Monday, July 13, 2015

Tesla: Battle-Forging Ahead

Hello again, everyone! Last week, I asked everyone to nominate promising mechanics that we had discussed the week before, and one mechanic clearly came out on top: Battle-Forged. Battle-Forged began long ago as 'Tune-Up', but over time, developed into the form we'll be talking about today. This week, let's strike while the iron is hot, and focus our discussion on this promising mechanic. Specifically, I'd like to hammer out the kinks with Battle-Forged, and in addition, stoke up a discussion about what the role of Battle-Forged in Tesla will be. Now, without further ado, let's begin!

This is the iteration of Battle-Forged we're all most familiar with, which we can refer to as Battle-Forged Version 1. It's similar to previous mechanics, but not too similar. This gives us some examples to learn from, while still keeping the allure of a new mechanic. Battle-Forged has lots of design space, as jack noted last week. Further, as AlexC pointed out, it also has a lot of space for vanillas and french vanillas, and as Lee Owens said, it works in all colors. Battle-Forged is simple and reads well, so players will more quickly realize how fun it is. And it's an incremental progress mechanic that works towards a goal, which quite a few people (including myself) think is a good way to do progress. (For more on this discussion, see Forms the Future Takes.) Overall, this is definitely a long list of reasons to go with Battle-Forged... but let's add some fuel to the fire. Is this really the best way to do Battle-Forged?

Tommy's suggestion was to have the Battle-Forged creature get the counter when it attacks, rather than after it survives combat. Let's call this Version T. This ensures that players will (usually) get to experience the fun of building their creature at least once. Additionally, it encourages players to go on the offensive, which is good for facilitating more exciting and interactive games. However, Jay noted a problem: with Version T: we have to give the creatures -1/-1. Will players realize this is a 2/3 on the attack, or dismiss it offhand as a 1/2 for {3}? Have we gone out of the furnace and into the fire with this solution? That's a question for you all to discuss, and perhaps for playtesting to answer.

The second variation on Battle-Forged is a proposal of my own - a possible 'middle-ground'. Let's call this Version I. Here, we preserve Version T's method to encourage players to go on the offensive, by removing the ability to grow by blocking - but we otherwise keep the ability the same. My own iteration gets me curious - do any of you all see other ways we can refine Battle-Forged, or perhaps even push it further? If you have your own ideas, share them in the comments!

Lastly, I'd like to put some more irons into the fire this week, and discuss what Battle-Forged's role in our set is. Jenesis had a point: Battle-Forged isn't a marquee mechanic. I think it's simple and fun Tesla-feeling package is great, but it's not quite innovative or exciting enough to sell a set on its own.  So the question is - what is Battle-Forged good for?

First off, Battle-Forged is fantastic for gameplay. Battle-Forged gives us an interactive form of progress, which allows us to ensure that Tesla's theme of 'progress' shows up at common in good enough amounts, while also giving us room to experiment with other, perhaps less-interactive, versions of progress. In addition... the mechanic just seems really fun! I tried to show off this aspect with a card where Battle-Forged is the crux of its exciting gameplay.

Furthermore, Battle-Forged is great for Tesla's flavor and experience. Tesla wants to tell a story of risky ventures and big ideas - a world of visionaries that revolves around the promise of a better future. Battle-Forged gives you a number, a goal, and a risky way to reach it - and it's that risk that makes the reward so sweet. For this aspect, I felt a 'trope' Battle-Forged card would fit well - so here's a card that tells a popular story.

Lastly, Battle-Forged's wide design space, and synthesis of multiple frequent gameplay themes (combat, +1/+1 counters, artifacts) gives us a lot of room for synergy and interaction within the set, which is important to creating a cohesive format with a unique feel. I tried to show this aspect off with a card that interacts well with lots of different possible themes for Tesla.

A mechanic with no goals or uses in mind for it is far harder to improve or develop than one with identified uses and a role in the set. So, as we work on refining Battle-Forged, and perhaps even designing new mechanics inspired by Battle-Forged, let's keep in mind the mechanic's three major roles in Tesla's larger plan.

Overall, Battle-Forged is definitely a hot commodity, and I think it's got the potential to be something great. This week, let's give the mechanic its turn on the anvil, by giving it as much feedback, critique, and discussion that we can, to ensure that Battle-Forged ends up as good as possible.

To sum it all up, here are our discussion topics for the week:


  1. I'm really torn.
    It saddens me that Combat Android is impossible with BF T, but T's template is much shorter and punchier, and that's a big deal for a common mechanic. But Battle-Forged 1 is meaningless with T.

    As an exercise to compare the two options, let's rebuild each card with the other mechanic.

