Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 21: Mechanics Web

One Shadowmoor Time

Shadowmoor: I'm out! I'm released! Players are playing spells and not yet casting them!
Devin Low: Well, you know what the next step would be?
Shadowmoor: You're going to let Eventide out, too, so we can play together?
Devin Low: Not yet. It's still gotta cook in the oven. No, what I'm talking about is writing an article about all your various insides: themes, mechanics, cycles, etc.
Shadowmoor: Don't! I'd be so embarrassed!
Devin Low: Too late -- by about two-and-a-half years. It's right here.
Shadowmoor: I hate you!
Devin Low: I love you.

Shadowmoor: So, what's the deal, anyway? What'd you write?
Devin Low: Well, I made a web diagram (or had someone make for me) that showed the connections among all the different parts of you, Shadowmoor. It's to show all my readers how there's so much synergy going on in you. You're awesome. Not like Homelands.
Shadowmoor: That doesn't exactly prove how awesome I was. Everybody's more awesome than Homelands. But, you're right. I've got some sweet stuff.

Me: Man, people keep bagging on Homelands when it comes to the subject of "sets that weren't so good." Let's get off its back.
Homelands: It's true. It makes me wish I was never born. ;_;
Shadowmoor: Whoa, hey, what's going on here? Who do you think you are, bustin' all up in here?
Me: Well, I was designing a set, and I remembered Devin Low's mechanics web of you. It helps to visualize just how much synergy there is going on in the set. Synergy among the set's various mechanics is very important in modern Magic design.
Devin Low: My goodness! I'm glad the article was put to good use.
Me: Yeah. ...And, by the way, Shadowmoor: I really like you.
Homelands: I... I thought we had something special, Brad.
Shadowmoor: This is way too weird. I'm getting creeped out.
Devin Low: Don't worry, Shadowmoor. I still love you.

Would You Like Theme with That?

Mark Rosewater: And for everybody in The Great Designer Search 2, you might want to read this column.
Me: Awesome! This describes how I'm starting with the flavor begetting design approach.
Mark Rosewater: I'm always excited to see what you designers have come up with. Though, I'm going to have to not look at what you've got. The lawyers speak of potential lawsuits as people say, "YOU STOLE MY IDEA!" Stuff like that.
Me: Oh, don't worry! You're not the REAL Rosewater! You're just an extension of my mind!
Mark Rosewater: Oh! I'm excited! I could even tell you about all the great Magic product we've designed that's coming up! Though, ...YOU don't know about them. And I'm part of your mind. Therefore, I've got nothing that would delightfully surprise you.
Me: Yeah, I know. Anyway, my world. I'm doing a plane created by and residing within a planeswalker's mind. So, I was thinking of themes, and I was, like, "Hey! The library's like a representation of what spells a player knows." So, a "library" theme.
Mark Rosewater: A library theme? Well, you know that some aspects of the library, like shuffling and searching, slow down the game?
Me: Yeah, I know. But, there's gotta be untapped potential with libraries!
Mark Rosewater: That's what I like to hear. Tell me more.


*Aaron Forsythe eats Mark Rosewater
*It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by an AaFo.

use lamp

*You see Devin Low, Shadowmoor, and Homelands

Me: Oh, my goodness.
Mark Rosewater: Hey-o!
Everyone: Whaaat?!
Mark Rosewater: You guys all know, too. We're part of Brad's mind. Anything could happen.
Shadowmoor: Wait, so that means...

*Aaron Forsythe appears even when it is not pitch black.
*Aaron Forsythe unmasks himself. Aaron Forsythe is actually...

Homelands: Mark Gottlieb!
Everyone: *gasp*
Mark Gottlieb: Shut up, Homelands.
Me: Great. My imagination comes up with a MaGo jerk. Well, anyway, as I was saying... In addition to the library theme, I also came up with the "subtype matters" theme. I won't go into detail of how that came to be, but then I took those themes and fleshed out some mechanics! I didn't go so far as to list all the cycles and whatnot for the set like you did with yours, Devin, but yeah, check it out:

Homelands: I can only wish I looked this impressive.
Me: You ARE special, Homelands. In a different way. Look, you're even in this blog post!
Shadowmoor: Yeah, you're not half bad. You're not as bad as Mark Gottlieb's very existence.
Me: You know, I don't actually think this way about Gottlieb.
Mark Gottlieb: Oh, yeah, Shadowmoor? Aura-enhanced wombats, attack!
Devin Low: Noooo! I love Shadowmoor!
Mark Rosewater: Noooo! I love Shadowmoor more!
Homelands: I'm going to fashion a noose around my neck over here.

Familiarity Matters

Me: So, for the subtype matters theme, I've decided to focus only on creature types and basic land types for the first set. Later sets can explore Equipment and Auras as well as any new subtypes, whatever is decided. The important part for Great Designer Search 2 is the first set. For creature types, I brought back Tribal. This will make non-creature cards be able to count as the appropriate creature. 
Homelands: What about the basic land types, then? Do they get anything special?
Me: For sure! For land types, I created a new card type called Terrain. Terrain works just like Tribal does when associating a land type to a non-land card.
Shadowmoor: Terrain? That's not too exciting, man.
Me: Yeah, I know. I don't really like it, either, but I had to choose SOMETHING for sending in with the design test. The three choices I was choosing from were: Terrain, Terra, and Turf.
Shadowmoor: Do better at being creative, man.
Mark Rosewater: I recommend reading my favorite book "A Whack on the Side of the Head." It'll help!
Me: I got it right next to me. Finished it. Once I've read "A Kick in the Seat of the Pants," I'll let you know what I thought of 'em. We should move on to my next point, though.

