Tuesday, February 13, 2018

CCDD 02132018 - DFC Evolution

KingRitz's submission over the weekend had me thinking about DFCs that could just straight-up be cast on either side.

I have a twitter thread (currently in hiatus) about how I would approach designing Ravnica 3. One of the things I contemplated was how we could mechanically represent a creature pledging fealty to a guild. I ended up with DFCs with a split creature on the reverse side.

I would love to explore that space some more, but just casting one side or another presents less rules complications than the above.

There are still rules that need to be rewritten, but this can tell the same story as my DFC-> Split version.

And, because Bradley Rose got me thinking about DFC slivers all week...


  1. The question would be how could you track both sides of the card? You might have to actually use the proxy cards that WotC provides (like for all other flip cards for when you don't have sleeves. While not a bad solution, it does include a bit more overhead.

    I think you are right that the joiners are a bit clunky though, as we have strayed far away from flip cards in MTG.

    Another way to do this that also includes overhead is that those that 'enroll' are always tokens. Meaning you could have 'Enroller' tokens (or whatever name you may have) for each card.

    So like

    Blue experiments-
    Put a 1/2 green and blue mutant token into play with 3 +1/1 counters on it, or put a 2/3 blue and black spy token into play with menace and "whenever this attacks defending player reveals their hand".

    Could also allow for some space relying on the token masses and some playing around with the ability to make multiple guilds at once.

    Could also use hybrid costs as the choice on the main card, which I think is the best solution.

    So for your example listed above, you have it cost 1BR/W hybrid and you get the side you paid for. Has less baggage to actually play with (as you can case from either side while looking at any one side.) It messes with colors but there can be a frame to help with that and a color indicator.

  2. That's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure if the complexity of a DFC with a split back is the most elegant way to approach it.

    How about a mix of the Steamcore Weird cycle from Guildpact and the Bant Sureblade cycle from Alara Reborn?

    Azorious/Orzhov Recruit
    W{U/B} - Uncommon
    CARDNAME has Flying if U was spent to cast it.
    CARDNAME has Deathtouch if B was spent to cast it.

    This feels elegant, but the proper wording might be clunkier. Each of these would need to be 2cmc if you want to prevent the flavor malfunction of joining both guilds. Also, you might have to restrict this to allied color pairs to get a 5-card cycle.

    1. There’s no way you could make this - the memory issues would sink it immediately. That, and less text, are major issues that a DFC card solves.

    2. The issue with how you have yours currently phrased is that you have to track something on the card forever that can't be a counter or something, just a state of being.

      But this is what I was also looking at, what if this is a double faced card where the front is a 1/1 with flying and the back is a 1/1 with deathtouch? The hybrid symbol lets you choose the facing which determines the abilities. So you can put keywords on things afterwards (somewhat).

    3. I specifically said the real wording was clunkier, what I posted here was just an idea. A quick attempt at a functional card with correct wording:

      Azorius/Orzhov Recruit
      W{U/B} - Uncommon
      CARDNAME enters the battlefield with an "Azorious counter" on it if U was spent to cast it.
      CARDNAME enters the battlefield with an "Orzhov counter" on it if B was spent to cast it.
      CARDNAME has Flying as long as it has an Azorious counter.
      CARDNAME has Deathtouch as long as it has an Orzhov counter.

      It's ugly, but it's a quick attempt. There may be a clever way to word it like Ashling's Prerogative:

      As CARDNAME enters the battlefield, choose Flying or Deathtouch. You may only choose Flying if U was paid to cast CARDNAME. You may only choose Deathtouch if B was paid to cast CARDNAME.

      Again, these are all rough attempts.

    4. Or, if I understand Judson correctly, a clever way a DFC could be used without having to have a split card as well:

      Azorious Recruit
      When CARDNAME enters the battefield, if you spent B to cast it, transform it.
      Lifelink, Flying
      Orzhov Recruit (reverse side)
      Lifelink, Deathtouch

    5. Yes, that is what I was meaning to do. Makes the templating easier and allows for some sort of multi-guild synergy.

    6. Clever. Too clever? So even though the front side would normally have a traditional gold frame, this card could have the WU hybrid as a signifier. I would like to see how it plays with non-designer players.

  3. I like the being able to cast both sides but that would require a pretty serious rules rewrite, not addition or tweak.

