Monday, August 22, 2016

CCDD 082216—stickers

Cool Card Design of the Day
8/22/2016 - I've been sitting on this idea for a while, and just realized that with Conspiracy in the news again, it's the perfect time to share it. Let's jump in and I'll explain as we go.

A +1/+1 sticker is just like a +1/+1 counter, except it doesn't fall off as the card it's on dies or changes zones.

So a creature can leave play and return without losing any of its earlier growth.

Which allows us to do some funny things. Better Luck Next Time is usually going to be efficient removal, with the conditional downside that if your opponent can bring the creature back, it'll be worse than ever.

Alternately, you can kill your own creature in order to make it bigger. You might even do that in a deck with no recursion effects…

Because stickers are actually meant to modify creatures not just for a single game, nor even a single match, but for an entire event. (Ideally a 3- or 4-round event. Longer events would break things up to reset every 3 or 4 rounds.)

If I play Aspect of Growth twice in my first match, it'll be a 6/6 before I cast it in my second match. And all the creatures I controlled at the time I cast it will be bigger too.

We can even see cards enhanced before they see a single game.

There are so many ways stickers can interact with drafting.

With the persistence that stickers offer, we can reward players for winning duels or eliminating opponents in multiplayer.

We can let players really play for The Long Game.

We can care about stickers in all the ways we can care about counters.

They don't all have to be easy to get. As long as there's promise, as well as value.

You know how players want their victorious opponents to do well in the rest of the tournament? Well, Second Chances gives you a real shot to win, and insurance that if you don't, you've pushed your opponent that much closer to giving you better tie-breakers.

Clearly we need a sticker version of Sengir Vampire. Might as well replace his nonbo with combo while we're at it.

Clearly this is a wacky idea and a lot of very serious players will want nothing to do with it. I don't envision this going in a multiplayer set, but it could go in a supplemental product like that just the same. If we're playing with un-rules, then trading with Señor Vampire isn't all that bad, because you'll still get the sticker (but you wouldn't in a serious game, b/c triggers lose track of objects as they change zones).

You can support stickers without mentioning them. Where do players get stickers? Every booster pack could come with one card-sized sticker sheet, with maybe 15 stickers each.


  1. Regarding the long event reset.

    If the event is Constructed, players would be using sleeves, and you'd be peeling stickers off sleeves or just using new sleeves.

    If it's Limited, you'd be doing another draft. I'd push for this to be a draft-only format.

  2. It should be pretty clear this isn't the blackest-bordered product. You'd be playing this for fun, not for tens of thousands in prize money.

    If you did want to run a serious tournament for this product, opponents would have to sign each sticker you place (which makes them huge, and introduces fraud). Probably just don't run a serious tournament. I mean, we're playing with stickers here.

  3. I've tried a couple variations of this with non-magic game design ideas. A few thoughts:

    Stickers can go on card sleeves to make them easier to remove and non permanent.

    Transparent cards or flat token chits can fit inside a card sleeves to have a reusable sticker effect ala Mystic Vale.

    Several designers have tried this:

    1. Dave and Gregory's legacy cubes definitely kindled the inspiration for this mechanic.

      Transparent overlays are not an idea I'd considered. I suppose you could make a whole pack of sleeves into a product like this.

  4. Cool idea.

    You could do something less over the top if some cards retained counters in the graveyard.

    The permanent version reminds me of risk legacy. With extreme caution you could even allow negative effects: a -1/-1 sticker on a card you hate.

    Or obv in an online only game like hearth stone, all the practical difficulties go away.

    1. Risk Legacy and other legacy games are definitely the basis for this gameplay.

  5. If you haven't yet, you should check out Eternal from Dire Wolf Digital. P/T changes don't persist between games, but they do persist between zones. As do any abilities the card picks up. So, if there were a card that gave +2/+2 and flying to a creature, when it dies you can reanimate it and the +2/+2 and flying will remain on the card.

    1. Permanent Growth 2G

      Enchantment Aura
      Enchant Creature
      Adhere (If Permanent Growth would go to the graveyard from the battlefield, you may exile it instead. Whenever a card with the same name as the card Permanent Growth was attached to enters the battlefield, you may return Permanent Growth to the battlefield attached to that card)
      Enchanted creature gains +2/+2.

      Is this a good card? If it doesn't track between games, how fun is the mechanic?

    2. Permanent Growth is relevant, but mostly only because you'll have multiple copies of a creature and it'll enchant all of them (one at a time).

    3. Declaration of Growth 1GG
      When ~ enters the battlefield, name a card.
      Creatures with the chosen name get +2/+2.

    4. for Eternal, How long did you wait to get your beta key?

  6. In theory I like this, but I think this will lead to really bad game play around concessions. When your opponent plays Aspect of Growth with a decent board in game one, you need to just scoop em up with the trigger on the stack unless you REALLY think you have a good chance, because the trigger resolving will lower your equity in future games by so much.

    I think Magic is definitely at its best when the LR adage of "never concede" is strategically correct, and this mechanic will cause a huge amount of focus on strategic concession.

    Worse, if somehow your opponent doesn't concede in a game that you've locked down, you're incentivized to draw out the game so you can put tons and tons of stickers on your card. Maybe you set up a loop where you bounce your Aspect of Growth and replay it over and over again. Perhaps it is game 3 so your opponent doesn't really care anyway, and just wants to let you do cool stuff (which would normally be a good thing). But now your later opponents are being punished by your current opponent's generosity, and won't have much of a game when you play your 1G 10/10.

    1. The first concession point doesn't sway me personally, but the second does. At the point you know you've lost the match, you might as well play it out as long as possible to help both your decks next match.

      Slow-rolling a win to maximize future value (against an opponent who refuses to concede but isn't colluding with you) also strikes me as a relevant drawback to the mechanic.

    2. Negative stickers help with these issues, but raise issues of their own.

    3. I like the idea of the minority of un-cards that affect future games, when it's deliberately silly and deliberately splashy.

      I do think the first is a bit of a problem. In fact, more so, after you point out there's a big incentive to deliberately draw the first game so you can (if there's a three game match) so you can both load up on stickers.

      Or even if not, if you've just started to lose but might be able to pull it back, and your opponent starts playing sticker cards, do you scoop then, or chance winning? That's interesting gameplay, but it's very far from normal magic when the incentives for multiple games are quite different to those for a single game.

    4. I think the solution to this is "don't run a serious tournament/play with people who are incentivized to game the system this way."

      Though there are still issues with casual events, e.g., how do I playtest my deck between games?

    5. I don't like the school of design (that comes up a lot among commander players) that argues that sufficiently casual players don't respond to incentives, and chides as too competitive people who play to win.

      I think you can salvage a lot of the great parts of this idea and remove some of the worst downsides if you just reset stickers every match.

      I do think it is still a problem that every time an opponent's sticker ability goes on the stack you have to hold and decide if it is correct for you to concede while the ability is on the stack, but one could argue that this is an interesting and novel decision offsets the fact that it is an unfun decision.

      Those games where you are 1% to win, and then somehow your opponent who is crushing you topdecks 10 lands in a row and you stabilize at 1 life and somehow pull out of it are a big part of what makes any Magic-like game great. Completely losing those games is not a small cost to pay.