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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:01 am 
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Sometimes I have design-related questions that I don't feel deserve their own thread. This is the thread for those kinds of situations.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:30 am 
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Way back when I attempted to make Veltrum, I tried to execute a graveyard theme that discouraged you from milling yourself recklessly. I wanted players to care for their graveyard a bit like a gardener, pruning cards they didn't want in it so the more important cards could blossom in potential. To this day, I'm still not entirely sure how to execute this on a level sufficient for an entire set. The approaches that I found, are as follows:

Graveyard order matters. If it wasn't such an issue for gameplay reasons, it would be an excellent way to do it, considering the amount of design space. I haven't found any "graveyard order"-adjacent mechanics that don't bring the same issues, but maybe they exist?

Lowest common denominator. Tasigur, the Golden Fang embodies this pretty well. You get a card from your graveyard, but your opponent chooses which one it is. Woodland Sleuth and Desecrator Hag also play into this design space, to a lesser extent. The biggest issue here is that it's difficult to design cards like it that aren't all recursive in nature. You could make a card with, for example, "~'s power is equal to the lowest power among creature cards in your graveyard", but I find those designs to be rather clunky.

Interal conflict. Nether Spirit is probably only card that comes to mind, being a creature that punishes you for having creatures in your grave, causing a form of internal conflict.

Ambivalent effects. Corpse Augur both rewards and punishes you for having a lot of creature cards in your graveyard.

Ultimately, I would like to have a type of repeatedly applicable effect, whether it be a keyword, action word or ability word, but I struggle to find something that is properly reusable. Jim made Salvage in the keyword game. Is it a reasonable set mechanic? Or does it lead to repetitive gameplay? Won't the lowest-cost option be the best one in most scenarios anyway?

idk, thoughts?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:31 am 
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You could have cards that care about a specific range or number of cards/cardtypes in your grave. Like threshold that stops working if you get too high.

Salvage that returns the highest cost or simply a nonland card of opponent's choice would probably have more varied gameplay.

What about something like a graveyard "cycle"
Cost, exile this from your grave/put it on the bottom of your library: mill some, or draw some.

Probbaly not the best idea but you could have something akin to energy tokens. Have cards that exile cards from your graveyard facedown, and then return random facedown cards to the grave as costs for various things.

An imprint like mechanic that changes when a new card goes into your grave. Not sure how to word it to make it work with multiple ones in play though.
Exile a card from your grave, when a card is put into your graveyard exile the new one and return the old one.
That sort of thing.

A terrible terrible awful workaround for graveyard matters stuff would be to have a keyword that causes them to exile themselves when they hit the grave from anywhere with a number of counters equal to how many cards with that keyword are already exiled, then have cards use the one with the most or least counters. Then you could also have cards that exile things with numbers if counters on them. This actually seems like my kind of bad I might use this. But most likely not

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:37 am 
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Yeah. This is a tough nut to crack. Would you say Escape or Delve fit this ask? A graveyard mechanic that requires other cards in your yard to fuel it.

I thought the return to Theros would bring “graveyard devotion” or cards that cared about number of pips of a certain color in your graveyard - so maybe something similar would work? Threshold and Delirium are other examples of “count” mechanics that focus on the graveyard.

I designed the following mechanic in my dead You Make the Booster contest:

Foreshadow N (You may put target instant or sorcery card from your graveyard into your library Nth from top. If you do, exile this card.)

I’d consider it similar to Escape in that it relies on the trade off between exiling it for another card OR letting it go to the graveyard for another foreshadowing card to pick.

I’ll add more thoughts as I have them.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:40 am 
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my first instinct was Tasigur-style effects, but I can't really think of how to expand them beyond recursion without looking awkward. I think the big thing to me is that just measuring a number feels unsatisfying: Tasigur and the random-return stuff both play on the fact that what you might want back changes as the game progresses.

