I Stubbornly Refuse to Destroy
“Restrictions breed creativity.” —Mark Rosewater
I’m sure anyone who has read even a few of MaRo’s works is familiar with this idiom he likes to use…constantly. But this is one of the areas where he and I agree and I’ve used this pearl of wisdom in my own daily life. During the designing of my Madoka Magic set, I knew I wanted to give myself some new rule…something that would push me in the direction of new design that would befit my set theme, exile matters.
So after some thinking I thought, “what exactly is the exile zone?” Well, it really serves three functions. It’s either a temporary zone for flicker effects, a placeholder zone for cards that care about the cards they exile (like imprint and cipher) and most simply it’s a graveyard where things can’t come back from. The first two aspects of the exile zone would probably be vital to my designs so I didn’t want to limit myself in those areas.
But then I thought about exile as an alternate graveyard. Here I came to another agreement with Rosewater that exile should not be graveyard 2. So I would not be bringing things back from exile that were meant to stay there. That would also only turn this set design into Odyssey 2 if exile was suddenly just another graveyard. But thinking about the graveyard gave me an idea. In an exile matters set, you wouldn’t WANT your cards that died to go to the graveyard; you’d want them to go to exile. So I made sure to include creatures that went into exile when they died and spells that exiled themselves when they were cast and changed sacrifice costs to “exile this permanent.” But that didn’t seem like anything revolutionary. How could I avoid putting permanents into graveyards in a new, creative way?
And that’s when I realized I could tap into something that pretty much every Magic player takes for granted. Destroy effects. You want to get rid of something that’s bothering you? Murder it, Naturalize it, Stone Rain it, Dreadbore it. What would happen if an entire block of Magic cards was devoid of the word, “destroy,” in its text boxes? I immediately knew I had found my restriction and I rolled with it.
But that’s not the end of the story. This line of thinking also led me to look at Magic in a new light. What had I done by eliminating destroy from the game? It was pretty obvious right away that indestructible was going to be much weaker in this context. Sure it still protected against lethal damage, but that was only half of the ability. This set needed a new standard for indestructibility. Thus I present to you “stubborn.”
Indestructible stops destroy effects and lethal damage. Stubborn covers all the other ways that creatures and other permanents can leave the battlefield for the graveyard—sacrifice, exiling and loss of toughness. The two most “stubborn,” characters in Madoka happened to be Sayaka and Kyouko, characters that I’ve concepted as black and red respectively. And since black and red’s common enemy is white, the color that gets the most exile effects, it only seems natural these are the colors that will get the most appearances of stubborn (it does appear minimally in the other colors as well). And yes, stubborn stops cards from being exiled too, which seems to flow counter to the goal of an exile matters set. However, I agree with Mark on another point and that’s that your set theme needs answers to make sure it doesn’t become degenerate and spiral out of control. But that’s not all. It can also be an interestingly synergistic ability.
Flailing Chain is a card that doubles as both a creature booster for your creatures (with limits) but also a creature killer for your opponent’s creatures. However, when using it on one of your creatures, if that creature has stubborn, the downside is mitigated and you can spend any amount of mana to boost your creature’s power after your opponent has decided not to block it.
Additionally, one of the other big reasons why I wanted to make stubborn is because I’ve always had a fascination with the concept of a creature that when played, can pretty much never go away. Sure, there’s been some really good attempts at that. Progenitus is probably foremost in most people’s minds. But I wanted to make my own contribution towards the goal of creating something that sticks around no matter what—a sort of supreme status I like to think of as, “True Indestructibility.” The Kyuubey card below is hardly bulletproof and that’s because it’s not meant to be. But it ought to provide some good food for thought as to the possibilities that stubborn opens up.