    Loyal Automaton I {3}
    2/3 Construct
    Battle-Forged 2 (At EOC, if ~ attacked this turn and has < 2 +1/+1 counters, put one on it.)
    # This looks stronger now.


    Gearfalcon T {4}
    1/1 Bird Construct
    Battle-Forged 2 (When ~ attacks, if it has < 2 +1/+1 counters, put one on it.)
    # This has to cost more now.

    Steam-Powered Juggernaut T {4}
    2/2 Jugernaut
    ~ attacks each turn if able.
    Battle-Forged 3 (When ~ attacks, if it has < 3 +1/+1 counters, put one on it.)
    # This looks a touch worse, but is basically identical.

    Combat Android T {1}
    0/1 Construct
    Battle-Forged 2 (When ~ attacks, if it has < 2 +1/+1 counters, put one on it.)
    # This doesn't quite work. At BFT 2, it seems too strong. At BFT 1, it's silly.

    Revolutionary Robot T {3}
    2/2 Construct (mythic)
    Battle-Forged 5 (When ~ attacks, if it has < 5 +1/+1 counters, put one on it.)
    When ~ becomes fully forged, destroy all creatures that aren't.
    # This does it's one-sided 7/7 wrath a turn earlier now. Could make it a 1/1 with BF 6, but ugh.

    Carrier Colossus T {6}
    5/5 Construct (rare)
    Battle-Forged 1 (When ~ attacks, if it has < 1 +1/+1 counters, put one on it.)
    Remove a +1/+1 counter from ~: Get a thopther.
    # This is mostly identical.

    That comparison isn't entirely fair, though, because those cards weren't designed for BFT. Example:

    Constructicon T {4}
    1/2 Construct (unc)
    Battle-Forged 2 (When ~ attacks, if it has < 2 +1/+1 counters, put one on it.)
    When ~ becomes fully forged, put a +1/+1 counter on each other attacking creature.

    Predator Bot T {3}
    1/1 Construct (unc)
    Battle-Forged 3 (When ~ attacks, if it has < 3 +1/+1 counters, put one on it.)
    When ~ becomes fully forged, target creature must block it this turn if able.

    1. Great ideas here. I agree that T's punchiness is a big thing in its favor.

    2. I am about as finicky about word count and complexity as it is possible to be. I am constantly looking at the commons in my file sorted by number of words and asking myself if those ones at the top of the list are REALLY worth all those words.

      Here there is also rules complexity because a simple attack trigger is easier than what is basically a delayed trigger (though it isn't currently templated that way, I assume it would be).

      I'm not concerned about the loss of Battle-Forged 1, I think the mechanic automatically encourages work, and just surviving one combat is probably too little work with any mechanic.

    3. Why do you say it would end up a delayed trigger?

    4. Conceptually it is a delayed trigger. I think that is far more transparent. Look at Oracle cards with "at end of combat." You'll find lots of fairly modern stuff like Crumbling Colossus.

      It could say "At end of combat, if Crumbling Colossus attacked, sacrifice it," but that would be less intuitive, no?

      (I don't think this is a big deal by any means.)

    5. Oh, yeah. This template looks so reasonable, but Magic insists on using 'when/ever' for triggered abilities. Hmm.

      Battle-Forged N (Whenever this creature attacks or blocks, if it has fewer than N +1/+1 counters on it at end of combat, put one on it.)

    6. Gross. It is logically a little cleaner if we check the counters when it attacks, and then always give the counter at the end of combat, somewhat like the Ordeals. "Whenever this creature attacks or blocks, if it has fewer than N +1/+1 counters, put one on it at the end of combat." It is the same number of words, but now you only check conditions once instead of twice. [This is a very slight functional change, but I don't think that is a problem.]

      This really, really wants reminder text that this doesn't do anything if the creature is dead (Fungosaur is always a confusing card to newer players and we're basically making a whole mechanic of Fungosaurs). Is it at all possible we could squeeze that in?

    7. Agreed on both counts, Tommy. These are fantastic suggestions.

      I was worrying about the Fungusaur issue too (though I admit, I didn't think of that specific card. :P) I think we could use something like 'survives' in the reminder text.

    8. This might be why renown works the way it does...

  2. What's more confusing to a new player: misleading P/T (e.g. on Shades & firebreathers) or kinda weird but understandable delayed timing on effects?

    Considering this is the core difference between versions T & I, it seems someone should go do some research/playtesting with... uh, some new players, regarding this specific difference.

    My gut tells me T is less cumulatively confusing & awkward, but it's ben wrong before.

    1. Also, some alternate wording in the interest of saving space:

      When[ever?] ~ attacks [or blocks?], put a +1/+1 counter on it at end of combat if it has [#] or fewer +1/+1 counters on it.

