Sunday, November 6, 2016

Drafting Pokemon #02: Move Tutor

Pokemon Origins

Last time, on Drafting Pokemon... I defined the scope of the project of creating a Pokemon drafting card game. After knowing that I'm going to include all of the first 151 pokemon as a part of this game, that has already easily defined the card pool for the most important card type: 151 pokemon cards. This leaves the second-most-important card type to figure out: pokemon moves. Let's TM28 in.

Thinking Many Moves Ahead

I already established that later-generation moves are O.K. to include in this game. Actually, it's necessary, since the first generation move pool sucked for creating balanced gameplay, with the case-in-point being Psychic pokemon's weakness of Bug and Ghost not having to fear any actually-good Bug or Ghost moves being used on them. 

So, because of this allowance of a move like Shadow Ball being included in this game, this opens the door to a whole bunch of moves to select from. But where do we begin? Let's start with some questions that first come to my mind.

  • How many move cards should I include in the card pool?
  • What is the minimum number of pokemon that should be able to learn a move in order for that move to be included in the card pool?
  • How many move cards should a player be able to draft?
  • Physical Attack/Defense and Special Attack/Defense or just Attack (with HP, of course)?
  • What elements of pokemon battle gameplay are not being included?
  • What moves will pretty much never be used?

Two Pidgeys, One Geodude

Some of the answers to these earlier questions as well as other ones can be found or at least honed in on when we bring up something that Josh Jelin, a peer, suggested to me: have pre-defined moves printed on the pokemon card. He used an example of having Pikachu have the stronger move which could be evolved to stack its move with Raichu, which has the weaker move but better stats. This simple solution is fantastic because this solves or at least helps multiple problems:
  • How do we make unevolved pokemon matter?
  • How do we include the signature moves of pokemon like Hitmonlee's Hi Jump Kick?
  • What's the best way to minimize the number of choices to make when drafting moves?
How do we make unevolved pokemon matter?

I was thinking of at least one solution for how to make a Machop matter in a card pool that includes Blastoise and friends, especially when Machamp is one of those friends. But it wasn't an elegant solution which led me to think about whether or not I should even include unevolved pokemon - including Pikachu. Which means a Pokemon card game without Pikachu in it, which feels super weird but something that can be done if it was for the sake of a better game.

However, if Vulpix has Fire Blast printed on it while Ninetales has a lesser move printed on it, then that means Vulpix can still be a force to be reckoned with while Ninetales has to deal with having drafted other move cards to improve its more-impressive-than-Vulpix stats. OR, if you draft both Vulpix and Ninetales, then you're able to utilize Fire Blast on a Ninetales, and things just got amazing.

Also, now we don't have to worry about there being only Gengar to represent Ghosts and Dragonite to represent Dragons. You can also draft Gastlies, Haunters, Dratinis, and Dragonairs.

Pokemon anime

How do we include the signature moves of pokemon like Hitmonlee's Hi Jump Kick?

There are some pokemon moves that are iconic. But some of those moves are only found on a couple pokemon or even just one of them (otherwise known as a signature move). How do we include these famous moves without creating super-narrow cards that are duds most of the time they're drafted? Ah, printing the move on the card itself! With this, Hitmonchan can still enjoy its super-sweet Mach Punch.

Note: This Bulbapedia page of signature moves is pretty sweet and useful.

What's the best way to minimize the number of choices to make when drafting moves?

A Pokemon team is six pokemon. Each pokemon can know four moves. Together, that's twenty-four moves. That's a lot of moves to have drafted. And, like in Magic: The Gathering, some of the moves you draft you won't end up using due to any of several reasons - like being stuck with useless choices at the end of a draft round or choosing to draft some water moves when you find out at the end of the draft that you're not actually using any Water pokemon on your team and are only using one or two of those drafted water moves after all.

Printing moves on pokemon cards means they already come pre-loaded with moves that you don't need to worry about drafting. If each pokemon already knows one move already, then that at least lessens the number of moves needed across your team to 18, at most. If you have evolved pokemon, it's even less.

Eighteen move cards is much more manageable of the number of choices to narrow down on from your total number of drafted cards (though, still a lot, it feels like). This benefit is probably the most important one in terms of creating a game that's fun to play.

