Friday, August 17, 2018

Weekend Design Challenge 081718 — Over the Counter

Golden Guardian by Svetlin Velinov
Click through to see the requirements for your design challenge, due by Monday morning. Every submission warrants feedback, which you may use to revise your submission any number of times. I encourage you all to revise your designs at least once in response to feedback. I will review the most recent submission from each designer, or whichever submission you specify you wish to have reviewed.

Design a common card featuring a new kind of counter, from a set where this new counter will be used instead of +1/+1 or -1/-1 counters.

I look forward to your entries! Have a great weekend!


  1. Oh, hey, I wrote a blog post about this way back when.

    I also remember really liking the "Aegis counters" idea from the Hearthstone challenge a few weeks back.

    Let's stick with something super-simple for this challenge, though.

    Above Average Bear 1G
    Creature- Bear
    Highlight (This creature enters with a star counter on it. Remove a star counter from this creature: highlight it.)
    When you highlight CARDNAME, it gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

    This runs into the big gameplay issue of being an on-board trick. Challenge for other entries: Aim for counters that *don't* have this problem.

    1. Yeah! I was considering a mechanic like this before I got to Limit Break - one-shot effects are a great space for such a counter.

      The fact this signals with a counter is a nice way to reduce the problematic nature of it being an on-board trick. Another possible solution is to build the timing into the keyword.

      I will note, the #1 piece of feedback I got when shopping my mechanic around to people was 'Why isn't this energy'? :P

  2. Order of the Shield
    Creature - Human Knight
    Shield 1 (This creature enters the battlefield with a shield counter in it. If it would be destroyed and it has a shield counter on it, remove all do damage from it and remove a shield counter.)

    Something between persist and undying.

    1. Is it possible to just allow for the shield to give indestructible until end of turn.

    2. Shield 1 (This creature enters the battlefield with a shield counter on it. If it would be destroyed and it has a shield counter on it, instead remove all damage and a shield counter from it.)


      Shield 1 (This creature enters the battlefield with a shield counter on it. If it would be destroyed and it has a shield counter on it, instead remove a shield counter from it and it becomes indestructible until end of turn.)

      There's nothing exactly like that so it's difficult to template. =)
      Can we submit multiple different entries for this challenge?

    3. (This creature enters the battlefield with a shield counter. If it would be destroyed, remove a shield counter from it. If you do, it gains indestructible until end of turn.) ?

      Generally, while you can submit multiple cards, the most recent one is the one to be judged. This way, you can iterate, but it lets you focus on submitting your best idea (or, the idea you most want feedback on.)

    4. I think this is best compared to a 'fixed regenerate', right? The problem is, while this mechanic is fine and functional, it isn't a mechanic that gives designers a compelling reason to not use +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters for a set. The hidden challenge of this weekend is that whatever mechanic you pick has to be good enough that we go, "Yeah, this is so cool, we'd rather use this instead of +1/+1 counters." I'm not sure this reaches that bar.

      In a world where we could use other counters alongside +1/+1 or -1/-1 counters with ease, this might have its place. But it doesn't justify itself in comparison to those, so it wouldn't be able to lead a set.

    5. Shield (This creature enters the battlefield with a shield counter. Remove a shield counter from ~: It gains indestructible until end of turn.)

  3. Lurking Chameleosaur
    Creature - Dinosaur
    Evolutionary (This creature enters the battlefield with a Trait counter on it).
    As long as ~ has a trait counter on it, it has hexproof.
    2: Remove a trait counter from ~. Any player may activate this ability.

    Different creatures could have different traits which can be removed with mana. Probably always the same amount of mana to remove (at least at common) to keep complexity down. An alternative wording/format:

    Inherited Hexproof (This card enters the battlefield with a Trait counter on it. As long as ~ has a trait counter on it, it has hexproof.)
    2: Remove a trait counter from ~. Any player may activate this ability.

