Thursday, June 28, 2018

CCDD 062818 — Hype!

When Battlebond was first announced, I was actually expecting a mechanic we never got in the set: one to represent "style and flair", with "spells and spectacles" that "cause the crowd to go wild"! Since we didn't end up getting such a mechanic in the set, I've tried to design my own: hype!

Hype is a counter that the team, rather than any individual player, receives! While a team has hype, their hits are more impactful. In the arena of Valor's Reach, damage represents not just wounds and injury, but morale and the tide of victory. This additional damage, then, is the result of the crowd being more invested in your victory!
Of course, hype doesn't last forever. You can build up the crowd to a fever pitch, a nuclear heat, but you can only hype up a single turn of hits. Finding ways to maximize your damage each turn to make that extra 1 damage go as far as you can is what makes the mechanic exciting. Keywords and effects that discourage blocking are important.
In addition, hype is relatively powerful. For this reason, many cards that grant hype do so through opportunity costs, or actual resource costs, such as Free Agent. Whether it's too strong or not will take some playtesting!
Hype's short-lived nature lets players who enjoy sequencing optimize it, but it also has obvious uses with combat damage. For players looking for it, though, hype has a lot of depth. For example, should Colosseum Performer hit at the start of the turn, to build some hype for combat? Or should it sit back and wait, messing up combat math for the opponent? And if you started your turn with some hype already, that changes a lot!
Hype gets players looking for repeated damage in a turn. The above design reads a little less excitingly if it only gives unblocked creatures +2/+0 this turn... but when you realize how it works with cards like Hissing Iguanar and Volcanic Rambler, wow! And with damage instead of life loss in black now, we can also feature damage-shifted versions of cards like Blood-Toll HarpyGnawing Zombie, and Pulse Tracker. By having players re-evaluate incidental face burn like this, hype builds interest in players, by having them rethink their other cards.
When I originally designed hype, the counters only went on the person who received them, and only affected their creatures. I changed it to grant the counters and bonuses to the team. This has its pros and cons! The pros, of course, are that it emphasizes the team-based nature of the format, and it makes flavorful sense for hype to affect a team rather than an individual. On the other hand, I liked that when it only affected one teammate, the other could feel free to attack normally while their teammate built up the crowd's hype - this kept the game moving, rather than having a stop-and-start pace to it. In the end, I decided to go with it affecting the team. What do you all think?

Lastly, here are the rest of the hype cards I designed! I centered it in red and white, with a few black hype cards. I hope you enjoy!

Hype Overtime


  1. It's impossible to tell how fun and intuitive this is from looking without playing, which is partly a good sign for the mechanic. For now, I'll take your word that it's fun.

    Normally, counters cards generate need to have the text for those counters specified on the cards, but we've seen multiplayer products sidestep by saying "you become the monarch" and letting the rules define what that means and the monarch token act as an aid to that end. We could probably use that tech here and say "you gain hype" or so.

    1. Right, I was leveraging the fact this was a product similar to Conspiracy 2, and presuming it'd be okay to skirt that rule. That might require the mechanic to be present more throughout the set, though.

      I wanted to say "your team gets hyped" or something like that, but I decided to err relatively on the side of caution, given how far I'd gone into riskiness already. :P

      I am also not super sure whether these are fun or not. They are thought-provoking, at the very least.

  2. I'd be very excited to play this.

    Is there gameplay upside to the "1 additional damage" text rather than "your creatures get +1/+0?" It seems to me that 99% of the time the power boost would be a cleaner way of saying the same thing.

    1. I like testing broader and narrowing as needed. You're right that is probably better just giving a power boost.

    2. I suggested the same thing, and it is cleaner, but it is very different since +1/+0 has implications on blocking and Inanimate's original template does not.

      It could be "unblocked creatures you control get +1/+0," which doesn't seem THAT unsightly.

    3. Also an additional damage assists things like Grim Lavamancer.

  3. I'm salty that Spirited Underdog doesn't have flash for the extra drama.

    Theme Music
    When a creature enters the battlefield under your team's control, you may tap it. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on it and gain a hype counter.

    Battle Hymn
    Enchantment - Saga
    1, 2 - Your team gains a hype counter.
    3 - Until end of turn, creatures your team controls gain haste and trample.

    1. Battle Hymn was originally 1RW, but I didn't feel it justified the white. It has great white feel (if you hold back and husband your power before releasing it rather than going all out each turn like red would) but I didn't feel like any white keyword fit like haste and trample clearly do.

  4. Is it a problem that this mechanic doesn't really encourage incremental attacking, rather focusing on big, one shot attacks?

    Board stalls are already a problem in multiplayer and it feels like you're going to wind up with players just accumulating hype while holding back their creatures until they can actually threaten leathal.

    1. Right, and that's something I was aware of. I think it is a problem, for sure. It was the biggest upside to hype being unique to each player, rather than each team.

    2. Tied to this, I find it a little odd that you "lose" hype if you're actually successful in damaging your opponent.

    3. Kill two birds with one stone:

      If a creature you control would deal damage to an opponent while you have hype, it deals that much damage plus one instead.
      At the end of your turn, if no creatures you control dealt damage to an opponent, you lose hype.

    4. The benefit of hype is getting to put it on non-creature spells, but with Jay's solution you could wind up getting hype and losing it the same turn.

      I think a lot of this could be solved by Battle Cry, which serves a very similar space. I could certainly see battle cry return in a future Battle Born set.

    5. What if the counters simply had a may clause to use them? I guess this is harder to track but I think the discouraging small attacks problem is real.

      Hype counter
      Sacrifice this counter: Until end of turn, creatures you control deal an extra damage to opponents.

      While this is an exciting mechanic, it is pretty mathy. I don't think it would be fun in a two headed giant environment since combat math tends to be harder there already. It does look cool for regular magic though. I like that damage dealt to opponents will encourage them to block in different ways.