One possible approach is a sort of anti-threshold on graveyard-based abilities:

Forgotten Researcher-
Creature-Human Wizard
Barrow-, exile Forgotten Researcher from your graveyard: Draw two cards. Activate this ability only if there are four or fewer other cards in your graveyard.
She lies in wait for someone to remember her life's work.
1/3

:duel:

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 12:19 pm 
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I said anti threshold as my first idea. So that's probably a good one if razor agrees

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 12:58 pm 
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LilyStorm wrote:
I said anti threshold as my first idea. So that's probably a good one if razor agrees

anti-threshold is interesting but it's hard to execute because low-volume graveyards is the game's starting state, so things like nimble mongoose don't really work. in-play static abilities based on it just wind up feeling like drawbacks, not rewards you have to work towards. graveyard-based statics are a little more interesting but feel a bit too all-or-nothing: if you can have up to, say, 5 of them, then the pressure becomes to generate the perfect 5-card graveyard and then never let anything die ever again. I think the approach represented by Barrow, where they're single-use activations from the graveyard, is probably the best way to thread the needle on that, although it was my idea so I'm biased.

:duel:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 1:12 am 
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@LilyStorm: While those latter ones do satisfy the requirement of punishing you for brainlessly milling yourself, I would ideally want players to actively sculpt their graveyard through clever use of exile or other effects.

@BelangiaJo: No, I wouldn't say Delve or Escape qualifies. The best way to utilize those mechanics is to provide as much fodder as possible, which is also the case for the other examples you highlight. Sure, with Threshold and Delirium you can stop after you've milled yourself enough, but there's no thought that goes into enabling it, apart from delirium having some deckbuilding considerations.

@razorborne: The biggest letdown of your suggestion is mostly that then you don't care about what is in your graveyard, just how much. Instead of "flashback, but with anti-threshold", I think I'd rather see "flashback, if it has the lowest/highest cmc" or "flashback, if it's the only of its type", probably. Something that is constrained more by the shape of your graveyard than the size, I'm just not sure what the "if" and the "flashback" should be.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 1:51 am 
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This is likely too strict, but here's a thought:

Scarce - As long as ~ is the only <card type> card in your graveyard, <ability>.

Arcaw, the Last Phoenix -
Legendary Creature - Phoenix | R
Flying, haste
Scarce - As long as Arcaw, The Last Phoenix is the only creature card in your graveyard, you may cast it from your graveyard.
3/3


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 2:19 am 
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Mown wrote:
Way back when I attempted to make Veltrum, I tried to execute a graveyard theme that discouraged you from milling yourself recklessly. I wanted players to care for their graveyard a bit like a gardener, pruning cards they didn't want in it so the more important cards could blossom in potential. To this day, I'm still not entirely sure how to execute this on a level sufficient for an entire set. The approaches that I found, are as follows:

Graveyard order matters. If it wasn't such an issue for gameplay reasons, it would be an excellent way to do it, considering the amount of design space. I haven't found any "graveyard order"-adjacent mechanics that don't bring the same issues, but maybe they exist?

Lowest common denominator. Tasigur, the Golden Fang embodies this pretty well. You get a card from your graveyard, but your opponent chooses which one it is. Woodland Sleuth and Desecrator Hag also play into this design space, to a lesser extent. The biggest issue here is that it's difficult to design cards like it that aren't all recursive in nature. You could make a card with, for example, "~'s power is equal to the lowest power among creature cards in your graveyard", but I find those designs to be rather clunky.

Interal conflict. Nether Spirit is probably only card that comes to mind, being a creature that punishes you for having creatures in your grave, causing a form of internal conflict.

Ambivalent effects. Corpse Augur both rewards and punishes you for having a lot of creature cards in your graveyard.

Ultimately, I would like to have a type of repeatedly applicable effect, whether it be a keyword, action word or ability word, but I struggle to find something that is properly reusable. Jim made Salvage in the keyword game. Is it a reasonable set mechanic? Or does it lead to repetitive gameplay? Won't the lowest-cost option be the best one in most scenarios anyway?

idk, thoughts?