    If we want to keep it color specific at common, Green gets Hexproof, Blue gets Flying, Red gets Menace, Black gets Lifelink, White gets First Strike.

    1. It feels like Evolutionary is the opposite of what this does. If it was called Devolve or Regress as you lose it if someone pays the cost fits better.

    2. To be frankly honest, Sage, this doesn't excite me... when I see 'evolutionary', I expect my creatures to be gaining new and exciting abilities, not losing evergreen keywords when my opponent feels like it.

      For the opponent, this is a Rhystic-style tax.

      For the player playing these, it's a gamble that your opponent won't have {2} to spare on some turn, or that they won't care about the keyword. If they don't have mana to spare, it's likely because they're struggling, so you're already winning. If they don't care about the keyword, then it's not doing much, so it's not that exciting for you either.

      I think you're onto an interesting idea here, with 'trait counters' that are associated with evergreen keywords of a color that you want to grant to creatures. But this isn't the right execution, I think.

    3. This is reminiscent of the Rhystic mechanic, which is not a good place to be. It is way more fun for your creatures to gain abilities than lose them. Perhaps you want to reverse it, so that you can give it the trait?

      Originally I thought this was going to be a way of implementing "~ ETBs with your choice of Hexproof or Trample."

    4. Right. I'd love to see the idea of adaptation being used positively and excitingly rather than as a sad loss to the player. Trait counters representing keywords has been explored by designers before, and I think it's interesting space. The key is finding a solid suite of keywords that are 1.) applicable to multiple colors 2.) roughly equivalent to each other and 3.) have the most variable uses. That way you can get a lot of design space and meaningful choice.

    5. Yeah, I see all of your critiques for sure. This idea started as simply a way to give pseudo-Hexproof, but that certainly wasn't enough of a concept to validating taking up the entire counter slot for a set. It's also sort of just a roundabout way of saying "Opponents' spells that target ~ cost 2 more to cast". Attempting to move this into more colors and more uses probably wasn't a great idea and this didn't end up in a great or fun design space.

      The name was also just filler and really didn't fit the concept. I struggled to think of what this sort of ability would be flavorfully, which is really just another strike against it.

      Thanks for the insightful comments!

    6. I think this is a fairly difficult challenge (at least for me) because counters have never really resonated with me flavorfully. Outside of +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters (and charge counters I guess), most counters feel like little more than placeholders meant to aid in memory issues. For example, there's nothing resonant to me about Aim counters (Haphazard Bombardment) or Unity counters (Call for Unity).

      Brick counters were OK, but there's no way they could replace the standard counters in a set. There are some one-off counters that make sense like Phylactery Lich and Tetzimoc, but again they're not replacing all the counters in a set.

      Some of these Aegis counters are interesting, but part of the beauty of Persist and Undying is how well they work with pre-established game mechanics. They also don't force you to forgo other counters, which is a big deal considering that there can't be that many creatures with persist/undying style abilities.

  4. I too was inspired to make Shield counters, though I took Eternal's Aegis as inspiration.

    Worldsoul Defender
    Creature - Cat Knight
    ~ enters the battlefield with a Shield counter.
    (Whenever a creature with a shield counter on it would be dealt damage from a source an opponent controls, prevent that damage and remove a shield counter. Whenever a creature with a shield counter on it becomes the target of a spell an opponent controls, counter the spell and remove a shield counter.)

    [There are a whole bunch of knobs this could have, like whether it can protect your creature from your own stuff or just your opponent's. ...or if this would even fit on a card. I'm not sold on it protecting from two different kinds of things, but that's something I'd have a keen eye on during playtesting.]

    [...the more I think about this, the more I like the following better.]

    Worldsoul Defender
    Creature - Cat Soldier
    ~ enters the battlefield with a shield counter. (Whenever a creature with a shield counter on it would be dealt damage, prevent that damage and remove all shield counters from it.)


