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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:31 pm 
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In our previous thread, we talked a lot about tropes and outcomes that come with a world suffering a pandemic. (Take a gander if you haven't yet done so.) With a lot of ideas cataloged, it's time to start some initial designing and conversations around that. Because people design better to structure, we're gonna begin by looking at black design ideas. (If a non-black pops up while you're tinkering, feel free to post it and I'll earmark it for later discussion. I'll also repost some black mechanics that were posted on the previous thread.) As a reminder, Scars of Mirrodin already explored this concept, so it's both a source of inspiration as well as a point of avoidance. We'll undoubtedly use some of the same ideas that set used, but we should look for space outside its scope.

So... I chose to start with black because it's the color most familiar with disease, viruses, outbreaks, and everything else involved. What are some individual card ideas and broader mechanics we could utilize in black? Consider these focal points while designing (thanks to arathanius for the suggestions):

1. How can we represent the pandemic mechanically without being oppressive? We want infection to be a theme, we want to see problems spread throughout creatures, players get stuck with recurring ailments, planeswalkers suffering, but we don't want that spread to be exponential (or even cumulative, really). Infect (darn you Scars of Mirrodin {see below}) is a good example: -1/-1 counters have a lasting, negative effect, and piling them on creates a greater detriment, but that only matters when players choose to engage their creatures in combat.
2. What ideas from Scars of Mirrodin do we embrace and which do we avoid? The more ideas we explore (-1/-1 counters, proliferating mechanics, punisher mechanics, germs, etc.), the more I realize just how much this theme already belonged to that set. I knew there would be some cross-over, but forgot just how much that world was basically suffering a pandemic. My gut answer to this question is that we change the things we find good ideas for and embrace the things we don't, but that's not a real answer. I also like the idea of using SOM ideas in different ways, like with Tevish Szat's weaponless germs. I also think we can lean into our real-world inspiration: rather than a Phyrexian invasion, we have our pandemic be an infectious outbreak and the set deals with the peoples experiences, whether they're good, evil, or somewhere inbetween.
3. How does black relate to each other color in this pandemic world? We brainstormed a lot of different ideas for the colors individually, but I didn't ask about relationships! This set doesn't have to follow traditional binary color schemes, but I'd still like to see some designs that explore what black might bring to each of its color pairs.

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Last edited by Rush_Clasic on Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:46 pm 
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I’ll post ideas as I have them.

I really liked the Torment cycle from Hour of Devastation. In a pandemic context, something similar could represent inhabitants of the plane having to make difficult decisions and/or decide between several less than ideal circumstances. These could be modal or punisher cards.

Eat to Survive -
Sorcery | C
As an additional cost to cast this spell, sacrifice a creature.
Choose one -
  • Target opponent discards two cards. You gain 3 life.
  • You draw two cards and lose 3 life.

PS: I also like it as a callback to Pox or even Smallpox.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:12 pm 
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BelangiaJo wrote:
Eat to Survive -
Sorcery | C
As an additional cost to cast this spell, sacrifice a creature.
Choose one -
  • Target opponent discards two cards. You gain 3 life.
  • You draw two cards and lose 3 life.

PS: I also like it as a callback to Pox or even Smallpox.

this sounds really bad
how about

Eat to Survive -
Sorcery | C
As an additional cost to cast this spell, sacrifice a creature.
Choose one -
  • Target opponent discards two cards and loses 3 life.
  • You draw two cards and gain 3 life.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 3:19 pm 
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You may be right, but the flexibility of a card that could draw you cards or deny your opponent cards is pretty strong. I was simply suggesting the card as a concept.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:46 pm 
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Contaminate
Sorcery
Put a contamination counter on target creature. (Creatures with contamination counters on them are 3/2 zombies with 'at the beginning of your upkeep, put a contamination counter on target creature'.)


I guess contamination could also trigger on combat damage if it wasn't an airborne pandemic.
3/2 so it can be used both aggressively and defensively.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 6:19 pm 
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Plague Carrier
Creature - Human Rogue
Plague Carrier enters the battlefield with a plague counter on it. (Whenever it blocks or is blocked by a creature, put a plague counter on that creature. Creatures with at least one plague counter on them get -1/-1.)
2/2

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 6:37 pm 
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The Penumbra ability, but instead the creature token is a black Zombie.

