Today, I’m going to move on from telling stories from the dim and distant past to current events. Specifically, the forthcoming Invitational. I like how Wizards have redone the format for the Invitational in an attempt to force Pro players to write articles containing no more than 500 words or three intelligent arguments for StarCityGames.com soliciting for votes.
To my way of thinking, though, the Invitational shouldn’t be about grubbing for votes, rewarding “road warriors” or flying people across the world to sit in a room playing a computer game. We should get back to the true meaning behind the Invitational, which is to utilize the fact that the winner gets the opportunity to design a card, and therefore can make a new Red card, just as Darwin Kastle did in the first Invitational card to be created.
I won’t ever get to go to the Invitational, so I can only try to fulfil this objective by proxy. But most players at one time or another have thought about designing their own cards (including some people who have designed whole expansions), so humor me while I explain which Red card I would make, if I had the opportunity.
Red is good at a wide variety of things. A card designer could make a new Dragon, for example. Or a really powerful mass destruction spell. Or a spell which damages players, or destroys artifacts. Or a Goblin.
After I wrote about how Red was the best color, I received a very long and cogently argued e-mail from a gentleman who was sympathetic to my general argument but was very disappointed that I had failed to mention Dragons at all. Nonetheless, I reckon that I can leave designing Dragons to Wizards R&D, who seem to me to have been doing a spiffing job in this department. The idea of doing a mass destruction spell doesn’t appeal, since I like summoning creatures and attacking with them, and there’s only so much that can be done with a burn spell or an artifact destruction spell. Which leaves Goblins.
I know that some will argue that there have been too many powerful Goblins in recent times, but the Goblins in Onslaught, while they were all very welcome, weren’t quite what I was thinking of. The problem with them, and I admit that it is an extremely small problem, is that it was all a bit obvious. All the Goblins in Onslaught, Legions and Scourge benefited from having other Goblins about, from the Sledder to the Piledriver to the Warchief. This made deckbuilding and card evaluation not all that interesting, enjoyable though the actual process of playing the Goblin deck which R&D made for us was.
The Goblins which I prefer are the loner Goblins, the ones which you summon and let them get on with attacking the opponent while you blow up any blocking creatures. My absolute favorite is Goblin Cadets, which gets extra bonus points because so many people think it is bad.
Sadly, Wizards won’t fall for the idea that having a Red 2/1 creature for R is okay if you put some irrelevant text on it about “blocking”. So we have to get more creative.
Long ago, soon after Randy Buehler started to work for Wizards, he suggested the following card:
Hand of Paskins R
Hand of Paskins comes into play with two counters. At the beginning of your upkeep remove a counter from Hand of Paskins. If you cannot remove a counter from Hand of Paskins, you lose the game.
This is an obviously Red card, fitting with the “I want it now” theme, and having some interesting combinations with cards which sacrifice creatures (thus getting round the drawback) and cards which put counters on things (hello, Umezawa’s Jitte – well, except for the fact that Jitte only puts counters on itself. Details.). I am sure it is overpowered, though, so there is little chance of Randy actually getting it printed.
Here’s my idea for a Goblin, and how I came up with it:
Goblin Outcast – R
Creature – Goblin
At the beginning of your upkeep, reveal the top card of your library to all players. If it is a land card, you may not play lands this turn. If it is a creature spell, you may not attack this turn. If it is a non-creature spell, you may not play spells this turn (These effects remain even if Goblin Outcast leaves play)
Sacrifice Goblin Outcast: Deal 1 damage to target creature or player.
Play this only as a sorcery.
The original idea for this was “Wouldn’t it be cool to combine Jackal Pup and Mogg Fanatic”. I realized that to manage to accomplish this would require a fairly hefty drawback.
The thing about most drawbacks is that either they are easy to get round (like anything which involves creature combat), or they make the card impossibly bad (like the drawback on the Scared Puma). The way that I thought to get around this was to have a drawback which worked in a different way in each game, but without having any of that coin flipping nonsense (those of us with extremely low levels of manual dexterity find coin flips extremely aggravating, and it would be a really bad thing if coin flipping cards were ever tournament viable, as it raises the prospect of a tournament being decided by a coin flip). The thing I like about this is that it is impossible to predict how bad the drawback will be. Will you be free to attack and cast spells to remove any blockers, but unable to lay land and develop your board position? Will you be unable to remove that annoying blocker with a burn spell, but free to play lands and attack? Or, most annoyingly, will you have to sit there and not attack your mana-screwed opponent as you play more and more creatures?
One of my many weaknesses as a player is that I find evaluating new cards very difficult (I once did a set review in which I called Lightning Rift “junk”), so I have no idea how powerful Goblin Outcast would be. I suspect it would be very powerful, but it seems like the drawback could straight up lose you games which you would have won with any old 1/1 Goblin. It would be easy to tweak if it proved too weak or too strong. Above all, it would allow a whole new generation of players to experience the pleasure of summoning a creature on turn one and attacking for two with it. And that is really the whole point of this Invitational business.
And the name? Well, you would be an Outcast if it was your fault that none of your friends could attack, or your master couldn’t cast spells or lay lands. Any suggestions for a better name, or improvements to the card, should, as ever, be made in the forums.