Wednesday, June 27, 2018

CCDD 062718 - Circle Logic

For this past weekend's challenge, Jay Treat randomly ended up redesigning Circle of Protection: White. The idea of a circle of protection is a very resonant fantasy trope, but in Magic it has been saddled with some poor early choices in its history: Making a 5-card cycle out of it, making it overly strong as a hate card, and carrying a tremendous amount of complexity (plus a history of terrible art).

They've tried to address some of these problems, and have even started expanding protective circles into different colors, like with Planar Chaos's CoP riff Circle of Affliction or with Core Set's Circle of Flame.

I think Circle of Flame is the best iteration of the idea so far, although I'm not the biggest fan of things being able to fly over it.

Circles can be more than simply defensive measures, though. A classic trope is a summoning circle, something to call forth a demon or something else unpleasant.

A little wordy, but a fun top down design, I think. I'm not married to mana costs or rarities on these, but I started crafting them as a tight uncommon 2-mana cycle.

That's my least favorite type of blue card, but there's definitely an audience for it. It should probably be rare. It might also be two different cards.

That's definitely two separate cards, but the wordplay really spoke to me.

My last one was to try to create the definitive circle of protection (with apologies to Story Circle). This was the first shot. Then I realized that this was much cleaner.

Something is wrong with my designer brain where I can never design a single white card for a cycle. I always have too many different design directions pulling my focus.

An early version of this had an activated ability to add more counters, but there was too much text already.

Finally, I ended up here. A very powerful protective circle, but it's fragile. If you don't maintain its protection, you lose it.


  1. Circle of Life is fantastic, not two cards at all. Circle of Protection 3's activated ability probably ought to cost more than 1. (3?) Meditation Circle's two abilities ought to interrelate a little more, like:

    "At the end of each turn, every player who didn't cast a spell or activate an ability may scry 1. If you didn't cast a spell or activate an ability, you may scry 2 instead.

    At the beginning of your draw step, draw a card."

    Or maybe flip those, so everybody can draw if they did nothing but you get to scry for free in your upkeep, or something. I really like the group-hugginess and how you can push aggro players to reconsider their options and maybe join the circle, and would like to further develop the card that way so it reads more like that. Fun idea!

    Here's my own take on CoP (check the phrasing, please! The idea should be clear but I'm not great at the language of Magic):

    Sphere of Denial
    2: The next time you would take damage from a source, prevent it. If you do, put the top X cards from your library into your graveyard, where X is equal to the amount of damage prevented this way.

    Get it? Denial is a type of insanity.

  2. Circle of Life could be a strong rare, but yeah, that looks like two cards to me. I'd feel the flavor more if death begot life (which it does) and life begot death (but rn life begets life).

    Meditation Circle could be "at each end step, if no spells were cast, scry 1."

    I like the tension of CoP3. That feels like a circle.

  3. I like summoning circle, it seems really evocative, and useful yet not OP.

    I like both CoP and CircWall, although you need to make sure they're not too stall-y.

  4. Circwall made me think of:

    Circwall of Protection: Red
    Creature - Wall - Common
    1: Prevent all damage that would be dealt to ~ by a red source this turn.

    1. Circwall of Protection: Red
      Creature - Wall - Common
      {R}: Prevent all damage that would be dealt to ~ by a red source this turn.

    2. Neat, although the more I think about it, the more I suspect either way we implement it, a cycle of 5 Walls would slow a limited format down too much.

      Story Circwall
      Creature - Wall - Common
      When ~ ETBs, choose a color.
      W: Prevent all damage that would be dealt to ~ by a source of the chosen color this turn.

  5. Basalt Stone Circle 1W
    Creature - Wall (c)
    T: All damage that would be dealt by red creatures this turn is dealt to CARDNAME instead. Activate this only before attackers have been declared.

    Hard to split the uprights of "don't swingily hate specific decks" and "be a playable card and also show the enemy relationship between colors".