Friday, December 8, 2017

Weekend Design Challenge 120817—GDS3 Multiple Choice Quiz Questions

Click through to see the design requirements for your quiz question, due Monday morning. Every submission warrants feedback, which you may use to revise your submission any number of times. I will aim to review the most recent submission from each designer.

Design a multiple choice question that would be appropriate for the upcoming GDS3 quiz. You can make one stand-alone question, or a three-parter based on a single card. (Do not use this opportunity to submit your cool card idea; that's what every other post on this site is for.)

If you're stuck on ideas, I suggest looking over the questions from GDS1 and GDS2, and choosing one to update, re-word, and re-frame. You'll do well to focus either on things that have always been true about Magic Design, or that R&D has started talking about in the last 7 years.


  1. ???
    Creature – Elemental
    Whenever CARDNAME attacks, tap three target creatures.

    #1) What is the least appropriate color for the above card?

    a) white
    b) blue
    c) black
    d) red
    e) green

    Which of the following is the best ways to template this card so that it meets player expectations?
    A) Whenever CARDNAME attacks, you may tap three target creatures.
    B) Whenever CARDNAME attacks, tap up to three target creatures.
    C) Whenever CARDNAME attacks, tap three target creatures you don't control.
    D) Whenever CARDNAME attacks, tap three target untapped creatures.
    E) Whenever CARDNAME attacks, tap three target creatures.

    What keyword ability would be the best to include in this card while keeping it mono-colored?
    A) Vigilance
    B) Menace
    C) Trample
    D) Hexproof
    E) Flying

    1. 1) This is a tough choice between black and green. This tapping ability is in white and blue’s wheelhouse, and while tapping is not the usual method Red uses to achieve this effect, it still falls into Red’s “can’t block” wheelhouse.

      Neither Green nor Black seem appropritate, but tapping was in Black’s wheelhouse as “torture” at some point. I would say Green.

      Neither the size nor the creature type of elemental seem to make much of a difference.

      Unless this is a trick question, and it’s Red because Red should be using “can’t block” instead of “tap” technology, I’d go with E.

      2) B. Not being forced to have to target three creatures would be the first thing to fix.

      3) A bit tricky. I think that you could make an argument for E, but it makes the ability less relevant (you’re combining evasion with evasion). B and C are out, as those are keywords for colors this is not. D is primarily green, and this would be a nightmare of i fun with hexproof. As this easily fits best in white with plenty of examples of this type of ability, I think A is the best choice, as it compliments the ability nicely while being clearly mono-white.

    2. “Nightmare of unfun” is what that last paragraph is meant to say.

    3. [Spoilers-- possible answers]

      1. Ouch, that's a nasty question. White and blue are the only choices for this that aren't color pie breaks, though black got some tapping in Planar Chaos and green got Timbermare. I'm going to have to go with green, because evasion / "can't block" effects are historically a green weakness. But I wouldn't want to see this one printed on a real GDS3 quiz.

      2. B is the only one that lets you tap 1 or 2 creatures. Good question-- tough but unambiguous and relevant.

      3. Tap-when-attacking is traditionally a white ability (Territorial Hammerskull / Master Decoy). I assume the correct answer is A, vigilance, but there's nothing wrong with E either, which makes this an awkward question.

      How about this alternative:
      Suppose this is a hybrid card with an additional keyword ability. Which ability is it most likely to have?
      A) Vigilance
      B) Lifelink
      C) Hexproof
      D) Flying
      E) Prowess
      I claim that D would be the unambiguously correct answer here.

      Generally, good questions and very much in the GDS mold. Nice work.

    4. Mighty Giant?

      I don't see how we're going to critique these without discussing the answers so...

      Is 1 C/black because red is best, white/blue can tap things, and, green gets more 5/5s and Elementals than black?

      Is 2 not B? Seems too similar to the original.

      3 is B, but #1 just made it clear we /could/ print this in any color, so all the answers are valid.

    5. Oh yeah, 3 is A because this isn't exactly Might Giant.

    6. My intended answers are E, B, A. I didn't read far enough down on the GDS 1 test to see that #2 and the third GDS question are really similar, although different in a few ways.

    7. How do you intend participants to settle on green over black for #1. What skill/knowledge are you testing for?

    8. Knowledge of obscure, color-pie-bending older cards? :-P

    9. But I do believe that one can get the right answer to #1 from general color pie principles. Black and red have plenty of ways to avoid blockers. Green doesn't-- that's one of its primary mechanical weaknesses.

    10. ^ That's what I was going for, although it's a stretch

    11. #1. I think we all did agree that this was worst in green, and I think interpreting what colour a mechanic *would* be appropriate in is an even better test than existing knowledge. But I also think it's more subjective, so I agree, if I were setting a real quiz, I'd hope for an answer people could more certainly agree with after.

      #2. I agreed with B, the most important thing is to not require exactly three creatures. But I also think, depending on experience, "player expectations" might be that this doesn't hit your own creatures, or doesn't hit untapped creatures. It also matters whether this means, player expectations of how this plays ("up to three untapped creatures your opponent controls" might be best) or player expectations of how it would be worded ("up to three creatures" with no extra unusual conditions). In this case, however, B was clearly better than all the other options.

      This is a really pedantic point, but I think ideally questions would be clear they're asking "which of these answers is best" (not assuming there's a single correct answer which is included in the options, in order to make you think through all the options, not look for a certain "right" answer, and to avoid misleading if the quizmaster leaves out an option)

      #3. I agree with the logic, but I wasn't sure at the time. Wizards have printed giant hexproof headaches before...

    12. I don't believe this design is any more appropriate for black than for green.

    13. #1) Green. White and Blue both fit fine. Red is weird, but they do prevent blocking. Black at least gets evasion abilities. Green confronts problems directly.

      #2) B. A would lead to missed triggers, C is close, but players don't like being forced to do anything, even if it's good. D is using tech that's for templating costs, not effects. B is the only one that behaves simply, but doesn't force your hand and it avoids the original wording's problem of sometimes tapping your own creatures.

      #3) A. Vigilance is White, and while it doesn't synergize with the design, it doesn't step on the rest of the design's toes either. Flying would be fine as far as color is concerned, but would make more sense on a smaller creature that clears the way for your other attacks than one that is is probably your biggest attacker and already going to connect every time.

    14. One more piece of evidence for green being the best choice: Traitor's Roar (and its precedents Backlash and Delirium). Black has mechanical access to tapping when it's flavored as "your creature turns on you". And not just on random old or color-shifted cards, but on a Shadowmoor common! FWIW, Demons also tap themselves occasionally (e.g. Apocalypse Demon). I realize none of these totally justifies tapping in black, but it's pretty clear that it's *more* plausible than green.

    15. Roots, Cocoon, and Entangling Vines are inferior evidence the other way, but do exist. I'm convinced green is less likely to get this creature/effect than black, but I think the difference between those answers is too small.