    Likewise the splitback cards are neat, but probably too complicated? How do you track which one is the transformed creature?

    Here's a card I cooked up a while back while looking for ways to mitigate legendary as a draw back while keeping it for flavor/mechanical upside.

    Kel-Kala, Voice of Stars (Rare)
    Legendary Creature - Spirit Monk
    Splendor {2}{W}{W}{U} (You may cast this card for its splendor cost. If you do, it enters the battlefield transformed.)
    Other creatures you control with flying get +1/+1.
    Kel-Kala's Voice
    Creatures you control get +1/+1 and have flying.

    This is more or less a split card implemented on permanents, which is totally a thing I'd like to see (and think we will see).

    I also explored transforming spells while they were on the stack. This would require additional rules, but since there's no way to currently transform a spell on the stack, I think the changes could be implemented fairly painlessly. We already have a sorcery spell that transforms into a creature, it just does it from somewhere other than the stack. I think we could add a provision that if a spell ability causes a card to transform mid resolution, that ability finishes resolving, the card is transformed, and finishes resolving as a spell of the back face.

    Cytoplast Infusion (Common)
    Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature. Then, if that creature has three or more +1/+1 counters on it, transform Cytoplast Infusion.
    Cytoplast Symbiote
    Creature - Ooze Mutant
    Cytoplast Symbiote enters the battlefield with three +1/+1 counters on it.

    Unlike with the first card, I'm not sure how much space this has, but I like the minigame where a instant/sorcery does something small, but if you are in sync with that small thing, it turns into something bigger/more permanent.

    1. I think instant and sorceries that can turn into creatures have a lot of space but need to be done a little differently.
      Nice Try-(U/W)(U/W)
      Return each attacking creature to their owner's hand.
      3UW: Activate this ability only from your graveyard and only as a sorcery, return CARDNAME to the battlefield transformed.
      The Dragon of the Mind
      Flying, Vigilance
      Whenever CARDNAME deals damage to a player draw a card, then discard a card.

    2. Not necessarily on-topic but I've seen this mechanic a few times and I've been wondering, is there a rules thing that prevents a template like Rebound? Something like
      Sylvan Song (1G)
      Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Untap it.
      Beckon (3G) (You may cast this spell for its beckon cost. If you do, instead of putting it into your graveyard as it resolves, put it onto the battlefield transformed.)
      Sylvan Singer
      (G) Creature - Elf Rogue

      Or is it just so similar to evoke that it's not worth doing, so people do the Startled Awake mechanic instead?

    3. I guess rebound where it gets exiled and comes back transformed the next turn could be a thing.

  4. I've been wondering when/how WotC might bring the host/augment mechanic out of Unstable into a regular set (because you know they're itching to).

    What about some sort of adaptation here. So you can have a bunch of basic/monocolored "initiates" as a creature type.

    Temperamental Acolyte (Common)
    Creature -- Human Initiate
    When CARDNAME enters the battlefield or is recruited, you may have it deal two damage to target creature or player.

    The instead of "augments" they'd be called "recruit" cards, but they'd be somewhat similar in operation. It becomes part of the creature, not an aura, and the two cards become one creature.

    Vampiric Initiation
    Recruit 2B: (Reveal this card in your hand and attach to target non-black initiate. Recruit only as a sorcery)

    Recruited creature gets +1/+1. When it attacks, all opponents lose one life and you gain one life.

    So if you have your temperamental acolyte go through a vampiric initiation, he becomes a member of Rakdos. But some eager bureaucrat (white) could go through the same initiation and join Orzhov.

    1. Rewriting Vampiric Initiation

      Vampiric Initiation (Common)
      Recruit 1B: (Reveal this card in your and and attach to an unrecruited non-black initiate you control. Recruit only as a sorcery)

      Recruited creature gets +1/+1 and is black in addition to any other colors. When it attacks, each opponent loses one life and you gain one life.

  5. That seems really cool, how would it play out? Would it be like augment where you put the card on top? How is this much different than an enchantment?

    1. It's sort of a mix between an augment and a creature aura. Like an augment, it would essentially become part of the creature and attach to it, and you could only put one on them (no guild shopping!)

      But in Unstable, the augments essentially added additional triggers for the host's ETB effect. These would be more like creature aura that add permanent characteristics to the creature that would give it the mechanics of its second color.

