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Fri, 2017-11-10 15:11
...'s picture

This is a top-down set designed to represent Pokémon with MtG. I mainly draw on the main series games (as I'm unfamiliar with the spin-offs and copying the Pokémon TCG would be sort of pointless). I have three main goals with this set:

  1. Design a high-quality Magic set that is enjoyable in limited and positively contributes to a constructed environment (ideally MSEM).
  2. Within the mechanical limitations imposed by Goal 1, design a flavorful set that faithfully represents as much about the Pokémon games as possible, such that Pokémon fans can recognize and appreciate what has been transferred.
  3. Through strong design and flavor text, avoid alienating those unfamiliar with Pokémon.

The spoiler labels below should be fairly indicative of their content. The Help Wanted section contains cards that I would like help polishing, usually because they are clunky or possibly overpowered. I have done quite a bit of playtesting on my own, but I am one person and this set has 335 cards, so I'm sure there are problems that have slipped through the cracks. I greatly appreciate any input!

The theme of this set is "creatures matter." This reflects how the Pokémon world is entirely focused on Pokémon. All the mechanics have something to do with creatures, but within that framework there is still a lot of variation as to potential strategies. (See Limited Archetypes for more details.)

Major mechanics:


In Magic, players battle by summoning creatures and casting their own spells, but in Pokémon, trainers command Pokémon which do all the actual battling themselves. Assist represents this by powering up your spells if you have your creatures "use" them as moves. Assist appears frequently on instants and sorceries of all colors. It's sort of a hybrid between kicker and conspire: the cost is always the same, but the effect varies wildly. (Despite what the above spoilers may make you think, it's not limited to cheap removal Stick out your tongue. Check out the Help Wanted section for some of the more exotic designs!)


Auras represent Pokémon abilities—passive traits that increase (or sometimes decrease) battle power. Because they are a major mechanic, and because Auras generally don't see play because they are potential card disadvantage, Auras in this set are powered up significantly from the standard. While most follow the program and buff or nerf the creature they are attached to, some act like global enchantments, and because the latter still require a creature on the battlefield to play, they can be very aggressively costed. (For example, Bad Dreams is a better Blood Reckoning at 1/2 the price.)


+1/+1 counters represent Pokémon growing stronger as they battle. They are featured in every color except blue, which favors prowess. Many creatures in the set have the effort keyword (shown on Araquanid above), which rewards you for turning them sideways—if they survive. (If only there were another mechanic in the set that allowed you to tap creatures without attacking...)


One of the main aspects of Pokémon is "evolution," which has very little to do with real evolution and quite a lot to do with your Pokémon randomly becoming extra awesome. In this set, evolution allows you to use a creature card in your hand to upgrade a creature you already control instead of casting it.

Why do this? While you effectively lose the creature you had before, and because it has to be a specific creature, because of these things, evolving is uncounterable and usually comes with a deep discount. Plus, your new creature effectively has haste, and you get to keep all the +1/+1 counters and Auras that were on the old creature on the new one! That said, there are certainly times when it's better just to cast a creature when you could evolve it. Knowing when to do what will be important in limited.

Supporting mechanics:


In Pokémon, trainers can give their Pokémon items to hold, which function pretty much the same as equipment in Magic. There aren't many of these, because there just isn't much room for artifacts in a multicolor set, especially when six of them are devoted to a cycle. (Any guesses? Hint: the cycle isn't equipment, but Pokémon can hold the items the cycle represents in the main series games...)


Black/green mana symbol is special in this set: it gets its own mechanic. Poisonous takes the place of infect in this set, because infect is broken and wouldn't work well with all the +1/+1 counters. Poisonous is also less parasitic, as poisonous creatures still deal damage, so they can slot into regular decks fine. However, poisonous isn't the only way to distribute poison counters...


