Tuesday, March 25, 2014

CCDD 032514—Punish Arrogance

Cool Card Design of the Day


  1. It's a little bit weird that much of the time you want to cast this it's identical to first strike. How's about mono red and also give trample?

    1. Started in mono-red, but the must-be-in-combat thing felt white.
      Trample would tell a much different story.

    2. More importantly, double strike is a more elegant upgrade to first strike than trample. How often its relevant affects it power level, but not its design value.

  2. Magic really needs a much simpler way to say "blocking or blocked."

    1. Agreed. It's a bit unfortunate that "fight" is already taken.

    2. I suggested the wording you're talking about back when #WeekendArtChallenge was making Neon Dragons.

      "Target creature engaged in combat with another creature gains double strike until end of turn."

    3. I like "engaged," but this wording is 22 characters (exactly the same as "blocking or blocked by") and so doesn't get us much. Also, "combat" already refers to the entire process, blocks or no blocks.

      What about "in battle"?

    4. When I hear "in battle" I think "attacking or blocking" but perhaps "battling" I think the right thing?

    5. I disagree. What's wrong with "blocking or blocked"? Adding new vocabulary comes at a heavy cost.

    6. If we had good, concise, intuitive terminology available I would jump at the opportunity to make this easier to refer to, but as matters stand I'm inclined to agree with Havelock.

    7. Target creature in combat could be the terminology I would have chosen, but I agree that we do not need additional magiceese as seen in the Freya articles.

    8. Not only is fight already taken, but how do we convince players that fighting creatures aren't "engaged" or "battling?"

      I think the only solution (apart from leaving things as they are) is pretty radical: Change fight so that it counts as combat, so that abilities like first strike and double strike (and yes, even trample) are relevant (which would be a good thing—that they're not confuses the hell out of people learning the rule).

      Then you can say when a creature blocks another, they fight. And the only other way to fight is with an ability that explicitly allows it, like Prey Upon. This also solves the multi-fight problem.

    9. Oh, there are so many good way to change fight. The problem is that it opens up a HUGE nest of worms. If you change fight to a "mini-combat step" what happens to Hero of Bladehold? Brimaz? Who is the attacker/blocker in such a situation? Do they need to tap? Can I fight a ground creature fight a creature with Flying? How about one that can't be blocked?

      If they had wanted to, they could have released a MUCH more complicated version of Fight. Like Banding complicated. And for the most part it would be fine. And it would make more intuitive sense for players in some cases. But they didn't, and as such relegated Fight to a place where they can use it less frequently but they don't have to MASSIVELY reevaluate its power level and deal with so much more player confusion. So it probably just needs to stay as is, doing its limited job and just explicitly saying "I DON'T WORK WITH ABILITIES" without exception until players get that message.

      tlbr: Ooze Boots

    10. I'd be more in favor of have new mechanics work retroactively with fight (maybe "against" below) than with trying to get fight to fit with the keywords we already have. Thinks like Infect, lifelink and deathtouch do work well enough already, but Trample, First Strike and Flying don't and ultimately shouldn't. It's certainly something to consider when authoring new keywords.

    11. But fight /doesn't/ work without abilities: Lifelink and deathtouch and the Sengir ability all work in a fight.

      I agree this proposal is an enormous can of worms and would take a lot of work just to see if it's viable, with a good chance that it's not. But let's explore it, because the benefits are significant. And because it's a fun design challenge.

      Hero of Bladehold has battle cry and a separate attack-trigger, which have no impact on an ability-fight. Blocking is what causes a rules-fight and can only trigger after an attack. (That's not 100% flavor-intuitive, because some players will want to say "My Scab-Clan Giant attacks your Atog" even though that's inaccurate.)

      Same for Brimaz. The fight is simply what happens when one or more creatures block one or more creatures, and follows all the current rules of combat.

