Tuesday, March 24, 2015

CCDD 032415—Hunting Tower

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/24/2015 - I wanted to see how simple you could make a borderpost, and whether that design would have any value. Hunting Tower is definitely simpler and cleaner. It doesn't fix your mana nearly as well, but it does swap adeptly between being a 23rd/24th Forest and humble mana acceleration.

I originally made a single colorless version (Abandoned Borderpost). A set's needs would determine whether that has value or we need the full color-specific cycle, but since the colorless version can't help with splashes, it will generally be less helpful to a set.

EDIT: For reference, here's what this card might look like as a land, per Jack's suggestion.


  1. Interesting question.

    Outside a set that needs all-coloured permanents, surely the simplest borderpost is a land with an ability "3: Put this onto the battlefield tapped". That has some differences, it can't be countered and can't be destroyed cheaply, but might make up for it by always entering tapped.

    I almost feel the borderposts should have big reminder text "(You can play this as your land drop without paying its mana cost)" and tiny rule text underneath explaining the details. When I know that's how they work in practice, they're easy to grok. But I hate explaining them to beginners!

    In terms of possible variants, I do wonder why wizards settled on the version that's easy to remember in play but hard to understand by reading the card -- I assume they tested the alternatives and decided this was best. I think "as your land drop" would be simpler rules text, so I assume they decided that was impossible. "An untapped land" instead of "pay 1 and return a land" is definitely simpler to read if not always simpler to play. And not entering tapped is simpler, allowed by being single colour. But I wonder if there would be a need for single-colour mana-rocks, or if there's any other drawback that could be used as well without requiring another line of rules text.

    1. just "as your land drop" basically makes artifact lands, except better.

      I like the land that can put itself into play as a one-off colorless land design

    2. "As your land drop" would indeed have had rules issues. Note also that Alara Reborn was a set with the "all-gold" gimmick and lots of things that cared about multicolour permanents; so they really wanted multicolour permanents that didn't actually need 2 mana at common to cast.

      I love the borderposts because there are a bunch of different casual mechanics that can find use for them, even way outside Alara block: e.g. Faerie Swarm enjoys "lands" that are blue permanents; Extort enjoys "lands" that count as spells; Metalcraft enjoys "lands" that are artifacts.

      Outside of the Alara Reborn context, though, Jack's solution is awesome. A land that looks like a land makes it so much clearer that you can play it as your land drop. The activated ability from hand is much simpler than the painful borderpost wording. Excellent idea!

    3. Thank you! I didn't think "put onto the battlefield" lands was original to me, though I can't think if I've seen it elsewhere. It was immediately obvious as the reverse-borderpost. But maybe being uncounterable unremovable IS too strong?

      "I love the borderposts because there are a bunch of different casual mechanics that can find use for them, even way outside Alara block"

      Yes, I really love that everything has a niche.

      "As your land drop would indeed have had rules issues."

      I'm sure. Although I don't understand WHY. The comp rules specify how to play lands -- I don't get why some simple tweak on "You may play this as a land without paying its mana cost" couldn't be made to work exactly as it sounds. I assume there's some reason, but it itches at me that I can't do that :)

    4. A tweak to the rules could likely make "as your land play for the turn" work. The team avoided that in Zendikar because it wasn't as fun as landfall, not for rules issues. (Which doesn't mean there aren't any, only that they didn't follow that path far enough to find out.)

    5. Ooooh. Of course. I'd forgotten that, that they had every reason to make the borderposts bounce so they "counted" as lands for landfall. I don't know if that was worth the confusion of their unfortunate templating, but I trust wizards. So, ok, there may be rules issues but we don't know for sure either way. Thank you for pointing that out!

  2. I personally like the "You may pay 1 and return" from the original borderposts rather than "return an untapped" clause here. It makes it clearer for LSPs what's happening, and gives them a slight "aha" moment when they realize they can tap whatever they're returning to pay the cost. (and I was pretty disappointed when I tried to jam Dormant Volcano into my red deck without realizing you had to return an untapped land, I had skimmed over that word)

  3. ... Is it on purpose that the original does not, in fact, enter the battlefield tapped like the borderposts did?

  4. The land would be really fun in a set with Landfall.