Kuo and Corsia – Kuo: Overworld of Mana Mechanics and Abilities

Welcome to my first official explanation of the keywords and abilities of this expansion! Kuo: Overworld of Mana introduces five new keywords, one for each of mono-color civilization that this set focuses on. Every expansion in this block and the next will focus on 5 of the 25 civilizations, but there is one bigger mechanic that is prevalent amongst all of them, and that is a brand new card type called Civilization. Civilization cards are inspired by aspects of almost every other card type in Magic: The Gathering and offer a fun way to focus on board state synergy. The general focus of this world is to create rather than destroy so the natural balances leans more towards proactive spells rather than destructive ones, but there is still enough here to combat the threats as a control player, don’t you worry. There’s also a couple cycles and unique subtypes that I will explain that don’t do anything momentous, but still warrant your attention. All of this will be described after the table of contents, below!

Storyline:

Prologue & Announcement

Act I – Lotus’ Exile

Act II – The Exploration of Kuo

Act III – Return to Corsia

Act IV – The Dejavu War

Civilizations of Kuo:

The 5 Mono-Colored Kuon Civilizations

The 5 Ally-Colored Kuon Civilizations

The 5 Enemy-Colored Kuon Civilizations

The 5 Shard-Colored Kuon Civilizations

The 5 Wedge-Colored Kuon Civilizations

Empires of Corsia:

The 5 Mono-Colored Corsian Empires

The 5 Ally-Colored Corsian Empires

The 5 Enemy-Colored Corsian Empires

The All-Colored and Colorless Empires and Civilizations

Main Characters:

Legendary Creatures of Kuo, Part 1

Legendary Creatures of Kuo, Part 2

Legendary Creatures of Corsia, Part 1

Legendary Creatures of Corsia, Part 2

Planeswalkers, Part 1

Planeswalkers, Part 2

Planeswalkers, Part 3

Planeswalkers, Part 4

Locales and Legends

Basic Land Locations of Kuo

Basic Land Locations of Corsia

Citadels, Wonders, and Legendary Lands

Renown Artifacts and Magic

The Mythos:

Gods

Ancient Kuo

The Okuon

Mechanics and Abilities:

Kuo: Overworld of Mana Keywords (YOU ARE HERE)

Kuo Keywords, Part 2

Corsia Keywords, Part 1

Corsia Keywords, Part 2

Design and Philosophy:

Card Construction

Visual Design and Artwork Selection

Card Balancing and Draft Emphasis

Kuo Blocks Full Spoiler:

Kuo: Overworld of Mana (Set 1 of 3)

Guided by Passion (Set 2 of 3)

Colors of Oneself (Set 3 of 3)

~~

Advances of the Kuon (Set 1 of 2)

Secrets of Mana (Set 2 of 2)

Corsia Block Full Spoiler:

Corsia: The Empire of Progress (Set 1 of 3)

Governed by Logic (Set 2 of 3)

Vale’s Vision (Set 3 of 3)

~~

The Dejavu War (Set 1 of 1)

MTG Variant – Walking the Planes (Coming Last)


Set Name – Kuo: Overworld of Mana (Set 1 of 3 in the Kuo Block)

Cards – Roughly 250

Focus – Mono Color

Mythic Rares – 32

Play and balance focus – Draft, Limited


 

White (Oiara)

Gale X – If a source would deal damage to this creature, prevent X of that damage. Then this creature deals X damage to that source if able.

Gale represents the sand and snowstorms that whip up frequently on the Oiaran landscape. It also shows how the Oiaran people have a natural deftness for these storms and how to use them against their opponent. Gale acts as a natural, auto-triggering redirect of damage from any source. So if an opponent’s creature or a planeswalker deals damage to it, Gale would trigger and deal damage back to that planeswalker or creature. However, Gale will not deal damage if the damage still kills the Gale creature after the prevented damage is accounted for. So if Quicksand Dancer is dealt 3 damage, and it prevents two of it, it would still die before Gale deals damage back because it would still receive one damage. Not that this is every source. If the source of the damage is an instant or sorcery, it will still prevent the damage, but the Gale effect won’t be able to redirect that damage to anything.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Gale excels in combat. Both on offense and defense, it turns your opponent’s power against them. It allows them to deal with multiple instances of damage for easier than normal creatures. It also increases the amount of damage you would need to burn them making them most suited for taking on red decks. As far as trading damage, nothing is more cost effective in this expansion than Gale.

On the other hand, Gale doesn’t actually affect power and toughness, it just redirects damage. This means that they can be toughness drained extremely easily by black spells and targeted by a lot of blue spells that seek out weaker creatures. And of course, if your opponent simply chooses not to block your Gale creatures, they aren’t using their Gale ability at all making them almost easier to take head on that deal with in combat. Black seems to be the worst color match up for Gale creatures overall because in addition to -X/-X effects, you also have deathtouch which stops Gale in it’s tracks.

