Tuesday, December 18, 2018

CCDD 121518—distract & carry

Cool Card Design of the Day
I imagined this effect as a one-off Eternal card for my infiltrate deck, when I realized how similar it is to escort and had to mock it up as a Magic mechanic.

When Backdoor Burglar attacks, you can also attack with a 2/X (perhaps a Stealer of Secrets) with impunity. You can repeat that every round as long as your distracting unit survives, which is not Burglar's strong suit (by design).
The creature you distract your opponent from can't be blocked that turn regardless of whether they block the distracting unit or not, so it complicates attacks and blocks less than escort. On the other hand, it inherently limits what you can make unblockable, which is actually the secret sauce to this mechanic.
It's dangerous to let a keyword we're going to see on enough cards to justify a keyword make any creature unblockable, particularly as a repeatable effect. Limiting those targets to small creatures prevents massive swings, and using power as the comparator lets players buff their distractor to sneak through larger smugglees.

Oh. I made Stormrider a knight to explain what she's doing on that dark pegacorn and I can no longer ignore how similar this mechanic is to escort's other descendant, ride.

So what if we themed this keyword as something mounts do.
I don't love 'carry' as word for Fantasy, but it fits the flavor of picking up a smaller creature and carrying it through the battle. Green doesn't get a lot of evasion, but I think a keyword that only works when you have 2+ creatures and that's more effective on bigger creatures fits pretty well.
Guiding Drake is weaker than Aerial Guide, but much safer for common, and also more flavorful—a drake picking up a Craw Wurm never made much sense.
We have to be careful what evasion we give to creatures with carry, but as long as it's not unreasonable for any given opponent to be able to trade with the mount, and what they can make unblockable isn't absurd, it should be fine.
Mostly we want to make players use auras and equipment to turn their mounts truly dangerous, but one or two that you can pump naturally is fun. Lightning Steed can carry anything if you pay.
Nightmount doesn't require payment, just devotion to the dark arts.
I'm not in love with either of the variations Grim Specter proposes, but they do show some options.


  1. I think I'm partial to distract rather than carry. Distract screams Grixis colors (as you've templated) while carry feels very either Bant or Abzan (domesticated animals = white). And though you make a good case, I'd be very leery of giving green and white more access to evasion. I'm not entirely opposed though. Maybe it needs a very particular set where black/red is very spell focused and has efficient removal to create the appropriate levels of tension?

    Also, I think it's kind of weird that red has access to both "can't block" and "must block." But that's just me.

    1. No, I think it makes sense. Red is both the colour of intimidation (can't block) and bloodlust (must block). Influencing combat to create chaos or engineer good attacks is definitely a red thing to do. It already has so few mechanics and specialties as it is, that the "combat-matters" ought to be milked for all its worth.

  2. Keying off of another attacking creature with lesser power makes me immediately think of Mentor. I don't believe we had any mentor creatures that did anything special with the mentor trigger, it'd be cool to see a few rares that do so.

    1. It is very similar to mentor in that way.
      Works for me.