    2. Also, that wording got me thinking about how this mechanic feels and I'm swinging in favour of I or 1 now :/ It just seems like you've got a more predictable creature if it doesn't change just before combat.

    3. Another major issue is board state complexity. A 1/1 that becomes a 2/2 right before it attacks is hard to process - your opponent has to remember it's a 1/1 when blocking, but it will be a 2/2 if it attacks next turn, and they need to do the math appropriately. Likewise, the player with the Version T card has to factor that math in as well, even in hand. With one card, the math is annoying, but relatively minor. But as an entire mechanic? That calculation can get quite cumbersome.

      On the other hand, Version 1 or I promise that the card will attack the same as it is, but might get better afterwards. This means that the math is only in effect next turn. Version 1 has more math - they have to remember that if it blocks and survives, it becomes a better attacker next turn - and Version I has less.

      Judging purely by calculation and board math, I think Version I is the least complex. Weighing that against the 'weirdness' of delayed triggers, I think its probably the least-boggling of the three versions.

    4. Also, I think Version 1/I, as you said, are 'less predictable'. That risk, and the ways you help the creature survive combat with your abilities and cards, seem pretty fun to me. But at the same time, Tommy's goal to reduce risk is good - we still want to avoid that 'lawnmower effect'.

    5. That does seem like the key question Droqen.

      'Whenever' is for triggers that can happen multiple times (like attacks) while 'when' is for triggers that only happen once (like ETB / death).

      The intervening 'if' clause of the rendered cards means that the effect won't trigger at all when the condition is untrue. That's relevant for Magic Online, where players have to manually pass priority for every trigger.

    6. On top of the board complexity (which I could feel just making the sample cards above), 1/I makes it clear that battle-forged is a reward for surviving combat, where T sounds more like a reward for attacking. That's a subtle distinction, but not irrelevant. We want to send the clearest message possible. (Which is not to say T is inferior—it might be superior, provided that attacking is what we're asking players to do, rather than attacking and surviving.)

    7. I definitely agree that it is an unfortunate bit of board complexity that when I'm making decisions about my attacks I need to remember that next turn when I'm blocking your BF creature is actually +1/+1 if it attacks me.

      This does show up at common all the time though, even in core sets, see Benalish Veteran and Charging Griffin, so I don't think that is a huge problem. I would advocate a different card frame specifically to remind players of this who are sitting across the table.

    8. Tommy: There's not an entire mechanic of Charging Griffins, though. And playing at the Magic Origins prerelease, with both Consul's Lieutenant Charging Griffin in my pool - just two cards! - I still too frequently had my opponents not realizing how big my attackers were.

      The question, in my opinion, isn't which hurdle is larger to overcome. (In that case, Version 1/I are a bit tough to read, while Version T is a bit tough to realize its true stats) - the question is how FREQUENTLY you have to overcome that hurdle. Hopefully, with Version 1/I, you only have to realize how it works once. But with Version T, you're mentally calculating - overcoming the hurdle - each turn you're faced with an attack.

    9. I'd argue an entire mechanic of Charging Griffins is actually less difficult to overcome than one off cards. Especially if we use a distinctive card frame.

    10. I agree it's less difficult to overcome - but my point is that the frequency is the issue. You have to calculate their attacking stats versus their defending stats every single turn, which is ah huge drain on your mental resources.

      I like the idea of a distinctive card frame. I must admit I am just partial to messing with the frame, though. Modern Magic design has introduced the idea of messing with the frame as an indicator (with enchantment creatures and miracles) which I am REALLY enjoying.

    11. Where Magic has altered the card frame before, it's been warranted, and it will be again. I don't feel like this mechanic warrants a card frame alteration, and I think it's a warning sign that we want one.

    12. This is exactly the same as the reason they wanted an alternate frame for Miracle. It is a warning to the players that they should pay closer attention to a particular card. That's my favorite use of alternate frames.

      The alternate frame for Theros wasn't worth it, in my opinion. (Maybe, possibly, if Constellation had been a big thing through the whole block, but even then... it was a cool frame, but I don't think it had nearly as large a justification as "Hey, pay attention to this creature's stats" would.)

    13. I'm suggesting battle forge isn't awesome enough to physically draw the player's attention toward. Very opinion.

    14. I think Battleforge only gets in the set if it is peak awesome. It is fine to have mechanics that are a little over meh if they are things like Metalcraft that sort of hold stuff together. Battleforged (in any of the variations discussed) is a huge commitment because it costs so many complexity points and has such a huge impact on how limited will play. Battleforged is like Morph or Bestow, once it is in the set, I don't think there is a lot of room left.

      We're having this discussion about Battleforged, I think, because I (and many others I won't call out specifically) think it has the potential to be something that awesome.