I may have lied: Black/green mana symbol actually gets two mechanics to itself! Because poison was in the set and +1/+1 counters were a major mechanic, I couldn't resist a couple proliferate cards. There aren't many besides these though. Side note: Twineedle is part of a ten-card cycle of uncommon charms that let you choose two options when assisted!


Because the Auras in this set are so strong, and because I don't like hexproof anyway, shroud makes a comeback. Only Green mana symbol and Blue mana symbol get it at the moment, but if anybody finds a creature in another color that's begging for it, I'm open to spreading it around.

Limited Archetypes


Flying, Tempo, Blink

White/blue mana symbol uses efficient removal, stalling, flying creatures, and blink effects with ETB abilities to keep tempo in its favor throughout the game. Trolls will probably enjoy the frustrating card advantage this deck can maintain if left unchecked.


Control, Unblockable

Blue/black mana symbol uses black's removal and blue's counterspells and disruption to prevent the opponent from doing anything meaningful, then wins either with unblockable creatures or with a huge late-game threat (or both at once, in the case of Giratina).


Burn, Suicide Aggro

Black/red mana symbol uses its life total as a resource along with direct damage spells and efficient creatures to achieve the quickest win possible. To quote Duels of the Planeswalkers, "Having 1 life is fine—as long as your opponent has 0!"



Red/green mana symbol is the fair deck in this set, but don't mistake simplicity for weakness. Many of its creatures are above curve, and several have trample as well. If you can't establish a strong board quickly, prepare to be smashed by an army of undercosted beaters.


Tokens, Insect Tribal

Green/wite mana symbol quickly floods the board with far more creatures than is healthy (for the opponent, that is). It also has access to a few different anthem effects, and a decent amount of tribal support works well with the large number of Insects in the set. It doesn't matter that they're all 1/1 when you have 30 of them!



Evil Pillow Fort

White/black mana symbol is by far the most passive deck in the format. It doesn't have access to many independent threats, but it excels at punishing your opponent for trying to play the game. Life drain and absurd amounts of removal are its hallmarks. If your opponent doesn't quit, you're doing something wrong.


Counterburn, Spellslinger

Blue/red mana symbol probably has the two most divergent strategies available to it. It can either attempt to pair counterspells with powerful direct damage to keep major threats off the board while avoiding the chore of combat; or it can drop a couple prowess creatures and go to town with cheap buffs. There's something for every mad scientist! (Except Weirds. There aren't any of those.)


Poison, Attrition

Black/green mana symbol knows it's easier to kill an opponent with 10 life than one with 20. It's able to do this thanks to its exclusive access to poison. It can also retrieve spent threats from its graveyard with an ease rivaled only by the facility with which it dispatches its opponent's threats to theirs.



Red/white mana symbol is similar to Green/wite mana symbol, but it sacrifices some volume of creatures for greatly increased quality of creatures. It also gains access to more removal and direct damage, both of which speed up the clock. Think of it like Naya Zoo without green. Also known as Boros Aggro.


Ramp, Lands

Green/blue mana symbol is all about land. It wants as much of it on the battlefield as it can get. Once it has more acreage than Old MacDonald, it can pump out fatties like nobody's business, or do other ridiculous things that require otherwise prohibitive amounts of mana. It also has a few cards that care about lands entering the battlefield, which help keep it in business while it has to play fair. ♪ And on that farm he had some whales... ♪

Help Wanted
This is the long list of cards I'm not 100% satisfied with at the moment. You needn't look through them all. Pick a few at random at let me know what you think!

(Section under construction)

Arceus, Bringer of Judgment

This doesn't have to be this expensive, but I do want it to cost at least 7 mana symbol, and to have some flavorful connection to its plates.


This feels clunky. I'd prefer not to have an ability that only works with evolution, but since Shieldon is basically Palace Guard, without that it's pretty much never the right play to evolve.




I want this to have some sort of ability similar to Forcefield, but this just feels inelegant, even if it's probably a limited bomb.


Should this exile itself?

