Custom Card Game Design
Planeswalker Tuning, Part II
June 14, 2014Posted by on
Update on Part I
Guys, I had to nerf Chandra. Her -X ability was too oppressive even at 2 starting loyalty. Now she has just a stinky, regular ultimate. When you deem every 1-toughness creature unplayable because of her existence, that is definitely a sign that the card is just broken and needs to be dealt with.
But moving on…
Auria, Guardian of Worlds
Auria’s design originated in Iamur. She was supposed to be in the second set ‘Grim Tidings’, but ultimately I decided that she did not fit very well. In Iamur, she is now only referenced: A great savior from another world that banished the ancient kraken gods to the abyss a long time ago. But when the old gods rise again, she does not return, being needed elsewhere.
The main idea of her design is an animation effect that, in contrast to Gideon Jura, lasts until your next turn. It entails that damage is not prevented, meaning that damage dealt to her still removes loyalty counters. She is indestructible for as long as she is a creature, but this only means that she will not die from lethal damage, that is damage equal to or greater than her toughness. If her loyalty drops to zero, she still dies. I figured that a Serra Angel body perfectly fits for that animation effect.
The initial design again featured no ultimate, something I had to change as this planeswalker does not work without one. The +2-ability was meant to be used as an alternative to the animation ability to gain loyalty in a situation where you do not want her to be a creature. But it was quickly removed as testing showed that you always want her to be a creature. Eventually, I also replaced the minus ability as well as it was almost always inferior to the animation ability, and when it was good it was annoying. I realized that her animation ability defined her so much that her second ability could only be a niche effect; something that is not useful very often, but very powerful when it is. Auria is a finisher in midrange and control decks. You can activate the 0-ability when your opponent’s only out is a sweeper, or when you are about to sweep the board yourself.
A slight concern about her ultimate has always been that by the time you reach it, you have already beaten your opponent to death. But you can get there after only three activations or two attacks. If you are lucky, your opponent will not be dead already.
Niusha of the Spires
Niusha is the second planeswalker in Esparand and she did not change much from her initial version. Her abilities completely revolve around her variable cost. I knew that every of her abilities would either have to cost loyalty or care about her loyalty in another way. If she could increase her loyalty somehow, that would make her X-cost matter less, which does not feel right to me. Now you get a completely different card depending on how much mana you spend on her.
I anticipated that she would be very dominant in the block constructed format, but that turned out to be false. She is good, but not an automatic four-of in every blue deck. Obviously, she is excellent in decks that can generate a ton of mana, such as blue-green ramp decks. But she is mainly held back by Chandra and by the manlands from Esparand.
What I do not like about her is how she plays in the 7-8 mana range, where she acts as just a one-shot effect more than a planeswalker most of the time. But there are situations where you play her on 6 or 7 loyalty and not immediately sacrifice her for the extra turn. Instead, you tap something large down, planning to take an extra turn when it is more advantageous. Still, I consider changing her last ability by reducing the loyalty cost but disallowing it to be used unless another of her abilities was activated during your last turn. This prevents both immediate and consecutive extra turns; very clunky wording though.
Some experimental designs work out, while others have to be discarded. This Ajani was a purely mechanical design, given a random face until I figured out in which direction to go with this one. The main gimmick of this planeswalker is the interaction of the second ability with the other two. But he is just not a very interesting card to play with. The 0-ability has too much “crossing-fingers” involved to ever be used, leaving him with the ability to make one Elemental token or to pump something when you have lethal this way — so it is a token 90% of the time.
Maybe I will rework him a little bit and try again, but for now he will be replaced with this new guy:
Eldres, Aeon Wanderer
Again, an experimental planeswalker. Maybe this one will work out. Eldres is another purely mechanical design based on the idea of a planeswalker with flash. The abilities are chosen such that they are especially powerful if you have mana left to make use of them. You can play him on your opponent’s end step, activate his plus ability and hold up a sweeper at instant speed, making your opponent very miserable. Without flash, he would just die miserably himself. The ultimate is not finished yet, but it is not very important anyway. I guess it casts creatures from your library or something…
Those are all the planeswalkers I wanted to present to you. Thanks for reading!