Monday, March 18, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge Review 031513—Sephiroth

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Here's the challenge we're reviewing today.

There are two interesting things happening on Bastet's Guide. The obvious one is the ability to gain Soul counters and to power effects with them. I use the plural there because Wizards would never make a new player counter for just one card (unless that card was really really really awesome) and so even without hearing Chah's thoughts behind the design, we can intuit that there will at least a handful of other cards that give you soul counters and/or benefit you for having them.

I quite like this trigger because it rewards attacking, and softens the blow of losing your creatures. The flavor reminds me of one the very first suggestions for a mechanical theme in Ankh-Theb, that your place in the afterlife is determined by how you lived and died. In this case, dying bravely in combat secures your creature's soul a place of honor in your personal afterlife.

While it is possible to kill Bastet's Guide or whatever other cards are capitalizing on your soul counters, there's no way to remove your opponent's soul counters, which makes them feel like shards of an emblem. If that's not awesome, I don't know how to finish this sentence.

The other thing Chah slipped in here is the Divine supertype. Nothing on the card tells you what that means. If it were in the rules text, that would be bad because now your players aren't sure how to play the card. But on the typeline, most players won't even notice it. As a result, it just tantalizes you to get more cards from the set so that you can see what it does. Whether the design team can find something worthy of that is another question entirely.

It's slightly awkward that this card has no reminder text for subjugate, but it's pretty standard to omit that on rares when it's plastered all over the commons and uncommons. Ant did explain what this keyword does:
Subjugate (Gain control of target untapped creature, artifact, or land target player controls until the end of turn.)
So Baast gets to Threaten two permanents whenever it attacks (minus the untap). You won't get to attack with any creatures you borrow, even if they have haste and are untapped, because the ability doesn't go on the stack until you've finished declaring attacks, but you can keep them from blocking. A free Nightbird's Clutches every turn on a 3/2 for three seems pretty good. If they don't have blockers in the first place, you can borrow their land, though I'm sure they'll tap it in response. In which case, you won't even get the tapped land, because it will no longer be a valid target for the ability.

So, it turns out that subjugate isn't so much a stealing/borrowing mechanic as much as denial mechanic. It is effectively, "Target permanent's controller can't use it this turn." That's a fine ability as seen in detain, but it doesn't match the name or the flavor of the keyword. We can solve a lot of problems by using Act of Treason as our reminder text:
Subjugate (Gain control of target creature until end of turn. Untap that creature. It gains haste until end of turn.)
You could swap "creature" for "permanent" but as Ant foresaw, stealing your opponent's Planeswalker might be a bit much for a common keyword.
Subjugate (Gain control of target creature, artifact, or land until end of turn. Untap that permanent. It gains haste until end of turn.)
That looks like a pretty good keyword, but it still doesn't do what you'd expect on an attack trigger. Baast could read:
At the beginning of your combat phase, you may subjugate twice. If you do, ~ must attack this turn.

Culler of Duat is a simple and exciting card that rewards you for having a lot of land in play. If you cast it on any turn before you miss a land-drop, you get to destroy any creature that came before as the first player. The condition is far from trivial, but I'm sure Rakdos (and Jund and Grixis) Spikes will drool over this extremely efficient two-for-one. Assuming it's not too strong, my only concern is that players are very much conditioned to expect "less than or equal" rather than "less than" and I guarantee a lot of players will misplay Culler on turn three thinking they can kill their opponent's three-drop, and be more than a little unhappy when they're told they have to destroy their Culler instead.

-J describes this as a Pyrohemia / Blood Moon callback, and I can see that. Crimson Sky deals at least 1 damage every turn. While you might play this in a Limited deck with creatures, I imagine it being much more at home in a creatureless red control deck with some Blood Moons and Mana Barbs. I don't think this card fits the art very well (because it doesn't answer who we are looking at or what she's doing) nor does it feel very Egyptian or ambitious. Even so, you see so few interesting red control cards these days, it's a nice change of pace.

Alex went through a couple iterations of this, starting at a 2/2 for B with "At the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 1 life unless there are three or more creature cards among all graveyards." Comparable to Vampire Lacerator, that seemed fine though the flavor needed a bit of explaining. This version is basically an undead Blade of the Sixth Pride that will only block if you feed it some rotting meat. While that flavor's pretty cool, this text is strictly better than "can't block" and I would be more than happy to play a 3/1 that can't block for 1B. You don't want to be blocking with such an aggressive creature anyhow. I imagine a set that can sustain Embalmed Leonin at common would be very fast indeed, and likely include a lot of playable 1/1s.

