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CardName: Ability counters: HAH! Cost: Type: Pow/Tgh: / Rules Text: Flavour Text: Set/Rarity: Conversation None

Ability counters: HAH!
Updated on 30 Dec 2021 by Circeus

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2020-04-02 16:29:48: Circeus created and commented on the card Ability counters: HAH!

So, years ago I came up with literally the exact same ability counters that are now in Ikoria, and I got ripped apart for it.

Guess who is really really smug right now? >:D

Oh, cool. Yeah, I can see why people would be doubtful, because without the physical counters as reminders wizards have always avoided using multiple counters for reminders. But it makes a lot of sense, well played!

That and mutate also reminds me a little bit of my superhero set where I tried to have different creatures all contributing to one giant creature with the abilities of all of them. Like slivers but where only one creature gets all the benefits at once. But I never really refined it to the point where there was an implementation that made sense.

I'm coming around on mutate just being a modified bestow. Still think keyword counters are a terrible memory issue

I'm happy for you, Circeus, that you made the ability counters years before Ikoria. You knew what Magic could do, Wizards just hadn't gotten there yet.

I think Innistrad probably first changed the ideas of what could be physically done in Magic with the introduction of DFCs that required a checkbox card. Amonkhet had the punchcard, and I think doing that is a big precursor what Ikoria would be willing to do.

Oh gosh, mutate is entertaining. It reminds me of what Goblin Artisans were trying to do with Head/Body of mecha assembling into one giant robot. It's a way of making a "make one giant creature" mechanic that's not too punishing if you don't draw the right parts together, and gives you some reason to do so rather than just try to play all the creatures separately.

It seems too rules-headache-y to be printed but I guess they thought it was ok!

It's not totally open ended because it doesn't give you any way to combine two non-mutate cards. But you can take the text box of any 1/1 from an older set and easily staple it to a big stompy mutate creature you have now, that's more melvin/johnny than I expected to see :)

I haven't been playing this game at all, and looked up the last couple sets like once each, so i don't know how good they've been, but these new mechanics seem pretty interesting, more so than what I felt with my very quick looks at Theros 2.0 and Throne of Eldraine.

Can't wait for more {g} big stompy bois.

On the list of things that Ikoria does and would have gotten your design ripped apart by the custom card community: mana costs like {u/b}{g}{g}. I know, I've been using much more considerate costing schemes than that and got criticized for it.

Though I'm going to side with the custom card community here in that the specific sample cards are already so complex that this cost is just making things even more noisy.

I also get where they are coming from though on mutate costs, maybe: It's a perfect cost that tells you "If you've been splashing one of these two colors to get this card in and dindn't draw the mana, you can still mutate as long as you have the correct main color."

It's weird and pragmatic. But it made its way onto a real card.

@Sorrow, yeah, I was already feeling 100% vindicated just by the amonkhet punchcards, but this has me over the frickin' moon XD

@Secret they've done costs like that before, though, in Alara Reborn IIRC. in my opinion, it was inevitable that it would happen again, really.

The official stance often quoted and repeated since 2018 (and probably earlier) used to be: "Reaction to the Alara Reborn Cards is what made us realize mixed hybrid symbols are a mistake."

Now it's a mistake they intentionally repeated. ;)

Maybe the wedge cards for the Messenger Falcons cycle are gonna be in Ikoria, too. :D

Am I correct in understanding that mutate is parasitic- or rather, "when this creature mutates" abilities are parasitic? It's not the first time Magic has had a parasitic mechanic (if mutate is), and I doubt it will be the last.

There's nothing wrong with parasitic mechanics in moderation. It's also not that parasitic, because you can run mutate creatures in any deck and still get the trigger. It's somewhat linear, because it rewards you for having multiple mutate cards in the same deck

> "when this creature mutates" abilities are parasitic?

A bit linear. But mutate itself works with any non-Human creature and even a single card can trigger its own "When this creature mutates" ability, so to say "When this creature mutates" abilities are parasitic is like saying "When this creature exploits a creature" abilities are parasitic. They always do something, but aren't quite as open-ended/modular as "When this creature enters the battlefield or mutates" or "Whenever you sacrifice a creature".

The fact that you can mutate any non-Human creature makes this far less parasitic than host/augment.

The best comparison would be to ask: Would a creature with bestow be parasitic if it had the ability like "Whenever this or enchanted creature is bestowed an Aura, do something"? It still works with any creature, so it's not problematic.

The cards that reduce mutate costs etc. are more parasitic.

