Mechanic Formatting: Compile and Programs

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Mon, 2017-08-21 03:17
The5lacker
The5lacker's picture

So I've been toying with a mechanic for a cyberpunk setting to represent magical programs that can be repurposed into different spells as the caster needs. It uses a new Enchantment subtype called Program and a keyword action Compile, which I'm trying to format as a cost in an activated ability, but I'm open to trying to format it like Forecast.

The big problem I'm running up against is I want the ability to function one-time as a self-discard from your hand, or as a repeatable Spellshaper-esque effect if you cast it and get it onto the battlefield. This is proving to be a bit difficult to explain concisely, and formatting it in the editor is proving uncooperative as well.

This is currently what I'm working with:

Firewall 1 mana symbolRed mana symbol
Enchantment - Program
1 mana symbolRed mana symbol, Compile: Firewall deals 2 damage to target creature or player. (To Compile from your hand, discard this card. To Compile on the battlefield, discard a Program.)

It's about as concise as I've gotten it, and fortunately you can play a bit fast and loose with reminder text for clarity rather than completeness, but it still feels unorthodox. Another solution I've been considering is this:

Firewall 1 mana symbolRed mana symbol
Enchantment - Program
Reformat 1 mana symbolRed mana symbol (To Reformat a Program, discard it and pay this Reformat cost.)
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield or when you Reformat with it, CARDNAME deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

Just can't seem to find a way to make it less ugly. I definitely don't want to resort to an psuedo-keyword like Landfall because then I can't have further interactions with it, which I intend to have, but outside of that I've got no clue where to proceed.

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Mon, 2017-08-21 10:43
Daij_Djan
Moderator Best Set of 2016
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This really is tricky. While the first approach makes sence intuitively, I can't really think of a way to smoothen the wording.. Maybe slightly inspired by Monstrosity:

CARDNAME X mana symbolX mana symbolX mana symbol
Enchantment - Program
<cost>: Compile (Discard this to compile from your hand. Discard another Program to compile from the battlefield.)
Whenever you compile ~, <effect>

EDIT: Also this really feels like something WotC would grant a specific template nowadays Winking smiley

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Mon, 2017-08-21 12:47
Guitarweeps
Head Administrator
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What about this?

<cost>: Compile (Discard this or another program to compile.)

Obviously, when in your hand you can't discard another card. That is fairly easy to grok and would also be covered in the extra rules clarification that always comes with a new mechanic.

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Mon, 2017-08-21 16:53
jacqui-pup
Featured Set Editor - Best Set of 2015 - Community Award
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I prefer option 2-- it's clean and reduces complexity by making it sorcery-speed by default, as well as susceptible to countermagic.

Quote:
I definitely don't want to resort to an psuedo-keyword like Landfall because then I can't have further interactions with it, which I intend to have,

I don't think you need to keyword compile/reformat to care about it.

Firewall Vengeance 2 mana symbolRed mana symbol
Enchantment Uncommon
Whenever you discard a Program card, ~ deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

shock.exe 1 mana symbolRed mana symbol
Enchantment - Program Common
When ~ enters the battlefield, {shock}
1 mana symbolRed mana symbol, Discard a Program card: {shock}

Also, to be honest, I'd really have this let you discard any kind of enchantment so it plays better outside your set.

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Tue, 2017-08-29 00:44
The5lacker
The5lacker's picture

@Daij_Djan: It sucks to have a mechanic that's immediately intuitive to enfranchised players but potentially completely unintelligable to newbies. Honestly I'd say that's at least half of the effort of good design, making sure someone who started the game that day can understand what to do.

@Guitarweeps: You'd be surprised at how unfriendly that wording is for new players. Getting them to understand when abilities work in zones outside of the battlefield is hard enough as-is.

@Jacqui-pup: I might as well just put Madness in the set in that case. Which I don't want to do. Not every mechanic is made better by allowing it to interact with every other card in the game. Some mechanics actually play better if they're made insular, because it reduces the odds of degenerate interactions.

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Wed, 2017-09-13 02:51
The5lacker
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Currently working on a slightly different concept, as thinking of Programs as Enchantments got me thinking of more how Programs actually work as opposed to just making them glorified Spellshapers.

Firewall 2 mana symbolRed mana symbol
Enchantment - Program
When Firewall enters the battlefield or you compile, you may have Firewall deal 2 damage to target creature or player.

Basically, compile is a keyword action with no inherent rules baggage, while Programs all inherently have some spell-like effect upon entering the battlefield and when you compile. Still deciding how I want to manage Compile as an ability, but I feel this design is much more immediately grokable. Play programs, get big compile chain, rinse wash repeat. Will take some serious balance considerations, but I'm much more confidence in this iteration of the mechanic.

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Wed, 2017-09-13 07:54
Neottolemo
Neottolemo's picture

So, compile does nothing unless you've got programs out? That seems annoying.

Wed, 2017-09-13 10:37
thehuw
thehuw's picture

The5lacker wrote:
compile is a keyword action with no inherent rules baggage

Kill Bill sirens

There's no higher expression of parasitism than a mechanic that does stone nothing without other cards from the same set.

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Thu, 2017-09-14 17:45
The5lacker
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@Neottolemo: Considering Complile will be on basically no non-Program cards, not seeing how that's a problem.

@TheHuw: Oh no, a mechanic that doesn't interact with every other card ever printed, what a horrible, nightmarish occurrence that will certainly kill the game for good!

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Thu, 2017-09-14 17:49
Cajun
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Except it doesn't work with any other card previously printed.

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Thu, 2017-09-14 22:29
thehuw
thehuw's picture

So, if compile appears only on Programs and it's an action keyword, that implies that there are different ways to trigger it for each card.

This reminds me a lot of the "it is against the law" mechanic that gets floored on r/cm a lot, and I think it's got the same general problem: with so many different conditions and so many different effects, getting together a long chain of such cards ends up feeling like a confusing, kludgy tangle of conditions and effects rather than a big explosive machine like it's supposed to.

I don't think this concept is unsalvageable, but I think a significant improvement would be to define compiling as some single pre-existing game action - maybe discarding a land card counts as compiling (not the best example but you get me). This makes it significantly more compelling as an A+B mechanic, since it's more open-ended when it comes to triggering it, and less confusing, since all your effects are looking for the same thing.

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Set Huwb
They/them pronouns, please.
Praise Vectron.