So I loved the idea of Mary O'Kill's switch ability that, unlike Ninjutsu, Emerge, and Offering, actually keeps the game object represented by the original creature intact. I decided to keyword something similar. Any ideas if the following works or could be made clearer or shorter?
Arrogant Swordsman Creature — Human Soldier Supplant (Exile this card from your hand and pay its mana cost reduced by the mana cost of a creature you control: Switch the two cards.) First strike 3/2
The intended result here is that the original creature ends up in exile and the new creature is in the same state as the original was on the battlefield.
Post by Jéské Couriano on Feb 13, 2019 0:44:30 GMT
I'm not sure this is feasible, and honestly using a Un-card as something worth emulating is generally unwise unless what it does would already work within Black-Border Land as written (see The Cheese Stands Alone/Barren Glory).
Mary O'Kill works the way she does because Silver-Bordered Land can get away with toying with rules and because the term "switch" does not exist in black-bordered land. The main hurdle to making it work in black-bordered land once you get over the hurdles of permanents having no memory of what they sprung from (403.4), standardising the terminology and the precedent of abilities like ninjutsu is that cost-reduction abilities like this have traditionally bitten Wizards in the arse if not properly balanced and are not particularly attractive if they are. See the differences between Affinity on artifacts and Offering.
Is there some difficulty I'm not seeing in evading 403.4 by simply defining the term "switch" in an comp. rules addition such that neither creatures enters or leaves the battlefield, respectively? If the object is considered the same—just represented by a new card and possessing new attributes—I don't see how it's that different than having the original creature become a copy of the new one.
As for the cost reduction issue, I think the fact that you have to "spend" the original creature to get the reduced costs mitigates that. Unlike 1:1 trade mechanics (e.g. Offering, Emerge, and Supplant), Affinity is a problem because it snowballs and floods the field with no inherent card disadvantage. Sure, in Magical Christmasland you could use a supplant ladder to get a 10-drop on T4, but you've spent four cards on a single permanent in the process….
Obviously, Mary's ability can exist in "Black-border Land", since the reminder text spells it out in entirely rules-legal language. However, since Switch isn't defined in the Comprehensive Rules, that means we technically have to either formally define it, or accept that it is an "understood" term. There's nothing terribly wrong with accepting the premise that Switch is a thing that exists, since people can still look it up and it has a wiki page at least. So by all rights, this mechanic works as written.
Let's assume that we're being real sticklers, though. Some people are. In that case, we would need to create a homebrew addition to the Comprehensive Rules, which some people still don't like, or else define switch on the card - possibly replacing the keyword and just printing, "Exile this card from your hand and pay its mana cost reduced by the mana cost of a creature you control: Switch the two cards." as an ability. The only real problem with the latter is that the reminder text for Switch to work is extremely wordy, taking up more than two-thirds of a card. I think we can do a little better, but only a little.
Original:(If a creature is tapped, the switched creature is tapped. The same is true for untapped, attacking, blocking, enchanted, equipped, and targeted. Any counters on a creature are on the switched creature instead.)
First of all, we don't need to specify untapped. Unless a card would normally ETB tapped, that's just the default state. Fortunately, reminder text can be context sensitive, so we can switch between defining the condition for tapped or untapped depending on what's default for the creature. That saves a little room already. In a pinch, we could also say, "If a creature is tapped/untapped, the switched creature has that same status.", but it's better to simplify as much as possible if we want space for cards to actually do things. We might also be able to get away with "Exchange all counters and attached cards." to save a little more room.
Modified: (If a creature is tapped, the switched creature is tapped. The same is true for attacking, blocking, and targeted. Exchange their counters and attached cards.)
Those changes only save about two lines on the card, though. Not great.
We could eliminate the need to define combat state if you could only switch as a sorcery, but that takes away a lot of what made it a useful and interesting mechanic to begin with. Unfortunately, there's not a convenient, all-encompassing rules term for a creatures state in combat, nor a general term for all things a card could be doing on the battlefield (status, mentioned above, only concerns itself with tapped/untapped, flipped/unflipped, face up/face down, and phased in/phased out). We could handle this easily if we could just use plain English to explain things, but long gone are the days when cards were allowed to just trust the player to know what they mean. There's good reason for that, but the fact remains that Magic today has a fairly ridged, codified language of rules-ese that has to be used. So without defining our terms, "replaces the switched card in all aspects" is just a pipe dream, and we're stuck with lengthy explanation on the card. The usual solution to this is to keep using a keyword until its meaning is understood, and the reminder text no longer needs to be used - at which point it is defined as a rules term. That, ironically, brings us back to our original case of just accepting Mary O'Kill as defining the term.