You’re a Designer, Harry! #12 – Mechanics, the Decisions Torn
Welcome back to You’re a Designer, Harry! Or, if you’re new here, hooray! In that case, here’s a summary: This is a collaborative Magic: The Gathering set design article series. We’re designing a four-color set and are currently attempting to nail down some mechanics. If you have anything on your mind regarding the improvement of the set design, please do: speak up! …No? Well, without further Ado —
O.K., here’s some further ado. Unlike last time where I’ll say at least a bit of a blurb about each faction’s woes + mechanics, we won’t be focusing on the other factions besides the one that come to mind recently: The “nothing” faction and the colorless faction.
For the colorless faction, since its philosophy is about nothing (or, rather, having no inclination toward any sort of philosophy), what if its mechanic was about… nothing? More specifically, about vanilla creatures? Here’s what I mean:
I realize that this may be confusing for players, though. What, the creature loses the ability, then it stops resolving (Even though, it just removes the fact that it has that “enters the battlefield” ability and the ability in the middle of resolving on the stack continues until it is finished resolving. At least, I THINK that’s how it works. …Oh, boy, a bad sign. Even I’m not completely sure it works as I intend it to be)? What? That’s not how it works? Confusion and frustration ensues!
NOTE: For those not familiar with the term “virtual vanilla,” it stands for a creature that functions like a vanilla creature beyond the first turn being on the battlefield. Virtual vanillas might have enters-the-battlefield effects or an ability that only works in your hand, like cycling. Examples of virtual vanillas are Æther Adept, Lightning Elemental, and Barkhide Mauler
On that NOTE: For those not familiar with the term “vanilla,” it stands for a creature with no abilities. Like with ice cream, vanilla means it’s just the basic: a creature with a power and toughness. An example of this is Runeclaw Bear
Well, we might as well NOTE the other terms now that we’ve covered the other half already: There are vanillas and virtual vanillas (function like vanillas in the long-run), but there are also twists to vanilla: French vanilla. A French vanilla creature is a creature with only a keyworded ability. Examples are Battle Hurda and Garruk’s Companion. What’s NOT a French vanilla is a creature like Fiery Hellhound, even if its effect is basic. It needs to be a keyworded ability.
There are also “double dip French vanillas.” This is when there are two keywords on the creature. You usually see flying paired with another keyworded creature because flying is so basic (it doesn’t even have reminder text like the other keyworded abilities). Examples of this are Aven Fleetwing and White Knight.
Lastly, there are even virtual French vanillas. This is when a creature, after the first turn it enters the battlefield, functions like a French vanilla. An example of this is Acidic Slime
The one thing that is interesting to me to think about is whether Lightning Elemental categorized as a virtual vanilla or a French vanilla (or both). Anyway, enough with this aside!
You may want to go back up and reread the words before this italicized aside to continue on with the following train of thought below.
I’m only wording it like that because I’m trying to target virtual vanilla creatures, too (and for the creatures with this ability to be able to play well with each other, because they’re virtual vanillas, too)! If only there was a way to reference an inactive ability! Or the fact that they’re virtually vanillas! You guys got any suggestions?
On this note, while we’re at it, and this may or may not be applied to a faction (the best fit of the five seems to be the nonblack faction, if it is applied as a faction mechanic at all), but here’s a tangential mechanic design:
Better, yet; let’s revisit the colorless faction mechanic and apply the technique above:
My concern is whether or not having just the word “flying” there (along with other keywords) after the dash would be confusing for players in that they might think the ability is there all the time.
As you may have noticed, this looks similar to my proposed civilization mechanic for the nonblack faction. It granted a keyworded ability (indicated by the mechanic’s keyword and a dash before it), but it was an “on switch” that only stayed “on” as long as your board state continued to have each of its creatures have two creature types or more. The issue was the condition.
In this mechanic’s case, it’s a keyworded ability that triggers whenever the condition is met. This functions like the allies mechanic. Instead of requiring that you have all of your creatures meet the condition in order for it to “turn on,” allies has you simply have a creature enter the battlefield under your control to trigger it.
But, what about revisiting the “two creature types” quality? That’s simple enough. The flavor of race/class (being civilized) may be a little wonky outside of the context of the set, but we can make sure that, within the set (and the rest of the block) that a creature having two or more creature types means “This creature has a race and a class” (Well, for the most part, if not every time). So, let’s see what it looks like:
So, that’s about it for this week. The white, blue, black, and red factions will get their day in the sun.
I just won’t be right now.
Catch the next article when we do the “fun part” of #mtg design and design individual cards! Better yet, these will be planeswalkers and legendary creatures (read: Commander) specifically (No, #mtg is not dying or anything of the sort . Thanks for reading, guys!