Four Color Guild Design

edited July 2019 in Custom Card Sets
Hello everyone!
Recently I've been workshopping ideas for a set built around four-color guilds: Creatures, keywords, flavor identities, and all the rest. So far I've been working with the precedents set by the four color commanders in Commander 2016, and the fantastic advice of Game Knights' Jimmy Wong: "Powerful four color cards should be built around the color they aren't, not the colors they are".

With this, I've devised five keywords and playstyles to suit each of the four-color sets. They are as follows:

WUBR's Mechanic
Sharpened — (An effect that in some way rewards having toughness 3 or less.)
Whatever this guild's culture is, I picture it being made out of many X/2 artifact creatures, or zombies, or drakes, or goblins, or other miniature things with toughness 3 or less, whose power is boosted by any number of equipments and auras. Furthermore, this directly contradicts the incredibly green mechanic of rewarding "power 4 or greater."

WUBG's Mechanic
Stockpile N (You may have this creature enter the battlefield tapped. If you do, put N +1/+1 counters on it.)
This is a simple mechanic that I am simply proud of! This is a direct inversion of the red aspects of Riot, mixed in with blue ETB Choices and Outlast. It rewards the exact opposite of red creature play: slow and steady.

WURG's Mechanic
Grace — If no creatures have died this turn, (Reward).
The direct opposite of the VERY black mechanic that is Morbid! Given the number of ways that WURG can remove creatures from its benevolent calculations without killing them (exile, return to hand, evasion, etc.), I believe it's only fair to reward players for not killing opponents' creatures!

WBRG's Mechanic
Provoke (Whenever this creature attacks, you may have target creature defending player controls untap and block it if able.)
Provoke is an old mechanic from Tempest, and I am absolutely using it for this color combination. Blue loves to evade. Provoke directly punishes evading the untapped creature, as otherwise there is no reason to untap it. In addition, Black is the only color in this guild that Provoke wasn't found in, and even then, that's nothing a little deathtouch can't fix.

UBRG's Mechanic
Solitary N (This creature gets +N/+N if it is the only creature you control.)
Simple mechanic, simple explanation: White's main creature-based playstyle is to go wide rather than tall, with many individual token creatures rather than one big goody. Solitary gives you that one big goody. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) this guild should and would have many sacrifice outlets.

And with that, that's all my mechanics!!! If you all have any suggestions for the flavor of these groups, or the mechanics therein, please feel free to comment! I'll be eagerly waiting til then.


  • One of the inherent issues of a four color factions set is that most of the time you have to be able to reasonably assemble such a deck in draft, which means a lot of mana fixing and the like will have to be available. But as a result of that you'll have to find a way of avoiding having five color goodstuff be a prominent deck.

    Otherwise, your choice of mechanics is interesting and a solid variety, particularly solitary.
  • edited July 2019
    @ErinsCards Are you kidding me? I JUST abandoned a project like that! Do you think we could merge them?
  • @Lujikul, Thank you! I'm quite proud of Solitary.

    As for that incredibly glaring issue, I imagine that this set would be in some kind of supplemental product akin to Modern Horizons, thus Draft Mana and Standard Power Level wouldn't be as big of a problem.
  • @HeroKP While I quite appreciate the offer, I'd like to start the lore from scratch for the most part. I'll gladly accept submissions of pieces from the lore though!

    For instance. The use of the Provoke mechanic in WBGR indicates a group of Provocateurs (a real actual word), and likely a kind of feuding uncivil society. The forest doesn't feel like a good backdrop to that for me.

    I'd truly appreciate your help writing for each of these five guilds though!
  • @ErinsCards I understand. It wasn't going anywhere anyway, lol
  • edited July 2019
    How about this, we have them in varying degrees of authority? Like

    UBRG is Anarchic

    WBRG is some authority, but extremely Decentralized (a coalition of bandits with local leaders having ultimate power over their gangs, perhaps)

    WURG is certain freedoms, but has a Central government (of angels, for example)

    WUBG is Aristocracy competing with itself for control over the peasantry

    and WUBR is A mess of smaller creatures (robots, zombies, goblins or orcs, per your proposal) serving one Dictatorial dark lord.
  • edited July 2019
    How will these mechanics go into the non-4 color combinations? Like, for example, I can't see mono red having Grace. One idea could be to limit these mechanics only to 3-color and 4-color cards, and use only evergreen keywords for mono color cards to support. No 2-color cards. 4-color can be your signpost cards.

    Flavor-wise, it has to be somewhat general since 4 colors means its members have to come from all walks of life. I would probably do something like this:

    WUBR (Sharpen) - Thieves'/Rogue's/Vagabond Guild, focusing on evasion. White's part of the flavor could be on vigilantes or Robin Hood type characters that give back to the people.

    WUBG (Stockpile) - Scribes'/Law/Mage's Guild, focusing on midrange-control based on the tapping and the +1/+1 counter. Not the passionate experimentation of Izzet, but a more thorough and controlled fact-searching.

    WURG (Grace) - Religious/Laborer/Commoner's Guild, focusing on control based on damage prevention and indestructibility, maybe even flickering.

    WBRG (Provoke) - Fighter's/Mercenary's/Adventurer's Guild, focusing on raw power, either through base stats or number counting.

    UBRG (Solitary) - Artificer's/Craftman's Guild, focusing on making non-creature tokens that benefit you without adding more creatures, like gold/treasure or even Estrid's mask enchantments.

    WUBR and UBRG can be switched. They can also be any kind of group (clans, countries, rival high schools).
  • edited July 2019
    Solitary kinda of connects with Amass, wouldn't be surprised to see something similar in the next standard set.