R Stech's enchantment began with each cost being 1 higher, but affecting all your first strikers or all your fliers in one go. I suggested that as an enchantment, it would make a bit more sense to just make this pair of upgrades (which are very cool) static effects. R considered that and decided it would be most interesting if you had to pay for each creature you wanted to boost, making everything cheaper to compensate. Interestingly, you'll always need to pay U if you want to keep your fliers unblocked, but you'll rarely have to pay R to keep your first strikers unblocked.

Lobster667 explains the reason for the delayed trigger is to make sacrificing your creatures to drain your opponent's life a bit of a risk: If they kill Goddess after you sacrifice them, but before you steal the life, you'll just have a bunch of corpses to bury. Better templates were suggested.

This is a good bit of text and while I expect Goddess will lead to one interesting turn, it seems like it'll be pretty rare that she'll be much more than a 3/3 Blood Artist outside of that turn. As a player, I would happily play that for 2BB in every single black Limited deck. As a designer, I'd want to playtest this to see if it's worth it. My intuition says yes, but I'm not at all sure.

Nothing ground-breaking here. Fans of Goblin Artisans will have already seen swampfall, and those that haven't will recognize it as a merely incremental progression from landfall. That said, Disciple of Bastat is a fairly straight-forward (if surprisingly texty) way to reward playing a lot of swamps. I see that I used both +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters which is a no-no. Replace one or both with until EOT effects.

Accidentally missed this the first time through, but we definitely need to talk about Jules' submission.

Even without Usurp, Hireh's unlimited Bone Splinters ability is terrifying. Probably not broken at this cost and rarity, but impressive nonetheless. Add usurp and this is definitely a card that will turn heads.

What stands out to me most about usurp (apart from the x-iness) is that it triggers from any creature. From the name, I would expect it to look at either your own creatures or your opponents' but not both. That doesn't make the choice wrong, but it does make me question the flavor. What do you all think?

It's also curious that any number of creatures with usurp can all grow in response to a single death. Jules explains that a number of upstarts might rush to fill the void of a great emperor, and history certainly bears that out.

Being able to get P counters, but having to pay P to do so is interesting. That limits how much you can abuse it early on. It also makes killing several small creatures better than killing a single large one, which also might be at odds with the flavor.

Not sure it's better, but I would also consider a static alternative for simplicity:
Usurp 1B (Whenever another creature dies, you may pay 1B. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on ~.)

It may also makes sense that you can only get usurp counters when a larger creature dies. That does lengthen the text and might also make the reverse-Evolve connection too blatant, though.

Blood Moon, Mana Flare and Mana Barbs for all! We considered a similar design for our M13 project because it's a pretty cool mashup. Not only does it provided nostalgia for three famous old cards (four if you count Magus of the Moon), but it marries them in a way that makes a lot of sense. Cool.

Bradley explains that you can put the -1/-1 counter on Kerl to giver her a net +1, or you can put it one your other creatures with toughness greater than 1, in order to maximize her gain. The second option is pretty flavorful and feels a lot like oppression. The first option gives player who don't want to shrink their own team something beneficial to do. It's also very Melviny and detracts from the otherwise solid flavor. I would remove the ability for Kerl to target herself.

Bradley didn't specify the rarity. As a rare, that'll make a pretty good card. If we wanted to go Mythic, we could make her all upside and let her put a -1/-1 counter on any creature, and then she gets to target opposing creatures. Then you have to choose whether you want to finish them off or keep them alive to get the maximum benefit out of their suffering. If there's space, you could only let her target smaller creatures, which puts focus on the growing/preying thing she's doing.

I don't see a good reason not to give her square power and toughness.

James' keyword generated a lot of buzz in the comments and rightly so. It has a great deal of potential. It's sort of a convoke for power, which fits both the ruler-of-the-masses feel as well as a sub-theme of holiness and worship that Ankh-Theb will want to feature. I wonder what kind of play environment revere would be best in. It has to be relevant that your creatures are tapping rather than attacking or blocking, and I'm not sure if the baseline level of aggression in Magic is enough for that or not.