    1. The latter is a lot more like Divine Shield from Hearthstone, actually. My question is, can this mechanic support an entire set? A subtle, but important, restriction in this challenge is the note that it is replacing +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters. Looking to Dominaria, for example, we see 17 cards using +1/+1 counters. In Amonkhet, we see 27 cards using -1/-1 counters! Can you imagine this mechanic covering that many cards? To be honest, I can't.

      +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters can appear a lot because they affect such a vital and simple part of the game that it gives them broad, sweeping utility. For a mechanic to justify replacing +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters doesn't mean it has to be as good as +1/+1 or -1/-1 counters, but it does have to show it can be used broadly and interestingly enough in a set to justify sidelining them for a bit. I don't think this mechanic does. It's too one-note to me, I think.

  5. So I've been sort of trying to brainstorm a Rakdos mechanic revolving around "rioting" -- kind of a way of mechanically representing destruction within a play pattern that's actually creature aggro and not R/B spell focused. But also ... balanced? I may be asking too much here.

    But anyway.

    Frantic Vandal
    Creature - Human Rogue
    Frantic Vandal enters the battlefield with a Riot counter.
    Remove 3 Riot counters from permanents you control, Sacrifice Frantic Vandal: Frantic Vandal deals 3 damage to any target.

    What's not clear from this singular card is that the Riot activation is the same on every creature on which it appears. So you always have to have to spend three riot counters and sac a creature to activate it. So that will hopefully avoid too much complexity. The balancing act here will be how easy it would be to get Riot counters and whether there will be different ways.

    1. Oh, and it will always deal three damage.

    2. I really like the concept. Would other cards have different abilities that trigger off of riot. The only thing that I am hung up on is three counters is a lot. That being said I would love this type of mechanic it fits my play style for standard.

    3. I think there's great flavor here, but I'm not sure this feels as 'chaotic' as starting a riot... and I also feel like this mechanic asks a lot from me to find ways to get more riot counters. In Limited, if most riot cards just come with a single counter, it's going to be hard to put this together.

      It'd be nice if this had a repeatable counter, so it can cause chaos and a riot on its own with enough effort, or with the help of fellow Rakdos friends, the riot comes together a lot easier.

    4. I'd be wary about letting a single common creature regain Riot counters, but it could certainly be something for an uncommon signpost R/B creature and definitely multiple counters and counter creation at rare. There could be enchantments at uncommon or rare that could trigger creatures gaining riot counters.

      It would take testing, but I suspect in a limited environment it would be pretty dangerous to let common creatures independently gain these counters, because then it would be easier to mix it with removal spells by drafting fewer creatures, and that's what I'm trying to avoid here.

    5. Hmm ... thinking a little more and retemplating. (Gym is really great for me to hammer out ideas)

      Frantic Vandal - Common
      Creature - Human Rogue
      When Frantic Vandal enters the battlefield or attacks, put a Riot counter on it. (Whenever a creature with 3 or more Riot counters dies, it's controller may have it deal 3 damage to any target)

      So, repeatable ways of getting counters, but an acceptable version of it for common (as in, not activatable or easily broken). But it also requires a death trigger (They killed Kenny! Riot!) to emphasize the reckless nature of it all.

    6. Oh, I didn't cost the haste. Make the casting cost RR2.

  6. Elf Scavenger 2G
    Creature - Elf Druid
    [Card Name] enters the battlefield with Forage Counter on it.
    Remove a Forage token from a permanent you control to add 2 mana of any one color of a land your control could produce.

    1. 1/2

      This is my second submission. I feel like this might be more than a common due to the 2 mana but thought that the restriction of lands you already control would limit it as it ramps but doesn't fix. Forage Counters could be a larger mechanic in a set.

    2. My first thought when seeing this is: "Why isn't this energy?" The only meaningful differences I can see are that 1.) cards can care about which permanent lost a forage counter and 2.) if a card is destroyed with its forage counter, it's very sad. But #2 isn't fun, and #1 is not a lot of design space.