      Technically you could really represent the initiations as creature auras with very selective targets. But then you could put multiple guild initiations on a single creature.

    2. Why not create a new supertype, like curse?

    3. I started mentally mapping that out and ended up taking up so many lines of text explaining how it functioned differently from an aura that it started feeling like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

      The host/augment mechanic felt like the best way of presenting that this change becomes a permanent part of the creature's identity, not a bonus effect like an enchantment.

    4. Well you could do character with legendary weapon and have them transform but that seems like a different flavor than what you want.

  6. A big problem I'm seeing here is the fact that the cards are physical, and you can usually only see one face at a time. This creates an issue as you can't visually reference both sides at once, so you can't 'choose' the other side to cast it.

    Currently, a template like 'if {B} was spent to cast it, it enters the battlefield transformed' seems like the cleanest format with some precedent. Since you have a 'front' side, it has a place to put the Mana cost. If you have costs on different sides, it's effectively a split card that's harder to read, whereas the DFC version we're talking about is a modal permanent with multiple states. This helps consolidate the choice concept onto one side while providing the same functionality.

    One hiccup is that each of them would have to be {U}{B/G} or {U}{U}{B/G} to ensure that you aren't accidentally paying Blue, black, and green (for Simic/Dimir choice) like you could if it was {1}{U}{B/G}

    1. I fixed that by keywording the transform requirement. So you just have a keyword with the cost and say if you paid the cost transform the card.

    2. Technically you can have a cost like 1U{B/G} if you word it as: "If B wasn't spent to cast CARDNAME" as that would imply that G *was* spent to cast it. I think that's way less evocative, though.

    3. Ha ha, Sage, yeah I guess that would work, but it reads and feels terrible.

      I think they would be easy to cost in the 2-mana spots, similar to Guildmages.

    4. Making the costs pure colored mana doesn't fix things. Cards like trinisphere will add generic mana to the cost. You need a system to handle what happens if both colors are used. This looks like a replacement effect, in which case you can apply the replacements in any order you choose, so it's not an issue from a rules perspective, only a parsability one.

    5. I don't think any of the designs so far break when you pay both colors of mana, they just become way less flavorful. If they don't break, I don't think the edge-case of paying an extra mana with trinisphere is all that important.

    6. What if we had 'checklist cards' that were actually a generic creature, similar to Zefferal's OP.
      It's effectively a morph creature, like a 3-mana 2/2, and it can fetch the variant it is joining to.

      Seems weird, but logistically possible

  7. What if we used Champion in a Rav3 setting to show a creature joining a guild?

    1. So like champion a red black creature?

    2. I think he's talking 'Champion a red or black creature'. A random red or black creature is close to being willing to join up with a red/black crew as it is.

      Pasteur - is this the kind of thing you had in mind?

      Rakdos Racketeer (U)
      Champion a red or black creature
      ~ has all the types and subtypes of the creature exiled by it.
      Whenever a create you control leaves the battlefield, ~ deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

      I like how that feels, Pasteur. It really captures the feel of them joining a guild and getting some new powers from it.

  8. I'm not sure how it can be applied here, but I had concepted a mechanic for an artifact world for noncreature artifacts (probably Kaladesh) based on Togglodyte. When the card was played, or perhaps some other method, you'd pick one of two options, then it gets a counter placed in a marker area on the card to signify which mode was chosen. Its only a rough idea, something like

    Narnam Greenpod (3)
    Input (When ~ enters the battlefield, put a control counter on Consulate or Renegade. A permanent can only have one control counter.)
    Whenever a counter is placed on you or a permanent you control,
    Consulate: You gain 2 life.
    Renegade: Each opponent loses 1 life.

    Unfortunately, this only works on noncreatures due to use of nonstandard counters, and is a little fiddly besides, so it doesnt quite work for the problem you're trying to solve, but its a similar space so perhaps someone can springboard off of it.

    1. Why not just choose and not use counters?

    2. Memory issues. By marking it, you can easily tell which mode was chosen at any point.

    3. But the sieges didn't mark and had no issues

    4. It's okay as a single cycle of cards at rare (meaning it comes up less in casual games and when it does, it'll be a large focus as the sieges are splashy rares), this was just concepted as a larger mechanic. It's necessaary to mark which mode is chosen when it comes up more often and at lower rarities. To see why, imagine having multiples of these cards, even just 2 or maybe 3, in a random limited game without a reminder you can glance at to see which modes were chosen.

