Saturday, May 14, 2011

Under the Hood - Bloodfall #2

In the original article, found here, I talked about the flavor and background for a block that I plan on building myself over the next few months.  To sum things up, the first set, Bloodfall, is about a demonic ritual gone wrong, resulting in a river turning to blood and the demon sleeping somewhere underneath.  The planeswalker who performed the ritual, Kecra, seeks to find the Demon to fulfill his pact, but the natives of the plane all have their own reactions to the river of blood and have essentially used the event as an excuse for a declaration of war, fighting over control of the rivers.

In the article, I posted image files for four different cards to illustrate the feel of the set, created as I typed the article.  However, astute readers may have noticed that the four cards lacked any new (or even uncommon) keyword abilities.  In essence, they were generic.  Now that our flavor is established, the next step is to design the base mechanics for the cards that fall in line with the setting.  It's time to grab a wrench and head under the hood.
The ultimate goal is that each faction present within Bloodfall has their own mechanic, with one overarching mechanic for the entire set.  The question is, what mechanic fits with a river of blood?

Every faction in Bloodfall is fighting over control of the river of blood.  For that to be true, the blood must be an important resource within the plane- the religious implication itself isn't enough to fuel all five colors into battle.  However, each faction still uses blood to a different end.  The trick is to find a way to universally represent the blood itself.

My first thought is that the blood is used to fuel golems and other artifacts, but then the set is just too mechanically similar to New Phyrexia paying life as additional costs for artifacts.  My second thought is much more appealing- a counter.  Creatures split among the five colors are used to 'collect' blood from the river (and their opponents), gaining Blood counters in the process.  Removing these counters allows the creature's controller to cast spells or activate abilities that require them.  For example, see this card.

I totally drew the art for this card.  Isn't it awesome?
The Bloodsuck keyword definitely feels natural on a Vampire, of course.  But how does it work elsewhere?  Answer: It really doesn't.  Each faction, each color gains blood counters in their own way, and each uses them in their own way as well.  For example, see this green creature that deals in blood counters.

I drew this one too.  Purdy, right?
The vampire is most definitely a black card, while the Cobra is most definitely Green (see cards like Whirling Dervish).  Each one does different things, the black creature drawing cards every other swing and the green one getting bigger each time he breaks through to the opponent.  Each one behaves like a completely different mechanic, and yet operates along the same principle, which is the exact feel I want for this set.  Even though they do different things, they rely on the same resource, and so are both affected by something like this-


Or, say, this-

Or even this-


Personally, I'm comfortable with the amount of versatility that Blood counters offer me.  As a mechanic, it captures the feel of the set, and enhances the strategy in Standard/Block/Limited play by giving the player yet another resource to manage.  It doesn't offer much power to older formats, but then again, most mechanics don't, and the few mechanics that do affect older formats get banned in Standard *cough affinity cough*, so I'm okay with that.  There IS some synergy with past cards like Doubling Season, however, so it is possible that depending what cards I make, this set could have an impact were it printed.  Of course, I have the good fortune of not having to deal with that, but I still want to keep it in mind.  I'm not doing this just for the sake of having the set, but for the challenge, and were I actually working on this for WotC, it's something I'd need to consider every step of the way.

Well, that's enough talk of Bloodfall for one night.  To keep up with the block as well as all of all the news and articles on REAL magic, be sure to follow Yo Mama: The Gathering on FaceBook and the Twitter.  This has been Jim Bowie, MistahBoweh on MTGO, saying good night and big balls.

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