    3. I like the idea of these creatures each having some 'foraged materials' that they can share among themselves, but I'd try to get this further away from comparisons to energy, perhaps by highlighting what makes it unique.

  7. This is a texty mechanic, a bit like wither-detain, and it leans Melvin, but I think there's a neat flavor to it.

    Dreamstrike (This deals damage to creatures in the form of dream counters. Whenever a creature would untap, its controller removes a dream counter from it instead.)

    Daydream N (This creature enters the battlefield with N dream counters on it. Whenever a creature would untap, its controller removes a dream counter from it instead.)

    Torpor Moloch R
    Creature - Lizard (c)
    When ~ blocks a creature, they both gain dreamstrike until end of turn.
    Remove a dream counter from ~: It loses defender until end of turn.

    1. I'm going to run through my thinking on this mechanic.

      'Freezing' a creature for a turn is already quite nice. Freezing a creature for more than one turn, even better. The average game of Limited is about 8-12 turns if I remember correctly (depending on the format), and it's already turn 3 or so by the time these 'dreams' go online, I'm guessing. So if this freezes for 3 turns, that's between 1/3 and 2/3 of the rest of the game. Wow! It's pretty close to killing a creature (if it doesn't have any relevant abilities outside of combat which don't require tapping) so it's essentially killing a creature for a while. That's strong! I'd hesitate to put such an ability on 3 power, even, and I'd definitely worry about printing it in large quantities. It's not quite deathtouch, but it's close, I think.

      Let's go into more detail on this. Say you block a 2-drop attacking on turn 3. It's going to unfreeze on turn 7. It's not likely to be relevant then. It might be, but probably not. So either the format makes 2-drops matter on turn 7 consistently, or this isn't at its best against a 2-drop, right?

      Where these cards are going to be at their most interesting, I think, is when they are capable of freezing something above their weight-class, just like deathtouch. So most of them are going to want to be small, very small - and again, we don't want a lot of them in the set, just like deathtouch.

    2. Daydream is very similar to a mechanic that Ixalan had for its dinosaurs: "call". I'll quote from Just for Ix(alan), Part 2:

      "The most interesting fail for the Dinosaurs was a mechanic called "call." A Dinosaur with call was usually a bigger Dinosaur, but one with a very cheap mana cost. The catch was that if you had call, you couldn't attack or block until you paid a one-time activation cost. [...] Call was greatly disliked though because it was mostly a feel-bad. You have this big, exciting Dinosaur (good!) that you could play cheaply (good!) and then you couldn't use it for many, many turns (bad!). Players wanted an exciting Dinosaur mechanic, not something that felt like downside."

      That sounds very, very similar to Daydream. Your mechanic does have two advantages that Call didn't, though: one, you don't have to spend a turn later 'recasting' it; and two, you can attack with it, or tap with it, once. You get the fun of getting a 'sneak peek' of a creature that could normally one be cast later. That's really cool! It might be enough to make it so you don't need to make it optional. (I'm not sure it is, but it might be!)

      However, the problem with both mechanics is that you don't get a choice on whether you want the creature early and wait, or you want to cast it without waiting. I think giving players that choice, like Suspend, shows them the significant discount they can get, but makes drawing it late not a complete disaster.

      However, you then introduce the "Evoke problem", where if a mechanic offers a discount under conditions, many players won't notice the discount, focusing instead on the other text and the 'actual' mana cost. Finding a way to draw attention to the discount - putting it first in the textbox, for example, or giving Daydreaming cards unique frame treatments - could help.

      Daydream is the most promising of the two mechanics here, so I'm surprised it's not the one you lead with. I'd like to see more iteration on daydream for sure, see where it leads.

      I also think dream counters having the meaning of 'replaces an untap' is a solid space for a set. It can replicate all the fun of exert, for example, which was a mechanic that played well.

      I look forward to seeing where this leads!

    3. Textier still, but:

      Dreamstrike (This deals damage to creatures in the form of dream counters. Creatures with dream counters on them don't untap. Anyone can pay {1} to remove a dream counter.)

