Custom Card Game Design

Colors Everywhere

In one of my earlier sets, Paiura, there was a mechanic which I called Paiuran mana. For each instance of Paiuran mana, you could pay any color of mana that was not spent already on another mana symbol in the spell’s cost. For example, a spell that costs 2x Paiuran + Blue could be cast by paying Red, Black, and Blue. It was a fun mechanic, but the cards did not have any unique identity. What can the aforementioned example spell do that a spell that costs 2U cannot do? I want to include new mana symbols in Shandalar, so I revisited the mechanic I designed three years ago.

It is important to find an identity for the cards that have this mechanic. With the “tribrid” spells, I already have spells that are customizable through the colors of mana that are spent on them, so maybe I could go into the same direction. Associating a unique effect with each color of mana is not feasible though, as the cards would get far too wordy. But: Each color has a unique keyword ability that is more or less associated with it, for example trample and green. Spells with this mechanic could always grant these keywords and they could be listed in the reminder text. After a player has understood one card with this ability, he would quickly grasp the next few. White gives lifelink and black gives deathtouch is not very hard to remember for any Magic player other than a complete rookie.

Then I realized that due to each color granting a new ability, the player would be rewarded for using different colors of mana anyway, and the original restriction of Paiuran mana was obsolete. A few wording alterations later I arrived at this:

A pump spell featuring prismatic mana.

The “five-color hybrid” symbol is called prismatic mana. It acts as an indicator for “You may spend any color of mana to pay this cost” and also as a function. It takes the color of mana spent to pay for it and returns a keyword that is associated with that color of mana. That keyword is referenced with “prismatic” in the card text. If the card has multiple prismatic mana symbols, the “prismatic” keyword returns multiple keywords.

Prismatic mana could lead to interesting deck-building decisions. You are playing an Evolving Wilds in your deck and two Breach of Sunlight. Is it worth to put a Plains into your deck, just so that you have the option to use the lifelink effect? Who am I kidding; in this format you play five-color anyway.

This is a very rough draft, and especially regarding the wording there are many alternate and maybe better ways to do it. So, I would like to hear your opinion on it. Next to Abundance, Prismatic is the second mechanic focusing on mana. The rest of the mechanics should go into different directions.


3 responses to “Colors Everywhere

  1. adventmtg January 19, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    I like the design of the card, and I like the idea of prismatic mana, but I’m not sold on tying the keywords to it. First of all, balancing it becomes more difficult because those keywords are valued *very* differently. Second, it’s a limitation on the application of prismatic mana in that you can’t use prismatic mana without using those keywords as tied to it.

    Is there a way to mechanically un-link the prismatic mana with the keywords, while still retaining this card’s functionality without making it too wordy?

    • antaresmtg January 21, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      You can use prismatic mana and create a “prismatic” in the card text, so yes. But isn’t a mana that is basically colorless except you can’t spend colorless mana on it a bit pointless?

      The keywords are valued differently. Haste and trample are below the others, but deathtouch, lifelink and flying are all equally good I think. Red could also get first strike, as that would be closer to the rest more often.

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