Stealth Rock

This is part of a cycle of Legendary non-Aura enchantments. Overpowered?

Aurora Veil

This is part of a cycle of Legendary non-Aura enchantments. Overpowered? Once you play it, you're stuck with the number of lands you have...


Provided your opponent controls a creature and doesn't have a seriously dominant board state, this is a two-card combo. (Top a creature with Psyduck, evolve into Golduck, bounce Golduck + Psyduck to your hand, repeat each turn, your opponent never draws another card.) Overpowered?

Lake Guardians

The flavor here is that each of the Lake Guardians represents one of the following: knowledge (Future Sight abilities), willpower (Force of Will ability), and emotion (Intruder Alarm ability). Will this gum up games too much? Is there another symmetrical ability that represents emotion that is more related to the others mechanically?


I figure this is all right since protection from everything prevents it from being abused with Auras and the like. Is it overpowered anyway?


Edit: I just realized this is totally busted. Which happens when you iterate at 4 AM. Pretend that the Tap symbol ability also bounces Wimpod.

This sometimes leads to repetitive board states, but only if the opponent can only cast one creature each turn...

(The last ability isn't really relevant; Wimpod is part of a cycle of creatures with off-color activated abilities that evolve into multicolored creatures.)

Pain Split

Overpowered? I want this to (sort of) average life totals when assisted, but also be useful if you're already even or ahead. Is there a better way to do this?

Sludge Wave

Is double-Smallpox too much? Keep in mind that in order to assist it you have to control a creature, which is likely to then be sacrificed.

Beat Up

Is this too flexible? I figure it's all right since it's only powerful if you have a bunch of creatures, and you have to tap all of them, but I could be wrong.


I think this is either overpowered or trash but I can't quite tell which.




Like Blaze, I'm not sure whether this is overpowered or trash. (Or maybe just right?)

Lava Plume

Is a Pyroclasm that leaves your best creature alive too good?


This kind of ETB removal is I think considered outside NWO. Is this okay given its cost?


I've never liked playing with impulsive draw effects, but they keep getting printed so somebody must use them Stick out your tongue. Is this any good? Too good?


To me this just feels like a worse Spikeshot Elder. I would make it a 2/1, but then you can't boost it with a +2/-1 effect (of which there are several in this set); and 3/1 seems too powerful. Any ideas? I'd like to keep the toughness damage clause because that's a pseudo-mechanic in Black/red mana symbol.




Overpowered? This seems fair to me given that Galvanic Bombardment is an instant but can't hit players.

Solar Power

This is part of a cycle of Legendary non-Aura enchantments. Could I move this to Red mana symbol? Or is it overpowered as-is?


fluffyDeathbringer pointed out that this is probably broken in limited. Would this be okay with 1 power?


I keep iterating this guy and he keeps being busted. My most recent change was to make the token generation sorcery-speed, and I haven't playtested it since. Does this seem okay? I want a Legendary Insect lord.


Is Overrun on a stick overpowered? Skiddo has effort, so this will sometimes be a 3/3 with haste.

Grassy Surge

Burgeoning will probably never be Standard-legal again, but this can't come down T1 (usually) and is easier to remove. Is it overpowered regardless?


This seems expensive enough to me that it shouldn't be too abusable. Am I wrong?


Overpowered? I'm mainly concerned about the first ability, as the second is pretty much a worse Inexorable Tide in a more appropriate color.


Green mana symbol gets Bears with benefits, but is this too much benefit? What about at sorcery speed?


Stealing lands seems expensive enough to me that this shouldn't be a serious problem. Herald of Leshrac seems better in some situations. Is this overpowered nonetheless? This is a flavor home run between Regigigas's lore and in-game mechanics, so I'd like to keep it.




Overpowered? This is only really good if you have a whole bunch of creatures...


