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  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    Quote from Legend »
    But the creature you presented to exemplify that precedent is thoroughly erroneous.

    Do you mean Spinebeast or Piecemeal Hydra?

    Quote from Legend »
    Etched Monstrosity was intended as a foil to Infect.

    Not sure what you mean here, either. By a foil to infect, I assume you meant against creatures from the same set that have infect, like Razor Swine? In what way does Etched Monstrosity specifically work against it? Does the 10/10 block Infect creatures to accumulate -1/-1 counters, and then activate its ability to draw 3 cards, then rinse and repeat? If that's the big foil, cool, but I've never seen it happen or even heard of it happening. Are we talking Constructed infect decks, or limited? Because if it was meant to foil Constructed infect decks, it has failed miserably. If it was meant to foil Limited infect decks, why did they give that task to a mythic? I don't get it.

    Anyhow, I'll consider it a 5/5 (not 5/5+) for 5, for the purpose of my master list. If you're playing it in a colourless deck, you can't use the activated ability, so it's vanilla. It's only 5/5+ in a WUBRG deck.
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    Cool, I'll update my master list soon with that. And while I'm at it, a design that takes the above into consideration:

    Piecemeal Hydra - X
    Artifact Creature - Construct Hydra
    X can't be less than 5.
    Piecemeal Hydra enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it.
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    For a couple blocks a few years ago, there were some cards printed (mainly for limited) that punished -1/-1 counters (stuff like Kulrath Knight or Steady Progress). There were also cards printed that make -1/-1 counters an advantage, and there are cards that can remove tokens en masse like Æther Snap. On the other hand, there are also cards that make +1/+1 counters a bonus or resource, and cards that make +1/+1 counters a drawback or liability. I would not point at counters (+1/+1, -1/-1, or other types) to be inherantly bonuses or drawbacks.

    Quote from bravelion83 »

    if you include them, you should also include the many creatures that are 0/0 and enter the battlefield with +1/+1 counters on them

    That's true. In the OP I said:

    Quote from rancored_elf »
    I've used Gatherer and my brain for most of it, but Gatherer's search has limitations. For example, if there was a creature out there like this...

    Spikedog - 2G
    Creature - Hound
    When Spikedog enters the battlefield, put 2 +1/+1 counters on target creature.

    ... then I'd consider it a 3/3+ for 2G, and it would knock Centaur Courser off the list. Gatherer wouldn't have helped me find Spikedog though.

    So indeed, I've already included creatures that have power and/or toughness modified by their own counters. I skipped Etched Monstrosity when I first did up the master list because I was excluding mythics at that time, but now it appears it should be added.

    Maybe "did the designers of Etched Monstrosity mean it to be a 5-mana 10/10 with a drawback, a 5/5 with a bonus, or a 5/5 with a drawback?" is the question here.
    Or maybe we should simplify the problem down. Consider the following hypothetical creature:

    Spinebeast - 2G
    Creature - Beast
    Spinebeast enters the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter on it.

    If that card was in print, and assuming it wasn't warping Modern or anything, I'd conclude a 4/3 for 2G is printable. (Not saying that would happen. It's just an example.)

    Etched Monstrosity is just a slightly flashier version of Spinebeast, so if you agree with me about one, you agree with me about the other.
    In fact, Etched Monstrosity has an activated ability which can use the -1/-1 counters as a resource, should you come up with the right mana. But a deck that can use the activated ability can't take advantage of the fact that Etched Monstrosity's mana cost is colorless, so to me it's either a 5/5+ for WUBRG or essentially a vanilla 5/5 for 5.

    For the purposes of my master list, Etched Monstrosity appears to be a 5/5 for 5 mana with a potential upside. I'm not shocked that it never sees play. For 6, one can very easily get a 6/6 with massive upsides and no counters to mess around with, and even Scuttling Doom Engine sees no play.

    I'm not calling for a reprint of Su-Chi and Cathodion or anything, but it appears that 5/5 for 5, 6/6 for 6, and 7/7 for 7 are safe stats.