Show Me Your Moves

How many moves should I include in the card pool?

When I refer to the "card pool," I mean all of the possible cards that can show up in this drafting card game. For the pokemon card pool, this number is 151. Then, from there, for a single drafting session, maybe about a third will be pulled from this card pool (we'll settle on an actual number after finding out results from playtesting).

For moves, we don't have a set number. It's good that you can't count on every pokemon to show up in any one particular draft session. The same should apply to moves. But how many moves should we draw from?

Well, that depends on the X number of cards being drawn from this card pool of number Y that we are trying to figure out. And the X number of cards being drawn depends on the maximum number of moves your whole team needs, which seems to be 18 moves right now (one move per pokemon on your team, each of which wasn't evolved). And if there are always an N number of moves that are unused after drafting, then that would, together with 18 used moves, be a Z percentage of cards that get used from those X number of cards being drawn from the card pool of Y number of cards.


Whatever all those numbers turn out becoming, I want the X number drawn to not be 100 percent of card pool number Y, since that means you can always count on Ice Beam showing up in SOMEONE'S hands. I also don't want X to be 50 percent of Y, since that means your decision-making comes down to a coin flip when you're thinking, "Is it possible Thunderbolt was in in this draft?" Because I don't know what this magic number between 50 and 100 percent should be, I'll start off with 75%, then have playtesting results show me whether I should go higher or lower.

X = 0.75 * Y
Z = (18 * N * 4) * X, where N is the number of unused cards we need to figure out and '4' being the number of players

Figuring out N number of unused cards is tough. This depends on the next section's question.

We'll come back to this, but let's just throw a number out there for now to see what a calculation looks like: 50% unused cards.

Z = 18 used cards * 0.5
Z = 36 cards per player
36 * 4 players = 144 cards = X
144 = 0.75 * Y
Y = 192 total moves in the card pool

Well, holy shit. That seems like a lot of moves to decide on. Let's hope that 50% unused cards is actually too high for the sake of amount of work. ;) But if I gotta do 192 moves, then I gotta do it. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.


What is the minimum number of pokemon that should be able to learn a move in order for that move to be included in the card pool?

As mentioned previously, a signature move of a pokemon, like Twineedle for Beedrill, will be useless to draft 99% of the time. There obviously has to be more than one pokemon that should be able to learn any one particular move card available in the draft, but what's that minimum number? I'm not sure. If I were more well-versed in mathematics, I might be able to crunch a number. But because I'm not, I'm going to have to find out more along the way, perhaps leaning on playtesting results to find out.

I know that Tackle is one of the most well-known moves. So somewhere between that number as our "100%" and one, which is only Beedrill knowing Twineedle, is the number we want. 

Until I know more, I'm going to lean toward picking moves that are known by as many pokemon as possible. It FEELS like there isn't a danger of having too many moves known by too many pokemon. If anything, it might be the opposite, which will be its own challenge to address.

How many move cards should a player be able to draft?

As addressed earlier, to be determined based on the ideal percentage of cards that go unused after drafting and using up to 18 move cards.

Physical Attack/Defense and Special Attack/Defense or just Attack?

There are some moves that care about the physical or special versions of an attack or defense stat. Because of this, we need to know what kind of stats a pokemon is going to have in order to weed out our move choices.

At this time, I'm still not sure whether we're going physical and special distinctions. I want the depth of gameplay but am scared that, for a card game, there's too much calculation that'd end up happening. Let's write it out for the move Thundershock:

Damage = ((Special Attack Power + ThundershockPower) * Weakness/Resistance/Immunity) - Special Defense


Damage = (Attack Power + Thundershock) * Weakness/Resistance/Immunity

(The reason why there's no defense calculated here is because, since there's no distinctions of types of defense, the defense just gets already summed with the defending pokemon's HP stat.)

Let's try doing "real" numbers now.

Damage = ((5 + 4) * 2) - 7
Damage = 11, against a 20 HP pokemon, leaving 9 HP left


Damage = (5 + 4) * 2
Damage = 18, against a 27 HP pokemon, leaving 9 HP left

Is the former too much to do, especially when you need to look at your pokemon's stat, their pokemon's two stats of the applicable defense and HP?

