Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tesla: Recount

After exploring our options for Tesla, last week we voted on a theme. I’m happy to announce…wait, I’m now being informed that we have a tie between #4 and #6 (Transcendence and Progress). That leaves us in need of a tie-breaker, but it’s been pointed out that the two have a lot of overlap and could easily be woven together. Whether or not we ought to do that is up for debate. However it plays out, we'll undoubtedly be weaving in more nuanced thematic elements as we go, so for now let’s just take another look at the defining characteristics of our options.

At its core, option four is about the in-group and the out-group. It’s about those in power distancing themselves from the common folk; it’s about those who share a viewpoint banding together to eliminate dissent; it’s about those who can adapt becoming alien to those who can’t. From either side it’s obvious that the other can’t see what’s really going on. In reality, maybe no one can.

Option six is about a heady rush. New doors are opening up and soon everything will be marvelous. There are just some growing pains. We need to feel the disconnect between the incredible potential we’re promised and the harsh realities that most people have to face. Yes, the world is awash with possibility, but it’s all being exploited for the personal gain of the few. And for all the talk of looking to the future, nobody is really considering the consequences of their actions.

There’s no reason that the same people seeking higher states of being can’t be the ones oppressing the masses. General technological advance and some sort of post-singularity transformation both hit the same notes of staggering change. Both settings leave us wanting disenfranchised masses.

Whatever route we go down, there are lots of experiences we want to convey through game play. Since there’s so much overlap, I figure we might as well get a head start on figuring out how to do that. We’ve covered a few bases already.

There are still plenty of notes to hit, so after voting for #4, #6, or a mix, please pick and explain an aspect of that theme which could carry mechanical significance. This could be a flavor aspect like a factory assembly line, an experience like the sensation of building pressure, or anything else that inspires a thematic mechanic.

In the interest of exploring all the space we have available, please choose an area nobody else has explored. If you have alternate ideas for what to do with one that’s already been identified, you’ll have plenty of time to share them when we start going through elements one-by-one next week.


  1. Dominate: Boundless growth that gets easier as it gets bigger seems a bit too strong, in my opinion.
    Develop: If level-up was confusing, this is going to be even more so.
    Melt Down: Why not just avoid putting this on targeting spells? That seems like a better solution than the awkward wording. I find explicitly calling out artifacts to be a bit blunt, too.

    I'll try to get some of my own ideas up later, as opposed to just critiquing. (:

    1. The discussion on the other thread concluded that the frame/template for develop wants to be something completely different, perhaps with the A box on the left and the B box on the right, or some other way that makes it looks very different to level-up.

    2. All valid points. On melt down, that may end up being the better route. My plan was to only include that part of the reminder text on targeted spells because I thought the cross section of targetless spells for an artifact heavy deck was going to be too small to support a keyword.

  2. As I said on the other post, I prefer 4. There are lots of good mechanics that fit the theme of oppressive post-humans lording it over the masses.

    Brainstorming a few examples, using the assumption that coloured artifact creatures represent the elite and non-artifact creatures represent the proletariat.

    Bohrian Riot Police 3WW
    Artifact Creature - Human Soldier (C)
    Creatures smaller than Bohrian Riot Police can't attack you.

    Social Climber 1W
    Creature - Human Citizen (U)
    As long as Social Climber is an artifact, it has protection from non-artifact creatures.

    Social Darwinist 2BG
    Artifact Creature - Human Mutant (R)
    At the beginning of your upkeep, put a +1/+1 counter on Social Darwinist. Then destroy all creatures smaller than Social Darwinist.

    Rebellious Luddite 2G
    Creature - Human Rebel (U)
    Tap: Rebellious Luddite fights target artifact creature.

    Oppressed Labourers 1B
    Creature - Human Citizen (C)
    Prevent all damage that Oppressed Labourers would deal to artifact creatures.

    Chainsaw Hand 1
    Artifact - Equipment (C)
    Equipped creature gets +1/+0.
    3: Equipped creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
    Augment 1

    1. I realize this is brainstorming, but a lot of the designs here feel, well, oppressive-- the Riot Police and Social Darwinist especially so. In some sense that's a success since it's what you are trying to convey, but I have a strong sense that it won't play well, and I think that tells us something about theme #4. Namely, the idea of oppression / in-group / out-group doesn't translate well to Magic mechanics, at least not in the terms that we've put it in. The idea of artifact-ization mattering is more promising mechanically, but it's so totally Esper...

