Wednesday, May 9, 2018

CCDD 050918 - Other Iconic Forms

I loved Jay's exploration of Forms of the Phoenix earlier this week, and decided to take a shot at forms for other iconic creatures.

I knew the Sphinx would have to involve riddles in some way, so I made a guessing game. This is a highly strategic card, encouraging you to play cards once they're revealed, and hold on to cards otherwise. I really like the feel of it.

I'm not sure how I feel about the life total set, or regenerating your toughness every turn. It was a clever idea on Form of the Dragon, but makes a lot less sense in red (and blue) if cycled out. I might drop that clause entirely, or need to find a better execution. Maybe the riddle element prevents the creature from doing damage unless they guess the right card?

With Hydra, I decided that damaging heads damages you. Your life total doesn't change, but your opponent is encouraged to keep trying to kill your heads as you grow more and more of them. It's a fun mini game. I can imagine the numbers on this being tweaked to two initial 3/3s. Playtesting would tell me which way works better.

By the time I got to Demon, it just became an enchantment without caring about life total or attacking restrictions. I like the "you get 2 somethings, but lose 3" symmetry bargains this card makes, but all of the numbers clearly need to be tweaked to make the abilities roughly equal power level, both in terms of the reward and the price you pay. The core concept here is great, but it needs significant development.


I realized while going through this exercise that, of all the iconics, Angels are the least defined flavorfully in the game. Even though the mechanics on all the others can vary from card to card, their core identity is wrapped up in some element of their color pie. Sphinxes reward you with knowledge and like creating little mini-game riddles, Demons grant you power but at a cost, Dragons are impulsive, greedy, and generally burn you with fire, and Hydras are feral and grow.

Angels do a lot of things from a flavor and mechanical standpoint in the game, making their mechanical execution a little hard to pin down.

A triple faced card. Printing/collecting logistics aside, this captures the evolution of an Angel, to a degree. An Angel assigned to protect something, failing, trying to make it right, then finding a new purpose in her life. Out of each, this Form definitely needs the most work. I could make each of these a discreet type of form, and more closely tie it to the rest of the cycle in a few ways, but this execution best expressed my problems with Angel's identity in Magic.

As a last aside, I discussed this a little on Twitter yesterday, and a few Artisans had some suggested forms posted over there.


  1. I love trying to design "form of" cards, although it's pretty difficult. My analysis was that the main desirables are (a) 'feel like' that creature (b) be mechanically useful without ending the game (c) if possible hark back to the previous "form of" cards.

    That's quite difficult, because what's LIKE "creatures without flying can't attack you" and "deal 5 damage to any target" without just being the same thing?

    I haven't designed any I think are quite right, but some of the ones I've enjoyed include:

    Form of the Morphling 4UU
    {1}, put the top three cards from your library into your graveyard: gain 1 life.
    {1}, pay 1 life: Shuffle three cards from your graveyard into your library.
    {3}{u}: You gain hexproof until end of turn.

    Form of the Phoenix 3RR
    At the beginning of your beginning of combat step, Form of the Phoenix deals 4 damage to target opponent.
    If you would lose the game, you may instead pay {3}{r}{r}. If you do, your life total becomes 4, and exile all permanents you control until the beginning of your next end step.

    Form of the Phelddagrif 1GWU
    {g}: Counter target spell that targets you. Its controller draws a card.
    {w}: Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to you by target creature this turn. Its controller creates a 1/1 green hippo token.
    {u}: Target opponent gains 2 life and puts the top four cards of their library into their graveyard.

    Form of the Living Tome 4UU
    If you would be dealt damage, instead put twice that many cards from the top of your library into your graveyard.
    The first time you draw a card each turn, you may cast it without paying its mana cost. You can't cast other cards.

    And I never quite got the rules to work, but I liked the idea of Form of 100 Frogs :)

    1. Intentional that Form of the Phelddagrif can target your own (or a teammate's) spells or creatures?

  2. I like the riddle half of Form of the Sphinx, but not going to 5 and staying at 5. That feels very anti-Blue. That's something all previous forms have done, but I don't think it's something we need to hold onto too tightly. I think this would be a complete card with just the riddle clause, but I might up it to 2 cards in that case. Or perhaps draw cards and gain life (ala Sphinx's Revelation).

    Aesthetically, Form of the Hydra really should say "lose 2 life". I also think it would be cool if killing the heads was the only way to kill you. Would it be reasonable to have a clause on it like "prevent all damage that would be dealt to you"?

    The angel forms are... interesting. Logistics aside, a "TFC" is a cool concept, but I don't think this is a great execution. There's too much weird stuff going on here, and I think you'd need a VERY strong through-line to make a TFC work without being confusing. "My creature's an angel, then your creature's an angry angel, now I'm an angel" isn't a strong narrative.

    Flavorfully, Angels are pure manifestations of white mana. I'd like to do something with the core identity of White. Just tossing some ideas out:

    Angellic Form (M)
    At the beginning of your upkeep, gain 2 life.
    As long as you have at least 10 more life than your starting life total, whenever you tap a Plains for mana, add an additional {W}.
    As long as you have at least 20 more life than your starting life total, you gain protection from creatures without flying.


    An attempt at letting White borrow an ability for a Form (like Red borrowed Moat), and a new attempt at a Moat-like effect.

  3. Form of the Tortoise (M)
    You have hexproof.
    Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, put a shell counter on ~.
    When a source would deal damage to you, you may remove a shell counter from ~ and prevent that damage.

    Probably really a UW card.

  4. In one of the joke sets my friends & I created, we had

    Form of the Ornithopter
    At the beginning of each end step, your life total becomes 2.
    Creatures without flying can’t attack you.

    Form of the Form of the Dragon
    Creatures can't attack you.
    You are an enchantment. (You can be targeted by spells that target enchantments. If you would change zones, instead you lose the game.)

    1. Form of the Enchantment is adorable.

    2. If somebody casts "In Bolas's Clutches" on you, is it like a permanent Mindslaver? Though they still can't attack you.

  5. Form of the Wall (M)
    You have defender. (You may not declare attacks.)
    Whenever a creature would deal combat damage to you, prevent all but 1 point of that damage.