Monday, August 17, 2020

The Great Redesigner Search: Tribal

Welcome back to The Great Redesigner Search, the series where I revise all of my GDS3 designs! This week was the challenge I did best on, so you'd think I don't have that much to change, but I turned in a few cards at the last minute and would like to rectify that. As before, you can see my original designs and judge feedback here

Intelligent Informant

I had this as a 4-mana 2/2 for much of my playtesting, but I realized that Nimble Innovator outclassed it so I reduced the mana cost to 3. Erik Lauer and MaRo both suggested I increase the mana cost on this card again to make it more likely that you'll draw a card upon casting it, so I made it a 4-drop again and increased the power to 3. Maybe this could be a 3/3?

Backstreet Maneuver 

This card made a token originally because I was prioritizing every card working towards the "get lots of Rogues with different names" strategy. You'll see that concept pop up again on a few more cards in this set. I changed it to be a deeply satisfying combat trick, since I'm still not over Coat with Venom.

Hulking Henchman

I made this card's mana cost 1BB at the last second for basically no reason, so I changed it back.

Clever Disguise

Eli Shiffrin took the wind out of my sails by informing me that changing the creature's name to "Innocent Citizen" isn't something that would actually work by the rules. (It was another way for you to get different names on your Rogues.) That was really the major charm of the card, so I'm not happy with the new version, but I took the mana off the "throw off the disguise" action to make it a bit more exciting.


This is the best card I made in the entire GDS, so the only thing I really did here was tweak the targeting. I kind of wish I had submitted this card in round 5 or something. Incidentally, the copy effect is yet another way of getting different names on your Rogues and I'm very proud of that.

Mel, Merciless Mastermind

I agree with the judges' feedback that requiring a sacrifice gave the card some anti-synergy, but I still love the flavor of "brutal mob boss who disposes of minions when they aren't useful anymore" so I kept it more for sentimental reasons than anything. This is why Magic designers work on teams, I guess!

The first ability was changed to something that's been fairly common on U/B cards recently and that gives the opponent time to respond before you bury them in card advantage/life loss.

Sealed Vault

The card I turned in originally for this slot, Diamond Falcon, was a slapdash card I threw together at the last minute and that I swore was going to be the end of me. Up until 10 PM on Sunday night, what I was trying to create was something like this. I'm especially fond of stealing everything as a slightly different condition than "you win the game" that's thematically appropriate to Rogue tribal.


  1. How did you determine the mana cost, the 11 initial counters, and the cost to activate for Sealed Vault? Is it an Oceans 11 reference?

    Paying 6 mana for a tapped artifact and then 3 on subsequent turns to scry 1 doesn't seem like it lines up correctly with the card's rarity. Even if you had EIGHT rogues when you played it, it would take 3 turns and an additional 9 mana to get the effect.

    Seeing as it comes in tapped, I don't even think you have to panic or design around card like Vampire Hexmage or Solemnity. The activated effect could likely cost no mana and just be {T}. A 6 mana rock that scries 1 per turn but has some inevitability if left unmolested still seems paltry compared to some of the planewalker-deck walkers.

    The balance on the card seems way, way outta whack. I love the flavor, though.

    1. Great points! I was definitely too conservative on the mana costs.

  2. Backstreet maneuver is just absolutely chef's kiss with that art and story coming together. I think that's a strong tribal payoff and still a good card on a non-rogue creature.

    Impersonate is really amazing flavor-wise as well. Commuter lane to flavor town on top of strong efficient removal.

    This may be a personal thing, especially since it doesnt look like the judges commented on it, but I would be interested in finding another way of writing "differently named rogues". Wording wise it just feels a little clunky (this is probably just the technical writer part of me coming out). However, it definitely keeps the cards clear and wouldn't require more exposition in the rules to clarify a keyword or something like that. Something like "unique rogues" maybe? But that wording doesn't bring home the point as clearly as your wording.

    Sealed Vault is a really interesting design. I agree with some of the things Karl has already mentioned in regard to its overall difficulty to activate. I wonder if this might work better as a "start low go up" rather than a "start high go down". Maybe make is cost 2, and then T, pay 1 to scry. Then it gets a heist counter every time you play a rogues that isnt already on the battlefield like the draw trigger from informant. Then it has a static ability of "remove X heist counters, gain control of all permanents" That way the flavor plays more like each member of the team is showing up o the casino. Although counting up does have more opportunity for abuse with proliferation and mechanics like that. You may have to adjust the number of counters that seem reasonable to trigger the effect.

    Overall, I think your themeing is TIGHT. I love tribal mechanics, and your "different names" conditions feels like it treads so fertile new ground. Its got my card design brain going nuts over here with fun tribe specific keyword abilities and things like that. Thanks for sharing your submissions!!

  3. Oh yes, interesting to see!

    Oh, sealed vault has the best flavour for this mechanic. I wonder if it could be "Tap X rogues with different names: Remove X counters" or something? I don't know how it would play but that would be very flavourful. And maybe gain control of the permanent with the highest CMC you don't control instead of all would be more flaourful? But maybe that's not rewarding enough, maybe it needs to be more than once.