    2. I don't think the problem you identify is necessarily a problem with every possible implementation of theme #4. I think we can solve the specific issues while keeping the feel. Adding costs to make the Riot Police activate, that kind of thing. We should probably reread the Wizards articles about designing Azorius, which naturally lends itself to prison-style mechanics that are somewhat unfun, if we wanted to go down this route; but I think it'd be possible to find mechanics with good play.

    3. @Sanctaphrax: What's augument 1? Does is replace equip 1?

    4. Augment has been something along the lines of "Attach to a creature as a sorcery, but only if this is unattached. Maybe make it into an artifact too."

    5. Wanting thematically oppressive game play without the players feeling oppressed is certainly a central issue here. My thinking is that we should be able to make you feel like creatures are being oppressed without the players themselves feeling powerless. Detain was by no means a home run, but in my opinion it did this pretty well.

    6. Yeah. I feel like I'm oppressing the creatures pretty well here, but maybe the players are getting oppressed too much.

      I realize the thematics of artifact-ization matters are Esper-ish, but Esper never did much mechanically with that concept. Augment equipment, combined with creatures that want to be artifacts, lets us have awesome cyborgs that actually feel like cyborgs.

  3. I still favor #6 over #4; it feels richer from a storytelling perspective, more authentically steampunk, and less similar to things that Magic has done before.

    One direction design could go with this: artifacts are notable (in comparison with other card types) for being able to hurt the player who uses them unless their deck is constructed to break the symmetry. This would line up well with the steampunk feel and the "progress at any price" theme. Some (unoriginal) examples:

    Jinxed Cog 1
    At the beginning of your upkeep, ~ deals 1 damage to you.
    Sacrifice another permanent: Target opponent gains control of ~.

    Lodestone Worker 3
    Artifact Creature- Construct
    Nonartifact spells cost 1 more to cast.

    Industrial Mill 2
    T: Each player puts the top four cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

    To me, the symmetry-breaking aspect feels a lot like the disconnect between endless possibility and the exploitation of many for the gain of few. Thoughts?

    1. I like 6 a lot more than 4, and I like the idea to represent it through symmetry the players can break.

      Howling Mine seems like an auto-include.

    2. Symmetry breaking seems like an interesting route to pursue. I'd be interested to know what portion of players actually enjoy these cards. I suspect a lot more like the ones that are good for everyone than those that are bad for everyone.

    3. one interesting concept: would mill fit into this set? constant grinding away of assembly lines and humming of pipes and factory gears could support an interesting mill theme calling back to the ol' millstone. Could play well with scavenge and delve which both may fit this block thematically.

  4. Also, for what it's worth, I think the B mode of Formflitter might be overpowered. Would we really want this to develop into the most powerful creature in Magic?

    1. Maybe it would be fair at 3UU?

      If that's no fun, you could give it some alternative cost? Maybe exile a blue card and pay 1 life? Just throwing ideas around.

    2. I understand the concern, but in order to keep things exciting some times we need to take development risks. If you're really concerned, we can make you discard your whole hand as a cost, then it can't possibly do anything.

    3. Not to crow, but I'm pretty sure making it less storm-like would solve all of our problems.

    4. Storm Crow descending, winter unending. Storm Crow departing, summer is starting.

  5. I'm more into #6 and it's for pretty much one reason.

    With #4, there is a lot of potential weight and significance, but it's dark and sad and harsh. I'm not at all opposed to dark, sad or harsh but I don't think I like the idea of a whole magic set built around them.

    With #6 there is potential for that darkness, but it isn't the only possibility. Things could go south, but they could turn out better than ever and we, as the players, can tap into that. In short, some people like to play the bad guys and some people like to play the good guys, but that tension is what drives a huge majority of fiction.

    For my part:

    Are we living at the dawn of a new epoch?

    Aspiring Genius 1U
    Creature - Human Scientist
    Potential -- When you cast your second spell for this turn, CARDNAME gets +2/+2 and gains flying until end of turn.

    Or are we just about to burn out entirely?

    Punish Audacity RR
    CARDNAME deals 5 minus the number of cards in target player's hand to that player.

    1. I like your argument, Devin. And want to mess with potential a bit.

      Can it be a spell keyword too?

      Explosive Reaction {1}{R}
      Sorcery (cmn)
      ~ deals 2 damage to target creature.
      Potential — If ~ is the second spell you cast this turn, it deals 2 damage to each creature instead.

      Catalyst {1}{G} (or Manamorphose if the set randomly wants hybrid)
      Instant (cmn)
      Add two mana in any combination of colors to your mana pool.
      Draw a card.

      Experimental Power Cell {1}
      Artifact (rare)
      Whenever a player casts a spell, put a charge counter on ~.
      When there are three or more charge counters on ~, sacrifice it. It deals that much damage to you.
      {T}, Remove a charge counter from ~: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

    2. Good thoughts. Mechanics like potential that push towards more "big turns" certainly make it feel like things are changing quickly. I like it!