Infected Outcast -
Creature - Human Peasant | C
When Infected Outcast dies, create a 2/1 black Zombie creature token.
2/1


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 9:21 pm 
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Isolation Edict-
Enchantment
Players can't control more than four creatures. (If a player does, they sacrifice creatures until they have four or less.)

worded as a restriction instead of a trigger so it doesn't stall the game out with tajuru preserver.

could also see this in white if you'd prefer, or even if we're doing multicolored stuff.

:duel:

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:15 am 
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Note: I'll be using the "Carrier" type a good deal. I would personally like to see Carriers be the default for the Infected (rather than Zombies) to distinct it from more generic zombie apocalypse horror and let us play with Carrier tribal synergies without worrying about cross-contamination with every other set's zombies. X Carrier for the less afflicted but still mechanically plaguey, just Carrier for those that are little more than macroscopic disease (essentially "Creature - Carrier" covers what would be "Creature - Carrier Horror")

Germ Archetype (Expected to be shared with Green). Essentially, consists of cards that create Germ tokens and cards that benefit from creating Germ tokens. Since germs are 0/0 by default they usually die to SBEs, and unlike Living Weapon germs are expected to, so the majority of synergy cards will trigger on germs entering and/or dying.

Vector Vermin
:b::b:
Creature - Rat Carrier {C}
When Vector Vermin enters the battlefield or dies, create a 0/0 black Germ creature token.
2/1

Blighted Infiltrator
:b:
Creature - Carrier {C}
Deathtouch
Whenever Blighted Infiltrator deals combat damage to a player, create a 0/0 black germ creature token.
1/1

Dying Wretch
:1::b:
Creature - Human Peasant {C}
When a germ enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice Dying Wretch. If you do, create two 0/0 black germ creature tokens
2/1

Pustule Pop
:1::b:
Instant {C}
Put a -1/-1 counter on target creature. Create a 0/0 black germ creature token

Delirious Victim
:2::b:
Creature - Human Peasant {U}
At the beginning of your upkeep, create a 0/0 black germ creature token

Plague Amalgam
:3::b:
Creature - Carrier {U}
Plague Amalgam enters the battlefield with 9 -1/-1 counters on it
Whenever a germ enters the battlefield, remove a -1/-1 counter from Plague Amalgam.
10/10

Diseased Gasp
:1::b:
Sorcery {U}
Destroy target creature with one or more -1/-1 counters on it. Create a 0/0 black germ creature token for each -1/-1 counter that was on that creature.

Master of Strains
:3::b::b:
Creature - Carrier {R}
Flying
Germs you control get +1/+1
4/4

Virulent Wind

Sorcery {R}
Virulent Wind costs :1: less to cast for each germ that entered the battlefield this turn.
Destroy all creatures you don't control.

Viropotence
:b::b::b:
Enchantment {MR}
Whenever a germ enters the battlefield you draw a card and lose 1 life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Symptom" Auras - negative auras that return from the graveyard when something happens to indicate that a creature begins to "exhibit symptoms" (Yes, these are all drawn from the symptoms described on the original Carrier cycle)

Rash
:b:
Enchantment - Aura Symptom
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature gets -1/-1
Whenever a -1/-1 counter is placed on a creature, you may return Rash from your graveyard to the battlefield, attached to that creature.

Vitriolic Nausea
:b:
Enchantment - Aura Symptom
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step unless that player pays :1: or puts a -1/-1 counter on enchanted creature.
Whenever a creature becomes tapped except during combat, you may return Vitriolic Nausea from your graveyard to the battlefield, attached to that creature.

High Fever
:1::b:
Enchantment - Aura Symptom
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature has "At the beginning of your upkeep, this creature deals 1 damage to you."
Whenever a creature deals damage to you, you may return High Fever from your graveyard to the battlefield, attached to that creature.

Muscle Aches
:2::b:
Enchantment - Aura Symptom
Enchant Creature
Damage is dealt to enchanted creature as though its source had wither.
Whenever a creature blocks, you may return Muscle Aches from your graveyard to the battlefield, attached to that creature.

Persistent Cough
:2::b:
Enchantment - Aura Symptom
Enchant Creature
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a -1/-1 counter on enchanted creature and create a 0/0 black germ creature token
Whenever a creature attacks or blocks with one or more other creatures, you may return Persistent Cough from your graveyard to the battlefield, attached to one of those creatures.