    16. I went with Green over black because I saw being forced to tap your own stuff as a black demon esque down side. A bad one, but still barely more in pie than in green.

  2. Smashing Buddy
    Sorcery - U
    Destroy target artifact. Create a 3/3 creature token.

    If this card had to be monocolor, which color would be most appropriate?

    A) Red
    B) Green
    C) White
    D) Blue
    E) Black

    Which of the following couldn’t be done on a monocolored card?

    A) Change it to create two 1/1 tokens instead of a 3/3.
    B) Change it to destroy an enchantment instead of an artifact.
    C) Add “Gain 2 life.”
    D) Add “Draw a card.”
    E) Change it so the token has flying.

    Which of the options in the previous would make this card available to be printed in the most different colors (assuming it still must be monocolored)?
    A) A
    B) B
    C) C
    D) D
    E) E

    1. 1. A > B > C, but just barely. Red gets just shatter where Green and White usually gets Disenchant, but sometimes they do focus on artifacts, and that 3/3 is more green, and that token is more white.

      The wording for #2 makes it sounds unrelated to Smashing Buddy.
      A and E could be white. B and C could be white or green. D could be any color.
      White gets Divine Offering less often than green, so if we're pretending white can't have Smashing Buddy (and it can), then I guess it's E.

      #3 is too meta. Just say "which of these options" and re-write the same options. D. Every color gets cantrips.

    2. Sorry - assume “this card” reads “Smashing Buddy” all three times.

    3. I was expecting a question relating to the choice to make this a sorcery rather than a creature with an ETB ability.

    4. That was originally a question! I deleted it because I wasn’t sure I was 100% correct on my interpretation that this would be better as a creature card.

      Incidentally, I believe this is clearly green. A vanilla 3/3 token has only been printed in green, and I don’t believe white would get a 3/3 flying token (I guess maybe flavored as an angel? Perhaps I was shortsighted.) I think changing this to make 1/1s instead makes it printable in Green, White and Red, making the intended answers B, E, and A.

    5. 1. Ugh, tough judgment call. Red is less likely to get 3/3 tokens, but Green is less likely to create a token as part of artifact destruction, and more likely to destroy enchantments as well. I'm going to go with A because red already has the exact creature version of this in Oxidda Scrapmelter.

      2. Again, a tough one. I'd hesitate to say any of them "couldn't be done". A, B, and C are all clearly do-able in green. D is more value than we usually see in mono-red or mono-green. E is weird because neither mono-red nor mono-green has had a 3/3 flying token before. I'm going to go with E because it presents more obvious color pie difficulties, Rukhs and Dragons notwithstanding.

      3. A. It's clearly printable in red and green, and also white if you believe that's still allowed to destroy artifacts.

    6. All of these questions strike me as just a little too debatable to be actual GDS3 questions. But they're really interesting and I'm enjoying the discussion they sparked.

      FWIW, the last time White was allowed to remove specifically artifacts (and not creatures or enchantments) was back in Mirrodin Beseiged.

    7. I think if white can do “X and Y” (e.g. Decommission as a recent example) it can still do X or Y alone. Just because they haven’t needed to/had an opportunity to doesn’t necessarily preclude it. But fair point.

    8. #1. Originally I agreed with Jay, A>B>C, but now I think R Stetch is correct. Although I think it's a really fine line. I think this is more LIKELY in red, because red gets "destroy target artifact" alone most often. But it's more APPROPRIATE in Green, because green gets more big tokens.

      It might be clear if the question had slightly more detail as to why the decision is being made.

      It's also a really narrow point, I think red CAN get 3/3 tokens (look at giants) color-pie-wise, but wizards usually don't any more because they try to harmonise tokens in a set. But I wasn't sure if designers would worry about that at this stage (e.g. the spell might well become a creature) or not. In retrospect, I think I should have done.

      #2 I think all of these CAN be done. If the question is, "which is least appropriate", I guess E since white rarely gets equipment destruction and rarely gets 3/3 flying tokens. But I think that card could exist.

      #3. Not "gain life" or "destroy enchantment" as both of those work in G or W but not R. I think "draw a card" works in any colour (although it's unusual as a cantrip on something that already does two different things) and "create two 1/1 tokens" works in any colour (but at least G, R and W). I think flying would be allowed, though unusual in G, R and W -- R must get dragon tokens sometimes even if rarely.

      FWIW, even when the questions are debatable, I'm really enjoying the process of thinking them through.

    9. There are no color pie restrictions on tokens (as opposed to cards). White tends to get a lot of tokens because it wants more creatures than it has cards. Green tends to have larger tokens because it tends to have larger creatures. Being efficient in how many unique tokens are printed in a set, and whether they're simple enough to be tokens, are the only design concerns I'm aware of around tokens.

    10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    11. Thanks for pinpointing what was bothering me about these questions, Jay! Tokens are mostly a templating tool for cards that might make multiple creatures, not a separate mechanical effect. The right way to analyze Smashing Buddy is to pretend it's templated as a 3/3 creature that destroys an artifact on ETB.

      ...except that after writing that, I noticed that as a sorcery this can't create the creature without an artifact to target. If that's an intended part of the design, then it's an important mechanical difference. Not sure if it would change my answers though.

    12. A) It's a bit weird as a sorcery instead of a creature, but it is still very red.
      E) The 3/3 is still weird, but not as weird as a Drake that eats artifacts.
      D) Destroy an artifact, has been printed in Red, Green and White.

      I used process of elimination to work through a lot of these, and I spent the most time on the 2nd question.

  3. Which of the following abilities is R&D least likely to put onto a red creature in an upcoming set?
    A) Trample
    B) Intimidate
    C) Flying
    D) You may have CARDNAME assign its combat damage as though it weren't blocked.
    E) When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, discard any number of cards, then draw that many cards.

    1. B. Intimidate is a goner as of Menace being introduced, and I’m pretty sure MaRo has confirmed it’s never coming back.

    2. Ooh, that's a nasty trick question. R Stech's answer might be what you intended, but I'm going to go with D. We've only ever seen D on green creatures, and most recently on Rhox in Tenth Edition (ten years ago now). An "upcoming set" is more likely to include a reprint of existing red intimidate creatures (e.g. in a Masters set) than a sudden return of that mechanic.

    3. B was my answer: Intimidate is mothballed.

      While D hasn't been done in a long time, and has only been done in green, the effect could also work in red.

      But it might not be impossible that intimidate could be reprinted on an old favorite in a supplemental product. Have we seen that done?

    4. Not intimidate specifically, but protection from (color) is on two Iconic Masters commons, and we haven't seen in in the wild since Magic Origins (except for Emrakul in Eldritch Moon).

    5. B was my answer. As far as protection goes, Wizards has said they like to keep that around as a sometimes, deciduous mechanic.

    6. Fair point. OK, then how about regenerate? It's retired in favor of indestructible, but it shows up at common and uncommon in Iconic Masters.

      I know I'm being pedantic here, but I also think there's a decent chance of new intimidate designs coming back as a one-time thing-- e.g. in a multicolor or color-matters expansion set.