The idea here is you can use it on a creature you control to double beneficial counters or on an opponent's creature to double their poison counters. Should this limit itself to creatures, rather than permanents? I don't know if there are any 4-mana planeswalkers in MSEM that this breaks. Remember it's an Aura.


Could this be 1 mana symbolWhite mana symbolBlue mana symbol? Compare with Exhaustion and Fatespinner.


Is this too efficient T2 on the play against an opposing T1 creature?


I don't remember why I gave this hexproof instead of shroud, but I'm sure there was a good reason... Hmmmm... Overpowered?

Dream Eater

Could this be cheaper or an instant? It feels unusable as it is.

Muddy Water

Are modes 1 and 2 too strong together?

Shadow Tag

This strikes me as a little better than Soul Ransom, but Blue/black mana symbol doesn't tend to play many creatures... Thoughts?


I feel like it's never correct to block this. How can I make it more of a dilemma?


Too efficient? Trygon Predator has flying and is uncommon...

Sheer Force

Another overpowered/trash question. Remember that hexproof is a thing outside this set.

Thousand Arrows

I can't find any precedent for a 2-mana 3-damage spell like this one, but 2 damage feels so weak. Thoughts?

Defend Order

Too much of a tempo swing at common?

First Impression

This seems like it's probably trash. Any ideas to make it more viable? Or am I crazy?

Honey Gather


Rage Powder

Is mode 1 overpowered? This effect has always cost 3 mana or more, but it's also always been mono-color.


I'm pretty sure this is overpowered, especially at common. Should this only apply to creatures with power 1 or less? Or is there a better change? I'd like to keep it at its current cost if possible. Remember it's an Aura.

Perish Song

I love this as a 2-mana wrath, but it's complicated. Is this too hard to grok?

How it Works
1. Cast Perish Song from your hand.
2. If you assisted Perish Song, it resolves. Go to step 5.
3. If you didn't assist Perish Song, it gets exiled.
4. At the beginning of your upkeep, cast Perish Song from exile. It resolves whether you assist it or not.
5. At the beginning of your upkeep, each player sacrifices each creature they control.


The main thing I'm worried about here is that this turns any new +1/+1 counters into +2/+2 counters, which could get confusing, but Lackey does have multiple counter types.


Overpowered? You have to assist and discard a card of the appropriate type for buyback.

Motor Drive

My goal here was sort of to make a one-creature Jeskai Ascendancy. Is this overpowered? Useless?

Volt Switch

Overpowered? I'm mostly worried about mode 3, or the 3-for-1 potential with modes 1 and 2.

Zap Cannon

In my experience, cards that give the opponent choices look much better than they are. Is this overpowered regardless? I'd like to keep it as an extra turn spell under 5 mana if possible.

Acid Downpour

This should be comparable to Vindicate, but that also hasn't been standard-legal in a long time. Is this overpowered? What about as a sorcery?


Is mode 3 overpowered? Abrupt Decay is an uncounterable instant for the same price.

Parabolic Charge

Overpowered? I'm mostly worried about mode 2, because even though lifegain is generally bad, 5 life for 2 mana is pretty efficient, especially when combined with another effect.

Volt Absorb

This is way outside NWO; I would much rather have it be an uncommon but the space just isn't there. Is it at least acceptable?


Overpowered? I'm mostly worried about mode 1.


Overpowered? What about with +2/+2 and permanent shroud?


This seems like one more crappy Sphinx. Would this be overpowered if it let you look at the opponent's hand? What if you had to choose between looking at their hand and naming a card? Or if you had to name a card in their graveyard?


Overpowered? What about without flash? Note that without flash it needs some other justification for being blue.


Overpowered? What if you have to sacrifice your lands as well?


Overpowered? (Scyther costs 2W, so this can't come out before T4 most of the time. However, Scyther has effort, so if you wait until T5 this can be a 3/3.)


This feels clunky, as first strike kind of makes the boosting ability irrelevant. Ideas? (Yanma costs 2GW, so I feel like the 0 evolve cost is fine.)


