Anatomy of a broken card

Discussion in 'General CPA Stuff' started by Istanbul, Jun 2, 2001.

  1. Istanbul Sucker MCs call me sire.

    You know, I was pondering Spiritmonger today.

    First, I wondered, 'How does a card like this make it past all the R&D personnel, all the playtesters, and everyone else? Didn't *somebody* point at it and go 'Ummmm...wait, this thing is *insanely* broken'?'

    Then I got to thinking...how much SHOULD it cost as is?

    Okay. We start with a 6/6. Green gets a 6/6 for 6. Why not? It gets a 2/2 for 2 (Grizzly Bears), it gets a 3/3 for 3 (Trained Armodon), let's give it a 6/6 for 6.

    Now then. Let's make it gold. Give it another color. A non-aligned color. Okay, bump the casting cost down by 1. Now we have a 6/6 creature for 3BG. Balanced? Yes. But boring. Let's spice it up a bit.

    First, let's give it the ability to change color. That should increase its casting cost by 1, in an environment like this (so dependent on color).
    Now, let's give it the ability to regenerate. On a big fatty, especially in this environment, that can be severely difficult to deal with. (Wrath, and...um...oh.) Add B to the casting cost.
    Now, let's have it grow every time it hits a creature. Combined with regeneration, that can make it *very* strong; let's add 1 to the casting cost.

    So what we now have is our 6/6 beast for 5GBB. That's eight mana, kids, and two of it is black.

    But instead, what do we get? All this for 3GB! That means that Spiritmonger is essentially *half* the cost it should be. A 6/6 that can survive most any combat, push through any COPs or T.Moats, and keep swinging turn after turn.

    I recall a kid I used to play Magic with coming into the store where I now work. I described it to him, and he said, 'It's gonna replace Blastoderm!' I replied, 'Replace? Blastoderm *wishes* it was this good.' Eerie.

    Thoughts?
  2. Tyriax New Member

    Spiritmonger is broken. Even if it were a vanilla 6/6 for 3BG, that's still pretty cheap. But let's take a look at some other broken creatures throughout magic history. My favorite is pit spawn. 6/4 first strike, when it deals damage to a creature, remove that creature from the game. That means in order to kill the damn thing with creatures, you either need a 4/*with first strike, or you need at least 7 4/* non first-strikers. Now how many creatures can you think of with first strike and a power of 4 or more. Not a whole lot. It didn't really change the scene that much though. Yes spiritmonger is broken. But then again, when I first saw Shivan Wurm, I nearly cried. 7/7 with trample for 5 mana? No plausible way to burn it. It only costs 5 mana to play, so bounce isn't that effective. Return birds to hand, play wurm, play birds. So broken. Although it's become a standard in Fires, it hasn't made fires the dominant deck, the unbeatable juggernaut it was supposed to become. In fact, in my area, Fires is all but gone, replaced by the return of skies, an increase in U/W control, and burning bridges. Spiritmonger does not get around the bridge skullcap combo, and although green does have some artifact destruction, black has none. It also does not get around fog, tangle, holy day, moment of silence, chant with kicker, or any other number of damage prevention spells. Reverse damage? Backlash? Mirror Strike? People will find ways to deal with the monger, and while it is definitely a good card, it is a creature. It can be gotten around. Maybe people will start playing with desertion. For the same 5 mana, 2 of which is blue, they can take said spiritmonger. or any other creature or artifact, as it is being cast. Land destruction is another good answer, if they don't have 3BG, they can't cast it. Aside from a early discard and the Death half of Life/Death. Counterspell stops it dead in it's tracks, as does wrath, rout, pacifism, manacles of decay, shackles. It's not easy to deal with, by any means. It will require people to rework their decks, but then again, that's a constant process anyway. I forsee it being a really expensive card, a la Phyrexian Scuta, but not an unstoppable force that will forever lay waste to the magic scene as we know it.
  3. Istanbul Sucker MCs call me sire.

    Phyrexian Scuta doesn't regenerate.
    Neither does Pit Spawn.
    Spiritmonger is also bigger than both.

    Is Spiritmonger unstoppable? No. But it's WAAAAAAY undercosted for what it has/does.
  4. Lotus Mox New Member

    Using the manabase math thing.

    Starting Point: Ancient Silverback a green 6/5 regenerator for 4GG.

    Color-changing, adds probably 1/8-1/4 mana to the casting cost, e.g Caldera Kavu, Kavu Chameleon.

    Multi-colored cards can cost 1 less, especially when the original wasn't that good, Ancient Silverback is balanced but not really good.
    Casting cost now 3BG.

