You Make the Card 4 – Round 3 (Choose the Color)

YMTC - Enchantmenthttp://wp.me/p5VSx-1wT

And enchantments won that exciting runoff.

First, let me say that it was fun debating the people of “Team Land”; or those that wanted to debate rather than just yell. I hope that those of you who were on that side stay with the rest of us until the end of the contest. You’re not out of voting by any means, but I’ve seen a number of you get upset that your choice didn’t win. Yeah, my first choice didn’t win either (it was creatures). The key to this contest is to think of this as more than just an “I want” thing, because then you’ll always be disappointed. We’re a team here, and we all get a vote. If you feel like you don’t care anymore because one choice didn’t go your way, then that’s the wrong attitude. While this might be my Selesnya side talking, but let’s work together to build the best, and most fun, card that we can.

Basically this contest is what WotC has to do plenty of times. Following their design skeletons, there are several holes in a set that they are creating. Instead of trying to fill it internally, they have decided to let the fans choose which hole they want to participate in finding an answer to. We, as a group, has decided to go after the Enchantment hole, and are now deciding on which color. Then, I imagine, we will decide if it’s going to be an aura or not, then finally pitch our ideas about what should be sorted through to fill that hole. I’ve seen plenty of people complain about just telling us pitch mechanics now and let the color be decided by the mechanic, but it doesn’t go that way. We’re using their process, we have to play by their rules.

At the moment, our decision is actually pretty hard: what color should the enchantment be?

I’ve taken feedback from my last piece and a number of you want an honest discussion about whatever the voting is and not a personal preference. Fine, I can do that to some extent. We’ll take a look at what the colors have to offer and at the end, I’ll explain what color I’ll be voting for and hope that you will join me with that decision as well.

Please keep in mind that at this moment, we’re still not designing cards. Let’s explore what can be done with the colors first, then throw some concepts out there. Just because you have this one idea for a card doesn’t mean that you should just push that color. Again, think of what’s best for the game and go from there. I only took a look at Modern, non-aura enchantments. While there are some cool mechanics that were printed before 8th Edition, I wanted to see what was “acceptable” in the past ten years. Also within each color, I’ve separated out what the enchantment does and highlighted the top categories in a graph (There are some overlaps between categories).

White

The color of peace, love, and making rules. Most people associate enchantments with White because it does interact the most with the card type. There are more tutors for enchantments for White than any other. White will also use its love of rule making to interact with enchantments as well. Here’s how the color played out in categories for enchantments:

Ability Buff Attacking Creatures Can’t Lose the Game Disenchant
Affect the Enemy Colors Exile Gain Life Kill Creature
Mana Ramp P/T Buff Protection Return from Graveyard
Rules Tap Tax Token Creation
Turn Everything White Tutor Win the Game

Most popular sub-sections:

Enchantment - White

Notable older enchantments: Angelic Renewal, Astral Slide, Crusade, Humility, Karmic Justice, Kismet, Land Tax, Limited Resources, Moat, Martyr’s Bond, Opalescence, Parallax Wave, Solitary Confinement, and Transcendence.

Blue

The color of intellect, seeking knowledge, and power over the mind. Blue has been connected with artifacts more than enchantments over the years, but there’s one way that Blue does interact with enchantments: auras. Because I’ve ignored them for this exercise it seems like Blue is more weak in this area; though to be fair, most of the auras are basically “take control of enchanted permanent” variety.

Change Creatures Color Change Copy Stuff Counterspell Double Spells
Draw Cards Exchange Permanents Flash Flying Force Opponents
“Growth” Library Control Look at Hand Make Spells/Abilities Cheaper Mill Cards
P/T Change Return Permanents Shuffle Graveyard Take an Extra Turn Tapped
Turn to Creatures Tutor Untap Win the Game

Most popular sub-sections:

Enchantment - Blue

Notable older enchantments: Aether Storm, Arcane Laboratory, Attunement, Back to Basics, Chill, Compulsion, Dream Hall, Energy Flux, Equilibrium, Future Sight, Illusions of Grandeur, Mind Over Matter, Mystic Remora, Opposition, Parallax Tide, Propaganda, Rhystic Study, Rising Waters, Seal of Removal, Standstill, and Stasis.

Black

The color of power, individualism, and corruption. There have been many powerful Black enchantments over the course of Magic’s life. Several of them have been banned from tournament play as they heavily warped the metagame. There’s nothing Black wants more than to win by any means necessary  Here are the sub-sections in modern design philosophy:

Attacking Creatures Change Creature Types Discard Draw Cards/Tutoring Exiling
Gain Life Kill Creatures Library Manipulation Opponents Lose Life P/T Buff
P/T Shrink Raise Dead Reanimation Regenerate Spells Cost Less
Token Creation Win the Game

Most popular sub-sections:

Enchantment - Black

Notable older enchantments: Attrition, Breeding Pit, Chains of Mephistopheles, Contamination, Death Match, Diabolic Servitude, Engineered Plague, Greed, Infernal Tribute, Lethal Vapors, Lich, Necropotence, Oversold Cemetery, Nether Void, Pestilence, Recurring Nightmare, Sarcomancy, Strands of Night, Subversion, The Abyss, and Yawgmoth’s Bargain.

