Monday, June 11, 2018

CCDD 061118 - Characteristic Anthems

Back before the GDS Bullet Train left the station, I had started an exploration of Form of enchantments exploring what they might look like separated from Red's history with the template. While working on that, I gave a lot of thought to both the Iconic and Characteristic races in Magic, and how they are captured mechanically.

The characteristic races don't really lend themselves to Forms, but I thought it might be nice to do tribal anthems for them.

Elvish was the first and most obvious. I prefer that we start phasing out "upkeep" from rules text, so I templated these accordingly. I wanted a standard +1/+1 lord effect for the tribe, and then a tribe-related bonus for the the second effect. I could have just had this fetch a forest, but it would have made the symmetry across the cycle a lot trickier, and made it feel less like a Llanowar Elf.

Next up were Merfolk. Anthem effects on a card that encourages milling is not always ideal, but by linking the mill to toughness I think it's a little more justified.

I get the feeling that this isn't entirely red. Panic effects are, without a doubt, but without any sort of payment after this lands on the board. Other permanents that have done this typically don't just automatically shut down the best blocker for the rest of the game. More likely that particular line of text belongs in Boros or Izzet. Either way, I'm much less sure about this contribution to the cycle.

Vampires gonna drain you.

Say what you will about Iconics, but they are pretty much locked in at one per color. I couldn't not make a Zombie anthem while I was here. This one needed a lot of fine tuning to keep Zombie tokens at their normal 2/2 selves, but I'm pretty happy with it.

As much as Angels lack a coherent mechanical identity in Magic, White's characteristic race is entirely fluid, depending on set. In hindsight, I think I should have either played up committing to a tribe in the second ability, or committing to diversity in tribes, rather than go the life gain route.

All in all, I'm happy with this cycle. There definitely needs to be at least one more pass on it, but these cards are good starts for what I would want it to look like,


  1. There's some really neat stuff happening here.
    I don't think Communal Anthem fits the cycle at all. I'd rather just choose a tribe: Soldiers, Humans, Cats. If the first five are popular, we can keep making non-creature lords.

  2. My favorites of these are the Elvish and Vampire Anthems. I like the clean executions that really follow through with the tribe's game plans.

    The Zombie anthem exiling my whole graveyard, whether I want it to or not, is disappointing to me. There are tons of Zombie recursion cards I don't get to use if I'm playing this card.

    1. Fair point about running counter to what zombies do. Maybe "all non-zombie creatures in your GY"? It gets pretty bonkers if it doesn't clear it all out at once for a single 3/3 token.

    2. I agree with this. Also, the cost feels prohibitive for an uncommon. Maybe bump it to 5 cmc (3BB) and just have it as a may ability that can get rid of one of your creature cards from you gy to make the zombie?

  3. I’m lukewarm on these. I’m concerned that these being so much less interactive than Lords is going to make them oppressive in Limited, or force them to be very unappealingly costed (or pushed to Rare, maybe?)

    1. A potential idea:

      Communal Lordship
      Enchantment - Aura - Uncommon
      Enchant creature
      Creatures you control that share a creature type with enchanted creature get +1/+1.

      Sort of a reverse Alpha Status.

  4. The merfolk one seems weird, but I'd say it's more of a merfolk issue than you.

    Despite being the iconic species for blue, the slippery fellas are hard to pin down ... heh. If you were to try to pin down what merfolks did, it would essentially be anything that fits in the blue pie, tied to a body. Sometimes it's an ETB effect. Sometimes it's triggered. Sometimes its passive. If you start looking through the list of merfolk creatures, I swear you can find one tuned to anything that fits into blue.

    That's why it annoys me that they've killed off cephalids. Cephalids kind of spoke to the darker, more manipulative and predatory part of blue. You could see cephalids pushing you toward the Grixis side of things and push merfolk toward the Bant side.

    1. From looking closely though, I'd say the most commonly recurring theme (especially thanks to Ixalan) for merfolk is unblockability. That could put you at odds with your goblin anthem.

    2. How about "target land becomes an island until your next turn"?

    3. It could even enchant a land, but I think players might get confused that the aura that goes on an opponent's land still buffs their creatures.

  5. Song of the Inscrutable Depths
    Merfolk creatures you control gain +1/+1
    Merfolk Crescendo - As long as you control three or more Merfolk creatures, Merfolk you control gain hexproof from instants and sorceries.

    Does this fit the idea? It's carrying the musical theme from "anthem" and combines what this card wants to do (go wide) with a reward that feels flavorful (more choristers == louder, thus more effects). That's the hope, anyway.

    Scratchthroat Clan's Terror Chant
    Orc creatures you control gain +1/+1
    Orc Crescendo - If you control three or more orcs, then at the beginning of combat on your turn, target creature can't block until end of turn.

    On your cards, the combination of passive and triggered abilities felt uneasy. (I don't think that's often done on enchantments, but I could be wrong.) I try to justify the combo a bit more by making the triggered ability conditional, and again hopefully throwing in some flavor. Because if there aren't enough orcs to chant, then you don't get to scare anybody, right?

    Dirge of the Damned
    Zombie creatures you control gain +1/+1.
    Zombie Crescendo - Sacrifice ~: Zombie creatures you control gain indestructible until end of turn. Activate this ability only if you control three or more zombies.

    Just exploring the space, again with flavor in mind. Crescendo doesn't always mean the end of a song, but it feels like a good word to tie a sacrifice mechanic to.

    Specific anthems for tribes is a fantastic idea! But it's totally a case where I would want to design top down - each of these cards must sing us the song of its people.

  6. The white charactertic is Human now, they just bit the bullet on that, also the panic a turn is fine in red, its not really like a lockdown becasue it still allows attacks.

    I dislike the mill theme for merfolks, has nothing to do with the classic merfolk gameplan. I think unblockabilty is a good way to go for it.

    I also feel upkeep trigger should be purged and the saga "after your draw step" terminology is my go to. Its shorter, uses less complicates wording and also has teh draw itself as a natural memory aid and natural "my turn starts now" trigger. Yugioh has a standby phase for similar reasons.