Synergy

The white cards you’ll find in this expansion offer a few advantages to the low toughness that a lot of Gale creatures have. It’s the stat that matters most amongst the white cards, and you’ll find a few cards that interact with it.


 

Blue (Nerath)

Condescend – <Effect> if you have more cards in hand than each opponent.

Keep those options plentiful! Condescend is all about being the player with the most cards in your hand. Unlike some past “hand size matters” mechanics that Wizards has created, this one doesn’t really care about the number of cards in your hand, as long as you have the most. Whether that means you have two cards, and everyone else has 1, that’s better than having 7 cards, but finding your opponent’s with the same amount. Condescend represents the Nerathian pursuit of Knowledge, and making it known by having the smartest, smarmiest smirks on the planet. Condescend is simply an additional or replacement effect that boosts the potential of the card as long as you have the most cards. It’s like you enter a condescend mode rather than pay any cost. It’s recommended to use a condescending tone whenever you read the text of a condescend card. But it basically amounts to taking advantage of other creature’s stupidity to run circles around them.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Condescend would naturally have an easy time against red, but in this particular expansion, white is the creature that dumps their hand the fastest creating a natural gap in hand size between a white player and a blue player. This is even more true because blue has a couple cards that target based on toughness which naturally hits the white creatures right where it hurts.

But it’s not always easy to stay in Condescend mode. Black is the natural enemy here because they make you discard cards which lowers your hand size advantage, as well as black cards returning cards from their graveyard to their hand. The other challenging part of staying ahead in hand size is managing your abilities. Blue has a lot of abilities that send cards back to their opponent’s hand meaning the more control you exert, the harder it will be to stay ahead.

Synergy

So to compensate for the constant struggle of keeping cards in your hand, and using them efficiently, blue has several ways of making it a bit more manageable. What will probably be the most useful card for this is Comprehend the Aether which lets you draw two, and bring back a creature to your hand. Even though bouncing your own creature is naturally a downside, it at least lets you get a +3 to your hand size for two mana. Then there are cards like Rune Lunatic who just keep the engine purring. If you ever lose your state of Condescend, there aren’t as many options to get it back instantly. but if you manage your cards wisely, it’s fairly easy to stay one card ahead of the others throughout the game.


Black (Fiotte)

Revenge – Whenever a nontoken creature you control dies, you may put a -1/-1 counter on Fiottian Dragoon and pay 1 life. If you do, <effect>

Revege is a poison. It feels good only to blind you to how bad it’s actually hurting you. The temptation of revenge is one of the hallmarks of dramatic storytelling and I really wanted to express that in the situation that Fiotte finds themselves in. Fiotte is in the middle of a civil war that was spurred by the onslaught of almost all the dragons that used to live there. Loved ones are dropping left and right, and therefore, several of the warriors in Fiotte are seeking revenge. This is a mechanic that slowly hurts you and the creature to get that momentary relief of exacting one’s revenge. Every Revenge ability is triggered by a creature dying, and then paying life and putting a -1/-1 counter on that creature. This means that it can only seek so much revenge before it dies to it. And that means you as a player as well.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The more creatures are dying, the better. That’s black for you. But in this case, you want to keep a steady stream of your own creatures dying as well, and they can’t be token creatures to trigger revenge. Because of this, the more ways that you can control which of your creatures die and survive, the better. This means that green is the natural advantage here because you can block their attakers without much worry of the opponent doing funny tricks to interrupt you.

The worst color to go against is red because they can pinpoint their damage the easiest and take out the creatures you DON’T want to die. If the wrong creatures die, your revenge synergy gets a little staggered and haphazard, but luckily you have a lot of creatures with revenge so as long as one is on the board, you’ll still reap some benefit.

Synergy

So you will eventually run out of creatures that you want to die on the battlefield, or even worse, you may run out of room for -1/-1 counters on your revenge creatures. There are a couple ways black provides to get out of this. Chaotic Impulser is a terrific creature for Revenge synergy. He can sacrifice himself to trigger the effect, and his own ability removes those pesky -1/-1 counters letting them endure the poison of vengeance much longer. Vicious Cycle is another useful card that lets you two-for-one some creatures from your graveyard. It’s rather pricey, but at least at common level, you can expect to rely on it in your game to let the revenge cycle continue.


 

Red (Aurima)

Conquer – Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, untap and gain control of target basic land that player controls until end of turn.