With the worry of too much calculation going on with the former, I worry that doing a conversion/adaptation of current stats for the latter will come with its own challenges.

A reminder that, while the original pokemon games didn't feature physical and special distinctions for attack and defense, it had a high Special stat to be applied for both offense and defense. I don't like that at all. I don't want a pokemon with the highest Special stat to be strictly better than all other pokemon with lower Special stats when not factoring in type effectiveness (looking at you, Mewtwo).

This direction is still something I don't know which I'll go in. I know that fellow Magic design enthusiast Mad Olaf is warm to the idea of simplifying to Attack, HP, and Speed. I'll continue to keep this in mind.


What elements of pokemon battle gameplay are not being included?

By this, I mean things like Low Kick caring about the weight of a pokemon. Pokemon weight is rarely a factor for pokemon moves. And caring about this means printing the weight on every single pokemon card. It'd be better to cut this.

Another thing is weather conditions. When it's raining, water moves get better. When Sunny Day is used, fire moves are better. In this case, these weather conditions also enhance Thunder and Solar Beam, which I think is pretty cool. And there are pokemon abilities (if we end up doing pokemon abilities) that key off of weather conditions. I like when there's synergy like this. For this reason, I WANT to include weather conditions, but if this means there's too much complication for this to be worth it, then I'll cut weather conditions.

Then there's things like whether a move makes contact for those abilities that care about contact. I think "making contact" is also an unnecessary added element. I don't think there's enough excitement around contact to be worth its inclusion.

There might be other elements I'm not mentioning here as well, but it's something I'll consider the ramifications of for each battle gameplay element I come across when choosing moves.

What moves will pretty much never be used?

I'm looking at you, Leer and Growl. Some stat-raising moves like Dragon Dance are awesome. But some suck. And there are other moves, like Scratch, that may pale in comparison to other moves available. When including a certain power level of moves, I'll be sure to keep in mind whether a move is just so outclassed in every way compared to other moves that it shouldn't be included at all.

You don't include Shock in the same set as Lightning Bolt.

Move Along

So, here's my current next steps:
  1. Figure out which signature moves will go on each pokemon
  2. Figure out which moves most pokemon of each type will want to and be able to learn (Thunderbolt on an Electric type)
  3. Include non-signature moves on pokemon that would not create redundancy (or at least lessen it) with actual drafted moves (having Thunderbolt be a drafted card and also as a move on Magnemite and Voltorb)
  4. Put a move on each of enough pokemon cards (inclusive of every type) to be able to simulate a draft (stats not needed right now)
  5. Finish creation of moves to be at least 144 (enough for the guesstimated 50% of moves drafted are used on your pokemon for a full set of four moves each)
  6. Playtest enough drafts (no battles) to get the data to be able to determine the right number of moves that need to be included in a draft and whether the number of applicable moves turns out to be a big problem
Thanks for making the move to read this post. As always, feedback in the form of comments on this post or on via other communication / social media platforms are welcome. =)


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Drafting Pokemon #01: Silph Scope

Pokemon Origins

This year, I'm participating in National Game Design Month - or, NaGa DeMon, for short - like I've tried to succeed at before but didn't. I'm already a day late, so let's get to it.

Goal: Make a Pokemon drafting card game and playtest it with other people at least one time before November is over.

I'm aware I'm using an existing IP and whatever stigma and/or limitations comes with that. I'm unabashedly doing so because completing this project will achieve a game design goal I've never met: finish making a game. I love drafting in tabletop games, I love Pokemon, and I've had a fierce passion for this marriage of a game to become reality for months now. Let's make it happen before the fire goes out.


There are so many aspects of Pokemon, but keeping the scope of the game small is important for success. I'm focusing on: Pokemon battles. Getting gym badges, evolving pokemon with Fire Stones, and hatching eggs need not apply.

