Pattern Recognition #284 - A New Set - Blue Commons

Features Opinion Pattern Recognition


1 June 2023


Good day everyone! My name is berryjon, and I welcome you all to Pattern Recognition, TappedOut's longest running article series. I am something of an Old Fogey and a definite Smart Ass, and I have been around the block quite a few times. My experience is quite broad and deep, and so I use this series to try and bring some of that to you. Be it deck design, card construction, mechanics or in-universe characters and the history of the game. Or whatever happens to catch my attention each week. Which happens far more often than I care to admit. Please, feel free to talk about my subject matter in the comments at the bottom of the page, add suggestions or just plain correct me.

Hey, it's been way too long since my last visit to Solle: The Rising Sun, and honestly, I deliberately chose to work on other things rather than this to avoid having this take up all my time. So, welcome back to the wonderful world of my self-designed set, just to show you just how much work goes into one of these things. In fact, the last time I talked about it was in April of last year, when I discussed the Commons in the set. You can follow the chain of links through to see the previous Commons.

But today, I am going to talk about and discuss the Commons. Here, our creatures are split between the Rogues and their Duelist mechanic, which encouraged attacking and blocking - and the Nobles and the return of the Renown mechanic from Magic Origins. But is fairly creature light when compared to others, and in fact leans more heavily either on other colors for a more permanent board state. Instead, this is the primary colour of Instants and Sorceries, so I will be designing more of those.

However, this combination of factors leads to be more combat-trick heavy, leaning more towards the Aggro side of the game than the traditional control aspects you would see here. Naturally, there will be some traditional reprints here, but I think the goal here is to branch out a little more into one of 's under utilized aspects. Let's begin.

CU01 - Creature     CU11 - Enchantment
CU02 - Creature     CU12 - Instant
CU03 - Creature     CU13 - Instant
CU04 - Creature     CU14 - Instant
CU05 - Creature     CU15 - Instant
CU06 - Creature     CU16 - Instant
CU07 - Creature     CU17 - Sorcery
CU08 - Creature     CU18 - Sorcery
CU09 - Creature     CU19 - Sorcery
CU10 - Enchantment  CU20 - Sorcery

That's my card distribution for this colour and rarity combination, and my insistence on having 4 creatures and them more spells with each mechanic because I want to actually use the damn things hits me here. I'll only have one creature that isn't Tribal/Mechanical, and all the others will. Which means that while I want to have a Vanilla Common, I may have to set that aside for a French Vanilla one instead. And a lot of my.... wait, did I copy the older version of the colour distribution? Dammit, I did! There's supposed to be 21 cards here, not 20. OK, so I'll just add in an extra creature, and have my cake and eat it too.

Let's begin.

Scout Raptor
Creature - Bird
"This land is so vast and so unknown, that even from the sky, we cannot see the horizon." - Alba Taedere

If I need to justify the existence of a functional reprint of about a thousand already existing creatures, I'm not sure what I can tell you. I can tell you that it's actually pretty underwhelming in the current game, as the last time this got printed was as Zephyr Sprite. But I'm OK with that. It's not the powerhouse that is Storm Crow.

Lazy Driftshell
Creature - Turtle
"Hey, look! We can camp here for the night. He's not going anywhere, is he?"
"That's a she, not a he, but yes." - Saheeli Rai and Tichaona Zalasta

Vanilla Turtle with a Big Butt to act as a blocker. Because I had the extra card slot I forgot about and now I can do it! Also, alternate art will have the party camping on the back eating cake, because I want a reference to my happy accident dammit!

Slippery Spearholder
Creature - Kor Rouge
Duelist - Whenever this creature attacks or blocks, target creature an opponent controls gets -1/-0 until the end of the turn.
"Control the range, you control how much harm comes to you."

The capacity to hand out -x/-0 until the end of the turn is very much a symbil:U mechanic, and as such, this light-weight invocation of the ability isn't that bad. It will quickly get out-paced in a game, but being able to shut off one of 's 1/1 Deathtoucher's is definitely nice.