Plague Delirium
:3::b:
Enchantment - Aura Symptom
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature can't attack or block unless its controller discards a card.
Enchanted creature's abilities cost an additional "discard a card" to activate.
Whenever a creature's power or toughness is changed by a spell or ability, you may return Plague Delirium from your graveyard to the battlefield, attached to that creature.

Convulsions
:3::b:
Enchantment - Aura Symptom
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature attacks each combat if able
Enchanted creature blocks each combat if able
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, untap enchanted creature.
Whenever a creature becomes untapped except during an untap step, you may return Convulsions from your graveyard to the battlefield, attached to that creature.

Approaching Death
:3::b:
Enchantment - Aura Symptom
Enchant Creature
Enchanted Creature has "at the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice this creature"
Whenever a creature's power or toughness becomes 1 or less, if that isn't its base power or toughness you may return Approaching Death from your graveyard to the battlefield, attached to that creature.

And a support card...

Asymptomatic Vector
:3::b:
Creature - Human Carrier
When Asymptomatic Vector enters the battlefield, search your library for any number of symptoms with different names and attach them to Asymptomatic Vector, then shuffle your library.
Symptoms attached to Asymptomatic Vector lose all abilities other than "Enchant Creature".
2/3

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Last edited by Tevish Szat on Sun Oct 11, 2020 2:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:35 am 
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Corpse counters to "turn on" hidden abilities of creatures once they're infected.

The Jock -
Creature - Human Warrior | C
Succumb (When this creature dies, return it to the battlefield tapped with a corpse counter on it.)
As long as The Jock has a corpse counter on it, it has deathtouch.
2/2

Or to turn them off?

The Brain -
Creature - Human Warlock | R
At the beginning of your upkeep, draw a card and lose 1 life.
Succumb (When this creature dies, return it to the battlefield tapped with a corpse counter on it. It has no abilities as long as it has a corpse counter on it.)
1/1


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:25 am 
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How about some negative version of the city's blessing or monarch? If you have the contagion, you must discard a card or sack a permanent at end of turn. Black would be the color that gives the contagion the most. Black and green creatures would benefit from having opponents with the contagion. White and blue would have the most answers to the contagion. Red would just keep partying on, contagion or no.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 2:15 pm 
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@BelangiaJo: You referenced the torment cycle, which I think works well thematically, but I don't see it having a lot of design space beyond a cycle within the set. Choice is a good underlining theme, but difficult to make visually appealing, and even harder to keep uncomplicated. (The game already has so much choice as it is.)

@arathinius: Your take on contamination counters spreads really fast. I feel like game states would become extremely Humility-esque. (If you've ever played a Humility game, you'll know it's miserable.) As a comparison, infect spreads -1/-1 counters slowly but every contamination creates a bigger impact. I think a counter that changes creatures could be a workable theme, but I have doubts about this specific execution.

@YingLung: Plague counters are very, very close to -1/-1 counters. I get that they don't stack and that shows off the low-level contamination theme, but I'm not sure they have enough applicable benefits over -1/-1 counters, which shows off the same theme and make more sense in counting and applying to creatures.

@BelangiaJo: What about the penumbra ability fits the theme to you? I'm just curious. :)

@razorborne: I could see something like this as a rare cycle. Seems like it could be somewhat miserable; I'm having flashbacks of particularly mean Limited Resources decks from yesteryear. Of course, I played those, so I sort of loved the whole ordeal.

@Tevish Szat: (1) I pretty much agree with your use of carrier: I like it as both a type rider and a stand alone type. (2) Your take on germ tokens is interesting. It has a bit of that devoid feel where the actual mechanic is somewhat meaningless. I have some doubt that such a thing would work well; it might be that most cards creating them would want to have direct uses for them, like stapling a germ creation onto a Falkenrath Noble. Or...

Surrounded by Sick
Enchantment (C)
Enchant creature
Whenever a creature enters the battlefield, enchanted creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.
When Surrounded by Sick enters the battlefield, create a 0/0 black Germ creature token.

Despite my naysaying, I do like the idea of germ tokens just popping up and dying all over the place. (3) I think a recurring enchantment theme (or Takklemaggot as you mentioned in the previous thread) is a fabulous angle to use, but your example symptoms all have that "forgotten trigger" issue. Something that like Rancor or Gryff's Boon probably works better in that capacity.