Stuff like soulshift and reanimation effects come to mind, basically anything that targets a single card. Yes, self-mill can obviously help you with those, but only by making it more likely that you have a high-quality target, the value doesn't scale linearly with the number of cards in your graveyard like Flashback does, and finding a way to get the one optimal target in there will be more valuable than just brute forcing the problem.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 2:43 am 
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They still don't provide the kind of decision-rich environment I am looking to create though. It's very much just get your good cards in your graveyard, then profit. I want some push-and-pull, some real tension in your choices. I want the exclusion of something in the graveyard to be as important as the inclusion.

One advantage that salvage has, as opposed to the conditional flashback variants, is that they're less feast or famine. You always get something, just not always what you hoped for. I think that's a compelling aspect of its design. Not that it's necessary, delirium and threshold are very much on/off abilities. I've been thinking about flashback variants with reverse affinity for cards in your graveyard and I don't think I like it, but the direction intrigues me.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 5:14 am 
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Mown wrote:
@razorborne: The biggest letdown of your suggestion is mostly that then you don't care about what is in your graveyard, just how much. Instead of "flashback, but with anti-threshold", I think I'd rather see "flashback, if it has the lowest/highest cmc" or "flashback, if it's the only of its type", probably. Something that is constrained more by the shape of your graveyard than the size, I'm just not sure what the "if" and the "flashback" should be.

I'm not sure that actually plays out the way you want it to. like, let's say we go with only-creature. in that case... what's the deckbuilding consequence? well, if the ability is on creatures then you don't want to run too many cards with the ability, because each one risks negating the value of the others. you want only a couple cards that actually activate, and the rest need to be chaff that you don't care about, which means that in play you're just gonna be exiling basically every creature that winds up in your graveyard anyway, just like if your goal was a hard size limit. the difference is, with a hard size limit, you can still run more cards with the ability because you have space in your graveyard for more of them before they start turning each other off. lowest-CMC is slightly better, but the existence of ties makes that feel awkward, especially if it's tied to static abilities. if you want people to care about pruning specific things you could maybe combine the only-creatures thing and the anti-threshold thing and say "activate this ability only if there's 2 or fewer other creature cards in your graveyard" (for some value of 2) so you have a bit of breathing room but you're focusing your efforts on pruning a specific type, which would then let you make more instants/sorceries that exiled cards without being redundant. that might be the best solution.

another thought:

Soul Of Lanterns-
Creature-Spirit
Flying
Remnant - At the beginning of your upkeep, gain 1 life. (This ability is active if Soul of Lanterns is the only card with Remnant in your graveyard.)
"When candles flicker on a windless night, it's a sign Old Jack is watching you."~Davian, village elder
2/1

I don't love it for numerous reasons, but if you're gonna compare for a quality the most natural way to do it would probably be to make your own.

:duel:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 5:21 am 
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Mown wrote:
They still don't provide the kind of decision-rich environment I am looking to create though. It's very much just get your good cards in your graveyard, then profit. I want some push-and-pull, some real tension in your choices. I want the exclusion of something in the graveyard to be as important as the inclusion.

basically, I'm not convinced this is possible. most cards in graveyards are basically the same, barring a couple stats, so the only real way to do anything with them is a pretty brute-force comparison of those stats, which will almost always result in a situation where the goal is to either a) put as many things as possible in there, or b) remove as many things as possible from there. you can limit the set of cards that count as "things" a bit by measuring specific card types or colors or whatever, but outside of direct recursion effects there's very little you can do to actually get players to care much about the majority of a card's identity while it's in the yard. like, setting aside the ability to actually cast it, what is the difference between battle hymn, burn the impure, and invigorated rampage? how do you make me care which of those is in my graveyard?

I mean, as a one-off you could do something like this:

Ludomancer's Triumph-
Sorcery
If your graveyard contains exactly one white enchantment, one blue instant, one black planeswalker, one red sorcery, one green creature, one colorless artifact, and no other cards, you win the game.
"Let me show you how a grandmaster plays."~Vari, the Strategist

but that doesn't really generalize well.

