Monday, February 24, 2020

CCDD 022420 - Eroding Hiking Trail

Like many here (I bet), I have a stable of card design hobby-horses that I keep coming back to. One of those is enters-the-battlefield-untapped dual lands. (I tend to think we have plenty of enters-the-battlefield-tapped-with-upside duals. Finding downsides that let the land enter untapped is harder.) Here's an example:

Despite the six lines of text I still consider this a simple design since there's only one "knob" on it-- the number 2 in the first ability. Fun question for the Play-Design-inclined: what's the best setting for that knob? 1 is strictly worse than Tendo Ice Bridge let alone Aether Hub. 2 seems safe but might look kind of lame compared to Vivid Crag and company. 3 is more aggressive; we'd want to think about the upside and downside compared to Gemstone Mine. Could we do 4? At what point is this basically just Taiga?


  1. The main idea behind having dual lands is, for me, to allow 2+colored decks to have access to their mana in the early game. However if they have too easy an access to it, then it pushes towards easily including 3/4+ color decks without serious issues. As such ETB tapped is a good cost to pay to have them be balanced. The lands that have conditional ETB are better, but when you make them have 2 counters before they become colorless does not feel such a strong deterant to me.

    How about:
    ETB with 2 markers.
    Pay 1 life or reove a marker from Cardname, Tap: add one colored mana of the appropriate choices to your mana pool

  2. One of the tricky parts about cards like this is tracking/memory issues; if you're tapping many lands each turn to pay for things, it can be hard to remember to remove a counter and the more unscrupulous might try to get away with "forgetting" to remove one. There's also the physicality of the card, since having multiple lands with counters on them makes your board hard to manipulate (Aether Hub solved this).

    In general, though, I think it's a cool design that's nice and clean and hasn't been super well explored. I could see this being reasonable as an uncommon land with 2 counters, especially in a set with Proliferate or other counter synergies. At rare, 3 would be semi-reasonable, and you could even do a weird triland thing where it taps for one color and removes a color to add two others. (That wouldn't be super elegant, though.)