@BelangiaJo: We could also go the face-down route instead of using corpse counters that remove abilities. Blank 2/2s could be themed as lifeless, vapid creatures stricken by whatever our ailment is.

Ravaging Ravager
Creature - Beast (C)
Drone (When this creature dies, return it to the battlefield face-down as a 2/2 creature.)
4/4

Face-down-ness could also be a way to represent mass-infection without resorting to the tricks of Mirrodin. Hmmm....

@purplebackpack89: I definitely like the idea of infecting players specifically. I also wonder if using curses would get that job done, though I wonder if that meshes themes a bit too much.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 2:19 pm 
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Can I suggest that Rush make a Rush-style list of desiderata? I personally find it easier to design when I've got a clear idea as to what's tricky and what hoops I'll have to jump through to get there.

Two desiderata I feel strongly about are
  • How can we represent the pandemic without it being oppressive?
  • How can we represent a pandemic in a different way to Scars of Mirrodin?

The first one in particular is a risk, I think. Mechanics that make it easy to kill creatures or punish opponents risk making the game un-fun. The second one is just to try to avoid copying something that's already done.

My preference would be for cards and mechanics that represent the plague as both positive and negative, as this solves both problems in one fell swoop:

Give Mosquitos
Sorcery
Target player creatures two 1/1 black insect tokens with flying and 'at the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 1 life'.

Self-infect
Instant
Put a +1/-1 counter on target creature.
Draw a card.


Another option is to go the Germ Swarm route that Tejmen suggested in the last thread.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 5:51 pm 
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hmm. +1/-1 is a neat idea for a characteristic of the plague.
Would that be viable for plague counters? Or would -1/-1 counters win out due to simplicity and precedence?

Plague Carrier 2 Bubonic Boogaloo
Creature - Human Rogue
Plague Carrier 2 Bubonic Boogaloo enters the battlefield with a plague counter on it. (Whenever it blocks or is blocked by a creature, put a plague counter on that creature. Creatures get +1/-1 for each plague counter on them.)
1/2

I want something that delineates sick and non-sick creatures so that cards can play off it.

Contaminated Gifts
Sorcery
Target player creates two treasure artifact tokens and puts a plague counter on each creature they control.

Determined Merchant
Creature - Human Peasant
Whenever Determined Merchant deals combat damage to a player, if it has no counter on it, each player draws a card. Otherwise, each player discards a card.
1/3

Hope of the Hopeless
Creature - Human Rogue
As long as Hope of the Hopeless does not have a plague counter on it, it gets +1/+1 for each creature with a plague counter, and cannot be blocked by creatures with a plague counter.
1/2

Locus of Plague
Creature - Incarnation
Whenever a plague counter is put on another creature, put a plague counter on Locus of Plague.
Locus of Plague's toughness cannot be decreased.
1/1

Desperation
Enchantment
Creatures with power greater than their toughness have haste and first strike.

Ostracize
Instant
Exile target creature. If that creature didn't have a plague counter on it, return it to the battlefield at the end of turn under its owner's control.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:27 pm 
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@BelangiaJo: You referenced the torment cycle, which I think works well thematically, but I don't see it having a lot of design space beyond a cycle within the set. Choice is a good underlining theme, but difficult to make visually appealing, and even harder to keep uncomplicated. (The game already has so much choice as it is.)

I think choice is the perfect distillation of what I'm trying to get at here. Wasn't implying we should expand the Torment cycle in its true form, but instead give players difficult choices. This could also be manifested as a resource-constrained option and an option when resources aren't constrained.

Wrack the Brain -
Sorcery | C
As an additional cost to cast this spell, you may pay 2 life. If you do, this spell costs less to cast.
Draw two cards.


Quote:
@BelangiaJo: What about the penumbra ability fits the theme to you? I'm just curious. :)

I think this is actually handled very nicely with the face-down route mentioned below. This ability fits the theme because it dies and becomes a zombie.

Quote:
@BelangiaJo: We could also go the face-down route instead of using corpse counters that remove abilities. Blank 2/2s could be themed as lifeless, vapid creatures stricken by whatever our ailment is.

Ravaging Ravager
Creature - Beast (C)
Drone (When this creature dies, return it to the battlefield face-down as a 2/2 creature.)
4/4

Face-down-ness could also be a way to represent mass-infection without resorting to the tricks of Mirrodin. Hmmm....