    4. Can't say enough how much I appreciate this feedback!

      I've been fiddling with "dreaming" mechanics as a way to represent Lorwyn's unique dream-flavor - Elementals (or Giants!) entering the battlefield more like Enchantments, sleeping with their static abilities affecting the board until they awaken and can actually attack. That worked well for Theros' Gods, but stretching it to lower rarity requires some flexibility. Dreamstrike, on the other hand, can represent tricksy things like traps and Fae thought-stealers, but can also generally represent a less-lethal spin on creature combat.

      Both, sadly, lean even further into "clog comprehension with overlapping effects from permanents on the board" problems that Lorwyn already had, but - that's why it's a work in progress. Also at the last second I switched this card to a Lizard because I love Torpid Moloch.

  8. Grab your Pitchforks
    Sorcery- Uncommon
    Put a Settlement counter on a land you control without a Settlement counter. Then, deal X damage divided as you choose among any number of targets, where X is the number of Settlement counters among lands you control.

    A way to track how many spells with the mechanic you've cast with a ceiling (as many lands as you control), which lets us push the effects to make them exciting without worrying too much about looping them getting way out of control.

    Bonus member of a cycle:

    Settled Forest
    Land - Forest - Uncommon
    ~ enters the battlefield tapped with a Settlement counter on it.

    1. Ha, fun! This is a lot like 'develop', which you might remember was the end result of Jay and Chah iterating on your City mechanic! Major difference being that developed 'Cities' counted as nonbasics and were capable of tapping for any color of mana.

      Putting counters on lands is tricky. The problem is that when you tap the land, a penny (or whatever) sitting on a land is pretty fiddly and delicate. Of course, not marking the land is also problematic...

      I think this mechanic is definitely intriguing in that it's a lot like the hypothetical 'experience' mechanic but more interesting in that it's bounded by your lands as well. I'd playtest this for sure.

    2. Another thing I'll note: While this is a cool new kind of counter, it isn't the kind that would be used 'instead of' +1/+1 or -1/-1 counters. It could coexist alongside them with ease, couldn't it?

    3. It *could*, although I suspect a set with counters at this volume on lands would want to not have major amounts of other counters so there are fewer things that players are responsible for keeping track of.

      I had totally forgotten about Cities/develop!!!

  9. The Protective Angel 1W
    Hope 1(CARDNAME enters the battlefield with 1 hope counter)
    1G, remove a hope control:prevent all combat damage that will be dealt this turn.
    Not sure if it will always be fog.

    1. If it would always be fog, would it not be a part of the keyword?

      A keyword that represents a 1-shot fog across multiple creatures is going to lead to slower games, unfortunately. I'd hesitate to do that. And if this is essentially a representation of 'limited ammo', that works, but I'd like to see more to it!

    2. Yeah I was thinking it would be different protection effects. Lifegain, fog, and maybe temporary hexproof, so green and white, maybe tertiary in blue.

    3. I want to broaden this out to a spell counter (czall it 'chant,' whatever) that works like Eternal's ultimate: Your creature is holding a spell card you can cast once. That's solid.

  10. Persistent Shrieker 1U
    Creature - Human Advisor (C)
    T: Target player puts the top card of their library into their graveyard.
    Spiritform (When this creature dies, if it had no spirit counters, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a spirit counter. Creatures with spirit counters can't attack or block.)

    A slightly different take on persist/undying.

    1. I had an idea like that that was nearly the reverse of what you represent here to represent stealth. It comes in with a counter that keeps it from attacking or blocking, but has other abilities. The counter can then be removed to let it attack.

      I like this version too.

    2. Your version also sounds pretty interesting. I guess the difference would be that yours has more tension between attacking/using abilities, whereas mine is pure upside.

