Tuesday, January 24, 2017

CCDD 012417—Manhunt

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/24/2017 - Why is this card mono-black when most cards with a random target are red?

I was going to answer, but I'm curious to hear your reasons.


  1. It's much less random happening at your upkeep when you canb usually ensure you don't have any tapped creatures.

    But "target creature target opponent controls at random" is itself usually red.

    The flavor is good in black.

    But maybe better as "tapped creature with least cmc" or something would be less of a stretch in black? Depending what other reasons I'm not seeing

  2. In general, I think it's more important for effects to be in-color than for limitations to be. Sacrificing creatures, for instance, is very black. But "sacrifice a creature: deal damage" is almost always red.

    Also, black is the second most "random"-seeming color due to all the random discard effects.

    1. Good call on caring more about effects than limitations.

  3. I'm unsure I buy the premise - I think this effect could probably be red, and absolutely would be red if it functioned via damage rather than straight up destroy, I.E.:

    Enchantment - Aura
    Enchant creature
    At the beginning of your upkeep, tap enchanted creature, then deal 4 damage to target tapped creature chosen at random.

    For me a large part is the randomness, but a not-insignificant part is that tapping a creature on your own upkeep is essentially "enchanted creature can't block" which is also firmly in red's wheelhouse.

    1. Or at least "enchanted creature must attack", which is also still firmly red.

  4. The key is that this isn't a global enchantment that kills a random creature each turn, it's an aura with a specific target.

    Its controller can let you find it and kill it, or they can try to surround it with allies in an attempt to save it.

    And you're going to keep killing anyone who gets in the way until you 'get your man.' To me, that's very black philosophically.

    Tapping isn't mechanically red or black, and it's true that tapping on your upkeep is—on its own—"target can't block" which is very red. Between that, and the word 'random' you could re-work this mechanically and thematically to be red, absolutely. But this isn't actually a random effect because your opponent has full control over the possibility set, and this card is much more about destruction than preventing blocking.

  5. Possible answers I came up with...
    1) because it almost never backfires
    2) because functionally it's more like an Abyss or No Mercy effect (e.g. the opponent has a lot of control over what it hits)
    3) because of the flavor of unrelenting pursuit and taking out innocent bystanders
    4) because it's a resonant top-down design that makes even less sense in the other colors
    5) because it does things that black should be able to do, but other colors mostly shouldn't

    Interestingly, regarding 4) and 5), there's an argument to be made that this actually belongs in White. See, e.g., Deadeye Harpooner, Sunblast Angel, and Burden of Guilt.

    1. Well said.

      And yeah, in a sufficiently dystopian plane, white could totally do this.