Milling for 53
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Milling for 53

Two-Headed Giant “Four Colors Matters” Set Devlog #04: Crew

“Chewie, we’re home.”

After establishing both function and flavor of each four-color grouping, next is smooshing ’em together to design gameplay. Game mechanics!

When creating game mechanics for a set, it’s not enough to just find a happy marriage of Mel and Vorthos executions. A mechanic doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The mechanic should make sense in relation to the other ones in the set. For this set, I also need to keep in mind the uniqueness of two-headed giant play.

I’ll go over each four-color grouping’s gameplay, one at a time. Right now, it’s all about the nongreen crew.

Start your engines.

Pit Crew

But let’s not stall any further. Behold — example common cards!

A must for putting new mechanics to the test is designing commons. A great way to have proof is practical demonstration.

Already in this project so far, for other mechanics, I’ve had to discover that a mechanic took up too many lines of text!

One worry was that having all the Vehicles fly would leave too-little common design space. This is why I opted for virtual French vanilla style of abilities — effects that only do something the turn the card its on enters the battlefield. In this case, haste and flash.

Hope these designs are simple enough! Let me know.

You, and You Alone

Bringing back Vehicles but as color artifacts, all of which have flying, was enough for me to be interesting. But there was a problem: the crew wording.

Here’s how the mechanic is worded:

Crew N (Tap any number of creatures you control with total power N or more: This Vehicle becomes an artifact creature until end of turn.)

See the problem? Zoom in! ENHANCE!

“…creatures you control…”

Crew doesn’t let teammates crew each other’s Vehicles. I don’t like that gameplay experience. I don’t want, while playing this set, teammates to feel like they’re silo’d from each other. Close friends traveling in separate cars to the same party! Madness!

No, I wanted Pilots jump-starting their friends’ flying ships.

2 Fast, 2 Furious

There was one approach to solving this problem: errata crew to refer to creatures your team controls. But I wasn’t a fan of this execution.

I think there’s a complexity cost when creating cards that can work in single player but say “your team.” The Battlebond mechanics article even has a little note explaining how “your team” works in single-player.

Because Vehicles are evergreen, messing with crew to say “your team” was not an acceptable solution to me. Yes, I’m not actually creating a Magic: The Gathering set, but I want to be sure to design as if I were. Build those good principles!

So I looked to a different solution: variants (not variance, but an important game design concept nonetheless).

(Re)Cycling

Just a second.

As in, the variant on the mechanic split second. Mechanical twists like this are the answer to being the same— but different — but still the same. In other words — when one does forestcycling or basic landcycling, it still counts as cycling.

This was the direction to go in for solving the crew problem. Because there are some sweet cards that care about crewing Vehicles. And we definitely want to try to have new Vehicles have backwards compatibility with those cards.

So how do we do that? Teamcrew? Twocrew (twofurious)?

Enter the Pit

That’s where flavor comes to the rescue. Because the four-color grouping is all about the sky races. More importantly, racing vehicles.

In existing races on the plane of Earth, there’s something called a pit crew. They’re important. They help keep racing vehicles running at their best. And they’re a team of peeps!

Ah. AHAH! YES! *light bulb goes off*

And that’s how “pit crew” was born.

Pit crew N (Tap any number of creatures your team controls with total power N or more: This Vehicle becomes an artifact creature until end of turn.)

Simple. Elegant. Twisty.

Speaking of pits… join me next time when we explore spectacular and organized DESTRUCTION.

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