    3. It feels like it's coming back in enchantment form, and I just want it to do that.

    4. A couple reasons why I would be against that:

      - Making it come back in enchantment form is much harder to deal with, since control decks would need to be able to handle both enchantments and creatures. (Imagine wrathing 2-3 creatures with spiritform away, just to be stuck with that many enchantments) At least the way it is, all the creature removal is always live.

      - It's also potentially wordier and more confusing to bring back as an enchantment. I could see it being done as a double-faced card, but you might not want to have to do that.

  11. Great-Oak Guardian
    Creature - Treefolk
    Reach, nonlethal (This creature deals damage in the form of subdual counters. Whenever a creature has any combination of both damage and subdual counters that is equal to or greater than its toughness, tap that creature and it doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step.)

    It's probably too many counters to deal with overall.

    1. It also can’t be written as a “whenever” trigger, or else it’ll just trigger infinite times. I think this one would be really tricky to implement in the rules.

      What is your expectation when a creature is “full” of subdual counters - that it stays tapped forever, or only taps for two turns if it is dealt one or more damage? As written I think it does the former, but the former seems like it’s generally not all that different than killing the creature outright except for needing to keep it on the battlefield, which muddies the gamestate.

      I really think there’s a place for the concept of “knocking something out” instead of killing it! I’d iterate on this a bunch (even removing the counters aspect, which doesn’t seem to be working) because I think the underlying idea has loads of promise: it’s just this execution that has some issues.

  12. This is a tough challenge. In my opinion it's quite hard to find a mechanic that absolutely can't or shouldn't be done with +1/+1 counters (I love them so). I really like the remove a counter for a defensive effect abilities for example, but I think they are more interesting with +1/+1 counters rather than other counters, besides offering backwards compatibility.

    Absorb is a mechanic that I think seems really simple and super natural, but due to how magic works it gets out of hand when it easily goes over 1. But if there was an absorb that you had to build up?

    Baihir's Sunbringer {2}{W}
    Creature - Hound Cleric (C)
    When ~ enters the battlefield, choose a creature you control with the lowest toughness or tied for lowest toughness. Put an armor counter on that creature. (If a source would deal damage to a creature with an armor counter, prevent 1 of that damage for each armor counter on that creature.)

    It's easier to track the damage with counters rather than having to directly read the ability and it just stands out more on the board in general, and this definitely probably can't co-exist with +1/+1 or -1/-1 counters. You can also interest with this more than absorb in general with counter manipulation. It also kind of helps with combat, similar to the standard counters, which may help fill in the void without them in a set.

    1. This seems like a solid angle. I can't imagine wanting to allow more than one or so on a given creature, though. Maybe these should be ablative? (Remove an armor counter from ~: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to ~.)

    2. I was thinking this most limited formats don't generally involve getting creatures with multiple +1/+1 counters on them, because generally its multiple card investments to do so, which is why I felt this probably works better than the absorb mechanic itself-- generally you have to actually try and add multiple counters, so perhaps the payoff of getting a creature that hard to deal with is worth it. But I could be totally underestimating it.

  13. Let's see. If we're supporting a whole set, I think we want a counter which is useful as broadly as possible. I think that's something like charge counters, something used as a resource. That's one of the most common types still used occasionally even alongside +1/+1 counters.

    But I think it'd benefit from a specific flavour which is tied to the set.

    The most natural idea which occurred to me is 'blight counters' used to represent phyrexia.

    The simplest example is like charge counters for a one-time ability (although for consistency with the later examples, it counts up not down), e.g.

    Blightsight Mage
    {T}: If CARDNAME has fewer than 1 blight counter on it, put a blight counter on it, and scry 2.

    You may want to have keyword or even a symbol for the "put a blight counter on, up to a maximum of N" (then you could use it as a cost, in place of {T} and also reference it from other cards).

