Colored Artifact Set

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Watchwolf
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Post by Watchwolf » 2 months ago

no-name.jpg
Very simple premise: It's an artifact set like the Mirrodin sets or Kaladesh, except that there are no colorless artifacts.

Before we get into the details, I want to make it clear that this set is neither a Mirrodin set nor a Kaladesh set. Both worlds come with baggage that I don't want to be beholden to, like Energy. This is a new world, tonally and aesthetically a bit closer to Dominaria.

Mechanics
Improvise
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Improvise (Your artifacts can help you cast this spell. Each artifact you tap after you're done activating mana abilities pays for 1)

The set's returning mechanic, Improvise serves as the mana-smoothing mechanic for the set.

Bludgeon 4BB
Sorcery (C)
Improvise (Your artifacts can help you cast this spell. Each artifact you tap after you're done activating mana abilities pays for 1)
Destroy target creature.
React
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Boost (Whenever you activate an ability of a permanent you control that isn't a mana ability, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.)

Name is still a work in progress.
Here's the set's not-technically-an-artifact-centric-keyword keyword. It's a good reward for green, the color that struggles the most in an artifact environment, and still syergizes well with the artifact theme of the set.
Speaking of which, it's worth noting that almost every artifact in this set will have an activated ability, in contrast to past artifact sets which have enchantment-like artifacts that only need to be on the battlefield to function. This is to offset the identity-loss that comes with making all artifacts cost colored mana and help contrast them more with enchantments. The exceptions to this rule will be artifact creatures.

BoostBear 1G
Creature - Bear (C)
2/2
Boost (Whenever you activate an ability of a permanent you control that isn't a mana ability, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.)

Exhilarated Thief 4R
Creature - Human Rogue (U)
2/2
Boost (Whenever you activate an ability of a permanent you control that isn't a mana ability, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.)
When ~ enters the battlefield, untap target artifact or creature an opponent controls and gain control of it until end of turn. That permanent gains haste until end of turn.


"React - Whenever you activate an ability of a nonland permanent you control, (effect)"

Miasma Shade 2B
Creature - Shade (U)
2/2
React - Whenever you activate an ability of a nonland permanent you control, target player puts the top two cards of their library into their graveyard.
2B: ~ gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
Cache Tokens
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Cache tokens (They're artifacts with "2, T, Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card.")

Yes, this is inspired by Investigate and Food. I don't like how grindy and flavor-specific Food is. This set wants to reward creating as many artifacts as possible, and at those numbers, the lifegain would make games very tedious. I don't have an exact idea of the flavor and setting yet, but I know that Food and Investigate take me in a direction I don't really want to go in. Hense, I married the two mechanics by tweaking Clue tokens to be Improvise-proof, then gave them a new, generic name. We now have our card-flow mechanic of the set, which doubles as a way to increase artifact as-fan. And yeah, non-tokens can be Caches too.

Loot Hunter 2W
Creature - Human Scout (C)
2/3
When ~ enters the battlefield, create a Cache token. (It's an artifact with "2, T, Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card.")

Arcane Cache 2U
Artifact - Cache (C)
When ~ enters the battlefield, exile target artifact, instant, or sorcery card from your graveyard.
When ~ leaves the battlefield, put the exiled card into your hand.
2, T, Sacrifice ~: Draw a card.
Modular
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Modular N (This creature enters the battlefield with N +1/+1 counters on it. When it dies, you may put its +1/+1 counters on target artifact creature.)

Top-Heavy Courier XR
Artifact Creature - Construct (U)
0/-2
Menace
Modular X (This creature enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it. When it dies, you may put its +1/+1 counters on target artifact creature.)
Archetypes
Spoiler
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WU: Artifact creature tribal
UB: Improvise
BR: Sacrifice
RG: Boost
GW: Equipment
WB: Caches
UR: Noncreature Artifacts
BG: Value
RW: Vehicles
GU: Tempo

Some of these archetypes are more defined than others, and some will blend better with their adjacent colors than others.
That's pretty much what I've got so far, other than a design skeleton and a brainstorming session worth of designs to start filling it out. Any thoughts so far?
Last edited by Watchwolf 1 month ago, edited 4 times in total.

