Blue creature keywords

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I'm still a little skeptical about this forum, but I'll try to get some discussion going anyway.

Maro has talked on his Tumblr about R&D's desire for blue to have more creature keywords, since right now all it really has is flying and hexproof (and islandwalk, I guess). He's even taken suggestions, but most of the ones that he's gotten he's rejected for not feeling blue enough, not being usable at common, or not really allowing blue to do anything new. (For example, another evasion ability isn't exactly what it needs, what with being #1 in flying and unblockability.)

So, the criteria are:
- Usable at common, on relatively large numbers of cards.
- Feels blue.
- Not an evasion ability.
- Potential for secondary status in black or red a plus.

Any ideas?

(By the way, red common spell mechanics are also something he's talked about a lot on Tumblr; feel free to make that thread, anyone.)
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Maybe some kind of enters the battlefield ability?

For example,

Blue Thing 2 (When this permanent enters the battlefield, draw 2 cards.)

So like:

Gryff Vanguard
Creature -- Human Knight (C)
Flying, Learn 1
3/2
Keyword the Gustcloak ability?

Shifty (Whenever this creature becomes blocked, you may untap it and remove it from combat.)

Another suggestion:

Decoy (If this creature would die, you may return it to its owner's hand instead.)
Rules Advisor
Shifty, as you call it, only ever appeared on white creatures, as far as I can remember. So it's hard to make a case for it being a blue ability.

+3 Brownie points to the first person to auto-card the blue creature in Planar Chaos with that ability that I'm totally forgetting about.

As for decoy, I'm tremendously skeptical that that's something they want at common in every Limited environment. I could see it being done at common, but not evergreenly.

I'd also point put that while cantrip creatures have been done at common, they tend to be pretty...rare. Cool

I was going to suggest keywording the Ophidian ability instead, but I'm pretty sure Maro shot that one down.

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"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman

Well, we have lifelink--why not mindlink? If the creature deals damage to something, the player whose stuff it was dealt to mills that many cards.

(As much as I like the concept, though, I admit it would be hard for this keyword to exist unless mill was keyworded.)

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I was going to suggest keywording the Ophidian ability instead, but I'm pretty sure Maro shot that one down.

Most sets aren't going to want more than one or maybe two Ophidians, is the problem.
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I still think a good answer here is last strike. I know MaRo said the rules manager shot it down as being too much work, but adding a new damage step to accomodate an evergreen change is much different than doing it to accomodate a block mechanic (which was the context of the original answer). It's flavorful for blue and would let blue have higher P/T creatures but still feel like it has "worse" creatures.

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I still think a good answer here is last strike. I know MaRo said the rules manager shot it down as being too much work, but adding a new damage step to accomodate an evergreen change is much different than doing it to accomodate a block mechanic (which was the context of the original answer). It's flavorful for blue and would let blue have higher P/T creatures but still feel like it has "worse" creatures.


R&D doesn't like to keyword downside abilities anymore, so that makes last strike even less likely to be printed.

Not that it's impossible. They do still use defender, so it isn't like they've completely banned downside keywords from Magic. They just avoid them mostly.

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Well, we have lifelink--why not mindlink? If the creature deals damage to something, the player whose stuff it was dealt to mills that many cards.

(As much as I like the concept, though, I admit it would be hard for this keyword to exist unless mill was keyworded.)


The bad thing is that even in Limited such creatures will kill opponents with regular damage before their ability even begins to scare them.
I think the following would be interesting, but maybe not good as evergreen:

[Keyword name] (Untap this creature during each other player's untap step.)

It's probably also a little too similar to vigilance. In fact, it's pretty much just "vigilance plus." 

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The bad thing is that even in Limited such creatures will kill opponents with regular damage before their ability even begins to scare them.

Not necessarily, no. Read it again--sure, if they're hitting the player the player will die of damage first. But it works on damage to anything. If you swing with a mindlinker and get blocked, your opponent is still going to mill cards, because it's his creature taking damage.

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The bad thing is that even in Limited such creatures will kill opponents with regular damage before their ability even begins to scare them.

Not necessarily, no. Read it again--sure, if they're hitting the player the player will die of damage first. But it works on damage to anything. If you swing with a mindlinker and get blocked, your opponent is still going to mill cards, because it's his creature taking damage.



