Crash Test Magic — Inhabit the Land

Don't anger the tree.

Don't anger the tree.

All the excitement over Magic’s newest set (Zendikar, if you’ve been pointedly looking away the last few months) and the way it is heavily land-focused got me thinking about other ways you could link cards to land. What if the creatures could actually live on your lands? The result is not so much a card to be broken, rather a keyword to be prodded and twisted. I propose the Inhabit ability.

In terms of flavor, Inhabit is intended to make lands less abstract. They aren’t just resources for casting spells, they’re places where creatures live. And you aren’t just a planeswalker summoning these creatures to do your bidding, you are their lord and protector. Mechanically, cards with the Inhabit keyword give you some benefit (either to the creature, the land or both) if you choose to link the card to a land. The drawback is an added vulnerability — if the land is destroyed, so is the creature. The Emerald Watchwarden is just a possible example of this, with a fairly low-powered boost.

The first problem that crops up is the fact that land destruction has been out of favor among Magic’s designers for ages. Playable land destruction cards are few and far between in Standard format. Not much of a drawback if there’s no way for your opponent to take advantage of it. So this assumes that the set will include a moderate number of decent land destruction cards, which would be available in all five colors.

This leads to a new problem: land destruction slows down games and is frustrating and “unfun” to play against. The solution: land destruction that doesn’t slow things down. For example, you might have a card that destroys a target land, then that land’s controller gets to search his library for a basic land and put it into play (this would create an interesting interaction with Landfall, by the way).

Ok, so, now that we’ve designed half of a set to accommodate this keyword, what else could we do with it? How could Inhabit cards in each color reflect the Magic color pie? A black zombie might inhabit a swamp and be able to regenerate if you sacrifice the swamp (which is interesting, since you can regenerate it in response to either the zombie or the swamp being destroyed). A white creature could inhabit multiple plains, and gain +1/+1 per plain. However, it would die if any of the plains were destroyed. A multi-color creature could inhabit only non-basic lands. For a really powerful effect, a creature might have to inhabit multiple specific lands, like an island, a forest and a swamp.

In addition to finding all the ways I’ve screwed up the templating or failed to account for terribly broken interactions (and I don’t mean that sarcastically, I like having those things pointed out), I’d also love to see some interesting Inhabit card designs in the comments section. It’s all yours, Vikings.

4 Responses to Crash Test Magic — Inhabit the Land

  1. mmmmm k, how about an off-color inhabit, like it’s staking out the enemy. A white creature that inhabits an island could get card drawing off it as part of the sharing of cultures. The swamp sacrifice to save the zombie won’t work under your rules because if the swamp goes, so does anyone who inhabits it. Also, land destruction doesn’t need to be playable any more than stone rain. 3 mana to pop a land and a creature is the sort of tempo loss no one makes back up. You really gotta make these epic creatures because this has the same flaws as the champion mechanic, but they’re vulnerable the whole game. Like, something that gets +5/+5 or some ridiculously large numbers to get players to risk using them. It’d be better if this set had some sort of mass land removal, like a fixed Armageddon or something, rather than smaller land popping spells.

  2. Ok, then I’ll give the zombie DOUBLE REGENERATE. Ack, you’re right though. So obvious, yet I missed that. Love the off-color idea.

    You can’t make the abilities too awesome, or everyone’s deck will be stocked with 12 land destruction spells. They need to be quite good, though…it’s a fine line. The really good ones would give the land Shroud.

    Why would mass removal be good? Wouldn’t that just make everyone terrified to play Inhabit creatures?

    I was thinking more along the lines of weaker land destruction spells that didn’t interrupt tempo, like the example I mentioned. Another interesting idea: Destroy target land, then search your library for a land and put it into play under the control of the player who controlled the destroyed land. It’s the exact same effect as the other one if you destroy your own land, but if you destroy your opponent’s land, a creature with a landwalk ability becomes super interesting.

  3. I was thinking a 6+ mana kaboom, that’d be really a hell of a commitment to get out and would blow you away too. The idea of kill spells that mess with your lands is not happy time for me. Your land swapping spell is a good plan, but you’d have to vary that quite a bit to keep a good variance amongst the land destruction. I’m tempted to not have much land destruction or have it in some sort of tricky thing, like on the kick of kicker or something. I see inhabit as being a control finisher or a mid-range face punch. the aggro decks can’t risk the 2for1 early. Late game the land hit might be a bit less devastating, so the mid range guys can use it for a clock or a quick kill, while the control guys can get a couple of these dudes out. This is a tricky mechanic, and without having much experience with Champion I dunno how this’ll go out.

  4. I like this ability. Other easy ways around it don’t even require land destruction. Anything that’ll bounce a permanent back to hand will undo this easily. What happens if the land type is changed?

    Geothermal Electroform RR2
    Creature – Elemental
    Inhabit Mountain
    If Geothermal Electroform inhabits a mountain, it becomes a 7/1 Elemental creature and gains Haste and Trample. Sacrifice the mountain Geothermal Electroform inhabits at the end of the turn.

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