Tuesday, May 3, 2016

CCDD 050316—Hungry Serpent

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/3/2016 - "Must attack" tends to be a red thing, but it made Hungry Serpent's drawback more relevant, both mechanically and thematically.

We could avoid the bleed by removing "must attack" and simply requiring the opponent to control 3+ creatures instead, or tweaking mana cost or P/T. Regardless, I like the interaction of the first ability. It turns on and off during the game against almost every Limited deck, and affects both players' decisions.


  1. I like it a lot. Although it might lead to stalls.

    It seems ok in blue to me, although you could also save it for a UR card in a multicolor set.

    1. Stalls are a real concern here. Anything that punishes your opponent for taking a basic game action (like playing a creature) is playing with fire.

    2. I'm not convinced Hungry Serpent will lead to more stalls than a 5/5 defender (like Shoal Serpent without landfall): The player across from it has real influence on whether it must attack or defend. It's almost a tribute/Browbeat effect.

    3. Big defenders still allow you to play all the usual stall breaking stuff like Wind Drakes et al. This shuts down all of that.

      The problem is exactly what you say, it is a Browbeat effect. I'm not saying the cards is too good, I'm saying that it will encourage the opponent to choose to hold all their creatures in their hand, which is not good gameplay (especially for a Common, but really in general).

      Maro frequently lists Arboria as one of the worst designs of all time, and this is in a very similar space.

    4. This will absolutely stop opponents from casting creature #2 sometimes.

      Frequently, you'll already have 2+ creatures and it'll motivate you to trade where you otherwise wouldn't have.

      Sometimes, you'll play creature #2 to force them to attack into your two 3/3s and come out richer.

      It will rarely cause an opponent to hold more than two creatures in their hand, because some combination of those creatures will trade with it.

      (Must-attack gives its controller premium cover for their combat tricks which could blow out a double-block, but it just as often costs them a 5/5 they'd rather hold back.)

      I agree with the direction this can send play, and that it's important to critically examine that affect on the game, I just don't believe it's all-downside, or that it's so downside we shouldn't consider it at all.

    5. The thing about preventing opponents from playing creature #2 is that it doesn't stop the blue player from playing their own creatures #2, 3, 4, etc. to attack with whereas a 5/5 defender that encourages the opponent to leave all their dudes back on defense will often stop creatures #2, 3, 4, etc. from attacking profitably. So if one creature is holding back all your not-5/5s at once, that's a problem that leads to board stalls, but it's probably not Hungry Serpent's fault.

    6. I think it is okay to flirt with this space a little, especially at this level of gross inefficiency (a 5/5 for 6). Any card with an as-played of 0% is by definition fine.

      I was mostly echoing the OP that this is a very dangerous space, and if you push it you can make some very miserable games of Magic. The scenario Jenesis describes where I have one creature versus your 5/5 and you start playing other stuff and I die is perfectly fine, the game ends quickly, everyone is happy, it is onto the next game.

      The dangerous scenario is that I'm at 5 and have one creature in play and you have this in play and no other creatures, and you keep drawing removal and card draw spells but nothing to kill me with (because you are playing a UB control deck, for example), and so I sit there discarding from the handsize while I wait to either draw an answer to your 5/5 or for you to kill me.

      I don't think that will happen too high a percentage of the time with this card, but how high a percentage of the time does that game need to happen before you cut a card? How interesting do the other games need to be to make up for it? Maybe the answer to the first question is infrequently enough and the answer to question two is interesting enough that this is worth doing, but it is super important to consider.