      Can my Scab-Clan Giant fight your Wind Drake? Yes, because flying only affects who can block what. The fight is what happens when two (or more) creatures tangle, not the act of attacking or blocking, and so evasion is irrelevant once a fight has started. That's no more confusing than the fact that Prey Upon allows a nonflying creature to attack a flying creature. (Which Vorthos can justify because flying creatures can block non-flying creatures which means the fight is possible if you "corner" the flyer. Shadow fairs poorly here, but it always has.)

    12. Why shouldn't first strike work in a fight?

    13. Because it makes Fight less fun. Fight is easier to proliferate if it doesn't have to worry about power levels/unfun-ness of common first-strikers.

    14. How is that more true of Fight than normal combat?

    15. Those solutions wouldn't work with Trample, because that requires an attacker.

      If you wanted a first strike/double strike to work with Fight, change them somehow:

      First Strike (If this creature would deal enough damage to a creature to destroy it, it takes no damage from that creature.)

    16. Or Double Strike (This deals double damage)

    17. Regarding first strike and fight: Fight should work best with Green creatures so that it stays nicely inside its color pie.

    18. It does in the sense that bigger creatures fight better no matter what. And Green does the biggest creatures. Plus GR and GW are natural color pairs.

    19. Trample is a problem with this solution. The only one?

    20. The action keyword "fight" currently has a simple, short definition that goes on cards. If you replace it with "fight, except trample and first strike and double blocks somehow work" then how are you going to word Prey Upon? The reminder text would be several paragraphs long.

    21. The reminder text could just say "Each deals combat damage to the other", and have first strike's reminder text fairly clearly imply that it applies to combat damage as well as attacking-and-blocking.

      FWIW, I think fixing this in the rules definition of fight (and maybe making some associated changes to the rules of attacking and blocking) is an exciting prospect, but impractical from where we are now. It's best suited to a reimagining of "what Magic could be if we were designing it from scratch knowing what we now know".

    22. The point of changing fight/combat is to keep the fight keyword short, while removing the secret rules text gotcha that first strike doesn't work. Prey Upon becomes much cleaner in this model.

      Alex's solution is pretty interesting too, since it achieves similar ends without rewriting the manual. We'd have to search for cards that break when combat damage is dealt outside of the combat step.

    23. There are alternatives they could have gone for with fight, attacking creatures directly like Planewalkers or Provoke, but Fight is basically the simplest way to do it. Combat has a ton of steps to it, most of which are super necessary to how the mechanics function and how cards were designed. Trying to condense that into an action that can be taken during the course of a spell would be very difficult to do well without creating lot of corner cases.

      Take for instance Alex's solution of making fight combat damage. While it might seem like that would affect First Strike, First Strike doesn't care about if the damage is combat related or not (regardless of what the reminder text says). Instead, it creates a new combat damage step when the creature deals combat damage as usual. This is important because state based effects are checked (Like if a creature has received lethal damage) the next time after damage has been dealt. State based effects aren't checked during the resolution of spells or abilities, so even if you worded it so that creatures with first strike dealt their damage first, the other creature isn't going to die until its fought the other creature and the fight has ended.

      Fight would have to become (Creatures that would deal damage during the first strike step deal damage to each other equal to their power. Then all creatures that would deal damage during the combat damage step that have not received lethal damage to deal damage to each other equal to their power.)


    24. Actually, upon further thinking, I realized that this is even worse than I claimed before. The phrase "dealing combat damage" is a big, fat, chunk of rules: in particular, it has steps where players receive priority and can play spells and abilities. This is a feature, not a bug; it is necessary for combat to include such times to make first strike work.

      But then even a spell like Prey Upon no longer works within the rules! It requires players to receive priority during the resolution of another spell, which is currently impossible. To fix it, we'd need to create a "substack" for effects that happened during the fight. And if I Pit Fight in response to your Fireball, then that Fireball hovers on the stack while we cast other spells mid-fight. Steps advance when the substack is empty, but the Fireball still doesn't hit when we both pass priority after first strike damage.

