Monday, March 5, 2018

GDS3 Discussions: Jay Treat'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 Jay's submission on his official GDS page)

Tribal Choice: Shaman

There is value in tribes that come together based on the synergies and playstyles cards of that tribe create, rather than explicitly referencing the tribe on every card. Many Shamans have had activated abilities, and that feels like a sort of innate magic different from spellcasting, so I'm eager to build on that history here.

(I also want to explore more cross-tribal, but that's a different animal entirely.)

This set includes cards (especially in BRG) that reward activating abilities, not all of which explicitly name Shamans; that's why half these cards grant activated abilities where they could have been more direct. The result is a tribe that's chock full of synergies that make the player feel smart, but is also more complex as a package and will likely slow the format down—something to watch for. (Common Shamans do exist—it's not all red flags.)

The hybrid-tap symbol is a crazy idea, but it worked in my very limited playtesting and is worth thinking about. While playtesting, I kept wishing I could pay mana rather than tap—and vice versa—in different situations. Both "tap this creature" and "pay some mana" are costs and symbols, so at least theoretically can be hybridized. The once-per-turn limit might only be needed for Ritual Flame; I'd need to test more to know. We can avoid certain hard questions by restricting where and how we use it.

1) Vision Quest (common)
When you cast Vision Quest, up to one target Shaman gains "1, T: Copy Vision Quest" until it resolves.
Search your library for a basic land card and put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.

2) Shamanic Epiphany (common)
Enchantment — Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has haste and is a Shaman in addition to its other types.
Untap enchanted creature at the end of combat on your turn if you control a Forest.

3) Moonspire Diabolist (uncommon)
Creature — Vampire Shaman
Moonspire Diabolist has lifelink and deathtouch as long as you've activated an ability of a Shaman this turn.

4) Ritual Flame (uncommon)
Ritual Flame deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
Until end of turn, Shamans you control gain "(T/r): This Shaman deals 1 damage to target creature or player." (Activate this ability for R or by tapping that creature, but only once each turn.)

5) Sacred Circle (rare)
T: Add C to your mana pool.
T: Until end of turn, activated abilities of Shamans that aren't mana abilities cost you 1 less to activate. (No minimum cost.)

6) Brighthearth Pendant (rare)
Artifact — Equipment
Whenever you activate an ability of equipped creature that isn't a mana ability, you may pay 2. If you do, or if equipped creature is a Shaman, copy that ability. You may choose new targets for the copy.
Equip 2

7) Bearer of Lightning (mythic rare)
Creature — Elemental Shaman
Shaman creatures you control have "R: This creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn."
T: Bearer of Lightning deals 3 damage to target or player. Activate this ability only if you control three or more Shamans each with power 3 or greater.

8) Mystic Slime (mythic rare)
Creature — Ooze Shaman
When Mystic Slime enters the battlefield, you may activate an ability of each Shaman and/or Ooze you control without paying the mana in its activation cost.
Creatures you control have "2G: Put a +1/+1 counter on this creature. Activate this ability only as a sorcery."

1 comment:

  1. Am I weird for liking all the concepts presented here, but not really feeling the whole?

    It feels a lot like the concepts you're introducing here don't really want to be tribal. If this weren't tagged for "shaman" and part of a tribal challenge, I'd probably be looking at it all a lot differently and probably really liking it.

    Trying to make a creature deck that revolves around activated abilities already puts you in an odd place. That's not actually a synergistic mechanic. Due to the costs involved, it's actually the opposite. Which you've tried to elegantly solve with hybrid tap/mana mechanic. I like it, but it's not going to be enough to make me play with a bunch of activated ability creatures, because the point of those creatures is often to support the "real" victory conditions in the deck. (Granted, there are exceptions in mana-fed growth and firebreathing mechanics that you're highlighting here, and your color choices are on point for that reason).

    It feels like an example of a tribe made from a shared mechanical concept, but not actual shared playstyles. That was my critique of the pirates. And so I find myself in the same place. I like the individual cards. It's not like I think they're too weak. But the ideas you're presenting don't feel like they're coming together to tell players "Here's what you do with your shaman cards."