I’ve been following along with Magic’s Great Designer Search 2 — the eight finalists have some really cool ideas in their sets, but it turns out executing those ideas with Magic’s mechanics is harder than it looks. It’s been tough here at the RV too, as we’ve tried to find a good military themed mechanic. Here’s my latest shot.
For those who’ve been following along the gradual and occasional development of Robot Viking’s hypothetical Magic set, two quick updates: we need to scrap the Fate Counters idea, or heavily rework it, because it’s what Magic R&D calls “parasitic;” it doesn’t work outside the set ( we could possibly just use +1/+1 counters). Also, I think we should bring back both Bushido and Flanking. They’re relatively simple mechanics that perfectly showcase the military theme.
We obviously want to add another new mechanic though. I hit upon the idea of something to do with supply lines weeks ago, but couldn’t figure out a good way to make it interesting and unique. You could have creatures that fetch equipment from your library, a la Stoneforge Mystic, but that isn’t really anything new. Then I was reading the judge comments on some of the GDS2 submissions, and Mark Rosewater pointed out that most sets need some kind of mana smoothing mechanic that works well at common.
Supply isn’t very revolutionary — it’s still your basic “fetch some stuff from your library” mechanic. Putting the lands on top of the library instead of into your hand keeps it from intruding too much on green’s chunk of the color pie. It also makes it, quite frankly, a very mediocre mechanic. I think that’s a good thing. That lets us put it at common. That allows it to be overlooked until someone figures out a way to abuse it with Treasure Hunt or Oracle of Mul Daya. It lets us make bad cards, like Rescue Brigade — every set needs some stinkers, especially at common.
It’s also important to think of it in the context of the set. The military theme gives each of the colors heavy monocolored casting costs. In another set, a big rare finisher might cost BB4. In this set, it would cost BBBBB1. Supply lets you use early game cards to meet the difficult mana requirements of the really heavy hitters.
There are some drawbacks. My brother Joe pointed out that it leads to extra shuffling, which is a pain and slows down games. Obviously, with fetch lands and other effects already published, we can see that some mid-game shuffling is acceptable. I think if we are careful to minimize shuffling effects in the rest of the set, and use a limited number of cards with Supply, it will be ok. I’m thinking something like two commons and two uncommons at each color. You would rarely use the Supply ability more than once or twice per game, which also helps mitigate the slowdown aspect.
Anyone have any ideas for interesting ways to use Supply, variations on the mechanic, or serious problems with it? Any unforeseen ridiculous combos?