    0: 1/1
    1: 1/2+
    2: 2/1+
    3: 3/1+
    4: 5/1+
    5: 5/5?
    6: 6/6+

    I guess Kuldotha Forgemaster, Stone Golem, and Tangle Hulk are no longer all that significant to the master list (if they ever were)..?
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    I'll be taking a couple days to digest the recent analysis done by bravelion and myself. Lots of good stuff here.
    In the meantime, what's the consensus..... is Etched Monstrosity a 5/5+ for 5? I could see arguments either way but I lean toward "yes".
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    I took the above images, scrubbed off the raw data leaving just the break lines, aligned their starting points (where the break line meets the top of the W line on the white graph, the U line on the blue graph, etc), then combined them into one image.

    - The top of each break line shows the power of that colour's weenies (mainly 1 and 2 cmc). W } G } R } B } U
    - The bottom of each break line shows the power of that colour's fatties (such as 5+ cmc). G } R } B } U } W
    - Black and blue may be converging somewhere around the 8-mana mark, but it's hard to tell. Black's break line might need adjustment (see above) as it's quite hard to place due to the 5/1 jutting out at 3B. It's possible that it should be ignored, and considered an outlier design, not one meant to set precedent or change black's identity.
    - White's break line is remarkable, showing that white is best at weenies but worst at fatties, "crossing over" all other colours.
    - I had previously thought red overtook green in the higher mana costs, but after the detailed analysis it seems like they might be close to tied. Of course, green has much more toughness than red, even if red does almost keep up with green in the power department. Both may get a 7-power creature for 6 mana (as an example), but you can be guaranteed the green one will have about twice as much toughness as the red one.
    - The colourless break line doesn't tell me much. Seems like it's very safe, running down the middle of the data, like an average (or slightly less than average). It's not best at anything, but it's also not worst at anything.

    I'll do some more analysis of this later on.
    Also, thank you VERY much bravelion for all that! You don't have to hide it behind spoilers, bro, post the main stuff at least out in the open. You did a lot of work. I'm going to take my time going over it before commenting specifically. Wow, that's a lot of good stuff OMG Thumbs Up
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    Souleater tells me that 4 mana can get me a 5/1+ (a 5/1 with an upside). The green mana symbol doesn't change anything about the previous statement because 4 colourless mana can still get you at least a 5/1 creature. I know what you mean - trample is a green thing mostly, and there's an option to pay green mana instead of 2 life to trigger the ability. So the card has a green feel. But that STILL doesn't change the first statement.

    My master list cares about what is possible, looking at precedent, for each possible mana cost. When it comes to 4 colorless, the answer is currently 2/4+, 3/3+, or 5/1+. I'm definitely not saying this is the only way to do it, because there are many variations possible. But I have to stay internally consistent in my data collection and analysis, and that's the way I decided to do it, so I'm sticking with it. I encourage any and all variations!

    Here are the results of my in-depth look into each colour, with a focus on power.

    In the next post, I'll analyze these results in different ways.
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)

    - Shorecrasher Elemental (3/3+ for UUU) doesn't change blue's identity much, as it just slides right into the data where you'd expect it to. (Side note: I'm noticing that CCC and 3C often produce the same stats. I'll keep an eye on that pattern.)
    - Goliath Sphinx (8/7+ for 5UU) helps reveal where blue's break line is. It looks more and more like blue is just a non-artifact colourless colour. By that I mean blue's identity is almost exactly the same as colourless' identity. Making a colorless creature's mana cost bluer doesn't boost the creature's stats. For every other colour, making the cost more coloured (and less colourless) allows the stats to increase, but with blue, the only advantage to being more blue is that you're no longer killed by Shatter. (Of course, blue has cheaper access to keywords like flying that colourless creatures don't.)
    - Blue is rarely topheavy but can be VERY bottomheavy. That said, it is still by far the weakest colour for creatures overall. The exception is probably at 1U and 0 power, where blue beats every other colour by having a creature with 6!! toughness, no drawbacks, and an upside. What other colour can match Dragon's Eye Savants? Not that Sidisi's Faithful is any slouch.
    - Having 2 more power than toughness seems to be about the limit for blue. A 3/1 for 2U looks likely (a Merfolk Soldier perhaps). 4/2+ for 3U hasn't been done yet, but certainly could, and probably will.

    Snapface Turtle - 3U
    Creature - Turtle
    Whenever Snapface Turtle blocks, it gets -4/+8 until end of turn.

