MTG: Kamigawa Revamp, Part 4: Skeletonising

If you thought the last two discussions on structural problems was exciting, wait till you see what we got this time – lists!

In Nuts and Bolts: Design Skeleton, Mark Rosewater gives an – admittedly out of date – block structure, which we can use for our two Kamigawa sets. Or more precisely, we can use it to break down how to make a skeleton out of Dominaria. It gives an outline for how many cards of each effect you should be expecting to put in a set,

I am no expert; the principles outlined in Nuts and Bolts does a good job of telling you what colours should have, and I figure, personally, once you have your commons sorted out, most everything else should work out from that.  You’re not going to find the characteristics of a set transform wildly when you jump to the uncommon state.

To start with, let’s break down the numbers for Dominaria. It’s a 269 card set, with 10 Planeswalker Deck cards, and a Buy-A-Box promo card. We’re going to set those aside, and focus instead on that core 269. Of that 269, there are 20 basic lands, 101 commons, 80 uncommons, 53 rares, and 15 mythics. Since we’re looking at the commons now, for a set, we want to look at that 101 commons.

Of those 101 commons, we have 11 colourless commons, which feels like a bit much, but Dominaria wanted a lot of artifacts at common to help support Historic. In Kamigawa as she was done originally, there were no common colourless cards at all. We’ll save some slots for a few common artifacts and say give us six slots – That leaves 95 cards, split between the five colours, so 19 of each colour at base.

If the set was going to be purely monocolour, then that’s easy; we have 19 cards to divide up. If we do Kamigawa as a set with hybrid mana, where the Kami represent multicolour cards, we have to make that decision here. And that also asks how much of the set is going to be hybrid coloured cards? How much of the set is the Kami war?

My inclination is to say ‘a bit less than half.’ Something like 40% seems a reasonable guess, but 19 doesn’t tidily split to .4 – you get 7.6, which is close. But there are ten hybrid colour pairs and there are five colours and that becomes untidy. If each colour has seven slots, do you give three to each pair, then a fourth to… something else?

What I’m thinking of doing for this skeleton is to envision two Kamigawa sets. In one, there will be enemy pair Kami spells, and in the other, ally pair Kami spells. Because the set is based around the sudden conflict, and the second set around healing that conflict, it seems to me to be best to make the first set the enemy pairs, the second set the ally pairs. This also works out because between the three existing Kamigawa sets, there are a number of cards that are a little similar to one another, which was in some cases for the sake of draft, but also experiments. There was a lot of mana fixing and ramp in Kamigawa, for example, but almost all of it was redundant and there wasn’t much worth ramping into that needed all of it – you were usually much better off using the one or two really good ramp spells.

The hybrid-as-multicolour choice does not come without its problems, though! It probably means we shouldn’t include multicolour ‘do this’ uncommons in draft (though I may have a solution for that). It means we have to start paying attention to what those hybrid pairs mean to each colour – and most importantly, it changes what kind of Arcane cards can even be printed.

Let’s take the pool of Arcane cards. There are ninety-three cards, which spread over two sets is still 46 cards per set, or nine per colour – that’s way too many. A lot of these are easy to cut. Also, since I don’t want Splice in this format, all the cards with Splice are gone too. Some of these cards are designed to interact with the Hand-Size Matters theme of Saviors, so they’re easily ignored, and a bunch of them are just kind of weird-for-weirdness’ sake in a way that Magic explored better during Oath of the Gatewatch. They’re easy cuts.

I’m not actually all that bothered by the loss of cards like Glacial Ray or Consuming Vortex – they’re very standard, staple effects that don’t feel like they’re Kami magic except in how they have splice, so it doesn’t seem to me to be a problem to replace them. Still, there are a bunch of cool cards that, if following through on my intention I want cards to mostly do the same thing, we’re presented with a suddenly diminished list of what cards can exist. Because some effects just can’t be done in hybrid. Rend Spirit I might be able to squint into being black-white, sure.

Most of these cuts are easy.

Most of them.

There’s no way to make Kodama’s Reach work.

The irony is that Kodama’s Reach was reprinted without the Arcane subtype in a core set, as Cultivate, and Cultivate is a great card. But it does mean that one ramp tool for the Kami deck has to go, and there aren’t lots of hybrid mana ramp effects. Playing extra land, adding mana to your pool, and putting lands from your hand onto the battlefield are all squarely in green. There is one effect that green and blue can share, which is untapping lands, but boy howdy is that an effect to be careful with.