This seems aggressively costed compared to other fight cards, but Green mana symbol really needs the removal. Thoughts?

Flower Gift

Overpowered at uncommon? Remember it's an Aura.

Fur Coat

Is the snowball effect too much? What if it just gives a static +2/+2?


Is this too much cast for Black mana symbolBlack mana symbolWhite mana symbol or Black mana symbolBlack mana symbolBlack mana symbol?

Electric Surge

Overpowered? This only works out in your favor if you have more creatures than your opponent or you're already ahead by a good bit.

Psych Up

Overpowered? What about at 3 mana symbolRed/white mana symbolRed/white mana symbol?

Rain Dance


Swift Swim

Overpowered? This seems expensive enough to me that it should be okay.


I like Dragonair, but Dragonite seems like it's probably unplayable. Is there a way to make it better while it still costs more than Dragonair and has similar abilities? Am I just crazy?


Is this a bend or a break for Blue mana symbol? Body Double is a thing.


Overpowered? I'm mostly worried about it copying poisonous and protection, the latter especially with Sigilyph.


Is poisonous 4 overkill? It does have to survive a block before it can attack. What if it were 0/2?

Kings Rock

Blinding Angel is a thing, but this is harder to permanently remove. It also costs 8 mana to use. Thoughts?

Pokemon Day Care

Is a "free" Quicksilver Amulet every other turn too much? Keep in mind that playing this sets you back a mana for the rest of the game.

Full set download <- Current as of 11/12/17 1:32 AM PST

"Ellipsis" for short.

Fri, 2017-11-10 17:56
fluffyDeathbringer's picture

I would consider Volkanion a red flag as well -- a creature with protection from two colors at common is bound to give red an unfair advantage in limited.

Remind yourself that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer.

Avatar by rickenfe13. goats are gay

Fri, 2017-11-10 20:12
...'s picture

@fluffy: I think you're probably referring to Torkoal, but good catch! I added it to the list.

"Ellipsis" for short.

Fri, 2017-11-10 20:21
fluffyDeathbringer's picture

That, yes. All those pokeymans are honestly starting to run together for me Big smile

Remind yourself that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer.

Avatar by rickenfe13. goats are gay

Fri, 2017-11-10 21:03
...'s picture

There are a lot of them Stick out your tongue

"Ellipsis" for short.

Sat, 2017-11-11 01:09
fluffyDeathbringer's picture

Took a look at some of your problem cards:

- Sigilyph: Yes. This is overpowered. Protection from everything, in and of itself, is way powerful, especially on a flasher. There's a reason it's only ever been on Progenitus. On a four-mana creature? With flash and flying, letting it chump anything at all without trample or warning? At uncommon? Even if you can't abuse it with Auras or combat tricks, that's still a pretty much irremovable clock floating around at uncommon level in Limited. And that's without its potential to make anything you have into Progenitus. And that's just in Limited. I say make this a mythic and up its cost significantly, or find some other way to express whatever flavour you had in mind.

- Pain Split: Way too much of a swing at that cost at common. My advice: remove the "repeat this process" (that's rarely used below rare anyway) and make the additional benefit something weaker.

- Torkoal: It's the dual prot at common that's the issue here inherently, not the power. Maybe just give it firebreathing? That'd fit the Pokedex entry you copypasted into the FT box, at least.

- Pinsir: Trygon Predator also has an inefficient stat/CMC ratio as opposed to Pinsir's CMC2-3/2, costs more, only Naturalizes on combat damage, and doesn't get bigger when it Naturalizes.

- Yveltal: Why isn't 3 mana symbol a number? That looks just a bit arbitrary.

Remind yourself that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer.