I really like the concept of face-down creatures representing the infection > things like -1/-1 counters because that horse has been beat to death. It would still allow other tropes to play out. For example:

Administer the Cure -
Instant | C
Turn target face-down creature face up. You gain life equal to its converted mana cost.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:31 pm 
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@razorborne: I could see something like this as a rare cycle. Seems like it could be somewhat miserable; I'm having flashbacks of particularly mean Limited Resources decks from yesteryear. Of course, I played those, so I sort of loved the whole ordeal.

whoops, worded it unclearly. my intent was a cap of four creatures for each player.

:duel:

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:45 pm 
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Blowfly Infestation; honestly this card always gave me a sort of contagion feel.

Outbreak
Enchantment
When ~ enters the battlefield, put a -1/-1 counter on target creature.
At the beginning of each player's end step, for each creature they control with a -1/-1 counter on it, put a -1/-1 counter on target creature with the least number of -1/-1 counters that player controls.

Could probably be made cleaner, but I believe black's perspective would be not care about the danger they themselves pose while afflicted.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 7:57 pm 
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Grathblood
Disease
(Start the game with this conspiracy disease face down in the command zone and secretly choose a card name. You may turn this conspiracy face up any time and reveal that name.)
Whenever a non-token creature you control with the chosen name dies, you may pay . If you do, put a -1/-1 counter on each creature that dealt damage, received damage, blocked or was blocked by it this turn.

. Skinling Infection Create x 1/1 hatchling creature tokens, where x is creature's power.

. Noxious bloat. Tap x creatures, they don't untap next turn.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:53 pm 
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@arathinius: Desirerata seems reasonable to post. I'll whip up those thoughts and post them in the OP. I like the thought behind Give Mosquitoes. Drawbacks as a general theme seems neat, especially with that sort of flexibility. (Though we all know the old adage about drawbacks.) +1/-1 counters don't particularly appeal to me; I think +1/+1 or -1/-1 are much more evocative of almost any given theme. I suppose +1/-1 represents roid rage well.

@YingLung: I'd lean toward -1/-1 myself over +1/-1. The math is easier and the overall shrinking represents plague better. The counter vs. counterless theme could be a useful way to represent contamination; I'm not sure we need to make a new counter for it, but either way, the idea has merit. I've been thinking about a "plague counter" that has no inherent ability but serves as a marker for other cards to modify. But at that point, a counter with its own uses probably serves just as well, if not better.

@BelangiaJo: (1) What I'm saying about "choice" as a theme is that there's difficulty in making it a workable one. Designing cards that create dynamic choices is unnecessary to do in large quantities; the game already creates choices for the players. Every turn, choosing what spells to cast, what targets to choose, which creatures to attack with... these all lay the framework for decision making within the game. You can create modal cards, but even those tend to be few and often follow a simpler decision tree (like the keywords riot and unleash). Overall, I think creating some "choice of damnation" mechanics could be interesting, though I think we're better served if we can find commonality or keywords to utilize. (2) I'm starting to like the face-down idea as well. I like how it shows a lifeless quality to the creatures. It doesn't necessarily mesh well with the history of morph; I don't know if morph would even make sense in a pandemic setting, but having face-down creatures without morph around also feels a bit funny. But I do sort of like the idea regardless.

@EpicLevelCommoner: Blowfly Infestation is a perfect example of a pandemic card. It'd be interesting (and difficult) to find multiple ways of inserting simular themes into the set without things becoming overcomplicated and untennable.

@Knifethrower: I've rarely played with supplemental Magic products. Not because I haven't wanted to. I just haven't. I always felt that they could incorporate ideas like this as supplements to the current line of Standard sets. (They've rarely done so that I know of.) Anyway, I'm not directly opposed to this set taking on a Conspiracy/Battlebond/Archenemy build, but I have no experience with that sort of design. Your blue idea does make me think that different colors can represent different diseases and viruses if we wanted. The blue freeze ability can easily be rethemed and works nicely as an illness.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 4:00 pm 
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How is this as a keyword that fits a common theme in pandemic games and the "choice of damnation" vibe too:

Anguish (As an additional cost to cast this spell, you may pay 2 life. If you do, this spell costs less to cast.)


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