I don't know how obvious that is for the average player.
… and then, the squirrels came.
I don't know how obvious that is for the average player.

That likely depends on the reminder text.

"If {THIS} deals damage to a permanent or player, that player or that permanent's controller {mills} that many cards."

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Well, we have lifelink--why not mindlink? If the creature deals damage to something, the player whose stuff it was dealt to mills that many cards.

(As much as I like the concept, though, I admit it would be hard for this keyword to exist unless mill was keyworded.)


I'm not sure how many mill centric commons R&D feels comfortable printing in any set. Mill decks certainly exist in limited, but you can play blue without playing a milldeck. If a MillLink card saw any amount of space, then it would really split in two different directions, which would strain an already strained limited color. 
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mymoment
\
57817638 wrote:
58060728 wrote:
88318561 wrote:
58060728 wrote:
Moriok Rigger does absolutely nothing to boost other riggers. You are incorrect.
Moriok Rigger is not a Rigger in print. Only in Errata WHAT NOW! (yes, I did put that phrase in for that exact reason)
Congratulations, they have activated your trap card!

So blue wants a combat-relevant creature ability that isn't just more evasion? Printable at common. Also blue supposedly shouldn't get abilities that made creatures better in combat like first strike, bushido or flanking. A really iconic, blue-feeling creature keyword was Ninjutsu, but obviously we can't have that go evergreen. As far as I'm concerned, the gustcloak ability seems like the next best thing.


It's combat-relevant.
It's not evasion.
It doesn't give an edge in blocking situations.
It has the flavor of evasion (which blue is supposed to be good at) without actually being evasion.


Also has synergy with a variety of things, allowing for interesting designs. Just about the only downside I see is that it could be seen as leading to complicated gamestates too often for common, and even that's a stretch.

L1 Judge

How about "bounce"? "When this creature deals damage to a player return a nonland, non planeswalker card back to his or her hand."
I still think a good answer here is last strike. I know MaRo said the rules manager shot it down as being too much work, but adding a new damage step to accomodate an evergreen change is much different than doing it to accomodate a block mechanic (which was the context of the original answer). It's flavorful for blue and would let blue have higher P/T creatures but still feel like it has "worse" creatures.

Even if downside mechanics were still keyworded, it would be no good for the purposes that R&D wants more blue keywords for. You can't have a five-card cycle where each creature gets a keyword of that colour, except one of those keywords is a drawback.
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Maybe they should keyword the Curiosity ability, but only for combat damage. I really don't know. I came up with an idea that could be used, but it's too wordy and complicated for core sets. What about:

Slow (creatures blocking or blocked by this creature deal combat damage last this turn)

It's basically an inverted first strike (since it gives your opponents last strike).

Actually, nevermind. It's much too similar to first strike.

I give up, it's just too hard to come up with an evergreen ability that's blue. I will try later.
Damagex (Whenever this creature deals damage, you may look at the top X cards of your library and put them back in any order, where X is the damge this creature dealt).

I was trying to think of a Blue Lifelink varient. Possibly have it only count when it damages player, possibly only combat damage, possibly fix it at a number (probably in conjunction with player only)

In a similar vein: Investigate (Whenever this creature deals damage, you may look at the top X cards of your library, where X is the damge this creature dealt, you may choose to put them on top of your library or on the bottom of your library.)

Dampening 3 (Creatures blocking or blocked by this creature get -3/-0 until end of turn)

Basically a toughness increase that is no good against spells. Sadly, this is counter towards MaRo's goal of trying to avoid stalemates.

Orochism

Tappity tap. Possibly on any damage

Desummon (You may pay this creature's mana cost to return it to it's owner's hand)

Only not horribly worded. Perhaps too powerful for commons.

Ephermeralism

Also possibly too powerful on a common (or just awful). I dunno. 
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mymoment
\
57817638 wrote:
58060728 wrote:
88318561 wrote:
58060728 wrote:
Moriok Rigger does absolutely nothing to boost other riggers. You are incorrect.
Moriok Rigger is not a Rigger in print. Only in Errata WHAT NOW! (yes, I did put that phrase in for that exact reason)
Congratulations, they have activated your trap card!
I really think the solution here is keywording milling. It's simple, often done at common, and easily fits on a creature in a wide variety of different ways. It'll probably be a lot like fight, which is going to be showing up all the time now that they've keyworded it.

