Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tesla: Archetype for the Taking & Playtesting Plans

Hello again, everyone! Last time, we discussed the recent announcement of an official Kaladesh set, and what that means for us. This week, we're going to discuss potential archetypes, as well as some plans for playtesting in the future.

Currently in Tesla, we have the following rough draft of archetypes:

{W}{U}: Flying
{U}{B}: ???
{B}{R}: Raid
{R}{G}: ???
{G}{W}: ???
{W}{B}: Justice
{U}{R}: Artifacts, Mostly Thopters
{B}{G}: Sacrificing Permanents
{R}{W}: Revolution
{G}{U}: Canisters

Some recent changes - such as cutting down the Revolution commons to only {R}{W}, removing Research from the set, and trimming the number of tokens in the set - means that we've lost out on a few of our archetypes. We have some compelling competitors in the line-up for each slot, but first, I'd like to discuss historical archetypes for these color combinations.

For Tesla, our goal is to have each archetype reflect the set as a whole. This means that the archetypes have to reflect the flavor, experience, or mechanical themes of the set. We can see those clearly in most of the archetypes. Justice, Sacrifice each represent the oppression of the Consul; Raid and Revolution represent social progress and rebellion; Canisters and Artifacts and Flying are artifice and optimism for the future. For the archetypes that haven't been filled-in yet, we can use this goal as our basis, but we can also look to the past for inspiration. Historically, each of these color pairs has been archetype-cast, with a narrow set of styles. While we want to push the envelope and change them up a bit, using a previous archetype as a springboard is useful.

Shadowmage Infiltrator by Tomasz Jedruszek
{U}{B} is most commonly control. It often cares about the graveyard, mills cards, and/or utilizes small evasive creatures to sneak through damage past clogged boards. In this set, we've decided to use a controlling small evasive creatures archetype, with an interesting angle - we're focusing on '2 power or less matters'. This synergizes with Thopters, and captures the feeling of an oppressed , but rebellious, underclass quite nicely.

Zendikar Incarnate by Lucas Graciano

{R}{G} is nearly always midrange, filled with powerful creatures, and burn spells to clear the board for those beaters to get through and, well, beat. It often has ramping elements. Right now, the most popular suggestion seems to be {R}{G} midrange Raid, using Canisters for its ramp. However, we could also pursue the flavor of 'natural mages' in hiding on Kaladesh, which could reward you for casting large creatures and spending lots of mana in a variety of ways - perhaps an unkeyworded Quintessence, for example.

Enduring Scalelord by Clint Cearley

Lastly, {G}{W} is nearly always tokens - 'go wide' - or +1/+1 counters. The way this manifests varies, but these are the two biggest elements that the colors share, and it's their greatest strength when paired together, so it only makes sense. Occasionally, {G}{W} has a life-gain theme. This is where Tesla could diverge the most - one suggestion is that {G}{W} could care about tapped creatures (or creatures being tapped), since Canisters are a big part of green, and Revolution a big part of white. We could do this like Trance from Dreamscape, or like the Merfolk from Lorwyn, such as Judge of Currents.

What archetype ideas do you have? Any favorites from the past you feel we could use as precedence?  Any in the list you find unsatisfactory? If you have any suggestions, head on over to the Multiverse file and put in a proposal and some designs for your idea.

Lastly, a brief aside - playtesting! We're moving onto the stage where we need to just play with the set as much as possible, and record as much feedback and reception as we can. This means we need your help!

The plan is that we're going to have playtesting as many days and times of the week as possible. This is going to be done mostly through WebDrafter for drafts and Sealed, then using Cockatrice loaded with the custom set for playtesting the sets. The files will be ready in a bit, once we've locked down our archetypes.

Once we get those ready, the plan is to organize as many events as possible. I'll of course be leading many of these events, but I'd like for volunteers as well, to cover days when I can't be present, or times! For example, I'm in Pacific Time Zone, so I can't lead events when asleep, naturally. So people on the other side of the globe will need their own organizer.

If you're willing to be an organizer for playtesting events - which basically just means sending the set files to those who don't have them, helping them set them up, arranging matches, and so on - just e-mail me (inanimate100 at gmail dot com), or send me a message through Twitter, where I'm @InanimateGames, with what times and days you're willing to organize.

