Monday, May 9, 2011

Productivity Through Boredom - Bloodfall #01

I've found that often times, surrounded by things to do, no one thing motivates me more than another, and I end up just lying prone due to my own indecisiveness.  In that period of inactivity, I'm essentially bored out of my mind, and yet I know there's plenty of things I could be doing to keep me busy.  As much as it is a flaw, a lot of things in my life have come from this quirk of mine.

For you see, in this psuedo-boredom, I often brainstorm for something that will pull me out of my rut of inactivity.  I'll search the depths of my creativity for an activity that draws me more than whatever else I may have been choosing between.  It's periods like this that resulted in the creation of this site in the first place, among a number of things that were much more productive than whatever else was on my to do list.  In this way, I gain productivity through boredom, and it suits me well.

Now, what does this have to do with Magic?  Well you see, I'm doing it again.  I already have the column, so what is it this time, you may ask?

I want to build a block.

I was fascinated by games of any kind, and by the age of four, I was already tooling around with variants of whatever games I had on hand, building custom decks for Uno or a board variant for Monopoly, etc. etc.  That love for games and customization is eventually what brought me onto the TCG scene, and shortly after Magic.  Up until about two years ago, I was still obsessed with game design, and it surrounded the core of my non-magic-playing being.  As of late, however, I've put almost no time into that side of the hobby, and I want to get back into it.

And so, I'm going to build as block.

I know it's silly.  I know it's stupid.  I don't have the surefire commitment that WotC R&D has, nor the crew of players needed to test and find ways to break the cards and mechanics.  The set will probably be horrible, and that's if i even complete the first one.

But I got a random whim due to boredom.  And so far, when it comes to Magic, my whims have yet to fail me.

I guess that means that I'm going to build a block.  And you're going to build it with me.

Together, you are a part of the Magic community, and I am Yo Mama.  Together, we shall make Magic (in bed).

By this, I mean that I'll be relying on the community for feedback throughout the entire process.  I don't have the luxury of market surveys that WotC does, nor the list of mechanics-to-stay-away from, nor the king of all judges on short notice to question the syntax.  In its place, I have naught but my beloved children, my community.  So lend me your ears, and let your voices be heard!  Yo Mama beckons.

Alright then, now that I'm done with the announcement and such, it's time to do some actual work.  The first question is, what will the set be named?  For that, I turn to my handy dandy GM Toolkit app.  Yay, random buttons.


English Root Words:

Blood Meadow

Germanic inspired:


Gaelic inspired:


Latin inspired:


Old English inspired:


Hmm... the bottom listing in particular gives me a pretty vivid thought.  Bloodfall.  Easily the name of a waterfall, even better in a fantasy setting.  In particular, it provides a darker setting, and provides room for mechanics within the Vampire tribe.  In particular, a simple occurrence within a plane, like a river turning to blood, could spark events among all five colors of the pool.

White- bad omen; white seeks to purge the river and its unholy source.

Blue- Curiosity, blue seeks not to meddle in the bloodfall but to examine the cause and effects.  Could have a huge impact on Merfolk as a tribe.

Black- Profitability; probably the cause of the change in the first place.  Black will seek to harvest the rich resource without questioning the origin, and will fight the other colors off to do so.

Red- the color's shamans and barbarians will see the river as an omen as well as white, but as a time for war as opposed to the rise of evil like white.  Red will try to dominate the rest of the plane while W, U and B are fighting for control of the riverbanks.

Green- Against any unnatural change, green will be driven to find a way to reverse the flow of blood as well.  however, green does not condone the loss of even more blood that the other colors are causing for control of the banks, and knows that pushing for dominance will only make matters worse.  Thus, green seeks to bide time until the violence dies down, or until the river returns to normal, whichever comes first.

I'm really liking the feel of this already.  Let's say that this Demon lord, *taps* Cirrac, is summoned by the planeswalker *taps* Kecra as an ever-increasing bid for power.  Part of the ritual involves using his magic to convert a pool of water into blood for Cirrac to be summoned into, but in his glee upon his recent victory in obtaining a powerful mox-tipped staff, he sees an attempt to test its power and the ritual goes horribly wrong, turning the entire river to blood.  Kecra must now, amidst the chaos, find Cirrac's resting place before another does, or the results could be devastating.