Red

The color of impulse, emotion, and burning everything in sight. Red has had trouble with enchantments in the past because of the color restrictions that make it hard for Red to interact with magic (non-physical) objects. This doesn’t mean that Red doesn’t partake in the card type, but as you’ll see, it has had much less impact than other colors.

Add Mana Attacking Creatures Can’t Gain Life Change Artifacts
Coin Flip Damage Doubling Exchange Permanents
Fighting Creatures Hand Manipulation Haste Mana Prevention
P/T Buff  Tapped  Token Creation

Most popular sub-sections:

Enchantment - Red

Notable older enchantments: Chance Encounter, Goblin Bomb, Goblin Bombardment, Grand Melee, Grip of Chaos, Impatience, Land’s Edge, Lightning Rift, Mana Flare, Orcish Oriflamme, Price of Glory, Pyrostatic Pillar, Raging River, Repercussion, Smoke, Sneak Attack, Stranglehold, Sulfuric Vortex, Wild Research, Words of War,

Green

The color of nature, growth, and creatures. Green has a interesting relationship with enchantments; it’s the color that doesn’t want enchantments (not natural) but have some game controlling enchantments. Most of the time they’re either connected with creatures or mana, but there are a select few that are just good cards.

Attacking Creatures Creature and Library Destory Doubling
Drawing Cards Enemy Hate Hexproof Life Gain
Mana Acceleration Mana Fixing P/T Boost Prevention
Switch Card Type Tapped Token Creation Trample
Untapping Creatures Win the Game

Most popular sub-sections:

Enchantment - Green

Notable older enchantments: Aluren, Awakening, Bearscape, Burgeoning, City of Solitude, Concordant Crossroads, Defense of the Heart, Drop of Honey, Earthcraft, Eladamri’s Vineyard, Enchantress’s Presence, Exploration, Fastbond, Food Chain, Manabond, Oath of Druids, Pattern of Rebirth, Saproling Burst, Survival of the Fittest, Sylvan Library, and Words of Wilding.

Whew. We call caught up around here?

So, what does this tell us?

The most core mechanics of a color show up as enchantments. While this isn’t too much a of surprise, but it does tend to give credence that enchantments can be considered the “soul” of the color. Anything the color can do, an enchantment can do as well. Red, as you can see, is known mostly for its damage. There are a couple of oddities such as Green getting more drawing cards and Blue’s lack of stealing (again, because of the lack of auras).

Again, this is modern design style, not of all time. Most of the notable older enchantments I listed were either too cheap for today’s standards (Land Tax), nor the right color (Sylvian Library), leads to a repetitive/unfun game state (Statis) or just too powerful (Necropotence). Just because a color has done it once doesn’t mean it’s locked into its identity; I feel Enchantress’s Presence should be White not Green. Plenty of new and older enchantments are based on popular powerful enchantments in years past. That’s not an accident; players want to relive something that they previously know (this is a topic for another time). And there have been ideas of people saying they want another Yawgmoth’s Bargain or a Sulfuric Vortex because they want this type effect in Standard/EDH/Modern again. If you’re looking at where to go from to take a look at new designs, see what’s acceptable with modern design then figure out why a card hasn’t been reprinted or had a homage card printed yet.

But where does that leave us with what color I’m going to lobby behind? As seen by the earlier votes, players really want to not repeat what has already been done. We’ve got a new card type, and I have a sense that most players want a color that they haven’t seen before in YMTC. This leaves us two colors: Black and Red. Black seems like the obvious choice because of the pedigree that the color has shown throughout the history of Magic. However, just like with the land vote, I’m seeing a common style of card that people want. Players do want the Phyrexian Arena/Yawgmoth’s Bargin style of card again. They know it’s good, and they want something like that.

I want to repeat this: WotC will most likely pick cards they think are unique, have a reasonable chance of seeing print, and seems like a fun ability. Having constant rehashing of the same style of card isn’t going to win this competition. They know what players like.

Therefore, My vote for the color of enchantment is Red. This is where I’ll get a couple of weird faces. “But Robby,” the some of you will say, “most of what Red does is damage. Is that what you really want?” Not really, but this is where the “Restrictions breed creativity” comes in. Red is by far the most restrictive color when it comes to enchantments. If you want to design a card that has the smallest established mechanics, Red is your color.

If you want to take the road less traveled by, Red is also your choice.  Over the past few years Red’s slice of pie has grown to where it’s more than just damage such as drawing cards with a drawback and can steal permanents temporary. Plus, there are ideas that are out there that push Red into new and interesting ways yet, and this is important, still feel Red. We’re not talking about a Red Disenchant or anything because that doesn’t fit with the color’s philosophies. Red is not a dumb color, it’s just very passionate. It doesn’t think of the long game, but there’s an obvious need of something to either get it there, or have a card that is the end game goal.