      I'm a bit concerned with the original version that players are going to be disappointed when their cards don't trigger themselves, but given that there's an easy alternate ordering of spell-casting, it's probably okay.

      As for Jay's tweak, it's cleaner, but this mechanic already encourages refraining from casting spells and I'm afraid this version will push that over the edge as players wait to get full value out of their cards.

    3. To clarify, I wasn't suggesting replacing Devin's version on permanents, but supplementing it on spells. But your point stands.

    4. Yeah, you'd want a mix of permanents and spells to make it feel universal. Players can remember that the second spell you cast each turn matters and keep track of it that way.

      Cards that reload your hand will be important, could we reprint Howling Mine!?

    5. A design just came to me:

      Lightning Kudzu 3G
      Creature - Plant
      Whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage to a player, untap two target lands you control.

      The 2nd Spell doesn't have to come right after the first one after all.

  6. I still need to think more about Tesla, but it might be worth discussing the overlap between these visions and what a return to New Phyrexia might look like.

    1. I think next time we see the phyrexians they'll be invading a new plane. They have internal conflict, but their cache is all in being a terrifying unstoppable force, not phyrexian politics.

  7. NPH seems like it hits a lot of transcendence themes. Definitely at least the bad ones.

  8. Develop seems like it would be better served as +1/+1 counters that influence what abilities are active, instead of the whole frame dealie.

    1. Frame treatments have a lot of visceral power. I'm all for saving resources when it makes sense, but anything more than an on/off switch is messy in text. I agree that the leveler frame doesn't do it, but that doesn't mean we couldn't come up with an alternative that would.

  9. You can have some good transcendance themes too.

    Icarus Wing-Gifter 2UU
    Creature - Human Spirit (U)
    Other creatures smaller than Icarus Wing-Gifter you control have flying.

  10. Thinking about theme #4.

    Is there a scenario where the old way is giant mechs with pilots? And they are now in conflict with post-humans who have directly augmented themselves? Nothing says the group being surpassed (or suppressed) has to be poor workers. The conflict of the block could be a coup. An empire that conquered the known world with its army of mechs now faces a challenge within. Smaller, lighter warriors who have personally upgraded themselves are attempting to take over. Whose side are you on, and will the kingdom survive the challenge?

    Targeting System (Rare)
    Core Artifact - Equipment
    Whenever equipped creature attacks, choose a creature or player. It deals its combat damage to that creature or player.
    Equip 5
    Combine (You may pair this core artifact with an unpaired chassis artifact when either enters the battlefield. If you do, transform them and they become one permanent.)

    (The transformed side would give the same equip effect to the mecha.)


  11. Here's a submission for a mechanic to highlight the disparity between those in power and those not:

    Nouveau Riche
    Common, 1W
    Creature - Human Noble, 2/2
    Hierarchy 2 - If you control at least two creatures with lower converted mana cost than Nouveau Riche, Nouveau Riche
    has +1/+1.

    Self-Important Courtesan
    Uncommon, W
    Creature - Human Noble, 1/1

    Hierarchy 2 - If you control two or more creatures with lower converted mana cost than Self-Important Courtesan, Self-Important Courtesan gets +3/+3.

    Life in the Candon courts is a constant search for people to
    be superior to.

    Lord of the Demesne
    Rare, WW
    Creature - Human Noble, 2/2
    Hierarchy 2 - If you control at least two creatures with lower converted mana cost than Lord of the Demesne, creatures you control have +1/+1.

    Mindpoison Marquise
    Uncommon, 3BB
    Creature - Vampire Noble, 3/3

    Hierarchy 2 - Whenever Mindpoison Marquise deals combat
    damage to a player, if you control at least two creatures
    with lower converted mana cost than Mindpoison Marquise,
    that player discards a card and you draw a card.

    1. Hierarchy's got some pros and cons compared to all the power-focused approaches. It has additional comprehension complexity and less interaction for the players, but it's certainly a big improvement for board complexity. I guess we'll have to see which proves more problematic.

  12. I still prefer #6 to #4, because I think we'll do better work by completely avoiding Esper and Phyrexian themes.

    Another take on Dominance:

    Master Blueprint
    Draw two cards.
    Dominance - Draw three cards instead if you control a creature with greater power than any creature controlled by an opponent.

    1. I like the idea of dominating the enemy's creatures rather than your own. The fact that it incidentally punishes control decks is a bonus.

    2. I like this version pretty well, though I probably wouldn't stick it in blue if we pursue it. It's clean and conveys what's going on effectively.