    But the reason I like this is because there's a reasonable amount of related mechanics which could be used at higher rarities or in a follow-up set, e.g:

    * Abilities with 2 or 3 acitvations, not just one
    * A cost to activate the ability, but an effect that becomes "permanently on" once you get the counter (like echo or monstrosity)
    * Ditto, but over several activations like level up
    * Cards that care about number of creatures with blight counters (or number of blight counters)
    * A separate meaning for putting blight counters on cards that don't have a natural blight ability, e.g. an ability that puts a counter on an opposing creature, and says that 'blighted creatures' (i.e. those with a counter not from themself) can't block, or some other negative effect. Or that could be a positive to your own creatures, but the set would have to choose one or the other.

    Hm. In fact, maybe that could be streamlined into one ability, of putting a blight counter on a creature, maybe on ETB, and the abilities trigger off a counter being places, so you can mix-and-match abilities between multiple creatures with blight counters. But I'm not sure if that would work with multiple activations. Maybe I needed to go back to removing counters as a cost? But that works less well with counting the number of blighted creatures.

    1. I like this. I think the musing at the end of your post is a bunch of great “yes, and...!” thinking, which generally signals when you have a winner of an idea. I think making a bunch of the versions of what you described and playtesting then all to see which ones are the most fun is the logical next step.

      My gut sense is that the ones that feel least like downsides and most like upsides will be received the best, which might warrant changing this into a proactive mechanic. (“Put a blight counter on target creature. Abilities of creatures with blight counters can’t be activated or triggered.” perhaps?) Then, a natural next step would be to have a couple creatures that blight themselves (perhaps one cycle) as long as their abilities are strong enough to give obvious upside to balance the downside out.

    2. Thank you.

      Thinking more, I think the "When ETB, place a blight counter on a creature. When a blight counter is placed on this, blah" mechanic is great, one I've designed similar ones to before, but too similar to energy.

      So my original design might be best. But it could probably be re-templated as

      Blightsight Mage (2)
      {T}: If CARDNAME has fewer than 1 blight counter on it, put a blight counter on it.
      When you put a blight counter on CARDNAME, scry 2.

      That way, the "limited number of activations" cards and the "level up" cards have the same template, which might also be templated as "{T}: Blight 1" or "{T}: Blight up to 1", or with some funky level up frame.

      Except maybe "when you put a blight counter on" cards should be uncommon, and level up cards should be common. Activations are usually more complicated.

      In both cases, more counters are better, so you could have a rare card or two that cares about the total number of counters.

  14. Last one, I swear. The hard part about this challenge is focusing on something that can be used "instead of of +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters".

    Put an embiggen counter on target creature. For as long as that creature has one or more embiggen counters on it, its power and toughness are doubled.

  15. Diminish
    Put an diminish counter on target creature. For as long as that creature has one or more diminish counters on it, its power and toughness are halved, rounded up.

  16. I already made a real submission, but if I let myself go a bit free, what about eyeball counters? I abandoned common rarity for this.

    Prickly Cyclops
    Eye 1 (This ETBs with an eyeball counter on it. Whenever its dealt damage, remove a counter from it.)
    If ~ has no eyes, it attacks each turn if able.

    Eye 5 (This ETBs with five eyeball counters on it. Whenever its dealt damage, remove a counter from it.)
    {3}{U}, remove an eye counter from ~: draw a card.

    Vengeful Gorgon
    Eye 2 (This ETBs with two eyeball counters on it. Whenever its dealt damage, remove a counter from it.)
    As long as ~ has eyes, it has indestructible and deathtouch.

    1. I'm very curious, and maybe a little concerned, about what that watchdog physically looks like.

    2. Man I want to make a Beholder with that!

  17. Toggle

    Part-time Dryad G
    Creature Druid C (complex common)
    T: if Part-time Dryad is toggled on add G, then toggle Part-time Dryad. (to toggle a permanent remove a toggle counter from it, if you can't add one instead, it is toggled on if it has a toggle counter)

    Stoked Elemental 3R
    Creature- Elemental C
    Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control toggle Stoked Elemental (to toggle a permanent remove a toggle counter from it, if you can't add one instead, it is toggled on if it has a toggle counter)
    Stoked Elemental get +1/+1 and has trample if it is toggled on

