Saturday, May 12, 2018

CCDD 051218—Hymn to Rot

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/12/2018 - There are two problems that prevent Hymn to Tourach from being reprinted in new sets: The most egregious is that it can get lands and mana-screw players, which isn't fun; The other issue is that reliably nabbing two cards inherently costs 3+ mana.

Fall solves this by preventing land cards from being discarded, and since that reduces the expected card advantage closer to 1.3, it can get away with costing two. The chance of hitting just 1 or even 0 cards is unappealing for most players, though, so I propose another solution:

Hymn to Rot costs three like Mind Rot, but requires more black because the random selection is stronger than letting your opponent choose what to discard. It will only 'miss' when your opponent's hand is nearly all land.

Hymn to Rot may want to be {3}{B} or uncommon, especially since it also gives you information, but I'd want to test it here first. It could also be {1}{B}{R} but I associate red's chaos more with randomness that affects the caster than the target.


  1. Cool exercise!

    I think the first claim of the initial premise -- that Hymn wasn't fun because it led to mana screw -- isn't quite sound. Hymn isn't Stone Rain. The much bigger problem was that it led to lots of different kinds of games in which one player just wasn't able to play Magic. Mana screw was a problem, but so was mana flood, lack of threats, lack of answers, you name it. Any kind of un-fun game of Magic that exists, Hymn could create out of nowhere. (It's so un-fun that, in a small way, its unfun-ness actually becomes one of its virtues. Griefers love it and players love complaining about it.)

    Hymn to Rot strikes me as a card that specifically engineers one particular un-fun game state: one player is mana flooded. Cast in the early game, it badly defangs any midrange or control deck (which is most Magic decks) and leaves them with cards that don't do anything. And it's a two-for-one besides.

    This could be a cool effect as a one or two mana card that gets one nonland card at random. Getting two seems like a recipe for bad games.

    1. Sort of like a Fixed Thoughtseize, maybe?

      Randoseize B
      Sorcery (U)
      Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it at random. That player discards that card.

      Obviously it's best against an opponent who is mana flooded or almost hellbent except for one good card, but even cast on turn 1 you'll probably hit something reasonable, since players tend not to keep hands full of lands and bad cards.

    2. I'd certainly be interested in how that card plays. Personally I'd like it better without the Peek, because hidden information is fun and messing with that mystery screws with the suspense baked into the game. Something like:

      Target player randomly reveals the cards in their hand until they reveal a nonland card. That player discards that card. (They can't reveal the same card twice.)

      I'm not sure how much I like the wording, but I think the effect has some promise.

    3. I'd like to do as little random selection as possible since it's clunky to execute.
      I do like the single card version.

  2. I've thought about this before and came up with the following idea:

    Hymn to Two Rocks 1BB
    Sorcery (U)
    Target player reveals 2 cards at random from their hand, then discards those cards unless they discard two other cards from their hand.

    So, it's basically Hymn to Tourach but it avoids the feels-bad "please hit anything other than the ONE card I need" moments. If I get screwed by RNG, I'll just Mind Rot myself instead. However, if my best and worst card get revealed, I can't get rid of my worst card and still keep my best one. So the Mind Rot half of this is a little more punishing on the player discarding. It's almost a Rot or Fiction (which pile do you want?)

    Problem is that Mind Rot is a perfectly fine, simple, effective card. 1BB probably doesn't see play anywhere, while BB is probably too strong in non-Eternal formats. Hymn is one of my favorite cards, so it's fun to think about.

    1. Hey, this is cool! If someone has 4-7 cards in their hand, it adds a neat additional layer. I agree that it's not powerful enough to see constructed play, but I think at uncommon, it's a limited card I'd be excited to cast and see cast.

      Why not 2B? Strictly better Mind Rots have been fun to play with before; Heartless Pillage was one of the cards I really enjoyed casting in a fairly irritating Ixalan limited format.

    2. Given that this is uncommon (for awkwardness of play), it could almost be BB. It's not actually worse than Mind Rot, but it reads that way.
      I'd find this opponent-chooses model more compelling if the alternative got more cards. I choose one or you choose two. RNG chooses two or you choose three.

    3. Yeah, that's certainly an interesting option. As-is, it's probably almost always correct to choose two other cards to discard. If you upped it to choose 3, it'll most often be correct to take the 2 at random. I'm not sure if there's a way to make the decision more even.