Wednesday, July 12, 2017

CCDD 071217—Leper

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/12/2017 - Reuben has been exploring some -1/-1 counter mechanics on his Tumblr blog, Remaking Magic, and this morning I had an idea in that space.

The advantages to leper are that there's an upside for you (strong size:cost ratio after you connect) in addition to hurting your opponent, and there's a limit to how much it can affect the board (only wounding the opposition once).

You could make cards with leper 2 or leper 3—and I would playtest that—but my guess is we mostly just want to stick to leper 1.

My biggest concern with this mechanic is the timing.
• If my Vulture attacks while it's a 2/1 and you block with a Phantom Monster, both will die because your 3/3 becomes a 2/2 with 2 damage on it.
• If you block with your Storm Crow, my Vulture will survive because it'll be a 3/2 by the time your 1 damage is applied.
That's not very intuitive.

If we instead move the counter after combat, my Vulture will die to your Storm Crow, and your Phantom Monster will survive …unless Leper creates a delayed trigger that survives death (which then raises questions about moving counters from things that aren't still there—it's a whole thing).

Leper seems to be one of those mechanics that sounds simple but would just be a mess to template correctly. Ah well.


  1. Ooh, that is interesting. I've seen a lot of "move an effect onto a creature by contact" effects, but few that looked like they'd work well in practice.

    Would the timing issues be improved if it was "when this blocks or becomes blocked by a creature"? That effectively gives it one more toughness since the -1/-1 counter applies to the damage dealt to it the first time, but the toughness or cost could be adjusted appropriately.

    1. The moving -1/-1 counters just feels like a mess of tracking, even if it is flavorful. Maybe (Whenever ~ is dealt damage by a creature, put a -1/-1 counter on that creature) or (Whenever ~ is deals combat damage to a creature, put a -1/-1 counter on that creature). Or maybe just keyword the festering goblin ability. There's a reason why decimator beatle doesn't move counters, just removes and adds as two separate actions.

      As it stands, I don't know what happens if a creature with leper and a -1/-1 counter is blocked another creature with leper without a -1/-1. Which creature winds up with the counter? Is it different if the blocker starts with the counter?

      Flavorwise, why does the creature with Leper get better when it hits other creatures?

    2. Because this Fantasy disease can only be cured by passing it on.

    3. That explanation doesn't help me Grok what happens when both creatures have Leper. It could be a thing like Flanking where if a creature with Leper is blocked by a creature with Leper, neither ability triggers.

    4. Yeah, maybe it can only move counters onto creatures that don't have any.

    5. Oh, that'd be neat!

      Leper (~ enters the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter. Whenever ~ blocks or is blocked by a creature without -1/-1 counters on it, put a -1/-1 counter on that creature)

      Still not sold on the "moving counters", but now the -1/-1 counter inoculates the creature from future infection.

  2. "As long as CARDNAME has one or more -1/-1 counters on it, it deals damage to creatures in the form of moving -1/-1 counters from it to that creature"...

    ...ugh. Mechanically different *and* more confusing.

    But it makes me wonder if there's design space for

    "CARDNAME gets +0/+X where X is the amount of damage it's dealt this turn"

    1. That could be a cool ability on a few cards! I wonder if it wouldn't be better with just a fixed amount so the timing is less confusing. Like a 4/1 illusion that gets +0/+4 if it blocks or is blocked.

  3. Contagious Cancrix 3B
    Creature - Crab (u)
    Leprous 2 (~ enters the battlefield with two -1/-1 counters. When it would deal damage to a creature, you may move two -1/-1 counters from CARDNAME onto that creature instead.)

    An interesting play on Wither, at least. I wonder what having this mechanic around could do for -1/-1 counter design space on other cards in the format.

    1. This is pretty solid.
      It still gets to apply its full toughness in its first fight, but otherwise quite clear.

  4. Leperous Brawler
    Creature - Human Warrior - C
    Diseased (~ enters the battlefield with a sickness counter. Whenever ~ blocks or becomes blocked, put a sickness counter on each creature blocking or blocked by ~.)
    Sick creatures get -1/-0.

    Could also have "cures", etc. Might be a neat subtheme on a specific plane/for a specific storyline.

    1. Sure. Reminds me of Shawn Main's GDS2 doom plague..

  5. Glad you have been enjoying the blog!