    3. I've played with this mechanic before, and my (brief) testing concluded that it usually was pretty win-more... typically if you control the strongest creature, you're doing fine in the game, so you don't need a boost.

      However, it is quite the fun mechanic. I put it into all colors, but especially Blue (rewarding the finishers of control decks), Black (flavor fits), and Green (obvious).

  13. The more I think about it, the more I like a kind of "blend" theme where the transcendants are both good and bad; some want to help the masses achieve the same state whereas others want to oppress and use them to their own ends.

    Fifth-District Rioters 2BB
    Creature - Human Warrior (U)
    When Fifth-District Rioters enters the battlefield, destroy target creature with power greater than it.
    "They seek to destroy us. We seek to survive, so we do what must be done."

    Icarus Aspirant 1W
    Creature - Human Cleric (C)
    Aspire - As long as you control a creature with power higher than Icarus Aspirant's power, it has flying.

    Crush the Meek 2G
    Instant (C)
    Destroy target creature if it has less power than target creature you control.

    Tidesway Halo W
    Enchantment - Aura (C)
    Enchant creature
    When enchanted creature blocks or becomes blocked by a creature with greater power than it, it gets +4/+4 until end of turn.

    1. Surveillance Sphinx 4U
      Creature - Sphinx (R)
      Creatures with power less than Surveillance Sphinx don't untap during their controller's untap steps,
      It watches the watchmen.

      Violent Revolutionary 1R
      Creature - Human Warrior (C)
      R, T: Violent Revolutionary fights target creature with power greater than it.
      "Someone must challenge the oppressors, or we are all doomed."

      Hired Brute 1R
      Creature - Ogre (C)
      Hired Brute can't attack or block unless you control a creature with greater power.
      He only works for those he can't beat up himself.

    2. Sigil of Leadership 4
      Artifact - Equipment (R)
      Equipped creature gets +3/+3. Other creatures you control get +1/+1.
      Equip 4

      Forgelight Salamander 1R
      Creature - Lizard (C)
      R: Forgelight Salamander gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

      First-District Bodyguard 1WW
      Creature - Human Soldier (R)
      Aspire - As long as you control a creature with power higher than First-District Bodyguard, it has double strike.

    3. Aspire is pretty cool. My one concern is that it might be pretty swingy when in addition to playing a big creature you turn on all of your previously irrelevant creatures.

    4. I agree about the swinginess of Aspire, but I think rubber-banding mechanics are okay sometimes, so...

      I like mixing the two themes, and I think that's the way to go.

  14. i prefer 6 to 4 but can see merit in a mix of the two.

    I think it would be interesting to try and capture the flavor aspect of a factory assembly line for sure, including the disgruntled and most likely overworked and undervalued workers (goblins / orcs / ogres?) A troll who could regenerate lost limbs would make a fantastic factory worker.

    Like it would be cool if one faction were the humans / veldaken / whatever who own the factories and are using whatever is being made in the factories to live a nice life. (Augmentations would be a cool item being made that the rich are using to improve themselves). And the other faction could be the poor workers living in the slums that are running the machines.

    Another interesting experience to build on (like you said)is the sensation of building pressure. Im not 100% yet on how we could capture that. You could do it with cumulative upkeep:

    Boiler 4
    Cumulative Upkeep 1
    When you sacrifice Cardname, add X to your mana pool, where X is equal to the number of upkeep counters on it.

    Something where it builds and builds and threatens to explode. when it explodes, you get an effect.

    we could also do a cycle of 5 cards that randomly grew, then "exploded":

    Nuke Reactor Dragon 5RR
    Creature - Dragon
    R, flip a coin: if heads, put a +1/+1 counter on cardname. if tails, remove all +1/+1 counters from cardname and cardname deals damage to each creature targetplayer controls equal to the number of counters removed in this way.

    or something like that. where there is a theme of "build-up and then release" etc.

    anyway, some possible themes:

    Assembly line
    Assembly workers / disgruntled workers
    Dangerous working conditions
    "Boiler" build up like cards
    Augmentations / tools created by the poor for use by the rich?

    1. Good stuff here! I especially like the troll idea.

    2. What if Goblins or Trolls finally got the upper hand and made humans work for them? "My boss is a troll!"

      I suppose we have to do it one way or another based entirely on whether we make contraptions or not...

    3. Another play on Dangerous working conditions could be a mana engine that dealt damage to creatures:

      Troll Worker 2G
      Creature - Troll
      1: Regenerate

      Mana Engine 1
      T, deal 2 damage to target creature you control: Add 2 to our mana pool.