First, the word 'parasitic' is unintuitive for how they use the word. They should use the word 'insular'.

Mutate is not insular because it works with every (nonhuman) creature. It can target any (nonhuman) creature. (Aside, in some cases like Human Insect or Human Werewolf can't be mutated? But in Innistrad they did transform.)

Second, that triggered ability is just a rider for new mechanics. It's a bonus that encourages linear deckbuilding. There's always abilities that encourage certain themes or mechanics.

Insular is a lot better of a word. I hadn't thought about it.

I agree mutate isn't insular. The abilities that specifically reference it and only work with it are probably insular, but you make a good point that it's not a problem because it encourages deck building for the new mechanics.

My main problem with hybrid cards is, at least for me, i find them to have a deceptively tight design space.

I'd kind of assume that since there are more colors, there would be more cool abilities, but in fact, since you have to make sure every possible color combination of the card fits the color pie, it really restricts what you can do with the card.

I still like hybrid cards though, they're really good to look at to get a reminder about the color pie.

That's linear vs modular, also an old pair of design terms. Linear mechanics really need you to build a deck around them, so you tend to run a lot of cards with the mechanic (like metalcraft). Modular mechanics can be played on their own with no loss (like cycling). Mutate is a little linear, because it does reward you for having more mutate, but it can also be run on its own fine

Parasitic specifically means it only works with other cards from its own set/block. Most linear mechanics are parasitic the first time, but can become less parasitic if they get used more (like slivers)

Thanks, I didn't know about linear and modular...

Is there an opposite of parasitic/insular?

I really like the mutate mechanic. Companion's a bit weird, but seems fine too.

I don't think so, I think it's just "parasitic" and "not parasitic"

Do the weird hybrid costs only show up in mutate costs? I think (wg)(r)(r) is much less off-putting if the main mana cost expects you to play main red with the other colours anyway

I think so. I think the point is that if your third (splash) color doesn't show up, you can still mutate

I knew I had seen this on Multiverse somewhere. Nice job, sir.

Elsewhere someone mentioned that Mutate is inherently card disadvantage, like Auras, because a single removal destroys two or more of your cards. So the Mutate trigger is like enters the battlefield trigger to offset the disadvantage. Except it can trigger multiple times if you decide to go heavy mutate deck.

That's an interesting way to strengthen the mechanic...

I guess we'll see how well it plays, I guess it depends on what kind of mutate triggers they use? I mean, board presence can be a lot more important than triggering card draws or other one-time effects... Perhaps it would be good for them to use mutate triggers to increase board-presence, to better offset the card disadvantage?

> Perhaps it would be good for them to use mutate triggers to increase board-presence, to better offset the card disadvantage?

That's exactly why I think Trumpeting Gnarr is so interesting: It creates a 3/3 token whenever it mutates. A lot of other mutate effects involve removal (or at least tempo) or putting stuff on the battlefield.

Though it will be interesting to see whether that turns back on the mutate creatures since removal options are also strong against them.

I'm annoyed that shark is a separate creature type from fish. I mean, it's not as annoying as wolves and hounds, but it's up there for me.

My theory was to introduce additional types, so "shark" lists "shark, fish, sea-creature" at the bottom of the text box. But those extras are usually obvious from the initial type so you don't need to memorize them all separately. Then we can have falcons back :)

You could even introduce some which aren't strictly hierarchical but are obvious from the flavour like "carnivore" orv", Hunter" or "monster" as long as you're strict about them being obvious.

But sadly it would almost certainly still introduce too many edge cases that don't work.

I would entirely prefer more Fish over having Shark return. But I'm looking forward to Eel, Carp, Ray, Piranha, Lamprey etc. ;)

The "carnivore" etc. stuff is the kind of extravagance a digital game can afford, but for a tabletop card game I'd always err into the other direction.

I should think it would be better to mention ability counters explicitly as such a thing, perhaps by writing "ability counter" or by putting the ability in quotation marks; this way it cannot interfere with other uses, with newly added abilities and/or counters, etc, can add more without adjusting the rules, and be less confusing to know whether or not it is a ability counter. (Although if they didn't do that, I would instead prefer to not define them as counters at all and instead just write "target permanent gains shroud" or whatever; you can still place physical markers on them to keep track.)

About mutate, I would have generalize it, so that the existing mutate will be "mutate non-Human creature", but some cards can specify different qualities in which case it can target any permanent with the appropriate qualities that has the same owner as the spell.

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