Thursday, March 12, 2015

CCDD 031215—Resonate & Call

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/12/2015 - Seeing all the control-or-reveal-a-dragon effects in DTK got me thinking about another way to reward playing a lot of expensive creatures like dragons. I've turned Amplify from a size-boosting mechanic to cost-reduction (like yesterday's feed).

EDIT: These are bad designs. See if you can figure out why, then read on.

Pretty straight-forward, right? In the unlikely event your hand on turn two is Flocking Wyrm and four other dragons, you can have a 4/4 for {R}{R}. Considering how long it'll take you to cast those other dragons (and how risky it is to build a deck with enough dragons to make that possible, much less likely), that should be printable. Most of the time you'd be lucky to cast it for four.

By making the creature type a variable we can key off, we open up a number of cards like Goblin War Cart that reward a particular type without adding to its critical mass. Caring about a single type gives us some control as well, but what if we do something more open-ended (like amplify did)?

This dragon is functionally identical to the first, but you can't make Goblin War Cart with resonate. On the other hand, it does let you make cards like Skourgen Flanker that work in rat decks, rogue decks, and rat+rogue decks.

(Haste is a real stretch for black at common, but I added it anyway to support Flanker's flavor.)


  1. Thinking about some other directions to take this. The main cost/restriction is "I must have a matching card in my hand", but you can also look at it as "I must reveal information to my opponent."

    I wonder how much that information is worth?
    For each 3 cards your reveal, discount of 1 to the total mana cost?

    Or maybe, as an additional cost to play this, reveal your hand.

    1. If you can reveal anything, you can reveal the lands you'll play this turn and next and whatever else you feel won't really benefit your opponent. You can also reveal 6 cards quit easily, so I don't see a mana cost where it will be both relevant and good but not too good.

      Also—and this applies to resonate and call too—we need to be careful about rewarding players for doing things that steal fun from the game. Secret information is definitely a big part of Magic's fun.

      Still, I like your thought here and can't help but think there's somewhere neat to go with it…

  2. Wobble tweets: "I think it's fun design space, but my developer side prefers the 'one and done' dragon kicker. Less swingy"

    Good point. Swingy effects are exciting to read, and we make swingy rares to help Magic games turn back and forth dramatically, but not everything can be swingy—particularly keywords we intend to use a lot and on commons.

    It's not a coincidence that none of my example cards were common. That's not a dealbreaker for a mechanic, but it's definitely a strike against.

    1. In the case of the Rat Flanker I worry that this will encourage players to keep low drop cards in their hand so they can get the full bonus. That gives this card, that is clearly meant for an aggressive deck, an inherent tension, and it is unambiguously a bad kind of tension.

      This "Reveal a dragon" business leads to some really ugly looking cards, I think, and at least for now I'm certainly not excited by Dragons of Tarkir. Of course, playing it can always change that.

      Worth noting, this is even a mechanic they have used before, with cards like Flamekin Bladewhirl.

    2. Which illustrates another advantage the DTK mechanic has over mine. It doesn't care whether the dragon is in your hand or in play. (I considered adding that, but it's just too clunky.)

    3. Now that I say it out loud. Affinity for goblins and affinity for creatures that share a type with this both make far more sense than resonate or call. Only for an expensive tribe like dragons do you want to look at cards in hand.

      I'm officially declaring resonate and call worthless.

  3. I really like this space as a mitigator for the awkwardness of hands full of monsters. Not so much when it's revealing cheap cards. I'm wondering whether we can build that into the mechanic a bit more.

    Voracious Hellkite 4RR
    Creature-Dragon (U)
    Herald (While casting this spell you may reveal any number of cards with base costs that are greater than or equal to this card's. Each one pays for {1}.)

    1. Definitely better.
      Works well with morph (because those creatures have high CMC, but you can still play them after your herald) as well as poorly with it (when you want to play them on turn 3).

      If we simplify it, we could put it on medium spells too. Not sure we'd want too… but simpler's good, right?

      Herald (While casting this spell you may reveal any number of cards in your hand worth 6 or more. Each one pays for {1}.)