The biggest thing to figure out how to capture here would be the difficulty to obtain mana. This can be done in a lot of different ways. The first that comes to mind is having a theme of land destruction. Since this is pretty much the most hated thing in magic, to have this as a theme you need to be very careful how to represent this. My first thought is to make additional costs of sacrificing lands, or abilities and spells that require the player to sacrifice lands. Another way is to make players need to discard lands to cast spells and activate abilities.
Endurable Philosopher :2m::U:
Creature - Wizard
As an additional cost to cast Endurable Philosopher, sacrifice an island.
At the end of turn, if a land has died, you may draw a card.
Absorbing Acolyte :2m::U:
Creature - Wizard
t:, sacrifice an island: Draw a card.2/2
Seance Sorcerer :2m::U:
Creature - Wizard
Discard an island: If you control 3 or more wizards, draw a card.
Another way to show the dying world where mana is disappearing is to create cards that either destroy lands over time, or return lands to their owners hand as seen in zendikar.
Another idea is to create static abilities that work only when you control a maximum amount of lands.
Centaur Survivalist 2G
If you control 3 or fewer lands, Centaur Survivalist has vigilance.
Or we could have static abilities that create a maximum number of lands that you can have in play.
Destructive Devils :2m::R::R:
Creature - Devil
At the end of turn, sacrifice all but 4 lands.
Whenever a land dies, Destructive Devils deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
Of course, one of the easiest ways to show a dying landscape is through non-basic lands. We could create a cycle of common lands for each land type to give the flavor of the dying world.
Withering Forest enters the battlefield with 3 depletion counters on it.
t:, remove a depletion counter: Add :G: to your mana pool.
t:, remove a depletion counter: Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.When Withering Forest has no depletion counters on it, sacrifice Withering Forest.
Eroding Mountain enters the battlefield with 3 depletion counters on it.
t:, remove a depletion counter: Add :R: to your mana pool.
t:, remove a depletion counter: Eroding Mountain deals 1 damage to target creature.When Eroding Mountain has no depletion counters on it, sacrifice Eroding Mountain.
Decaying Swamp enters the battlefield with 3 depletion counters on it.
t:, remove a depletion counter: Add :B: to your mana pool.
t:, remove a depletion counter: Each player loses 1 life.When Decaying Swamp has no depletion counters on it, sacrifice Decaying Swamp.
Vanishing Island enters the battlefield with 3 depletion counters on it.
t:, remove a depletion counter: Add :U: to your mana pool.
t:, remove a depletion counter: Draw a card, then discard a card.When Vanishing Island has no depletion counters on it, sacrifice Vanishing Island.
Perishing Plains enters the battlefield with 3 depletion counters on it.
t:, remove a depletion counter: Add :W: to your mana pool.
t:, remove a depletion counter: Prevent 1 damage to target creature.When Perishing Plains has no depletion counters on it, sacrifice Perishing Plains.
In most magic sets, key mechanics from past sets will be brought back when they fit well inside the world. For this world these are the mechanics I could see fitting well: Annihilator, Convoke, Fading, Vanishing, Wither
ColorsEach color needs its own identity in this plane, so here I'm gonna throw around some ideas.
WhiteWhite is generally the lawkeeper in magic. This world is dying and thus chaos is rampant and white needs to spend all its effort in keeping the peace. White is also the most "religious" color. I could see white being the color that takes the dying plane as a religious apocalypse and thus is accepting of their fate.
BlueBlue is the color packed full of wizards. In this plane, the wizards are trying to gather knowledge to gain ascension before the plane is destroyed.
BlackBlack is the color that hungers for power. Similar to blue, it is trying to gather enough power to ascend and leave the plane, but will reach this by any means.
RedRed thrives in chaos. Red will feed off the destruction of the lands and learn to exploit it for their gain.
GreenGreen hates destruction of the world more than any other color. Instead of most of the other colors that are looking for a way to leave the plane before it dies, green is trying to rehabilitate it.
What if instead of limiting your resources through destruction the set pushed the use of mana to make it a very tempo oriented set. In this way you make mana precious without forcing people to destroy their own lands. My favorite card so far is Centaur Survivalist for this reason. Bouncing lands would also probably be much better then destroying them from a gameplay perspective. Imagine the land cycle returning to your hand when they run out of counters. Or you could have something like the following:
t: Add :1m: to your mana pool.
U:,:t:, Return CARDNAME to it's owners hand: Draw a card, then discard a card.
