Wednesday, August 23, 2017

CCDD 082317—Twinned

Cool Card Design of the Day
8/27/2017 - I was working on a keyword called 'emulate' which would let you play cards from your hand as copies of the spell with emulate. Some iterations were exactly that, others cost more or had a reduced effect. One had a variable effect based on the card's real CMC, so that you could pay more and get more out of your copies (or pay less and get less)

Ultimately all of those executions suffered the same problem. Emulate is too recursive and noninteractive. Games are less interesting when we cast the same spell over and over, and less fun when there's nothing we can do to end such shenanigans.

How can we salvage the core idea—to let you discard useless cards to cast more of the spells you need right now—without promoting boring and frustrating games?

Twin lets you emulate your spell, but only once and only when you cast that card. It's less like repeating the same action over and over and more like doubling it once. You still get to pitch excess lands or conditionally useless spells to some useful effect, but if you want to do that a lot, you've got to play a lot of twin spells.

Note: You must pay the mana cost (and any additional costs) to cast a copy of a spell.

Growth and Lightning are just everyday spells you'll often be happy to have two copies of, whether you're targeting the same creature or two different ones. And that's fine. But can we find designs that are more interesting when you cast two of them at the same time?

Being able to prevent two blockers in a single turn will often negate your opponent's entire defense.

A Mind Rot that costs {B}{B} and an extra card isn't amazing, but having the choice and being able to punish them for discarding lands should push Twinned Rot well into playable territory.

The twinned draw spell was always going to tricky. You could do a one-mana cantrip with twin that lets you cycle one or two cards for {U} each, but that might just be too good. Experiment is a Divination with a minor downside when you cast one, and a significant downside when you cast two. Being able to draw four cards when you've got this and 2- other cards in hand is still dangerously good for a common, but that does cost {4}{U}{U} and doesn't play into any kind of big-hand strategy. IDK. It's tricky.

They'll choose both at once, obv, but the second choice is always harder than the first.

It might be too cute that the first token you get makes the second bigger, but rawr.

Design a card with twin in the comments below.


  1. I like this, although I think how good Twinned Lightning is shows how powerful this mechanic is. I think almost certainly Twinned Lightning would have to be an Uncommon, and I think it would still be a contender for best Uncommon in the set.

    My Twin Draw spell, btw, would be a Red Cantrip that when twinned became a Tormenting Voice. Perhaps something like a 2R Stun with Twin.

    1. In Modern, you can turn Twinned Lightning and Fiery Temper into 2+2+3 damage for just {2}{R}{R}{R}. Take that, Cone of Flame!

      But yeah, the ability to turn a dead card into a bad shock is plenty good for +{3}, especially in Limited.

      Twin Stun would be sweet.

  2. As a point of clarification, unlike copying a spell on the stack, you do pay mana to cast a copy of a spell.

    1. You might want to include a Twin cost Even if it is just the same as the casting cost of the spell. That's what replicate did to clarify the cost of making copies.

    2. And being able to vary it would be useful. And yes, it would remove much confusion.

    3. That's textier and more awkward, but definitely clearer, and I agree it has to be clearer.

      Can we do better than this?

      Twin {2} (When you cast this spell, copy it if you paid its twin cost and discard a card. You may choose new targets for the copy.)

    4. Maybe rebound is a better starting point?

      Twin {2} (If you cast this spell from your hand, you may cast it again as it resolves for its twin cost.)

  3. Twinned Suffering, BB
    Sorcery (R)
    All creatures get -2/-2 until end of turn.

    It's a little unfortunate how locked-in the costs are with this method - with Twinned Suffering, 1B would probably be too good for -2/-2, but BBBB is too restrictive for -4/-4.

    Twin does seem pretty close to Replicate, all in all - maybe these could be the first Replicate cards to have additional costs not identical to the base costs? Seems okay for all the cards that cost more than {1}.

    I like it overall. The discard part could serve a similar function to cycling in that it can both help to feed a graveyard theme and also serve as a way to make situational cards more palatable. For an example of that one:

    Twinned Sunlight, W
    Sorcery, (C)
    You gain 5 life.

    When you want lifegain, you really want it. But if you don't, you can pitch it to a different Twin spell (or something else feeding the graveyard theme of the set). Hooray!

  4. Mirrored Twilight {B}
    Twin - {W} (When you cast CARDNAME from your hand, you may pay its twin cost and discard a card to copy it. Choose new targets for the copy.)
    Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.

    (Art description: sunset reflecting on a mirror-polished shovel, held aloft by a figure standing above a half-dug grave.)

    1. Buddy System 2W
      Sorcery (U)
      Twin R
      Create three 1/1 white red soldier tokens.

    2. OCAs are nice here.

      2WR seems too cheap for six 1/1s.

    3. "Discard a card" as an extra cost makes it more reasonable for six, but 2W is too cheap for three 1/1s without another clause, unless we're breaking new territory/one-upping Hordeling Outburst. Maybe:

      Buddy System 2W
      Sorcery (u)
      Twin R
      If you control a white creature, create three 1/1 white red soldier tokens.

      or "artifact", "raid", "if your opponent controls a creature", etc.

    4. Mossy Damnables {3}{GW}
      sorcery (rare)
      Twin {1}{G}{W}
      Create a 1/1 green white Soldier creature token for each creature you control.

    5. Call for Dinner 2R
      Twin 1R
      Create a 1/1 red Goblin creature token for each red spell you've cast this turn.

  5. Flight Buddies 1U


    target creature gains flying until end of turn

    draw a card

    Twin (the one with the same mana cost)