On the other hand, in this world with a much more focused, tightly pushed version of Spiritcraft, a world without splice and its hunger for mana, is there a need for the kami deck to focus on mana ramp? Well, obviously some ramp is nice because big spirits can be very cool, but if you look through the ones we have, there aren’t any big spiritcraft spirits – the biggest ones are Oyobi, Who Split The Heavens, Kyoki, Sanity’s Eclipse or Earthshaker.

With that resolved, it’s time to put together a list, following the Skeleton design; first we work out how many cards of each type we want, then we work out what those cards need to have, then we work out what the cards we have can fit and how to adjust them to comply. I don’t want to put multiple iterations of the actual list here, though because good lord that would take up a lot of space and you’d have to scroll through it and boy that’d be annoying.

The math for each colour cooks out the same way. Reduce the total number of a rarity by the colourless cards, divide the remains amongst the colours, divide each of those groups between kami war and non-kami war cards. This presents us with some problems when we get to our 15 mythic rares – if we want one mythic artifact or colourless card, that means we sort of need four, and that’s not cool. The only mythic-worthy colorless card in all of Kamigawa is Umezawa’s Jitte, though and –

Anyway. That means we have:

  • 101 commons
    • 6 colorless cards
    • 12 mono-colored cards of each color
    • 7 hybrid cards of each enemy pair
  • 80 uncommons
    • 5 colorless cards
    • 9 mono-colored cards of each color
    • 6 hybrid cards of each enemy pair
  • 53 rares
    • 3 colorless cards
    • 6 mono-colored cards of each color
    • 4 hybrid cards of each enemy pair
  • 15 mythics
    • 2 mono-colored cards of each color
    • 1 hybrid cards of each enemy pair

I’ll present the near-finish at the end.

First of all, because we have some hybridity, we’re going to treat the hybrid sections as if they belong to both colours, sorta. We also want, when thinking of limited play, to avoid putting all the good cards for a colour in their hybrid slot, because those cards are going to be sought out by the Kami decks and the decks in one colour and the decks in the other colour. For some types of card, like our spiritcrafters, no problem since you mostly won’t want them without spiritcraft triggers. But if there’s one evasive beater in say, red-white then both red and white are going to want that, even if they’re in green-white or black-red.

Still: we want the set to have the familiar breakdown. Roughly half the set is creatures. White and green get more, blue and red get fewer. Creature sizes more or less work out the same, and some of the keywords like intimidate have left the game, to be replaced with menace. Also, in our list, all the spirit cards have to occupy the hybrid cards, and arcane cards get into those spots. In this set, both black and blue get to share space with green – and that means rather than giving black as many medium creatures and blue its traditional big ground pounder, they can both fill hybrid slots. After all, in Kamigawa the first time around, there was Moss Kami which was known colloquially as the land dragon.

There are 93 Arcane cards, and 173 spirits across the three blocks. If we’re making two sets of 269 cards, and 40% of those are of the Kami War, that’s 107 cards. If a bit over half of those are creatures, that’s 54 creatures, and in one set, that’s only 27 creatures. Cutting 173 spirits down to the 27 eligible ones might be a bit rough – since if we go with the current numbers, the common rarity has 20 of them. If we bump up that expectation a bit – after all, the hybrid cards are each expanding the available creatures for each set – we can put more of these cards in.

We’re at 1500 words now, and there’s still more to be done. So what I’m going to do now is present the as-it-is text of my skeleton so far, and we’ll talk more about what goes into it next week. What this is going to show is our basic skeleton, with the most detail in the commons, and the cards that will be used as our basis for this first set.