      I don't think mechanics like Battleforged can survive if they are slightly above "meh" like Metalcraft. If they're merely passable, they get cut.

  3. It's worth pointing out that the difference in aggression levels between version 1 and version T are even bigger than they look. Not only does T not trigger on blocks, but having everything be 1/1 smaller means they don't EVER bock very well. For example, With version 1, 2 Loyal automaton's will bounce off each other when played on curve, with T, the blocking one would just get eaten.

    1. This is a good point, and I think I addressed it in my original suggestion actually. I don't think this is a big deal because this mechanic by its nature needs to have a low as fan. It is not like Landfall that occurs on multiple cards of every color and rarity.

      Separate from my suggestion for the clean template, I also cannot strongly enough advocate that this not trigger on blocking. Mechanics that incentive blocking are always problematic leading to stalls and games that don't end, but especially here this also strongly disincentivizes attacking. If I attack into your board with Battle-forged cards it will very likely make your cards stronger. Especially newer players (but really most players) default towards being less aggressive than they should be anyway, this will increase that significantly.

      This mechanic is fun, but it won't be if it never triggers. As it is, it will almost never trigger on blocks because people simply aren't going to attack into it if it could (unless you're using a combat trick, etc.).

    2. I agree. This definitely should not trigger from blocking. I prefer version I to version T, but prefer either to version 1, for this reason.

    3. Agreed that it should not trigger on blocking, for all the reasons you stated. But I'm not sure that the aggressiveness issue isn't a big deal, for a couple reasons:

      1.) It seems limiting to assume, from the get-go, that the mechanic is going to have a low as-fan. What if we end up wanting more Battle-Forged in our set than we expected?

      2.) Battle-Forged has a large design space, but limiting it to be on aggressive cards also limits the effects we can use on the cards. (Or at least, I think it might?)

      3.) Even including some Battle-Forged version T cards is going to skew our set towards the aggressive, and if we want Tesla to not end up aggressive, then we're forced to skew the rest of the set to respond to Battle-Forged's aggressiveness, or be less aggressive itself.

      This seems like a lot of limitations just to accommodate for this one difference. The difference, however, is very positive in both wording and immediate impact, as you note... so it might be worth it.

  4. Another option is Battleforged 3 (When this untaps, if it has <3 counters on it, put a +1/+1 counter in it.) Inspired was a debatable choice for an ability word, but this could be more consistent as an actual keyword. "Battleforged" might not be the best name for it, then, but something conveying "you worked hard, you're making progress" could incorporate combat as well as devices that require creatures to tap.

    1. This, which I'll tentatively call Power-Up, answers some of the conundrum Tommy is talking about, because like T, it works on attacking, but not blocking. But on the other side, unlike T, it doesn't require the creatures to be -1/-1 smaller or have creatures changing p/t in the middle of combat. Unlike delaying a trigger to the end of combat step, the counter is paired with an action you take - untapping the creature. Wordcountwise, it matches up with T.

      This also plays very nicely with sorcery-speed Batteries, and/or "Tap X creatures you control: do a rad thing" artifacts or one-shot effects. Even if you do have a cute way to tap & untap your creatures in a single turn, you've accelerated powering them up, but since it's still bounded by the #, you're only trading resources for time (which means sometimes it can be the right thing, but not always, which I think is good gameplay).

      We can even do some kind of cool things like:

      Geargrind Robot {3}
      Artifact Creature
      Power-Up 2 (When this untaps, if it has less than 2 counters on it, put a +1/+1 counter on it.)
      ~ enters the battlefield tapped.

      Geargrind Harvester {2}
      Power-Up 1 (When this untaps, if it has no counters on it, put a +1/+1 counter on it.)
      Remove a +1/+1 counter from ~, T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool and gain one life.

    2. So it's Inspired, but more narrow and with an upper bound?

      IIRC the mechanic wasn't received with glowing remarks in Born of the Gods, and the cards were comparatively underpowered due to needing to stay on the battlefield unmolested for two whole turn cycles (exceptions like ETBT notwithstanding) in order for their abilities to come online.

    3. Inspired was received poorly, and I think most people would not be excited about the prospect of "strictly worse inspired" as a mechanic.

      On the other hand, I'm not sure how much of that was Inspired and how much of that was the disaster that was Theros block [Theros, the set, was fantastic, but they lost focus and things spun out of control as they introduced a bunch of at most tangentially related things in BNG and JOU.]

      I do think if everything was built around Inspired including a keyword like Convoke that tapped creatures outside of combat there would be some potential for Inspired. It really was just thrown into BNG with random (terribly) enablers like Witch's Eye.

