gets scary, ironically, is when you play it alongside Mana Leak and Force Spike (and Unsummon).


  1. They really don't use "any opponent may activate this ability" anymore (Soul Ransom being the only exception in Standard) and it's not hard to see why, especially in the first card. Not only is it really clunky to read, but it's fairly confusing too. Maybe:

    "At the beginning of each upkeep step, that player may {3} and discard a card. If he or she does, sacrifice ~ and draw a card."

    1. Cards that come with built-in ways for the opponent to stop them are simply not something most players want in a deck.

    2. You're clearly right, but I wouldn't use that as a blanket statement because Mana Leak is clearly an exception, as is Soul Ransom.

    3. Soul Ransom, yes. The fact that Mana Leak forces them to pay immediately or never makes it less answerable. The last iteration with the ETB trigger falls into the same boat as Mana Leak, but I still don't believe that makes it a fun card. They had this sort of taxing as a major theme in Prophecy, one of the worst sets of all time.

    4. This is an area I've played around in a bit in my game. This sort of thing can be very effective at keeping people off tempo as long as you start out aggressive.

      I'd propose something like this (though getting the numbers right is a bear):

      Unbelievable Being
      3: CARDNAME can't attack or block this turn. Any player may activate this ability.

  2. Make the last version a red Mercenary and you're set.

    1. Hungry Sellsword 1R
      Creature - Human Mercenary
      When ~ enters the battlefield, any opponent may pay 1. If he or she does, sacrifice ~.

      Whatever the drawback, I'm weirded out by Blue getting a 4/1.

    2. Fair.
      Dandân is quite an anomaly.

  3. What if being an illusion was in some way subject to randomness?

    Illusory Warrior (uncommon)
    Creature - Illusion
    If CARDNAME would receive damage, flip a coin. If you win the flip, prevent that damage.

    Illusory Nature (uncommon)
    Enchantment - Aura
    Enchant creature you control
    Enchanted creature has hexproof and is a blue Illusion.
    Prevent all damage that would be dealt to enchanted creature.
    At the beginning of the combat damage step, attach CARDNAME to target creature you control chosen at random.

    Burning Illusion (rare)
    Creature - Illusion
    At the beginning of each opponent's upkeep, that player chooses a creature you control at random. If the chosen creature is CARDNAME, sacrifice it.

    1. It's interesting how out-of-place a coin flip looks on a blue card. We've been trained so well that coin flipping is red. Hmm.

      Kind of a bummer that it's so easy to 'cheat' with Illusory Nature by just playing one awesome creature.

      I could see Burning Illusion printed in some form. I like how it pushes you to play as many creatures as possible. It's a bit odd that you don't do anything when you choose another creature. Could also be sticky when you have two and one chooses another.

    2. For Illusory Nature, the last trigger could be "At EOT, return enchanted creature to its owner's hand and attach CARDNAME to another creature you control chosen at random."

  4. "Illusion: something that looks or seems different from what it is"
    Nothing's Real 1UU
    Enchantment (R)
    Return an unblocked attacker you control to hand: Cast a creature card from your hand as if it had flash tapped and attacking.
    Does that work? Worded right? Basically Ninjutsu on an enchantment.

    "something that is false or not real but that seems to be true or real."
    Illusory Beast UU
    Creature - Beast Illusion (U)
    Whenever CARDNAME becomes blocked by two or more creatures, sacrifice CARDNAME.
    "Actually, from this angle it just looks like a bunch of mist" - Hans
    The thought is that illusion can fool one creature, but not several at once.

    "an incorrect idea"
    Lost Train of Thought UB
    Instant (R)
    If an opponent would draw a card this turn, instead put the top card of their library into their graveyard.

    1. Nothing's Real is sweet, but probably more fun (read: less oppressive) as one-time instant (perhaps a cantrip).

      Illusory Beast is awesome.