      And one more thing: the D ability is listed in mechanical color pie under "Super trample". It's primary in green and doesn't exist in any other colors.

    7. I'll just clarify the question to exclude supplemental products.

      Which of the following abilities is R&D least likely to put on a new red creature in an upcoming expansion set?

    8. I originally thought D, mostly because I forgot intimidate had been replaced again.

      Then I was persauded by your argument.

      Then I went to look it up.

      Wow, and are REALLY good resources for checking details.

      As of this year, Mark says of assigning combat damage, "Green (primary). We don't do this ability very often, but when we do, we do it in green."

      But as of last year, he says, "Where are Fear and Intimidate on the storm scale? 10. I don’t see either returning. We are happy with Menace filling that void" and "Ante, Banding, Landhome, Fear, Intimidate, Landwalk & Shroud. Are all of these ex-evergreen mechanics a 10 on the storm scale? I’d call them a 9."

      So both are "not happening" according to current opinions. I guess colour pie evolution is expected, but storm scale includes the possibility of change, and this would require a "mid-size miracle".

      Before I read that, I was guessing menace in a colour-matters set was more likely than R&D shifting a rarely-used ability into a second colour. But on reflection I think Jay is right, it DOES make sense it red, so it might well happen. (If anything, it's not really needed in green).

    9. Oh... I hadn't thought of checking the Storm Scale! In that case I'm finally persuaded that B is the better answer.

    10. B) Intimidate has been phased out for being high variance. Maro has rated it as a 10 on the Storm Scale. If you don't know that, don't worry, I hadn't heard of it either. I used research to solve this question!

      Also I found this, which EVERYONE SHOULD LOOK AT, it has multiple examples for EVERY NUMBER ON THE SCALE and almost every keyword ever printed is there.

    11. Careful with this last link. It may be a bit out of date. It has Landwalk as a 3 (and intimidate as a 7), but the above posted quote shows MaRo calling both 9s.

  4. The following creature (with an unknown mana cost and text box) will be printed in an upcoming core set:

    Big Dude ???
    Creature - Human (Common)

    1. Which color is it least likely to be?
    A) White
    B) Blue
    C) Black
    D) Red
    E) Green

    2. Which ability is it least likely to have?
    A) Defender
    B) Hexproof
    C) Lifelink
    D) Menace
    E) Vigilance

    3. Which of the following is Design most likely to do?
    A) Ensure that the converted mana cost is 5 or greater
    B) Change from a Human to a more appropriate creature type
    C) Ensure that the creature has no more than 1 keyword ability
    D) Ensure that the creature has no tap ability
    E) Change from common to uncommon

    1. On second thought, just "an upcoming expansion set" is fine. Nothing special about core sets in this context.

    2. 1) B. If this creature’s type was unknown, this would be harder, but as Blue only gets large common Serpents/etc, a large Human is least likely to be Blue.

      2) C. This is similar to the Fast Guy question that was on one of these tests - a creature with high power and Lifelink is almost certainly an Uncommon, not a common.

      3) A and E seem like Dev concerns, although important for Design as well, probably not the focus. B seems more on Creative, though I struggle to understand how a 5/5 Human could be a common. C probably pushes this to Uncommon - see E.G. Charging Monstrosaur. D could be made non-complex enough (T: Gain 1 life) that I believe this could be common in a core set. I’m guessing C, but not very confidently. A seems like a close second.

    3. My first instinct for 1 was B, but 3 reminds us that Design doesn't care about creature type, at which point I remembered that white never gets anything bigger than 3/5 at common. A.

      2 is even harder because none of these (but Defender) have been printed on a huge common creature before. Hexproof seems the most problematic to me, on a creature of this size, because it can stop the whole game in its tracks. B.

      3 is D — Big creatures shouldn't tap because players want to attack with them.

    4. My intended answers were A, C, D.

      White doesn't normally get 5+ power at common-- the only example I could find was Yoked Plowbeast, which exists because of the Naya 5+ power mechanic. All the other colors do; I admit a mono-red 5/5 is somewhat abnormal, but we've had several multicolor and hybrid RG creatures of a similar size, and I didn't specify mono-color.

      Lifelink is, as R Stech pointed out, a rarity issue based on a prior GDS question.

      Design goes out of its way to avoid giving 5+ power creatures tap abilities because of the tension that creates. Maro wrote about this somewhere. I didn't find a single example at common in the Modern cardpool.

      The creature type "Human" was intended as a red herring, since those types are normally just placeholders for Creative to fill in.

    5. Didn’t know about the tap thing but it makes gut sense. Good call on not getting sidetracked by creature type and using subsequent questions as hints towards earlier ones.

    6. One could also solve question 2 via counterexamples: A - Shoal Serpent, B- Striped Riverwinder, D- Aradara Express, E- Oakgnarl Warrior.

    7. Granitic Titan is evidence menace is doable. Striped Riverwinder is evidence hexproof is doable. Tajuru Pathwarden/Oakgnarl Warrior are proof vigilance is doable. Checks out.

    8. Aradara Express doesn't count, because it's a conditional card.

    9. Agree with all the intended answers except for the final one -- what examples are there of common 5/5s that cost less than 5? That's a way bigger impact on your environment and how the set plays than whether the large creature can tap for an ability or not.

    10. The main point was that costing isn't design's job. But the text box is unknown, so for all we know this could have some major drawback like Flowering Lumberknot or Saprazzan Outrigger or Blastoderm (all commons, though only the first is from a recent set).

    11. When answer "least likely" type questions, it doesn't matter how weird the designs are in an absolute sense. It only matters how weird they are relative to one another. Because of this, I'm completely ignoring the Human tag, since it fundamentally weird for Humans to be that big at common no matter the color.

      So, which color gets the fewest common 5/5s? Red and White are actually tied here with one each, but the ONLY example of a red getting a 5/5 common is Lightning Shrieker, which is functionally a Sorcery in most games. At least Yoked Plowbeast attacks and blocks.

      D) Red, but the narrowest margin.

      Defender seems fine, Hexproof is at it's most Common on "big doofy" creatures according to RnD. Menace seems mechanically safe on creatures you already want to double block.

      Vigilance is card advantage, but ONLY if you're attacking which is a good place to push players with their big creatures.

      Lifelink has never been printed on something with this much power OR toughness at common. Without evasion this could easily lead to huge board stalls and it's the most powerful in a vacuum.

      C) Lifelink

      A is very likely. B is also likely. C is also likely. D is also likely. E is also likely... sigh...

      Okay. Cost and appropriate creature types are not Design concerns, not A or B. E is marginal, but still development territory. C seems plausible, but Green gets these creatures once in a while. However, adding a tap ability to a common creature that already seems like it should be attacking and blocking feels silly.