Thieving Boatman
Creature - Human Rogue
Duelist - Whenever this creature attacks or blocks, you may draw a card. If you do, discard a card.
"Careful where you put your things. They might not be there when you turn around."

I'm worried that this guy may be too much card draw. On the other hand, tying it to combat means that the Merfolk Looter effect does require either throwing this guy into the fire, or hoping someone swings at you. Political in multiplayer games, much like Flumph. Comments from the peanut Gallery?

Canal Water-reader
Creature - Human Rogue
Duelist - Whenever this creature attacks or blocks, Scry 2.
"If you want to get through this, Doña, then you will need my eyes and wings to guide the way."

I think this is over-costed, but I'm trying to watch my mana curve in this set. Scrying on attack/block isn't a bad thing at all. Although I could have been cruel and brought back Fateseal. I'm not that cruel. At Common. Maybe at Rare...

Lakeside Extortionist
Creature - Kor Rogue
Duelist - Whenever this creature attacks or blocks, tap target artifact and put a stun counter on it.
"Your money or ... your.... oh dear."

Surprise blocker to tap an artifact! And he may be biting off more than he can chew. At least when he attacks, he is more likely to get through than others thanks to having a native power of 0. It's not like I have Coat of Arms tentatively slotted in for a colourless Rare now, do I?

(Spoilers, I do)

Valiant Roadtreader
Creature - Kor Noble
Renown 1
While this creature is Renowned, it cannot be blocked by more than 1 creature is possible. (Effects that require multiple blockers still occur.)
"A good man walks with their head held high, but no so high that they cannot see their feet."

My first Renown creature, and only now do I realize that this may be more difficult than I envisioned. I included the reminder text to avoid the issue of a card like Outland Colossus being given Menace, making it actually unblockable. That's for higher rarities.

Curious Skytrawler
Creature - Human Noble
Renown 2
While this creature is Renown, it gains Flying.

The problem with Renown is striking a balance between the 'before' and 'after' power/toughness as well as the cost of the card. My hands are pretty tied at common with what I can and cannot do, but as I go up in rarities, and thus, complexity, I can do more with the tools at hand.

Sleezy Toll-taker
Creature - Kor Noble
Renown 3
When this creature becomes Renowned you may draw cards equal to its power, then discard that many cards. If you do, this creature gains Defender, and cannot lose it.
"Dammit, he's in the way and there's no way to move him. We'll have to figure something out." - Hualti

Big, beefy creature that you can either leave as a 5/5 on the ground, or loot for 5 and make it a defender, representing him setting up his toll booth somewhere awkward. And I wanted Defender on something in this colour. And probably something of a Limited Bomb, if it connects.

Island Marshal
Creature - Human Noble
Renown 4
"I know these places like my own love, for they are one and the same. And if I must strike you, and you choose to stay your course, my next strikes will be harder yet!"

A French Vanilla Renown creature, going from a 2/2 to a 6/6 if it gets through. I also wanted a pure Renown creature here, and not another one who has an ability tied to being renown. Just bigger and beefier. And a 6/6 for 6 may be very , but this requires you swing and hit with a 2/2 first.

And that's that for the Creatures. doesn't really do much with them in general, so I'm pressing some buttons here that are pretty rusty and ill-used. At least now that we're moving into other things, I can stretch my mental muscles and start to do proper reprints.

Cradle of Safety
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant Creature you control.
When Cradle of Safety enters the battlefield, enchanted creature gains hexproof until end of turn. (It can’t be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.)
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1.
"Sleep well, and know that through our efforts, the sun will rise on a glorious world." - Alba Taedere

Standard format reprint. Hexproof is something that can do when it's not outright countering spells, and Aura in general have been improving for a while now. So, why not? Infact, let's do another reprint!

Enchantment — Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets -6/-0.
When enchanted creature blocks, destroy it. (The attacking creature remains blocked.)
"So much trouble from such a little thing. Well, little now. Hah!" - Davriel Cane

As I mentioned earlier, -X/-0 cards are well within this colour's domain, so here is one that does that. It also passively encourages a more aggro approach to the color by effectively removing a blocker from the game, either temporarily or permanently.

