Rant of Valakut: Rupture the Spire, part 3 Ben Iverach-Brereton October 26, 2020 Rants of Valakut Rupture the Spire is a single-player deck-building game inspired by the video game Slay the Spire. Check out part 1 and part 2 if you haven’t read them yet! Same Word, Different Meaning Today we’re diving head-first into keywords. The way these mechanics work in Magic mostly depend on the attacker-blocker dynamic to function. For instance, “flying” means that a creature can’t be blocked, except by other creatures with flying or reach. If the game had no blockers, the mechanic wouldn’t do anything. Conveniently, when a card is printed with a keyword, it’s usually just the word without any explanation. It’s left to the rulebook to tell us what “flying” and “reach” mean; the card just tells us if the creature has that ability. Admittedly, several cards have reminder text that explain its keywords, especially in core sets, but players skip over reminder text all the time. After all, if we can ignore the now-inaccurate reminder text for companions, then I’m sure we can ignore reminder text for the likes of hexproof or double strike. Because Rupture the Spire is a series of one-versus-many encounters instead of a large battle between two armies, the player doesn’t have any blockers to protect them. This means that the definition of most keywords will have to change. I decided to focus on mechanics from Core Set 2021 as a starting point. Of course there are plenty of other abilities I could have chosen, like afflict, skulk and infect (infect damage could shuffle a poison counter card into your deck, like Gunk Slug and Slay the Spire‘s curses for example), but with the exception of prowess, the keywords in Core Set 2021 show up in almost every Magic set. Figuring out how these evergreen mechanics work in Rupture the Spire will give us the most cards to choose from when putting together our game. We can always add other abilities later. Creature Keywords My general idea for these keywords was to make it difficult for the player to decide which creatures to destroy first. Small deathtouch creatures could deal damage over time, while trample creatures would be harder to block. Prowess creatures could get out of hand if you don’t deal with them quickly, and defenders would protect the other creatures in the encounter. None of these are set in stone, but they feel like a good starting point. Deathtouch Whenever you are dealt one or more unblocked damage from a source with deathtouch, you get a bleeding counter. At the beginning of each upkeep, you lose 1 life for each bleeding counter you have. Remove all bleeding counters at the end of the encounter. Defender Whenever you cast a spell with one or more targets, you must choose a creature with defender as one of the targets if able. Unlike in Magic, creatures with defender can attack. Double Strike Whenever you would be dealt unblocked damage from a source with double strike, you take twice as much damage instead. First Strike Whenever a creature with first strike enters the battlefield, it deals damage equal to its power to you. Flying If a spell would deal damage to a creature with flying, prevent half that damage, rounded up. Haste Whenever a creature with haste becomes the target of a spell, it deals damage equal to its power to you. Hexproof As a creature with hexproof enters the battlefield, put a barrier counter on it. If a creature gains hexproof while on the battlefield, put a barrier counter on it. Whenever a creature becomes the target of a spell, remove a barrier counter from it. If you do, counter that spell. Creatures may have more than one barrier counter at a time. Lifelink Whenever a creature with lifelink deals damage, it heals that amount. Remove that many -0/-1 counters from the creature. Menace Whenever a creature with menace becomes the target of a spell, tap a land you control. It doesn’t untap during your next untap step. Prowess At the beginning of each end step, put a +1/+1 counter on each creature with Prowess. Reach Whenever you are dealt unblocked combat damage from a creature with reach, you draw one fewer card during the next cleanup. This effect stacks. It’s possible to draw zero cards on your turn. Trample If combat damage from a creature with trample would be blocked, block half of that damage instead (round down). E.g. A 4/4 with trample attacks you. You have +0/+3. Instead of blocking 3 damage, you only block 1 (1.5 rounded down). Vigilance Spell damage that would be dealt to creatures with vigilance cannot be increased. Ignore bonus damage from +X/+0 and other effects. Same Word, Different Target Several combat tricks give abilities to “target creature.” In part 2 we looked at what power and toughness bonuses might do if we could target the player with them, and it’s worth exploring how these keywords might benefit the player, too. For simplicity’s sake they should be similar to the new keyword effects on a creature, though in some cases it could simply cancel them out instead. Spell Keywords Deathtouch Whenever a creature is dealt one or more