I saw this mentioned on Tumblr recently and thought I’d spend some time toying with it. I don’t have time to dig into it and it’s not the kind of project that’d be satisfying, even if I did. So here are my notes from a few hours’ work.
The Whiteboard – The Whiteboard is a list of the ideas that should be included when exploring an idea. Reference here (https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/cmon-innistrad-part-2-2011-09-12)
Civil War Veterans
Gold Mines and Boomtowns
Jail Sieges (Rio Bravo)
Mountains, Forests, Plains, Deserts, Mesas
Madams and ladies of the evening
I) Challenges – A variable challenge whereby players select hidden information with a value, reveal that information, then, starting with the player(s) with the ‘highest’ value, each non-eliminated player eliminates another non-eliminated opponent until all non-eliminated players have chosen an opponent to be eliminated. (Tied players choose in turn order and players are eliminated immediately when chosen, so the active player de facto wins ties.)
There are a few possible ways to implement the challenge:
Type A. Each player clearly selects a card from their hand (clearly marking it, obviously. Probably by putting it face-down on the table apart from the rest of their hand). Then players reveal those cards and the player with the highest CMC starts selecting opponents to eliminate. After the challenge, players discard the chosen card and draw a new one. You can mix it up by comparing power, toughness, colored mana symbols, or…actually that’s about it unless you add another quality to cards specifically for this, but that’s a bit parasitic.
Type B. Each player looks at the top five cards of their libraries and chooses any number of them to exile face down. The rest are placed on the bottom of their library in any order. The player with the greatest number of [quality] among their chosen cards begins selecting opponents for elimination. This could be “most artifact cards,” “most different card types among their chosen cards,” “most blue cards,” etc.
I thought there’d be more space here, but there’s only two hidden zones.
Usually, this would go something like, “EFFECT, then challenge. If you aren’t eliminated, BONUS TO EFFECT.” Pretty standard Magic stuff. Usually, this is the player with the higher number eliminating another, and if you played the card you should have pretty good odds of either needing the bonus and getting it or not really needing the bonus.
Example of Type B
Harsh Law WW
Enchanment – Rare
Players can’t cast more than one spell a turn, unless you’ve been eliminated this turn.
At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, they may challenge for most white cards.
When another player is eliminated, gain two life.
This is my town! I run everything! If you live to see the dawn, it’s because I allow it! I decide who lives and who dies!
Ultimately, it’s got too many moving parts. I like it. It seems like it’d be fun. Even down to the tiny cost losing high value cards or exiling cards for a little bonus effect. I like the gunfight feel of Type A and the poker feel of Type B. Also, the limited design space. Sadly, there’s no bluffing either. Type A is probably the best option, if I were to go through with it.
Quest – Cattle drives, deed stealing, railroad building, outlaw finding, and the rest are all classic goals in wild west settings and getting them done tells the story of the folks in the wild west of popular fiction. But I think every set could have quests when look at it that way.
I like it, but it’s probably not resonant enough.
Wanted – “When this creature dies, the owners of all creatures who dealt damage to it this turn EFFECT.” Wizards doesn’t do downsides so much anymore and killing a creature should be its own reward, but I like the idea.
Maybe just a creature enchantment that recurs when you take damage?
Weakened – EFFECT. If [that player]/[that object’s controller] has taken 4 or more damage this turn EFFECT BONUS.
Baby bloodthirst, basically, with all of the drawbacks that entails. It plays to the big, dramatic deathblows in westerns. Shooting someone and leaving them to die. Dropping them off in a desert with no water. An injured, bleeding character being circled by wolves.
Bullet Counters – Counters which are added or removed to give specific bonuses. Generic mana, +1/+1 until end of turn, first strike until end of turn. They can be added or removed by different means. For example, by killing Bounty creatures. There can only be six of them in existence at a time.
But bullets don’t work as a currency. As much as shuffling around six bullet counters might be cool, it’s more concept than execution. Worse, if they come with built-in uses, the limit of six won’t be important. If they don’t, then they are extra parasitic; once for making them and once for using them. At that point, I might as well use energy counters and cap them at six in existence at once.
Raid – If you attacked with three or more creatures this turn. Whether it’s a cavalry raid or bandits shooting up the town, the idea of groups using horses to strike quickly across the plains is ingrained in the setting. This mechanic already exists.
