Monday, July 28, 2014

CCDD 072814—Psychic Strike

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/28/2014 - Mark Rosewater's article exploring cost-reduction design space last week was serious fuel for the fire. This idea came from Arc-Slogger. There are two ways to make paying cards from your library as a cost more appealing: To justify it thematically, and to make what you mill relevant, so that you feel good about milling big cards.

Mind-Powered tells the story of a mental attack that is guaranteed to work, but might exhaust you quite a bit depending on how much mental energy you spend trying to find your victim's psychic weak spot (and how well attuned your mind is / how many expensive spells you run in your deck).

Psionic shifts the risk from yourself to the success of the spell. You know exactly what it'll cost you going in, but if you don't gamble enough mental energy and don't luck into revealing a disproportionate number of 'active thoughts', your spell might not do enough. Note that this keyword is considerably more skill-intensive than Mind-Powered.

[Color] Mind is very similar to psionic, but rewards you for playing a lot of cards of one color, or cards with colored mana costs—just like devotion—rather than feeling like something you don't have influence over (or worse, realizing you do and running too many spells and not enough lands for your psionic deck).


  1. I dislike the number-choosing ones, seems like decisions that are hard and don't add too much to the cards. The first one (and the general space) is cool though.

    How about:

    Mind Bolt 1R
    Instant (C)
    Psionic 4 (Exile the top four cards of your library as you cast this.)
    Mind Bolt deals damage to target creature equal to the highest
    converted mana cost among cards exiled with it.

    [Color] Mind also seems like it could work better in a similar way, giving you a number then counting "devotion" as it does.

    In a similar vein, I designed this ability when I was messing around with exiling top cards of your library at one point or another.

    Lucky Guard 2W
    Creature - Human Soldier (C)
    Waive 3 (When you cast this, exile the top three cards of your library. This is your waiver. As this resolves, put your waiver into your graveyard.)
    If there was a Soldier card amongst your waiver, Lucky Guard enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it.

    1. Basically choosing how many cards to exile for the player? I honestly think that's a lot better for the larger audience. It changes the fundamental decision from "how many cards can I afford to kill this creature" [for this particular card] to "which creature do I think I can kill with this" or "is it worth trying to kill this creature?" And I think that change makes it accessible to players that might not be as hardcore.

      I don't get why the waiver doesn't just go directly to your graveyard, or why it's called that.

    2. A problem with Psionic (you may choose any number) is that it leads to instant Labratory Maniac wins.

    3. I wasn't sure if "straight to graveyard" tech worked, haha, but I set it as that to stop the "delve" problem of eating resources you then loose permanently (although there's likely enough deck size to stop that anyway with 60 cards). Waiver was just named for a gambling theme.

    4. This is closer to an area already explored with Erratic Explosion / Riddle of Lightning, or from a different angle Blast of Genius.

  2. This is similar to an idea I had...

    Risk of Lightning [XRR]
    Gamble (Instead of paying [X], you may reveal the top card of your library and put it into your hand. If you do, X is equal to the revealed card's converted mana cost.)
    CARDNAME deals X damage to target creature or player.

    The revealed card can't stay on top, and since you might hit a land, the free draw seems to make the card more fun. Worst case scenario; you drew a card. It might be too effective with scry and other effects. But I think the idea that X becomes a top deck CMC is solid.

    1. Interesting to compare Gamble to Cycling 2.

      If I was stuck on two lands I could cycle this. If I had a lot of mana I could just hardcast it. If I had a middling amount of mana and wanted a Blaze effect, I'd be disappointed with any card I drew that wasn't as big as my target, even getting a card out of it, but ecstatic if I got both.

      What about…
      Gamble (Reveal the top card of your library. You may put it into your hand. If you don't, X becomes the revealed card's converted mana cost.)

  3. The only issue that worries me about milling as a cost is how much deck bookkeeping it could introduce; it's likely a lot of players will include "safety valves" that recycle the yard into the library, and that means shuffling.

    1. It exiles the cards, so shuffling your graveyard into your library won't help.

    2. I don't know if that fixes the paranoia, though. Some cards inevitably will yard themselves over a game and that would be seen as an option.

  4. Psychic Strike 3RR
    Sorcery (C)
    Psionic (Each card you exile from your library facedown while casting this spell pays for {1}.)
    Psychic Strike deals 6 damage to target creature.

    1. This doesn't make what you exile important, but exiling the cards facedown means you won't know until the game ends what you "lost," so that might work pretty well. Removing all the risk isn't a strict improvement, but I do think it's a big gain all told. Nice.

      Given that part of the interest of delve is getting it the fuel it needs, and the library is a huge resource, maybe we simplify it further:

      Psychic Strike RR
      Sorcery (C)
      Psionic 5 (As an additional cost to cast ~, exile 5 cards facedown from the top of your library.)
      Psychic Strike deals 5 damage to target creature.

  5. I really like the original Psychic Strike because it's different to spells which have come before. Lots of homebrew spells have "random amount of damage", and it often doesn't work too well because no-one likes using a spell they don't know what it will do.

    Whereas psychic strike always works, but has a random *cost*. So it might be a good trade or a bad trade, but at least it works, and you know how close you are to being decked and can play the rest of the game accordingly.

    I like the way that it has a cost that both Spike and Timmy will care about, so neither player will be put off it from the start.

    If anything, I would like to keep that aspect and tweak other parts of the card. Eg. it could be black with a random life loss. Or it could let you choose the amount of damage (rather than CMC) and then mill yourself until you find a card with that value. Or it could be "exile that many cards from your library, then exile X more where X is the combined CMC of those cards" or something, that takes less counting.

  6. In retrospect, I really don't like the possibility of failure in the second two versions. We could hack it so it returns to hand or something, but that gets long and clunky; I very much prefer the idea of guaranteed success and unknown cost. A hybrid:

    Envision {R}{R}{R}{R} (Exile cards from the top of your library until their total mana cost includes {R}{R}{R}{R}.)