Image (c) DestinyFall 2011
Now, this guy has a boatload of applications.  Similar to the Jace family, he comes down and generates instant card advantage, but in exchange he remains well within Bolt range.  His -1 effectively protects himself, since you can use that mana for removal or a blocker.  His ultimate won't be used often depending upon what Demons are available in his Standard format, but that's largely irrelevant.  He's a legendary Phyrexian Arena that can be killed easier, but at the same time isn't a lategame liability in that you can choose not to use his +1 if need be.  Casual players will rejoice in the flavor, and that their Demon deck finally gets some support.  Constructed players will rejoice at the new carddraw engine, and a powerful black planeswalker makes for a nice change of pace from blue's dominance.  As for the flavor of the abilities, each one makes perfect sense.

+1: Kecra just loves researching new rituals and spells.  He loves power, and relishes every opportunity to gain it.  By letting him get a new card off the top, he's expanding his power, and he becomes more loyal to you because of it.

-1: Kecra may be a ritualist, but Dark Ritual comes at a heavy toll for him.  He has to pay the price, in both material components and blood, and thus doesn't relish in performing the task for others.

-5: Kecra's ultimate goal, the fruits of his research, is the summoning of a powerful Demon.  However, risky as it is to summon one for yourself, its even riskier to summon one for someone else, to the point where it's downright foolish.  To get Kecra to do this, you need to have already let him gained more than he loses by helping you add a Demon to your roster.

Image (c) Zouav0 2011
Obviously, this card is going to need a lot of tweaking to get to work right, and I may change it or cut it altogether.  This is one of those cards that simply sees play in any deck that can fit it in.  Aggro decks will run it for the much needed draw and a potential finisher, control decks will run it to do something with excess lands, and combo decks will run it to accelerate draws at the cost of skipping a land drop.  It's because of this universal option set that I opted not to make it legendary.  Dropping this on T1 could force an opponent to miss their land drops, potentially causing a very unfair board state.  A player can just wait to crack one until they draw a second, and have the opponent sitting there doing nothing with Divinations sitting in their hand.  That's not a gamestate I want to create.

Image (c) H-Minus 2011
To capture the feel of blood flowing back and forth, this guy takes the cake.  We've seen 2/2 knights with lifelink before, and there's cards that give your whole team lifelink too.  This guy does more than that.  Not only does his ability stack with lifelink when you hit the opponent, but he also triggers when your opponent pays life.  So when your opponent casts a Sign in Blood, this guy returns the blood to the soil and restores order, restoring your life total in the process.  This guy can be expected as a white weenie staple in most occasions.  He is absolutely insane in the right deck or format.  R/W decks will play this guy to turn all their burn into profit.  All your Lightning Bolts become Lightning Helixes, all your Fireballs become Exanguiates, all of your Ball Lightnings become f**kin amazing.  A deck that runs this guy will probably win if he sticks for a turn or two in the same way that a deck with Fauna Shaman or Lotus Cobra will win if it sticks for a turn or two.

Image (c) maryannedelbuono 2011
Lastly, I wanted to show a card that displays the merfolk half of blue.  Aquatic creatures in Bloodfall are being forced out of their homes, and thus are very offensive in nature.  This set will see much more on damage triggers for blue creatures than normal as a result.  In this case, the Guide is moving back and forth across the newly contested waters, and each time new information is gained along the way.  This guy will see limited play, and depending upon what else in the set gives evasion abilities, could see some constructed play as well.  Not likely, though.

Alright, that's it for now.  I've put some more work into this, of course, and more articles and cards are to come in the following weeks.  Note that all images for the artwork are currently placeholders.  I'll deal with that when I come to it.

To keep up with Bloodfall, be sure to follow me on FaceBook and the Twitter.  Also, be sure to check out the archive below for all your actual Magic needs.

Be sure to chime in on the Bloodfall articles with your own comments and suggestions, and pass the discussion around your circle of MtG buddies for their thoughts as well.  If there were no community, I wouldn't be doing this in the first place.  Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

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