    12. That's true... red doesn't seem to get common 5/5s very much (its big creatures tend to be 5/4s or similar). On the other hand, if you count multicolor then red gets Gorger Wurm and Snowhorn Rider in Modern-legal sets, while white gains nothing. But that's just after-the-fact justification... as the above comments suggest, I was aiming more for "5+ power" than for "5/5 exactly".

  5. Fast Guy (common)
    Creature - Human Wizard

    Which of the following changes would Design most likely make to the above card?

    (A) Change the mana cost to 3R.
    (B) Change "Haste" to "First Strike".
    (C) Change the rarity to uncommon.
    (D) Remove Flash and increase P/T to 3/3.
    (E) Change "Wizard" to "Rogue".

    1. B. Flash and Haste are at odds with one another, so changing one or the other makes the most sense.

    2. C is damn tempting, but I'm inclined to agree with R Stech.

    3. B was where I landed, too. C doesn't resolve the mechanical tension (Samut is a special case where awesomeness / flavor reasons won out). D wouldn't be UR.

    4. B was intended. C is unnecessary because the card is virtual vanilla.

    5. Samut has a tap ability that lets her use her own Haste Ipaulsen.

  6. Tough Guy (common)
    Creature - Zombie
    2B: Regenerate CARDNAME.

    Which of the following changes would Design most likely make to the above card?

    (A) Change the regeneration cost to B.
    (B) Change "Vigilance" to "Deathtouch".
    (C) Change the P/T to 3/1.
    (D) Change the mana cost to 1WB.
    (E) Nothing; the card can be printed as is.

    1. Vigilance isn’t black, which narrows this to B or D. I think B is doable, though probably too powerful and gums up the boardstate too much. On the other hand, D makes perfect sense, with one ability from each color. I’d say D.

    2. I said D too. B resolves the color pie issue, but it's way too strong for a 1BB common.

    3. Tricksy. B fixes the color pie issue but leaves us with a too-powerful Giant Scorpion. D fits the pie and isn't problematic at common.

    4. D was intended. The issue with B is not just power level but also the specific combination of Deathtouch and Regeneration creating stalled boards.

    5. F do D but also change "regeneration" to "gains indestructible until end of return." Didn't MaRo say that regeneration is retired?

    6. True. HavelockV mentioned that these questions were written several years ago.

  7. Mana Maker (common)
    Add RR to your mana pool.

    Which of the following is the most serious problem with the above card?

    (A) It provides extra mana at instant speed.
    (B) It allows access to two mana on the first turn.
    (C) It violates the color pie by putting a black effect on a red card.
    (D) It is strictly worse than Rite of Flame.
    (E) None of the above is seriously problematic; the card is printable.

    1. D is wrong - Rite of Flame is banned and I’m way more concerned this is too strong. C is wrong, as rituals are red too now. A is wrong - instant speed rituals are OK, though they usually have a reason for being an instant (e.g. counting attacking creatures). I think B is the biggest problem, so I’d go with B.

    2. I went with B. It doesn't fully capture the problem with rituals, but it's true that Wizards has stopped printing things that can easily get you to 2 mana on turn 1.

    3. B. But, but it's not really having two mana on turn one that's the deal-breaker. Storm is the deal breaker.

    4. B was intended. As of this question's writing (which was a few years ago) there were approximately zero ways to get access to two mana on the first turn in Standard. I believe this is close to being a hard rule; are there exceptions to it?

    5. Nothing in current Standard, I'm pretty sure. But I found two in Scars of Mirrodin/Innistrad Standard: Memnite + Infernal Plunge and Memnite + Memnite + Mox Opal. Which is two more than I would have expected in the modern era of design.

  8. Moment of Triumph (common)
    Target creature gains hexproof and lifelink until end of turn.

    Of the following mana costs, how many of them would be appropriate for this card?


    (A) 1
    (B) 2
    (C) 3
    (D) 4
    (E) 5

    1. (G/W)(G/W) is a pretty strong bleed. Green only has gotten Lifelink when you’re forced to use another color. The fact that the hybrid allows this to be mono green suggests “no” to me.
      UR - no, neither can get Lifelink
      BG - yes, hexproof from G and Lifelink from B
      WU - yes, hexproof from U and Lifelink from W
      1G - see first answer


    2. Answer: B, 2, namely BG and WU. Hybrid generally requires that the effect be printable in either color monocolored. Green, blue, and red have no access to lifelink.

    3. I say C. This card is very similar to Sheltering Word, and while lifelink is probably too big a bleed for 1G, as a GW hybrid this seems perfectly fine.

    4. C is defensible. WotC has often treated hybrid more like multicolor in practice. Already in G/W we have Privileged Position and Oracle of Nectars, which together get you most of the way to putting this effect in G/W.

    5. B was intended. I don't believe green's other lifegain effects justify hybrid bleeding of Lifelink. But I'm also an advocate for fairly strict hybrid, which I recognize is a non-canonical position.

  9. Oops, sorry, didn't read carefully and notice the limit to one/three questions. I wrote these a few years ago exactly for this sort of occasion. Feel free to delete.

    1. I had no problem with the limit. And the questions are good! So far they've been the best of the bunch at generating challenging but unambiguous answers.

    2. I'll only judge the last one on Monday, but these aren't as easy to make as they look, and we can use as many as we can get, so: Question away!

  10. Here is my offering. Tomorrow I'm gonna try to answer everyone else's questions. Then on Monday, I suppose I can reveal what the "correct" answers are, according to me.

    Sleepy Dragon
    Creature - Dragon
    Sleepy Dragon enters the battlefield tapped.

    1) From a design perspective, what color pair is the the most appropriate for this card?

    a) R/U
    b) B/U
    c) W/R
    d) R/B

    2) Which of these additions would be least appropriate on this creature?

    a) Cost: Sleepy Dragon gets +1/-1 until end of turn.
    b) Cost: Regenerate Sleepy Dragon.
    c) First strike
    d) Cost: Shuffle Sleepy Dragon into its owner's library.

    3) What is the biggest reason to design this creature to enter the battlefield tapped?

    1) Including a downside lets it be more aggressively costed.
    2) It's an unusual ability on a flyer, which makes the card more memorable.
    3) It teaches players the importance of being able to block with your creatures right away.
    4) It changes how this impacts the board the turn it is played.

    1. 1. My instinct is to say D. Dragons are red, of course, and "~ enters the battlefield tapped" is mostly in black.

      But... this text box really doesn't feel rare, so it's a common or (more likely) uncommon. And it turns out that blue gets many more 4/4 fliers at that rarity level than red does. So if we read "From a design perspective" as "Ignore the name and creature type line", then B is the better choice.

      I may be overthinking it, but in the end I have to go with B.

      2. Well, it depends on what color pair it's in, I guess. And whether it's supposed to be in a set designed after regenerate's retirement. But I'm going to go with D as the best answer since it breaks a fundamental game design rule: don't add useless complication. Maro has written about how abilities like this actually make designs worse, even while making them "strictly better".

