Wednesday, July 23, 2014

CCDD 072314—Ornate Study

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/23/2014 - In Sam Stod's last multiverse article, someone used the phrase "the rich get richer." That's something we want to be careful about in game design, as a runaway leader can turn a game into a foregone conclusion, or prevent more exciting turnabouts. Even so, I couldn't help but brainstorm a couple keywords that take that phrase literally.

Rich plays up the way that the very richest members of society often end up paying less or nothing for so many things, not just taxes. It rewards players for having a lot of land, though ironically it's not a mana sink and won't even help if you've got nothing else to do with your mana. That's not a problem for this particular card since Ornate Study draws you cards you can then cast with the mana you didn't spend on it, but if we can't find clever ways to make that true on all rich cards, it won't even do enough when it's on. Given how few environments would be able to turn on such cards, this is likely a dead-end, and a short one.

But it did get me thinking about other ways the rich express their wealth.

The rich loving buying the absolute best. For so many items, the difference in quality between a really nice object at an above average cost and the very best is miniscule, but the status gained by paying ten times as much is the very point of the purchase. Extravagant is meant to express that.

It could simply be kicker. In this example, "Kicker {4} — Draw three cards instead" would get the idea across mechanically (but you'd want to support the flavor with the name and flavor text). We'd only want a handful of cards to express what is most likely a micro-theme of the set, and using kicker in that situation would be most cost-effective. If there were some set where wealth was a major theme, though, and we want to hammer home this idea, extravagance could be the keyword to do it, behaving differently and really nailing this flavor down.

It does bother me that having a lot more land/mana doesn't help, though...

This version compels its caster to be extravagant and spend all she can, for the best study money can buy, and it does reward richer players with greater rewards. It's also not an option under New World Order, because it's not just an X spell, but one with no X in the rules text. That would eat a ton of complexity points to put at common, and as a downside mechanic, that's not remotely worthwhile.

So I've got two bad keywords and one rather 'meh' keyword based on "the rich get richer," and that's without even running up against the wall of helping the wrong player out. Can you do better? Share your ideas below.


  1. Time Off 1U
    Instant (C)
    Choose one--Untap target creature, or target creature doesn't untap during its controller's next untap step.
    Wealth of Options (You may pay CARDNAME's mana cost additional times to pick multiple different options.)

    1. Entwine but uncommons have three options and rares have four?

  2. Maybe something along the lines of forced fruition? The rich buy more rope to hang themselves with

  3. Maybe a steadily-increasing bonus would work. Something like...

    Medical Industry 3W
    Profit - At the beginning of your upkeep, put a money counter of Medical Industry, then gain life equal to the number of money counters on Medical Industry.

    Some kind of investment might be interesting too. Something like...

    Blood Bank 2B
    At the beginning of your upkeep, you gain 1 life for every money counter on Blood Bank.
    Investment - X, pay 2*X life: put X money counters on Blood Bank.

    In both cases, the resources you have steadily give you more and more resources over time. Just like in capitalism.

  4. Heh. It's Assemble the Legion and Phyrexian Processor.