    5. It's like a mash up of the two, yeah. I originally based this on Togglodyte like I said (just made the decision to be either "on" or "off" instead of switching back and forth so there's less tracking, and for it to be only on noncreatures so there's no mix up with +1/+1 counters normally), but in practice the execution would be more like Buzzing Whack-a-Doodle with Baron von Count's doom counter, since Togglodyte's thing was that it switched on or off back and forth.

    6. That makes it sound like silver border land.

  9. This topic really makes me want to post my Meld logistics solution, but I want to wait until after GDS3 finishes before I bring out the real big guns. Part of the reason why has to do with my harboring a hope that the Top 8 can utilize the community for parts of it.

    That said, I've been thinking on the subject too, and I came up with this little quirk for Innistradi werewolves, but it's by no means the bottom of the barrel. :)

    Hanweir Hermit (Rare)
    Creature - Human Werewolf
    Cursewarp 3RRR (If you cast this for its cursewarp cost, it enters the battlefield transformed and can’t transform.)
    First strike, haste
    At the beginning of each upkeep, if no spells were cast last turn, transform Hanweir Hermit.


    Township Alpha
    Creature - Werewolf
    Double strike, haste
    Whenever Township Alpha becomes blocked, it deals 3 damage to defending player.
    At the beginning of each upkeep, if a player cast two or more spells last turn, transform Township Alpha.

  10. I'm excited by the ravnica doing more to investigate how guilds work with each other and with guildless. I'm always hesitant about DFC being the go-to solution for anything involving states, when I'd rather it were kept for special occaisions.

    If wizards is putting the effort into supporting such a mechanic, it's possible they might make guild markers like brick counters. If so, you could do designs like someone suggested:

    Creature - Blah
    Aspirant (If UG was spent to cast this, it joins the Izzet. IF UW was spent to cast this, it joins Azorious)
    If ~ joined the Azorius, it has blah.
    If ~ joined the Simic, it has blah.

    That is, the 'counters' are used as a reminder, but don't necessarily have a mechanical meaning themselves. That's a big investment in complexity and novelty, but possibly not more so than using DFC.

    You'd need to play with various alternatives of when cards "join", or whether players "join" and all cards turn on their guild abilities simultaneously (like 10 smaller versions of the city blessing), and does this work on both simple cards and splashy ones.

    1. Not sure if it solves the issue the OP presents (though maybe it could), the idea of players joining a guild and that influencing your cards is extremely appealing to me. Another mechanic I'd been thinking about what was based on weather. Basically you'd have a card like this

      Stormcaller Mage (2U)
      Creature - Human Wizard
      When ~ enters the battlefield, the weather becomes rain.

      And then there'd be a reminder card, like the monarch or city's blessing, that you would place in a visible area that lists all the weathers and their effects, whatever they would be, and you'd use a marker on the weather it currently is. You could do something like thid, but with guilds instead of weather and templated differently. And perhaps instead of doing anything on its own like I envisioned weather, cards could care about whether you were Rakdos aligned or Gruul aligned, and some Gateless cards could have multiple modes depending on which you are, which would be a way to solve the "How to make creatures that can become part of one of multiple guilds".

  11. Or maybe represent joining by morph, where you morph into either side of a DFC? That doesn't sound like it makes sense, since they're both represented by front/back, but actually DFC always do need a back (either a sleeve back or a checklist card) so if you use DFC at all it would work physically.

    Then each morph could become two different things. I wonder if you could extend that to something like, reveal a card of the appropriate colour from your hand as part of the morph cost, so it's one or the other but the opponent doesn't know for sure which.

    1. Now... that's an idea. Basically a triple faced card. I remember hearing thats how manifest interacts with dfcs, does thst now apply to all ways dfcs could grt turned facedown? Is the eeirdness worth it...? Comprehension complexity seems really high. What does reminder text to tell you it doesnt just show the opposite face when you morph it even look like?

      Its also a bit of weird flavor thing. Gateless are monocolored, but not colorless, which matters mechanically for Ravnica's monocolor hate cards that are flavored as anti-Gateless.