unblocked damage from a source with deathtouch, it gets a bleeding counter. At the beginning of each upkeep, put a -0/-1 counter on that creature for each bleeding counter it has. Defender You may ignore creatures with defender when choosing targets. Double Strike Whenever a creature is dealt damage from a source with double strike, it takes twice as much damage instead. First Strike The first time you damage a creature with a spell each turn, if you have first strike, deal that much damage +1 instead. This bonus damage is increased by double strike. Flying Negate the damage reduction of creatures with flying. Haste Creatures with haste no longer deal damage to you when you target them. Hexproof Whenever you gain hexproof, you get a barrier counter. The next time you become the target of an ability of a creature, remove a barrier counter. If you do, counter that ability. Remove all barrier counters at the end of the encounter. You may have more than one barrier counter at a time. Lifelink Whenever you deal damage, gain that much life. You cannot exceed your starting life total. Menace Whenever a creature is dealt damage from a source with menace, tap it. Prowess No effect. To date, there are no spells that give a target creature prowess. Reach Whenever you destroy a creature, draw a card. Trample Excess damage dealt to a creature from a source with trample is dealt to a second creature of your choice. If the excess damage is greater than the second creature’s toughness, it does not carry over to a third creature. Vigilance If a creature would deal more combat damage to you than its base power (before damage is blocked), it deals damage equal to its base power to you instead. E.g. A 2/2 creature with two +1/+1 counters on it attacks you. You have +0/+1 and vigilance. Normally it would deal 4 damage. You would block 1, losing 3 life. Because you have vigilance, the bonus power from the +1/+1 counters is ignored. The creature only deals 2 damage to you instead. You still block 1, losing 1 life. Creature Intent In the video game Slay the Spire, creatures have a variety of behaviours, including attacking, blocking, and applying status effects. These “intentions” make each turn of an encounter a little bit different, as you try to adapt to these various actions. Are the monsters about to attack you for a lot of damage? You should find a way to block it. Are they about to give themselves a powerful buff? Maybe you should go on the offensive and destroy them before they get stronger. Playtesting Rupture the Spire, I’ve enjoyed puzzling out optimal target priority, but because the creatures you face always attack, it can get a little repetitive. An “intent” system would be a good way to fix that problem, but I’ll admit that I’m not sure how best to implement one. Creating a separate “behaviour deck” might work, like the one used in the cooperative miniatures game Kingdom Death. Each upkeep you might draw a card to see what the creatures will do. The deck could be made up of land cards, and the colour identity of the card drawn could determine which colour of creatures attack that round. For example, if you draw a Forest from the behaviour deck, green creatures would attack, while nongreen creatures might stay back and get a +1/+1 counter instead. The behaviour deck could include a combination basic and nonbasic lands, like guildgates, so that on some turns more than one colour of creature would attack. We could even take this a step further: creatures that intend to attack this turn could be considered “attacking creatures” for game purposes, allowing cards like Divine Arrow or Impeccable Timing to target them during the main phase. I’m still not sure what a “blocking creature” might be, but most spells can target an “attacking or blocking” creatures anyway, so it might not matter that much to define it. I’ll need to do some tests to figure out how best to implement the behaviour deck, but I like the general idea. It may be necessary to build a new behaviour deck each encounter, based on the colours of the creatures present, otherwise several encounters might go by without any creatures attacking. Maybe there’s a way to have one behaviour deck for every encounter, but I’ll have to give it some thought. If you have any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them. More To Come… Later Rupture the Spire still has a long way to go before it’s finished. I think I need to take a break from working on these rules, though. I always find it useful to step back from a project from time to time in order to refresh and gain a new perspective. Don’t worry, mind you; when I’ve made more progress on the game I’ll make sure to let you know. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into game design; if nothing else, it’s something a little different. I also hope you’ll join me next time for a Rant about more traditional Magic. I’ve got a few decks I’ve been working on, and I think you might like them. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName Email Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.