Monday, March 5, 2018

GDS3 Discussions: Jeremy Geist'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 Jeremy's submission on his official GDS page)

Tribal Choice: Rogues


I approached this assignment with several goals in mind. First, I wanted to create a tribal archetype that challenged the default tribal strategy of generating a bunch of identical token creatures and boosting them with +1/+1 lords. Second, I wanted to create an archetype that captures players' outside knowledge of the creature type. Third, I wanted to create something that would be interesting to play in self-contained formats like Limited while still being backward-compatible with cards people already owned. Choosing Rogue let me meet all three of these.

When you think about a group of rogues working together, you think of the classic heist movie, which I tried to emulate with my designs. The creatures get better with Rogues with different names, which encourages you to assemble a ragtag bunch of misfits with different specialties while not being too much of a hoop to jump through. The noncreature cards support the archetype, as well as many previous Rogue cards, while exploring the surprisingly uncharted territory of heist tropes in Magic.

Favorite card of this batch: Impersonate. It captures a common trope really well and creates lots of funny play moments.

1) Intelligent Informant (common)
Creature — Vedalken Rogue
When Intelligent Informant enters the battlefield, draw a card if you control a Rogue not named Intelligent Informant.

2) Backstreet Maneuver (common)
Target creature gets +1/+0 and gains indestructible until end of turn. If that creature is a Rogue you control, create a 1/1 black Rogue creature token.

3) Hulking Henchman (uncommon)
Creature — Ogre Rogue
Hulking Henchman's power is equal to the number of differently named Rogues you control. (Tokens have the same name as their creature types.)

4) Clever Disguise (uncommon)
Enchantment — Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature can't be blocked.
If enchanted creature is a nonlegendary Rogue, it's named Innocent Citizen and has "U: Exile this creature, then return it to the battlefield under its owner's control."

5) Impersonate (rare)
Destroy target creature you don't control. You may have a Rogue you control become a copy of that creature until end of turn, except it's still a Rogue.

6) The Crow and Squirrel (rare)
Legendary Land
T: Add C.
3, T: Look at the top four cards of your library. You may reveal a Rogue card among them and put it into your hand. If you do, sacrifice The Crow and Squirrel and you lose life equal to the revealed card's converted mana cost. Put the rest of the revealed cards on the bottom of your library in any order.

7) Diamond Falcon (mythic rare)
When you cast Diamond Falcon, target opponent gains control of it.
Creatures get +1/+1 as long as they're attacking you and an additional +1/+1 as long as they're Rogues.
Whenever you draw a card, each opponent draws a card.

8) Merciless Mastermind (mythic rare)
Creature — Rat Rogue
Whenever Merciless Mastermind deals combat damage to a player, that player loses X life and you draw X cards, where X is the number of differently named Rogues you control. (Tokens have the same name as their creature types.)
Sacrifice another creature: Merciless Mastermind can't be blocked this turn.


  1. I really loved the thought processes behind this tribe set. First of all, U/B tribal seems really hard to pull off at all (RIP, Alex!). Second of all, U/B tribal that doesn't fiddle around with graveyards and reanimation seems really, REALLY hard to pull off. Third, caring that you're playing with differently named members of a tribe is interesting an explorable space that seems to fit U/B very well (They, along with white, tend to have spells that refer to specific card names).

    As a primary blue player, I definitely would enjoy playing around with this tribe. It certainly seems more interesting in what Ixalan did with U/B pirates.

  2. I really like the space of differently named things matters. It seems like it would be very fun to play, especially from the heist angle. Did you have any second thoughts about including a token maker since the name/token interaction might be confusing? Also, how did you feel about Prowl?

    1. I did, but I couldn't think of a way to provide support for the archetype at common in another way. Henchman and Mastermind have reminder text for that reason, and Informant cares about a creature -not- being named the same, which makes it prett clear.

      There's a couple of cool Prowl designs but on the whole, the mechanic isn't super interesting and got diluted by caring about two creature types. It also doesn't capture a unique "rogue" flavor; the new Rakdos basically has prowl too.

    2. Thanks for the response! The tokens do seem like a neat way to shore up the as-fan a bit as well.

      I agree about Prowl. I do think saboteur effects feel roguelike in general, but the cost reduction and Prowl bonus effects are pretty narrow.

      Besides having a unique mechanical identity, one thing I really appreciate is the top-down flavor of all of your designs. The only reference I didn't quite get was the Crow and the Squirrel. Everything else was super resonant for me.

  3. From the intro, I was really wary that the "different names" mechanic would lead to cards that were overlong, wordy, and opaque to players who hadn't had the theme explained to them. But wow, did your submission blow that apprehension out of the water!

    I especially love Clever Disguise, it works so neatly and tells such a fun story. "Innocent Citizen!" What a way to improve what could normally be just another filler aura.