      Deal the damage to the troll every turn, and spend 1 mana to regenerate it and you basically have:

      Mana engine 1
      T: add 1 to your mana pool.

    4. Not sure how many cards like that we could include, but Mana Engine is interesting.

    5. Pretty sure it's too good. Once you've got a thing with 3 toughness it's practically Sol Ring. There's no shortage of cheap playable 0/3s and 0/4s.

    6. Thats something for development to worry about ;-)

    7. I think we're going to have a lot of trouble convincing players to play with cards that hurt their own creatures. We probably could, but I'm not keen to go toe-to-toe with human nature.

  15. Greater Understanding {1}{U}
    Sorcery (cmn)
    Progress (The game gets a progress counter. X is equal to the number of progress counters the game has.)
    Draw X cards.

    Greater Footservant {3}
    Artifact Creature—Construct (cmn)
    Progress (When ~ ETB, the game gets a progress counter. X is equal to the number of progress counters the game has.)
    ~ ETB with X +1/+1 counters on it.

    1. Interesting, but I don't think newer players will find it intuitive that progress counters are shared between players. Also, X on commons is going to be very confusing...

      I've explored a similar mechanic I called Experience, as seen here: The problem with it is that it's quite tricky to balance. In Limited it usually ends up fine, but in Constructed it can get nasty fast.

    2. Greater Purification {1}{R}
      Sorcery (unc)
      Progress (The game gets a progress counter. X is equal to the number of progress counters the game has.)
      ~ deals X damage to each creature.

      Greater Dissection {2}{B}
      Sorcery (unc)
      Progress (The game gets a progress counter. X is equal to the number of progress counters the game has.)
      Target creature gets -X/-X until EOT. If its toughness is less than 0, draw a card.

    3. It certainly eats up some complexity points for both those reasons, but if it's supported as a common mechanic, I think it might be fine. But I would definitely want to playtest to verify.

      I also agree that the design space for balanced designs is probably a lot smaller than one might assume.

    4. Oooh, I like that conditional cantrip on Greater Dissection. Very smart!

    5. Very flavourful. No idea how it'd work out in play, though.

    6. Greater Footservant has rules problems. It ETBs as a 0/0 and dies before resolution of the trigger that would increase progress to 1. Not very easy to fix: you have to either use "As ~ ETBs" or "When you cast ~", both of which are somewhat nonstandard.

    7. Jay, really interesting Idea here. what I do not like, is that I coud spend the entire game building progress, and my opponent could benefit with one late game spell. Why not make "progress counters" something that the players get instead?

      Progress (When you cast this spell, you gain 1 progress counter)

      This could be used in a number of ways, and feels like a "cookies" mechanic where we are getting a bonus for something that we want to do as players anyways (Cast spells).


      Progressive Bolt R
      Deal 2 damage to target creature or player. If you have 5 or more progress counters, deal 4 damage instead.

      This example is a threshold mechanic where it checks how much progress you have made.

      Progressive Burn 3R
      Deal X damage to target, where X is equal to the number of progress counters you have.

      This spell is like the one you posted above, one that scales with your progress.

      Progressive Golem 4
      Artifact Creature - Golem
      Cardname's power and toughness are equal to the number of progress counters that you have.

      The downside is that this mechanic is quite parasitic. Should be treated with the same level as Infect.

      The bonus? We could bring back proliferate, and give it a different creative spin. :-)

    8. That's definitely the safer option and more likely to make the cut, but I would want to try the more interactive version first to see if there's magic within.

    9. IF we end up making Progress counters, we MUST make this creature a commander:

      Flo, Progressive Progressor 1UU
      Legendary Creature - Human Artificer
      Progress (When you cast this spell, you gain one progress counter)
      Spells you cast have Progress.
      1UU,T: Put an Insurance counter on target permanent. If a permanent with an insurance counter on it would be destroyed, you may draw X cards, where X is equal to the number of progress counters you have.

      Flavor text:
      Now that's progressive.


    10. I like the idea of progress, but I wish the counters were meaningful even with only one progress card in your deck. I don't have a good solution for how to keep the mechanic and give them implicit meaning because this is too crazy to work:
      Progress (As you cast this gain a progress counter. Numbers in abilities of spells and permanents you control are increased by one for each progress counter you have.)

    11. I would argue that it is ok for there to be a mechanic where having multiple instances of that mechanic in your deck is better than one (look at infect for a most recent example) but that doesnt mean that we couldnt create cards that had progress and would want to be a one of in some decks. I play exactly one infect card in my mimeoplasm commander deck (Phyrexian crusader) and it works just fine.