      3. Ehhhh... this is such a judgment call. I can eliminate option #2, but there's a case to be made for any of the other 3 depending on your design philosophy. I'm going to be a bit pedantic and go with #4-- the biggest reason to add any text to any design is to make it play differently in a meaningful and interesting way.

    2. 1. If we're ignoring typelines—which Design does outside of tribal environments—I agree this is B/U, getting ETBT from black and flying from U. If its type were more locked in—which was my sense from the name—B/R, d.

      2. D because it's weird and doesn't support the card's gameplay or flavor.

      3. Costing is a Dev concern. Making a card unusual is a bad reason to design. Teaching is okay, but unless this is common it won't be doing that. Changing the gameplay is fair. None of these answers are great, and the two best ones are really similar to each other. I go with D, but I'm not happy about it.

    3. On the quiz that was posted here earlier, there were some multi-part questions where later questions played on correct answers to earlier ones. I was trying to do something with that, but failed.

      Question 1 was intended to be unfair. The card name and creature type push toward red, but the card is mechanically more blue. My intended answer as UB and let Dev make it a Sleepy Sphinx or something.

      Question 2 was poorly thought out. I wanted to create some tension with anyone who thought the creature was Red. It would have been better to word it "most appropriate" and include two equally fitting Red abilities, and only one that fits only U.

      3. Ipaulsen is exactly correct in their reasoning. Jay, I'm surprised by your answer to 3. It was intended to be pretty straight-forward? Can you explain why you're unhappy with committing to D?

    4. Changing how a creature impacts the board the turn it is played isn't a fundamental goal of Design, like being elegant, being resonant, or creating meaningful choices. It is a tool in Design's toolbox, among many, but the game doesn't need that to be fun or interesting or anything. Without context, ETBT is arbitrary.

      In contrast, #3 has a purpose. We do want to teach new players things, and replacing the default is one of the methods we use to do that. But since this will be an uncommon or rare, it won't come up often and won't have many opportunities to teach that lesson.

      If I were going to assign weights from 0 to 100 to each reason:
      A) 0 - This has value to Dev but not to Design.
      B) 0 - Being different just to be different leads to bad design.
      C) 30 - This is a good goal to have, but this card won't do it as well as Rotting Legion.
      D) 33 - Tweaks to gameplay do matter. This is a small one. All the moreso since I'm not likely to block your 3/3 attacking into my 4/4 flyer when you might have a trick and my flier is so valuable.

    5. Consider this option:
      E) There's a tapping or untapping theme in the set that Sleepy Dragon can play into.
      E) We want this card to be common. In addition to making it expensive, we needed something to make it feel less rare.
      E) The set includes Assassinate and black just needed one more answer against the color(s) this card has. (This is a Dev concern.)

      You could also replace the word 'design' in the question with 'have' or 'make' and then A becomes the best answer.

  11. Wow, coming up with Qs is really hard. Not sure if I'll manage one.

    1. Doesn't have to be perfect or even terribly good to generate helpful discussion.

    2. Thank you for being encouraging! I'm glad to see I managed a question I was reasonably happy with.

      This post produced a *lot* of interesting discussion.

  12. Go Away For Good 2CC
    Sorcery (uncommon)
    Exile target creature.

    1- Which of these would we be least likely to do?

    A) Make this card hybrid.
    B) Make this card a common.
    C) Make this card an instant.
    D) Add "an opponent controls".

    2- If we made this card a permanent, which would be most similar?

    A) Make it an "enters the battlefield" trigger on a creature.
    B) Make it a "Seal" enchantment with "Sacrifice CARDNAME:".
    C) Make it a Planeswalker with "|+1| Exile up to one target creature".
    D) Make it a creature with a tap ability.

    1. 1. I can see A, B, or C. D is just superfluous.

      2. B. The other options imply additional functionality.

    2. Agreed on both. I did some research on "an opponent controls", and on instants/sorceries it only shows up when it's mechanically relevant-- i.e. when there would otherwise be a reason to target your own creature in certain situations. It also shows up for templating clarity on stuff like fight cards and Public Execution.

    3. #1. I hesitated a bit. Instant is likely at uncommon. Common removal is getting steadily more expensive, but 2CC sorcery is probably still plausible? It's a plausible hybrid card, similar to Unmake. But white unconditional removal is usually more expensive than black unconditional removal, so I don't think it's an ideal hybrid card (although like unmake, it may be the only possible W/B removal hybrid).

      The reason for #D is if they print a 13/13 mindslaver and regret it. I *hope* they don't do that again, but I'm not entirely sure. Adding "an opponent controls" is certainly something they only add when there's a specific reason, so I guess it's least likely.

      2. Again, not completely sure. It's ETB or seal. ETB is very very similar as you're casting it, but you get a creature afterwards. Seal is very close to a spell effect. But it is different as it can answer mutavault which a sorcery can't. Not certain.

    4. Aside from being a body, a creature is also easier to reuse by bounce/flickering. I wouldn't consider it as good an answer. I'll go with 1. D, 2. B.

    5. The intended answers here are:

      1. A - Hybrid is rarely used in blocks, and never on isolated cards, only in a cycle. By logic of MaRo: this is least likely to be done. (Is that intuitive? No.)

      2. A - A sorcery and a creature's ETB effect both are cast at sorcery speed, killing the same set of creatures in the same timeframe and not being on-board tricks.

    6. Interesting you agreed with me on #2, I'd been persuaded (and honestly, I expected) that the answer was supposed to be the seal.

      Huh, that's an interesting approach for #1. I see where you're going from, Maro had several painful questions like that on previous tests. But I'm still not sure. It's not testing any design skill -- in any real design, the designer would know whether the set had hybrid. It's testing how good people are at answering misleading probability questions...

      Maro did have quite a lot of questions like that, but I think more of them were accidents than deliberate.

      For that matter, there have been three hybrid blocks. Gather lists only two cards with "exile target creature an opponent controls" (if you exclude "...until CARDNAME leaves the battlefield"). Which is really less likely?

    7. Maybe if the question were "Which of these do we do least frequently" but "least likely" doesn't concern itself with frequency, only appropriateness to its own context, which could easily be a hybrid set even if they only make one more hybrid set ever.

      "Which would be most similar" doesn't specify what we're trying to be similar to. (Actually, you mention 'card' earlier so that's a fair guess.) Putting it on a creature is like adding text to this sorcery that creates a token, which is a bigger change than swapping the type line to instant. If you instead said, "If we had to make this a permanent instead, which of these choices would most closely duplicates/preserves the effect on the original card" then A becomes the better answer.

  13. Xenagos’ Spite
    Destroy target creature with Bestow.

    Which of the following changes could reasonably be made to this card?

    (A) Change the cost to 1R.
    (B) Change “Bestow” to “Monstrosity”.
    (C) Change “creature” to “permanent”.
    (D) Change “target creature” to “all creatures”.
    (E) None of these changes are reasonable.

    1. Wow...

      A is a color pie break. I think we can eliminate that one.

      B is like the GDS2 "Landfall" question. Monstrosity is templated as an action, so that fails.

