Need some creative help and ideas for a new format (Wild Card Commander)
Background: So I always like adding a little chaos or randomness into my multiplayer games. Sometimes it speeds things up, sometimes creates a comeback win, and others times just exposes players to cool, bombastic cards.
Historically we've just had a large stack of bombish cards and we flip them over, one by one, to reveal an effect for that turn (like a Howling Mine, or Fastbond or Abyss). I'm working on something a little more interactive.
Idea: I've always wanted to mess around with a "shared pool, wild card" style multiplayer game. Something where a player could opt not to draw a card, and instead draw a community card.
- Normal Commander Style play
- Have five piles in the middle of the table, one for each color. All face down, except top card exposed for each color.
- When each player goes to draw a card, they could instead opt for one of the community cards. Take that card into their hand, the next card below that one is then revealed for the next player (or draw).
Example: I'm facing down a Juggernaut that will kill me next turn. I look over at the community cards and a Disenchant is showing. I take the Disenchant instead of my normal draw for turn and put it into my hand. The card below Disenchant is revealed (it's a Land Tax), and play continues.
- Do I do more than five piles? Artifacts seems too useful. Lands could be interesting. Multicolor cards likely would stall on a color combo nobody wants.
- Can you do it for any draw, or only once per turn?
- Should it be five piles categorized by color, or go more random with just five piles (could be 4 blue and 1 white, or 3 red and 2 black, constantly changing as cards get used)
- Give me some ideas for cards!! Do I go with big play cards like TImeTwister or Wrath of God, or keep it narrow with things like Tithe and Snapcaster Mage.
- Do you like the idea of a lands/artifact/multicolor pile?
Brass Man last edited by Brass Man
@joshuabrooks I wonder if five piles overcomplicates the variant. You should play it a few ways to see how it feels, but what about a single pile and a house rule that you can use any color mana to play the cards you draw from it? I don't like the idea that some commanders might have a serious disadvantage because they don't happen to be in the color that happens to have the best stack. If you do a good enough job balancing, or if people design decks with this rule in mind it might not be an issue
If you really don't want to houserule "any color mana", definitely consider using as much hybrid mana as possible. [[Nature's Chant]] is way more interesting in this format than Disenchant.
Consider color-identity cards that have a color identity but can technically be used by anyone. You could put a [[Granite Shard]] or a [[Foriysian Totem]] in the red stack, and every once and a while a mono blue player might want to cast it.
A variant you could try is letting players cast spells directly from the top of that stack at any time, without worrying about replacing draws. You can limit things to once a turn, or not limit them at all (makes ramp better, but so what? any rules change makes SOMETHING better)
The idea that you have multiple piles and each pile has a face up card is kind of interesting though. It adds a neat choice dynamic - but you can get that by splitting up piles differently, or taking a shuffled 5 color stack and cutting it in half
Don't underestimate how important ergonomics are for a game mechanic. That is, a single stack of cards in a unique set of sleeves means it's going to be a lot easier to set everything up and put it away. That means you can get more games in, it's going to be easier to convince someone unfamiliar to play, etc. If you do want to play with the idea of having separate stacks, I'd recommend sleeving each stack differently (probably color-coded, in sleeves that you wouldn't expect players to use) to make cleanup as seamless as possible. I think if you just had a single stack of cards that worked for any deck, that gives you the best possible chance of bringing that stack to a tournament and finding a group of people with their own commander decks to play. If you're sure you just want to play this with an established group that's invested in trying different formats, you have a lot more leeway
The top card being face up adds an interesting dynamic. I would try to look for cards that raise questions when you know your opponent might draw them. There isn't much you can do to prepare for a Timetwister, but a Wrath on top of a deck changes how everyone plays. I like the Disenchant scenario you described, I especially like the dynamic of "Alice has a threat that NEEDS to be killed, and there's a Disenchant on top of the white pile. I could take it, but can I convince Bob to skip his draw and take it instead?" I think it's good to focus on conditional cards that are a dilemma to take, over anything that's just going to give you a raw advantage like draw spell.
