Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Multiple Choice Magic Design Question of the Day 26

26) Which of these mana costs is least appropriate for a sorcery with following effect:
Target creature gets +4/+4 until end of turn. It deals damage equal to its power to target creature an opponent controls.
 a) {1}{G}{G}
 b) {5}{R}
 c) {4}{G}
 d) {2}{W}{R}
 e) {4}{RG}

Click through to see the answer and my rationale.

This effect is strictly stronger than Wild Instincts, which is a 4cc common. We might expect an uncommon version to grant a larger bonus, and a rare version to make the fight one-sided. {1}{G}{G} is quite a push for this effect, but it's not broken strong and is entirely justifiably in the color pie. A is a weak answer.

One-sided fight is secondary in red, but red very rarely grants more than +3/+1, both the 4 and the toughness being a bend for red. That said, six is a fair price for this effect and the exact perfect conditions could theoretically justify such a bend, so B is just a good answer, but not the best.

{4}{G} is the worst answer, because it's the best price for this effect, albeit at uncommon.

White can grant P/T bonuses as frequently as green can, so you might think pairing it with red (who brings the Fall of the Hammer half) could justify this effect, but white only grants +1/+1, +2/+2, or +1/+X. Being multicolor does warrant an increase in power level, but that usually only grants us cheaper access to effects our paired colors could get anyhow. (If two colors who are good at the same thing come together, you might see an effect that's even better than either gets on their own, but that's not the case here.) D is the best answer because it is least justifiable. ({4}{W}{R} would be more justifiable than {5}{R} and {2}{W}{R}. {3}{W}{R} more than {2}{W}{R}. Is {4}{W}{R} more justifiable than {5}{R}? I think slightly, but it's debatable.)

E is a fair answer. {4}{RG} is easier to justify than {2}{W}{R}, but is it easier than {5}{R}? Clearly {5}{R} is more appropriate than {4}{R}, which is a cost you can pay for this hybrid card, but even when you don't pay {G} to cast it, the fact that this is a red-green card does explain how the P/T boost is so high. That's not the ideal case for hybrid, but it is a reality.

Because that negative was confusing, let me restate—
Appropriateness: {4}{G} > {1}{G}{G} > {4}{RG} > {5}{R} > {2}{W}{R}
Correctness: D > B > E > A > C

I expect a few of my rankings to be challenged here, and I welcome it. I'm confident in my choices for best and worst, but the three middle answers are pretty subjective. The fact that total cost is a late design consideration and not an early design consideration means that one of the skills you might have used here is not a high priority for this position. But this question primarily tests understanding which color/s a card can be (like the fact that only green regularly gets bonuses larger than +2/+2 or so) and how hybrid and gold factors into what a card can and should do.


  1. Is one sided fight still Red? I thought they cut it from Red to give Red more breathing room from Green, since the last thing Red needs is more ways to deal damage.

    1. Its not cut, it just shows up less because red needs it less given a the burn it has.

  2. A is pushed, but plausible at higher rarities. D is wrong because neither part of the card makes sense in white-- white doesn't usually get big pumping *or* one-sided fight.

  3. I agree with Jay's ordering, I think. I agreed with the top and bottom slot in advance, but wasn't sure why, or about the middle three.

    I wasn't sure why WR seemed more odd to me than R, given that neither usually gets +4/+4. I think that it's something either colour could get if there's a sufficiently good reason (e.g. turning into an angel), but that on a R card, it makes sense as a companion to fight, because cards default to monocolor, but there's no reason for RW to be two-color as if W is better at growing than R.

  4. I disagree with the ordering because white does grant toughness boosts, as far as I know, and white granting a +4 toughness boost as part of a multicolored card is a more appropriate bend for me than red giving a +4 toughness boost.

    Additionally, hybrid being executed incorrectly in the past doesn't mean that makes it more appropriate to execute it incorrectly in the future. You have to look at E as 4R, compare it to 5R, and conclude that 4R would obviously be less appropriate than 5R.

    So my ordering would be the opposite of yours for the top three: E > B > D

    1. I see, so you're suggesting that White is granting +0/+4 on this card and Red is granting +4/+0 and Tail Slash?

      I totally support trying to hold hybrid to a more rigorous standard. Fair.

    2. This is a good point. 2RW for +4/+4 is completely reasonable. Hualti, Dinosaur Knight from Ixalan's ultimate (a RW gold ability) gives your dinos +4/+4. White has also given +4/+4 in the past on rare auras

      On the other hand, mono red has never given anything +X/+4, or anything greater than +X/+3 (although "/+4" does appear on one card, Borderland Behemoth, but that is not the effect we are discussing.)

      Originally I was going to join this thread to campaign for B, but I realize Carl is entirely right. 4R is more incorrect than 5R. The correct answer should be E, based on a very sneaky hybrid execution.

    3. Yeah, this still doesn't feel quite right to me, but the argument seems valid.