    - Expanding red's data to higher and/or more red-intensive costs revealed Thunderblust, Knollspine Dragon, Tyrant of Discord, and Living Inferno as significant data points.
    - Thunderblust adjusted red's break line out slightly, though it turns out it is only about as aggressive as Regathan Firecat.
    - Red is great at topheavy creatures, especially at higher mana costs. (People think of red as the most-aggressive weenie colour, but that distinction goes to green and white.)
    - 8/4 for 3RRR or 6R looks good. 9/5+ for 5RR and 10 power for 7R (Bearer of the Heavens aside) are easily doable.

    Topplespire - 3RRR
    Creature - Titan (R)
    First strike
    Topplespire can't be blocked except by 2 or more creatures.

    - I haven't focused much on colourless in this thread, but the data's there. It's just not that interesting, although it does provide a baseline for stats in the other colours.
    - Hexplate Golem and Artisan of Kozilek helped expand the picture, the latter confirming colourless' break line nicely. The break line is also approached by Memnite and Insatiable Souleater (2 cards that need no improvement).
    - Notice the gaps along the breakline at 1, 2, and 3. Those will go unfilled, as 1 will never buy you a 2/1, 2 will never buy you a 3/1, and 3 will (probably) never buy you a 4/1.
    - There's room for a 6/3+ at 5, and lots of designs to be explored in the 7 and 8 range.

    I'm now working on unifying the data and analysis done on "break lines". It will probably replace my discussion of "confines" and polygons in this thread. It's a more complete and detailed model to explain the master list, and to help it hint at potential designs.
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    I got black done this morning:

    - Phyrexian Obliterator, Halo Hunter, Hollowborn Barghest, Lord of the Void, and Demon of Death's Gate helped flesh out black's data when I incorporated heavily-black and 6+ mana costs.
    - The addition of Halo Hunter and Demon of Death's Gate to the data helped answer the question of where black's line in. Without them, there weren't enough data points to see where to place it. (And of course, the line is subjective and meant as an approximation only.) Now we can see Rotting Fensnake isn't a random anomaly - it actually fits within black's confines (albeit barely).
    - Dakmor Rat from above (2/1 for B) now looks even more obvious.
    - Black lately has been getting 2/2+ for 1B, and has no problem with topheavy creatures. Why no 3/1 for 1B yet? It's certainly not overpowered and would fit nicely within black's confines. It's probably around the corner.
    - Black has no 8 power creatures without drawbacks. 7 and 9, yes, but no 8. Actually that's not true, I've just learned about Fell Shepherd, an 8/6+ for 5BB which isn't eligible for the master list. But it does give some indication of official design philosophy. I think an 8-power monstrosity might cost 4BBB.

    Killbloodpain Demon - 4BBB
    Creature - Demon
    Sacrifice another creature: Target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn and Killbloodpain Demon gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

    I'm not 100% sure about black's line ("break line" might be a good term for it, since any stats to the right of the line are "broken"). Green and white's were more obvious. It's entirely possible that the break line could be more of a break curve. I'll carry on and finish up with red and blue, and that will probably give us some clues about black. It's definitely better than it was before I did this latest analysis though Thumbs Up
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    Quote from bravelion83 »
    This is exactly what I'm working on in these days, inspired by one of Doombringer's posts. In a few days I hope to be ready to post an analysis about different rarities.

    Yeah, I've been reading your posts on it, and looking forward to more. But what I meant to say was I haven't been putting rarities on the sample cards I come up with. I've just been leaving them out of any designs that come from the data and analysis, except for the Dakmor Rat.
    I appreciate your feedback! I'll post an in-depth look at white before I go to bed tonight. Looks like there aren't any surprises there, just another data point or two to confirm the slope we're already seeing on the data.

    Quote from Legend »
    Are the op charts up to date with all relevant contributed data?

    The master list (both in text form and charted form) is up-to-date. The wording in the OP will need revamping when I post a fresh version of this thread (after some more analysis is finished up).
    I'll go through my first few posts on the thread tonight and make them as up-to-date as I can. But a fresh thread (letting this one sink down) is what it'll eventually need Smile

    EDIT: Here's white's extended chart.

    - Vengeful Archon is the only significant data point after opening up the data to costs above 6, and costs involving more than 2 coloured mana (WW). It falls perfectly where one would expect it to, and helps solidify the line drawn down the right side of white's data.
    - Like green, white's weenies can be topheavy... in fact white's weenies are the most topheavy of any colour. White's fatties, on the other hand, tend not to favour power at all, and even a 7 power creature costs white 4WWW.
    - I've put a strike through some of the stats, indicating instances where it has little impact on white's "identity" as a color, which is more represented by the line down the right side than anything else. They're still useful data, but they don't set white's confines.
    - There are a few gaps on the "safe" side of the line that will probably be filled at some point, and are up for grabs for design. Keep in mind, not everything that can be done SHOULD be done. This analysis just shows what it would probably look like.

