Thursday, April 19, 2018

CCDD 041918 - New Line of Questioning and Better Options

I was designing Blue commons yesterday for Adam Klesh and Bradley Rose's Castmire, and came up with a couple of spells with semi-hidden modes.

I love where this one ended up. Clues are not typically card advantage on their own (some restrictions apply), they merely set you up for some card advantage. Being able to turn this card into a clue without paying mana seems about right. The hard-cast mode might need to be bumped up a tick in cost.

I'm not convinced that this is a) a common, b) mono-blue, or c) "soft" enough to be considered a soft counterspell.

R&D has a pretty firm rule that requires hard counterspells to have two colored mana in their cost. This is primarily to keep these kinds of spells from being splashed. A hard counter is something that can target any type of spell and doesn't give you an optional "out." Things like Failed Inspection are hard counters, while Essence Scatter and Censor are soft counterspells. The typical out for a soft counter is a mana payment, but does it have to be?

Perplex is similar, but it's costed like a hard counter, and it's over a decade old. I'm not sure it would be printed at common today. Frightful Delusion bled the discard into straight-up Blue, but that was more a quirk of Innistrad than anything we should be drawing lessons from.


  1. The former has “cycling” if you have a clue, which seems reasonable. I like both modes of it a lot. Nice design.

    The latter could be UB? I’d also want to test the latter and see if the gameplay is good (especially late game, as most players would learn to hold a land). But I like the concept.

  2. Better Options is a punisher card and is way over costed. If you think about it, the card:

    Pry - B
    Target player discards a card.

    Is unplayably bad. (It's weird for it to be an instant, it would probably be a sorcery, like Horrifying Revelations, but being an instant would not move it into the realm of playability).

    Your 2U cost Better Options has an effect that is strictly worse than Pry, except in the corner case that the opponent has no cards in hand.

    I'm not opposed to the idea, but even if it cost U, I think it would be underpowered, and unplayable at least in limited. It is possible that a one mana hard counter when your opponent is hellbent would see play in something like Modern?

    Unfortunately, the knobs are hard to turn, as if you make it "unless they discard two cards" then it is a lot closer to a hard counter. I think you could print that at UB?

    Of note, the existence of cards like this adds secret rules to the format, where players need to know not to play a land unless they absolutely have to, because they might get hit by one of these counterspells, and they will feel stupid if they played a land they didn't need and then lose to one. I think that probably all comes together to make this card a net negative on the fun of the format.

    1. Split Cards 1UB
      If it's an opponent's turn, counter target spell.
      If it's your turn, target opponent discards two cards.

      I think your last paragraph makes a very good point.

    2. Pasteur, I like this in principle, but it now feels too disconnected.

      Ideally I want a split card to have either a thematic/mechanical tie (which this doesn't) or to have abilities that compliment each other very well in play (as in, if side 1 is bad, then side 2 will be better).

      Unfortunately, Mind Rot and Counterspell are good in basically the same situations against basically the same decks.

      How about a true Split Card:

      Rot 2B

      Target player discards two cards.

      Ruin 1U

      Counter target spell if its controller has one or fewer cards in hand.


      There is a 90% chance this is too cute by half, but the connection is there.

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  4. I had better options as a WB design except I bumped the discard to two.

    I was exploring white taxing counter spell design and was trying to do taxes other than mana. The issue I found was most forced resource payment would need a second color.

    Black felt cool, paying with mind and magic, and I love Orzhov style tithes and taxes flavor.

    I also chose two because it made it feel more like a tax and less like a lame punished card, it also played the role that is a REVERSE of a mana tax counterspell.

    Censor and Spell Pierce are good early game when you use them on tapped out foes and it works as a hard counter.

    With this version, you cast it LATE game when folks don't have two cards to pitch to turn on it's hard counter mode.

    I felt the "you can't pay, so force the counter" play pattern was key enough to a taxing counter that I bumped the Cost and tax to make it pitch 2.