Monday, March 5, 2018

GDS3 Discussions: Linus Ulysses Hamilton'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 Linus's submission on his official GDS page)

Tribal Choice: Aetherborn
The Aetherborn are back and ready to rock in a return to Kaladesh. Given their exuberant short lives and emotion-sensing powers, it only makes sense to branch them out into red. Does a tribal theme fit in an artifact set? Yes. Tribal gives you a reason not to put the same strong card in every deck, which is exactly what an artifact set needs to avoid Smuggler's Copter II: Electric Boogaloo.

Aetherborn celebrate their impending deaths with massive parties. For a while I tried to give them a "funeral party" mechanic where when one dies, the rest all celebrate. But it discouraged playtesters from trading in combat, since they wanted to play all their Aetherborn before any of them died to get the most triggers. This gameplay pattern didn't match the passionate Aetherborn lifestyle and wasn't particularly fun.

So I switched gears; when your Aetherborn dies, you should be celebrating! I tried to design cards that put the "fun" in "funeral." In Limited, the Aetherborn Draft strategy is to keep trading in combat, accumulate value through death triggers, and use removal spells on anything too big to trade with. I think the cards ended up in a fun place.

Since some Aetherborn are also Vampires, I made a dual-tribe lord for both. One set won't provide enough good Aetherborn for a full tribal Commander deck (even including the ones from Kaladeshblock), but Maratti lets Commander players play Aetherborn tribal anyway.

1) Aether Mosher (common)
Creature — Aetherborn
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield or dies, put a +1/+1 counter on target Aetherborn you control.
2) Attend Your Own Funeral (common)
Target creature you control gets +1/+0 until end of turn if it's an Aetherborn.
When it dies this turn, return it to the battlefield under your control.

3) Party Suit (uncommon)
Artifact — Equipment
Equip 2
Equipped creature gets +2/+1.
When equipped creature dies, if it was an Aetherborn, you may equip CARDNAME to target creature you control.

4) Aether Reveller (uncommon)
Creature — Aetherborn
Whenever CARDNAME or another Aetherborn you control dies, CARDNAME deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

5) Rockstar Stage (rare)
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, if there is an Aetherborn card in your graveyard, add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
T: Add C to your mana pool.

6) Last Spark (rare)
Return target artifact or creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. It gains haste. Sacrifice it at the beginning of the next end step. If it's an Aetherborn, it must be blocked this turn if able.

7) Everyone Dies Twice (mythic rare)
If an Aetherborn you control dying causes an ability of that card or another artifact or creature you control to trigger, that ability triggers an additional time.

8) Maratti, Vampire Rockstar (mythic rare)
Legendary Creature — Aetherborn Vampire
Other Aetherborn and Vampires you control get +1/+1.
Whenever an Aetherborn or Vampire deals damage to an opponent, put that many +1/+1 counters on CARDNAME.
When CARDNAME dies, it deals damage to any target equal to its power.


  1. Aetherborn is a bold choice given that Kaladesh generally resists strong tribal themes in favor of artificing.

    I think I agree with MaRo that, flavorwise, it feels wrong to include any sort of graveyard recursion with the aetherborn theme if it revolves around embracing death.

    I also feel like it only barely dips its toes into red and really fails to capture this sort of emotional passionate embrace that Linus seemed to be going for. I have no actual solutions for that. But I just kind of felt like that without the inclusion of haste, all the cards could have been mono-black.

  2. This was probably the tribe I most felt, "huh, I wonder what I could do with that". I was impressed for how many tribes, especially this one, the judges said "huh, we didn't think that would work, but it makes surprisingly much sense."

    I *love* the idea of a black red tribe embracing death in a more positive, less nihilistic way. But I'm not sure how to represent that.

    Maybe something about dying while attacking? Or activated death triggers? Or combat tricks that give you a bonus if the creature dies? I want a sort of "blaze brightly, run into death" feel, but a lot of the potential mechanics are already used up by much more grim interpretations of death, especially in Rakdos colours. I don't really want sacrifice, or recursion, or many of the usual death staples.

    Maybe a mechanic for caring about TWO creatures you control having died? Play up the "big party" idea. But that'd be pretty swingy.