So, the following are a set of rules I've defined for what to include in this game, and I'll be going over the reasons for each:

  • Four-player drafting
  • Original 151 pokemon only
  • Later-generation moves allowed
  • Traditional 1-on-1 pokemon battles only
  • No pokemon or moves with Dark or Steel types
  • No EVs, IVs, or pokemon natures
  • No held items or bag items
  • No tracking PP
  • MAYBE no pokemon that have an evolved form
  • MAYBE no pokemon abilities
  • MAYBE no distinction between Physical and Special
"Yeah, but what will it be like?"
The beginning part of this game will be drafting pokemon and battle moves that those pokemon will use. After the drafting is done, players each choose which pokemon to form a team with and which moves will go on which pokemon. The final phase is battling 1-on-1 with one of the players, simulating the feel of battling on the handheld Pokemon games.

Pokemon Adventures

Four-Player Drafting

While I would normally like to allow for a flexible number of players for drafting like in other card games, I think allowing for that flexibility will increase complexity in design work, thus making the scope of this project larger. To keep things simple, we'll keep the number low.

Two players is too few for that drafting dynamic. Three players creates an awkward situation of having a player, when the drafting and "deck construction" is all done, wait for two other players to finish up battling before being able to play. Four players is just right - you can have two concurrent battles and each player has up to three opponents to play against.

Original 151 Pokemon Only

Pokemon currently has over seven hundred unique monsters to choose from. If each pokemon were a card, this is more than enough choices to choose from to include in the drafting card pool. I have to draw a line in the sand somewhere, and I think choosing to include only the first generation of pokemon is a solid move.

When folks are drafting this game, I want them to know for sure what kind of pokemon to expect. If I decided to include select pokemon from various games, I wouldn't want them unsure of whether or not Scizor was included in the drafting card pool since players might be planning ahead with their draft picks for rounding out their pokemon team. Providing a list of all the pokemon that were hand-selected adds some extra logistics that I don't want. It's easiest to say, "Original 151 pokemon is included."

Also, with the release of Pokemon GO and the type of audience I expect will be playing my game, the first generation is even more of a strong choice since they'd resonate most with the players.

Later-Generation Moves Allowed

Even though we're sticking with the original generation of pokemon as the pool of pokemon to choose from, newer moves from later generations will be included. Not all of them, but I see including some of them as necessary.

In Pokemon, there's a gameplay element of having pokemon types and each of those types have strengths and weaknesses when pitted against other types. The thing is, though, the moves that were present in Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue weren't really fleshed out that well to create a good balance of power.

One of Psychic's weaknesses is Bug, and Pin Missile was the best Bug move to use against Psychic, of which Jolteon, a non-Bug pokemon, was the best choice when attempting to take advantage of a super-effective attack - and it doesn't even do as much damage as Jolteon using an Electric attack instead!

The same goes for available Ghost moves to use against Psychic. As an example, Shadow Ball has been a boon in being able to have a great super-effective option against Psychic pokemon.

So, with the restriction of 151 pokemon only, we'll pick and choose moves that will balance out the gameplay with what pokemon types are available among pokemon.

Pokemon anime

Traditional 1-on-1 Pokemon Battles Only

Trying for any other kind of pokemon battle will just increase the complexity of this project for both creating it and for playing it. That's a bad thing. That is all.

No Pokemon or Moves with Dark or Steel Types

This might be a controversial decision, but because I'm deciding to only use the original generation of pokemon, no exceptions, then that means there are NO Dark pokemon available. Sure, we can have Dark moves, but it's potentially a feel-bad when you're drafting Dark moves and realize that you can never achieve the most damage with those moves using a Dark-type pokemon. Yes, this means one less weakness for the notoriously-powerful Psychic type, but that's where the designing comes into play to work with these restrictions.

With removing Dark and Steel types, this does mean that Magnemite will be a pure Electric type and that the move Bite will be a Normal type, like it used it be, instead of the Dark type it was changed into.

No EVs, IVs, or Pokemon Natures

Each individual pokemon on a battling team has a lot of complexity to it. There are stats, but there are actually these hidden values tied to these stats that affect them. And then there's the pokemon nature that yet tilt these stats more. When doing Pokemon battles, caring about this part is NOT capturing the essence of what makes Pokemon battling so much fun. 

Simplifying here is important. The pokemon's stats will be what it says they are on the card.

No Held Items or Bag Items

When participating in Pokemon tournaments, the rules already disallow for using items from your Bag (i.e. using a Super Potion on a Pokemon). As such, the same will be reflected for this card game.