Avatar by rickenfe13. goats are gay

Sat, 2017-11-11 01:20
fluffyDeathbringer's picture

Oh, and since evolving isn't casting, you'll want "You may evolve CARDNAME any time you could cast an instant." for Victreebel and such. (And since you have evolve wording reference both the original creature and the evolved form as the objects of the verb "evolve", perhaps you want to adjust the wording a little?)

And two Exp. Shares go infinite with each other. Just so you know.

Remind yourself that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer.

Avatar by rickenfe13. goats are gay

Sat, 2017-11-11 20:13
...'s picture

@fluffy: Thanks for the feedback!

-Sigilyph: Welp. This is pretty much stuck at uncommon, but I'm not married to the ability, so I'll figure something out there. Edit: Now a 2/3 with flying and shroud for the same cost.

-Pain Split: What if it were 2 mana symbolBlack mana symbol? That would make it comparable to Alms of the Vein. What if it stayed 1 mana symbolBlack mana symbol and went 2 life at a time instead of 3? At maximum assisted efficiency, with you at 1 life and your opponent at 20, that would put you at 11 and your opponent at 10. It's a big life swing, but only if you're way the heck behind. (I'm not sure how you could get to 1 life having not dealt your opponent any damage and suddenly be in a dominant position with roughly equal life totals.)

-Torkoal: Fair enough. In the games, Torkoal is very defensive, but I suppose that doesn't really jive with Red mana symbol anyway.

-Pinsir: Is it reasonable as a 2/1 then? Fleecemane Lion seems like a reasonable comparison here.

-Yveltal: The idea here was not to increase costs of activated abilities. This originally did include mana symbols, but it also came with an anthem effect then...

-Evolving: Since evolving is already a replacement for casting (Rather than cast ~...), shouldn't it work as-is? If not it's not a big deal, but the change is a few extra words... And I'll try to clear up the object confusion.

-Exp. Share: Two Exp. Shares do go infinite, but that requires two Exp. Shares and two creatures, one of which has to get a +1/+1 counter on it after both Exp. Shares are equipped: at minimum a four-card combo that doesn't necessarily win on the spot. I'd be more worried about one Exp. Share going infinite with Ampharos, but that's still an expensive three-card combo.

"Ellipsis" for short.

Sat, 2017-11-11 01:51
fluffyDeathbringer's picture

It would not make it comparable to Alms of the Vein, because Alms of the Vein is only 3-3; it can never be 6-6. Also:

when you are at 1 life and your opponent is at 20, all it does

This is a ridiculously narrow edge case and you shouldn't use it as balance justification, ever. A five-damage Lightning Bolt wouldn't instantly win me the game at 1 health with my opponent at full, either. Lots of things wouldn't. That doesn't make a difference. 6-6 is inherently a huge life swing, and it shouldn't be at 1B or even 2B.

Evolving: Since evolving is already a replacement for casting (Rather than cast ~...), shouldn't it work as-is?

Fair enough.

Remind yourself that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer.

Avatar by rickenfe13. goats are gay

Sat, 2017-11-11 02:00
...'s picture

I'm not sure you understand how Pain Split works (which may be my fault as a designer). Normally, it goes once. If, afterwards, you assisted it and you still have less life than your opponent, it goes again until you have the same life total or more life than your opponent. The "ridiculously narrow edge case" is actually where it is most powerful.

"Ellipsis" for short.

Sat, 2017-11-11 01:59
fluffyDeathbringer's picture

...and that's why you don't comment at 3 AM. Stick out your tongue Carry on.

Remind yourself that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer.

Avatar by rickenfe13. goats are gay

Tue, 2017-11-14 07:19
...'s picture

Still, I think you were right that it's undercosted A happy smile. Moving it to 2 life at a time (and adding reminder text to clarify the repetition).


Quick update:

I've addressed most of the bigger problem cards (including those that haven't been discussed yet). There are still some that just need playtesting though. If anybody is interested in a quick sealed match anytime soon, please PM me! (And feedback on anything above is still appreciated) A happy smile

"Ellipsis" for short.