    Modulate U
    Sorcery (U- for build around reasons)
    Toggle up to two target permanents (to toggle a permanent remove a toggle counter from it, if you can't add one instead, it is toggled on if it has a toggle counter)
    draw a card

    Can this be made more concise? three lines of reminder text sucks

    1. Toggle (Put a toggle counter on this creature, then remove all pairs of toggle counters.)


    2. The most efficient to read is just "add a counter. an odd number is 'on'" but that leaves a bunch of useless counters. We can have the rules automatically remove pairs of toggle counters just as it does +1 and -1 counters, but writing that out it expensive.

    3. I was actually conceconcepting a mechanic like this for a hypothetical Kaladesh set, and my answer was to have something built into the frame design for cards that "toggled" like the card I based the idea on (Togglodyte). I had a few other stipulations as well (cards didn't switch on or off on their own to make sure things didnt get too fiddly or hard to track, similar to transform cards) and its not perfect (you have to solve for what happens with proliferate-- I believe my answer was proliferating them did nothing but add a meaningless counter, the card was just in state 1 or state 2 and the counter was only placed on its section of the card as a reminder of which it was in like monstrosity). But it may be better to do something like your design based on how they executed sagas.

    4. Could use transform for all of these. Don’t know if that’s just a cleaner (albeit tokenless) solution.

  18. New Idea for counters My favourite is still toggle- see above)(probably dimir and maybe R or W also)

    Mark target creature (to mark a creature put a mark counter on it) under different rules (to mark a creature put a -1/-1 counter on it it becomes marked)

    Officer Evasive 2U
    Creature - Human Rouge
    When Officer Evasive enters the battlefield mark target creature (to mark a creature put a mark counter on it)
    Officer Evasive can't be blocked by marked creatures

    Destroy the Target 5B
    Destroy the Target costs 2 less to cast if it targets a marked creature
    destroy target creature.

    Flare 1W
    mark all attacking creautures. (to mark a creature put a mark counter on it)
    prevent all damage to you that would be dealt by marked creatures this turn.

    Stake Out Spy 1U
    Creature- Human Rouge
    T: mark target Creature (to mark a creature put a mark counter on it)

  19. Mission Plan U
    Enchantment (unc)
    When ~ ETB, Put a secret counter and a lie counter each face-down on two target creatures.
    Remove a secret counter from a creature you control: It gets +X/+X until EOT. Whenever it deals damage to a player this turn, draw X cards. X is the number of face-down counters you control.

    Mysterious Bug 1GU
    Creature—Insect (rare)
    ~ ETB, with your choice of a secret counter or a lie counter, face-down.
    Remove a secret counter from ~: It gets +X/+X until EOT and can't be blocked this turn. X is the number of face-down counters you control.
    Remove a lie counter from ~: It gains indestructible until EOT.

    This is woefully under-cooked, but I think counters-of-hidden-truth has potential.

    1. Ha, Treat, this is fantastic! I love the idea of face down and face up counters! Amazing!

      This is especially exciting to me because I've been working on a mechanic that this could go very, very well with. How excellent!

      The #1 problem with this mechanic is definitely wordiness. I also can't imagine a common implementation off the top of my head. I'll have to consider it. But "face down counter" has potential, I am sure of it.

    2. This is an interesting angle but it seems unnecessarily hard to execute in play to me. Counters have to be subdivided twice (secrets and lies,then face ups and face downs) which is a lot of stuff and I think most people use dice for counters or sometimes beads and obviously those can't really be "face down". Even coins are not easy to see at a glance from across the table id imagine.

      I think hidden information like conspiracies has a place in standard magic however and the hidden choice between two modes is a simpler execution of the more complex choose a card name and write it down with card that cares of conspiracy. I like that angle.

    3. You'd absolutely have to print a card with secret and lie counters, like they did in Amonkhet.