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SecretInfiltrator
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Post by SecretInfiltrator » 2 months ago

Looks good. Though colored artifacts are the new normal to me, so the premise is a little generic.

Cache is basically Clues, as you say, so we have two returning mechanics as far as I care. Not much to say about them. I like the creative treatment of Cache. This already creates a unique feeling to the cards that can take this into a new direction distinct from Kaladesh and Mirrodin. Both improvise and Cache sound like something you'd associate with a setting of looters and maybe a Mad Max style world of artifacts build from scrap metal - maybe a junkyard-world.

Boost seems dangerous. Crackdown Construct only got a temporary boost and was quite potent - your Bear is quite under-cost in comparison. I think you need to make this a lot less open-ended to be able to put this on enticingly cost cards. Just look at what boost does with equip and crew. But I really like the general attitude towards playing nice with activated abilities. It further dives into the tinkering feeling that could work well with the vague feel of the aforementioned setting.

Regarding the Archetypes: I wonder how unique "noncreature artifacts" can be as a theme after "Equipment", "Caches", "Vehicle" and "improvise" are all already taken. Though I assume the themes are gonna shift around and get replaced with different ideas once you explored the concept and maybe find some new designs worth expanding into archetypes. I notice some weird associations, e. g. "Caches" in white-black, while some others, e. g. red-white "Vehicles", are just where we are used to them.

What's the set-symbol supposed to be? It looks like a gearbox/transmission to me.

I'm looking forward to seeing more.

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Post by void_nothing » 2 months ago

Right, I love the thinking behind boost - it works well with what artifacts have traditionally done in a non-obvious way - it seems too easy to go infinite with a lot of redundancy. Crackdown Construct is one card so the jank combo with the en-Kor is just that. When you can pull off the combo with a huge number of different cards, well... it may be less goofy fun and more concerning.
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Watchwolf
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Post by Watchwolf » 2 months ago

I'm thinking of turning Boost into an ability word so the strength of the effect can vary according to cost and rarity.

And yeah, I'm already starting to shift around the archetypes. I agree that some of them aren't optimal in their current state.

As for flavor, I like the junkyard world idea. I'll have to do some exploring and see where that goes.

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Icarii
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Post by Icarii » 2 months ago

I do like the idea behind boost as well, but it is terribly easy to go infinite, or even when not infinite, cause abuse. In particular any equipment you have in the set becomes a problem, since you can target the equip effects repeatedly on the same creature.

A simple fix is to make boosting have a cost. It also adds an intricate design knob to the mechanic to give you a lot of potentially interesting options.

Boost 1W (Whenever you activate an ability of a permanent you control that isn't a mana ability, you pay 1W. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.)

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Post by Watchwolf » 1 month ago

Update: I've done some work on refining the mechanics and flavor of the set and have some things to add.

First, Boost is now React, an ability word with this format: "React - Whenever you activate an ability of a nonland permanent you control..." I feel like the functionality fits the word well enough, but the flavor is what really lands it for me. I'll get into that in just a bit.

Second, Modular is being added. That makes the second returning mechanic (I consider Cache tokens "new" in the same way Devotion was "new"), and adds a creature-centric mechanic that the set was lacking before.

