Yeah, yeah. I've played Gatecrash and it's pretty cool, but both of my Orzhov decks are awful, so fuck it; today I'm talking about custom card creation. Specifically a concept that I'm deeply in love with:
The idea with Twin-Knife Dervish (TKD) is that it can split up the damage dealt by a group of blocking creatures by giving them first strike. Then, it can simply shrug off that damage if the total isn't enough to kill it. Essentially, it uses first strike and double strike to fight two different battles, like a master swordsman cutting through waves of enemies.
The idea is simple, but the implementation is wonky. You (often) have to give TKD double strike, let it give some creatures blocking it first strike, and then remove damage before it fights more.
You don't need double strike. This version lets TKD's controller allocate five or less damage to it, shake it off, and enter combat with the rest of the blocking creatures. Here it isn't ripping through a divided set of blockers, but bypassing a handful of them. Strangely, I switched it to red/white because those are colors where double strike is more at home (not sure how I ever thought it was in green), but then I dropped the double strike.
The remove damage clause keeps slipping around. There is, technically, no first strike damage step. There is a separate damage step whenever a creature in combat has first strike, but it's simply another combat step followed by a space for triggers and casting spells. By having the damage removal trigger after it receives damage, it makes sure the TKD can survive first strike damage, but still take its licks from standard damage. Removing damage whenever it deals damage allows it to walk away from combat without a scratch most of the time. Note that as far as I know, this damage removal won't affect counters gained from tangling with creatures possessing wither or infect.
This is the worst implementation. The restrictions on how it can be blocked are great; after all, its abilities do very little if it's just chump blocked. However, protection from first strike means that there's no longer a judicious use of the third ability. Just spam it and go home. You can also tell I'm still tweaking the creature's size and mana cost.
Overall, it was just a bit too complicated.
Dervish's Knives lets a creature divide up blockers. It's narrow (and probably overpriced), but the abilities work together. Better, they support Dervish Swordsman, who is a strong creature in its own right, but is downright frightening with the knives.
The wording on Dervish's Knives seems kind of wonky and I'm not sure that it needs to have colored mana in its cost, but overall, I'm pretty happy with the final result. Any thoughts for improvements? Solutions I missed?