CW1 - creature, small, flying (Mothrider Samurai)
CW2 - creature, small, first strike (Kitsune Blademaster)
CW3 - creature, small,  (Moonwing Moth)
CW4 - creature, small,  (Devoted Retainer)
CW5 - creature, small,  (Kitsune Diviner)
CW6 - creature, small, enchantment removal (Kitsune Riftwalker)
CW7 - creature, medium, lifelink (Kitsune Dawnblade)
CW8 - creature, medium, vigilance (Silverstorm Samurai)
CW9 - Spell, lifegain (Mending Hands)
CW10 - Enchantment, Pacifism (Cage of Hands)
CW11 - Enchantment, Flash Aura cycle (Indomitable Will)
CW12 - Instant, Pump spell (Call To Glory)
CU1 - creature, small, bounce (Mistblade Shinobi)
CU2 - creature, small, hexproof (Soratami Rain-Shaper)
CU3 - creature, small, draw (Ninja of the Deep Hours)
CU4 - creature, small,  (Minamo Scrollkeeper)
CU5 - creature, medium,  (Soratami Mirror-Guard)
CU6 - instant, counter (soft) (Hisoka's Defiance)
CU7 - instant, counter (hard) (Minamo's Meddling)
CU8 - enchantment, bounce (Phantom Wings)
CU9 - sorcery, draw (Counsel of the Soratami)
CU10 - enchantment, creature control enchantment (Mystic Restraints)
CU11 - Instant, shrink (Field of Reality)
CU12 - enchantment, twiddle (Freed from the Real)
CB1 - creature, small,  (Skullsnatcher)
CB2 - creature, small, Menace (Nezumi Cutthroat)
CB3 - creature, small, deathtouch, kill (Deathmask Nezumi)
CB4 - creature, small, lifelink (Villainous Ogre)
CB5 - creature, small,  (Cursed Ronin)
CB6 - creature, medium,  (Okiba-Gang Shinobi)
CB7 - creature, medium,  (Takenuma Bleeder)
CB8 - Sorcery, hand attack (Distress)
CB9 - Enchantment, kill -x/-x (Kagemaro's Clutch)
CB10 - Sorcery, resurrection (Stir the Grave)
CB11 - Spell, life-for-draw (Midnight Covenant)
CB12 - Enchantment, Flash Aura cycle (Ragged Veins)
CR1 - creature, small,  (Goblin Cohort)
CR2 - creature, small, Haste (Ronin Houndmaster)
CR3 - creature, small, first strike (Akki Avalanchers)
CR4 - creature, medium, Menace (Sokenzan Spellblade)
CR5 - creature, medium,  (Ronin Cavekeeper)
CR6 - creature, medium,  (Shinka Gatekeeper)
CR7 - Sorcery, Burn (Lava Spike)
CR8 - Instant, Burn (Yamabushi's Flame)
CR9 - Sorcery, Burn/Artifact Removal (Sunder From Within)
CR10 - Instant, Power Booster, Firebreathing (Devouring Rage)
CR11 - Instant, Haste Granter (Unnatural Speed)
CR12 - Enchantment, Flash Aura cycle (Uncontrollable Anger)
CG1 - creature, small, Flying Destruction (Matsu-Tribe Sniper)
CG2 - creature, small, Hexproof (Humble Budoka)
CG3 - creature, small, Mana Production (Orochi Sustainer)
CG4 - creature, small, Land Search (Sakura Tribe Elder)
CG5 - creature, small, Deathtouch (Orochi Ranger)
CG6 - creature, medium, Vigilance (Order of the Sacred Bell)
CG7 - creature, medium, Naturalise effect (Kashi-Tribe Warriors)
CG8 - creature, medium, Make a mid-size token (Promised Kannushi)
CG9 - creature, large, Trample (Okina Nightwatch)
CG10 - Sorcery, Land Search (Cultivate)
CG11 - Instant, Pump Spell (Kodama's Might)
CG12 - Enchantment, Flash Aura cycle (Serpent Skin)
CWB1 - creature, small,  (Deceiver)
CWB2 - creature, small,  (Kami of the Waning Moon)
CWB3 - creature, small, Add lifelink and it's just a thrull (Lantern Kami)
CWB4 - creature, medium, Indestructable, not protection (Kami of the Painted Road)
CWB5 - Instant, Combat Trick (Blessed breath)
CWB6 - Instant, Token Maker (Spiritual Visit)
CWB7 - Instant, Limited removal (Rend Spirit)
CUR1 - creature, small, Tap creature or land (Teardrop Kami)
CUR2 - creature, small,  (Deceiver)
CUR3 - creature, small,  (Kami of Fire's Roar)