However, a wonderful extra thing a pokemon can have going for it is having a held item. In the regular game, I think this is a great deepening of the gameplay for expanding the possibilities of types of pokemon teams. But, in this game, held items would be a third type of card to draft as well as add extra complexity (while can be good) that isn't needed. If we stripped away held items, we still have a functioning game. So, away with this.

No Tracking PP

Moves in the handheld Pokemon games have a limited number of uses, otherwise known as Power Points, or PP. Including this aspect wouldn't actually add to the fun of battling, would be a burden track logistically, and almost never is significant when actually battling.

Pokemon anime

MAYBE No Pokemon that Have an Evolved Form

What I mean by this is that Raichu would be in the game but Pikachu wouldn't be. I know - a Pokemon game without Pikachu in it. That's cray, right? So cray.

But, really, including a Grimer when there's Muk also available in the drafting sets a precedent for why it should matter that you have the Grimer. I want each game piece to matter. Which I could make matter if, say, you get an "evolutionary bonus" if you drafted both Grimer and Muk, and you can simply stack them and get a better Muk than if you had just drafted Muk by itself.

A reason to NOT disclude pokemon is so that players who have favorite pokemon can enjoy playing with them. Squirtles are awesome, and not seeing one in the draft ever can be a downer.

So... we'll SEE!

MAYBE No Pokemon Abilities

All right, so what I mean by "ability" is this extra gameplay element that a pokemon can have besides its stats and moves. For example, Gengar can know Levitate, which makes it immune to Ground-type moves used against it.

The concern I have is that some abilities trigger out-of-time with choosing moves. Some abilities have timing that are outside of the moment when you are looking through your choices of whether to switch pokemon or use one of your current pokemon's moves. 

Including them can add that exciting extra piece of information on a pokemon card drafting. Currently, if you drafted a pokemon, you might see information for its stats and its strengths and weaknesses (the moves it can learn is actually handled on each individual move card). It seems boring, so a pokemon ability printed on there, it might be more exciting to consider pokemon cards.

There's even an opportunity to have build-around abilities, like Hitmonchan's Iron Fist, which makes you want to draft all the moves that PUNCH!

Pokemon Emerald

MAYBE No Distinction Between Physical and Special

If I included all the stats a pokemon has now, it'd be:
  • HP
  • Attack
  • Defense
  • Special Attack
  • Special Defense
  • Speed
If I removed the distinction between physical and special, it'd look something like:
  • HP
  • Attack
  • Speed
The second one is great for lessening complexity of the game, but it may be lessening the complexity TOO much. Snorlax, for example, would have high HP and Attack and low Speed. There's not much opportunity to finding a weakness here. You just gotta hit hard with a Fighting-type move.

Another drawback is that there might be a lot of work reconfiguring existing Pokemon's stats to look correct. Alakazam is a glass cannon that hits hard with Special Attack, but it might be too weird to take advantage of its high Attack to do a hard hit like Mega Punch.

The original Pokemon games had:
  • HP
  • Attack
  • Defense
  • Speed
  • Special
In this case, both Special Attack and Special Defense are applied in the Special stat. This doesn't really work for Exeggutor who has a high Special Attack but low Special Defense currently.

In the end, I think I'll go with how the stats are now. I just hope that this doesn't cause board complexity and decision paralysis when drafting and playing in battles. We'll see how it goes.

Pokemon official art

That's a TM35

With the stage set with the above limitations, I can get started on the design. As more of the game is defined and more design choices made, these rules may evolve over time to fit the needs of the game or to debunk anything I had assumed before would be a bad or good thing.

Thanks for following, and if you have any feedback, feel free to leave a comment on the social media platform or comment section of your choice.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Having a Good Knight

Art by Jason Chan
Over on Goblin Artisans, this weekend's art challenge is on knights. Five pieces of art were provided for use, though, other knight-related creative commons art can be used.

Here's the challenge prompt:
Hello to you all! This week we re-examine knights!
White Knight and Black Knight have been re-imagined many times over in mtg. Nowadays we do not have protections to mirror those knights!
Choose one of the illustrations and re-imagine what a knight does when it is tied to a specific color.