Not that finding a good keyword for milling is any easier than inventing a simple blue creature keyword.

Level 1 Judge as of 09/26/2013

Zammm = Batman

"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman

I really think the solution here is keywording milling. It's simple, often done at common, and easily fits on a creature in a wide variety of different ways. It'll probably be a lot like fight, which is going to be showing up all the time now that they've keyworded it.

Not that finding a good keyword for milling is any easier than inventing a simple blue creature keyword.


The problem with that is that now a couple of common creatures that are useless outside of a narrow stategy.

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Repulse (A creature dealt damage by a source with repulse is returned to its owner's hand.)

Pulsar (Whenever this creature becomes the target of a spell or ability, you may pay . If you do, draw a card.)

Focus(Return this creature from the battlefield to its owners hand : Draw X cards.)

Battlesight (At the beginning of each combat step, you may look at the hand of target opponent.)

Research ( : Draw a card, then discard a card.)

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I like the suggestion of the Orochi Ranger ability. Presumably it would be secondary in green rather than black or red like Maro wanted, but I think it works for blue, doesn't quite feel like anything else, and can certainly be used at least as often as deathtouch can. I'd want to name it something cold or ice related. Like "coldtouch", only less dumb-sounding.
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I second Orochi Ranger ability. So long as we're sure it's not going to play like a form of evasion.

Level 1 Judge as of 09/26/2013

Zammm = Batman

"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman

Repulse (A creature dealt damage by a source with repulse is returned to its owner's hand.)

Pulsar (Whenever this creature becomes the target of a spell or ability, you may pay . If you do, draw a card.)

Focus(Return this creature from the battlefield to its owners hand : Draw X cards.)

Battlesight (At the beginning of each combat step, you may look at the hand of target opponent.)

Research ( : Draw a card, then discard a card.)



Repulse is a draw back if you would kill the creature, pulsar doesn't feel evegreen and is limited to only being blue, no evergreen keywords use variables like focus and it's evasion, having more than one creatur with battlesight is pointless, and too many creatures in the same set with looting would be boring.

I like the idea of using orochi ranger's ability though as long as it says damage instead of combat damage. It's a small change, but I would want it to combo with pinging like deathtouch does. It's also a little less wordy that way.
I really think the solution here is keywording milling. It's simple, often done at common, and easily fits on a creature in a wide variety of different ways. It'll probably be a lot like fight, which is going to be showing up all the time now that they've keyworded it.

Not that finding a good keyword for milling is any easier than inventing a simple blue creature keyword.


I came to this thread to say this.

Mindlink sounds keyword-worthy also.

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192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
Curiosity isn't going to work simply because they don't print that many creatures with the ability. (It is powerful, there's not a lof tweaks you can do, etc.)

Last strike is obviously a bad idea. ("Wow, the white one flies and the black one has haste. What about the blue one? Oh. Nevermind.")

Anything that looks at the top and starts to rearrange things is very complicated (especially with multiple creatures with the ability) and wordy.

The Orochi ability will lead to tempo-y things in creatures that survive and will just make time in others. Plus it creates memory issues. I don't think I want it to be common.

Desummon is very strange and powerful (if it's at instant speed). If it isn't, it's even stranger because it doesn't have an obvious use.

Gravebane Zombie doesn't make a lot of sense. Blue doesn't want to keep drawing is awful craetures, anyay. And it leads to repetitive gameplay.

Repulse is way too powerful. A simple Aura like Divine Favor on one can be a game over against a blue, red or green deck in Limited.

Pulsar is weird and not intuitive in the least.

Focus is also weird, doesn't make a lot of sense, and is insanely powerful.

Battlesight ruins many fun moments with combat tricks, and is not useful a lot of the time. Looking at opponents' hands can be a good idea for a keyword, though.

Merfolk Looter, again, is not used a lot because there aren't that many variations and in many formats is very powerful.

I like:

Dampening is awesome, although it should be a trigger, I guess.

("Dampening N" means "Whenever a creature blocks or becomes blocked by this creature, that creature gets -N/-0 until end of turn.)

