Friday, April 15, 2011

It's the Magic: even more Timewalking Archive Trap

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Sharing some other answers to the essay question portion of the GDS2. Questions in bold. Commentary in italics.

8. Of all the mechanics currently in Extended, which one is the best designed? Explain why.

Persist is awesome, and yes, it’s awesomely designed.

Persist is effective; it gives you two creatures for one card. It functions very simply; even a novice player can discern how it works.

It’s a versatile ability; not just in that it lets you sacrifice a creature twice or have someone left over after a Day of Judgment, but because it uses a straightforward method of tracking a creature’s status with an existing in game mechanic. Those Persisting creatures with sacrifice abilities can potentially use it to untap themselves. These particular creatures also give a player an array of choices. Block and use up a chance to use an ability to take a creature out or just chump block and Persist out?

Persist is versatile, but it also fits snugly into the wither theme of Shadowmoor. Creatures with Persist happily jump into and then back out of the graveyard until they get on the bad side of something with Wither. Wither is a nice ability, but it’s not uncommon for a creature with it to kill something outright. When that happens, a creature with Wither feels no different than a creature without; the dude it just killed is just as dead. With Persist creatures, if you want it to stay dead, you kill it with Wither; Persist is a good ability because it supports Wither thematically. The way that it’s implemented even allows you to interact with its status with cards like Fate Transfer, either for your own creatures, or against an opponent’s.

Despite this connectivity with its native block, Persist is a rugged ability that works both solo and with cards from other sets. Most of the creatures with Persist have either a trigger for entering the battlefield or a sacrifice ability, both of which synchronize with Persist and give insight about how to use those abilities. Many of them are also in common creature types, which allows Persist mechanics to support a variety of tribal decks. In other blocks, Persist functions in such a way that it benefits from abilities like Graft and falls victim to Proliferate.

Fuck, yeah. Didn't know how much I liked Persist until I wrote this thing. If you ever see one of my Persist creatures on the board; don't touch it.

My penis has been there.

10. Choose a plane to revisit other than Dominaria or Mirrodin. What is a mechanical twist we could add if we revisit this plane?

Zendikar, because it provides exceptional storytelling opportunities of a plane almost totally devoured by the Eldrazi and because of the exceptional mechanical twist that would allow.

Zendikar is about lands. Zendikar’s lands are a prize that someone has finally won, devoured, and deposited as leavings before looking for (literally) greener pastures.

Colorless mana would be a great theme for revisiting the plane that introduced us to colorless non-artifacts. It would also to serve demonstrate the changes to historically color conscious Zendikar.

A new basic land could be the foundation of that. One which produces colorless mana and has another, mostly minor, ability to offset its generally less useful mana. It serves as the foundation for a colorless deck, acts as a calling card for the Eldrazi, and introduces the sixth basic land in a way that players never would have expected. Alternatively, a plethora of versatile lands that generate colorless mana could also do two of those things.

While an all-colorless set with Eldrazi style costs would be interesting, it would pose a challenge to define colorless as a ‘color’ with its own mechanics and feel without feeling like artifacts or Rise of Eldrazi (which had a simple ‘hates colors’ theme.). Done wrong, it would come across as generic. It’s better to merely have a colorless mana and spell theme that supplemented colored cards than to try to go all-colorless.

The hybrid generic/colored costs from Eventide’s Tower Above, or the mechanically colorless Ghostfire both present different foundations of a colorless spell spectrum, but for something different, gaining bonuses for paying colorless mana or losing bonuses for playing colored mana could be added effects to add a colorless twist without losing the definition colors give. Some colorless spells could have a color feel by the colors they discriminate against. You could even invert cards like Howl of the Night Pack or Corrupt by counting the number of those lands an opponent controls for the effect.

What? You thought I was kidding about Zendikar? It rocks.

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