New Mechanic: Strategize

Custom Cards forum

Posted on May 21, 2020, 10:11 a.m. by TheCardPool

Another idea for a new mechanic called "strategize." It's a combination of cumulative upkeep and suspend, where the point is that you can either play a spell normally for a meh ability or try to keep paying for it and saving up to unleash a more explosive payoff later on. Here's an example:

Summon the Legion



Strategize— (Rather than cast this spell from your hand, you may pay its strategize cost and exile it with a time counter on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put another time counter on it and pay this spell’s strategize cost for each one, or you may cast it without paying its mana cost.)_

Create a 2/2 white and black Soldier artifact creature token. If you cast this spell from exile, create X 2/2 white and black Soldier artifact creature tokens, where X is the number of time counters on it.

So you could either cast this immediately for 3 mana and get a 2/2, which is okay, OR you could exile it by paying and waiting a turn to get a 2/2, which is potentially powerful but still fair I thought. OR you could wait, say, two turns, paying in total to get two 2/2s, etc.

Thoughts on this concept? Does the strategize cost need to keep increasing with the time counters or not? Could you, for example, just wait two turns and pay to get two 2/2s and have this not be overpowered?

420Broku69 says... #2

you'd actually only wait one turn to pay 3 and get 2 2/2's. it would get 1 time counter the turn you exile it, then another on the following turn. so you're really only waiting one turn.

this particular example of strategize feels weak. a one mana 2/2 is not powerful when you have to wait a turn for it. this card (and probably the mechanic in general) would be far from overpowered. cards generally need to do something the same turn they are played in order to be competitive. waiting around is just too slow, and the effect of the card would have to be much more powerful than similar cards at similar mana costs. the rewards would have to increase exponentially while the mana cost increased linearly. yet here you have the opposite.

May 22, 2020 1:30 a.m.

420Broku69 says... #3

disregard the first little part of my comment. i read a part of the effect wrong somehow. but it still generally wouldn't be worth it to wait for an effect that you're still repeatedly paying for as you wait.

May 22, 2020 1:50 a.m.

Boza says... #4

The text can be cleaned up a lot to make the card less clunky.

Summon the Legion


Strategize — (You may pay its strategize cost and exile it from your hand with a time counter on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, you may pay this spell’s strategize cost for each time counter on it, then put another time counter on it. Otherwise, remove all counters to cast it without paying its mana cost.)

Create X+1 2/2 white and black Soldier artifact creature token, where X is the number of time counters you removed this turn.

Now, there are some problems with the mechanic - when you cast this card, it will have 0 time counters, since you just moved it from exile to the stack to cast it. Contrary to suspend, it wants to have counters to it when it is cast, which is not possible.

So I modified the spell in several ways:

  • Removed the cumbersome 'rather than casting' thing, which is not necessary.
  • There was no clause what happened when you choose to add a counter but not to pay. Now, reminder text is better.
  • Brought it a slight buff - you first pay for each counter, then put another on it, making the first few payments easier. This is a severe change, and depending on other cards, may be too much.
  • However, this did not solve the issue of the missing time counters.
  • So, I changed the card text as well to X+1 tokens, which makes it clear how many tokens you get, but the biggest change is the X clause.
  • X is now total time counters you removed this turn. I am not 100% sure it does work this way but it makes the card magnitudes more interesting to play by working better with suspend and itself.
  • In the single set, if you cast several strategize spells in the same turn, all of them will get a larger bonus.
  • In the grander scheme of things, this works with any card that uses time counters, so things like suspend actually buff the strategize cards.

I think this makes the card and mechanic clearer and makes it a bit more powerful and more strategic.

May 22, 2020 1:57 a.m. Edited.

Boza says... #5

Lets imagine some scenarios with this one card:

  • It is turn 1, you strategize Summon the Legion.
  • Turn 2, you can afford the strategize cost, since it is W, then it gets its second counter. With your Plains for the turn, you strategize another Summon the Legion.
  • Next turn, you have to pay WWW to keep strategizing both cards. You cannot, so you choose to cast both. You remove a total of three time counters.
  • Casting those spells means you get 2*(X+1), where X is 3 time counters removed. So, you get 8 2/2 tokens on turn 3.
May 22, 2020 2:10 a.m.

TheCardPool says... #6

420Broku69 and Boza thanks for the thoughts! The wording definitely was clunky and I appreciate both the cleaning up and streamlining of the concept to work with other strategize cards and suspend (which is what I was going for anyway, but this makes it even more so, which makes strategize even more flavorful and super-cool to me).

However, in the scenario Boza described, 8 2/2s on turn 3 seems way overpowered to me. I know you're waiting for two whole turns doing nothing but paying mana, but is that still too broken? It seems to me we could either increase the strategize cost or make the tokens smaller (maybe 1/1s instead?) to compensate. What do you think?

May 22, 2020 9:03 a.m.

420Broku69 says... #7

8 2/2's on turn 3 from 2 cards sounds like it could become a problem. that threatens a turn 4 win even in modern if the opponent has shocked twice, or used 2 fetches and 1 shock. and at that point, almost no amount of removal would clear the board before they did significant damage.

May 22, 2020 12:47 p.m.

Tzefick says... #8

Had a rather lengthy reply that got gobbled up by timeout re-log, so I'll make it short:

Suggestion for revised wording of the mechanic:

Strategize - (Rather than cast this card from your hand, pay and exile it. At the beginning of your upkeep you may put a time counter on it and pay for each time counter on it. Otherwise cast it without paying its mana cost, copy it for each time counter on it.)

Works with non-permanents. Permanents would need a specific wording.

And don't make Boza's idea to count all time counters removed this turn, or you'll have a ball-and-chain in every suspend card to consider when designing for this mechanic. Something like Greater Gargadon can result in some crazy scenarios if you're not careful.

May 25, 2020 9:39 a.m.

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