Wednesday, August 17, 2016

CCDD 081716—Dire

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/25/2016 - Dire is (my name for) Wobbles' idea in response to motivated. It was too interesting not to mess around with. And I want to discuss it more.

It's a lot like monstrosity, giving you one activation: a kicker effect that doesn't make you horde cards until you can kick them, instead encouraging you to get your stuff out there, letting you activate it whenever you've got spare mana or need the effect.

Using a card to mark that potential and ditching it after it's used let's us break from the must-grow nature of monstrosity. But it does a lot more than just that.

What I failed to notice at first is that dire cards put the exiled card back on top of your library, which means that activating one isn't just a choice of when you want to pay for the effect, but whether you want to draw the exiled card or not. If it's something good, you're happy to put it on top (and sad if your dire creature dies before you can). If it's something weak, you might prefer to decline the ability and enjoy the smoothing effect that exiling that card netted you.

That's a very spikey choice to make. Is it better to draw an exiled land (and thus delay my next random draw and every draw thereafter one turn) in order to save my Dire Stag or Giant Growth my Dire Wolf? The answer will vary wildly from situation to situation. Some players will enjoy making that difficult choice. Others will feel bad whether they're confident in their logic or not, because even with a net positive result, the loss is tangible.

So we've got a one-time activted ability and a small smoothing effect. Is that all dire can do?

We can care about the exiled card: Use it to inform the effect it powers.

We can look at CMC, color, card type, power, etc.

Design a dire card in the comments below. What else can we do with Wobbles' mechanic? Do you like the choice putting the exiled card on top of your library offers?


  1. Dire Soothsayer
    Creature - Merfolk Wizard - Uncommon
    Dire (When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, exile the top card of your library face down. You may look at it.)
    T: Replace the top card of your library with the card exiled by CARDNAME.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Should probably read "exchange" instead of "replace" for clarity.

    3. It loots until it loots well. Neat!

    4. As templated this works forever I think, it would have to read exiled by dire soothsayers dire ability.

    5. No, it working forever is intended.

  2. Town Diresayer-2UU
    Creature-Human Wizard-Mythic
    U, Put the exiled card on top of your library: Counter target spell.
    T, tap two permanents: Exile cardname, then return it to the battlefield.
    Dire Hour-UG
    You may use any cards exiled by permanents you control with Dire for activated abilities of permanents you control with Dire.
    Dire Pyromancer-1RR
    Creature-Human Wizard-Rare
    Dire, Dire, Dire
    RRR, Put nine cards that have been dired on top of your library in any order: Deal nine damage divided as you choose among any number of creatures/players.

    1. Diresayer's terrifying. Even upping the reset cost to discarding a card still gives you a continuing stream of one-mana Counterspells.

      Dire Hour is a neat concept. I'd want something else out of the card. A cantrip? A body?

      Dire Pyromancer is totally opening another vein of dire design. Cool.

    2. What if we move Dire Hour to uncommon, or make it an artifact. Or both?

      Diresayer definitely has some knobs that need tweaked.

      @Droqen: Ah, puns. Yes, Dyromancer it shall be then.

  3. Direplasm 2U
    Creature - Shapeshifter (R)
    You may play the exiled card any time you could cast an instant. If you do, put CARDNAME on top of your library.

  4. I think there is definitely potential here, but I think the "Using it puts the card on top of your library" thing adds some unpleasant tension. It takes away from my fun of using a cool ability if it means I am literally Plow Undering myself to do it.

    That said, I don't like the idea of the card just being gone forever either. I think perhaps adding a choice, like "Put it on the top or bottom of your library" could make this a more universally fun mechanic.

    The most natural place for the card to go is, of course, your hand, but that ups costs in a way that probably cuts design space by too much.

    1. "Top or bottom" solves the biggest problem nicely. I wonder if it makes the mechanic do too much, but I'd test it optimistically.

    2. I wonder if "put X on top of or on the bottom of your library" could be keyworded like 'dies' or 'create'? That sounds like some pretty rich design space with or without Dire.

  5. Dire Hideaway
    T: Add 1 to your mana pool.
    When a creature you control deals combat damage to a player, you may sacrifice CARDNAME. If you do, put the exiled card into your hand.

    Not sure this is worth the extra text over losing Dire and just giving it "draw a card".

  6. I'd be tempted to leave open future design space by calling this "Dire 1".

    Dire N would mean exiling N cards when it comes in, but (normally) just putting one back to trigger an ability. This would allow for limited repeatable abilities, and a bit more card selection.