Slingers – Creatures with first strike that can only block or be blocked by creatures with first strike or double strike. First Strike is already evasion, but bumping it up a notch. Needs a lot of first strike and isn’t really a good mechanic for a set. More like a subtheme.
Horsemanship – Not really. If I needed to eliminate flying creatures, but there’s every reason to make flying creatures work with the wild west. Since the ‘man v nature’ theme is still there, there’s every reason to put deadly shit in the clouds.
Equipment – Guns, hats, lassos, cards…badges?…steamboats?…actually this isn’t a great run.
W/U/B – Buffs if you’re building “the railroad”
Creature – Ogre – Common
Mega-Gunner gets Menace if you control a Railroad land.
R/G – Love blowing up.
Earth’s Rejection 2R
Sorcery – Uncommon
Destroy target artifact or Railroad land
Creature – Human – Rare
Other creatures lose First Strike and can’t gain First Strike.
Artifact – Equipment – Uncommon
When equipped creature attacks, challenge. At the end of combat, each player eliminated in this challenge deals two damage to each blocking creature they control.
Cowboy Hat 2
Artifact – Equipment – Uncommon
Equipped creature can’t become tapped except when it’s declared as an attacker (it cannot be used to pay costs that require tapping a creature).
Gun Belt 1
Artifact – Equipment – Common
Equipped creature and Rider creatures you control have First Strike.
Riders were another type I wanted to push, like Slingers. Ultimately, it was too parasitic. Naturally, these were a cycle.
Black Hat – Menace
Fresh Horses – Trample
Wing Spurs – Flying
Map of the Pass – Vigilance
Artifact – Equipment – Common
Equipped creature has “T: Target creature with flying gets -2/ -0 until end of turn” and “T: Target creature blocking a creature with trample gets +0/+2 until end of turn.”
Obviously, the setup is based very loosely on the western United States in the late 1800’s. The far east of the wild west plane is another continent East Continent (EC), with a big, complacent, UG-aligned government. They’re separated from the main continent by an ocean-sized river. They crossed the river/ocean a while back and colonized the main continent (MC). The continent’s east-coast government is practically autonomous, and local events give it a prominent UB-aligned faction which support their expansion and scheme against the EC government.
The central event is the creation of two competing ‘rail lines.’ These aren’t literal rail lines, maybe they’re transport conduits or aether rings like on Vryn. They’re big building projects which stretch across the Main Continent to its western coast. The northern route crosses the central plains, forests, and finally mountains of the northwest. The southern route crosses the same central plains, the southern swamps, and the deserts of the southwest.
Two organizations are competing to create their rail lines first.
The northern track pits a WU-aligned set of planners against a RW-aligned group of soldiers. The soldiers are either organized natives or settlers who object to the construction.
The southern track involves RU-aligned inventors independently creating pieces of the ‘railroad’ to meet together. They’re opposed by GR-aligned ‘naturalists’ who aren’t as aggressive or as organized, but who can better leverage the wilderness to hinder their efforts.
Also opposing this progress are a group of bandits, BR-aligned raiders who are stealing parts, knocking over stagecoaches, and causing problems. Bounty hunters are trying to get the bounty that both the UR and WU factions have put money up for, but a low-level story focuses on one fairly stereotypical WB-aligned bounty hunter.
Another low-level story is a cowboy/animal herder who’s performing a cattle drive (not necessarily cattle; if you eliminate the central plains, then they could be driving a herd of manatees up a huge-ass river). Since a spur of the railroad is coming to their town, they’re going to be out of a job soon. This is their last run. WG-aligned character who deals with the harsher elements of nature and civilization alike (GB-aligned forces in a big stretch).
Both tracks are ultimately destroyed, including the spur. The bounty hunter gets stiffed out of their big score by organizations which no longer care about the bandits. After a hard run, the cowboy learns they still have a job…for now.
RW/BR – riders. Focus on aggressive, numerous creatures.
GB/BU – ambitious government forces. Intrigues. Undead and shades.
WU/UR – “railroad”-related bits. Control with some damage.
BW/WG – “Lone riders” traveling the plains and their ilk. Life gain. Defense and persistence.
UG/GR – Not a lot. Big creatures. Destruction of artifice. Card draw.