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 Post subject: A "Raid Boss" format for MTG
AgePosted: 2018-Nov-26 12:23 am 

Joined: 2018-Nov-26 12:19 am
Age: Hatchling
Hi, my name is Johnny. I've been playing Magic a while and I wanted to give back to the community. EDH is one of my favorite formats, so the idea of developing my own always intrigued me. I began coming up with ideas but when Archenemy came out it really cemented the idea that it was possible and would be fun if implemented correctly. So I affectionately call my format "Bolas", after Nicol Bolas, the current greatest threat in the MTG multiverse. I've yet to playtest this, but I play weekly with some friends, we're in the process of putting decks together and working things out. In the meantime, I'd love feedback. Just keep it constructive please.

Nicol Bolas format functions as sort of the MTG version of a raid boss event. It requires six people to play as intended. The “Nicol Bolas” player is given extreme advantage over the other characters, game-breaking ones some might say. The format encourages teamwork, cooperative strategy, and dynamic thinking. The “Hero” players (Up to 5) are required to follow the standard rules of MTG, 20 life, 60 card deck, one land per turn, one card draw during upkeep, maximum 7 cards in hand, etc. The Bolas character goes first every game, starts with 100 life, may draw two cards per upkeep or may use their “boss” ability, hand size starts as 7 but it’s maximum is 10, Deck size is similar to commander where a minimum of 100 cards is used, has a “command zone” with a card with the name “Nicol Bolas” in it, (It may or may not be a planeswalker. For example we’ll use ‘Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker’ in this game. And may be played any time as long as mana requirements are met) Bolas may play 2 lands per turn, (One basic/colored, and one artifact/effect/non-mana land.) and may have more or less handicaps/advantages dependent on house rules and additional formats. (Like Archenemy, Planeschase, Conspiracy, etc.)

Once the Bolas character’s turn ends, the first hero character goes, plays as if a normal game were in play, then the next, onwards until it returns to Bolas. Hero characters may not declare attacks on one another, but may target other players’ creatures with spells, enchantments, instants, and abilities. Players may not “tap” each other’s land for mana, but any unused mana at the end of a turn goes into a communal “Pool” which may be used by the next hero player. Hero players each have their own main and combat phases. Each player attacks independently of each other. In every game the “Nicol Bolas” character’s health should scale evenly with the number of players. 20 for each “Hero” playing against them.
Nicol Bolas:
-1 Player per game

-Always starts every game, first player of each round

-100 card minimum deck
-Has a command zone with a card named “Nicol Bolas” in it

-100 life starting total

-7 card starting hand, maximum hand size of 10 unless changed by an effect
-Draws 2 per upkeep, or follows “Cycle Hand” rules
-Subject to the Commander unique card composition rule
-Plays up to 2 lands per turn. One mana producing, one non-mana producing.

-1 upkeep, 1 main, 1 battle phase
-Unique ability (For Bolas let’s say instead of drawing, player has the option to “Cycle” their hand, This special kind of cycling would follow mulligan rules, cards in your hand go to the bottom of your library, and you draw one less each time.)
Heroes:
-Minimum of 2 players, maximum of 5 per game
-Players may roll, flip a coin, ‘bottom card’, or otherwise decide how to discern turn order

-60 card minimum deck
-20 life starting total
-7 card starting hand, maximum of 7 unless changed by an effect
-Draws 1 per upkeep

-May have up to 4 non-land cards of the same name in a deck composition
-Plays one land per turn, unused mana goes into a community “pool” for use by other players
-1 upkeep, 1 main, 1 battle phase each, player’s creatures may not target each other for combat

-Activated abilities, instants, enchantments, sorceries, equipment, and artifacts may target other players creatures.
This format is theoretically compatible with Archenemy, Planeschase, and maybe Conspiracy.

