Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CCDD 042215—Explosive Reagent

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/22/2015 - I found an old design that was a Shock that triggered a Flame Jab whenever another spell is cast while it's on the stack. That's a bit broader than anti-countermagic since you can combo with it yourself, but referencing the stack is to be avoided wherever possible, and this ability didn't come close to warranting it. Which made me curious if I could find a similar effect without using the word 'stack.'

Explosive Reagent is still a bit too weird for common—even having simplified the rider so it's not a trigger and doesn't target independently—but I quite like the solution of using terminology players are familiar with. Everyone uses "in response" and even in pockets of culture that don't, it's intuitive.

I was thinking the comprehensive rules would need an entry to codify that phrase, but it already exists:
116.7. If a player with priority casts a spell or activates an activated ability while another spell or ability is already on the stack, the new spell or ability has been cast or activated “in response to” the earlier spell or ability. The new spell or ability will resolve first. See rule 608, “Resolving Spells and Abilities.”
It's used in multiple examples, and even has a glossary entry.

That execution doesn't offer any immunity to countermagic, though if I  Force Spike your Negate, it'll deal triple damage. But that's only relevant if I target a player, since I'm either meeting a creature's toughness or I'm not.

To the right is an iteration where all of that does matter, but it carries the added complexity of having a trigger on a spell, which is decidedly unusual. If we agree it's more complex than worthwhile, the original might look pretty good on the face, but in practice it's basically a backwards Grapeshot. Even having found better language for this effect, I don't think I've found a card worth printing. What do you think?


  1. I think we can get a simpler template by counting spells cast before and after it, assuming the following wording works: "CARDNAME deals 2 damage to target creature for each spell cast this turn"

    This version does a good job trumping pump spells cast before or after it, and would be easier to use on Magic Online (because you wouldn't have to hold Ctrl to retain priority to cast something in response-- you can just cast your other spells before it to power it up).

    1. So Grapeshot. Yeah, I agree that's just must simpler and the same basic effect.

      I didn't think of the Magic Online priority issue. Good call.

    2. My biggest fear with this is how Storm-like it is. I'd strongly consider restricting it to creatures.

    3. Is storm still broken if we restrict it to other players' spells?

      Fixed(?) Grapeshot
      CARDNAME deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
      Opponentstorm (When you cast this spell, copy it for each spell your opponents cast this turn)

    4. Broken or not, it is a terribly uninteresting mechanic since I have no influence over how many spells my opponent casts.

    5. "Terribly uninteresting" is a bit harsh, don't you think? We're all trying to be better designers here; there's no need to be that vicious.

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. I think that the mechanic is certainly better than "terribly uninteresting", but it would be hard to develop. Think about this card:

      Thunder Echo 1R
      Instant (C)
      Thunder Echo deals 2 damage to target player for each spell he or she cast this turn.

      It's a post-facto Eidolon.

    8. I certainly didn't intend any sleight to R Stetch with my comment, which was purely directed at the mechanic.

      99% of the ideas any designer comes up with will be terribly uninteresting. Saying so about a particular suggestion is never a sleight to the designer.

      Wobbles: I think that is very printable, although it is narrow enough I think it would be a Rare, since it is certainly not for limited (unless this is a weird limited environment).

    9. No offense taken whatsoever!

      I wonder if it would read better/more interesting if the effect was a big, splashy bonus rather than incrementally advantageous like Storm?

      Siege Hydra
      Creature - Hydra - Rare
      Siege Hydra enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters.
      Responsive - When Siege Hydra enters the battlefield, put an X/X green Hydra token onto the battlefield if an opponent cast a spell this turn.

      (Green already has dipped its toe into this space in the past with cards like Seedtime, but I wonder if there's more room here.)

    10. Also by "more room" I was thinking a single cycle of rares ala Offering - I certainly don't think there's room for a full-on set based around Responsive.

    11. I think that is a cool card R, since it does something very Blue, punishing people for playing instant's on your turn. I also like that it is only a threshold one mechanic.

      I wouldn't bother making it an ability word, though, as I don't think this needs to be a set theme, but I think it makes a kick ass hydra!

  2. Just riffing, how about:

    Stacking Bolt 1R
    Deals 3 damage.
    Whenever another spell is cast while ~ is on the stack, you may copy ~.