      TL;DR This totally, completely, and in all ways doesn't work within the current rules. Rewriting them would require reviving pre-6th edition interrupt batches with a Fight Shahrazad Substack.


    25. You're right, Alex's solution doesn't solve that.

      My solution turns the fight keyword into a rules word like destroy, requiring no reminder text (assuming everything works—which trample doesn't) and piggybacking off player's existing understanding of the combat step.

      But, if we were to preserve the flow of the combat step exactly, then making each creature resolve a separate fight would require some very hacky rules. We could keep the rules simple, but it would mean that we no longer separate first strike and regular damage steps, and that we do separate damage steps by creature, which would then require ordering, which wouldn't matter most of the time.

      A lot to gain, but a lot to lose. Probably a lot more. Add in momentum and it's clearly not worth it. That said, if I were to make a new game, unifying fights and combat from the beginning would be nice.

    26. Again, I think there are ways to retool first strike and double strike to work with fight without losing much in terms of game play. The game can "see" when lethal damage will be assigned before it actually happens (like with ordering blockers) so it should be possible to retool those abilities to play nicer with Fight.

      That said:

    27. Trample (If this creature would deal leathal damage to nonattacking creatures, you may have it deal the rest of its damage to their controller.)

      First Strike (If this creature would deal lethal damage to a creature without first strike, prevent all damage that would be dealt to it by that creature.)

      Double Strike (This creature deals double damage.)

  3. "Whenever CARDNAME is met in combat" clears up many of these issues, but admittedly, not all of them.

    1. That means you'd have to cast it before blockers, because it sets up a trigger. Also, it still runs into the problem of sounding like it's attacking or blocking.

    2. The static, untriggered version being "creature[s] met in combat [with each other]"...

  4. What about:

    Punish Arrogance W
    Target creature gains double strike against creatures until end of turn.

    1. I don't think the rules support a quantum state of maybe having a keyword.

    2. But if they could, why not? It makes fairly intuitive sense.

      Except for fight: This wording sounds even more like it should apply in a fight, and it just can't.

    3. I mean, you could change Alms Beast to say

      Alms Beast 2WB
      Creature — Beast
      Creatures have lifelink against Alms Beast.

      So I don't think there's a problem with it in terms of the rules. Against would have to have a specific definition in the rules, probably by adding it into 509.1g and 509.1h. For example "Each creature is blocking {against] the attacking creatures chosen for it."

    4. I can really get behind this. As with any wording variant, I'm curious how it would word the new-bushido.

      "CARDNAME gets +1/+1 against creatures"?

    5. Fight is fight. It doesn't interact with double strike normally, and it still wouldn't here. I'm not sure this wording would confuse a player more than Fight/Double Strike does already.

    6. Pasteurs wording for neo-bushido is actually really neat! Especially if you let "against" work in fights so that it could trigger there as well.

    7. I don't think it would confuse players more than Fight/Double Strike already does, my concern is that it already confuses the flying crap out of people. Every time you explain that interaction to a player for the first time, they suspect you are cheating. It's a horrible interaction.

    8. My 1/2 with "CARDNAME gets +1/+1 against creatures" blocks your 2/2.

      Obviously your creature dies, but does mine survive?

      Is that +1/+1 treated like a static "while attacking or blocking" effect?

      If it's a triggered effect that lasts until the EOT, it needs to make that explicitly clear.

    9. Neo-bushido would work really differently from old-bushido, in that with this wording, if I'm not mistaken, a Shock would still see the creature as a 2/2, and not a 3/3. That's weird, but I'm pretty sure not too weird.

    10. @jay Sure, then make it (When this is against a creature, it gains +1/+1 until end of turn)

    11. "Becomes against?" How is this better than "fights" or even "blocks or becomes blocked by"

    12. Fights is already in game terminology, while "blocks or becomes blocked by" continues to read like something out of Dr. Seuss

    13. These are awkward solutions to a nonexistent problem. Jay's original wording is perfectly clear and works within the rules.