Other character versions of this may work as a mantle of the titular “Nicol Bolas”, such as Sliver Queen, Emrakul, Ulamog, Kozilek, Marit Lage, Avacyn, Akroma, really any high powered card, capable of excellent deck synergy. These should be very flavorful and potentially planes or multiverse level threats if left unchecked. Adaptations and rule changes would need to be amended for each character. Such as the card in the command zone. Example: Emrakul wouldn’t have the “Hand Cycling” ability, it would be supplanted by perhaps, “Every upkeep the player may put an eldrazi scion token into play.” Emrakul also doesn’t have a planeswalker card but there are three versions of him to work with. “Emrakul the Aeons Torn” would be an acceptable substitute. High mana costs and devastating abilities make it a necessity for ‘Heroes’ to manage their time effectively before they’re eliminated one by one. All players must agree to the conditions and abilities the “Nicol Bolas” player has before the game starts. Fairness, fun, and balance should be kept in mind.

The “Hero” decks for our playtest are going to be basic mono color planeswalker decks. We may actually use the pre-built ones from various sets, but this isn’t required. Some examples of how I mean will follow in links below.
Chandra and Nissa (Red and Green):
https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/planeswalker-decklists-2016-09-21
Jace (Blue):
https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/ixalan-planeswalker-deck-lists-2017-09-20
Ajani and Liliana (White and Black):
https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/card-preview/core-set-2019-planeswalker-deck-lists-2018-06-15

At the moment I don't have a specific "Nicol Bolas" deck in mind, any similarly themed commander deck should suffice. And that's really what's keeping us. I'll put together a deck and once we've done more and worked out any bugs I'll update. If you have any ideas or choose to playtest this yourself with a group of friends I'd love to know how it went. Thank you for reading and I wish you well on all your planeswalker journeys.


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 Post subject: Re: A "Raid Boss" format for MTG
AgePosted: 2018-Nov-26 2:55 am 
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Joined: 2016-Nov-27 2:39 pm
Age: Dragon
Archenemy + EDH is a cool idea I've seen approached in a few ways before, and this is neato.

slayer.of.sorrows wrote:
-Draws 2 per upkeep, or follows “Cycle Hand” rules

Is that in addition to the draw 1 at your draw step?
I suggest just borrowing wording from Well of Ideas for this ability: "At the beginning of the Raid Boss's draw step, they draw an additional card."

Quote:
-Plays up to 2 lands per turn. One mana producing, one non-mana producing.

This is a problem: the "one non-mana producing" rule might as well obviate this rule entirely most turns. People are not going to play that many non-mana-producing lands.

- There are only 38 non-mana-producing lands in the game.
- 19 are fetch lands, more than half of which are very expensive. If you're following EDH Color Identity rules (I can't tell) several will also be irrelevant.
- The other 19 non-fetch non-mana lands are just frequently not relevant. Four of them cost literally hundreds or a thousand dollars, and five of them just say "this color's legendary creatures have banding".

I suggest just sticking with "May play an additional land each turn."

Quote:
-1 upkeep, 1 main, 1 battle phase

I can't tell if you're suggesting they just follow the normal turn structure, or if you're saying they skip a main phase, or if you're saying this is the entire turn structure (the original one's replaced completely). If you're changing the turn structure, what's your rationale? I seriously suggest not messing with the turn structure. Like, seriously strongly suggest. MTG has a bit of a complex turn structure but it's ingrained in the gameplay now, and it matters to too many cards.


Let's neaten those rules, and omit the stuff that's just how MTG works anyway:

Nicol Bolas: 1 player.
- Always goes first.
- Starting life total = 20 x number of opposing heroes.
- Has a command zone with a card named “Nicol Bolas” in it.
- Maximum hand size of 10.
- Draws an additional card at the beginning of their draw step.
- May play an additional land each turn.
- Deck size is min. 100, highlander uniqueness rule.
- Starts with a Nicol Bolas commander.
- Unique ability: Instead of drawing during their draw step, may instead discard their hand and draw that many cards minus one.

Heroes: 2-5 players
- Standard deckbuilding rules, life total, starting hand size
- Unused mana goes into a community “pool” for use by other players
- Cannot attack other heroes


Some concerns and questions:

Do you also intend Nicol Bolas to follow color identity rules?
Is there some reason we don't just say:
- Nicol Bolas follows EDH deckbuilding rules, including having a commander.
- Heroes follow normal deckbuilding rules.