      What makes me most worried that Inspired done Right (TM) might be an unattainable goal is seeing how development handled Inspired cards at common and uncommon in a set with near zero support for them. If development couldn't push them and make exciting cards in that context, what hope do we have for a big set? [For what its worth, Kragma Butcher is a really cool card.]

      A final small problem I foresee with the untap version is that it makes it take a long time for something to become fully forged.

    4. It's not without issues, but I think it that this answers some of the problems we're having with Battle-Forged,and most of the problems this has in its adjacency to Inspired are problems Battle-Forged will have as well.

      As far as surviving-two-turn-cycles goes: A Stonework Puma with Power Up has to survive an attack as a 2/2 to attack as a 3/3 on the next turn; one with Battle-Forged has to survive the same attack as a 2/2 to attack as a 3/3 on the next turn. The big difference there really only arises when the opponent has a sorcery-speed damage-based removal spell that could kill the un-powered version but would bounce off of the Battle-Forged.

      With a numbered upper bound, I do believe we can raise the power level on the cards, as well as provide a stronger "tapping-creatures" subtheme/synergy/enablers.

      Fully forged is weird. It makes sense to have this goal so you can "build slowly toward this exact climax", but the idea of "I got my creature to survive through five consecutive attacks, and now I get this bonus" seems like it's not likely to come up, or the opponent should probably be dead? If anything, Power Up gives you a stronger chance of making it that far, because your creatures can engage in combat or find other employment to gather their counters for the big turn.

    5. I don't like the "find employment elsewhere" option at all. Aside from just a feel thing, I have two specific concerns beyond the slowness mentioned above:

      1) It really splits the focus of the mechanic. Is it about attacking, or about working? Giving creatures +1/+1 counters strongly screams attacking, but obviously the "right" way to do it is with working.

      2) Allowing this backdoor route to get the counters forces development to cost things accordingly. This will make just attacking with the creatures less effective, and will exacerbate the "better than it looks" problem this mechanic already has.

    6. Yeh its very likely that all the fully charged triggers will have to either have a far lower threshold OR be much large effects.

      To be honesh massive fully charged effect can make the cards read really well even if it doesn't do much to their overall power level.

    7. I like this idea a lot and think it's worth investigating.

      Geargrind Robot is clever, but not for the player. Geargrind Harvester does nothing by itself, but looks like it should. Oh wait, is it a creature? nvm.

    8. The fully charged effects mostly for excitement factor and the ability to 'close a game out'. If you've attacked with a dude for X turns, as you've stated, you're probably already doing good. Giving you the momentum to keep doing good and close the game is what you want in that situation.

      I don't think they NEED to be useful though, for the reason you just stated - they can read really well and seem really fun, even if it ends up that they don't often actually happen. For example, in the OP, Revolutionary Robot probably isn't really gonna become fully forged very often. But heck, it's so cool! : )

      Power-Up is a lot closer to the original tune-up, and I agree with the criticisms that it loses some of its focus in an attempt to be more synergistic with other cards in Magic. However, I agree that it certainly seems fun, solves the delayed-trigger issue, and vastly expands design space.

      I think Inspired went over poorly because it was a very small presence in the format, and didn't have many exciting or memorable effects. But these cards, which grow over time, seem more exciting and memorable, and being in the large set, they'll have more room to show off and be cool.

      I agree with Jay that this idea is worth investigating, and at my first glance, I liked the mechanic. (I must admit I was a huge fan of Inspired too... :P)

  5. Personally, I like Version I the best because it makes the most sense flavor wise while also encouraging interactive game play. The story it tells is that the creature becomes better at combat the more times it does it and survives, which is very grokkable.I think something we can do with this mechanic though is put it on colored creatures, since flavor-wise anything can get better at combat. For example:

    Apprentice Knight
    2/1 (Common)
    Battle-Forged 2 (At EoC, if ~ attacked and has < 2 +1/+1 counters on it, put on on it)

    One thing I do want to point out is that the idea of a trigger happening when something is "fully forged" (like with Revolutionary Robot) seems awkward to me rules-wise since having a certain number of +1/+1 counters on isn't a status like monstrous is. Instead, what about something like this:

    Revolutionary Robot
    3/3 (Mythic)
    Battle-Forged 5 (At EoC, if ~ attacked and has < 2 +1/+1 counters on it, put on on it)
    Whenever ~ becomes forged, if it has five or more +1/+1 counters on it, destroy all creatures w/out a +1/+1 counter

    The powerlevel on its trigger is a lot lower and I changed it to a 3/3 in order to account for the fact that the mechanic is Version I. However, this plays a lot better with other cards like Steel Overseer and doesn't require a status change for a number of +1/+1 counters on a creature (which would be really awkward, especially if something gets "over forged so to speak").

    Overall I think this is a great mechanic though, and I'm looking forward to see where it's going!