Me: For the creature types, I chose to do races that would match up to each of the pair of enemy colors. 
Shadowmoor: Why enemy colors? 
Me: Just a personal decision. Here's how it's laid out:
  • White/Black: Bird
  • Blue/Red: Gnome
  • Black/Green: Crocodile
  • Red/White: Dwarf
  • Green/Blue: Frog
Homelands: So, what if I want to play a pair of ally colors in this set?
Me: Ah! Good question, Homelands.
Homelands: *blushes*
Me: So, for ally color pairs, there would be five prevalent classes for creature types, like in Morningtide. I haven't yet figured that out which ones, though. But, I'm thinking of spreading them out over three colors. For example, there will be a White/Blue/Black class featured prominently, which enables either White/Blue or Blue/Black decks of this class type. And, of course, White/Black decks focused on that type which could also 

Mark Gottlieb: Is that the best you can do for your "Subtype Matters" theme? I'm leaving to do more productive things like sit in a chair and be an arch-nemesis while being an Ex-Rules Manager at the same time. 

*MaGo leaves.

Me: I was just getting to my mechanic... Anyway, for the rest of you, as you've seen from the web diagram above, the ability word Familiarity rewards those for casting spells that share a subtype with a permanent they have on the battlefield with this mechanic. It's like landfall, except for specific spells and basic land. It goes like this:

Familiarity -- Whenever you cast a spell sharing a subtype with CARDNAME, DO THIS.

Me: DO THIS means any effect chosen for that specific card.
Devin Low: I really do love you, Shadowmoor.

Traumatize Me Cap'n!

Me: Next, for the "Library" theme, I used Evan Erwin's Erode mechanic, except I didn't. Here's how it was in its original form:

Erode (This permanent deals damage to players in the form of putting the top card of that player’s library into their graveyard.)

Me: The problem is that the a player's life is 20 and a player's deck is at least 53, to start with. And, of course, over the course of the game, it'll reduce by 1 for each turn you draw a card, so let's assume you gotta mill 40 cards. This means it'd be a viable strategy if you doubled the power of Erode creatures.
Devin Low: But, then, you'd have creatures that completely overpower non-Erode creatures.
Evan Erwin: Yeah, but letting an Erode creature through without blocking would balance this out. At least, not every Erode creature is going to be a 2/2 for U. Not that this was my line of thinking. You're putting words in my mouth, Brad!
Me: Yeah, I know. Anyway, I'm still hesitant. I think playtesting would help solve this problem. But, I just decided to tweak it anyway.
Alexis Janson: Really? Just proxy up a theme deck and test it!
Me: I have a confession... I don't actually have any Magic cards where I'm staying at right now. Let's just say it might be related to this article by Geordie Tait.

Me: Well, anyway, here's my version:

Trauma X (Whenever this creature would deal damage to a player, that player mills NUMBER cards instead.)

Me: NUMBER is just the word version of X (eg. 2 and two). This way, the amount milled can be controlled and not have to be tied with the power of a creature. You could create more interesting creatures like a big creature that does Trauma 1.
Mark Gottlieb: Dude, you can't say "mills". That's slang, not the proper formatting.
Me: Yes, you're right. Except, I'm actually making "mill" a keyword action. Now, instead of "Target player puts X cards from the top of his or her library into his or her graveyard," it is "Target player mills X cards."
Mark Rosewater: Gutsy.
Me: Yeah, I know. I figured that proposing this along with my submission, if it goes over well, then it'd be helpful for deciding me in as a finalist.
Mark Rosewater: Hahaha. ...O.K., I don't know. I'm not the real Rosewater.

You're Outta Focus

Devin Low: Yeah, but Trauma isn't interacting with Familiarity.
Me: I'm getting there. Next, I wanted some mechanic that interacted with Trauma. So, I came up with Focus. You want to keep a card with Focus on top all the time and Trauma messes with that. Here's how it's worded:

Focus (Play with the top card of your library revealed. Whenever you would draw a card, you may draw the second card from the top of your library.)

Mark Gottlieb: Again, it's not technically drawing a card since drawing is putting the top card of your library into your hand.
Me: Hey, I was shortening "put the second card from the top of your library into your hand" to "draw the second card from the top of your library". The mechanic's reminder text was already getting wordy. I needed to fit in a second ability that cared about the top card of your library.
Mark Gottlieb: You're just challenging rules left and right. Do you ever just FOLLOW them? And why do I sound like this? This is very un-Dr. Wombat-like. I'm leaving. Again.

*Mark Gottlieb leaves. Again.

Turn on the Flashback

Devin Low: Besides that, about any time, you should be making the bridge between the "Library" theme and "Subtype Matters" theme.
Me: Right. And that brings me to returning Flashback. Flashback is like this super glue for the set.
Shadowmoor: Oh, I see. With Flashback, you can cast twice as much, thus, synergy with Familiarity.
Homelands: And Flashback also provides a way to combat Trauma. Being milled isn't so bad, anymore! Nice one.
Me: But, another important function of Flashback is that it helps smooth the mana curve in Limited. Like Kicker does for Zendikar and Cycling does for Alara.

Aaron Forsythe: Hey, guys, what's going on?
Everyone Else: Gah, he's gonna eat us! Run!
Devin Low: Whatever happens, Shadowmoor, I will always love you.
*Everyone leaves except Me, Aaron Forsythe, and Homelands
Homelands: What's the point to living when you're me? Eat me, Aaron.

Me: Cheers,

Me: Brad

*Me leaves and drags Homelands away

Aaron Forsythe: ...Guys? I just wanted to see if anyone was up for karaoke.
Lee Sharpe: Let's do this!
*AaFo eats Lee Sharpe


  1. very interesting, sounds like it could work. i wouldn't mind being able to test it out myself.

  2. Thanks, coolnate. I certainly hope it could work. Otherwise, I'm out of the running in GDS2 for sure!