Hello everybody! I am pleasantly surprised by how many of my recent articles are containing a new mechanic. Today is part of that trend and the mechanic of the week is called Thorns. You might be familiar with Thorn Elemental, who I explain in my weekly video was the inspiration for the following three cards. Time to look at them, shall we?
Thornspine Mongrel is our classic bear declination of the mechanic, to ease us into it.
As you can see Thorns functions the following way: whenever the creature becomes blocked, it deals damage to defending player equal to its thorn number for each creature blocking it. If you block this charming puppy with one creature, you still take 1 damage, and if you block it with two you will take 2, etc. Such is the power of Thorns 1.
It seems completely to me fine for a common, since most times you will only need to block this guy with one creature to get rid of him.
Shardwind Hellkite. Now we’re talking!
This one is emulating the somewhat recent tradition of extremely powerful flyers with haste for 5 mana or less.
As a 4/4 flying dragon with haste for 5, Hellkite rivals with Stormbreath Dragon and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker. Those have another upside as well though. Hellkite’s upside is that if you ever find yourself blocking it, you will take at least 3 damage. Since blocking huge dragons isn’t something you want to do too often, I think it should be reasonable, and probably not as good as either Stormbreath or Sarkhan.
Karathan Tarasque is actually the first idea I had when toying around with the concept of Thorns.
This lizard beast is a big dummy, one that will already deal you 2 damage if you chump it and 4 if you double block it. The twist though, is that when you get to 7 mana, it can force all creatures to block it, dealing them and the defending player a whole bunch of damage in the process.
I had some trouble tweaking the power, cmc, thorns and ability cost perfectly so I went for a conservative mix. Tell me how good you think we can make it!
That does it for the day. I do believe the Thorns mechanic provides an interesting design space. Like I said in the making off video, I could see people claim that it is too trivial an effect to make a mechanic out of it, but I disagree. I think you need simple mechanics, keywords to create design spaces without using as many words all the while adding cohesion and a theme. In a set featuring Thorns you could have other cards that care about blocking, forcing to block or not block, preventing damage without blocking etc.
Either way I hope you enjoyed the cards. Let me know what you think and regardless I’ll be talking to you again next ween. Have a good one!