[Custom set] The plane of Vanyla: where 4-color guilds are treated like superhero teams

edited August 2020 in Custom Card Sets
Hey guys, with your permission, I'm in the drawing-board brainstorming phase of making a set.

Here's the world-building I've done so far...

(Oh, and VANYLA is just a bad way of spelling VANILLA since all the citizens are going to be colorless vanilla humans, so VANYLA is not set-in-stone as the name of this plane. LOL)


The multiverse is already full of planes with strong connections to mana, which makes powerful magical creatures, gods, and planeswalkers become commonplace.  But there are also planes far from the pull of mana and its abilities where forests are just ... trees, and swamps are just humid and squishy (and occasionally swarming with mosquitos).  

The plane of Vanyla is one of these places.  Or at least it was until about 100 years ago.  At that time, the only sentient beings on this plane were humans.  Bears were bears, dogs were dogs, and the occasional monster was usually just a hoax.  The humans on this plane had just entered into an era of industrial revolution, when - as usually happens with invention and creativity - some overeager scientists accidentally fractured a planar boundary which let magical mana start to flicker in.  

Interestingly, this mana only reveals itself when a human is having a near-death tragedy.  The "white light at the end of the tunnel" is not just white on this plane; it's all five colors of mana, and most people who live to tell about it say it looks like a "flickering star".

If the dying human is willing to let this mana transform them, they do not die, but are changed by their "Starflicker" into a superhuman being that people have nicknamed "Cosmics".  Humans are incapable of handling the mana of all five colors, but their bodies CAN process 3 or 4 colors, based on their personality and the type of near-death experience they had. At the time of their encounter with the Starflicker, one (or rarely two) colors of mana - colors that they can't personally handle - are permanently ripped from them.  This transformation makes "Cosmics" (or if 2 colors were taken, they become "Monsters").  Just as an aside, and this might be interesting or not, but the creature races ("monsters") cannot produce offspring with other members of their race or make half-humans.  On this plane there are no magical creatures aside from those that started as a human originally.

Over the past 100 years since this started, four groups have banded together to make Vanyla a better place (in their own way), and each group is banded together by the color which was ripped from them.  Humans who had white ripped from them (they'd be a cosmic with U/B/R/G), are considered loners, rebels, Ronin, or agents of chaos... but they're definitely NOT organized into a group.

Humans who survived the Starflicker process, but who had TWO colors ripped from them, are transformed physically into a mutated human creature with characteristics of the other three colors they still have ("goblins" might be mutated humans who are {r}{b}{w}, and "merfolk" might be {u}{g}{w} or something).  Humans on this plane tend to call these beings "Monsters" and common citizens look to the Cosmics to protect them from the Monsters.

The five 4-color groups:

Name: Human Defense Coalition
Color identity: WBRG (No Blue)
Typical team member core values: preservers of tradition and the old-ways, Luddite, anti-invention, pro-defense
Platform for changing the world: The HDC promotes and protects normal humans from monsters.
Card mechanics: stax, hatebears, artifact destruction, buffs and creates human tokens.

Name: None (ronins, rebels, loners, vigilantes, etc)
Color identity: UBRG (No White)
Typical team member core values: nihilism, chaos, vigilantism, revenge, antisocial, anti-law
Platform for changing the world: Promotes individuality and avenges the innocent by punishing the guilty.
Card mechanics: Chaos, spellslingers, and maybe bonuses if just that creature is on the battlefield?

Name: The Fellowship
Color identity: WURG (No Black)
Typical team member core values: charity, altruism, generosity, selflessness
Platform for changing the world: The Fellowship wants to hug the world and end war.
Card mechanics: Group Hug, Alt-win conditions for permanents you own that you don't control.

Name: League of Endurance
Color identity: WUBG (No Red)
Typical team member core values: Stoicism (think "Vulcan logic"), patience, unemotional, self-control
Platform for changing the world: The LoE promotes philosophy, logic, self-reflection, and training.
Card mechanics: ETB-Tapped matters, Enchantment synergy, extra-turns, tempo control.

Name: Constructor Guild
Color identity: WUBR (No Green)
Typical team member core values: inventiveness, creativity, design, forging, progress
Platform for changing the world: The Constructors promote human innovation and creativity.
Card mechanics: voltron, artifact affinity/synergy


So ... I'm sort of pushing this thing toward an industrial-revolution-era-but-fantasy-MTG-themed plane with some heavy mashed-up story arc themes from The Incredibles and Legend of Korra, in that most of the beings on this plane are Not Magical and are Human, so the few beings affected by mana are a BIG issue and are NOT being handled well because it's so new to this plane.  Magical humans are treated as heroes or villains instead of just normal (but powerful) members of society like on most MTG planes.

This is the thread where I'll be taking comments and thoughts as I flesh this out.

Thanks, all!