Do you want to make this a team format, where the Raid Boss is one team and the Heroes are another team? The team rules are here.

Instead of the mana pool thing, you might want to say Heroes' spells always have assist.

I assume the Unique Ability is specifically a Nicol Bolas thing, and other Raid Bosses have a different unique ability but everything else is the same. Is that right?

Alms Collector would probably be a candidate for banlist in this format, as every Hero should play 4 of these.

_________________
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Beloved precons: Atraxa, Praetors' Voice; Saskia the Unyielding; Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury.


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 Post subject: Re: A "Raid Boss" format for MTG
AgePosted: 2018-Nov-26 3:42 am 

Joined: 2018-Nov-26 12:19 am
Age: Hatchling
I'm glad you got the idea. And your paraphrasing actually helps a lot. My vision explained via metaphor is that "Bolas" is to "Archenemy" as "EDH" is to "Highlander". I'll try to answer some of your questions. I appreciate the feedback immensely because the idea is fresh and still I'm not the best at wording things.

Quote:
Is that in addition to the draw 1 at your draw step?


It's as you guessed, yes,the Bolas character may draw an additional card at the draw step.

Quote:
I suggest just sticking with "May play an additional land each turn."


This is dangerous. I worry about this though. I original had written it this way. But if Bolas goes first every game and drops 2 lands that could combo out to kill a player turn 1. That isn't fun or fair. Especially in high synergy decks like Elves, Myrs, and Eldrazi, where there are creatures that cost little to nothing and can be tapped for additional mana. I thought a compromise of "Bolas may play a basic and unique land every turn." Would work but again with starting health of 100 why not run all shock lands and have double mana every turn? We'll see how things go during playtesting. I understand where you're coming from though and this especially is slated for change.


Quote:
I can't tell if you're suggesting they just follow the normal turn structure, or if you're saying they skip a main phase, or if you're saying this is the entire turn structure (the original one's replaced completely


Yeah. You're exactly right. It follows normal turn order including stack. I haven't decided if Mana burn should be a thing. I haven't played in a while I've heard they axed mana burn in standard so it probably won't be included.

Quote:
Nicol Bolas: 1 player.
- Always goes first.
- Starting life total = 20 x number of opposing heroes.
- Has a command zone with a card named “Nicol Bolas” in it.
- Maximum hand size of 10.
- Draws an additional card at the beginning of their draw step.
- May play an additional land each turn.
- Deck size is min. 100, highlander uniqueness rule.
- Starts with a Nicol Bolas commander.
- Unique ability: Instead of drawing during their draw step, may instead discard their hand and draw that many cards minus one.

Heroes: 2-5 players
- Standard deckbuilding rules, life total, starting hand size
- Unused mana goes into a community “pool” for use by other players
- Cannot attack other heroes


This is much better than how I worded it. And I think this really is what deviates Bolas from Archenemy. Two-headed giant is a bit tedious, so it scales with the number of other players a bit better. 6 is suggested, but the more the merrier really.

Quote:
Do you also intend Nicol Bolas to follow color identity rules?


Yes, and once again this paraphrasing is much more efficient, thank you.

Quote:
Do you want to make this a team format, where the Raid Boss is one team and the Heroes are another team?


At first I didn't understand how you meant by this question. But then I remembered much like when playing the "Star" format who "wins" is necessary to the game as well. The "Heroes" are a team. "Bolas" is a team as well but can't have any partners or other players helping.

Quote:
Do you want to make this a team format, where the Raid Boss is one team and the Heroes are another team?


Correct. His ability in general comes from his Planeschase card:

http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=198080

Pools of Becoming

And with all the extra cards, cycling seems more effective than discarding. In my mind I combined mulligan and cycling for this ability. Your hand is recycled into your library, you draw a new one with 1 card less than you had previously. The Logic behind this is also that not only can he get rid of a bad hand or access mana, but he can to the cards he needs faster. Like I said Play-testing is needed.

I really appreciate your constructive thoughts and efficient wording. I'm a writer by profession, a poet in theory, and an agent of chaos in reality. So I appreciate you interpreting things a bit. My language is often flowery and I write more than I need to to express a point. Conciseness is vital for this and I hope you don't mind if I take your suggestions to heart and apply them to what I already have. Thank you again. This is really what I needed.