    - Danny Batterman

    1. We can define 'fully forged' in the rules, and reinforce that with rules cards. All that matters is that it's intuitive to players.

      I agree that BF could and likely should be on non-artifact creatures. Nothing about it feels artifact-y.

    2. That's a fair point about the rules definition. I feel like it would have to mention something about only being possible by triggering BF since using something like Battlegrowth to get something fully forged out of nowhere is something we don't want.

    3. I specifically renamed the mechanic to Battle-Forged so that it could work on non-artifact creatures. "Battle-Charged" was too obviously related to artifacts and machinery.

      I was thinking about the definition of "fully forged" this morning, and my idea was simply "the action of placing the Nth counter due to the Battle-Forged trigger". Obviously this wouldn't be explained on the card itself - it would be on rules cards and such - but yeah.

      I agree that cards like Battlegrowth would be problematic. My initial idea to solve this was simple: we simply copy what other sets that use +1/+1 counters as indicators do. Return to Ravnica had Unleash, Theros had Monstrosity, and Magic Origins has Renown - and you'll notice that they also don't have effects at common that put +1/+1 counters on any creature. This was intentional, and the sets play just fine without these effects.

    4. I was mistaken about RtR, my apologies. But Theros and Magic Origins were better examples anyway, since their +1/+1 counters are used as an indicator, just as they would be for 'fully forged'. ( :

    5. Ugh. Rules weirdness.
      We want players to be able to accelerate a BF creature toward being fully-forged by adding +1/+1 counters, but does it trigger when the Nth counter is added? I'd prefer it to trigger when the BF ability happens and we've got N+ counters, but the intervening-if-clause means it won't trigger at all after N. I guess it has to be "When one or more counters are added to this creature, so that the total meets or exceeds its BG number for the first time" which is weird. Hmm.

  6. If the Zendikar problem can be solved, I like Ver. T. Battle-Forged creatures are supposed to start puny and build up into huge by nature, so ideally a deck that wants to Battle-Forge it up will also include non-progressy midsized guys to hold the ground for a few turns while the Battle-Forged guys do their thing.

    My first thought with Carrier Colossus, which incidentally sums up my issue with Ver. I, was "oh, so the optimal way to play this card with a counter on it is to attack, deal its damage, hold priority during the combat damage step, remove a counter, and then put a counter on it at end of combat." That's rather fiddly and I don't want the mechanic to make LSPs feel like they're getting "cheated" the way that O-Ring apparently did.

    1. That issue remains true of Carrier Colossus regardless of our Battle-Forged version. It is an issue, though.

    2. With Ver. T it's a lot easier. You can remove the counter at any time before your next declare attackers step, preferably during the opponent's declare attackers step (to chump) or end step (to get a "haste" 1/1 flier).

      Things that care about end of combat are weird in general. I still remember some consternation going around WRT post-damage Celestial Flare at the prerelease.

    3. I didn't even think of that, Jenesis. I think we should probably avoid "remove a +1/+1 counter" effects, then.

  7. Damn, do you have a life. I am not very late at this post, but the comments are filled with good discussions, which are longer then the post itself

    1. GA is blessed with some particularly great and caring minds. At this point, I look forward to almost every post because there's always someone's insight I hadn't considered before.

    2. Agreed Pasteur. There's a reason I'm always quoting from the comments in my posts - you guys are brilliant!

  8. Another difference worth considering with these various templates is when we want "When ~ becomes fully forged" effects to trigger. I'm inclined to think that declare attackers is the most "feel good" time since you can use it to mess with combat. Also it is a neat time to gain combat abilities like flying, etc.

    What abilities feel most natural in the end of combat step?

    1. Creating tokens, untapping, Assassinate, drawing cards, reducing cost of next spell

    2. On the other side, at start of combat allows:
      Tapping, can't block, must block, p/t changes

    3. I think most of your EOC things work just as well at beginning of combat. The biggest exception is cost reduction, which is beautiful, except I don't think we can do it on "fully forged" things since they are such late game beasts anyway. But none the less, "end of combat + cost reduction" is an area to explore.

      One downside to the T version is that it requires careful board monitoring on behalf of your opponent to stop triggers.

      Say they attack their BF 3 guy, put a second count on it, and pass to you for blocks. You have to realize this is your last chance to interact with this thing in combat before the fully forged trigger happens. That's unfortunate.

      On the other hand, the list of things that can be done at EOC is quite narrow, and also pretty unfortunate.

    4. Is it that narrow, Tommy? Pretty much anything you'd want to cast Main Phase 2 works for the EOC triggers. I do agree it's hugely more narrow than the on-attack trigger, though.