      C is technically a color pie break since black isn't supposed to destroy enchantments. But in terms of just the text box it's actually a more reasonable card than the current version.

      D is reasonable from a design-rules standpoint, but at the current mana cost it's enormously swingy and probably unfun.

      So I guess the answer could be C, D, or E, depending on what exactly we mean by "reasonably".

      If I absolutely had to pick one, I'd go with C, though I suspect E may be the intended answer. The color pie bend is justifiable because it makes flavor sense and reduces the card's narrowness.

    2. Yeah, nice. I agree with IPaulson's reasoning, except I was firmly E. I think sweepers are always more expensive than 1B. And ok, black is most likely to destroy enchantments that are secretly creature cards, but...

      Wait. Black's "can't destroy enchantments" is partly to stop it getting out of bad enchantments it cast on itself. Destroy bestow enchantments doesn't allow that. But still, I think "weakness to normal enchantments" is still part of black's pie, so I think C is out.

    3. I personally think C is close to right, but E would be my answer for a GDS3 quiz.

    4. I thank no none of the changes are entirely reasonable But neither is the original design; I think allowing black to kill a bestow aura or creature is more reasonable, despite black's nromal defficiency (which, yes, exists mostly so we can print self-killing black enchantments).

    5. Auto-Correct can go have a nice day.

    6. "Because they have a specific rules meaning and are listed in the Comprehensive Rules, keywords of either type can be referenced from other cards."

      Monstrosity is a keyword action. I don't see why we cannot "Destroy target creature with Monstrosity."

      The rest seem wrong. A is red outright creature kill. C is black enchantment/aura removal. Purpose or no, this is a major severe bleed. D is a pretty powerful sweeper and is a little confusing since it doesn't kill bestowed auras. Second best answer there, but I'm going with B.

    7. Note that Landfall is an ability word, not a keyword action, and therefore is not a relevant comparison.

    8. @KingRitz Yes, but look at the following sentence: "They differ in that keyword abilities are either characteristics of objects or are objects themselves, whereas keyword actions describe game-related actions."

      Monstrosity isn't something a creature has. It's something a creature does. Landfall is in a slightly different category, yes, but it's still true that monstrosity, investigate, explore, etc. cannot be referenced as creature abilities.

    9. Okay. I see the text you're pointing to, but I'm not reading it quite that way. Can you cite a source in the rules or in a ruling/article saying keyword abilities cannot be referenced in this way? I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'd like to have a deeper understanding and I'm not clear and convinced yet.

    10. There are no cards that reference Monstrosity on another card, period, so I cannot see the distinction between permissible and impermissible "references from other cards." (And, again, it is given that at least some such "references from other cards" are permissible.) Can you give an example of the distinction, including a permissible reference and why they come out differently?

      Again, sorry to be difficult.

      For everyone else's reference:

    11. @KingRitz no worries! Here are some examples of cards that reference keyword actions (as listed on the page you linked):
      Lurking Chupacabra
      Trueheart Twins
      Erdwal Illuminator
      Entangling Trap

    12. In a nutshell:

      Ability words like "landfall" are not rules text, so they can't be referenced at all by other cards.

      Keyword actions like "monstrosity" are game actions with a rules meaning. Other cards can reference them by using language like "whenever [keyword action happens]".

      Keyword abilities like flying, prowess, eternalize, and skulk are entire abilites, not just actions. That is, they're shorthand for activated, triggered, or static abilities that would get their own line of rules text if written out. Other cards can reference them directly (e.g. "creatures with [ability]"), or occasionally treat them like keyword actions if the ability has a verb form (e.g. "whenever you cycle a card...")

      For a more direct explanation of what's wrong with "creature with monstrosity", look at the rulings for Mwonvuli Beast Tracker ( Something only a "creature card with hexproof" if it literally has the ability "hexproof", not if it has "U: CARDNAME gains hexproof until end of turn". Similarly, there is no such thing as a "creature with monstrosity" because "monstrosity" is not a stand-alone keyword ability.

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    14. Posted above before I saw your most recent post. Thanks. Reading your most recent post now...

    15. I don't see the relevance of Mwonvuli Beast Tracker, since (1) those are keyword abilities, and (2) the problem isn't with the type of reference, it's with the fact that a creature with activated hexproof quite literally *does not have hexproof until the ability is activated* (which it isn't in the library).

      I'm still not convinced about this. I need something that cites to the rules, or something more definitive and on point.

    16. Basically, where does it say that a card doesn't "have" as well as "do" the keyword actions printed on it?

    17. Huh. OK, Monstrosity was a more confusing example than I realised.


      creature has hexproof, can lose hexproof.

      "2: CARDNAME gains hexproof UEOT"

      creature has '2:Cardname gains hexproof UEOT'", and after the ability activates, it has "hexproof"

      "2: Scry 1"

      Creature has '2: Scry 1". No permanent "has" scry. Possibly a sorcery with text box "scry 1" has 'scry 1'?

      You could possibly say, "creatures lose monstrosity abilities", which isn't currently clearly defined, but is informally unambiguous, and could be added to the comp rules if necessary.

      Monstrosity is unusually confusing because almost all (or all) the abilities are "Cost: Monstrosity N", and they could have made Monstrosity a keyword with text "Monstrosity cost, N" instead.

      But they didn't. Even if they didn't print this the comp rules allow a creature with "Whenever this attacks, monstrosity 3". That would be confusing, but it works in the rules. What would it mean for that creature to lose monstrosity? Would it lose the whole triggered ability? Or what?

      Now, admittedly, design often play loose with the rules, so many designers may not know this is how it works. But the presence of the landfall Q means I think GDS people are expected to know.

    18. I didn't look up monstrosity when the question was asked and incorrectly remembered it as an ability word, so I'm grateful for this discussion.

      You could reference "creatures that are monstrous" to find the ones whose monstrosity ability has already been activated. You could likely say "creatures with activated abilities that cause monstrosity" but it's sooo awkward you wouldn't want to.

      Monstrosity is a weird action keyword because it's a noun rather than a verb, and also because it's worded not as something you do to a creature but that a creature does. I could make a spell that monstrifies any creature, but the language would be terrible: Target creature [does] monstrosity 3 (and would require slightly diffferent reminder text since it's not monstrosity-into itself, but that's okay).

    19. Good point, the noun-ness, and the one-off-ness definitely make it *sound* like monstrosity refer to the whole ability. I think that's why it's so misleading.

      But I think the answer is still clear, even if not as obvious as you originally expected.

    20. (E) was my intended answer. Of course, the real purpose of this question was to confuse everybody with Monstrosity issues!

    21. TIL: Volrath's Shapeshifter is the only non-silver-bordered card that depends on treating another card's rules text as a characteristic (as opposed to just modifying that text).

    22. Where did we end up on the "creature with monstrosity" discussion? Could you do "creature with cycling"? I know you can do "card with cycling", is monstrosity the same kind of keyword?

