Xianlu by Mal
252 cards in Multiverse
101 commons, 80 uncommons,
53 rares, 15 mythics, 3 tokens
1 token artifact, 1 token red, 1 token blue, 44 white, 44 blue, 44 black,
44 red, 43 green, 3 multicolour, 17 artifact, 10 land
473 comments total
Duke it out with your opponent using a flurry of spells in this high-flying martial arts world based on Chinese fiction and myth.
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|Mechanics | Skeleton | Bequeath Abilities | Flavor & Plot | Intro Pack Decklists | Draft Archetypes|
In case you're wondering about the influences of the set or are unfamiliar with Wuxia and Xianxia, this is a genre of primarily Chinese fiction (but other asian cultures have their own version of this) that captures a high fantasy ancient/premodern asian setting. A rough equivalent of Wuxia and Xianxia in the West would be the legends of King Arthur, or novels like the Wheel of Time series. There's a bit more focus on the martial arts side of things than those Western stories, but otherwise the overarching themes are similar. Grand adventures with large size and scope, battles between good and evil, chivalry and honor.
In this set, I'll be drawing influences and tropes from modern Wuxia and Xianxia fiction, as well as classic novels such as Journey to the West, since they're seen as the precursor to the entire genre. A lot of the fiction treads on similar themes to a lot of shounen anime as well, so expect similar, but not the same, themes to pop up. Many Chinese myths are also referenced or brought up as a source of inspiration for certain cards.
"Improve Yourself": The overarching theme of this set is to improve oneself and the creatures you control. Creatures will grow over time (or by your urging), or creatures will learn techniques and skills that will give them an edge in battle. Many of the cards have abilities that either cause them to improve over the course of the battle, or will encourage you to improve your creatures over the course of battle. Mechanics such as Bequeath or Monstrous encourage this style of self-improvement play. Bequeath lets you pass down strong abilities from creature to creature, making a creature with a long list of abilities after a couple of deaths. Meanwhile, Monstrous opts for a simple power/toughness improvement most of the time, usually with an accompanying one-shot effect. Combine Bequeath abilities onto Monstrous creatures for even better effects, as Bequeath abilities are often exponentially more powerful on larger creatures. Creatures in general have less variance in power/toughness than most sets (especially at common). +1/+1 counter distribution to break stalemates are included on noncreature spells, reducing the importance of curving out and playing threats every turn in the deck.
Softer Removal: Since a lot of this set is going to be focusing on improving a single creature (much like Theros), it is important that the removal is scaled back to match. However, one of the most frustrating aspects of Theros limited among players was the lack of strong removal to deal with cards like Wingsteed Rider or Favored Hoplite. To help remedy this, a lot of the removal at common will be Theros-costed for hard removal, but there will be a lot more temporary removal in the form of Seals - a card type that has its own archetype, but can be picked up by any deck as a form of early game removal that an opponent can remove later for a cost. In order to make removal weaker, most removal spells will be sorcery speed spells - however, some spells can be cast at instant speed for a higher rate via the Reflex mechanic, such as Strike Down. This is to weaken removal overall, but not lessen the as-fan of said removal. For example, Vanquish the Foul and Legion's Judgment are too weak and too powerful (respectively) for the level of removal I'm aiming for at common.
Instant Speed & The Combat Step: Due to the existence of Reflex and Sequence, a greater emphasis will be placed on being able to deal with spells on the stack. For that purpose, protective and delaying counterspells will be added to and punishing counterspells will be added to . Secondly, a greater importance will be placed on the combat step. Reflex cards, creatures with activated abilities, and combat tricks are heavily emphasized in this set, especially in regards to interacting with creatures in combat. However, as Ixalan and Amonkhet limited demonstrate, moving limited towards the combat step and including a wide variety of combat tricks in a set will tend to make the format more aggressive and punish blocking. To remedy that, much of the common removal and a couple of the combat tricks will favor the blocker rather than the attacker. Nearly all non- Seals will discourage aggression while not discouraging blocking (see Neutralizing Seal, Pacification Seal, and Foretelling Seal), and removal and creature design is geared towards rewarding defensive play - or at the very least, not swinging with your entire board. Having multiple attacking creatures reduces risk on aggression, but increases risk on defense. On the other hand, having one or two main attacking creatures while other creatures might not attack opens more risk for aggression, but less risk on defense. There is a small concern that the format may trend itself towards defense too much, or at least a board flood and subsequent stall. This leads me to my other design consideration:
A More Focused Board: Due to the existence of Bequeath, there will need to be a fair amount of "token card" space dedicated to punch out cards. Therefore, there are no tokens at common and only a couple exist in the higher rarities. Instead, the traditionally-present token spots will be taken up by cards that can recur small creatures. This "tiny reanimation" exists on a single card at common and a couple at higher rarities. Obviously, since reanimation is a little more complex and color-specific than token creation, this effect will primarily exist in White and Black. Since many Wuxia and Xianxia stories focus on a small cast of characters, I wanted to capture that by avoiding "go wide" strategies in favor of combo or go-tall strategies. Many of the cards in this set that would traditionally provide board-wide bonuses (for example, a Trumpet Blast effect) are instead adjusted to be focused on a single creature, akin to Sigil Blessing. I don't want to discourage having a wide board, and there are certainly archetypes that will want a wider board, but I want to provide good reasons for you to focus on one or two creatures instead of a mass of creatures.
Easier Card Flow: Because of the emphasis on noncreature cards providing key roles in powering up your creatures, ensuring that all players have access to cards is also very important in the set. Every Seal can be turned into a cantrip late game, and more normal effects usually found on cards can cantrip or loot, to ensure that the player has access to more cards and sees more of their deck during a game.
Read the flavor and plot here.
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