    5. All the things I listed except "can't block" work at either timing. You asked where they felt most natural, and I believe making tokens after combat is more natural than at the start of combat, when they don't enter play attacking.

  9. Mechanic Battle-Forged T's additional tracking complexity when evaluating the boardstate before combat is by far my largest worry. Everything else looks like minor quibbles in comparison.

    I've playtested Battle-Forged I extensivly in my very first set I made: Coins of Mercalis,where the mechanic was called glorious.
    It played rather well as I recall and increasing the number of combat tricks and other damage prevention pushes it to extra feel good moments. In that way it acts very very similar to Heroic in limited.

    I didn't have the "fully forged" triggers which I think are great additions, don't feel that the fully forged triggers have to be timing limited though as "whenever CARDNAME attacks, if it is fully forged", triggers are super easy and activated abilities can be used for less timing specific effects.

    Overall Battle-Forged I gets my vote but I highly recommend that you guys make some duel decks or something and test them in Cockatrice. In fact our latest Re-Making Magic episode is exactly about that.

    1. I'm glad to hear that it playtested well, and that its effects on combat were much like what I anticipated. I agree that 'conditional fully forged' is a great idea, and I should have brought it up myself!

  10. Setting aside the question of which trigger to use, would -1/-1 counters do a better job than +1/+1's? I'm just playing devil's advocate here, but why set a variable, a trigger, an intervening if clause, and a (possible) time delay to give a creature +2/+2? That's a long way to go to limit how big your robots can be.

    Battle Droid 1
    Artifact creature- Construct
    Work in Process 2 (This etb with two -1/-1 counters. Whenever this [trigger tbd], remove a -1/-1 counter from it.)

    1. It eliminates rules baggage. (As opposed to "WHEN [trigger], IF [variable], THEN" you have "ETB [variable]. [Trigger] THEN.)
    2. The cards look really impressive (as in under-costed)
    3. When the last counter is removed, you don't have to track it anymore. MTGO triggers can be set to auto-yield.
    4. Once "Fully Forged" the card and the battlefield will be easier to process (+1/+1's may obscure the text box and they lead to clutter.) Most of the commons will become virtual vanillas or french vanillas.
    5. Its less fiddly. As silly as it sounds, this is pretty important. Placing a number on counters in a specific place once is much less distracting than placing individual counters multiple times. (Counter removal is less physically specific as they're usually tossed into a pile)

    1. To players without a frame of reference for power/toughness to cost ratios, this reads like its strictly downside.
    2. -1/-1 counters are more difficult to design for.
    3. Artisans generally don't like them? lol

    1. Shadowmoore played around in this space quite a bit. I think that it reads worse that it plays, but there is definitely a psychological draw to something getting better as opposed to something getting less bad.

    2. I had definitely wondered this, but using -1/-1 counters in a set that is branded as being about progress seemed like a non-starter. If this mechanic weren't for Tesla, I agree that -1/-1 counters would be the way to go.

    3. Not sure that I agree with points 2 and 5.

      2) I agree with woobles here that is reads way worse than it plays, having -1/-1 counters on your creatures is instinctively a negative emotion most likely due to that you see the P/T initially, get excited, then have it torn away from you to a more reasonable body. See Etched Monstrosity for example. (though its still the most efficient vanilla artfiact creature ever)

      5) Having the counter be already placed on the creature makes it more cluttered as creatures will only ever not have counters if they have attacked a large amount of times. Its far more common to have a few creatures standing off and in this case all of them would have counters rather than 1 or 2 (if they all had battle charged)

    4. This is an excellent question to ask, Mike. I'm glad you did.
      It definitely simplifies the template and that's great.

      I wouldn't eliminate this option out-of-hand without confirming practically whether the rest of the set needs +1/+1 or -1/-1 counters, though I do agree the progress theme strongly suggests the former.

      Thematically, this feels a lot more like fixing broken down machines from an age past (or curing diseased soldiers) than improving new machines (or training soldiers), and that's my main concern.

  11. I definitely think version I is the best option. I don't think it should trigger on blocking to avoid bad incentives, and the incorrect sizing of version T is potentially confusing and makes all the cards look worse.

    1. People are really upset by the incorrect sizing. I admit it isn't ideal, but the Benalish Veteran ability shows up all the time. I think the set of players who will be negatively impacted by it is a lot smaller than people think, and once they learn it once it applies to every Battle-forged card they will see.

      I think the bigger version T issue is actually not that they look worse but that they are in fact much worse, the "Zendikar issue" as others have alluded to.

    2. Tommy: Just gonna re-note, since this is a different discussion: Benalish Veteran ability shows up on one card in common usually. If it showed up on more than one, I guarantee it would get confusing and difficult. Many players at the prerelease played incorrectly around my Charging Griffin, for example.