    14. True. Honestly, were it not for the flavor, White or Red could certainly get "target creature gains double strike" at instant for one mana.

    15. I've played around with the "against" idea myself. It might make a better expert mechanic than evergreen terminology, but here it is:

      "X against Y" means "CARDNAME gets/gains X until end of turn whenever it blocks or becomes blocked by a Y creature."

      That's somewhat narrower (and "against creatures" is a special case of it) but definitely saves space.

    16. Assault Strobe did it as a common sorcery in a set with infect. Instant is a lot better, but it's far from inconceivable.

  5. Why is Magic encrypted by its own vernacular? What if the solution is to use the language intuitively?

    Punish Arrogance: Target combatant gains double strike until end of turn. [What is a combatant? A creature in combat]

    Bushido n (Whenever this creature is met in combat, it gets +n/+n until end of turn.) [how is a creature met in combat? by blocking or being blocked.]

    While I'm at it:

    Target creature gets +3/+3 this turn. [Is it the same turn? If yes, it still gets +3/+3. If not, guess what happens]

    Sacrifice Ball Lightning when the turn ends. [I pass the turn, do you have any responses? If yes, its still my turn and we resolve them. If not, my turn ends and he dies]

    1. Is an unblocked attacking creature not a combatant?

      "This turn" seems leagues better than "until EOT."

    2. is it in combat? Its a combatant. My line doesn't really help with this particular CCDD. I was more focused on what Evan said.

  6. Times like this I wish I was a clearer writer, because the conversation requires a lot of nuance. We're talking about taxonomy, after-all.

    I fell upon "X engages Y in combat" because it's easier to grok on first pass than the purely mechanical "blocks or becomes blocked by." It uses language to convey concept. If Tormented Soul were changed to say "Tormented Soul can't engage a creature in combat." you know it goes both ways. It can't block, and it can't be blocked.

    The problem is that this language is much more imbedded in the game and the attack step than it first seems. Even if we agreed on a perfect new turn of phrase, we'd still need to use phrases like "attacks and isn't blocked," "becomes blocked," or "can't be blocked." And if "blocked" is still a common term in the reminder text of every card with Reach, Protection, Flying, Landwalk, Trample, etc, then what's the point?

    1. This, I think, is the guantlet you need to put your propsal through before it could be considered.

      How would you errata the following cards using your proposed change:

      Abu Ja'far
      Alms Beast
      Amphibious Kavu
      Arrogant Bloodlord
      Ashmouth Hound
      Dread Wight
      Dream Fighter
      Fight to the Death
      Goblin Cadet
      Goblin Elite Infantry
      Goblin Flotilla
      Greater Werewolf
      Heat Stroke
      Lesser Werewolf
      Mammoth Harness
      Prey upon
      Sisters of Stone Death
      Sneaky Homunculus
      Spitting Slug
      Sworn Defender
      Thicket Basilisk
      Trap Runner
      Treefolk Mystic
      Trial (Trial and Error)
      Vortex Elemental
      Wooden Stake

      And how does your proposed change affect the reminder text of these keywords:

      Bushido 1
      Ninjutsu 1U

    2. No need to errata anything. Look at the banisher priest/fiend hunter change that was made recently. Granted, that was mechanically driven, The same process could be used here though. All I'm suggesting is that we have words that mean what the cards are implying. Lets use those words and make cards more accessible.

    3. Of the cards you listed,here some examples of how they could be written:

      When Abu Jafar dies, destroy all creature that met him in combat this turn.

      Creatures that meet Alms Beast in combat have lifelink this turn.

      Whenever Amphibious Kavu is met in combat by a purple wombat...

      All I'm doing is replacing "blocking or blocked" with "is met in combat" or "meet in combat". Sometimes it may not work, but I'm not proposing banning the use of blocking or blocked. I think it reads better, is all.