Thursday, July 26, 2018

CCDD 072618—some better wraths

Cool Card Design of the Day
Let's look at a few Wrath effects that are less disruptive to the game's story.
Divine Reckoning, Cataclysm/Cataclysmic Gearhulk, Barter in Blood,  and Pyroclasm are a few of the existing sweepers that mitigate the problem by affecting fewer permanents. Settle the Wreckage offers compensation (which is sometimes irrelevant, but often not).

Fertilize the Battlefield hits all creatures, but helps ensures we draw new ones to pick up the story sooner. The draw is proportional to the loss but at a reduced rate, because it's only fair that the player who lost 6 creatures gets more compensation than the one who lost none (and if it were 1:1 you'd only gain mana advantage). I like how the stepped nature of "every two" allows you to optimize the play when you can afford to.
Great Dawn helps keep things moving by giving each player a creature in play: the best they can find, proportional to their loss. That will usually be relatively small (0-3) in Standard, but in Limited or Multiplayer, it can be huge.
I don't love the certainty of Great Dawn, so this variation adds variance. Probably too much: It's possible I'll look at four cards and get no creatures but you'll top Blightsteel Colossus. I'd want to playtest it, but The Great Dawn should be reasonable often enough, and will tell a good story most of the time.
Smite the Monstrous meets, idk, Balance? Make Low works a lot like Tithe the Deity, where it allows us to keep one or more smaller creatures after the wrath.
Eat the Rich is just a variant of Make Low, more concerned with preserving mana investment.
And Rupture Soul is Rupture meets Soulblast, It's a one-sided Chain Reaction, but it requires you to sacrifice a creature and it's effectiveness is determined by that creature's power.

None of these completely or always solve the narrative-reset problem, but they are examples of a few ways to mitigate it.


  1. Make Low is Slaughter the Strong from RIX. :)

    1. I think Eat the Rich likely has fun gameplay and hope we see that one next.

    2. Haha, Slaughter the Strong was my thought after I read the first couple of ideas.

      I will say that I don't quite get the flavor of cards like Great Dawn. At least not in mono W.

    3. I would love to see a cheap Eat the Rich (in an auxiliary product, if necessary) as a way to deal with things like Emrakul in eternal formats, but I don't know that there's a cost that makes it safe.

    4. I could dig Eat the Rich for a Commander product. The problem (as with many of the cards presented here) is that tokens decks will come out disproportionately far ahead.

      4cmc is generally the cap for hardcasting cards in Legacy, so that seems like a fine place to start. Vanilla Wrath of God is just unplayable here - the format's too fast, and has several archetypes that don't care about playing creatures at all. The most commonly played sweeper is Terminus, which costs an absurdly low 1 mana at instant speed and gets to ignore death effects as an added bonus. I believe Supreme Verdict and Toxic Deluge also see a small amount of play.

    5. Great Dawn isn't mono-white, I agree.

  2. Great Dawn (cmc=) seens fun, but almost definitely not mono-white. 2GW seems reasonable, or this could be a catchy draw-to a shard for 1WUG or 1WRG.

  3. Would people play these? I feel these were designed with the thought "If a Wrath like card were to appear on the stack in the middle of an otherwise reasonable game of Magic, what sort of Wrath would we want it to be to disrupt the flow of the game as little as possible."

    Cards only appear on the stack after a player makes the conscious choice to put them in their deck (even in limited), and then only after they choose, based on the board state, to cast it.

    Most of the time, if I'm playing a Wrath, I have carefully crafted a game plan around it. Likely my plan is something like playing a big dumb blocker that forces my opponent to over-extend to get around it, while holding a serious threat or two in my hand, and then hitting the reset button right when my opponent is finally starting to break through my undercosted blocker.

    Why would I play a wrath that guaranteed my opponent got card advantage, or guaranteed they could recover quickly? The huge, huge cost of playing a Wrath is that usually my opponent is the first to hit the board, so even though I'm resetting things, I am immediately handing the role of the aggressor back to my opponent.

    Perhaps rather than refilling my opponent's hand, you should seek wraths that directly advance the board state of the person playing them, like Phyrexian Unlife?

    1. This is a good question to ask. Certainly, none of these would be as ubiquitous as Day of Judgment and that is indeed a goal.

      None of these cards grant card advantage to your opponent. Fertilize will be a 1:1 or a 2:2, at the most inefficient. The Great Dawns only fetch one card pp and turning 4 creatures into a single 4-drop is a huge loss even if they were all Memnites.

      Make Low and Eat the Rich are clearly cards you'd build around so they hit you less than the average deck.

      I disagree that your opponent being able to play creatures before you after Day of Judgment is a "huge huge cost" relative to the power of the card, but it is a significant factor, and you're right that Fertilize and Great Dawn exacerbate that.

      I'm very interested to see what a wrath would look like that follows the model of Phyrexian Unlife. Are we talking Martial Coup/Phyrexian Rebirth/March of Souls?

    2. Oh sorry, I meant Phyrexian Rebirth. I even literally looked up the cardname in Scryfall to make sure I didn't say the wrong one, and then said the wrong one anyway!