[RESULTS + FEEDBACK] Quick Challenge — Mechanics for the Strixhaven Colleges

Hello everyone!  :)

I have another quick challenge for you this week. Most faction sets such as Ravnica used to be designed with one keyworded mechanic to represent each faction. For instance, the latest instalment of the Orzhov, Izzet, Golgari, Boros and Simic guilds introduced us to the Afterlife, Jump-Start, Undergrowth, Mentor and Adapt mechanics respectively. 

WOTC just released their new faction set Strixhaven but they took a different, more integrated, approach and didn't create a dedicated mechanic for each college — though they each got a recognisable mascot token. So here's the goal of this challenge: create a keyword mechanic for one of the Strixhaven colleges.

As a reminder, here are the five colleges of Strixhaven, you can learn more about them here: LINK.
  • Silverquill (WB) — College of Eloquence, they care about +1/+1 counters and flyiers
  • Prismari (UR) — College of Elemental Arts, they care about big spells and artifacts
  • Witherbloom (BG) — College of Essence Studies, they care about life gain and sacrifice
  • Lorehold (RW) — College of Achaeomancy, they care about emptying graveyards and spirits
  • Quandrix (GU) — College of Numeromancy, they care about +1/+1 counters and ramp

Here are the detailed rules of the challenge: 
  • You must create a card with a keyworded mechanic that you invented for one of the Strixhaven colleges. It can be a keyworded ability, an ability word, an action word, etc.
  • The card and keywords must blend with the flavour and mechanical themes of the college you've chosen. If you design a BG mechanic for instance, it has to fit Witherbloom, not Golgari.
  • Up to 5 entries per participant are allowed in total. You can post just one card for one college, five cards with one for each college, five cards for a single college, or everything in between.
  • Old cards are allowed as long as they fit the criteria of the challenge.
  • The deadline is at the end of next week on Sunday, May 16th.

Here is an example that would be considered a valid entry: 

I will give a short feedback on every entry as usual, and the top 3 will be rewarded with some favourites:
  • 1st place: 5 favourites of your choice
  • 2nd place: 3 favourites of your choice
  • 3rd place: 1 favourite of your choice

Designing mechanics is one of the hardest parts of MTG design so take your time on this one ;)
Good luck everyone! 


  • edited May 6
    Lorehold Spirit Weaver

    Spiritualize 3 (When this creature enters the battlefield, you may exile three creature cards from your graveyard. If you do, create a 3/3 red and white Spirit creature token with haste.)
  • edited May 17

    Debate. (Each debating player simultaneously discards a card from their hand. The player that discarded the card with the highest mana value puts a +1/+1 counter on target creature.)


    Showcase reduces the cost of spells if you control no other non-land permanents. It represents Prismari students giving center stage to their favored creations. When there are no other permanents to distract the audience, their art can be fully appreciated. 


    Pattern - When you cast this spell, if you have cast a spell this turn with the same mana value as this spell, EFFECT. 

    This represents Quandrix studying the pattern found in nature.


    Genesis creates an effect whenever a creature token enters the battlefield under your control.
  • edited May 6
  • Eloquent Inkmage
    Charismatic MentorInky Affectionate BlobInkcraft Prodigy
    The mechanic is Retort btw
  • edited May 6
    Pester (Whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage to an opponent, create a 1/1 black and green Pest creature token with, “Whenever this creature dies, gain 1 life.”)

    or, (If you want to be jokey.)

    Inpest (Whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage to an opponent, create a 1/1 black and green Pest creature token with, “Whenever this creature dies, gain 1 life.”)

    Another Idea

    Rebirth (Whenever CARDNAME enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice a creature. If you do, return target creature from your graveyard with mana value less then sacrificed creature to the battlefield.)

    Rebirth might not be worded best as possible, but this is a basic concept.
  • @Zaheer_The_Grim

    There seems to be some nice concepts in there, don't forget to make full cards if you wish to enter those mechanics! =)
  • edited May 7
    This probably could be used outside of the Prismari theme, but it still works:

    Spiraling Dragonfire

    Dazzling - If mana produced by a Treasure token was spent to cast this, [effect].
  • edited May 7

    Counterpoint - If an opponent controls a spell, [effect]
  • Alrighty, took me quite a bit of concepting time relative to when I began working on this challenge, but I've got an entry. I figured it would be most beneficial to frame my mechanics through hybrid mana commons, as that shows that each mechanic can hold up in either of each school's colors and would make sense in a set at lower rarities.

    Silverquil — Advise

    Advise (Put a +1/+1 counter on another target creature you control. If you control no other creatures, instead create a 2/1 white and black Inkling creature token with flying.)

    Silverquill was, for me, the school I had the hardest time concepting mechanics for, namely because I feel the school itself has the weakest mechanical identity in Strixhaven, being sort of divvied up between caring about +1/+1 counters and caring about tokens. While I toyed with some more flavorful top-down mechanics, I settled on advise as a way to bridge Silverquill's two themes and sort of do my own spin on a support-esque mechanic, one that wasn't dead if you had no other creatures in play.

    Lorehold — Potency

    Potency — If your life total has changed this turn, [effect].

    The concept for potency stems from Witherbloom's face commander in C21, Willowdusk, Essence Seer, which cares about both gaining and losing life. I thought this would make an interesting and versatile concept for a mechanic that sets itself far enough apart from the Golgari guild, especially since BG effects more often than not tend to just devolve into "graveyard go brrrr." Tapping into Witherbloom's life manipulation abilities allows the school to maintain its own identity that sets it apart from other BG archetypes.

    Quandrix — Biomass

    (Your biomass is equal to the total power of creatures you control plus the total toughness of creatures you control.)

    Big creatures is the name, and Quandrix has a lot of ways to get to big creatures. Biomass has synergy with fractals, and benefits from the player ramping to their topend, while also benefiting strategies that care about summoning an army of tokens (such as a more Witherbloom-centric pest strategy).

    Prismari — Muse

    Muse. (Create a tapped Treasure token. It is an artifact with "T, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color.")

    Muse is primarily designed to be a "smoothing" mechanic for the Primsari. We saw a bit of this sort of effect with cards like Elemental Masterpiece, where you could "cycle" your big spells away to get treasure to cast your future big spells. However, I feel that the Prismari would've benefited from more "soft ramp" like that, especially since throwing away your big, flashy spells just to get more mana feels bad. Thus, muse is a mechanic to help prep for those later turns where you're going to be slamming a big spell down. The only small "quirk" to the mechanic is that the treasures enter tapped. This was done to prevent cards that muse from making back part of their cost instantly, which would have the potential create explosive chains of cards far too easily.

    Lorehold — Memorialize

    Memorialize [cost] ([cost], , Exile this card from your graveyard: Create a token that’s a copy of it, except it’s a colorless noncreature artifact with no mana cost. Memorialize only as a sorcery.)

    Memorialize is the most top-down heavy mechanic of the bunch, drawing on the flavor of erecting a monument to the achievements of a great figure in the past. It provides a unique take on an embalm-style of mechanic, which plays well with lorehold's graveyard and exile themes. It also has the benefit of working well with the C21 Lorehold theme of artifacts. Of course, for this mechanic to exist, the set would also need to increase the amount of artifact destruction a bit to accommodate, but I believe the synergy with Lorehold's existing theme and the flavor of the mechanic justifies the alterations.
  • @Arceus8523 Amazing work! You put a lot of thought into these. Lorehold is especially nice.
  • edited May 9
    Here are my cards
    Silverquill - Bully - When this creature gets one or more +1/+1 counters, tap a creature with less power. 
    They are assholes so I gave them an ability to be assholes, nothing fancy.  White has creature tapping, black I guess is the asshole part lol.
    Prismari - Reinterpret - You may put a spell you control that shares a color with this card and has greater than or equal converted mana cost on top or on the bottom of your library rather than pay this spell's mana cost.
    Keyword name came first since they are the artsy school and I came up with this effect.  It's pretty multi purpose, you can save a card that's about to get countered by this effect, you can lessen the colour cost of this spell, you increase storm count and trigger other effects that care about casting spells (magecraft, prowess...) without spending more mana.  Only issue I have is it can only be on instants or flash cards and needs to have at least 2 mana symbols to work as intended.  I wasn't sure if it should have been back to your hand or to your library,  I felt back to your hand was too powerful.

    Witherbloom - Feed X - When this creature dies gain X life for each +1/+1 counter on it. 
    Pretty simple, but very black green.
    Lorehold - Excavate - Your maximum graveyard size is now ten minus the number of permanents you control with excavate.  At the end of your turn put cards from your graveyard on the bottom of your library until you have your maximum graveyard size.
    This took me a while, I didn't just want a simple exile or put a card from graveyard to hand/library effect so I thought of another way.  I came up with having a maximum graveyard and to try and make it dynamic.  The issue I had was trying to word it so it wasn't so... wordy but there was no way around it since there were no rules for a maximum graveyard and what to do when you do have one, so I had to cram it all in the reminder text.
    New version
    Sift - [cost]: Sift X. (Pay [cost], If you have more than seven cards in your graveyard, exile cards from your graveyard until you have seven, you may put X cards exiled this way on the bottom of your library.)
    Thanks to Jadefire for helping me streamline the effect, it no longer needs rules for a maximum graveyard.

    Quandrix - Collaborate - This card's abilities cost {1} less to activate for each other permanent you control with collaborate. This effect can't reduce the mana in that cost to less than one mana. 
    Not sure if this keyword fits the rules since it isn't ramp or +1/+1 but it was inspired when I had to take math courses in University. We'd all "Collaborate", aka find the smartest student and copy their work right before we had to hand in our homework.  I at least gave this card a ramp ability.

  • edited May 8
    Monument Smasher

    Memorial - If you own four or more creature cards in exile, [effect].
  • I'm yoinking Arceus' idea of using all hybrid mana commons. That seems like a good strategy here.
    Silverquill - Draft

    Draft. (Exile a card from your hand, from your graveyard, or from the top of your library. Then put a draft counter on a card you own in exile and add it to your draft for as long as it has a draft counter.)

    Witherbloom - Vitalized

    Vitalized—As long as you have the highest life total among all players, [effect].

    Quandrix - Functions

    Enchantment type; [Trigger], put an input counter on CARDNAME, then [effect based on the number of input counters on CARDNAME].

    Primari - Masterpiece

    Masterpiece (Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, you may exile it as it resolves. If you do, it becomes your masterpiece and you put all other masterpieces you own into your graveyard.)

    Lorehold - Relive

    Relive [object]. (Exile [object] from your graveyard and create a token that's a copy of it. The token is sacrificed when it enters the battlefield.)
  • (I just now realize that Mossy Rootweaver doesn't have an artist credit, so because I forgot to put it actually on the card I want to say here that Catalan Lartist drew the card) I tried to keep (most of) the mechanics I made pretty simple and accessible enough, so they may seem a bit light.
  • @BT9154 You definitely made the right call by choosing library for Reinterpret.  Two Reinterpret cards with the same mana value can create infinite storm count if it was back to hand.
  • @Jadefire thanks for pointing that out, didn't think of chaining reinterpret cards.  One can certainly drive up storm count pretty high but I suppose losing the chained card to the bottom of your library or losing your next draw is enough of a drawback. 
    Thinking about it now you can return a storm spell back and the copies will still get created but I guess that's another use of the keyword.
  • @BT9154 It's not a problem to lose a card out of hand (either to the top or bottom of your library) in order to Reinterpret, especially if it's to fizzle a counterspell or copy effect.  You essentially go 1-for-1 on that for no mana cost and still get to cast something for your efforts.

    I like how Excavate essentially says "you can't lose the game due to milling" but it's not a dedicated anti-mill hate card, it's just an incidental bonus to a card you'd play anyway.  However, it's super abusable if you can mill your entire library because that means you can stack your entire library afterwards since the effect doesn't put cards randomly on the bottom of your library.  Super creative direction to go in to put a limit on the size of your graveyard.
  • edited May 9
    @Jadefire I could tweak it to address both anti mill and setting up your library by simply exiling cards instead.  However it does feel like a waste of cards just exiling them like that and flavour wise it's more throwing away history than keeping it.
    If I had to rework it it could be this
    [cost]: Sift X - Pay [cost], until your next upkeep, your maximum graveyard size is now ten minus the number of other permanents you control with sift.  At the end of your turn, exile cards from your graveyard until you have your maximum graveyard size, you may put X cards exiled this way on the bottom of your library.
    New version will not screw mill decks, will still trigger Lorehold's graveyard leaving mechanics and putting some of the cards back to the library for flavour Also changed the ability name, excavate didn't sound rightHowever it did get more wordy which I'm not a huge fan of, not elegant at all.
  • edited May 9
    @BT9154 it's tough doing a graveyard recycling mechanic.  The new iteration of the mechanic is definitely more balanced.  You're right that it's wordy but that's because it's introducing something entirely new with the concept of a maximum graveyard size and it needs to explain how that's achieved.  Hand size adjusting effects would also be more cumbersome if they had to explain on each card that the player has to discard down to their maximum hand size during their cleanup step.  One question I would ask is whether the mechanic trying to do too much.  Returning stuff from the graveyard under a certain condition is already an effect, do you also need to be adjusting that condition as the game goes on?  You already have Collaborate, which cares about accumulating more permanents with the same ability.  How much benefit is there to lowering the maximum graveyard size by one more?  This seems to be a build-around mechanic anyway since it confers virtually no benefit until you get to the bottom of your current library, so a deck that would use this should already be equipped to get cards into its graveyard in large quantities.  I would think the more relevant thing would be getting the card with the lowest activation cost for Sift (which doesn't always need to be mana so that a Sift card with a lower mana activation doesn't immediately make all others played before it obsolete).