    The Sengir Vampire ability: compare Air Elemental to Sengir Vampire. Sengir costs 5 mana as does Air Elemental (BTW I think Sengir is better than Monger), of course Sengir is a tad undercosted. So it's better to compare it to Serra Angel, she costs also 5, "Attacking doesn't cause something to tap" is a colorless to color mana ability. e.g. Steadfast Guard.
    Casting Cost 2BBG.

    adding 1 toughness does not change much, especially on a regenerator or an already big creature, or both like here. Spiritmonger wouldn't be any different if it were a 6/5 or a 6/7. so in his case I would add 1/8-1/4 mana to it's cost.

    Black has weaker creatures than green, sure but Spiritmonger is green too, so this point is irrelevant for balancing the mana-cost, note than mono-black targeted kill isn't heavily used anyway, because of Terminate.

    final casting cost: 2BBG + 1/4-1/2 mana, well it's undercosted, but not like Morphling which should cost 8 mana not the monger.
    A turn 2 monger isn't as scary as a turn 2 Saproling Burst (this is another example of a really undercosted card)
    I also think than Shivan Wurm is better in this Type 2 environment, with reusable 187 creatures and chumpblocking Nether Spirits or Rebels.
    Nearly every deck in Type 2 can easily deal with Spiritmonger, be it because of Counterspell, Wrath of God, Opposition, Terminate, Nether Spirit, Blinding Angel, etc.

    Bottom Line:
    This environment is (or was) already dominated by big creatures, so Spiritmonger will NOT have a significant impact on type 2!
  5. EricBess Active Member

    I'm with Instalbul on this one. Why is Blastoderm so good? It isn't the fact that it is a 5/5. Jade Leech is a 5/5 and while it is a good card, it isn't nearly Blastoderm.

    Nope, what makes Blastoderm soo good is that it is untargetable. In some ways, that is a disadvantage, because you can't Giant Growth. However, the net result is to make it hard to kill. That's what makes Blastoderm so good is that it is hard to kill. That and the fact that it is a big enough threat that it must be dealt with. Anyone remember Morphling? Same thing.

    So, the Spiritmonger can be targeted, so that makes it a bit harder to kill. Anyone remember Albino Troll? Why was he so good? Regeneration! How about Masticore? Anyone doubt Masticore was broken? Let's face it, Masticore wouldn't have been near so good if a Disenchant or Shatter could have taken him out. Regeneration!

    Spirit Monger has it. But it has something those other two didn't have: It's Black!!! What's more, it is a black creature that can get around COP:Black or Pro:Black without seriously limiting its protection from black removal.

    There are only a handful of cards that can deal with this monster: Terminate, Topple, the new W/B card (I think), Wrath!

    Now, as if that's not bad enough, look at the colors. Two opposing colors, right? But one of those colors is green. How hard is it for a green mage to add black to the deck? Birds? Trees? Harrow? The list goes on. Choose your preferred method, they're all pretty good.

    Then, look at the rest of the environment. Anyone see anything else good for green/black? They print Pernicious Deed in the same set. Pernicious Deed is a really, really bad Nivinyrral's disk. Really bad. It's green/black and Disk was best in a blue or black deck because of the inability to deal with permanents (in the case of blue) and specifically enchantments (black). Pernicious Deed can't be played in those types of decks and most decks that can stretch enough to play it are splashing the second color.

    Not in this case. This is a natural fit. But won't Spiritmonger die too? Oh, that right, regeneration!

    Broken? No doubt about it.
  6. EricBess Active Member

    Lotus Max,

    The problem with the "mana base math" is that it doesn't take synergy into account. You are giving Sengir Vampire a regeneration effect and making him start bigger. Doesn't that send up any red flags to you.

    And while I agree with you that there are a lot of answers, Green/Black has a lot of responses to those answers. How many cards can deal with Blastoderm? There have been posts on your favorite way to deal with Blastoderm listing everything from Glacial wall to Squee.

    There are answers to any card. The point is that a card like this severly limits your list of choices because of the synergy of abilities working together.

    My brother pulled a Spiritmonger at the prerelease. Unfortunately, he let it blind him into not splashing red to make his deck solid, but he didn't lose a single game where Spiritmonger hit the table. At a 5cc, that pretty much happened whenever he drew it.
  7. Mr_Pestilence Wumpus

    Spiritmonger?

    Ter-mi-nate!
    Ter-mi-nate!

    Dance to the mu-sic!
  8. Lotus Mox New Member

    Spiritmonger isn't a bigger Sengir Vampire!! :mad:

    it's a cheaper black Ancient Silverback that's it.

    it's broken in Limited, but not more broken than any other big fast and fat creature in Limited is, e.g. Shivan Wurm, Nemata, the Dragon Legends, I think the black Dragon Legends are even better than the Monger in Limited.

    in Constructed it's a 6/6 Regenerator for 5 mana, which is certainly good and a tad undercosted, but definitely not broken, which is a overused term anyway.
    The only creature which comes close to being broken (without being broken, mind you) is Morphling and this one would be a balanced card for 4UUUU IMO.
    saying Spiritmonger would be a balanced card for 8 mana is ridiculous, it would be a balanced card for 6 mana, and then nobody would use it in Constructed, as the Dragon Legends are better than the Monger.

