|Art by Svetlin Velinov|
Red's aggressive. What are the aspects of this aggression?
- Red attacks with creatures early
- Red uses up its cards quickly
- Red trades away resources helpful for the long-term in favor of a short-term advantage
What are the factors that lead into each of these aggressive aspects?
- Red's creatures are cheap and efficient to cast
- Red's creatures tend to have higher power than toughness
- Red's spells don't incentivize you to wait to cast them later
- Red's benefits involve sacrificing permanent resources
What are the symptoms of these factors?
- Red's creatures tend to be sideways
- Red's lands tend to be sideways
- Red's hands tend to be empty
- Red's number of permanents can possibly lessen rather than grow as turns pass
Taking the above into consideration, I've come up with some qualities for a nonred faction to focus on:
- Having untapped creatures
- Having a bigger hand
- Having a number of permanents that always increases as turns pass
How do I have untapped creatures?
- Not attacking (ew)
- Always getting new creatures (ooh, this means growing permanents)
- Having high toughness creatures but with low power
How do I have a bigger hand?
- Not casting spells (ew)
- Cantrips and draw spells (but red does cantrips and card filtering)
How do I always have the number of permanents increase as turns pass?
- Don't sacrifice (hmm, black does this, though)
- Always be playing stuff that hits the board and never the graveyard (but blue, though)
- Don't get your stuff killed, yo (hexproof, not getting into trades in combat)
Lastly, there's a quirky thing I discovered:
The word "counter" appears the least on common red cards in all of Magic.
Obviously, blue has the most number of cards with "counter" in the text. Green plays with +1/+1 counter growth a lot. And white and black are somewhere around "more than red."
Having a mechanic that cares about "counter" in the text encourages players to play with cards that grow their creatures and counters answers to their creatures. However, this also reminds me of the counter theme that is in Commander 2016, but a little spin on it.
For both the fact that caring about a word in text is potentially confusing (overload handles this pretty well by only referring to its own text) for what counts and what doesn't (for example, does "Can't be countered." count?); and that counters as a nonred theme has already been done, I'm leaning toward something that is more novel for nonred.
In Ixalan, there is no red common card that has toughness greater than its power. Yet, every other color has toughness greater than its power. I think that this bodes well for that direction.
Let's try some mechanics designs:
- At end of turn, if you control more untapped creatures than tapped creatures, EFFECT
- As long as CARDNAME is attacking and you control more untapped creatures than tapped creatures, EFFECT
- Whenever you cast a creature spell with toughness greater than its power, EFFECT
- Whenever a creature with toughness greater than its power enters the battlefield under your control, EFFECT
- As long as you control a creature with toughness greater than its power, EFFECT
- Whenever you attack with a creature with toughness greater than its power, EFFECT
- Reveal from your hand a creature card with toughness greater than its power: EFFECT
- Counterplay - Whenever you play a card with "counter" in its text, EFFECT
- Countercast - Whenever you cast a spell with "counter" in its text, EFFECT
- Countermove - As long as you've played a card this turn with "counter" in its text, EFFECT
- Clean counter - Whenever a card with "counter" in its text is put into a graveyard, EFFECT
- Countermeasure - At end of turn, if you played a card with "counter" in its text, EFFECT
Let's try some card designs:
The above Ally is the only one that has greater toughness than its power that also doesn't have a name that mentions a word that is specific to Zendikar. It also has flying, which the nongreen faction cares about. Alas, this is a black Ally, of which the nonblack faction, caring about Allies, could not use. And, thus, to encourage four-color (instead of five-color) play, this can't be used.
ACTUAL SYNERGISTIC ENVOY REPRINT:
Synergizes with the nongreen faction and doesn't call out a specific place. Shout out to Pillarfield Ox, though. The hero we needed, not the hero we deserved.
...wait, speaking of hero...
...wait, speaking of hero...
Anyway... let's do new designs:
Creature - Centaur Warrior
Tough 'n' Rumble (Whenever another creature with toughness greater than its power enters the battlefield under your control, this creature gets a +1/+1 counter)
Creature - Human Soldier
Toughen Up - Whenever another creature with toughness greater than its power enters the battlefield under your control, this creature gains vigilance until end of turn.
Draw three cards, then discard two cards unless you discard a card with "counter" in its text.
You draw two cards, then you lose 2 life unless the number of untapped creatures you control is more than the number of tapped creatures you control.
...lots of exploring of card designs that still needs to be done, but I'm loving the toughness greater than power thing. Gonna need to find the most enticing and grokkable effect. In the meantime, consider this red card that is the antithesis of what this nonred faction might possibly shape up to be.