Bone to Ash
Counter target creature spell.
Draw a card.
“I can think of worse ways to go. On second thought, maybe not.”

Another reprint, but this time I had to be really thoughtful about what I was doing or not. This is a really creature heavy set, with a larger tribal theme. So a common Blue counterspell that could hit creatures would be very risky to play in this set. I settled on Bone to Ash for its expense, as well as drawing a card to help ease the burden of putting it in your deck.

Protective Banner
Counter target spell that targets a creature or Planeswalker you control unless that spell's owner pays . If the creature is Renowned, counter that spell instead.
"Not under my flag, you won't!" - Alba Taedere

Conditional counter with two conditions to it. Tax, or if they're trying to hit something that's Renowned. I think it'll work given how narrow the targets have to be. Not quite Spell Pierce.

Sly Slip
Target attacking or blocking creature gets -4/-0 until the end of the turn. Draw a card.
"Didn't see that coming. And you won't." - Tichaona Zalasta

OK, that's the last one, I promise.

Observe the Horizon
Scry 3, Draw a card.
"Whatever is out there, we shall see it, one way or another!"

An experiment with scaling up from Deliberate. I'm not sure how this is going to play, but I think it'll be worth it in the long run.

Illusary Growth
Until end of turn, target creature has a base power and toughness of 4/4, and becomes a blue Illusion (it loses all other colours and types).
"No, no, this is how big they really get, Saheeli!" - Hualti

is also expanding a bit into setting the base power and toughness of creatures. This one makes your creature bigger, but it will also loose out on any tribal support that turn. Compare to Phantasmal Form.

Fade from the Blow
Put a +1/+1 counter on target permanent if it is an attacking or blocking creature. That permanent Phases out.
"Left, not right! Now, do it again! Do it until you can't get it wrong!" - Tichaona Zalasta

I was really trying to make a different form of Slip Out the Back that worked well with the overlapping tribal mechanics, or rather, one that worked better with Duelist like how Protective Banner worked with Renown. On the other hand, this is also global protection for permanents, from Lands to Enchantments to Planeswalkers, so it might be overpowered at Common?

Draw three cards, then discard a card.
"There are paths, and there are paths, Dona Alba. Are you willing to see them through to their bitter end?"

Another reprint, this time it's a little under-powered when compared to other in this very set that I have made. But pure card draw does have its advantages, and sometimes that's all you need.

Dismiss into Sands
Tap target permanent and put a Stun counter on it. If you control a Renowned creature, you may return that permanent to its owners hand instead.
"This is what you have? Pathetic. Out of my WAY!" - Alba Taedere

Another conditional card depending on if you have a Renowned creature or not. But I also made it a 'May', and not a required choice as sometimes tapping something down is the better choice than simply bouncing it. And making it a sorcery helps control timing. Huh, I didn't put in an instant bounce spell. Maybe something for Uncommon then?

Strike the Mind
Target player mills cards equal to the amount of combat damage they have received this turn.
"No, I don't think you'll be in our way much longer. It will be very hard, what with you not knowing anything." - Davriel Cane

A limited game-finisher, I think, as well as a massive combo piece with the established Aggro theme I'm trying to develop. Of course, it scales well with your damage output, so you might wind up killing a person before the mill becomes relevant, but hey, it's an option, right?

Whisps of Guidance
Create two 1/1 blue and red Elemental creature tokens.
"Where we go, they can go ahead or behind, letting us know if the way is clear or not." - Tichaona Zalasta

Colourshifted version of the recently printed Ral's Reinforcements. Because I could. And RU Tokens needs more love now that they also have more access to Prowess and Convoke.

And this is where we are now. 84 Common cards down, and 10 Rares. Just have to deal with the cards, the Artifacts and the Lands for Commons, then I can move up to Uncommons and more interesting cards and effects. I don't feel like I did justice with my mechanics in these colours, so I'm hoping to shore them up there.