For those of you worried about those “Random Johnny enchantments that cost 7 mana”, there really isn’t all that many of them. As long as the card design isn’t really obtuse or wordy, then there’s a better chance of the card costing less. We’ll get to the types and styles of enchantments next week, but there are plenty of options open to Red. If you’re worried about it not being able to be pitched to Force of Will or “There’s no good Red strategies in Legacy besides RDW,” then this is your chance to develop something within the color to change the metagame. A Red enchantment doesn’t have a roleplayer card, it can be the headliner card a deck is named after.

I really do want the card to be good, and I have the hope that it will be. I see too many people wanting the card to fit into a strategy and not enough emphasis on what the color can do. There’s my obvious love of Form of the Dragon; and what leaned me towards Red. It’s so different, unique, and so obviously Red (A Melvin loving a Vorthos card? It’s more likely than you think). But this is the type of card that I envision when I see the community creating another card with YMTC. It’s not just another semi-reprint, but someplace new and exciting. We’re following in the unique footsteps of Forgotten Ancient, Crucible of Worlds and Vanish into Memory, which all broke new ground of what could be done.

Of all the colors Red has the most opportunity when it comes to unexplored mechanics; let’s go find them.

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11 thoughts on “You Make the Card 4 – Round 3 (Choose the Color)

  1. I was torn between Red and White for the enchantment. I’d love to see a white version of Enchantress’s Presence for my Uril and Zur Commander decks.

    I am voting for red. What about a red Phyrexian Arena? The cost would be 1RR. During your upkeep you would draw a card and discard a card.

    Or what about one based on attacking with creatures? A red version of Overwhelming Instinct would go great in a goblin tribal deck, while also helping red decks to refuel their hands.

    A red version of Torpor Orb would be nice. Red already has a couple of enchantments that stop activated abilities. An enchantment that stops triggered abilities seems at home in red. Needless to say, with the way Wizards is printing creatures these days, we need more Torpor Orb effects.

  2. There are tons of great *Red* cards people will make both Top-Down AND Bottom-Up. People who think Red has no options mechanically (for the bottom-up approach), there’s loads of unused design space for Red.

    Look at what other colors do, see what’s missing and what would make sense to push into Red. (Similar to when MaRo spread out Creature Keywords, though a bit different.)

    I’m holding my favorite Red Enchantment design close to the vest for now, but I’m very excited for Red!

  3. This is exactly the kind of article that I was hoping I would find for #YMTC3 . I’m glad you did all the leg work of cataloging existing enchantments and what each color is doing. You make a pretty convincing argument for red… we’ll see.

  4. Pingback: You Make the Card 4 – So, You Want to Make an Enchantment | MTG Bro Deals: Official Home of the Mu Tau Gamma Fraternity

  5. Pingback: You Make the Card – Enchantment won, now what? | Magic: the Gathering Card Design Ideas

  6. I’m a little sad that wizards did not put a vote up for colorless. I loved the eldrazi enchantment and by choosing colorless the enchantment can change for instance if it enchants a certain colored creature it gains a certain ability. By making the enchantment colorless it can interact with the game on a broader spectrum and leave a lot more opportunity and not be so tight cast. I vote for colorless.

  7. Actually I love blue, but I have to admit that Robby got the point.

    Red got a lot of unexplored area. In terms of design, red is the color of messing up others spell. Referring to MaRo’s Seeing Red ( http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/mr133 ), red tends to make fun by messing up others spell and create chaos. So some blue spells becomes red, Deflection became Shunt and Ray of Command became Threaten.

    I thought there isn’t many cards that focus on this aspect, and YMTC should be a good chance for this idea to shine. (Perhaps an enchantment that exchange control of all your non-land permanent?)

  8. It’s important that people realize that picking a certain color isn’t going to get them some particular effect for a deck they want to play. WotC isn’t running this to fill deck slots. They’re running it for the publicity. The mechanics they’ll allow us to choose from will be splashy and unique.

    I just wanted to point out to people that you can’t see this as an opportunity to improve your pet deck. Better to focus on making decisions that will encourage WotC to push the envelope a little with raw power, which means unfamiliar design space. Red is patently the best color for that.

  9. Blue has traditionally been about thought, planning, card drawing, deck manipulation… all the very controlled/structured approaches to Magic. Paradoxically, it has also exemplified Air and Water, the two most complex and chaotic elements. Blue has a duel identity.

    Red has been the passionate, untempered, emotinal color of haste and one shot actions. It has also reflected this in its “fire” aspect… burn hot and die young. The thing is, Red also has a dual nature like blue, in that “earth” is the other elemental part of Red. Earth, stone, rock… hard and fast and implacable, things that are built…and land. Red needs to explore this aspect. It needs to gain some cool new mechanics around building things, mining for resources, creating land or whatever.

    What about an enchantment that placed counters on lands, enabling them to produce more mana, or produce new effects… “Place a Fortress counter on a land. tap a land with a fortress counter on it to produce…. extra mana? A defensive token?” whatever… could be lots of things.

    Just like blue gets to have a dual nature… control and the uncontrolled-… red should get it as well… chaos and construction. Red needs more.

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