  • This seems like an incredibly solid foundation for a set, at least pre-set-skeleton. However, I'm going to caution that a four-color set is very, very difficult to get right, to the degree where MTG R&D thinks it might be impossible. It probably can be done, but a lot of caution need to be taken into pushing the central four-color aspect. Namely, two questions need to be addressed:

    1. What incentives me to run more than 2-3 colors in limited (draft/sealed)?
    2. What keeps me from wanting to run all five colors, both in limited and in standard?

    Getting players to build toward a dedicated four-color deck, both within the set's draft environment and in the hypothetical standard upon this set's release, as opposed to using less or more colors is going to be key to getting this right. Otherwise you risk being, on one end, too much like Alara or Tarkir blocks, or, on the other end, too much like the full block drafts of Alara Reborn and Dissension. It's a really tricky balance.

    I don't mean to discourage you, I just want to address the central potential problems with the set going in and encourage you to start thinking of workarounds and solutions to "the four color problem." It is also important to note this format should lean heavily on hybrid mana and ways to fix your mana, especially at lower rarities, to ensure everybody playing the set in limited can draft the deck/strategy they want. A great way to start is to make sure there is a cycle of common dual lands taking up the set's land slot as opposed to basic lands (e.g. the Gates in Ravnica), but there will almost certainly need to be more fixing in the common slot beyond that.

    Good luck with this! I look forward to seeing where you go with it! Also, I really like the set symbol. That's rad.
  • edited August 2020
    You are insulting the non-blue faction. blue is the colour that wants to stop things from changing. I say the Non-black faction be non-blue. I am honestly a little angry.
  • I love this and will try to help in any way I can! Though I will be biased towards the Constructor Guild cause I recently found a love for artifacts. But I also like anything not white. I think I might be able to help with some other stuff, but @Arceus8523 is right. Four colors is not easy.
  • edited August 2020

    But Glint is the four-colour combo of the most chaos and change...

    Also blue does NOT want things to stop changing. Have you ever looked at cards from Tolaria? They want change, they just want to control it.

    White is the stasis colour. Hell, the cards Stasis Snare and Stasis Cocoon are white!

    Literal Stasis is blue, but I honestly think it's a misnomer for the card's effect. Restrain or even Refrain might have been better.
  • @KorandAngels respectfully, I agree with @HeroKP .

    You don't have to agree with my assessment, but you shouldn't get angry or offended. :smiley:

    Perhaps if I explain?  In my opinion, {u} might be about "nope" and "counterspells" and stuff, but what that really means is that one of {u}'s primary flavors is "Creating Change by Control and the Will of the Spellcaster".  {u} doesn't want to stop things from changing, they WANT change - but specifically they want THEIR version of change, on THEIR terms.

    The WBRG "Lack-Of-Blue" group, therefore (at least in THIS set that I'm creating), would be the group who opposes change, prefers the old ways, and wishes that the progressive changes happening in their world would stop.  Think about the tempo of {w} or {w/b} "hatebears" and "stax" decks in EDH. The {g} and {w/g} aspect of the WBRG group is to buff the colorless Human citizens of this plane with +1/+1 counters.  The {r} and {r/b} aspects of this WBRG group would be artifact destruction, primarily.
  • edited August 2020

  • In order to balance this set, I had a thought about creature rarity. I want to keep all common (and maybe some uncommon) creatures as colorless vanilla humans of different strengths. Guards, soldiers, knights, priests, etc ... ALL colorless vanilla humans of common or uncommon rarity. At uncommon and rare (for creatures, specifically), I'm going to populate this rarity level with the "monsters" of this plane. This is where the three-color races will be.  And to answer @Arceus8523 , I plan on having NO support for two-color creature cards in this set, meaning everything is skewed from what you'd normally consider balanced.  That's why the 4-colored creatures are all mythic, probably Legendary, or there may be some 4-colored that are just Rare.  

    Here's where I need your help!  I'm NOT into any of the draft/sealed formats, at all.  (can't stand them, to be honest).  I'm really only comfortable with constructed decks.

    BUT, I've been watching this YouTube tutorial by StrataGames on set design, and it's REALLY helping me understand the needs of draft players.

    If you guys haven't seen it, I spent about an hour and a half binge watching it.  It's VERY good!
  • edited August 2020
    Apologies for shouting, but
    Have you seen any of the cards I have made? 
  • @KorandAngels from what I can tell, I think that members of the WBRG faction are generally worried about the effects of the sudden influx of mana in Vanyla, and they want to protect people from that. I don't think it's being presented negatively here, especially since they're working with the other three White-aligned factions. They simply nervous about a world that's changing very rapidly, and they're working with the other groups to protect people.