Really, feedback would be wonderful, and I hope to see what you guys think of this. Moving backwards through the colours rather than forwards helps me keep thinking about things, and this honestly was a nice change of pace from the analytical towards the creative. Heck, it only took me 7 hours, plus distractions, to write up! I should take a walk after this.

So I will see you all next time. I really want to complain about what's happening to Standard, but a lot of you really didn't like my doom and gloom about Modern and how non-rotation is a problem, so ... maybe? I don't know yet. You'll see next week.

Until then please consider donating to my Pattern Recognition Patreon. Yeah, I have a job, but more income is always better. I still have plans to do a audio Pattern Recognition at some point, or perhaps a Twitch stream. And you can bribe your way to the front of the line to have your questions, comments and observations answered!

This article is a follow-up to Pattern Recognition #283 - Cascade The next article in this series is Pattern Recognition #285 - Aristocrats

xram666 says... #1

I think blue has to do better than Sift. A four mana sorcery in blue should just draw three cards or be an instant. So maybe shift it to uncommon and make it a reprint of Concentrate or make it an instant and so an reprint of Rain of Revelation.

Another interesting option would be a functional reprint of Draconic Lore with one of your tribes .

Anyway... I would like to say a huge thank you for the articles for your own set. You can see how much work it is and I find it exciting and informative. Keep it up!

May 29, 2023 1:28 p.m.

legendofa says... #2

Compare Thieving Boatman to Library Larcenist and Skyswimmer Koi. I think it's acceptable where it is, or maybe even a touch underpowered.

I just had a thought. If vigilance is making its way into , that could be an option to manipulate Duelist at higher rarities.

Lakeside Extortionist can be a little risky, with a required negative effect. If you have artifacts and your opponent doesn't, you might have just lost a turn with it. Hope you didn't need that Treasure mana next turn...

Valiant Roadtreader's wording is awkward. "It can't (insert phrase here) if possible" isn't especially intuitive. I get the intent, and I'm trying to come up with an alternative wording, but as is, it's funky.

Sleazy Tolltaker has draw five cards, at minimum. At common. Even the "draw equal to power" is at higher rarities in green. I don't think the discard five + defender is enough to offset this. Maybe loot 2?

Illusory Growth is a little smaller than Serpentine Ambush. Is this where you want it to be?

Fade from the Blow is probably overpowered. Slip Out the Back is a good uncommon, and Fade is a little more restrictive. might be an okay cost, but I might be overestimating it's utility. Why not "Put a +1/+1 counter on target attacking or blocking creature. That permanent phases out." and save a few words?

June 2, 2023 5:37 p.m.

legendofa says... #3

Also, is there a way to get all of these Solle articles in one place? All the common card articles are linked, but there's no link from the green commons article at #214 to the legendaries articles #206-208, and the framework articles #191, #193, #195, #197, #199, and #203 are all separate. And I guess I just put them all in one place...

Anyway, how much thought have you given to the enemy color draft archetypes? I'm sure this will get expanded in the uncommons. My thoughts on the mechanics of each, going strictly off the tribal keywords:

: Renown/explore/spectacle/duelist. Combat aggro, with a focus on creatures attacking as individuals. Wants to keep a steady combat tempo. May need "go wide" support.

: Spectacle/duelist/explore/enrage. Survival of the strongest, with buffed creatures giving as much damage as they take. Expect big, resilient creatures. May need support during the early game.

: Explore/enrage/duelist/renown. Incremental +1/+1 counters, with precision attacking and strategic blocking. Tactical combat is the way to win here. May need ways to respond to mistakes or surprises.

: Duelist/renown/enrage/spectacle. Early pressure and late control, with flexible offense and defense as needed. Most likely to win outside of combat. May need help closing out games.

: Enrage/spectacle/renown/explore. Steady midrangey aggro, with a focus on developing advantages. Consistent pressure without overcommitting is the foundation. May need help avoiding swingy games.

June 3, 2023 4:08 p.m.

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