    A B/G Pernicious Deed/Monger deck, is either way too slow, or destroys half of it's mana base while blowing up the world.
    Monger is not a good creature in a control deck, it can't really control opposing creatures like Masticore (except block+kill 1 non-evasion creature a turn), is not as hard to kill as for instance Morphling and it isn't even in good control-colors.

    It's probably good in a dark fires Variant upping the hard to deal beatdown creature cards (<5 mana) number from 12 to possibly 16 (Blastoderm, SapBurst, Shivan Wurm, Spiritmonger), although I think both Shivan wurm and Sap-Burst are more suited for Fires.

    Spiritmonger is a way too overhyped Black 6/6 regenerator.

    Disclaimer:This are of course just my opinions, so feel free to think otherwise, Magic would be boring if everyone thinks the same of every card :)
  9. Istanbul Sucker MCs call me sire.

    Wow, that is...SO wrong.

    Yes, it's bigger. And yes, it regenerates. It's also cheaper than the Silverback. And can change color to get around all kind of color-conditional effects. And it's *BETTER* than Sengir. Sengir had to kill the creature. Spiritmonger just has to damage it (though at a 6/6, one is almost certainly the other.)
  10. FoundationOfRancor The Gunslinger

    I dont think it was a mistake that it got past R&D. They obviously wanted Black-Green to be good (Note that this deck-type has only one expansion devoted to it, as opposed to allied colors, which had two.), so they needed a couple cards that would make it good enough to be able to compete with other, more stable decks.

    R&D obviously made this card tuned to the enviroment, not to an individual card balance ratio.

    Im not saying it isnt broken or that it should have been printed (Thrashing Wumpus would do just fine), but I can understand why it is here.
  11. DÛke Memento Mori

    ...actually agree completely with FoR about this issue.

    I don't think that all cards are made calculated. There are those that are made for other reasons: to strengthen a weak color, to weaken certain colors, to balance two or more colors out...the possiblities are kinda endless.

    Like FoR said, think about the Spiritmonger as a card made to make B/G a (more) playable combination. Surely the Spiritmonger is mighty powerful (NOT broken), but you have to consider the two colors it's for: Black and Green. Green is already good in T2, and Black...well, isn't. It will be a bit challenging (and fun) to see what a single card like the Spiritmonger will evoke.

    Yes, it's hard to deal with...but come on! Black and Red has Terminate. Blue has bounce and countermagic, not to mention that it can splash Meddling Mage. White can splash Meddling Mage also, plus it has Wrath of God and Route. Green has the Spiritmonger itself to deal with the Spiritmonger (Ummm?), plus it's speedy at the moment, Spiritmonger shouldn't be such an impact on Green.

    Has anyone seen the PreDecks? Overly tempting to actually play Magic again.
  12. Lotus Mox New Member

    Why do you compare Spiritmonger to Sengir Vampire?

    If it had trample or flying I would understand it, but as it stands he's just a cheaper Ancient Silverback. Which is still pretty good. (I know the +1/+1 thing makes ppl compare it to the Vampire, but this isn't the most important ability of the Vampire or Monger, which is flying and regeneration respectively)

    You're saying the color-changing ability is very important, from my expirience with kavu chameleon this isn't the case, except against white with their circles and protection guys, but white/blue control has WoG and Counterspells against the mighty Spiritmonger. It is black anyway so it doesn't matter vs. Black kill.

    Regeneration on a big Guy is also less useful than on a small one.

    It's impact in Constructed Magic:
    As a creature for more than 4 mana w/o exciting abilities it will certainly have no impact on Extended or Type 1.

    In the Fires-ridden Type 2 a 6/6 Regenerator for 5 mana won't change very much, I don't really think it's more powerful than a 5/5 untargetable for 4 mana.
    And if a B/G Deed/Monger deck will be good, despite what I think, then it's mainly because of the Deed's Power, not the Monger's.

    It will be a force in IBC though.

    Don't get me wrong though I think it's undercosted and powerful, but it nowhere near as good as some people want to make you think it is.
  13. DÛke Memento Mori

    ...(Wow!) Lotus Mox said it better than I ever could.

    I agree with him too.

    Fires, especially, doesn't need to mess with the Spiritmonger. Blastoderm will still be its stable. Sure, Spiritmonger regenerates, but like Lotus Mox noted, that's needless, especially on a 6/6...and PLUS, Blastoderm DOESN'T need to regenerate in the first place, and I bet you know why. ;)

    Spiritmonger's color shift ability isn't that great against anything but mostly against White, which is what The Amazing Lotus Mox :))) noted.