    Loxodon Convert probably isn't white's cheapest possible 4-power creature. Given white's love of topheavy weenies like Accorder Paladin, a 4/1+ or 4/2 for 1WW is no problem.

    Spiritpouncer - 1WW
    Creature - Spirit
    1WW: Spiritpouncer gains first strike, flying and vigilance until end of turn.

    While a 2/2 seems a shoe-in, there's no room for a 3/1 at W. That doesn't mean a 3/1 with a drawback is out of the question, though. A miniscule drawback is sometimes enough to balance out an otherwise overpowered design, such as a 2/2 haste Goblin for R. My 3/1 won't have haste, but 3/1s inherently cost more than 2/2s, so I'll need a larger-than-miniscule drawback.

    Curious Lynx - W
    Creature - Cat
    Whenever Curious Lynx becomes blocked, it gets -3/-0 until end of turn.

    Bit of a nod to Ignoble Soldier there.

    And now, something maximizing toughness for 3-power creatures, looks like it could fit nicely in the above image at 1WWW.

    Stalwart Hometroops - 1WWW
    Creature - Human Soldier

    That would be a nice uncommon. Or knock it up to a rare 3/7 with an additional non-keyword ability (such as "whenever Stalwart Hometroops blocks, it gains lifelink until end of turn").
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    Hehehe, maybe the Rats would be uncommon if printed in a set meant for drafting, sure. I haven't been including rarity in the discussion in this thread, nor any of the other cards I've posited based on the data or analysis. I only mentioned rarity for the Rats to make a weak joke (rats multiply so fast and infest an area... ie they become very common). But yeah.

    Anyway, here's my rough work on a new way to analyze the master list. This builds off some of my earlier stuff, and bravelion's analysis has touched on similar topics.

    I was doing polygons before. The more I look at this stuff, the more obvious it is that the right-hand side of the data is the business side. Each color has a fairly obvious slope that can be drawn (although black has that 5/1 vanilla sticking way out in the midrange, so I'm not completely sure where to draw that one).

    Once drawn, the lines tell a few things.
    1) The upper-left point of the line shows how powerful that colour's weenies can be. W > G > R > B > U (looks good)
    2) The lower-right point of the line shows how powerful that colour's fatties can be. R > G > B > U > W (red may get 6/2 for the same price green gets 5/5, so red fatties have the highest power)
    3) The center point of the line shows how powerful that colour's creatures overall can be. G > R > B > W > U (rings true)
    4) The line shows (by precedent) what is likely "safe" to be printed without rocking the boat. Designs on the line might be possible, but designs to the right of the line become increasingly unlikely. A 3-power at BB seems inevitable. Blue is very unlikely to get a 4-power creature without drawbacks for under 4 mana. 7 power for 3RR and up looks good. And so on.
    5) The left side of the data deals more with bottomheavy (higher toughness) creatures. It seems far less strict, meaning most colours (aside from red) have access to creatures with much higher toughness than power. I won't spend much time analyzing the left side. Creatures aren't played for their toughness much in Magic, except maybe at very low mana costs. Above 3 mana or so, no amount of toughness really changes the playability of a creature, and Wizards' designers don't seem to worry too much about them, judging by their design decisions.

    I noticed that my recent in-depth analysis of green helped me decide where to draw the green line above. Perhaps going more in-depth (into higher and more colour-intensive mana costs) for the other colours would be useful, too. I'll do red or white next and see how that goes. I'll re-post green here:

    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    Okay, thanks for saying that Doombringer. I should have been more diplomatic - I think know I'm oversensitive to being told "you can't design like that here", or anything remotely like that, because I get it a lot in this forum. There's an attitude of "you're cheating at design because you just want everything to be broken" or something. That's not it at all. I think it takes skill to find that fine line between playably-strong and over-the-top. I like this aspect of design, and it's a creative outlet for me. I know it's not for everybody, and that's okay, but I feel defensive when I get told that my style isn't welcome. I don't like designs that needlessly obsolete something already in print, along with almost all other designers out there. But I DO like finding out where the boundary is, and I think there's value in knowing.

