Custom sets: Pokémon part 3
Hello! Today i’ll continue to discuss my custom Pokémon set.
Last week i talked about the distribution of Pokémon in the set, and this week i’ll be discussing the mechanics chosen for it. Note that this won’t include evergreen mechanics like Flying or Haste.
The first and most obvious is the custom mechanic i made for the set. I’ve already discussed it in my first post about the set but, as a reminder, it’s merely a twist on the Champion mechanic. Unlike that mechanic, however, Evolve is an optional alternative cost that allows you to play creatures more cheaply. It’s also probably more powerful than i imagine.
I played around with the mechanic a bit to reflect the actual in-game evolutions, which implied having non-mana evolution costs. To that effect i created the evolution stones, which will be discussed next week, and a special cycle of four alternate costs:
In all four cases the creature’s abilities complement the evolution cost and the previous evolution usually has an effect akin to it as well, all of which were an attempt to make this cost more appealing. Note that Gengar is also the sole instance of the Shadow mechanic, mostly because of flavor but also to enable its second ability without interference from other cards.
I believe Fight will be an evergreen mechanic sooner rather than later, since it’s the most organic form of removal that Green has access to. Originally i had a lot of instances of the mechanic in the set because of TMs, but in trying to hose them down i ultimately got rid of most of them.
I thought the best way of reflecting the poisonous Pokémon types would be through the use of poison counters. The recent Infect mechanic could be called an upgrade of the far older Poisonous but, in fact, they’re just different. Poisonous allowed me to keep the poison flavor while also letting the creatures interact in organic combat and deal damage. Infect, on the other hand, better reflects the withering properties of the venom. In the end, i ended up with a more or less equal share of both mechanics, distributed in a case by case basis, since they serve a similar goal.
Infect made me push the set mainly toward -1/-1 counters, and while there are a few instances of +1/+1 counters they’re far less numerous.
Snow is the main representative of the Ice type, unfortunately not very prominent in gen1. The main problem i had with snow was that the element is always related to Blue creatures, and i didn’t want players to just slap in some Snow-covered Islands and be done with it. I also didn’t want to limit players to just four copies of a snow non-basic land since there are few enough creatures as it is and that would completely discourage their use.
The solution i came up with is rather simple, even if it only works in a Block environment (which is how the set was designed in the first place):
An extra basic land type. It gives only colorless mana in a lot of cases, but you can fine-tune their amount depending on how much snow you plan on playing.
Originally from the shard of Esper, it’s a “mechanic” i’m quite fond of. It tries to represent artifacts with a sort of organic feel to them which i feel applied quite well to a few Pokémon, not just as a way to represent the upcoming Steel type (with Magnemite and Magneton) but also with other creatures that felt more manufactured.
Suspend/No mana cost
Suspend came up in late design as i tried to find a way to make the fossil Pokémon unique. It tries to represent that, similarly to the games, the only way to summon these creatures is by reaching back in time. It’s a complicated mechanic, so i made sure not to have it show up in common.
Of course, i have to toot my own horn with my custom keyword in every set that i make.
Most of these mechanics were pre-determined by the time i started building the set but one in particular was forced on me. To understand why, first i’ll need to deviate from the mechanics topic:
When creating my Binding of Isaac set there were a few cards with the same name as pre-existent Magic cards that i just ignored. This time around, however, i decided to make it right and use reprints. This didn’t affect the Pokémon, obviously, but it did affect the following TMs and HMs:
Blizzard, Earthquake, Fireblast, Fissure, Flash (which broke my HM cycle, but more on that next week), Rock Slide, the infamous Teleport, Thunderbolt and Whirlwind.
None of these were a particular problem, aside from the aforementioned Flash and the just bad Teleport, except for Blizzard.
Snow was already a given at this time but Cumulative upkeep was not, and with good reason: it’s an all-downside mechanic, the cumulative part is easily overlooked, the reminder text is huge and it adds yet another type of counter to the board, because i just don’t have enough yet. I seriously considered not having Blizzard in the set at all, but in the end i caved in and created two extra instances of the mechanic:
That they ended up on two artifact creatures was a coincidence, it just felt right for some reason. Obviously the mechanic doesn’t appear in common.
That’s it for the set’s mechanics. All the Pokémon are spoiled in the set page now, and next week we’ll dive into the remaining card types. Until then!