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 Post subject: Re: A "Raid Boss" format for MTG
AgePosted: 2018-Nov-28 3:44 am 
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Joined: 2010-Jan-25 4:50 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
How about instead of allowing the bolas player play an additional land each turn, the first card they play each turn costs 1 generic mana less to cast or each turn they get 1 generic mana added to their mana pool which doesn’t empty during phases or steps.

I like spacemonaut’s idea anout giving the allies cards “assist” alternatively you could say the heroes have a mana cache replacing the word “player” to “hero”... but i think the assist idea is cleaner.

_________________
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Retired:
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Karona the False God (Lets Play a Quick Game)
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 Post subject: Re: A "Raid Boss" format for MTG
AgePosted: 2018-Nov-28 4:13 am 
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Joined: 2013-Jul-25 1:15 pm
Age: Dragon
Location: Durham, England
I think a specific problem with this format idea is the volume of rules you've put in place and the ever present question of "why not just play Archenemy?" or ones you may not have heard of "why not just play Horde or Hero's Journey?".

The answer for the above questions is easy, Archenemy, Horde and Hero's Journey requires people to have stuff they might not own (Schemes, a horde deck or the Hero's Journey decks & hero cards). But I think it's perfectly reasonable for us to expect players to have a 60 card casual deck or a commander deck that isn't venting their frustrations that they can't play legacy.

As for the rules, a few seem completely arbitrary (or outright detrimental) to me:
* The Archenemy has a “command zone” with a card with the name “Nicol Bolas” in it.
* Maximum Hand Size of 10.
* Plays a 100 card deck where all non-basic cards must have a unique name.

With Archenemy or Hero's Journey, we can slam our commander decks on the table and just play if one person has the product and wants to give it a whirl. It's the same with many other casual products like Explorers of Ixalan. But with this, we need to have someone build a Nicol Bolas deck around Nicol Bolas because Nicol Bolas, doesn't everyone want to play Nicol Bolas with Nicol Bolas, equipped with Nicol Bolas.

One commanded deck vs a group of non-commanded decks would give more room for players to play the format while keeping your Bolas fantasy a possibility. i.e. Only the Archenemy would start with a commander in their command zone. But even then I think just a ruleset to try and put 1 player on par with 5 opponents is probably better.

_________________
I had a long hiatus, removed some decks, but I still love lands.
Tatyova, Benthic Druid - Exploring Brawl
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 Post subject: Re: A "Raid Boss" format for MTG
AgePosted: 2018-Nov-28 10:18 pm 
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Joined: 2010-Dec-10 12:16 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Ski Gloves wrote:
With Archenemy or Hero's Journey, we can slam our commander decks on the table and just play if one person has the product and wants to give it a whirl. It's the same with many other casual products like Explorers of Ixalan. But with this, we need to have someone build a Nicol Bolas deck around Nicol Bolas because Nicol Bolas, doesn't everyone want to play Nicol Bolas with Nicol Bolas, equipped with Nicol Bolas.


^This^. Keep in mind, EDH is/was called Elder Dragon Highlander for a reason. At the start, you could only choose one of the five Elder Dragons (Arcades Sabboth, Chromium, Nicol Bolas, Palladia-Mors, Vaevictis Asmadi) to be your "General." That was changed for a very good reason.

I think keeping it Nicol Bolas for playtesting is fine; but once you open to a wider audience or want to spread the format, it really should be "commander deck." Alternatively, just set the rules to make the "Boss" deck as close to EDH as you want to mirror, so that you can change things (like what can be in the command zone, if that is your plan, to allow planeswalkers, or legendary non-creatures like Genju of the Realm and Weatherlight) that you feel meet your format's needs better. Just add a note that "Commander decks already meet these requirements" so it is very obvious that you want to allow a commander deck with no special changes to fill the "Boss" roll; even if you are allowing things that the commander deck might not allow.