    I'm not a fan of power creep, but I can see it happening nonetheless. Much like inflation in the economy, it's always there and it's probably bigger than we notice. At some point, it will have major damaging effects on things if left unchecked.

    "disagree with the analysis that you have made for the "filling the holes" section"
    Cool, well feel free to get into specifics about what can be changed. Keep in mind it's still in rough form, and I share your concern for creating designs that fill holes but damage a colour's identity. I think I wrote about that here in the thread, saying that not every design is meant to see print, it's just an example of the stats that such a creature might have if it DID see print. Black may very well get a 2/1 for B, according to the analysis, but why hasn't it ever been printed? Are they waiting for the right time, or would they just prefer to print 2/2s with drawbacks because that's more black's style? So don't worry, I get what you're saying. And yet.....

    Dakmor Rat - B
    Creature - Rat (C)
    They've been there all along - you just weren't looking.


    BTW bravelion83, more great work! Thank you! Thumbs Up
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    Quote from Doombringer »
    You don't just take the largest numbers you can from these precedents and push them. It has to be for a reason.

    Because we want to. Because finding out where the line between "strong and interesting for constructed" and "inappropriately cheap or big" is can be fun and challenging. Because designing mediocre cards or cards for limited isn't my thing. Actually, we don't need a reason at all, but thanks for your opinion. You've made several spam posts in this thread already. I'm going to ask that you not post in the thread anymore unless it's on topic and supportive (or at least constructive). There are other threads for other topics.
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    Cool. Well, I think Sandwood Elk is just about perfect, in that I wouldn't want to go to 2/3, nor can we go to 3/1, so 2/2 is the hard limit. That said, 2/2+ at rare might happen here or there, depending on what the + is. Your Big Dumb Green Dude's boost is pretty significant, ensuring he's always above the curve no matter how much mana you put into him.

    To be honest, I think a lot of designers will have a problem with the Elk, let alone the Dude. Maybe I'll make a thread about it tomorrow, assuming there hasn't already been a good one on that topic recently.
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    Thrun's nice and unsolvable, but not great in the evasion department. I was going for both in one creature for 2GG.
    I agree hexproof is overdone already. Giving the Kavu something else instead would be fine with me, as long as it makes it tougher to kill.

    Re: Ghoultree maybe being playable in today's Stadard. That's neither here nor there, though. If it's in question whether or not it's playable in Standard, then it's probably not playable enough. It's kinda like saying "it might be Block playable". I'm aiming for a design that would make players take note, and consider adding it to a deck, or making a deck to take advantage of it. Not a creature that might be Block or Standard playable, if printed at the right time. If Ghoultree was seeing at least some Legacy play as well as quite solid Modern play, and it was in demand for Casual decks as well, then it would be a good benchmark. I don't know from personal experience how well it's doing on the tourny scene, but if the pricetag is any indication, nobody anywhere is playing it, period. Either it's an undiscovered gem that should be on every green decklist, or it's just not really good enough as printed. I think it's the latter...

    Anyhow, do you really think Big Dumb Green Dude is possible? 2/2+ for G?

    Sandwood Elk - G
    Creature - Elk (U)

    I was just going to go for something vanilla, heh.
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on "the master list" - creature design theory (keen eyes and minds still wanted!)
    Quote from sirgog »
    20 toughness is dangerous for future designs.

    Ooooh. Call me a bad boy, but I like it even more now. Mythics sometimes break rules or do one-time things. "Comboing with some future design that can abuse 20 toughness" is another claim to fame Wink

    I think you're right about Ghoultree being better in today's Standard than in its own. Maybe 6G would have been the right cost for it, had it been intended as a powerful mythic that sees serious play. Nonetheless, I've just picked up a few playsets of it for next to nothing, in case I want to play with some or wait until green gets more toys for graveyard shenanigans, as it has been recently.

    Here's another green design that came up while working on my "strong analysis". I figure 2GG could get you a 4/7 fairly safely, but I wanted a mid-range creature with the 2 things all creatures want, evasion and unsolvability. Mono-green has yet to get trample and hexproof together, but I don't see any reason to continue that tradition.

    Neckflare Kavu - 2GG
    Creature - Kavu
    Trample, hexproof
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
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