Monday, March 5, 2018

GDS3 Discussions: Ari Nieh's Challenge 1 Submission

(These posts are being backdated for administrative purposes. They were not disclosed to nor published on this site prior to their publication on the mothership. You can read the judge commentary on Ari's submission on his official GDS page)

Tribal Choice: Insect
"Insects? On my battlefield?" It's more likely than you think.

Magic players have a great deal of familiarity with Insects—not only from fictional tropes, but also in the real world. Most people have, at some point, encountered an infestation of ants, wasps, moths, lice, or bedbugs. My goal is to reflect this experience in Magic and evoke similar emotions.

The mechanical reflection of an infestation is a go-wide faction. However, unlike the Selesnya, who go wide and over the top, or the Boros, who go wide and kill fast, our Insects use their numbers to grind out victory by accumulating, reusing, and trading off resources. The experience of battling against Insects is both satisfying and frustrating; you keep spending resources splatting them, but somehow there are always more left.

There are two primary mechanical themes for this faction:
Token making, reflecting their fecundity.
Tapping Insects for effects, reflecting their industriousness.

Other Insect tools include death triggers, graveyard recursion, efficient removal, deathtouch, evasion, and saboteur abilities. The last four of these are specifically intended to break up the ground stalls that could result from a token-heavy environment. Indestructibility, hexproof, and pumping toughness are avoided, both to encourage attacking and to make individual Insects feel expendable.

I implemented this playstyle with top-down designs of specific Insect tropes: fecundity, social behavior and structures, metamorphosis, venomous stings, pheromone trails, and feeding on carrion.

Many thanks to my playtesters, whose feedback was invaluable in polishing these bugs to shine.

1) Egg Tender (common)
Creature — Insect
When CARDNAME dies, create two 1/1 green Insect creature tokens.

2) Corpsefly Rite (common)
Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand. If that card is an Insect, create a 1/1 green Insect creature token.

3) Skullmoth Larva (uncommon)
Creature — Insect
Tap another untapped Insect you control: Monstrosity 2. As long as CARDNAME is monstrous, it has Flying.

4) Swarm Strike (uncommon)
Each Insect you tap while casting this spell reduces its cost by 2.
Target creature gets -4/-4 until end of turn.

5) Pheromone Trail (rare)
Whenever one or more Insects you control deal combat damage to a player, look at the top card of your library. If it's a land card, you may put it onto the battlefield. Otherwise, put that card into your hand.

6) Carrion Beetle Mound (rare)
T: Add C to your mana pool.
T, Tap an untapped Insect you control: Exile target creature card in a graveyard. Gain 2 life.

7) Khal'xa, Hive Queen (mythic rare)
Legendary Creature — Insect
Whenever a nontoken Insect you control becomes tapped, create two 1/1 green Insect creature tokens.
Attacking Insects you control have deathtouch.

8) Altar of the Swarmlord (mythic rare)
Legendary Artifact
Insects you control get +X/+0, where X is the number of swarm counters on CARDNAME.
2, T, Sacrifice an creature: Draw a card. Put a swarm counter on CARDNAME.

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