Wording of the Voyage Mechanic

The Voyage mechanic was proposed in the Seas of Naiyad as this:

Voyage 4 — When Grey Fleet Captain attacks, you may tap 4 creatures you control. If you do, Grey Fleet Captain gains +5/+5 and lifelink until end of turn.

This mechanic could be useful in Seas of Higaro, but the phrasing needs to be worked out because it mixes the format for keywords and ability words.

This is another possible form:

Voyage 4 (When Grey Fleet Captain attacks, you may tap exactly 4 creatures you control.)
When Grey Fleet Captain voyages, it gets +5/+5 and gains lifelink until end of turn.

This version received this comment:

Voyage in this form is a downside mechanic that does nothing by itself (and needs to be an action keyword to be used as a verb anyway). It would better treated as an ability word.

I have no idea why this would be a downside mechanic and why it would be a problem to not do anything by itself (Battle cry and Soulbond don't do anything by themselves either, and they're not downside mechanics) but there is a point that a different phrasing is needed to use it a a verb. What would be a good way to phrase this mechanic?
— Chah

As I pointed out in the discussion thread, it plays like Exalted, which MaRo has characterized as a "downside feel" before it's played with. This has the same issue, further compounded because it requires you to give up blocking and tap abilities (assuming the ability should have "tap X UNTAPPED creatures", 'cause if it doesn't it's just overpowered!). There's also a massive flavor disconnect between the name as far as I'm concerned. — Circeus

My impression of that article was that Maro was only talking about how he was apprehensive about exalted when he first saw it, and that he later found out he didn't have to be. I'm pretty sure exalted is a hugely popular mechanic, and R&D is extremely happy with it. It's great when a mechanic like exalted allows players to do what beginners want to do — a) attack without letting the attacker die & b) attack while leaving enough blockers behind to be safe. Maro was (initially) worried that it reads like a restriction, but most players don't want to suicide-attack and exalted fits what players want to do. One "downside" is not the mechanic itself, but the fact that an exalted creature has to be assigned smaller stats than usual to be balanced with exalted, and players who just look at the raw P/T might think that creature is weak.

Now, Voyage requires tapping creatures instead of leaving them behind as blockers, but this also means that unlike exalted, the creature can afford to have good stats on its own. Let's say you have a 2-drop 2/2 creature with voyage, and tapping 2 other creatures gives it +3/+3 and first strike. That's perfectly balanced; you aren't gaining more power on the board in an average situation, rather you're just consolidating your creature's power onto one creature. (I was thinking it would also be balanced as +4/+4, since most low-drop creatures have around 2 power, so tapping two 2/x creatures to gain +4 power is no big deal. But I had to account for the virtual haste factor since you can tap creatures with summoning sickness.) So what this means is that you can have a creature with an on-curve body AND have a big upside on it with this mechanic. This simply isn't a downside mechanic.

I said that players don't like to suicide attack, so one might think, is it viable to tap many creatures on your turn like that? That depends on what cards are designed around the mechanic; token makers are one, creatures that grant a bonus when they become tapped is another. There's lots of space to create flavorful voyage companions like Parrots and First Mates. Some of them might gain life when they become tapped, making it safer to attack. Also, if the voyagers gain bonuses like lifelink, or have "if this deals combat damage to an opponent, draw a card" then it is likely to be worth it. I also like what this means for draft when voyage creatures have different crew sizes. Based on what voyage creatures you pick up, you can choose to draft a big-crew deck with lots of token makers, or a small-crew deck with nifty First Mates.

I agree that the name of Voyage could be changed to something that represents enlisting a crew of a ship, but that should not be a big problem.

— Chah

For my pitch for Higaro, I developed Voyage a little bit differently.

Rally 3 (When this attacks, you may tap up to three creatures you control. For each creature tapped this way, Grey Fleet Captain gets +1/+1 until end of combat.)

This is reminiscent of but different from Exalted - in practice, it takes a bit from Exalted and a bit from Banding. As Chah says, tokens and First Mates support the mechanic in slightly different ways, and there's a lot of potential for synergistic design.

Designing it with Rally (number) is a way to both monitor power level at common as well as produce stronger appeal when you first look at a card — ie, a player sees a 3/3 with "Rally 3" and thinks "this would be a sweet 6/6". Keeping the ability strictly P/T raising allows you to shorthand "Rally n" easier. Granted abilities could be listed on a second line, a la Rafiq. It's possible for second ability triggers to then be "When ~ attacks alone, it gains first strike" or "If you control another tapped creature, ~ gains first strike" or "As long as ~ has power 5 or greater, it gains first strike", etc.

"Until end of combat" is probably a controversial decision, but I think it differentiates the play from "Exalted" and opens up room for more exciting designs and gameplay.


I'm a fan of rally, but not as a way to show naval combat. It feels like a weaker exalted instead of a crew of a ship. The original version, while, I admit, worded poorly, is able to add new effects. If the specific number is forced, it makes the ship difficult to get going, but a juggernaut when it gets going.

I like this Rally version of the Voyage mechanic. Bramblesnap and Topan Ascetic were fun cards. Voyage and Rally both lend themselves well to first-mate cards that provide a bonus on tapping:

First mate 2W
Creature - Human Advisor
Whenever ~ becomes tapped, target creature gains first strike until end of turn.

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