CUR4 - creature, medium, As a creature (Ire of Kaminari)
CUR5 - Instant,  (Sift Through Sands)
CUR6 - Instant,  (Peer Through Depths)
CUR7 - Instant,  (Reach Through Mists)
CBG1 - creature, small,  (Deceiver)
CBG2 - creature, small,  (Burr Grafter)
CBG3 - creature, medium,  (Kami of Ancient Graves)
CBG4 - creature, large,  (Vine Kami)
CBG5 - Sorcery, Sacrifice fight? (Call for Blood)
CBG6 - Instant, One-sided Fight (Rend Flesh)
CBG7 - Instant, Graveyard Recovery (Death Denied)
CRW1 - creature, small,  (Hearth Kami)
CRW2 - creature, small,  (Kami of Ancient Law)
CRW3 - creature, small,  (Deceiver)
CRW4 - creature, medium,  (Hundred-Talon Kami)
CRW5 - Instant,  (Hundred-Talon Strike?)
CRW6 - Sorcery, Tap instead of block (Unearthly Blizzard)
CRW7 - Instant, Allow copying? (Torrent of Stone)
CGU1 - creature, small,  (Deceiver)
CGU2 - creature, medium,  (Venerable Kumo)
CGU3 - creature, medium, Pouncer mechanic (Teller of Tales)
CGU4 - creature, large, Hexproof or trample? (Moss Kami)
CGU5 - Sorcery,  (Ribbons of the Reikai)
CGU6 - Instant,  (Murmurs from Beyond)
CGU7 - Sorcery,  (Petals of Insight)
CC1 - Artifact, Equipment, Power/Toughness (No-Dachi)
CC2 - Artifact, Equipment, Ping (Hankyu)
CC3 - Artifact, Vehicle, Evasive Body (Jade Statue)
CC4 - Artifact, Mana Related (Honor-Worn Shaku)
CC5 - Land, Sacrifice ( Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper )
CC6 - Land,  (God's Eye, Gate to the Reikai)
UW1 - creature, Flip Card (Bushi Tenderfoot)
UW2 - creature
UW3 - creature
UW4 - creature
UW5 - creature
UW6 - creature
UW7 - 
UW8 - 
UW9 - 
UU1 - creature, Flip Card (Student of Elements)
UU2 - creature
UU3 - creature
UU4 - creature
UU5 - 
UU6 - 
UU7 - 
UU8 - 
UU9 - 
UB1 - creature, Flip Card (Nezumi Gravedigger)
UB2 - creature
UB3 - creature
UB4 - creature
UB5 - 
UB6 - 
UB7 - 
UB8 - 
UB9 - 
UR1 - creature, Flip Card (Initiate Of Blood)
UR2 - creature
UR3 - creature
UR4 - creature
UR5 - creature
UR6 - 
UR7 - 
UR8 - 
UR9 - 
UG1 - creature, Flip Card (Orochi Eggwatcher)
UG2 - creature
UG3 - creature
UG4 - creature
UG5 - creature
UG6 - creature
UG7 - 
UG8 - 
UG9 - 
UWB1 - creature
UWB2 - creature
UWB3 - creature
UWB4 - creature
UWB5 - 
UWB6 - 
UUR1 - creature
UUR2 - creature
UUR3 - 
UUR4 - 
UUR5 - 
UUR6 - 
UBG1 - creature
UBG2 - creature
UBG3 - creature
UBG4 - creature
UBG5 - 
UBG6 - 
URW1 - creature
URW2 - creature
URW3 - creature
URW4 - 
URW5 - 
URW6 - 
UGU1 - creature
UGU2 - creature
UGU3 - creature
UGU4 - creature
UGU5 - 
UGU6 - 
UC1 - 
UC2 - 
UC3 - 
UC4 - 
UC5 - 
RW1 - creature, Flip Card (Kitsune Mystic)
RW2 - creature
RW3 - creature
RW4 - creature
RW5 - 
RW6 - 
RU1 - creature, Flip Card (Jushi Apprentice)
RU2 - creature
RU3 - 
RU4 - 
RU5 - 
RU6 - 
RB1 - 
RB2 - creature, Flip Card (Nezumi Shortfang)
RB3 - creature
RB4 - creature
RB5 - 
RB6 - 
RR1 - creature, Flip Card (Akki Lavarunner)
RR2 - creature
RR3 - creature
RR4 - 
RR5 - 
RR6 - 
RG1 - creature, Flip Card (Budoka Gardener)
RG2 - creature
RG3 - creature
RG4 - creature
RG5 - 
RG6 - 
RWB1 - creature
RWB2 - creature
RWB3 - 
RWB4 - 
RUR1 - creature
RUR2 - creature
RUR3 - 
RUR4 - 
RBG1 - creature
RBG2 - creature
RBG3 - 
RBG4 - 
RRW1 - creature
RRW2 - creature
RRW3 - 
RRW4 - 
RGU1 - creature
RGU2 - creature
RGU3 - 
RGU4 - 
RC1 - 
RC2 - 
RC3 - 
MW1 - planeswalker
MU1 - planeswalker
MB1 - planeswalker
MR1 - planeswalker
MG1 - planeswalker
MWB1 - 
MWB2 - 
MUR1 - 
MUR2 - 
MBG1 - 
MBG2 - 
MRW1 - 
MRW2 - 
MGU1 - 
MGU2 - 

Isn’t that fancy?

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