Adding to the point above about focusing on tempo instead of land destruction, there could be a mechanic that cares about mana curve. Taking it to this extent will give a feeling of getting bonuses by using your resources wisely.
Tempo Cat :G:
Creature - Cat
Tempo Cat enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter if you control 1 or less land.
Tempo Bear :1m::G:
Creature - Bear
Tempo Bear enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter if you control 2 or less land.
To add to the point about returning lands to the hand instead of destroying them, I think you could create an entire mechanic out of this. Think of it as a reverse landfall.
Landloss - Whenever a land leaves the battlefield under your control, do X.
Contingency Plans :1m::R::R:
Landloss - Whenever a land leaves the battlefield under your control, Contigency Plans deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
Relentless Farmer :2m::G::G:
Creature - Human
Landloss - Whenever a land leaves the battlefield under your control, you may search your library for a basic land and put that card onto the battlefield tapped.
Some of the potential mechanics that you could consider with the idea of "depletion"...
- Creatures that require you to sacrifice lands as part of the casting cost
- Ramp spells/effects that put lands into play not tapped, but require
- Creatures with relatively strong/usefulactivated abilities (or spells
- Spells/abilities that have an additional cost of removing lands from
- Spells/abilities that just directly remove lands from your deck
- You could even throw in the abilities etc... that bounces lands back
So between these mechanics you could end up with a set where you have to draft a very delicate balance of spells... where if you're not careful you stand a chance of removing too many lands from your deck, losing out to poorly managed tempo stuff... actually considering building decks with fewer lands (if you're always going to be bouncing a land and re-playing it) or more lands (if you need to remove/sac/ramp etc). Could also add interesting elements to managing your mana what with lands not untaping, some lands being bounced etc...
Just tossing ideas around in terms of flavour and colour identity.... Here's what I could see, to be honest I'm only thinking about it as I'm writing it.
- White -- sacrificing lands as part of the cost, ???
- Blue -- returning lands to your hand, removing lands from your library
- Black -- using lands in your graveyard as par of cost, sacrificing
- Red -- removing lands from your library as part of the cost, ???
- Green -- returning lands to your hand, using lands in your graveyard
To expand on Frank's ideas, I'm very interested in showing resource denial with tapping lands and making it so they can't untap. My rough idea is to have a mechanic called "exhaust" counters. The idea is that exhaust counters get put on lands, and cards in play do something to lands that have exhaust counters on them. You would have to word it so you couldn't put an exhaust counter on a land that already has one, which is awkward, but maybe there is a way around it.
Voracious Demon :2m::B::B:
Creature - Demon
As an additional cost to cast Voracious Demon, put an exhaust counter on two lands you control that do not already have exhaust counters on them.
Lands with exhaust counters on them do not untap during your untap step.
Revitalizing Druid :G:
Creature - Druid
t:: Remove an exhaust counter from target land you control. That land becomes the basic land type of your choice until end of turn.1/1
Mine Foreman :2m::R:
Creature - Human
At the beginning of your upkeep, put an exhaust counter on a land you control that does not already have an exhaust counter on it.
At the beginning of your first main phase, add :1m: to your mana pool for each land you control without an exhaust counter.
Lands with exhaust counters do not untap during your untap step.
An idea I came up with while discussing this plane on the cast was making cards that would have abilities that activate by discarding lands. This way the land depletion would be much more friendly to players since it creates cards that inherently work better in the late game when you don't need the lands you draw as much.
Rod of Undoing :5m:
t:, Discard a land: Return target creature to its owners hand.
Wasteful Pyromancer :2m::R:
Creature - Wizard
Discard a land: Wasteful Pyromancer deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
Avalanche Elemental :2m::R::R:
Creature - Elemental
Discard a land: Avalanche Elemental gains trample until end of turn.
Avalanche Elemental's power and toughness are each equal to the number of land cards in your graveyard.
Looking at this mechanic makes me think a possible reprinted mechanic could be Retrace.
Also, possible reprinted cards:
Crucible of Worlds
I like this 'discard a land' mechanic much better than the exhaust one. Imagine it in the same set with the previously-mentioned 'bounce a land' effects, and you could have some really powerful synergies going on...
I really like the concept behind this plane and the ideas that are being thrown around. I was thinking you could tap into other resources in the game like drawing, playing your land for the turn etc. Maybe you could give one of these things up to get some sort of effect.
Card draw dude :2m: :U:
Creature - Wizard
At the beginning of your end step, if you didn't play a land this turn draw a card
[[Magic: East West Draft Cast Custom Set/Flavor Discussion | Flavor Discussion]]