Knight Life

The very first Knights in Magic have the abilities of first strike and protection. With protection not being an ability that is only supported rarely lately, this begs the question: what makes a Knight a Knight in Magic?

I reviewed many Knight-related Magic cards and have concluded that one or more of the following may be true for any one particular Knight-related Magic card:
  • If the knight or knights depicted within the art each riding a steed, it sometimes means the card's design has bigger power and toughness stats than if the art depicted a singular creature without a mount. For example, Goblin Roughrider is a Goblin creature, but the 3/2 body for a vanilla Goblin only makes sense because it is riding that crazy mount.

  • Knights have vigilance for one or more of a few reasons: 1) they're riding steeds, so they can gallop forward to do an attack and then gallop back to your side to defend you; 2) Knights swore to protect you and are vigilant to not fail in that regard; 3) Knights are great at combat. Truefire Paladin is an example of a steed-less Knight that still has vigilance - so numbers 2 and 3 may apply toward this guy.

  • Knights are great at combat. This overlaps with the last bullet point. One of the expressions of this may be vigilance, as seen above, but it could be one of many combat-related abilities. The "first" expression of this fact was on White Knight and Black Knight having first strike. Later Knights have had vigilance, double strike, and flanking. Sometimes, a block-related keyword is used instead, like battle cry. For these abilities, they can be expressed for different reasons, whether the Knight just has more training in combat, because they're wielding a lance, or they're riding a horse. For example, a Knight depicted riding a horse is reason enough for flanking. In addition to Truefire Paladin above showing off its ability to have both vigilance and first strike (and without a horse - what a badass!), Femeref Knight is an example of Knight showing off its multiple awesome-at-warfare abilities but not necessarily a larger body for horse reasons.

  • Sometimes, a Knight is a Knight only because it rides a steed. But this is useful because some mounts have flying which in turn enables creature types that wouldn't normally be able to fly to be able to fly. How else are you going to get flying cat people like Leonin Skyhunter, especially when white is the piece of the color pie that is supposed to be great at both creatures and flying? Well, besides making comical, makeshift hang-gliders like Goblin Sky Raider does.

  •  Knights are sworn to protect us from and destroy evil. Now, remember that "evil" does not mean the color black. Evil is whatever attacks your values. So each color's Knight is going to consider different things as evil. White Knight had protection from black. Silver Knight has protection from red. These are pure expressions of how white considers what red and black do as evil and are devoted to that cause. Granted, white is really good at going after evil. See Pentarch Paladin, Tivador of Thorn, Fiendslayer Paladin, and Lightwielder Paladin. Lastly, renown and exalted are other examples of how Knights may care to head into combat to destroy the evil that is your opponent. Phyrexian Crusader is a good example of this devotion to destroy evil. It eschews the fact that black usually hates on green and white in favor of the fact that the mirrans are aligned mostly in white and red, so this Phyrexian has no problem hating on black's ally color, red.

  •  Knights are great at rallying the troops. Literally rallying in the case of Hero of Goma Fada but this is expressed in other ways as well, such as with Kabira Vindicator boosting your armies and doing nothing else. Hero of Bladehold gets bystanders who might not otherwise have decided to fight to jump into the fray as 1/1 Soldiers. Wilt-Leaf Liege and the rest of the Liege cycle are excellent examples of how a Knight can purely be about rousing your armies and not expressing its Knight-ness via other ways such as first strike or vigilance.

 Bonus: some red-aligned troop rallying:

  •  Knights have status. Well, it's probably how they got their horse or their excellent armor or was able to be afforded good training in combat. Or, in Attended Knight's case, you have a Squire.

 Knight in Gale


With the above established, I sought to design a Knight but which color do I choose? I chose to go with the color that hasn't been as fleshed out with Knight execution: green. Green has a whopping 1 creature that is monocolored, Gladehart Cavalary.

Moreover, this card was just released today to the public, in Oath of the Gatewatch! Welcome to the Knight Club, mono-green. Notice that this Knight is expressing its Knight traits by having a large body and by supporting its troops.

