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CardName: Challenge # 084 Cost: Type: Challenge - Terrain Pow/Tgh: / Rules Text: Design a terrain. Flavour Text: Set/Rarity: Multiverse Design Challenge None

Challenge # 084
Challenge – Terrain
Design a terrain.
Created on 13 Aug 2013 by Jack V

History: [-]

2013-08-13 12:06:28: Jack V created the card Challenge # 084

For the purposes of the current challenge:

  • Terrain is a new card type or subtype
  • When your creatures attack, they may attack through terrains you control (up to one creature per terrain, excess not in any terrain)
  • When creatures attack, they must attack through terrains controlled by the defending player (one creature per terrain, excess not in any terrain)


  • You may ignore terrains you control (eg. terrains beneficial to attackers) when creatures attack you, then they have to use the non-ignored terrains.
  • Creatures blocking an attacker are in the same terrain as the attacker. (If they can block multiple creatures, they'll probably be in both terrains.)
  • Being in a terrian has no mechanical significance except for what the terrain says.
  • attacking terrains are a bit like equipment with no equip cost (so strong)
  • defensive terrains are a bit like blocking creatures that don't actually block damage.


  • a creature attacking in ~ gets +2/+0
  • a creature attacking in ~ gets flying
  • defending creatures in ~ get +0/+2

A summary of other terrain ideas:

I seek both common and rare terrain designs.

Other examples can be seen in the desert frontier set at ; sort by card type in reverse order.

A note for those who've not spotted it: design challenges are a great time to use the "New card related to this one" link in the top bar, which will automatically post a link to this challenge in your new card's comments.

Oh yes, I just noticed the "related to this one" link, that's really really helpful.

looks like a poor mans netrunner or guardians. i dont think these rules are interesting enough for the type of gameplay you want. for the most part these are not that different than enchantments.

So, creatures you control MAY attack through your terrains and MUST attack through the defending player's, and a creature can only attack through one terrain at a time. Is this all correct? If so, creatures will always be forced to attack through your opponent's terrains unless you control both more creature and more terrains than your opponent controls terrains.
Oh, wait, I'm missing the part where you can hit Ignore on a terrain and then your opponent can't attack through it. This makes little sense to me. It removes strategic thought and adds a layer of confusion. Unless I'm missing something, at no other point in the game do the rules let you tell your opponent what they can't do.

@Link: That last rule is debated. I personally think that terrains are a great idea but I wouldn't bother with that last "ignore button" rule. I'd say when creating terrains for this challenge, it's fine to assume whichever of a variety of potential underlying rulesets you'd prefer.

@amuseum: Even if the mechanic preexisted in Netrunner, it's been independently reinvented here (multiple times with slight variations, in fact). And I wouldn't say porting a mechanic from one fairly successful game into another incredibly successful game sounds like an inherently bad plan. Especially when we can bring Magic's incredibly rich preexisting cardbase and incredibly capable comprehensive rules to bear when creating custom cards with this card type.

If you start trying to write out a set of enchantments with all the rules text for terrains on them, you'll start to see why it does make a lot of sense to bundle all those rules into one word on the type line. That's part of why terrains were pretty much the most successful submissions to Challenge # 031.


I created Fortifications and Purity Promenade.

I believe you could also grant defensive keywords in terrains, including things like reach that are necessary for the block to be declared legal in the first place. But it'd normally be clearer to say "Creatures attacking in ~ lose flying" rather than "Creatures blocking in ~ have reach".

A first-strike-granting defensive terrain seems like a pretty strong possibility.

@Link I honestly didn't think this was that complicated even though the rules aren't hammered out yet, but essentially everyone doesn't like it, I have to accept the rules are flawed, or badly explained, or both.

The current iteration says that if you both have terrains, the creature has to choose up to one of your terrains and up to one of your opponent's terrains. In fact, I think I completely forgot to specify that a creature can only attack in one terrain, but fortunately, that seems to be the bit people did find obvious :)

Originally, I imagined terrains would apply to both players -- if you play "creatures get +1/+1", either player can attack through it and get the benefit. But since cards you play normally benefit you, I decided it was probably simpler if your terrains only benefit you and attack out through your terrians and also in through your opponent's terrains.

In terms of subtypes, you could say "creatures may attack through one attacking terrain and must attack through one defensive terrain".

­Oh, wait, I'm missing the part where you can hit Ignore on a terrain and then your opponent can't attack through it.

But this seems to be how people expect things to work. All the time beginners play wrath of god, and then get a sad face and say " destroys my creatures too?" A regular player sees that obviously, but the default expectation is that a card that says "attacking creatures get +1/+1" is awesome, not a liability.

The templating is still completely unset -- I assumed I could look for an intuitive implementation and then template it later, but it's starting to look like that doesn't work...

ETA: BTW, I forgot to say, these are the default rules, but feel free to submit terrains assuming whatever ruleset you prefer or none.

@Alex, amuseum: How does it work in netrunner? I didn't realise. If there are existing better rules, we could certainly borrow those into magic instead.

"for the most part these are not that different than enchantments."

