Presenting: Histories Unknown!

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Fri, 2017-09-08 01:34
Vunik
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Save the Future, Save the Past


Set 2 of the Akin'vahr Block


Art by Billy Christian

Set Code: HUN
Set Size: 205

What to Expect wrote:
  1. The number 20, somewhere.
  2. Poison counters on a burn spell.
  3. Repeatable time manipulation.
  4. A pun.
  5. The number 10, somewhere.
  6. A red instant-win.

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Mon, 2017-09-11 19:41
Vunik
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Alright, let's kick this thing off with mechanic spoilers! I'll start today by giving you the Old Guard's side of the war!

Vengeance

First of the two returning Old Guard mechanics, vengeance still represents the latent anger in the Old Guard members, and fucntions the same as it did in Akin'vahr. (Although, be on the look out for more "vengeful" matters cards.)

Reverse Engineer

Reverse engineer is also back, and the Old Guard is going to need it if they're going to survive the events in Histories Unknown! There is a slight reminder text change, but doesn't change the function of the mechanic at all.

Desperation

A new mechanic for the Old Guard, Desperation is a psudeo-keyword that requires you to sacrifice something to get an effect. The Phyrexians are on a genocide mission, and after Story Spotlight 1, the Old Guard are desperate to get any edge over the otherworldly invaders.


And that's all I got for today! Tomorrow (hopefully), I'll have the Phyrexian mechanics ready to spoil, along with our first story spotlight!

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Mon, 2017-09-11 19:55
thehuw
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Desperation is one of those ability words that feels like it really doesn't need to be a keyword, especially since the criteria are so loose - if the two cards you've shown are anything to go by, what you sacrifice isn't even consistent.

(Also, hi there, repeatable Angelic Purge on a stick at uncommon. That thing looks like it'll devour Limited games alive.)

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Set Huwb
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Mon, 2017-09-11 20:10
Vunik
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I thought about removing the ability word, but thought it would be good to show it off as an ability word first. The sacrifice is inconsistent mainly because I was trying to capture what each color would be willing to sacrifice for the effect given.

Oh, and I was worried about Aetherbinder, but my rationale is that recursion isn't that strong in the Akin'vahr block, so it functions more as a 1 to 1 trade in limited. That is still powerful now that I think about it...maybe I'll make it so it doesn't untap during your next untap step...

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Mon, 2017-09-11 20:39
thehuw
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There's actually something in today's Making Magic about this type of mechanic. Early Ixalan design apparently had a pseudo called enlist, which let you pay a cost to have one of your spells come with a token. The cost was different for each of the four factions, as were the stats of the token, but

Mark Rosewater wrote:
It only took one playtest for Ken to find the flaw in his design. Four different types of enlist each with its own input and own output significantly increased complexity instead of decreasing it. Having all four versions share a singular word just meant that you never knew what any one card was doing and were always forced to read it.

I feel that this is a similar issue. Because the cost and effect is different every time, using an ability word isn't useful as shorthand, since you'll have to read the whole thing to know what this particular instance of desperation does. Once you know what delirium (for example) does, your eyes skip over the "four or more card types" bit and jump straight to the payoff, which is easier to comprehend at a glance; with this, the extra word and dash just takes up more space for very little benefit other than telling people "This Is What My Set Is About", which should, ideally, be evident just from the cards.

Aetherbinder's power level isn't the main thing I'm worried about, really, though it is pretty powerful. Anything that can get rid of creatures repeatedly and unconditionally is a poor fit for uncommon - that's more or less the definition of a Limited bomb, a card that can win a game all by itself given time and resources, and those belong at rare.

This particular design is comparable to the Spellshapers of Masques block (and later Time Spiral), and the only Spellshapers that could kill any size of creature, Notorious Assassin, Mageta the Lion and Latulla, Keldon Overseer, were all rare. Even comparatively smaller kills like Plague Witch and Arc Mage would almost certainly never see print at those rarities today.

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Set Huwb
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Tue, 2017-09-12 01:12
Vunik
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You're right, and now I remember that part of Making Magic today, although I didn't make the connection between enlist and desperation until you pointed it out. I'll get rid of the ability word, and keep it as a sub-theme (luckily, this also brings down total number of mechanics in Histories Unknown).

So, Aetherbinder requires a total rework? Alright, I'll take it back to the drawing board and see what I can come up with. (Maybe have it flicker target permanent...?)

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