MTG DESIGN SPACE: MECHANICS
Based on feedback via Twitter, it appeared that the last Design Space article was a hit. So on to my second attempt at exploring design spaces in Magic the Gathering. This week, as requested over Twitter. I’ll be exploring mechanics. Feedback is always appreciated. You can either e-mail me or catch me on twitter.
I have to admit, new mechanics were a killer to talk about. Last week I included one in my discussion on counterspells. I’m going to explore that today, and also talk about two new mechanics.
The mechanic I added to Cancel last week is Scavenge.
Scavenge (Exile this card from your graveyard: Add 1 mana of any on of its colors to your mana pool.)
And here was the card.
I like this card as it gives utility after the card has been used. I’ve tried to limit any scavenge card to only adding one mana to the pool, regardless of how many colors it is.
I think Mana Gift above is a much more playable card than Cancel. It’s the type of card that you’d suddenly love to use Turn 3, knowing you’d get a boost into five mana Turn 4. That’s great in a colour like blue.
Here are three more cards using the mechanic Scavenge.
Blood Minion is a callout to the old Blood Pet. However you’ll get slightly more utility out of Blood Minion, with the ability to beat until it’s no longer needed, block when required, then get a boost the next turn.
At instant speed Lingering Flame is simply too powerful. But as a Sorcery it seems just right. The 2 damage is fine considering Lightning Bolt is back, and the Scavenge ability allows for some emergency access to Lightning Bolt once tapped out.
Gaea’s Handmaiden was made to be a good Limited card. Green already has so many broken things it can do with mana that it doesn’t particularly need yet another path to go down. However, this card’s ability is perfect to help ramp, whether it’s on the battlefield or in the graveyard.
The threat to the mechanic is whether or not it is too potent in decks that abuse the graveyard, namely Dredge. I’m not sure whether Dredge particularly cares about the extra mana, as it is perfectly able to operate manaless. However, it is an interesting dilemma and would need to be tested.
The next mechanic I explored was something I called Exhaust. It started off in thinking about lands, and something different to the usual Comes-Into-Play lands. That let me to a different kind of drawback, and eventually this card, Tidal Lavafield:
Exhaust (At the beginning of your end step, tap this.)
I think it’s a very interesting way of giving a land a drawback. You get to use your mana, or lose your mana. A real boon for aggressive decks, not so great for control decks.
Exhaust does seem to be just made for aggression. Try these three cards:
A classic aggro Goblin. Swing in quickly or any usefulness from the card. Great early game, terrible late game.
Work Auroch has probably overpowered stats and a big drawback, again the use-it-or-lose-it drawback. Incidentally I didn’t feel that Work Auroch deserved to have Trample, as it is supposed to be a more tamed version of the beast.
I really like this card. It’s absolutely useless on defence, but in a White Weenie deck could be very powerful. It’s simple, does one thing, and shows how Exhaust could be used on non-creature Permanents where tapping matters.
For the creatures, I guess the question is, “Why not just make them have ‘This creature cannot block’?”. I guess Exhaust also stops things like Arena and Contested Cliffs, which is a bigger drawback than the inability to drop. So I believe Exhaust is a bigger drawback than the ability to block.
The last mechanic is one I thought about while considering Chroma. I think Chroma is a terrible, terrible keyword, although the mechanic is kind-of okay. Presence doesn’t have the flexibility of Chroma, but it is still pretty powerful. Here’s the keyword:
Presence (This enters the battlefield with X counters on it, where X is the number of permanents you control.)
And here are a few ways of using it.
This is probably the simplest way of using Presence – a straight */* for the number of counters on it.
Tectonic Ire comes at Presence from a different angle, allowing the spending of more mana to get some use out of the card. The first activation will usually be for 3 or 4 damage, which, for 4 mana, is not terrible. It’s the second activation will more than make it’s mana cost worthy, and the third activation fantastic.
This adds a sacrifice effect to the use of the Presence counters and, in typical blue fashion, draws cards from it. Five mana is a lot to spend, but over two turns isn’t terrible, and will always net at least three cards. I’m guessing it would be horribly fantastic late game, possibly too good.
I think I’ve got the mana cost far too low on this for too powerful effect. However, at it’s effectively a BBBB cost, I’m not sure. Early on it should always be a 2-for-1, later on much more than that. But probably too cheap.
The Aviary of Hoqas:
Probably my favourite Presence card, The Aviary of Hoqas allows you to spend counters for Bird tokens. You don’t even have to spend them all at once, but whenever you wish. As the Aviary doesn’t get sacrificed when you’ve used all the tokens, if you can find a way to get the more, then you’ll be getting more birdies. Yay.
I found tokens to be an extremely flexible way of getting effects, and it’s something I’ll certainly be exploring in the future.
So there are three new mechanics. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them, so be sure to comment on the post, or e-mail me or find me on twitter
And here’s a preview of next weeks article on Artifacts: