Bad Mechanics

I was recently intrigued by the incredibly awkward design space that was Epic.  It's a bad mechanic in most respects and will probably never be revisited as most of the cards in the original cycle made for pretty poor play experiences.  It got me wondering what I could do with it, so I designed a cycle of spells with Epic and it was really fun.

That got me curious, who else has been inspired by bad mechanics to try to make something better?

Post here with your favorite new takes on old mechanics that were poorly executed, too short lived, or just plain bad OR challenge the community with your favorite bad mechanic and see what we do with it.


  • edited January 2023
    Fortifications were never explored:

    Mana Aqueduct

    Hideaway from Lorwyn didn't get any new cards until New Capenna, but there are still only 12 cards with the mechanic:

    Veli Sanctuary Searcher

    Epic, as you mentioned:

    End of the Elven Kingdom

    Miracle and Strive, would like to see more of them someday:

    Epic Downfall Balance of Existence
  • Annihilator was quite unfun and shouldn't have been keyworded, so here's somewhat fairer use of the mechanic:

    Hellrain Dragon

    There's only 6 cards with Offering:

    Rite of the Bloody SoulsIllusory PunchPatron of the Doragon

    Bushido hasn't properly returned since original Kamigawa:


    We haven't seen Jump-start since Ravnica:

    Crush the DisturberFrom Zero to HeroDark Susceptibility
  • edited February 2023
    I love the idea of Annihilator being balanced by something.  I'd like to take a try at that as well.  You're right, it was busted and should probably never have been a keyword.
    Also, loved giving all demons Cleric Offering.  That just feels so flavorful.
  • @StuffnSuch - Thanks! I'm looking forward to your take on Annihilator.
  • edited February 2023
    Here's an interesting Annihilator idea.  I still think it can be broken, pretty easily, but it can also backfire, too, so I think it could be okay.

    Reckless Destroyer
  • edited February 2023
    @TenebrisNemo I also made a Strive Card, inspired by your contribution.

    Run Over
  • There aren't too many ways to save Companion, but at least you can try creating some interesting deck construction constraints & payoffs with it.

  • Yeah, companion is definitely one of those mechanics that should have never been designed for anything except janky off off meta decks.  It would have been fun to see them just inspire goofy and creative deck building, instead of just inspiring already good decks to get broken.  I do think this one could find its way into some eternal formats, where creatures aren't as dominant, but a random companion that buffs (and gives trample to) your Urza's Saga Constructs or Mutavaults or whatever wouldn't be useless.  Someone would probably still find a way to break it.
  • I heard a podcast that got after both bushido and provoke as terrible abilities.  It got me thinking, what if you paired them...

    Expert Swordsmanship
  • That's a good point.  The original intention was to accelerate nontraditional win-cons like manlands and other permanents that can be animated (and are generally safe from your own sweepers), but mass/repeatable artifact creature token generation can really abuse it as well.
  • LvBLvB
    edited February 2023
    For me "indestructable" is a terrible ability. It makes the game so much less interactive cause it negates so much of the game. Combat Damage, Spell Damage, Destroy Effects. If you wanna play around that, make sure that enemy permanents are exiled or that you can counter such things, but that forces you to play the right colors.
  • @LvB It would be cool to see a variation of Indestructible that is a little more manageable without exile effects.  Maybe Indestructible that gets turned off in certain conditions?
  • @StuffnSuch
    You mean Regenerate?
  • @StuffnSuch I think that's what shield counters are meant to do.  They completely replace destruction but they can also be consumed by nonlethal damage.  The closest parallel I can think of for a continuous effect like indestructible that's manageable is checking the permanent at the end of each turn or phase to see if it has a shield counter on it and giving it one if it doesn't.  This way, it only takes two back-to-back instances of damage/destruction within that period of time to overwhelm the ability.
  • Speaking of situationally turning off effects, there are also cards like Knight of the Holy Nimbus/Clergy of the Holy Nimbus and Glittering Lion/Glittering Lynx that have abilities your opponents can disable at will.  The key is properly tuning the cost so that it doesn't go too far in either direction.
  • I was thinking something like "As long as there are three or more creatures on the battlefield, this creature has indestructible" or "Discard you hand: this creature looses indestructible.  Any player may play this ability"
  • @LvB I've been thinking about interesting indestructible designs since you brought it up, and I came up with this one.  In retrospect, it's probably over-costed, but the design for indestructible is what we're here for, right?

    Fractured Armorsuit

    Your comment also inspired this design:

    Dauntless Strike
  • edited March 2023
    I think bushido's main flaw is that it is telegraphed stat boost and the choice is given to the opponent weather to activate it, making it unfun to play with. So I designed a card to make not blocking a creature with bushido a harder choice.
    Going with the idea of blades causing bleeding damage and forcing the opponent to stop the bleeding by potentially tossing cards they might want to keep. 
    Taking a look at the storm scale I tried to mash as bunch of 10-7 together to see if any can work
    Fateful Hour + Absorb
    Gaining absorb while low life seems cool, but it would be broken if it was active all the time so I added a maintenance cost of needing hellbent and if you can't you might kill yourself.

    Fortify + Annihilator + Inspired
    Idea was just some kamikaze token with annihilator, added a "factory" and a condition to make the annihilator active.
    Cipher + Storm
    Old card I made, I think it's a nice flavour card
    Splice + Ripple
    Hitting the same name card can be pretty hard even at high ripple, so I think with good tribal setup you might get a good deal.
    Epic + Sweep
    Sweep is a terrible keyword, but this card has to be broken. I don't play lands deck but I sure there is some silly combo you can do with this. I put discard a card at random so if there is a dumb combo there is a chance it can be disrupted.

  • Wow!  What cool synergies.  I can't believe you were able to fit Fortify, Inspired, Battalion, Annihilator, and Decayed all on the same card while making it neither incomprehensible nor hard to play with.  Also, I love pickpocket.  That needs to be a real card.
  • edited March 2023
    @StuffnSuch Provoke does make Bushido more playable.  Here's an old card with a similar strategy for Rampage, except that it has to go the extra distance of forcing a team block to accomplish anything with Rampage.

  • Sweep and Ripple - together? I tried. I... tried. I think it's okay

    Ripplefire Champion
    Ripplefire Champion by jpastor | MTG Cardsmith

    I reimagine Sweep as a sort of Multikicker, it synergizes with Ripple - which serves to ideally pull another Ripplefire Champion, though its versatility allows you to benefit from pulling anything with sweep. In a proper deck this is a good card, but it's not OP other than the free spell(s). What i mean is, Ripplefire Champion's Sweep doesn't become too OP in conjunction with Rippling other Sweep spells. At best, you're paying 5 to 7 mana for a Flame Wave except it doesn't affect players. - So, while you can lucky stack your way to a potential board wipe for as cheap as 5 mana, I'd say it's not too OP for mono red.
  • I definitely don't think it's over powered.  I'm not sure it really fits with sweep since sweep always had returning lands to hands as the cost (which, admittedly, is why it sucks).  Having an ability that depends on the number of cards cast and pairing that with ripple, however, is really cool.

    As I'm thinking of the best way to fix sweep, I wonder if all you need is to have a "you may play _ extra lands this turn" at the end of the card.  That way, it will always give you an effect even when you  aren't able to go down on mana to do it, but it's still restricted by the lands you have in play, and it adds a little potential bonus of triggering landfall, letting you swap out a basic for a utility land, etc.
  • Shroud is considered a failure, but I've used it a couple times to deal with potentially dangerous interactions. It's nothing I'd suggest doing more than a couple times though, especially now that protection from everything tends to function better in most contexts.

    Additionally, while Madness is often disliked by many, I'm in the camp of major fans. 
Sign In or Register to comment.