Friday, March 30, 2012

Chimzar - Counter Spell Friday: CMC 5

Happy Counter Spell Friday where I weekly (or soon to be weekly) talk about the most powerful spells in Magic, counter spells.  I know it is very late on Friday that I am posting this, but its not Saturday yet and that’s what counts.  Counter spells are what make noncreature spells interactive.  Without them players would just play their hand until they win instead of having interaction.  Today I am going to talk about my favorite counter spell and designing others like it.  So, my favorite counter spell is CMC 5, can be used with a different cost and makes me smile whenever I cast it.  Here is a link.

Now you probably think I am crazy as there are many far better counter spells, but it is truly a great design.  First and far the greatest reason is that it is constructed playable.  Back in Shards block it fit in great as its early mana fixing was amazing for blue and countering a spell late game was also great.  Its costs led into when you would want to use either part.  Second, whenever I countered a spell with it, I just had to smile.  There is just something about paying five for a counter spell.

There are only 6 CMC counter spells in all of Magic’s history.  Most top out at 4 as most second abilities are fair at 4.  The spell really has to be unique or powerful to cost 5.  Traumatic Visions does something blue never does by fixing your mana.  Force of Will is "Free" or cost above average.  Desertion steals the spell.  What all of these have in common is that when you play them you are getting serious bang for your buck.

The design examples I have for you today are to show reasons for having a counter spell at CMC 5.  Obviously the more powerful of counter spell the more it should cost. 

Second, if you bleed colors (say to white or black) the CMC should go up compared to its blue counter parts.

Lastly, the more a spell does the more it should cost.  My examples are combinations of two colors. 

I hope you enjoy Counter Spell Friday and I’ll be back with more next week.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chimzar - Designing Ante, Part 3

For the third installment of Designing Ante, the cuffs are off.  Having the high risk of actually losing ownership of cards allows designers to push the boundaries of power.  In this article I will be discussing the heightened power level, the importance of high risk and reward, and, most importantly, the excitement of playing ante cards.

Ante cards do extraordinary things.  They need to or players will play cards that have much less risk to them.  A good test for this is asking if this card is "Power 9" powerful.  A card that does the same thing as a Mox but also antes a card when it entered the battlefield would be on par with this idea.  Just like the "Power 9," ante cards need to improve you position as enablers.  When you have a Black Lotus on the battlefield, for a turn, you are ahead three turns.  That said, you can't win the game with just Black Lotuses.  Ante cards need to work the same way, by not winning the game for you, but instead setting your other cards up to win.  Keep in mind that Zen, the most common Ante format, is played with a very random assortment of cards of all colors, so higher power level cards that don't win the game themselves do not take the game over as effectively as one may think.

As a cost for crazy powerful abilities there also needs to be risks.  This includes exchanging cards, giving cards to opponents or anteing more cards.  Most often ante cards need to encourage their caster to win the game without guaranteeing it.  Cards that just take can really hurt the appeal of ante as it takes the randomness and sport out of the game.  You want players to win the cards not steal them.  Exchanging is much better as it may not be fair but at least they get something back and both players may not be completely happy.  Putting more cards in the ante adds more excitement as raising the stakes is positive both for the player getting the powerful spell and his or her opponents getting more cards to win.  All of these work, however, the less random and more "unfair" cards should be less frequent and at higher rarities.

The most important aspect of any Magic card design is that the card encourages fun and exciting play.  The best ante cards are exciting for all players.  The more interaction players have the more they will want to keep playing to figure out the puzzles the cards create.  For the player casting the ante spell, the card should allow the player to do something they want that may not be feasible without ante because of its high power level.  Ultimately, fun need to be happening for players to want to risk their cards.  Without fun, no one will play.

Now the examples I have shown today may not be perfect and probably break some of the ideas I have talked about.  What is important to remember with any design is to push it to ask the question of why or why not does this card design work and/or help create a fun game experience.  I hope that these articles encourage you to design some ante card of your own and at the very least that you try playing Zen.  Until next time, may all of your ante winnings be Black Lotuses.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Chimzar's Card of the Day #13 - Defining Moment

Its Counter Spell Friday!  Ok, I just made that up, but I'm starting a trend.  This one is simple yet fun!

CHALLENGE:  New challenge for next Friday.  Make a constructed playable counter spell with a converted mana cost of 5 at every rarity. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chimzar - Monarchy and Monarchs, Part 1

Monarchy is a keyword ability that I have been working on for years.  I will be discussing the blend of flavor and function, both of which Monarchy is based on.  So here is the concept of Monarchy.

The base functional text of Monarchy is as follows "Monarchy - [Ability] as long as ~ is a Monarch. (At the beginning of your upkeep, if you don't control a Monarch, you may have a permanent with Monarchy you control become a Monarch in addition to its other creature types. This effect lasts indefinitely.)"  In lay terms, Monarchy turns a normal creature in to a leader.  When a creature becomes a Monarch, it will lead in a different way. 

From the flavor angle, creatures with Monarchy tend to have "male" flavor, where as creature that are just Monarchs are "female."  From a flavor stand point this makes sense, as the "kings" are appointed where as "queens" either are married in or come from nobility.  This however has created an issue.  When played together, "queens" can block the Monarchy creatures from becoming "kings."  The issue is less prevalent in a setting where creatures die often and makes getting your "king" online more challenging, which promotes more skillful play.  If it becomes a real issue, Monarch could be changed to King and Queen, but I'd like to avoid that.

This ability started as a "pope" ability where a creature was elected "pope", but flavor wise it made little sense to have both players with a "pope."  Using Monarchs instead opens up the options of who can be a leader while keeping the in-fighting flavor.  The flavor of "queen" really adds to the flavor (I'll talk about "queens" next time).

Please let me know what you think.  The most important aspect of an ability is that it functions with in the rules and is intuitive.  Monarchy has been festering in my mind for years, but really needs outside reality checks.  Do you think this could lead to interesting and fun plays?  If not, how could it improve?  Thank you for reading and for you input.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chimzar's Card of the Day #12 - The Ghosts of Gods of Old (Non-Artifact Colorless Uncommon)

In spirit it is written right, but please correct me if my rules are off.  This is cheap for an Eldrazi (does this count for a cheap non-artifact colorless creature?), but maybe I could make it cheaper?  I have been meaning to write multiple articles but have been super busy.  I'll get to it here soon, hopefully...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chimzar's Card of the Day #10 - Man-Eating Demon (Black Rare)

Look mom, no mana cost!

Edit: Human Offering granted pseudo Flash, but I don't think it fits with the flavor. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chimzar's Card of the Day #9 - Outsider's Appeal

We've been exhausting creatures recently, so I thought I would fulfill a request I had.

Counter spells, here I come!

Bob - Aggro at Rarity: Black Common

Designed to be the black keldon marauders. He can get in exactly 5 points of damage before he dies, but is more abusable with toughness pump spells or tap effects. He can also kill himself in response to kill spells like magma jet.

Bob - LoL Card of the Day: Fiora

Everyone's favorite new champion. Personally I have a hard time playing as her, but I suck at playing melee carries, so it's not really her. From friends who can, I've heard she's insanely OP, and thus I made her card fairly OP.  I'd probably still play mirran crusader over her, but hey, we can't always be mirran crusader.