    23. "Creature with monstrosity" won't work.

  14. Cardname
    Cardname has first strike if you control 3 or more creatures

    What would be the more appropriate costing

    if we were to make this card mono coloured what text would be least suitable to replace "you control 3 or more creatures" with
    A) You control 6 or more lands
    B) You gained 4 or more life this turn
    C) Cardname is attacking
    D) You have 1 or less cards in hand
    E) You have cast an instant or sorcery this turn

    what would be least suitable to replace firstrike with is we want this to be uncommon
    A) Vigelence
    B) Trample
    C) Deathtouch
    D) Flying
    E) Hexproof

    1. 1. Good question. I like the idea of costing, making sure it's both not too good and not too bad.

      I feel like 1W is best (assuming this is supposed to be common?) I think 2R and 2W get better than this nowadays. This is probably sliiiiightly better than 1R gets at common (though that will probably change soon). It would be fine at 1R at unc or rare. It would be ok as RW, but I think RW would usually be a tad stronger. Or do we assume red doesn't get "more than three creatures" conditions?

      I'm not sure, is the second question implying it's NOT monocoloured? In which case the answer to 1 must be E. Or is question 2 just saying, IF it's monocoloured?

      2. Not sure. Most are fine. I think any colour can get "six or more lands" but it's more usual in green. I think red can get "if you cast an instant or sorcery this turn", but it's more usual in blue. So I'm not sure.

      3. Not sure. I think a 2/2 upside is too spicy for any colour at one mana, so it has to cost 2. But then all the options seem too boring. OK, I will try to find the best implementation of each and then decide which is worst.

      A. Not a good prospect. 1W 2/2 conditional vigilance is way too weak. Green usually gets vigilance on 2/3 and above only (to differentiate it from W, and because it's only then it matters much. It might get a 2/2?
      B. 1R 2/2 conditional trample? About the right strength but surely R has better tramplers.
      C. Hm. I thought this would be common, but it's possible it's uncommon?
      D. 1R/1W/1U 2/2 conditional flying. Not sure where but I think one of these would fit.
      E. 1G 2/2 conditional hexproof. A bit boring? But probably printable.

      So my best guess is A worst, followed by B and C? But want to hear other opinions.

      Hm. It's really hard judging exactly what average-ish cards are costed for uncommon. That's a good Q to ask.

    2. 1 is more a Development question than a Design question. Any of these answers are fair depending on the card's rarity and the set it's in. RW and 2W are underwhelming at common but i can't narrow any further than that.

      I haven't figured out why 2 specifies mono-colored. Each of those conditions could be mono-colored. E is the least printable in a vacuum because prowess wants to care about all non-creature spells. If the question were "If this is mono-red or mono-white" I might choose A because land threshold is more green by default.

      All of 3's abilities seem underwhelming as conditional abilities on an uncommon 2/2 that costs two or more. Vigilance and trample are the least useful. If we're still assuming this is red/white, then both death touch and hexproof are off the table.

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    4. The first question is a Dev question, but we're definitely going for 1W given modern creature costing. "Three or more creatures" is clearly white, and "first strike" is as much white as red, so it probably shouldn't be gold since MaRo wants gold cards to be super-clear on what each color brings to the table.

      As for the second question, Jay, note that the creature will still have first strike in any case. Since it's mono-colored, it's presumably red or white (or *maybe* black). Also, controlling six or more lands is the kind of condition that makes "whether my 2/2 first strikes" kind of an irrelevant question to answer. It's definitely A for that one.

      Third question... who knows? Trample because trample on a 2/2 is largely wasted text and MaRo hates that sort of stuff? I actually really like hexproof as a conditional ability. That's cute. I may have to find more ways to make conditional hexproof cards.

    5. FOR 1: I had intended 1W (or 2W) as cmc is a dev thing but not red as the 3 or more creatures is primarily white and for gold it is unclear what red brings (as said above)

      FOR 2: the key is firstrike is RW lands matters is green not RW not so hence A would not pair with first strike

      FOR 3: the key is that we are keeping the "you control 3 or more creatures" clause so the intended thinking was hexproof is primarily blue and not tied to creatures so this seems out of place (trample and death-touch = green, flying and vigelance = white and both care about creatures) so E

    6. Hexproof is also in green. Furthermore, question 3 didn’t specify monocolored and could be gold.

    7. #1 None of the costs listed has a serious color pie issue. ("N or more creatures" is equally legit in both red and white, judging by Battalion-- there are very few cards in print that statically check for controlling N or more creatures.) The 3-mana and multicolor costs are more expensive than I'd expect to see for this text box in a recent set. I'll go with D, 1W, since the card seems relatively defensive, but this is not really a design decision.

      2. B, C, and D are all monocolor-compatible (white, red/white, and red respectively). I'm going to go with C since that's the most widely used option (Kor Scythemaster, Thorned Moloch, etc.) and fits either color.

      3. None of those versions strikes me as uncommon, but trample makes the least sense regardless of rarity since it's so underwhelming on a 2/2, especially after adding a go-wide hoop. I'll say B.

    8. I did forget it would still have first strike, KingRitz. Thanks.

      Scramble2, I don't think trample or death touch interacting with your opponent's creatures makes those more appropriate to tie with creature-threshold than hexproof (which also interacts with creatures, just outside of combat).

    9. Wow, I completely missed the "least" in question 2. Yeah, A is correct then.

      Question 3 didn't make it clear that we still expect the creature to be monocolored. Also, I have no idea what uncommon was supposed to add.

  15. Which of these hybrid cards is most acceptable to print at common?
    A. {1}{WR}. Creature. 3/1. Whenever ~ attacks, if you control another white creature and another red creature, it gains first strike UEOT.
    B. {1}{UR}. Creature. 2/1. When ~ ETB, if you spent U to cast it, you may have target creature get -2/-0 UEOT. If you spent R to cast it, you may switch target creature's power and toughness UEOT.
    C. {1}{RB}. Creature - Goblin Vampire. 2/2.
    D. {2}{UR}. Flip a coin. If you win the flip, draw three cards.
    E. {1}{WB}. Instant. Target attacking or blocking creature gets -2/-2 UEOT.

    Questions are hard. I'm sure wizards will find questions I'm unsure of, but I didn't have much hope for a question that was (a) reasonably unambiguous and (b) likely to test many artisans. So I went for a question I thought was unambiguous, but made it as interesting as I could.

    (Reposted to fix mana symbols)

    1. Hybrid's weird, because so many of our data points are actually kind of old and R&D might decide to turn the ship in another direction.

      Most of these wouldn't be something I'd put past a set with a few complexity points to spare, but B seems like one we can rule out of common. Then D and E seem the most borderline. I'd settle on C as most acceptable as it's a card black and red can get and bears work just fine at common.

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    3. C

      C seems fine to me. Both black and red get 2/2 for 2, and both get both Goblins and Vampires.

      Canonically, I think MaRo would want E to be gold, not hybrid, since -x/-x is a bleed in white and "attacking or blocking" is a bleed in black. So not E.

      Coin flipping on a decently powered/swingy common sounds miserable. So not D.

      Power/toughness switching is complex and unintuitive enough that I think Wizards would keep it out of common. It's also way too strong for a 2 mana creature creature that kills a guy on ETB to be common. So definitely not B.

      I also think A is basically fine, but I'll say because of complexity it's second-best compared to C. If I control a R/W gold creature, does this trigger? Etc. Complex enough to push to uncommon. And pretty strong as a common. Compare the uncommon Adanto Vanguard. So I guess not A.

    4. Yeah, C. A is in color pie, but a 3/1 with upside is better than red should get for 2 mana. B would make an awesome uncommon at 3 or 4 mana, but it's too complex and powerful for a 2 cmc common. C is fine since both red and black get bears these days. D has too much variance to print at common, and there are potential color pie issues with giving red access to it. E makes much more sense as a multicolor card than a hybrid.

    5. Cool. FWIW, I thought of this as "one ok option and four unacceptable options", but I phrased it as "best" to avoid ambiguity, and it's good I did. I didn't think of ranking them till other people did, but I mostly agree with the responses, except perhaps I think B is a lot worse than other people did.

      It's a lesson, I put in what complexity I could think of while still being unambiguous, and couldn't predict which people would find easy and which people might not agree with me on, but that turned out well.

      I thought hybrid was a good question because it meant you needed to know the colour pie for multiple colours well, and have good judgement about what bleed might be allowed.

      A. The ability is mostly a distraction. Red doesn't get 1R 3/1 yet, let alone with upside. But it's not too much power creep, I put this better than the unprintables, worse than the plausible options, and not sure how to rank it with the swingy D.

      2. I was surprised people weren't more against this. It's "UR target creature gets -0/-2" with two upsides -- no colour outside black should get that. Fuse shows that you can do that kind of "get an outside-pie effect by combining two inside pie effects" but it should always cost an extra card or about 3 more.

      C. I wasn't sure if anyone would have missed red getting bears, or be distracted by the creature type, but this was my intended "correct" answer and I think everyone agreed.

      D. A little bit of a stretch in U and R, not sure if it would be ok or not, but too swingy and too time fiddly for common. You don't want people casting this spell all the time.

      E. I originally thought, this is clearly wrong W never gets -2/-2 even on attacking creatures. But reading the answers, I admit, that's a plausible bleed in hybrid, so I think this is second, after C, since C is clearly ok.

  16. Q) Which of the following is an example of a anti-linear mechanic?
    a) Kicker
    b) Investigate
    c) Heroic
    d) Wither
    e) Infect

    1. A and B are non-linear (playing some doesn’t make you want to play more), but there’s no tension to playing more of them. D you could argue is linear (especially if you have -1/-1 matters effects) but at worst is neutral. E is straightforwardly linear. I think only C is anti-linear, because you need spells to activate the abilities, which means there’s a critical point at which adding more heroic creatures means cutting back too far on spells that trigger them, so I’d say C.

    2. All of these except infect have the diminishing returns characteristic of anti-linearity. Heroic might be the best answer (and googling anti-linear confirms that) but there is very much a point where I want to play spells without kicker because I already have enough: Kicker spells are necessarily less efficient at both ends than single mode spells. Having more clues than you have mana to crack them with does nothing (outside of an artifact-matters deck). Wither creatures are great for defense but suboptimal for offense. None of those are A-B mechanics like heroic, but I can say I'd want all the creatures in my heroic deck to be heroic, even if I don't want as many creatures as normal.

    3. At first I was leaning toward B-- having lots of investigate is anti-linear because cashing in Clues uses up lots of mana and slows down your development. Then I saw Jay's comment, Googled, and saw Maro's article about heroic. Not sure I 100% agree with the reasoning there, but C is definitely the canonical answer.

    4. And yet, other MTG mothership writers clearly considered Heroic to be linear.


      "There's another linear strategy in standard that's been having success.

      Tom Ross's WU Heroic"

      MaRo's comment is highly questionable to me, and is couched in language about "early playtests." So I agree that C is the canonical answer, but I'd flatly argue with MaRo about this one -- heroic is an A/B mechanic, most of which have linear tendencies, because A makes you want more B, which makes you want more A. Cf. Host/Augment.

      I also wanted to go with investigate because of the nature of clues sucking mana, and in fact you see this -- people limited their quantity of investigate in any constructed deck, with few exceptions.

      But I agree that C would have to be the canonical answer since MaRo is doing the grading (even if he's wrong here, in my eyes).

    5. King Ritz. The issue here is that Linear Deckbuilding (for constructed especially) is a term used that is not always related to linear mechanics.

    6. Can you share a link, Reuben? Google failed me.

  17. Which of the following abilities would we be least like to see on a mono-red Chandra Planeswalker?

    1) Until your next turn, Chandra deals 2 damage to a creature that attacks you or a Planeswalker you control.

    2) Create a 1/1 flying thopter Artifact Creature token

    3) Create three 1/1 red Goblin creature tokens

    4) Discard any number of cards and then draw that many cards plus one.

    5) Cast a red instant or sorcery spell from your hand without paying its mana costic.

    1. Templating for choice 1 intentional?
      Doesn't matter, I still choose 1.

    2. 4 and 5 are classic Chandra minuses. 2 and 3 are un-Chandra (making permanent tokens is not her thing) but are otherwise in red's color pie. 1 is a temporary double Circle of Flame, which we haven't seen on Chandra before but certainly fits red color pie and Chandra's flavor. (She's even quoted in the flavor text!)

      I guess I'd go with 3, assuming the unusual templating of 1 is unintentional. Nalaars have been know to create thopters, but making tons of Goblins is very much not Chandra's thing. And the question didn't specify the design / development phase so I assume creative considerations are also relevant.

    3. Ooh. I didn't think about it being Chandra, just a red PW. Good point. Yeah, 3 then.

    4. Very cute. Nice question. Great answer Ipaulsen. You sold me on C.

    5. I still think 1 as chandra would be a creative concern right? (mabye chandra is being friends with a goblin king?)

    6. If I'm right in reading the template as a Circle of Flame effect, ability #1 seems totally in character for Chandra-- you hurt me or my friends, I burn you with fire. True, we haven't seen anything like it yet, but it's less unlikely than goblins.

    7. No one else seems to have looked closely at #4. The classic Chandra ability is "Discard ALL the cards in your hand". That said, we have since gotten one red rare that lets you "discard any number" so you could argue that Chandra can attach her "plus one" onto that but I consider it a color bend to be able to choose to discard zero cards.

  18. C was the intended answer, although my templating on A is terrible

  19. This was fantastically useful. I feel sharper already. Thanks to everyone for submitting questions and walking through your reasoning in writing or answering them!

    I don't think these questions need any further review.

    We'll come back and make more questions another time. Let me know if you'd like that to happen this week rather than next week.