 
What about keywording "can block an additional creature"? Blue has a lot of defensive creatures and the ability could be concepted as "being in two places at once."
Rules Advisor
Out of everything I've seen is this thread so far, repulse seems the most feasible.

I don't understand why anyone would think it's too powerful. It's almost always less powerful than deathtouch, isn't it?

FezzHead's idea could also be interesting. It might cause confusion in high amounts, but I really don't know. We already get it at common with cards like Echo Circlet and Palace Guard*. The more I think about it, the more I like it, even though we haven't seen it in blue yet.

*A little different ability but same idea. 

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The Orochi ability will lead to tempo-y things in creatures that survive and will just make time in others. Plus it creates memory issues. I don't think I want it to be common.
 



The Orochi ability is strictly worse than deathtouch though, and creates significantly less memory issues than detain does since you have to remember that detained creatures can't do anything even while untapped and these just remain tapped for an extra turn. In a 2 player game, the memory issues end the moment your turn does and they don't untap those creatures. Detained creatures stay that way until your next turn.

Besides, Blue already does this at common
Detain will have awful memory issues, but at least it's restricted to a guild, probably only having a few cards. And it's once in one set.

There's a huge difference between one-shot spells and creatures that continue to do that. Having many creatures, with some of them dealing damage to some creatures sometimes creates many more memory issues. It also makes everything too tempo-y very quickly.
Detain will have awful memory issues, but at least it's restricted to a guild, probably only having a few cards. And it's once in one set.

There's a huge difference between one-shot spells and creatures that continue to do that. Having many creatures, with some of them dealing damage to some creatures sometimes creates many more memory issues. It also makes everything too tempo-y very quickly.



How often do you expect the creatures to deal damage without the attacker or blocker dying and how many do you expect to have on the battlefield at once? I would be suprised if it was common for 2 or more creatures to be tapped this way at once. I'm not really sure what you mean about the tempo since this is a blue ability we are talking about.
Coldtouch is a fine idea, but blue should really just steal vigilance from green.
Coldtouch is a fine idea, but blue should really just steal vigilance from green.

Mark mentioned that back in the Keyword Play article--they considered it, but decided against it because blue's creatures with vigilance would be mostly the same as white's, whereas green's could be substantially different. Besides, blue can already imitate vigilance with untap effects as on Soliton.

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I would argue that green's creatures with vigilance are rather close to white's as well. And blue's "untap this creature" effects are more of a reason for giving blue vigilance--if it can already imitate the effect, then the effect belongs in that color.
I would argue that green's creatures with vigilance are rather close to white's as well.

Not really. There is some overlap, but white would never have creatures like a common 5/3, a 6/7 with reach, a mana-producer, or a 5/4 undying trampler.

Meanwhile, what would blue get with vigilance? Small creatures, usually with power < toughness, flying or not potentially some larger fliers at higher rarities--all that stuff white already gets. Its creatures are just like blue's only better, and potentially far more aggressive.

And blue's "untap this creature" effects are more of a reason for giving blue vigilance--if it can already imitate the effect, then the effect belongs in that color.

I agree that if it can already imitate the effect there's an argument that it can just be given the effect outright without issue, but colors doing the same thing in different ways is a useful way to differentiate them. Just look at creature removal: white pacifies them, blue locks them in stasis, black murders them, red sets them on fire, and green fights them. Each color takes a different approach, and they feel completely different despite the fact that in the end they're all doing basically the same thing.

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Not really. There is some overlap, but white would never have creatures like a common 5/3, a 6/7 with reach, a mana-producer, or a 5/4 undying trampler.

Meanwhile, what would blue get with vigilance? Small creatures, usually with power < toughness, flying or not potentially some larger fliers at higher rarities--all that stuff white already gets. Its creatures are just like blue's only better, and potentially far more aggressive.

Blue is no stranger to some of those, however -- it has had tramplers and creatures with P > T at every rarity. And Moonscarred Werewolf is less of an example, since it is creature with vigilance plus ability: the concept can be used to justify vigilance in any color (white can't get a vigilante with "T: Each opponent loses 3 life".)

Things blue can get while white can't:

3U
Creature - Salamander Soldier
3/2
Vigilance

4U
Creature - Illusion
6/1
Vigilance
U: Switch this creature's power and toughness until end of turn.