Conquer is a new take on red’s recurring ability to gain control of things for just a little while. This time, they are gaining control of lands. It’s an ability that initially reads scarier than it actually is. Gaining control of a land for just the second half of your turn isn’t a game-changer, but that’s not to say this ability isn’t useful. Why would I care about gaining control of lands. Well, the most immediate answer is that you can mana accelerate through combat. On turn 1 if you drop a conquer creature, then turn 2, you swing with it and connect. Then you get your opponent’s land for the rest of that turn meaning on the postcombat main phase of your second turn, you have three mana.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Conquer is terrific for spending more mana per turn than your opponents, technically making you the more productive player. It allows you to spend all your mana on combat tricks, because you can then use the conquered land to cast your spells after combat. Having just one creature with conquer is enough to potentially mana short your opponent out of using a counter spell or some other instant that they are saving.  Their best color to go against is blue because their creature defenses are naturally the weakest, and they are more focuses on hand-size totals than life totals.

On the other hand, once a defense is set up and your creatures can’t get through, your ability is entirely shut down. The restriction on that mana hurts because you have a lot of mana outlets and conquering is your way to use them all. This makes green the natural enemy here. Their Adapt effect makes their creatures have a high rate of survivability, which is the last thing you want.

Synergy

Conquering is about using combat to gain more mana this turn than you normally would have. This means having more mana to spend on activated abilities. Sandstorm Summoner is the perfect example. It allows you to spend mana to allow your creatures a greater chance of getting through. Then with the conquered land, you can cast the spell you normally would have saved your land for in the first place. Now the idea of gaining control of a land is really tricky because if it is sacrificed through a sacrifice outlet, you are getting a huge advantage over your opponent. That is not the case in this expansion, though this could be a very dangerous ability in official legacy formats and such. However, Hot Springs Retreat is an example of a card that gets maximum advantage if you have a conquered land when you cast it, basically setting your opponent a turn back and you a turn forward. The land isn’t destroyed, so the opponent doesn’t lose any card advantage, but they lose speed. It’s effectiveness is lost in late game, but it’s still a nice card to pull in drafting if you manage to have it in your opening hand.


 

Green (Trimensa)

Adapt <cost> –  Whenever a player casts a spell, you may pay <cost>. If you do, this creature loses any protection it had, and gains protection from the card types of that spell.

I am tired of green creatures getting simple abilities. It’s time for green to have the most complex mechanic of the five. Adapt that pushes the color pie boundary but fits into the vorthos pocket perfectly. Trimensa is full of creatures that can rapidly adapt to the changes in their surroundings. As in, they can adapt right when a spell is cast. So this is a tricky ability so we’ll have to get into the comprehensive rules a bit. Adapt triggers upon the announcement of casting a spell. Most casual players tap their mana before announcing, but Adapt is designed to trigger right after the spell announcement step and the target declaration step. This is important because if we made it happen any later, then it would cause targeting mishaps because of choosing a target, then that target gaining protection. It’s designed so that if your opponent can still declare their target of a spell after all the adapt effects resolve. The ability happens once per spell. You get one chance to adapt this creature, otherwise you have to wait until another spell is cast. When you do, it loses the previous protection it had. So if someone casts a lightning bolt, here’s how it should play out. If the current reminder text doesn’t allow it to play out like the following, I need to know the correct way to word it. I am debating on having the ability start with “Whenever a player begins casting a spell…” instead.

A) Opponent announces his intent to cast lightning bolt. (This moves the card onto the stack and now has a card type as a spell.”

B) You have two creatures with Adapt, but decide to only use the Adapt ability of Creature 1. That creature gains protection from the card type of the Lightning Bolt spell which is Instant.”

C) Opponent declares targets. He may no longer choose Creature 1 since it has protection from instants, but he can still choose creature 2.

D) Opponent pays cost of Lightning Bolt and it resolves, dealing 3 damage to Creature 2. It is already too late to use the adapt ability of creature 2. It must be used before targets are declared.

E) Creature 1 now has protection from instants until its Adapt ability is used again.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The biggest strength of Adapt is that it allows a huge range of flexibility and natural survivability. If your opponent casts a creature spell, and you have the open mana, you could make all your adapt creatures gain protection from the creature card type. Remember, card type doesn’t mean supertype or subtype which are things like Legendary or Elf. Only the card types like Creature, Instant, Planeswalker, Land, etc. If you’re afraid of your creatures getting burned, adapt to instants or sorceries to protect them from that. If you’re afraid of a scary planeswalker they just cast, adapt to it. Green almost has to play a smarter game than blue this time around, but that was my intention because it offers the most flexibility of any mechanic. It’s naturally advantageous against black which has the most cards available to disrupt your board state. It stalls their advantages the most.

On the other hand, Adapt can be worked around. And you only have a maximum of one card type to protect from unless you get lucky and trigger adapt against an enchantment creature or something of the sort. Blue is still a tricky color and they have have more effects that target the entire board which does gets past the protection. With blue, you never know which card type is the most dangerous making them the hardest to adapt to.