    Anyways, seeing that the set is centered mostly around creatures, I think the perfect land for this set is an uncommon with something like: "As CARDNAME enters the battlefield, choose a color.

    {t}: Add one mana on any color that's not the chosen color. Use this mana only to cast creature spells."

    A strictly worse Ancient Ziggurat.
  • Apologies! I have been busy.

    @HeroKP I absolutely agree with UBRG being a group of disparate and anarchic individualists, and I certainly love the idea of WUBG being an unchallenged aristocracy, given the fact that R is extremely occupied with freedom. Lastly WBRG being a group of warlike clans is exactly what I was thinking!

    @fiskerton I like the idea of WUBR being the Artificers, simply because that's what the one WUBR card we've seen has been shown to be: A passionate artificer with a love of power, but not outright strength. That said, UBRG having enchantments and non-creature tokens is inspired, and I absolutely agree with it.

    I think that might actually be a big problem, distinguishing UBRG and WUBR as far as playstyles go, seeing as both will focus on making Weak Creatures (or in UBRG's case Decent Creatures) Buffer. I think that distinguishing mark will be in "Cheap and weak enchantments/equipments" versus "Expensive and strong auras".
  • @Pepperoni, that may be a Strictly Worse Card Design, but it's also genius. That's the kind of card that becomes a Modern/Commander staple without being broken, and it would be perfect to debut in a set like this.
  • @ErinsCards Perhaps it would be a power-hungry artificer, wishing to spread mechanical perfection, and accidentally transforming all of his country into cyborgs.
  • Hm! I like that quite a lot!
  • edited July 2019
    Let's give these guilds (and their category) some placeholder names that we can change later. I propose that, just as each of the color-group-names prior have punchy names (the Shards, Guilds, and Clans), we call these factions what they are: Armies.

    While it was certainly true that the Shards and Clans were at war, these five groups are by nature always at conflict. They embrace all the five colors of mana but one, and as such, despise the other groups for being suckered in by their anti-colors.

    Moving on from that!
  • How about having it being all ruled by the WUBG faction, but then rebellions rose up in the peasantry, which diverged into the other four armies over time?

    We could have a full, planned out history inspired by the Russian Civil War and stuff!
  • edited July 2019
    The Inneal Armies (A.K.A, the Inneal Schools)

    The Gimil Armies (A.K.A, the Gimil Cabals)

    The Eagliss Armies (A.K.A, the Eagliss Circles)

    The Ritrean Armies (A.K.A, the Ritrean Thanes)

    The Denbas Armies (A.K.A, the Denbas Anarchs)
  • Wait, isn't WUBR supposed to be the tyrants and the UBRG anarchy?

    For the names, I really like them all, except Gumall. I think for a self-indulging, corrupt, shadow council-y aristocracy, we need something more majestic, like the Eperviae, or something.

    Otherwise, I thnk we really have something going here! :D
  • edited July 2019
    @HeroKP, I like what you're thinking, but the thing is that each name should be pronounceable by The Average Player.

    As for the others, I think that the Inneal should have SOME level of personal agency, given their partially red color identity. I think that agency would be expressed through joining different fields of their WUBR Tyrant's research. It's like the Izzet, but mandatory.

    As for the Denbas... you're right, I'll change the name.
  • @HeroKP, actually, on second thought, I've thought of a better name for the Gumall.
  • Are you wanting us to help design specific cards for this workshop?

    Also, I like the idea of Stockpile, just not the name itself. Entering tapped overall isn't a huge deal, unless hasted. Maybe change it up a bit...
    Stockpile N-- For every creature you tap when XXX enters the battlefield, XXX gets N +1/+1 counters.
  • @spookps That's just convoke with extra steps
  • I’ll help out on this!!
  • I think Debnas/UBRG shouldn't be a group/army/faction. It should rather be a category of individuals each striving to take power exclusively for themselves.

    If each color combination is defined by what it's not, you have to rip every bit of White's sense of community and cooperation out of that particular combination. It goes beyond just anarchy and I think it fits the concept of the shared mechanic "Solitary" more.

    Love the mechanics btw. I will echo Lujikul's initial concerns, however. Even in a high-power, supplemental set that dodges standard, there will be a lot of internal issues. Either draft can't have you easily access all four colors of a faction OR five-color foodstuff will be too easy to achieve.

    I think your best bet to make such a draft setting work is to make each color combination HIGHLY parasitic/synergistic. You need to force people to avoid taking that fifth color because it will ultimately result in a worse deck. You already have decent mechanics to helps with that (especially in Sharpen and Solitary), but I'm mainly commenting for emphasis.
  • @Phelgming I absolutely agree with your thoughts on Denbas. While it has no ranking, unity, or cohesion, it is still referred to as an army. Even though none of the villainous individuals within the Denbas badlands wish to cooperate, they often end up cooperating unintentionally. As such, the other armies refer to them as "The Denbas Armies" for simplicity's sake.

    Thank you for the encouragement in making the fifth color damaging to drafted decks! I've only designed 4 cards so far, all in common, but I'm trying to do just that in each.
  • imageimageimageimageimage

    Here's a cycle of common creatures in each of the five armies!

    To be clear, four color commons will be a RARITY in this set. But, I feel that each army should have at least two common four-colors.
  • I honestly love that
  • Thank you!
  • @ErinsCards

    Gimil "Deathfriend", how perfect.

    I believe I have found a compromise for the name! We don't have to change it all that much, just put an "e" on the end. "Gimile". And "Gimil" is going to be the adjective, so no cards even have to be edited. Everybody wins! :D

    Do you agree with this proposal?
  • edited August 2019
    I also have to point out how good the cards are, honestly, especially Eagliss Teacher. I believe this will go a long way if we can manage to keep the bar this high.
This discussion has been closed.