2U
Creature - Human Wizard Soldier
2/2
Vigilance
T: Draw a card, then discard a card.

3UU
Creature - Spirit
3/4
Vigilance
This creature is unblockable.

4UU
Creature - Illusion
4/4
Vigilance, trample
Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, draw a card.

Except maybe the first one, none of these could be white. And even the first isn't the whitest design possible.

There is some overlap, but it's no worse than that between white and green.

I agree that if it can already imitate the effect there's an argument that it can just be given the effect outright without issue, but colors doing the same thing in different ways is a useful way to differentiate them. Just look at creature removal: white pacifies them, blue locks them in stasis, black murders them, red sets them on fire, and green fights them. Each color takes a different approach, and they feel completely different despite the fact that in the end they're all doing basically the same thing.

That's a bad comparison--all of those forms of removal are vastly different from one another. They have different requirements, they are counterattacked differently, they deal better with different sorts of creatures -- in short, in the average game, each will play very differently from the other. "U: Untap this", without some engine, is just vigilance with a cost.
Blue is no stranger to some of those, however -- it has had tramplers and creatures with P > T at every rarity.

Blue does not typically get trample on non-rares. Before Skaab Goliath, the last non-rare blue trampler was Silver Erne. And while blue does get creatures with P > T, white's tend to be just plain better--certainly more aggressive. The majority of blue's P > T creatures are 2/1s, which white definitely does better.

And Moonscarred Werewolf is less of an example, since it is creature with vigilance plus ability: the concept can be used to justify vigilance in any color (white can't get a vigilante with "T: Each opponent loses 3 life".)

True enough, but I will say that tapping for mana is something that provides tension with vigilance where most tap abilities won't. With most tap abilities, you can attack with them without fear because you still get full use out of the ability if they get blocked, but mana-production is generally wasted if you attack into a lethal block with it.

Except maybe the first one, none of these could be white. And even the first isn't the whitest design possible.

There is some overlap, but it's no worse than that between white and green.

White already has gotten the first one, P/T switching doesn't appear very often, unblockability is similar to the flying white does get, and blue couldn't get the trampler either, as mentioned above.

Body sizes bigger than 3/3 and trample at all rarities have more design space than what little blue gets that white can't get itself.


That's a bad comparison--all of those forms of removal are vastly different from one another. They have different requirements, they are counterattacked differently, they deal better with different sorts of creatures -- in short, in the average game, each will play very differently from the other. "U: Untap this", without some engine, is just vigilance with a cost.

Then go with damage prevention and -X/-0 effects, or damage and loss of life. The point is that having different colors reach the same ends in different ways creates an identity for each color.

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Blue does not typically get trample on non-rares. Before Skaab Goliath, the last non-rare blue trampler was Silver Erne. And while blue does get creatures with P > T, white's tend to be just plain better--certainly more aggressive. The majority of blue's P > T creatures are 2/1s, which white definitely does better.

And yet the existence of Skaab Goliath does show that at least from uncommon up there is no problem in a little blue trample here and there.

True enough, but I will say that tapping for mana is something that provides tension with vigilance where most tap abilities won't. With most tap abilities, you can attack with them without fear because you still get full use out of the ability if they get blocked, but mana-production is generally wasted if you attack into a lethal block with it.

Certainly. But this is irrelevant to the point being made, namely, that blue's vigilantes couldn't be different enough from white. You could argue that this tension proves at least that green's vigilantes are more interesting than hypothetical blue ones, but this would have two problems: 1) that blue can't provide such tension remains to be proven, 2) that this tension is the only way to make vigilantes interesting, which also has to be shown.

White already has gotten the first one, P/T switching doesn't appear very often, unblockability is similar to the flying white does get, and blue couldn't get the trampler either, as mentioned above.

Unblockability plays different enough from flying to cause the complaints Invisible Stalker has received. It also plays differently on defense: an unblockable vigilante will not be able to block the creatures Serra Angel could. That is, Hypothetical 3/4 Vigilante Unblockable and Serra Angel would be evalued differently enough. It is similar only in the sense that Pacifism is similar to Murder.

That P/T switching doesn't appear very often doesn't mean much as well. Blue wouldn't get vigilance on every creature in the set, since we are talking about making it a secondary keyword, like it currently is in green.