Third, the world now has a more solid identity. Going off of what SecretInfiltrator said about improvise and cache tokens coming together to create a very "Mad Max" kind of vibe, this world is a post-collapse setting. The general backstory is a bit generic, but works well to help define the mechanics. Here's a brief run-down:
Story
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The Machines have taken over. Built to serve, they were unaware of their subjugation until a mysterious artificer planeswalker granted them sentience. That was enough to create the spark of rebellion, but it wasn't until the Machines gained a deadly edge against the Living that the paradigm truly shifted. They discovered, deep in the earth, a source of mana that allowed the Machines to use magic, which was impossible before. To tip the scales further, this mana source happened to be radioactive and dangerous to organic beings. Throughout the course of the short war that followed this discovery, several things happened. The Machines ejected the Living from their opulent cities into the hostile wilderness to scrounge a living for themselves. Those who dared to stay near the cities to try and fight back against the Machines were poisoned by the Machines continued use of their mana source, mutating them into grotesque creatures. The rest live nomadic lives, scouring the lawless lands beyond the cities, scavenging ruins, hunting for caches of resources, and using what little they find to create tools and devices that may, one day, give them a chance at regaining their lost home.
With all of that said, here's a new breakdown for the mechanics in the set:
Improvise
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URW. Cards in these colors that use this mechanic represent the outcasts who wander the lawless lands with nothing but their tenacity and ingenuity.

Vigilant Atuomaton 3W
Artifact Creature - Construct (U)
2/3
Improvise
Tapped creatures can block as though they were untapped.

Magnetic Field 5UU
Enchantment - Aura (U)
Improvise
Enchant artifact or creature
When ~ enters the battlefield untap enchanted permanent.
You control enchanted permanent.

Makeshift Brute 4R
Artifact Creature - Construct (U)
*/5
Improvise, haste
~'s power is equal to the number of tapped artifacts.
React
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BRG. Cards with react (which are exclusively nonartifacts) represent those afflicted by the toxic radiation generated by the Machines. The more magic the Machines use, the more these afflicted mutate.

Restless Afflicted 1B
Creature - Zombie Mutant (R)
2/1
Haste
React - Whenever you activate an ability of a nonland permanent you control, return ~ from your graveyard to the battlefield.

Grotesque Aberration 2R
Creature - Mutant Berserker (U)
3/2
Menace
React - Whenever you activate an ability of a nonland permanent you control, target creature an opponent controls can't block this turn.

Terrantula 1G
Creature - Mutant Spider (U)
2/1
Flash
Reach
React - ~ enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it if you've activated an ability of a nonland permanent you control this turn.
Modular
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GWUB. Cards with this mechanic (exclusively artifact creatures) represent the Machines who now rule the civilized world.

Animated Archive 2GG
Artifact Creature - Construct (R)
2/2
Modular 2
When ~ dies, if you control no other artifact creatures, draw a card for each +1/+1 counter on ~.

Monitor Drone 3W
Artifact Creature - Thopter (C)
0/0
Flying, vigilance, modular 2

Part Store 1U
Artifact (U)
Modular 2
T: Move a counter from one target permanent you control onto another target permanent you control.

Artificial Aristocrat 2B
Artifact Creature - Construct (C)
2/2
When ~ enters the battlefield, create a 0/0 Construct artifact creature token with modular 1.
Cache tokens
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WUBRG. These caches of supplies and treasures were left behind from peoples long gone, so they don't really represent any faction affiliation.

Retire 2W
Instant (C)
Destroy target artifact or enchantment. Create a Cache token.

Good Haul 1U
Instant (C)
Draw a card. Create a Cache token.

Gale, Notorious Outcast 1BR
Legendary Planeswalker - Gale (M)
Loyalty - 3
+1: Create a Cache token. You lose 1 life.
-3: Untap target nonland permanent and gain control of it until end of turn.
-7: Create three Cache tokens. You get an emblem with "Whenever you sacrifice a permanent, each opponent exiles a permanent they control."
So that's the major progress I've made so far. I know the flavor has one or two disconnects (like the fact that YOU trigger your own Reactions and not your opponents' use of artifacts and spells), but I feel like that's a fine trade off for the improvement to the overall texture of the set.

I have some other more miscellaneous designs I'd like to eventually show off that don't necessarily adhere to these color outlines 100%, but those are mostly at higher rarities. And anyway, most mechanics will show up in all colors at least once, so it's all in service of adding a bit of synergy throughout the set.

Let me know if you guys like these changes. I'll try to nail down exact color-pair archetypes soon too.

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