    Sift sounds like a more appropriate name and captures the idea of separating what you recover from what you don't, which is reflective of the mechanic.
  • @Jadefire If I drop it to max graveyard of 7 and have it be fixed I could drop several words off the reminder text and have it be consistent with cards in hand and with threshold.  Dynamic lowering the max graveyard was from the first iteration of the keyword, now that it has a cost and a value having more than one in play is no longer redundant. 
    At this point it's not even a max graveyard thing anymore, which is probably for the better as I can just make a standalone card that just says your max graveyard is X and do whatever when you have more than that.
    Now I have
    [cost]: Sift X. (Pay [cost], If you have more than seven cards in your graveyard, exile cards from your graveyard until you have seven, you may put X cards exiled this way on the bottom of your library.)

    Thanks for helping me streamline this ability
  • @BT9154 This looks good, much more clean.  I was thinking the same thing about keeping it to a number that won't clash with Threshold, good job.
  • edited May 9
    I got a Prismari card for you:

    Dig ({t}, {u/r}{u/r}: Create a Treasure token. It's an artifact with "{t}, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color.")
  • edited May 15
    Neat contest!

    Here are my mechanics (in order of creation):



    Exotic Cookery
    Cook (To cook a creature, gain life equal to its

    Cookery was a part of Witherbloom, but I felt it could be bigger. Cook is designed around life gain. I originally was planning this to involve food tokens, but I came out with this. This is what was basically designed to be a stem of cookery archetypes. Cards could work on this mechanic to exploit the life gain synergy.



    Quandrix Harpy
    Multiply {cost} ({cost}: Double this creature's power and thoughness until end of turn. Multiply only once each turn and only as a sorcery.)

    This was a hard one. I wanted to involve big creatures and ramp, but all I could think of was subtle out-of-place mechanics involving doubling mana and +1/+1 counters. I thought about the concept of doubling, and then I looked at some Quandrix cards. I thought that doubling p/t would be very firm and, well, fun. It would be way OP if you could do it multiple times each turn, and just to even it out, you can only do it on your turn.



    Celestial Creativity

    Creative - If you cast a spell with mana value 5 or greater this turn, {effect}.

    On the final day of the contest, I made yet another edit to this mechanic. This mechanic has a similar 'base' as raid. It can be used on any type of card, and can be used in very different ways. Prismari would have to enforce the 'expensive' theme a tad, and put in a bit more pricy spells for this to be a mechanic. This was dsigned as a subtle way to make cards better, and more worth their mana cost,just by casting an expensive spell. This is a late-game mech in most non-ramp decks.



    Awakened Relic
    Find (To find, return up to one target Spirit, instant or sorcery card from your graveyard to your hand.)

    This one was a monster to create, and in general, took me most time. I aimed it to be a supporting mechanic for cards like Thrilling Discovery, or, even better, Pillardrop Rescuer. The genesis of this mechanic is partly because of a card in my Lorehold deck, Returned Pastcaller. My personal opinion is that this fits in as a neat puzzle piece to go side-by-side with Lorehold's signature feel.



    Advocates Debate

    Elocution (This creature gets +1/+1 for each +1/+1 counter on it.)

    I made this one last, since Silverquill is my least favourite college, and I was dreading the process. When I started, I had one thing in my mind: "+1/+1 counters". So I worked with that for a long, tedious 20, before creating something that makes +1/+1 counters better. If it were a mechanic, card designers would have to make cards like Exhilarating Elocution more expensive.

    Hope you like my entries!
  • I got a Witherbloom card for you:

    Vitality drain (Pay 1 life: Put a blood counter on this creature.)
  • @Mila, vitality seems pretty powerful. On this card, it becomes Pay 1 life: Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn. This could potentially make it very easy to win the game. Maybe you should only be able to activate it once per turn?
  • AboveAndAbout: Well, that's not a vitality drain problem in general, I guess. It's a +X/+X problem, but, I get, what you mean. I'll go to bed and sleep and perfuse about that. I'll change the card soon, taking into account, what I came up with.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • @Mila I kinda agree with @AboveAndAbout . Being able to pay 1 life without any other cost can actually be pretty good sometimes. Phyrexian mana kinda showed us how broken paying life instead of mana for cards and effects can be when it isn't in a controlled amount. I think that if you changed it to something like "{x}, Pay x life: put X blood counters on this creature", it would be much more balanced.
  • Looks like I'm not the only one to come up with a Silverquill mechanic that cares about counting +1/+1 counters.  At least Admonish is different in that it embraces both the white and black use of words. The name "admonish" as well as the card name "incisive" (though not directly connected in meaning, it should evoke "incision" - to cut) was deliberately chosen to represent both directions that the use of words can take.


    Admonish (Target creature gets +1/+1 or -1/-1 until end of turn for each +1/+1 counter on permanents you control.)
  • I made some edits!
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