Wednesday, January 13, 2016

CCDD 011316—Assist

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/13/2016 - Iterating on yesterday's planeswalker-fueled-spells idea. Mentor was too complex for common, and its design space was deeply constrained looking for scaling effects. Assist uses a threshold allowing us to customize a binary reward, both simplifying the card and opening up new possible designs. *Nothing mentioning planeswalkers should be common, so these are uncommon.


  1. Don't these need to appear in a set where the expected number of planeswalkers per draft or sealed pool is at least 1?

    Otherwise it seems like pure feel-bad from an emotional response point of view, "I never get to get the full mileage out of my cards". Most casual players I know do not own *any* planeswalkers either, so this isn't just a worry for limited.

    I think we've talked about before how you can print a 2GG 4/4 with some ability like "If you control at least 17 artifacts and 13 Beebles, ~this~ has first strike and trample" and the instinctive reaction will be "this sucks, I will never meet this condition" regardless of how good the vanilla card is without it - it actually feels worse to the player evaluating it even though it's logically all upside!

    I feel like this design falls into that trap unless the set it's in hands out planeswalkers like candy.

    1. I agree 100%. Well said, too.
      Come back tomorrow.

  2. Oh cool. Yes, that makes sense.

    Cards that interact more directly with planeswalkers, eg. by caring about loyalty would also be really interesting, but hard to make playable and interesting.

    Personally, I've always been unsure about the influence strong planeswalkers have on the game. But, I feel like if they're there, it makes sense to reference them: I would totally allow commons to reference planeswalkers when it made sense, as long as the cards aren't useless without them. Aspiring to planeswalkers is what we're SUPPOSED to be doing. And lots of commons are incomprehensible or useless in constructed (even casual) anyway. But apparently wizards went the opposite way.

    I'm also interested that you went the opposite way to first idea, in cost-reduction rather than increased effect. That has some advantages -- you can cast them back-to-back with the planeswalker, to increase the punch of its first turn or to protect it in the opponent's turn. But some disadvantages -- if you have a planeswalker, getting a discount on a 2-mana spell may be exciting only to Spike?

    I guess, I'll check back tomorrow? :)

    1. One way to reward planeswalkers without making walker-less players feel bad (that I don't pursue tomorrow) is a consolation prize; They get one bonus with a planeswalker, and another without. Perhaps:

      "If you control a [color] planeswalker, you may copy this spell. Otherwise, draw a card."


      "Put a loyalty counter on a planeswalker you control, or a +1/+1 counter on a creature you control."

    2. Ooh. Interesting idea. I've almost wondered about making split cards where one half is a limited-but-not-constructed staple and the other is a constructed-but-not-limited staple (which usually wouldn't be playable in the same deck), so people are not annoyed by so many cards which just serve no purpose. I wouldn't actually do that, but it illustrates the idea of having cards that serve different purposes in different formats or situations.

      This is almost the same either/or. But I don't think it can work like that, since (a) having a planeswalker makes the card more flexible as you can cast it before or after and (b) if the "bonus" for having a planeswalker is better, it makes non-walker players feel bad, and if it isn't, it feels like little reward for having a planeswalker.

      Certainly I like cards like Hero's Downfall[1] or "Put a loyalty or +1/+1 counter on target", that exist for planeswalker players to use, but also serve other functions. But to me, that's just accepting "mentioning planeswalkers" as long as the cards aren't useless otherwise.

      I'm trying to think of other "work both ways" cards, I'll see if anything comes to mind.

      [1] Except, it feels like planeswalkers were too strong so they printed a too-vicious counter.

    3. This conversation extends to other threshold mechanics: Processors are worse without enough ingesters, metalcraft is worse without enough artifacts, allies are worse without enough allies. In Limited, all of those depend on you getting enough of the enabling cards. The only difference between them and this is that between 1/3 and 2/3 of players can expect to open what they need to support these in Sealed, whereas less than 1/10 players (guessing) will open a planeswalker... And one planeswalker isn't even ideal since you'll only draw it maybe every other game.

  3. What if you added "or legendary creature." You could make the block its featured in planeswalker focused, but it would still be backwards compatable and create less of a feel bad for planeswalkerless players.

    1. That would at least double and probably quadruple the mechanics' relevance.

    2. Sounds like the perfect version for Return to Kamigawa!