Recruit - Universal Faction Mechanic

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Post by Watchwolf » 9 months ago

I wanted to try a different spin on a faction set (with factions based on color combos). For context, lets assume this is Ravnica set.

Rather than give each guild their own mechanic, which often results in simplified and sometimes unbalanced mechanics, I wanted to experiment with a set mechanic that each of the guilds could use in their own way. After some exploration, here's what I landed on:

Recruit N to GUILDNAME. (Reveal the top N cards of your library. You may put a color1 card and/or a color2 card from among them into your hand. Put the rest into your graveyard.)

Here's a couple of examples:

Boros Draft 3W
Create two 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens. Recruit 2 to Boros. (Reveal the top two cards of your library. You may put a red card and/or a white card from among them into your hand. Put the rest into your graveyard.)

Golgari Recruiter 2BG
Creature - Elf (U)
Whenever another creature you control dies, recruit 1 to Golgari. (Reveal the top card of your library. You may put it into your hand if it's black or green. Otherwise, put it into your graveyard.)

It's a bit lengthy in the text department and it has some quirks, so I'll talk through them.

First and most obvious, this mechanic (in the context of Ravnica) is technically ten mechanics, as "recruit 2 to Boros" is functionally different from "recruit 2 to Golgari." I don't think this is a problem.

Second, the mechanic incorporates the faction name. As most people who play Magic are at least somewhat familiar with guild names, I'm sure it should be fairly easy to remember what each version does in a Ravnica set. On a new plane with new named factions, this might be more problematic. This puts pressure on players to learn their guild's name. If the set is immersive enough, players should want to do that anyway though.

Another technical quirk is that if we ever go to a new plane with new factions that wants to use this mechanic, it will again be creating that many technically new mechanics, even if they function the same as existing Guild versions. Again, I don't think this will be an issue for anyone but the WotC rules manager.

Now, here's what I like about recruit.

It rewards playing in your guild. This mechanic heavily incentivizes playing exactly the colors of your guild and no more or less. It's still functional if you want to splash a "recruit to Azorius" card in your Dimir deck, but you'll be much better served by a "recruit to Dimir" card. The prospect of being able to draw up to two cards by recruiting is obviously much more enticing than only drawing one, and the best way to do that is to try and build your deck with roughly equal cards of each of your guild's colors. This is exactly the kind of gameplay I want a universal faction mechanic to create.

It's flexible and utilitarian. I wanted this mechanic to enable the guilds to play into their identities, and I feel that recruit does just that. Card flow is something that every guild can get behind. The mechanic is modular enough that it can go onto any spell or effect. It's even formatted so that a card effect can refer to the mechanic ("Whenever you recruit to Boros," or "Whenever you recruit a blue card,"). It doesn't take attention away from each guild's identity and it doesn't blend them together or make them feel same-y. It just fortifies what each guild already wants to do.

It's flavorful in all the right ways. If there is one thing that every Ravnica set has incorporated into its marketing, it's the "choose your guild" theme. It doesn't matter what a guild's personality feels like or what they want to do; they all want to bring in new members. Recruit feels perfectly at home for a guild set, and I don't think there is a single non-Ravnica faction set so far that couldn't use it just as well (except for tribal factions).

Here're the issues I've spotted:

Recruit only works for color-based factions. This one is pretty obvious and there's really nothing to be done about that. I wanted a mechanic that could come back and be re-used in as many faction sets as possible, but factions that aren't cleanly defined, or at least divided, by color can't really be referenced by any card effect unless they have some kind of marker, like a creature type, that defines them. I suppose it's possible for there to be a tribal version ("Recruit 1 to the Brazen Fleet (Reveal the top card, put it into your hand if it's a Pirate...)"), but that slightly changes the power of the mechanic by lowering the ceiling to only 1 card.

On a related note, monocolored factions and factions of two or more colors are inherently more or less powered by this mechanic. However, it's possible, because each faction's mechanic is technically unique, to manually override that ("Recruit 4 to Temur (Reveal the top four cards of your library. You may put up to two cards that are green, blue, and/or red from among them into your hand...)")

It has a moderately high ceiling and a pretty low floor. Balancing is gonna be difficult with this mechanic. It's generally gonna feel pretty bad to just mill a land too often when you "recruit 1 to" your guild. However, that's why the 1 is there. Adding a knob that can be tweaked to adjust the power of the effect helps to avoid those situations. The cool thing here is that the mechanic, by nature, has a built-in safety valve, which means that the recruit number can be very high, but the maximum number of cards drawn is still just two. This means that, best case scenario, a one-time effect will net you +1 card advantage, and most of the time you'd have to be pretty lucky to get that. I'm more concerned about smaller effects. Stapling "recruit 1 to guildname" has a fairly high chance of doing nothing more than surveilling away a land, and adding "recruit 2 to guildname" to a 1 mana spell feels like it could be too good. Tl;dr, this mechanic just requires some careful balancing on a card-by-card basis.

It reads a little awkwardly. This is a really tiny issue. It could read "recruit 2 cards to guildname," or something, but there's not really much more flexibility in how this mechanic is phrased. I don't think that's a big problem though.

So that's it. What do you guys think?

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Post by Morpic_Tide » 9 months ago

Perhaps "Recruit {faction} N" ((Reveal the top N cards of your library. You may put up to one property1, one property 2 card, and/or etc card from among them into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.). So Recruit Esper 3 could be "Reveal the top three cards of your library. You may put up to one White card, one Blue card, one Black card and/or one Artifact card from among them into your hand and the rest into your graveyard".

It gets wordy more quickly, but as each qualifier is between a pair of commas, the grammar structure helps with separating larger clauses, like Naya including its colors and creatures of power 4 or greater. Creature type isn't the only marker. As long as the factions are consistent in what they care about, you can use anything from the Snow supertype to having a CMC over 6. Any card property that can be referenced while the card's in the deck works just fine, mechanically. Though this does exclude the P/T value of Vehicles, as non-creatures don't have P/T values by the rules.

Replacing the Surveil with Scry is important, because it otherwise quickly turns into better Dredge because you can actually sometimes get the few things you don't want in the graveyard.

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Post by SecretInfiltrator » 9 months ago

Why not just "scout N for white and/or black"? It totally is open to "scout 4 for Goblin and/or Elemental" or "scout 4 for Forest" etc.

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Post by SaTiN303 » 8 months ago

Could you do something like this to make it easier for people who don't know the guilds?
Recruit 2 ()
Maybe you could do something like this, too, if that format works.
Recruit 1 (Goblin)
Recruit 2 (Creature)

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Post by user_938036 » 8 months ago

I think this mechanic would be better served by locking in the numbers rather than having a variable. This allows you to close the gap.

You would lock in the number of cards you look at and only ever get one card that fits the parameters you're looking for. Something like "Recruit Boros(Look at the top five cards of your library. You may reveal a red or white card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.)"

This is a much higher floor and much lower ceiling which is generally a good thing. As long as your deck is built correctly this card is always a cantrip but can be costed better than a cantrip because it doesn't actually cantrip.

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