      This could be something as simple as:

      Tome of Enightenment 5
      Progress (When you cast this spell, you gain one progress counter)
      Artifact spells you cast have progress.
      5, T: look at the top X cards of your library where X is equal to your progress. You may reveal an artifact card looked at this way and put it into your hand. put all other cards on top of your library in any order.

      A card like this does not need any other progress cards.

      Another method is this:

      Progressive spy 1U
      Human - Rogue
      Whenever cardname deals damage to a player, you gain one progress counter.
      2U, T: Draw X cards, then discard X cards where X is equal to your progress.

      Another card where you would not NEED any other progress cards in your deck. would they help? sure but they definitely are not needed.

      THe mechanic could also be used in different ways in the block.

      Some colors could gain additional progress counters by attack triggers, some counters could gain extra progress counters when they gain life, etc.

  16. Some mechanics ideas I'll throw out there...

    Dominance 2.0 - When ~ enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice a creature you control with lesser power. If you do,

    Dominance (2.0) is good at capturing the 'exploitation' feel of the oppressive noblesse.

    Struggle - (If)/(As long as) you have less life than each opponent,

    There's no rebels without a cause. This represents the under-class fighting back. However, two problems... one, it's a lot like Fateful Hour but much more easily turned on... and two, it's a serious rubber-banding mechanic, which poses gameplay issues.

    Progress - Whenever you cast a spell that costs more than ~,

    I'm not sure if this wording works, but if we have to mention CMC, I'd prefer to find another way to capture the concept. The flavor of this is that it's rewarding you for moving forward - the mechanics reward you for curving out properly. It does fit good with a 'hierarchy' theme too, which is nice.

    Advance (Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a card that costs more than this. Put that card into your hand, and all other cards onto the bottom of your library in any order.)

    Just a different idea of capturing progress. This is better than a cantrip in a lot of cases, so it has to be balanced appropriately.

    Develop (You may exile this card from your hand face-down at any time you could activate a sorcery. At the beginning of your upkeep, put a time counter on ~. You may cast this card from exile with its cost reduced by 1 for each time counter on it.)

    Another idea of capturing progress, and also a kinda idea on a 'revisited suspend'. This idea is definitely too confusing and weird as-is, but I like the basic concept, so I'm just putting it down here for future reference.

    Augmented - (As long as)/(If) ~ is equipped,

    Straight-forward representation of mechanical enhancement and upgrades. Personally I think this is a fun way to implement that. Perhaps it could even be...

    Augmented 2.0 - Equipped creatures you control have

    Though that's most likely too difficult to balance at common.

    Improve (At the beginning of your upkeep, put a +1/+1 counter on this.)

    Now, I know this is hypocritical to put down when I criticized Dominate in the original post for being too difficult to balance for having boundless growth, but hear me out.... Dominate can trigger a lot more than this can. Say, multiple creatures cast per turn, or tokens entering the battlefield. Improve, on the other hand, is a lot slower. Still, I am not a hypocrite, and I realize this would be very difficult to balance. Just thought it'd be good to put the idea down. Heck, it might be better to just say:

    Improve Template (This gets +1/+1 counters over time, but not too frequently. When does it get them, nobody knows.)

    Hehe. Anyways....

    Discover a [insert qualifier] (Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a [qualifier] card. Put that card into your hand, then put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.)

    This works well flavorfully for many card types! And heck, you can even say "discover a red card", or "discover a Goblin", or whatever! It's pretty flexible. Of course, for limited smoothing purposes, this is probably going to look for lands more often than not.

    Alright, I'm gonna call that good for now! If I think of more, I'll drop them in. Cheers!

    1. I really like Dominance 2.0 and Struggle (as rubber-band as it may be) because they are simple ways of conveying an abstract concept and I have a feeling they'll play well. Good work.

    2. I like progress and advance. I also like discover, but I'm not convinced it's for this block.

    3. Thanks for taking the time to come up with all of these! Going through one by one:

      Dominance 2.0: This probably plays pretty well for spike, but it doesn't read well for most players. Not every mechanic has to be flashy, but if the players refuse to put it in their decks they'll never find out it's fun. That said, Devour was printed so maybe I'm overestimating how problematic this would be.

      Struggle: I like this sort of comeback mechanic, but the fact that someone at a lower life total is often way ahead is a major stumbling block. On top of that, it's not going to be fun when you have to stop attacking to keep your bonuses. Faithful Hour did a good job of ensuring you were really on the ropes, but doesn't quite capture the right feel. This might get closer if it required a certain gap in life totals.

      Progress: There's no way we can do this without referencing CMC. We could probably do that at common, but it would have to be a major focus. That said, I could see this being a lot of fun.