:duel:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 6:38 am 
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Even when I don't really like randomness, if it's controlled...
Maybe something like:

Gravedigger Phantasm

Creature - Spirit
As Gravedigger Phantasm enters the battlefield, choose a random card from your graveyard. Gravedigger Phantasm enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it, where X is the converted mana cost of the chosen card.
1/1

Hellfire Eruptions

Enchantment
At the beginning of your upkeep, choose a random card from your graveyard. If the chosen card is red, Hellfire Eruptions deals 1 damage to each creature.

More cards in your GY means less chances to pick the one you need.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 7:31 am 
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You do have a point. You're always going to need an intersection of effects to create the dilemma, but the flashback alternatives I presented doesn't facilitate that. Salvage can, if you have "Salvage a red card" and "Salvage a sorcery" in your deck then that layers the decision making in what you put into your graveyard. Maybe you keep a bad red card because it's your only sorcery. I need the mechanic to provide individual interactions with the shape of your graveyard, either by having them search for distinct but overlapping patterns, or by using the same cards in different contexts. The former I already gave an example for, while the latter would be... this seems pretty difficult, so I doubt it's a realistic option, but say one creature gets all abilities of a given creature in your graveyard, while another one gains its P/T values, and then a third one produces mana according to its colors.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 8:50 am 
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Salient <cost> (At the beginning of your upkeep, you may pay the salient cost. If you do, and if there is no other card in your graveyard with a greater converted mana cost, return this card from your graveyard to your hand.)

Scandalous Trial
Sorcery
Name a non-basic card. Each opponent reveals their hand and discards all cards that share a name with the named card.
Salient - Sacrifice a Creature

Troll Colossus
Creature - Troll Giant
Trample
Salient
7/7

Cutting Remark :r:
Instant
Cutting Remark deals 1 damage to any target.
Salient :r:

Wondrous Dream
Sorcery
Draw three cards.
Salient - Discard two cards.

Golden Era
Enchantment
Creatures you control have indestructible.
If you would gain life, gain twice that much life instead.
When a creature you control attacks, sacrifice Golden Era.
Salient - Tap all creatures you control.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 11:24 am 
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You might be able to do something with "If the highest converted mana cost among cards in your graveyard is greater than the number of cards in your graveyard [something good]" and then maybe tack on "otherwise exile up to 3 cards from your graveyard" if it is a one time effect so that the mechanic can help fuel itself when the ability stops working.

I was trying to do something that cared about the difference instead of just a boolean but that seemed like a mess. I know "Keep the biggest thing" isn't tension but I don't think you want tracking it to be much more complicated. Instead you get tension from "Do I use this spell to clean up my yard or hold it until I can change my yard with something else" and you still have situations like "How can I trade off my 4 drop before any of my other creatures die"


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 11:34 am 
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Mourn X - Exile this card from your graveyard, do thing. If you have X or more cards in your graveyard each opponent also does thing.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 1:03 pm 
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Lumbering Ancient
Creature - Treefolk (C)
Mournful (As a this enters the battlefield, rearrange your graveyard top to bottom from lowest converted mana cost to highest converted mana cost. While this is on the battlefield, cards enter your graveyard in this arrangement.)
Lumbering Ancient gets +X/+0, where X is the converted mana cost of the top card in your graveyard.
1/4

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:35 am 
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rush you're banned from the conversation

I think I have two approaches I'm considering. The first one is to just use a Salvage-equivalent as a set mechanic, where "Salvage a [property]" means "Return a [property] card from your graveyard to your hand" ["of an opponent's choice", "at random" or "with the highest converted mana cost among cards in your graveyard"]. Leaning towards the first one, although it's the most time consuming. Second one has all the de/merits of being random, and the third one provides the biggest puzzle-solving element. Salvage also fits mechanically pretty well into the set flavor-wise. The other option is to use something broader as the signal, like let's say anti-threshold, and then have non-keyworded graveyard interactions in the set as well, so you have a keyword creating the pull and individual cards creating a push. The advantage of this is that it's easier to make something arbitrary (like having a tiny graveyard) look sensible if you give it a label.

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