  12. The biggest concern I have about the mechanic as a whole (regardless of which version we go with) is that it is intrinsically a snow-ball mechanic, and those lead to a lot of unfun games. If I successfully get through with my creature this turn and it gets bigger, what is going to stop me from doing so next turn?

    The Ordeals in Theros were pretty miserable to lose to. Indeed they started at Common and got moved to Uncommon because they were so annoying and swingy. Are we making a whole mechanic that will be as bad as the Ordeals?

    1. Your concerns are legitimate, Tommy, but I believe there exists a balance to be found and in which the mechanic is fun. The fact that it limits itself is a plus for me and very much puts a cap to its potential snow-ball-ness.

    2. Yeah I'm definitely not saying "This is unworkable," just that it is a thing to keep an eye on. As with many exciting mechanics, this might just not work developmentally, or might need to be at an even lower as-fan or power level, or it might be fine.

    3. This same issue applies to Renown on some degree, but the answer there is to block them.

      Here, the answer is less simple - you have to kill them. I agree that this is a larger challenge for the defending player, and that we'll want to design the set with this in mind.

  13. A bit late on all the excellent discussions, I wanted to add my two cents.
    personally, I think the right mechanic to try is version I.
    Version 1 ha the problem of favoring blocking and so stalemates.
    What I wanted to highlight is the different emotional response the mechanic do have:
    Version T, happening before combat, very much feels mechanical and automatic; the creature grows, as it is programmed to do, in an inexorable advance that leads to full power. Player is very much incentivized to attacks unless the creature would certainly die on blocks, her choice are somewhat limited.
    Version I, instead rewards the creatures that succeed to survive; the player is nonetheless incentivized to attack, but has meaningful choice, with bluffing, and gets a sense of accomplishment if gets her creature to be battleforged.

    1. I'm glad you bring up the emotional response! I hadn't noticed the 'sense of limitation' you bring up, that's quite the keen observation.

      I had noticed that the higher risk of Version I leads to a greater feeling of reward when it works, and I think this is great. The problem, of course, is that too much risk doesn't make you feel happy when it works, but feel frustrated it didn't work more often (the 'lawnmower problem'). Hopefully this mechanic avoids that.

      Thank you for these great observations. I think it's hugely important to keep in mind the emotional experience of a mechanic, especially in a top-down set like Tesla.

  14. And if we used levelers?

    Loyal Automaton 3
    Artifact Creature - Construct
    Battle-forged 3 (At end of combat, if ~ attacked this turn and has less than three +1/+1 counters, put one on it.)
    LEVEL 1-2: 1/3
    LEVEL 3: 2/5

    1. This is an interesting idea, since it gives us a lot more wiggle room. The cost, of course, is that it's vastly more complex. I think Battle-Forged has enough design space already that we don't need the added space of levelers.

  15. Is it possible that tying this to combat is unnecessarily complex, and we just want this to be a Suspend variant? Something like:

    Forge 3 (At the end of your turn, if there are 3 or fewer +1/+1 counters on this, put a +1/+1 counter on it.)

    1. The goal was to avoid inexorability and to allow your opponent the ability to fight back and interact with your progressing creatures, which is why we avoided this variant.

      I agree this could work, but it would have to be far less pushed, so much so that I doubt the cards would remain exciting. These are, essentially, levelers that require no investment of resources.

    2. What's the point if we ask nothing of the player?

    3. This is far from asking nothing, this is saying "If you want this creature to be good, you have to play a card that doesn't do anything until later. By the way, you can't block with it." I definitely picture these starting smaller, like 0/1 or 1/1 and growing.

      I bet you can get a pretty good rate on an 0/1 with Forge 4, and that definitely isn't asking nothing.

  16. I don't know how to PM people. This doesn't relate to Battle-Forge. I went through the level up cards and remade them with Progressive. Then I started hitting Random Card and remaking those cards as Player Level cards. The results: I think there's way more space here than I covered. For instance,

    Faith's Fetterish 3W
    Enchantment - Aura
    Enchant creature
    Enchanted creature can't attack or block, and its activated abilities can't be activated.
    Level 3 - When ~ enters the battlefield, you gains 4 life.

    1. Note that cards that reward levels, but do not give you levels themselves, are very parasitic.

    2. Yes. They are, but some amount of parasitism is warranted. The mechanic on the whole can be used modularly through the Progressive creatures, but having nonProgressive cards helps build tension around levels as a whole.

    3. Well, I agree that parasitism is fine. But having these cards reference levels in an obtuse manner, with no indication on the card about what these levels actually are, is very confusing.

      You can do this a few times in a set - as we see in Magic Origins' Enshrouding Mist - but you can't do it as much as you want to in these example cards.