“Groundhog Day” World - Vision Design

Hello everyone!

I know I’ve been mostly inactive recently, but while I was on the MTGCS Discord, I came up with an idea for a set. I bounced it off a couple people and began worldbuilding it, but I want to see what the folks here on the forums have to say.

Here’s the basic shtick of the set:
- Like Ixalan, there are four tribes, two wedges and two pairs. The four tribes are Bant, Jund, Boros and Dimir. So far, I’m thinking that Boros should be based off of Vikings, Jund off of ancient Africa, and Dimir off of Asia, although I’m not sure how to approach Bant without falling into the “valiant knights and stuff” trap. Insight on this would be appreciated.
- As for mechanical themes, I’m thinking Bloodbath (my old custom mechanic) for Jund, card draw for Bant, top of libary (fateseal/surveil?) for Dimir, and Battalion (or something like it) for Boros.
- The main thing that differentiates this world: Ages ago, the ancestors of this plane’s tribes foresaw a vicious war, so they constructed an artifact that would stop the war. Years before the time of this set, a territory dispute sent the Boros, Bant, and Jund tribes to war, with Dimir remaining neutral until its people began to be enslaved by the Jund, which forced it to join the war.
- One day, the ancient artifact activated, trapping the denizens of the plane in a six-day time loop. This is the main thing that differentiates this set and I don’t know how to convey it through gameplay.
- At first, the people of the plane didn’t notice; eventually, however, the Loop became known to all denizens of the plane. (I don’t feel like explaining all the intricacies of the Loop here; I’ll post them later in the comments.)
- Now the tribes continue to war, while several intrepid explorers hunt for the Loop’s source.

Let me be clear: Please do not submit custom cards now. I just want to bounce some ideas around for this set and see how I can convey the Loop through gameplay. Help on this would be appreciated, as I want to work on making this a legitimate set later on. If anybody has any mechanic/worldbuilding ideas, they would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Comments

  • It's legendary artifact time (the loop).
  • As I said. Card designs will be added in later.
  • Bant could be diplomats who try to stop the other 3.
  • Diplomats definitely exist on the plane, but I’m not sure if a whole tribe of them would work. For Bant I was thinking of doing feudal England, perhaps, but I can’t think of a good original twist on it.
  • Monks for Bant? It worked for Jeksai, and red isn't much more monkish than green...obviously it'll be far less noncreature spell-focused but having a creature type can't hurt. Seems to work with card draw too, I could see ETB abilities work as well.
  • I like the ideas being tossed around, although there may be some issues with the general premise. A "loop" like effect is generally a storytelling device, and therefore it's very hard to communicate through game design, especially in a game about to wizard's dueling. I would assume the average battle in Magic to take at most 10 minutes in the story, as only around 5-25 creatures actively touch the battlefield in a given game, which makes a "loop" theme very hard.

    The issue with having a story be the focus for a Magic set is that the standard story consists of around 20 important objects, locations, and characters. If you need to design a little under 300 cards, well that's an issue. For example, a "Frodo quests to Mordor to destroy a ring of great evil" set is impossible in Magic, while "the Free Peoples battle evil" is much easier to design. Groundhog Day is a clever movie, however if you want to showcase what a battle would be like in that world, you can't stick with a singular story arc theme.

    I think you could totally have a story that is similar to groundhogs day, and perhaps one mythic that basically says "restart the game," but you can't make an entire world revolve around a story like Groundhog Day.

    For the set, I believe you'll need to focus in on something else. You have factions, but, so far, there is a great disconnect from what they do. Having four drastically different themes, such as "top of the library matters" and "play lots of creatures" leads to a very inconsistent game play experience. Ixalan was a very similar set, with very parasitic themes, but it was tied together by the fact that it all revolved around very aggressive tribes. All the tribes were fast, so all the cards generally fit together, and, if you wanted, you could totally put a vampire into your pirate deck to help out with the curve. Another set like this is Dragons of Tarkir, but that set had the connecting device of having dragons in all colors Dragons were incredibly important, so all decks were designed to play and deal with huge flying bombs.

    The best example I can think of that connected several very different themes was Guilds of Ravnica. You Dimir surveil effects could easily mix in with Izzet jump-start spells and filled your yard for Golgari undergrowth abilities. Selesnya and Boros decks both created lots of creature. Boros mentor cards could pump up your little guys and Selesnya convoke cards were your big bomb payoffs in both decks. Even better, if you suddenly stopped being able to play a specific guild in draft, you could start grabbing at other colors and assemble a powerful gates deck.

    All in all I think that, if you're going to do a faction set, you need a bit more of a connect between the four factions. In addition, while Groundhog Day would be interesting as a premise for the set's Ebook product, I think you need to focus somewhere else for the set design. Anyway, I've been ranting for too long now. Hopefully this is helpful!
  • @Tigersol Thanks for the comment! I agree with most of your points, and the mechanic ideas are just that - ideas. This is what I created this discussion for - to bounce around ideas for the set. aif you have any ideas for a singular mechanical focus, that’d be grand.
    Although the set might have a singular story device of “time loop,” I’m planning for there to be many minor subplots. For example, me and a couple of friends have been tossing around ideas about (among other things) a crazy hermit, a Boros warrior with synesthesia, disinformation spread by the Dimir tribe, a quest for an ancient weapon in the mountains of this world, and some other stuff. Point is, the time loop is the main plot device in the story, but I’m planning to have a ton of subplots and other story. The quest for the time loop will be a main focus in the story, yes,, like Rowan’s quest for her father in Eldraine, but the set itself will focus on more aspects of daily life and battles on this plane amid temporal chaos and war. I’m planning for there to be more of a focus on the war in the cards.
    However, although the loop isn’t going to be the singular focus of the set, there’s definitely going to be at least a passing reference to it in the mechanics. It’s a major part of the world design. Maybe the Dimir mechanic has something to do with bouncing creatures or temporal magic (spitballing here), maybe there’s something like monarch or the city’s blessing, but there’s gotta be at least something. As for the focus of the set, however, you’re right on focusing on GRN - that’s what I want to emulate here.
  • edited September 16
    Okay! Thank you for the detailed response.

    I think that if you are going to make a faction based set, which, by the way, I highly recommend for beginning designers, I think you should have a particular theme that ties the factions together. Currently I believe Africa vs. Asia vs. Vikings vs. ??? is a bit loose of a theme, as doesn't resonate with an audience very well. If you really like the Asian and African inspired factions, I would recommend possible making one the European world and the other a Native (Meso)American world.

    That would be easy to do, but I challenge you to do something more interesting, and explore the infinite possibilities of Magic design. Make a set with four resonant factions that all seem to fit together in the same world, maybe make that five factions, maybe six. I don't know. Try to explore a theme with your world that really connects to players, something they might recognize. Alara was a forgettable plane that didn't resonate because it was too disconnected, I challenge you not to do that.

    If you are looking for an interesting four faction prompt, might I suggest designing four factions around the four spiritual elements? None of them have been fully explored in Magic yet, and they are an interesting theme in pop culture that doesn't show up too often in our game.

    Anyway, that's another rant. I hope I helped!
  • That’s basically what I’m aiming to do here with this thread @Tigersol. Help would be appreciated from anyone!
  • I would like to see bant as druids. Look at something like that, mana ramp and growth.
  • They were very ancient England-ish, and it should work. You can smuggle in some knights, and druids are semi monk esque.
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