Synergy

Rather than having cards that change the state of the game to create advantages for your mechanic, I felt like we needed something simple to combat the complexity of the mechanic itself. Therefore, green’s synergy is fairly archaic in that you just get more benefits each time you use it. Adapt and gain life. Adapt and gain counters. Adapt and get this. As long as you keep using that ability, you will naturally be rewarded. Doesn’t that make things nice and simple now? Granted there are some ways to make adapt truly get out of hand. Green has the potential to have a very stable board state, but only if you use your mana wisely. Know when to wait and adapt, and know when to throw more things out on the field.


 

Civilizations

A new card type

Let’s meet the new card type, and the representation of magical growth in this universe: Civilization. So before I get into anything, let’s make heads or tails of this card frame and the just as important “might” counters.

A) A Civilization is a card type, just like Artifact, Land, Planeswalker, Creature, etc. But it is also a permanent, making it slightly different from an instant or sorcery. This means if something targets a permanent, it can target a Civilization. If it simply targets a creature or land, then it is unable to target a Civilization.

B) A Civilization also has a subtype. They are Foundation, Town, Wonder, and Capitol. There are no specific rules for these subtypes, but are simply referred to by other cards and offer a similar effect for each subtype. You may have any number of any type of Civilization card on the battlefield.

C) Civilizations aren’t cast. They aren’t spells. Instead, there is a new action called “Build” which is the term for when you pay the cost of a civilization card and put it onto the battlefield. This means they can’t be countered. This still means you can only build them during your main phases.

D) You as a player may only build one civilization per turn. A similar restriction to land cards.

E) A Civilization enters the battlefield with a number of might counters equal to the number on the bottom right. In this case, Trimense Hollow would enter the battlefield with 4 might counters.

F) A creature may attack a Civilization just how they can attack planeswalkers instead of players. Any damage dealt to a Civilization removes that many might counters from it. When there are 0 might counters on it, they are removed from play.

G) When a Civilization is destroyed or loses its last might counter, it goes to the command zone similar to a commander card. At this point, any player may build that civilization even if they aren’t the owner. As such, you may build any civilization card that an opponent was forced to move to their command zone as well.

H) Might counters have a unique ability clarified in the reminder text of all Foundation Civilization cards. Might counters may be removed during your main phase to reduce the cost of building a civilization by 1. Alternatively a might counter may be removed to add a might counter to another target civilization. This represents the citizens of the civilization laboring to build a civilization or moving from one part of the civilization to another. You are able to remove the last might counter to cause the civilization to be removed to the command zone if you choose to.

Okay, that about sums it up. Civilizations are exciting cards that generate their own resource, use that resource to grow, and when you lose them, offer new cards for all the players in the game to contest over. So now let me explain the four civilization subtypes. There’s no unique rules, but they all represent a cycle of cards, one for each color, that contain a similar effect.

Foundation

 

A foundation is always a 0 drop card that enters the battlefield with 1 Might counter. They are intended to be useful from the very start of the game if they are in your opening hand. A foundation always has an effect that generates a might counter for each civilization you control. These are at the common level so you should have no trouble finding these while drafting. However, aside from generating might counters, they have no other effect on the game. That is, until we start getting into building other civilization cards.

Town

 

A town always ranges from a converted mana cost of 2-5 and always requires one colored mana. Typically the civilizations that share a color with each other offer the most synergy, but the ability to mix and match is definitely prevalent. Towns always allow you to choose War or Peace during your upkeep. Doing so allows you to toggle the town between it’s offensive and defensive mode. A town’s defensive mode will always create a citizen creature token that can be sacrificed for a might counter. The offensive option is unique to each civilization. If you have two towns on the battlefield, the choice of “war” or “peace” will apply to both of them. You cannot choose one for Town A and the other for Town B. This represnts the people of your entire civilization deciding whether to be a nation at war or for peace.

Wonder

A wonder is a planeswalker centric card that will likely see the least play, but can still be useful in the right situations. They always range from a converted mana cost of 6-9 with two colored mana. In addition to the normal method of generating might from your foundations, Wonders allow you to generate might off of your planeswalker cards. Whenever a planeswalker gains loyalty, your civilization gains might. I may still be looking into tweaking the power level of these. But as such, each wonder offers an advantage for your planeswalkers as well as increased might generation. The only other useful application for wonders are that a lot of cards have additional effects if you control a wonder…or the next card down the list.

Capitols

 

 

These are the big kahunas and mamma jammas of the Civilization card type. Always a ten drop with three colored mana. Always with 5 starting Might. Always on a beautiful full art card. And always a ridiculous effect. Capitols are a mythic rare, so the chances of pulling one in draft are slim, but since this is a casual custom set designed for my friends, I may like to make sure every player has a capitol to eagerly dream of building.


 

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