      Advance: This is my favorite mechanic of the bunch. It helps players get to their exciting cards without doing too much to cut out variance and feels good to execute. It could end up tutoring for combo pieces in older formats, but that's not enough reason to avoid printing it.

      Develop: Suspend was a great concept that didn't seem to have a workable execution. This has a lot going on, so I'm wary, but if it can really capture the feel without most of the problems, I'm on board.

      Augmented: I'm fine with this on a few cards, but I don't think a set can handle enough to want a keyword. We want to give players few enough of these that they're not left with some equipment, but too many creatures to equip.

      Augmented 2.0: You might be right about balance, and the board complexity's not plausible either.

      Improve: While Dominance can trigger multiple times in a turn, it ends up adding a lot fewer counters than Improve in the vast majority of games. We're looking for a trigger rate more akin to Innistrad Vampires.

      Discover a []: Discover a land is fine, but most other things get really problematic really quickly. It's simply too easy to turn this into a tutor and we don't want a format full of those. We could probably make it work in limited, but I'm not anxious to jump on board with a mechanic we can't make constructed cards for.

      Lots of good starting points here. Thanks for sharing!

  17. I still prefer #6 to #4 because it feels like brand new ground, although I'd be more than happy if we combine them.

    Here's my take on progress for progress's sake:

    Reckless Inventor
    Creature - Goblin Artificer (C)
    Progress (Whenever this creature attacks, exile the top card of your library.)
    As long as you own a red exiled card, Reckless Inventor gets +1/+1.

    I think exiling your library makes a good feeling of blitzing forward without thinking about it. In Limited there is a good chance (with a bunch of Progress cards) that you get in danger of milling yourself out in order to make your cards better. I like that feeling.

    Progress could also have a number, so that different cards could exile different numbers. Maybe an ability word would be better, as a sort of updated Imprint.

    I think checking for colors and having it be threshold 1 is the simplest way to execute the mechanic, and it allows us to evolve the mechanic over the block or up rarities.

    Guardian of Innovation
    Creature - Sphinx (R)
    Flying, Progress (Whenever this creature attacks, exile the top card of your library.)
    When Guardian of Innovation dies, you may draw a card for each blue exiled card you own.

    This card is probably really powerful.

    Also, just in case newer players don't want to exile their own cards (which is understandable):

    Brutal Taskmaster
    Creature - Ogre (C)
    Progress (Whenever this creature attacks, exile the top card of your library.)
    Brutal Taskmaster attacks each turn if able.
    "Come on! Those rocks won't roll themselves!"

    Feedback appreciated as always.

    1. Reckless Inventor 1R
      Creature - Goblin Artificer (C)
      Progress — As long as there's a red card in your graveyard, Reckless Inventor gets +1/+1.

      Guardian of Innovation 4UUU
      Creature - Sphinx (R)
      Progress — When Guardian of Innovation dies, you may draw a card for each blue card in your graveyard.

    2. Another alternative to consider with regards to your initial suggestion is to consider a context in which we have Delve, or a similar mechanic (of which a few have been proposed I think). We don't necessarily want to have players tracking the exile zone, but it is a viable means to enforce largely permanent alterations to cards:

      Brutal Taskmaster
      Creature - Ogre Warrior (U)
      Creatures you control attack each turn if able.
      Posterity — As long as an Ogre card is exiled, creatures you control get +1/+0.

      The tribal element in the above example is only there because it would likely be necessary to limit the ease of activation due to exile being essentially non-interactive. A Riftsweeper reprint would probably be desired, but the point still stands.

    3. Brutal Taskmaster
      Creature - Ogre Warrior (U)
      Creatures you control attack each turn if able.
      Posterity — As long as CARDNAME is exiled, creatures you control get +1/+0.


    4. That's certainly another direction to go. I'm a bit more comfortable with having the ability's activity be controlled by both the exile zone AND a permanent in play, but there's certainly something to be said for the excitement of creatures that essentially turn into emblems (assuming players are excited about emblems).

    5. While the Threshold 1 is nice for tracking things, I think it's going to end up making the mechanic less flavorful. It will more often feel like you accomplish something, then plateau and just have a drawback from there on out.

  18. The keyword does nothing on its own... if it did something else besides just exile the top card of the library, I think it'd be a more compelling mechanic.

  19. I like #4. Here's the basic mechanical setup:

    Transcendence: The rich and fashionable thing to do on Tesla is to equip yourself with all the new magisynth implants.

    Keen Security (common)
    Creature - Human Soldier
    Transcendant - If CARDNAME creature is an artifact, it has first strike.

    Augments: Of course, if the implants are a part of the world, we need to show them, right?