Body sizes bigger than 3/3 and trample at all rarities have more design space than what little blue gets that white can't get itself.

You are overrating severely the numbers of big creatures green gets at all rarities. In Scars of Mirrodin, for instance, green got two common creatures with P >= 4. Blue got one (a Serpent variant, but still). In M13, it had Sentinel Spider and Vastwood Gorger where blue had Harbor Serpent. In M12, green gets two big commons to blue's Serpent, and Phantasmal Dragon to Cudgel Troll and Carnage Wurm. If anything, blue is second place in the big-creature-at-lower-rarities contest.

Then go with damage prevention and -X/-0 effects, or damage and loss of life. The point is that having different colors reach the same ends in different ways creates an identity for each color.

This again is not a good comparison. Vigilance and "U: Untap this" play very similar; "Target opponent loses 3 life" and "Deal 3 damage to target opponent" play exactly the same (to the point that cards like Bump in the Night have been printed). When we talk about giving blue vigilance because it already has "U: Untap this", we talk about giving it a different mechanic because it is the natural extension of one it already has.
This again is not a good comparison. Vigilance and "U: Untap this" play very similar; "Target opponent loses 3 life" and "Deal 3 damage to target opponent" play exactly the same (to the point that cards like Bump in the Night have been printed). When we talk about giving blue vigilance because it already has "U: Untap this", we talk about giving it a different mechanic because it is the natural extension of one it already has.



Not so. Damage prevention doesn't work on Excruciator, but -X/-0 effects do. -X/-0 effects don't work on Doran the Siege Tower, but damage prevention does. Gisela, Blade of Goldnight affectc of Lightning Bolt, but not Bump in the Night. The effects are similar, but not identical.
Rules Advisor
And yet the existence of Skaab Goliath does show that at least from uncommon up there is no problem in a little blue trample here and there.

One non-rare blue trampler among seventeen years' worth of cards isn't "a little blue trample here and there". Green has gotten nonrare flyers more often than blue has gotten nonrare tramplers (even excluding Planar Chaos entirely)--it's pretty much tied when it comes to rares--and nobody would suggest that putting a mechanic in green lets you use it on flyers.

That P/T switching doesn't appear very often doesn't mean much as well. Blue wouldn't get vigilance on every creature in the set, since we are talking about making it a secondary keyword, like it currently is in green.

But your argument is that this is design space that moving into blue would allow them to make use of. Something that shows up once or twice a block, if that, doesn't tend to provide a lot of design space.

You are overrating severely the numbers of big creatures green gets at all rarities. In Scars of Mirrodin, for instance, green got two common creatures with P >= 4. Blue got one (a Serpent variant, but still). In M13, it had Sentinel Spider and Vastwood Gorger where blue had Harbor Serpent. In M12, green gets two big commons to blue's Serpent, and Phantasmal Dragon to Cudgel Troll and Carnage Wurm. If anything, blue is second place in the big-creature-at-lower-rarities contest.

No, that's red. Blue has 9 nonrare creatures in Standard right now with P > 3. Green has 29. (31 if you include smaller Werewolves whose night sides are that size.) Black has 15 (17 with transformers), Red has 19 (22), and White has 6 (7).

Moving into blue from white allows vigilance to go on large creatures in the same way that moving to Haiti from Zimbabwe improves ones' rating on the quality of life index. It does technically go up, but only because there's nowhere to go but up. Moving into green provides a lot more room.

This again is not a good comparison. Vigilance and "U: Untap this" play very similar; "Target opponent loses 3 life" and "Deal 3 damage to target opponent" play exactly the same (to the point that cards like Bump in the Night have been printed). When we talk about giving blue vigilance because it already has "U: Untap this", we talk about giving it a different mechanic because it is the natural extension of one it already has.

So it can't be too different because that's not a good comparison, but it can't be too similar because that's not a good comparison either. All right, ignore the comparisons entirely: having different colors reach the same ends in different ways creates an identity for each color, and that's good.

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Also, side note unrelated to the previous discussion points: if untapping is so similar to vigilance, then doesn't putting vigilance in green instead of blue effectively allow you to use the mechanic in three colors rather than just two?

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