Wednesday, February 21, 2018

CCDD 022118 - All-In, its Corresponding Magus, and Knobs

I was thinking this morning (as I do most mornings) about Red's all-or-nothing nature, and other ways to mechanically capture it. Mana Seism and Final Fortune are extreme versions of this, where if your final play fizzles, that's more or less the game. I wanted something that was very risky, but there was a sliver of possibility of coming back from.

It's a combo ritual/compulsive draw. Very high risk/high reward. I have no idea if it's useful or not, but one thing I wanted to highlight was just how many knobs there are to tweak on a card like this that can be used to scale its power, fun, and complexity.

I gave two mana and two potential spells to encourage playability, but those numbers can easily be reduced to one each. Alternatively, the card could not serve as a ritual, but rather just let you cast the card for free, provided you discarded more cards than the CMC.

The card could force you to discard your entire hand, rather than allowing you to choose the scale of the effect. That makes it simpler, but less appealing to Spike (it's already not especially appealing to Spike, but it's worth stressing which knobs impact which psychographics.)

The mana cost could be increased to prevent abuses on turn one or two (using it strictly as a ritual to cast into a Blightsteel Colossus), which it frankly probably needs.

This isn't an exhaustive list, but I don't want to skip over an oft-overlooked knob - card type.

This is all by way of showing that, 1) you should be playtesting, but also 2) if your card isn't playtesting the way you thought it would, consider whether twisting some of these knobs would bring it closer to the way you thought it would work.


  1. I think having the selection of 2 is wrong (too strong), as it is almost never right to keep cards in hand, as they are replaced for the turn and you are just trying to win now.

    I think for flavor and ease of templating it should discard your whole hand and work off of number discarded, as that is often right and easier on digital.

    1. As in you could see this as dig 2x and gain 2x Mana where x is the number of cards in hand.

      For one, this is the most powerful ritual ever printed in that case, and it takes care of the ritual problem of being only one half of a combo (as it finds cards to play).

    2. Needs developm... Play Design analysis. But yeah. Easily broken card is broken.

  2. Your turn 1 example shows how problematic adding the mana is, and I don't think generating mana is central to this card's identity. I think this either needs to be expensive and let you cast spells without paying their mana, or remain cheap but not help you cast them.

    Consider this most stripped down version:

    Now or Never {R}
    Sorcery (unc)
    As an additional cost to cast ~, discard any number of cards. Exile that many cards from the top of your library. You may play those cards this turn.

    In the best case, you're turning N+1 cards into N cards, but if those N cards were dead in your hand, getting N cards for one mana is crazy good. It's essentially an X-spell Tormenting Voice, with a time limit to mitigate that effect's upper bound.

    OTOH, this is kind of sweet:

    Desperate Act {4}{R}
    Sorcery (rare)
    As an additional cost to cast ~, discard any number of cards. Exile that many cards from the top of your library. You may cast one of those cards without paying its mana cost.

    Desperate Acts {3}{R}{R}
    Sorcery (rare)
    As an additional cost to cast ~, discard any number of cards. That's X.
    Exile X cards from the top of your library. You may cast any number of those cards with CMC X or less without paying their mana costs.

    1. I like Now or Never better with mandatory whole hand discard. Less choices, more strategy. I just worry that the better developed this concept gets, the less likely it is to ever actually be played.

    2. Re: All In and Now or Never: Give players a one-mana spell and they'll play it on turn one, then blame you when it punishes them for doing so.