    Grafted Wings (common)
    Artifact - Equipment
    Augment 1 (1: Attach this to target creature you control. Equipped creature becomes an artifact in addition to its other types. Augment only if this already isn't attached and only as a sorcery.)
    Equipped creature has +1/+0 and has flying.

    +1/+1 counters: A simple and more affordable form of implants is to simply have your limbs replaced with magisynth enhancements. In Tesla, any card that grants +1/+1 counters turns that creature into an artifact.

    Doctor of Augments (common)
    Creature - Vedalken Advisor
    When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature you control. It becomes an artifact in addition to its other types.

    Modular: Once you’ve crossed the threshold into becoming part machine, there’s no telling what you might become.

    Hexbound Sentinel (common)
    Artifact Creature - Construct
    Modular 3 (This enters the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters on it. When it dies, you may put its +1/+1 counters on target artifact creature.)

    Gold: Those born without wealth have to find it through other means.

    Backwoods Thief (common)
    Creature - Elf Rogue
    Whenever CARDNAME attacks, gain 1 gold. (Put an artifact token named Gold onto the battlefield. It has “Sacrifice this artifact: Add 1 mana of any color to your mana pool.”)

    Threat: Meanwhile, members of the outskirts of society are reviving the forgotten primal magic of the wild, and their presence will be made known.

    Godsbane Monstrosity (common)
    Creature - Horror
    Threat (Whenever this creature deals combat damage while attacking, destroy each creature that could have blocked it but didn’t.)

    1. Transcendant is cool, though a bit odd. There's not a lot of effects in the history of Magic to support this... but it's a compelling flavor and idea. Consider it tentatively approved by me!

      Augment is very nice, but I think people are going to skip over the "if this isn't already attached to something else" part a lot... that's just my personal thinking, though. Playtesting will obviously reveal whether that's the case or not.

      +1/+1 counters turning things into artifacts is simply genius. Bravo!

      Modular would definitely be a cool return. Especially if placed on, flavorfully, cogwork/steamwork creations! Heck, it'd be fun to see on colored artifact creatures, too.

      I don't think the set needs gold. It's already got a lot of artifact encouraging stuff in it, and gold doesn't really feel fitting for the 'steampunk' flavor, you know? It does feel fitting for the 'wealth and opulence' theme, though... hm.

      Threat is very powerful. Like, ridiculously so. This reads "everything your opponent controls must block, or die" - that's gross. Does that wording count stuff blocking your other creatures, too? It sounds like it does - they could have blocked the Threat, but they chose to block something else. No?

    2. I also really like Transcendant, Augment, +1/+1-counters-imply-artifactness and Modular. Gold I like in the abstract (and I rather suspect Khans of Tarkir will bring a lot more Gold-making cards); for Tesla in particular I can take it or leave it.

    3. I'll second what Inanimate said. Augment and artifact-ization matters together are pretty great, and adding a +1/+1 counter theme is a good idea. Modular's a very fitting returning mechanic, too.

      But I don't see much point to adding gold and Threat.

      And I think some of the example cards are too good.

    4. Transcendant hits the flavor out of the park, but requiring a very specific subset of cards makes me wary. If we're tying artifactness to +1/+1 counters anyway (which I like) could it just be the Bloodshot Trainee ability and care about having more than its starting power?

      I love Modular returning if artifactness is defined by +1/+1 counters.

      I have a hard time imagining a set with Threat. Just having two threat creatures and wiping an opponent's board seems brutal. You might try achieving most of the same gameplay through less abusable means:
      Threat (Creatures can block ~ in addition to other creatures they block and all creatures do so if able.)

    5. The Bloodshot Trainee ability as a pseudo is GENIUS. I wholeheartedly endorse that version of Transcendant! It's interactive, it's a barely explored area of design space, and it seems super fun. Great idea, Jules!!

  20. I like the 'Dawn of a New Age' feel of 6, and the challenges that come with distributing vs concentrating power. In that vein, Jay's 'chain of command' was a real hit for me:

    Foreman 2R
    Creature - Ogre
    Chain of Command -- The single creature you control with the highest power has first strike.

    Crooked Accountant 4B
    Creature - Human Rogue
    Chain of Command -- The single creature you control with the highest power has lifelink.

    Bodyguards W
    Creature - Human Advisor
    Chain of Command -- The single creature you control with the highest power has '3W: Regenerate this.'

    1. Yeah, I like Chain of Command a lot as well, especially the lenticular aspect of killing your own best creature to ambush your opponent with a bunch of abilities on another creature. My biggest concern is that even with the word "single" in the text players are going to get tripped up when they have a tie, but making it "each creature you control with the highest power" loses the flavor.