    In addition to that, the Spiritmonger +1/+1-counter ability isn't that great right now...not with Fires anyway. Fires is a speedy deck, it doesn't have time to mess with something as needless as 1 +1/+1 counter...or worry about color shifting...or even regeneration.

    Spiritmonger is really cool...but not as "broken" as some of you make it seem.
  14. Zadok001 CPA Founder, Greater Good

    Spirit Monger is not broken. What it IS is the single most obviously undercosted creature of all time.

    "But Zadok! Morphling!"

    BS. Morphling was a 3/3 for 3UU. Regardless of abilities, that ain't undercosted!

    The fact is, when you look at Spiritmonger, you see a creature with both power and toughness greater than its casting cost. There have been creatures in the past with that type of P/T:cc ratio. Negator had +2 to its casting cost for its P/T. Rouge Elephant did as well. Ghazaban Ogre claimed +1. Skyshroud Ridgeback, +1.5. Etc... But all those creatures have drawbacks - Spiritmonger has none (in fact, it has only one ability that can EVER be disadvantageous, the +1/+1 counter thing, and that's so rarely a drawback that its irrelevant). So it is obviously undercosted. Then it gets two true positive abilties (that is, abilities with a useful effect, no drawback, and you have the choice of whether or not to use them), and one normal positive ability (the +1/+1 counter thing, which is only not true positive because its not optional). That's frickin' AMAZING.

    The simple fact is, one sentance shows why Spiritmonger is amazing: Its environment is irrelevant. Regardless of what other cards are printed and used around the Monger, the Monger remains powerful. Negator is bad in a field of nothing but burn. Monger doesn't care what field its in, it will ALWAYS be at least playable, simply because it's a 6/6 for 5 with no drawbacks.

    That's the simple fact.
  15. DÛke Memento Mori

    ...Zadok.

    What Istanbul basically said is that Spiritmonger will replace Blastoderm, and I don't think that's true. You don't have to do ANYTHING once you play a Blastoderm...other than sit down and watch your opponent die. You'll have to "mess" a little here and there with the Monger in order to make it as scary as Blasto...AND if you say that you don't have to "mess", than why not just play Blastoderm?

    Don't even get me started on how Spiritmonger NOT replacing Saproling Burst...

    That's the simple fact.
  16. Duel Has Less Posts Than Spiderman

    There are 2 real reasons why Spiritmonger won't replace burst:
    1. No 12 damage in one turn
    2. b/r can stop it. It can't get rid of burst.

    It ain't broken. Not with so much good removal going around. Wraths, recoils and Terminates are GOOD. They were good before the monger. All of those can get rid of him forver. To be truly broken, he would need "Cannot be countered" or "trample" or "Cannot be the target of spells or abilities" or "during each players upkeep, produces a 1/1"

    It is good. It is something that will influence the environment. Here's the way I build it.

    Kavu Chameleon
    3GG
    Can't be countered
    G: change color
    3/3

    Okay, take off cannot be countered. This makes it HUGELY weaker versus blue. Make is a 6/6 for that. Can't be countered is amazing, and you all know it.

    Okay, so then we give it the +1/+1 whenever it's blocked. Nothing huge. Adding a second color is fitting pnishment for that, almost. Make is the B and a 1/2.

    And then regeneration, which, I think, should cost an extra g and 1/2 to gg.

    4ggb

    Well, that's only 1G off, ain't it? Not too bad. Undercosted, yes, but not too bad


    BTW:
    ALL THIS WOULD BE SOLVED IF:
    We made GERRARD the 5cc brokeness, and spiritmonger the 5cc wimp! Yes!
  17. Istanbul Sucker MCs call me sire.

    Why will Spiritmonger replace Blastoderm?

    Ask me again in five months.
  18. DÛke Memento Mori

    ...then. If you feel like keeping the secret all to yourself. :)

    Can someone explain to me now, because I don't feel like waiting five months...hmmmm...Gizmo? Lotus Mox?
  19. Thallid Ice Cream Man 21sT CeNTuRy sChIZoId MaN

    Odyssey comes out in 5 months, and spits on Blastoderm's grave.

    It will replace Blastoderm. It just won't for a little while.
  20. DÛke Memento Mori

    …yeah.

    Spiritmonger isn’t gonna replace anything. There wont BE anything to replace. Not just Blastoderm, but the whole Fires will be gone. Don’t look at it as a replacement, it’s just a good card.

    Besides, by Odyssey, who knows what have happened to the environment. Heck, Spiritmonger may not be even that playable…especially if the new environment does not support G/B at all, or even Gold cards at all. I am hearing predictions, which is fine…

    …but that’s not something to rely on. :)

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