I think the thing terrains do that enchantments don't is give the attacking player a choice of which creature he/she has to run into a defensive terrain. Enchantments that say "Whenever creatures attack you, attacking player has X happen to an attacking creature, and can't choose the same creature for any other similar effect" look clunky and have rules issues (you need to specify what it means for creatures to attack in different terrains).

It's quite possible that's not interesting enough to support a card type, but I think it's worth at a minimum trying.

I really like the idea of Terrains, and I agree that it was the most successful submission for Challenge # 031. Because of the rules associated with them, they are certainly deserving of their own type or subtype. It's just coming up with a simple and intuitive set of rules that everyone understands easily.

As you can see, I made my own twist on Terrains a while ago with the Sunstream Path cycle, but that's not the only way to go.

I think I'm still confused on one point of your Terrain rules. You clarified in the comments that creatures can only attack in one terrain, but this seems to go against the idea that they can attack in up to one of your and must attack in one of your opponents. Do you mean to say that creatures can attack through two terrains, one controlled by the attacking player and one controlled by the defending player? That would make a lot more sense with the may/must restrictions. Can multiple creatures attack through the same terrain?

"the Sunstream Path cycle"

Yeah, I'm not sure about all the rules, but I really liked those.

"You clarified in the comments that creatures can only attack in one terrain"

Doh, sorry, that's my fault, that's wrong. Originally I envisaged terrains working for either player, when it would have been one total, but if there are two sorts of terrain then yes, it's two: one of yours and one of theirs. Sorry, I think that mistake caused a lot of confusion.

"Can multiple creatures attack through the same terrain?"

Not under the current rules, but it might be a good idea.

The trouble with allowing any number of creatures to attack in a terrain is that they'd often all use the worst/best terrain, and then there's no interesting tactical decision, the terrains might as well be global enchantments.

So I decided the simplest interesting restriction (and hopefully easy to understand) was "one creature per terrain". But you could have terrains that allow/require a specific number of creatures (it could be written in the corner like P/T).

In Netrunner, the runner can attack everything. Normally, the corporation sets out multiple programs, and creates strings of protection that runners must go through to hack the program (which, itself, might be a trap). The runner can also choose to attack the opponent's hand, or library, which also can have a string of protective programs defending it.

There are some parallels that can be drawn. That said, there's almost no mechanic in Magic that hasn't been done by another game. Morph, Double-Faced, Tapping, Tribal, Flying and Clash were all done by other games before Magic picked up the tech. There's other game mechanics that I would expect to pop up in the future, such as putting a non-land spell on the table face down to represent a colorless land. If Magic was forced to not steal mechanics from other games, Wizards might as well pack everything in and call it a day. It would be roughly impossible to continue design.

Also, for what it's worth, that mechanic existed before Netrunner, in a CCG called Shadowfist. If anyone stole it from anyone, Garfield ripped it straight from Robin Laws.

ok so theyre enchantments with some rules baggage, like equipments are to artifacts.

i just dont see anything special about these rules that improve Magic combat. which btw being so generic is in itself an obstacle for new card types.

there are many such obstacles for new card types. eg how can it be otherwise interacted or removed? planeswalkers can be attacked. tribal is really a supertype in disguise.

how does it interact with existing cards? planeswalkers have a special for redirecting damage to a player.

by all means try to devise a new card type that brings Magic to another level, which may or may not resemble sites in shadowfist or terrain in guardians or ice in netrunner. however, this version is not it. mainly because other games revolve around this card type, so mechanics and flavor are tied together. magic doesnt ,in facts avoids superfluous card types used during combat. new sop like nwo and being newbie friendly not withstanding.

Added Wooden Palisade.

The problem, amuseum, isn't that you're wrong. In fact, I think you are very right to demand more than just a minor new way to look at enchantments. The problem is that very few ideas spring fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus. Most ideas evolve from other ideas. What would Terrains look like by the time they are fully developed? I don't know, but the process to get there would take a long time, and require multiple playtests, and a lot of small steps and set backs to get to.

For example, I don't think many people would complain that the Planeswalker types don't add a lot of value to the game. But when Planeswalkers were first concepted, they didn't look much different than enchantments themselves. Later, they took form with loyalty counters, but they ran on automatic... they didn't feel organic enough to be called their own thing. A lot of tinkering later, and they do, now, look and feel very different than the rest of the cards in the game.

The cards can't stay in their simplest execution, since we already have two card types that represent the simplest execution of a permanent (artifacts and enchantments). But I'm also pretty sure they need to start from their simplest execution, so that designers can build around them, and branch out. Personally, I think "creatures must choose one terrain and attack through that" isn't good enough, either. But I'm willing to design cards with that premise until the details of what the necessary next step is is hammered out.

And I believe Jack specifically intended this challenge to be a collaborative exercise in seeing what works with terrains and what doesn't; which rules are natural and intuitive and which aren't; which effects pull towards one set of rules and which effects pull towards another.

Added Edges of Fyndhorn, Fyndhorn Training Grounds and Fyndhorn Pine Palace. Working with the idea of terrains that move over time, to give a sense of dynamic action.

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