There's another direction you could try which is splitting cards into piles not by color but by general effect. There could be a "cheap utility cards" pile, a "disruption/answers" pile, a "big splashy threat" pile etc. That approach almost gets more interesting if you CANT see the top card of the deck before you draw it.
I think "draw from a pile instead of your draw for turn" is more interesting if the top cards are face down (other players don't know what you got), but keeping the top card of the pile face up works really nicely with "you cast directly from the pile to the stack". Personal preference, maybe.
One kind of card that can be pretty neat in a shared-deck format is anything that affects deck order. For instance, you could rule that a card with Scry, played off of a shared deck, Scries the shared deck, not yours. You don't want to overdo it, and you definitely don't want any reusable effects like Divining Top, but a handful of those cards can be pretty fun, letting you try to set up or deny another player.
@brass-man These are some great points. I personally like the five pile mechanic for variety and so the pile doesn't ever "stall." For instance, if there is a Smokestack on top, and nobody wants to play it, then the pile becomes useless. With five piles (or whatever) at least one or two piles will be getting refreshed, and maybe I could even implement a shuffle effect every other turn or something. As for making them castable at anytime, another great choice (especially since Future Sight is my favorite card!), but that might be a Wild Card Commander 2.0 evolution.
Obviously this format works a lot better in 3-5 color commander decks. I like the colorless aspect, but might try colored first to at least try to keep Magic Color Flavor a little bit. Commander mana is so easily fixed, that it sometimes feels like all colorless anyway. I do like the idea of hybrid mana cards though vs mulicolor, that opens things a little.
Agree on ergonomics. I'd likely put wild cards in top loaders or different sleeves.
Lots of great tips and I'll try to give this a whirl at some point. Your advice on card choice is good. I've already experimented a lot with Chaos Magic and it's true. A Fastbond on first turn is interesting, but totally irrelevent turn 5. I think I need to try more for cards that have high utliity like you said, or good situational use. Not just incremental advanatage. That is the main reason for the five piles, so that it's harder for a pile to "stall." A Channel might sit there for 10 turns, but then all of a sudden looks awesome if someone had an Emrakul in hand.
I don't know, Only way to try it is to play, but I always liked the concept of having some card choice outside your deck (like how some people used to have land piles and card piles back in the day).
We've used wish cards in our cube on occasion, and I liked the concept, but it seems less elegant in practice. Having the five piles face up also prevents some of the advantage of knowing the contents of the wild cards beforehand.
Thanks for the tips.
BlindTherapy last edited by BlindTherapy
i'd just say that at the start of the game, create an emblem or whatever of Share The Spoils
My worry with a format like this is that if the piles are to efficient or consistent they allow me to excessively shore up the weakness of glass cannon style or overly tuned decks. One of the weaknesses of combo from time immemorial is their cards don't do shit on their own so you can disrupt key pieces and/or getem while they are setting up. All the attempts I have made to run or participate in something like this evolves into turbo ramp decks and hyper focused combo decks both racing to use and abuse the shared cards as fast as possible burying any more normal deck in the process. The 2 ways I found to fix this were A) making the pile cards really really bad so they were a desperation move only and you couldn't plan around them/ making them cost more each time you cast one like commander tax. Or B) making the pile extremely hateful toward decks that aim to abuse it. Like rule of law ballance style hateful.
If you don't expect a steady playgroup for this and just want to use it as a veriety pack or if you playgroup is a bit less prone to escalation than mine you may not have those issues however.
Either way best of luck.
@botvinik Yeah, thanks for the tip. This would be for a local playgroup and we are pretty good about preferring interesting and fun games to outright bloodfests. While there is plenty of degenerousy from time to time, we strive for entertainment over wins, so it works out well. We also do a good job of keeping the "frontrunner" in each game in check.
Your tip is good, so I might consider just going with cards that either have massive (affects everyone) effects, or go with targeted removal or interesting creatures.
thanks for reading!
I might consider just going with cards that either have massive (affects everyone) effects, or go with targeted removal or interesting creatures.
(Given my experience may not equate to yours.) This is the most dangerous part. The players shouldn't be able to rely on the pile for things like wraths and removal because then you can build a deck with none of them and just lean on the pile. Making the pile consistent in any way is the single thing I found most enabling of the troubles.