Once I've gotten a good line-up of organizers and the files ready, we'll start a playtesting schedule, with drop-in events. (Though RSVP would be nice!)

In addition, we need to arrange more playtesting with people who aren't dedicated players. This means a lot more physical playtesting, generally, with friends of yours who are more casual players, or - ideally - have never played MTG before. We'll discuss physical playtesting and playtesting with new players soon.

Until next time, have a great week!


  1. I tried searching dailymtg to see how many break downs I could find, but searching that site is too hard.

    I wonder if it wouldn't be beneficial to the community to host some discussions analyzing the archetypes of recent sets.

    Because 'flying' sounds like the most generic archetype I can imagine.

    1. MTG Goldfish does a lot of good archetype breakdowns.

      'Flying' is a common archetype, but I'm hoping we can spin it into something more interesting, given the presence of Thopters in the set. Some ideas to do so include:

      - Flat-out 'flying tribal'. We've only seen this rarely but I always find it really fun.

      - Thopter tribal.

      - Some means of rewarding you for attacking and going unblocked / attacking and surviving. Not as much white (in the first example) or blue (in the latter).

    2. Now those sound interesting.

      Maybe it'll help to see what the intersectional synergies are?

      WU: Thopter- or Flying-tribal
      UB: 2-power?
      BR: Raid
      RG: Quintessence?
      GW: Inspired?
      WB: Justice
      BG: Sacrifice
      GU: Canisters
      UR: Artifacts
      RW: Revolution

      W: Thopter- or Flying-tribal + Inspired? + Justice + Revolution
      Fliers enable Inspired.
      Revolution enables Inspired.
      Thopters (as cheap token creatures) enable Revolution.
      Justice only combos with Justice.

      U: Thopter- or Flying-tribal + 2-power? + Canisters + Artifacts
      Thopters will count as 2-power creatures.
      Thopters and Canisters both count as Artifacts.

      B: 2-power? + Raid + Justice + Sacrifice
      Cheap attacking creatures can trigger Raid and then be Sacrificed.
      Justice only combos with Justice.

      R: Raid + Quintessence? + Artifacts + Revolution

      G: Quintessence + Inspired? + Sacrifice + Canisters
      Sacrifice loves Canisters.
      Canisters enable instant-speed Inspired.
      Canisters help accelerate toward Quintessence.

    3. Red gets Thopters too. Those count towards Artifacts, Revolution, and help enable Raid, being cheap evasive creatures that come in 2-for-1 packages, letting you have more attackers on board.

      Quintessence doesn't really interact with the other parts of {R} though...

    4. Maybe a {R}{G} natural-mage mechanic that cares about triggered abilities (such as raid, canisters, and justice):

      Attuned — Whenever another ability triggers the first time each turn, EFFECT.


      Attuned N — If N or more abilities have triggered this turn, instead BETTER EFFECT.

    5. The permanent versions of that mechanic:

      Attuned N — CARDNAME has ABILITY as long as N or more abilities have triggered this turn.

      Attuned N — COST: EFFECT. Activate this ability only if N or more abilities have triggered this turn.

      Not actually suggesting N be a variable, just that I don't know whether it should be 1 or 2 or 3.

    6. I'm not a huge fan of "triggered" or "activated" being used at common, since new players have such a hard time distinguishing between the two. But I do like the idea behind this.

      "CARDNAME has ABILITY as long as an ability has been activated or triggered this turn"?

    7. Good solution to the terminology confusion. Too easy to turn on?

      Goldlight Reflector {2}{W}
      Creature-Wizard (cmn)
      Adept — CARDNAME has indestructible as long as a nonland ability you control was activated or triggered this turn.

    8. I like the idea, and I don't think we need to avoid the words "activated" and "triggered" 100%, I think there's contexts they're clear in. But I don't think many players are going to know what is and isn't a triggered ability, lots of them don't look like "an ability".

    9. Exactly my worry, Jack. ADept is definitely the best possibility so far, though.

    10. Also, do note we don't even need to keyword Adept. If it's just on two commons - one in red and one in green - then it is just fine, I bet. For example, {W}{R} in Shadows of Innistrad has the two 'noncreature' commons that showcase the {W}{R} draft archetype very nicely.