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 Post subject: Re: A "Raid Boss" format for MTG
AgePosted: 2018-Nov-28 11:27 pm 
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Joined: 2016-Nov-27 2:39 pm
Age: Dragon
slayer.of.sorrows wrote:
Quote:
I can't tell if you're suggesting they just follow the normal turn structure, or if you're saying they skip a main phase, or if you're saying this is the entire turn structure (the original one's replaced completely


Yeah. You're exactly right. It follows normal turn order including stack. I haven't decided if Mana burn should be a thing. I haven't played in a while I've heard they axed mana burn in standard so it probably won't be included.

It was removed in the Magic 2010 rules update. Mark Rosewater has spoken about its removal briefly on his blog and at length in an article on WotC.

slayer.of.sorrows wrote:
Quote:
Do you want to make this a team format, where the Raid Boss is one team and the Heroes are another team?


At first I didn't understand how you meant by this question. But then I remembered much like when playing the "Star" format who "wins" is necessary to the game as well. The "Heroes" are a team. "Bolas" is a team as well but can't have any partners or other players helping.


Right: the Heroes are a team of several players, but Bolas is a "team" (finger quotes) of just one player. It helps you manage all the working together stuff.

slayer.of.sorrows wrote:
And with all the extra cards, cycling seems more effective than discarding. In my mind I combined mulligan and cycling for this ability. Your hand is recycled into your library, you draw a new one with 1 card less than you had previously. The Logic behind this is also that not only can he get rid of a bad hand or access mana, but he can to the cards he needs faster. Like I said Play-testing is needed.

Something to bear in mind that Grixis colors synergise a lot with wheeling:

- It has cards that care about you drawing, e.g. Toothy, Imaginary Friend or The Locust God or Psychosis Crawler or the new Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Take a look at the Arjun, the Shifting Flame EDH staples for other examples.
- It has cards that care about being discarded, e.g. Madness cards.
- It has cards that care about stuff in your graveyard, e.g. Unearth, all the black resurrection abilities, Nighthowler, etc.

Your hand size dropping by one as you wheel, and having to choose between this and drawing two cards, makes it not an obvious choice to do every turn, but it's something to factor in. This isn't necessarily good or bad, and it doesn't mean Bolas shouldn't have a wheel ability, but you should be aware it's a thing people will construct the deck around.

slayer.of.sorrows wrote:
I really appreciate your constructive thoughts and efficient wording. I'm a writer by profession, a poet in theory, and an agent of chaos in reality. So I appreciate you interpreting things a bit. My language is often flowery and I write more than I need to to express a point. Conciseness is vital for this and I hope you don't mind if I take your suggestions to heart and apply them to what I already have. Thank you again. This is really what I needed.

I'm glad I could help. :)

_________________
Decks: Chaos colored dragons, Mathas, the Instigator (politics and mayhem).
Beloved precons: Atraxa, Praetors' Voice; Saskia the Unyielding; Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury.


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 Post subject: Re: A "Raid Boss" format for MTG
AgePosted: 2018-Dec-07 5:10 am 
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Joined: 2017-Mar-11 6:43 am
Age: Dragon
I am a fan of Archenemy EDH- but it takes a little bit of work to get that really good experience with it. As for the specifics suggested here; I think that we should chronically observe the need to make the simplest additional rules possible to the game; and focus our efforts more into deciding which decks for our groups fit best in which roles.

For example, I really dig EDH with Planechase, and Planechase can have multiple rulesets relative to the table's needs (like removing certain planes from the deck, or having everyone pick a couple of planes for their own pile of successful walks.) But above these factors is a need for clarity- to get the entire playgroup engaged.

I've been in groups where even regular EDH is too much effort for some people to fully engage (mostly staring into phones and such, or poor table manner;) where something like further complicating the rules of play doesn't help- and that makes Planechase or Archenemy just kindof suck. Changing the basic flow of the game doesn't help that.

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 Post subject: Re: A "Raid Boss" format for MTG
AgePosted: 2018-Dec-09 8:16 am 

Joined: 2018-Nov-26 12:19 am
Age: Hatchling
Thanks to everyone who commented. I've done some revising and playtesting. Here's the 2.0 version if you're interested:

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=19021


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