Besides, green's knight art for this Weekend Art Challenge has a moose and that's adorable. Check out the art I'm working with:

Art by blayrd
If you've followed my Daily Card Redesign series in the past, you'll know that I often like to match my card designs with what's going on in the art, so I'm going to let that influence me in addition to coming up with a design that also fits what I envision a green knight should currently be or do design/gameplay-wise. A confluence of both those things.

To Knight


Now, expressing all of a Knight's aspects as pointed out above would be nearly impossible, I'd imagine. It's all right to just focus on one or two. This happens with any sort of concept, like the idea of Goblins.

Goblins are portrayed in Magic as being dumb, like with the flavor texts of Goblin Piker and Skirk Fire Marshal. Goblins are expendable, as seen in Goblin Sledder and Goblin Grenade. They also like to tease or play pranks, shown in the cards Jeering Instigator and Goblin Battle Jester. Lastly, they tinker (read: poke, prod, and eventually blow up) with artifacts, like with Goblin Welder and "Goblin Archaeologist."

I'm not sure there's ever been a Goblin depicted as dumb, expendable, pranking, and tinkering all at once. But that sounds like a fun challenge for another time. Anyway, back to Knights - we only need to show Knight-ness in at least one way for this green Knight.

The most important thing to do for this assignment, though, is to create a Knight that might be lumped in with category of Knights that White Knight and Black Knight are - what Knights used to be. Blood Knight was a later addition to this "grouping" of classic Knights. Re-imagine and design like that for nowadays. So, we'll examine what aspects of Knights above that would remind us of the classic Knight design of White Knight and Black Knight.

Knight Vision


White Knight and Black Knight exemplified qualities of "swearing to destroy evil" (protection) as well as its ability to be adept in combat via first strike. This "destroy evil" thing intrigues me, so we'll go with that.

I did some brainstorming off-screen here, and it's a messy (but awesome) process sometimes, and I landed with caring about abilities that represent the enemy colors but are shared with green as well. The same applies for every other color in this cycle. I'm only mocking up green, but here's the text form of what each color would care about:

  • White: lifelink, first strike
  • Blue: hexproof, prowess
  • Black: deathtouch, lifelink
  • Red: first strike, prowess
  • Green: deathtouch, hexproof
So, for each color, the Knight would have those abilities (not bad, for each creature) and then would not able to be blocked by any creatures that have either of those abilities. We're not doing protection anymore, and I wanted to find a simple perhaps-combat-oriented way to show the hate so that it could still prevail against this "evil." I chose "can't be blocked" as the way the Knight prevails and the "evil" to be represented by the abilities its enemies also share.

You might say it's ironic that this creature can't block an opponent's copy of this Knight. Perhaps, as a show of respect to each other's devotion, they don't hurt each other. And what about fellow green creatures that have hexproof and deathtouch - perhaps this Knight's mastery means it knows how to evade such creatures that shares its traits.

Lastly, coming back to the art, you might be wondering why a moose-riding, unassuming Knight can do hexproof and deathtouch. If you look more closely at the art, there's magical, glowing green vines surrounding the Knight. These vines can restrain and choke creatures to death as well as wrap around the Knight and protect him or her from spells. =)

Knight Cap

So, here's my design:

I decided to have "card name during development" fun and did a double pun for its title. "Jaded", like with the color green; and "Vineguard", as in "vanguard", because he or she is a Knight. But has vines surrounding him or her.

Anyway, so, a black Knight in this cycle would have deathtouch and lifelink and it would also say "CARDNAME can't be blocked by creatures with deathtouch or lifelink."

I also made this a Human instead of Elf (seems dressed like a Human, anyway) since Humans can be any of the five colors, and that'd be fitting to mirror the creature types for the cycle as "Human Knight."

O.K., that's it! What do you think?

Concerns I have: I know, it costs 4 mana and that sucks, but I think I had to cost it that high based on how much it should cost to get hexproof, let alone deathtouch, onto the table. Also, I wonder if this Knight would end up being un-fun to play with if you just left this forever on your side as a good threatening blocker (like you do with your Deathtouch Snakes and Rats). Then again, protecting you IS Knight-like. In the end, it should feel fun, but I haven't playtested this card.

Also, not sure if I got the order of abilities of "deathtouch" and "hexproof" correct along with the rest of the templating. I THINK so, but not sure.