Wednesday, December 2, 2015

CCDD 120215—Draconic Reconnaissance

Cool Card Design of the Day
12/2/2015 - While not nearly as deep as creature-type-tribal*, keyword-tribal remains a relatively unexplored vein of design. In particular, I'm attracted to effects that reward prowess because more than many keywords, prowess feels like a skill the creature possesses rather than a mere characteristic, and because the non-creature spells it triggers off of can actively double their benefit.

Of course, keyword-tribal effects are easy to over-do or under-do just as creature-type-tribal effects are.

We also don't want too many of them in general because there are only so many bonuses you can grant outside of other keywords (which Draconic Reconnaissance is guilty of) and it would get messy quickly if prowess lead to flying and flying lead to hexproof and hexproof led to whatever.

* Keyword-tribal is more shallow than creature-type-tribal for two big reasons: First, creatures that share a type often share nothing else apart from color and a general size range, allowing abilities that act on them to have a wide range of combinations. By definition, creatures that share a keyword are already mechanically identical in one way. Second, there's a lot more flavor behind "all your elves get +1/+1" and "all your warriors gain haste."


  1. Isn't this the exact kind of thing that layers mean you can't do? I'm pretty sure this does not work within the rules, but I try not to think about this kind of thing too much.

    1. If by "this" you mean specifically granting one keyword to creatures with another, maybe? If so, there remain a bunch of things we can do with this model.

      Draconic Reconnaissance B {3}{W}
      Creatures you control gain flying until end of turn. Creatures you control with prowess also get +1/+1 until end of turn.

    2. I was only 50% sure your original design didn't work. I'm 99% sure that design doesn't work.

      It isn't that they haven't thought of designs like this, it is that he layering system is complicated and prohibits these things unless they go in the right direction.


    3. Static effects from permanents run into this a lot; I'm not so sure instants and sorceries are as ham-strung.

    4. IANAJ, but I believe Jay's correct here. "Creatures with prowess have +1/+1" and "Creatures with prowess get +1/+1" are completely different, and the latter doesn't require dependencies.

    5. One of these days I'm going to make a concerted effort to understand layers more thoroughly. It's an (unfortunately) important part of the game and design that I too frequently dismiss as being too arcane to matter most of the time.

    6. I don't think there's any rules problem with either the original proposed card or with Jay's alternate version.

      Spearbreaker Behemoth and friends have to be activated rather than static because P/T Is determined in a *later* layer (7) than abilities (6). Keyword abilities are all determined in layer 6 (well, okay, sometimes 1 or 3, but that's not relevant here), so it's just fine for something to say either "creatures with prowess have flying" (static) or "creatures with prowess gain flying UEOT" (one-shot). The static version introduces dependencies (so Sprite Noble can give the bonus to the newly elevated prowess creatures), but that's not a problem either.

      And FWIW I disagree with zefferal: I think designers don't generally need to understand layers. It's important for the game that the layers rules exist, and that someone in R&D understands them, but that definitely doesn't need to be the designer.

    7. @AlexC - Not saying it's crucial for designers to know layers in order to design - saying I think I'll be a better designer after understanding it a little better.

  2. I quite like keyword tribal mechanics.

    I agree that the flavor connection is really important though - prowess (esp. in Khans) means martial skill, so flavor cards can be created to reward prowess. However, in Origins (with Ringwarden Owl and Mage-Ring Bully) this card wouldn't work.

    Many cards also reward or grant the set's marquee mechanic (like Bred for the Hunt rewarding the varied typed Simic guild). +1/+1 counters represent the Simic guild, while also comboing with others.

    Could Hythonia the Cruel have said "destroy all creatures without deathtouch" and been just as cool?

    1. "Destroy all creatures without death touch" is pretty cool.