    I also think that it acts as a sort of balance against the WUBR faction, since they're presented as moral opposites. This balance would be good for the overall growth of Vanyla and its civilizations, since worrying about the effects of a runaway energy source (in this case, mana) is as important as experimenting with it.
  • Ok I must have misunderstood. Thanks and sorry.
  • No problem. None of us want to see our favorite colors disparaged.
  • edited August 2020
    @KorandAngels didn't mean to trigger you.  I think I can say the same thing about the WBRG group that I said before, but with this following terminology which is less negative:
    • "Typical team member core values: preservers of tradition and the old-ways, Luddite, anti-invention, pro-defense."
    I'm hoping that's less inflammatory than my use of the term ultra-conservative.  At my age, I should have been more aware of the negative connotations of that term.  No offense was intended. If you're not familiar with the Luddite movement who I referenced in my team description, they were people who protested certain manufacturers during the European industrial revolution, because they were afraid of losing the respect and wages that their skilled labor (but costly labor) had brought them.  They rebelled against these companies by smashing their textile machinery.  The term "Luddite" has been turned into a pejorative term for people against technology, but it seemed to be a perfect parallel in Vanyla for people who were scared of runaway use of mana and magic (like SpellPiper said).
  • edited August 2020

    SET MECHANICS for the Plane of Vanyla

    All of these new mechanics are end-of-turn mechanics that check to see what happened this turn (either just your turn, or each turn, depending).

    These mechanics are creature mechanics only (not permanents).  And they are not just for the 4-color Legendary creatures, they are also for the 3-color monsters. 

    Note, I am planning this set to have no mono-colored or dual-colored creatures.  There will only be: colorless vanilla Humans, 3-colored non-human creatures, and 4-color Legendary humans. But, there will be mono and dual colored noncreature spells.

    That said, here are my proposed mechanics, and the creatures who can have them:


    Nonwhite Monsters and UBRG Legends:

    • Antisocial - At the end of your turn, if this creature was the only creature you controlled this turn, (REWARD).

    Nonblue Monsters and WBRG Legends:

    • Luddite - At the end of each turn, if one or more artifacts an opponent owns left the battlefield, (REWARD).

    Nonblack Monsters and WURG Legends:

    • Philanthropist - At the end of each turn, if an opponent controlled one or more permanents you own, (REWARD).

    Nonred Monsters and WUBG Legends:

    • Patient - At the end of your turn, if one or more permanents entered the battlefield under your control tapped, (REWARD).

    Nongreen Monsters and WUBR Legends:

    • Mechanic - At the end of your turn, if one or more artifacts entered the battlefield under your control this turn, (REWARD).

    Thoughts and comments welcome.
  • @Arceus8523 I agree 100% about mana-fixing for this set!  As you may notice above, creatures with the Patient mechanic give you rewards for putting permanents into play with ETB-Tapped requirements, so all those awful tri-colored Tap Lands from Alara and Tarkir will have a home in this set! :wink:
  • Last thing today: I realize this might seem strange, but this set is intended to be in friction with the current power creep of current MTG sets.  In the lore of this plane, the vast majority of the world is NOT magical.  Therefore, the rarity (lore-wise, not necessarily card rarity) of magical creatures and spells is intentionally different than most MTG planes.  Meaning, the flavor of this set is going to illustrate a vast gap between the Humans, the Monsters, and the Cosmics. This is the way I intend to balance the "4-Color Problem" we're all concerned with.

    Yes. It might be an utter failure, LOL.  I'm well aware!

    But I've been wrong before, I've been wrong today, and I'll be wrong again.  The thing is, you miss every shot you don't take, and I'm not throwing away my shot. :wink:
  • 4 colour ultimatums!
  • @KorandAngels
    :smiley: Oooh!  I like it!
  • Aged Ultimatum
    Spiteful Ultimatum
    Allied Ultimatum
    Still Ultimatum
    Iron Ultimatum
  • I'm decently well connected to limited and other formats like modern (7-1 7-2'd about 16~ times on MTGA).

    So, I'm going to give my thoughts on this set, and particularly the mechanics, in limited and modern.

    Antisocial seems as if it has very limited design space, and would slow down limited majorly. 

    Luddite isn't a good mechanic because it relies entirely on what your opponent is playing, and would be hard to build around, even in commander. It would be a one-off mechanic (non-keyworded) at maximum. 

    Making a 4-colored color pair that donates things is not a good idea, for quite a few reasons. These include the fact that the archetype would be a parasitic archetype in limited, the fact that Green has next to nothing to do with Donating, and the fact that Donating is never at a rarity above a common and extremely rarely at uncommon, meaning the archetype is further crippled by this.

    Patient is a good mechanic, but it needs careful balancing due to the fact that most decks in modern can have a land enter tapped on turns 1-3.

    Mechanic is a good mechanic.

    I look forward to this set!
  • @Potato13 - all VERY EXCELLENT points, and I really appreciate the time and thought you put into sharing them!  I sincerely don't take that for granted, so thank you!!  I will work on some tweaks to a couple of things and get back to the drawing board on others.  Thanks again :smiley:
  • If we do go with 4 colour ultimatums, they would be formated like this (using the example of my favourite non-blue colour combo): (w) (r) (r) (g) (g) (b), which would be cool ecxept that it costs 1 less than normal ultimatums.
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