We'd need to playtest to really see, but my guess is that revere belongs on a good chunk of rares, a handful of uncommons and probably not on commons. More for flavor reasons than anything else. Yes, flavor has a rarity too. There are arguments that offering—a keyword only used on five cards—didn't deserve to be keyworded. I'm not convinced either way, though I tend to agree, but I think Revere could be on 10-15 cards and deserve a keyword just as much as proliferate did.

There's a thematic argument that you should only be able to tap creatures with less power (and/or toughness), but the reminder text is long as-is and I don't think we lose much by letting you tap a giant creature for a +1/+1 counter if that's what you want to do.

If Priestess were uncommon, I'd be happy with this size/cost because you want to force players to use the mechanic to optimize the card.

Nich recently proposed bringing back Arcane and using it in a new way. What's cool about that is that you're using a new parasitic mechanic to combine with an old parasitic mechanic to create something that is an order of magnitude less parasitic as a whole. Using Arcane in particular didn't appeal to me in the context of Ekkremes, but in the case of Ankh-Theb, it feels like a good fit and so I'm a bit more interested in bringing back this particular subtype here.

I've made two versions for your consideration. The simple one you see above, and the one that calls back directly to splice below:

Let me know if you like either of these and what flaws you see or improvement you'd suggest.

Speaking of bringing things back from Kamigawa, we could give offering a chance to shine on more than just five cards. I'm sure Adam very intentionally chose Human as the creature type here. It helps make personal to the player the cost that the tyrants of Ankh-Theb are willing to pay for power. It's debatable whether offering is fun or interesting enough to bring back, but it definitely nails both the theme of ambition and the flavor of Ancient Egypt.

Priestess of the Waning Moon's two abilities are a bit at odds. One tells you to sacrifice your team and the other tells you to keep them. Certainly, you have the option to cast Priestess at full price but this card sets up a tension that's not the enjoyable kind: You're always giving up something.

It's interesting: The cost, toughness and total damage dealt all point to Sekhmet effectively being a 6/6 creature, but we split it into two so that she can trigger her resurrection attack twice. Double strike is a fun combo with damage-triggers, as Markov Blademaster is happy to demosntrate, but I'm not sure why that combo is here, other than to justify the R part of Sekhmet's mana cost. As a 6/6 black creature that zombifies whenever it hits, Lady of Slaughter is a very cool card. She might be happier with intimidate or trample—some kind of evasion to help her ability trigger. In fairness, this setup encourages you to chump-block her, which makes it all the worse when she finally does get through.

George originally submitted Living Death on a stick. Whenever Set-Mua dies, you Living Death, getting her back. To keep you from doing that forever, he added the life loss clause. Wobbles pointed out that Living Death is an awkward template for a texty card from an era when they didn't think twice about textiness. Ironically, the Zombie Apocalypse version is just as long. Either are cool cards that let you mess with life and death in a big but dangerous way.

Serara is a Mana Barbs but only for your opponents and only while you have "land supremacy" over them. I love it.

The second ability is an odd addition. Red's mana acceleration is all about temporary gain at the cost of card advantage, but this effect nets you a card for permanent mana acceleration. It's also awkward when you see that it triggers off of damage, and realize that it must trigger every time your opponent taps a land… and then you read the second ability again and see that it uses black's life-loss rather than red's direct damage. With these abilities, I'd expect Serara to BRG.

Jack is implying that Ankh-Theb will include face-down cards. The commons and uncommons in the set will remind players that face-down cards are 2/2 colorless creatures with no other characteristics. Whether we're talking about morph or something else is not clear: Stet's first ability could be how Afterlife/Mummify/Reincarnate is defined, though he didn't use any of those names, so maybe not. It probably wouldn't be worth it to use face-down tech just for one card, but if you did, you'd definitely need the reminder text on it. If we do assume there are other ways to get face down creatures into play, Stet gives you a neat way to supplement that.

Edward almost labeled the first ability as Subjugate. By itself, this ability is green (Bramblesnap, Llanowar Behemoth, Topan Ascetic), but could be argued into white and/or black the same way exalted was in M13. On this card, the first and second ability parallel each other poetically.

I like Subjugator. I do with the power/toughness were square and I think 2B would be a fine cost such a creature.

I made one design with supremacy to see if it still has legs. The nice thing about enchantment supremacy in contrast to land and creature is that it's much less of a win-more mechanic than a play-different mechanic. Enchantments don't see nearly as much play as any other common card types, but Wrap of the Eternal and similar cards could reward you for focusing on them more than usual. Wrap might be too all-or-nothing, but if we want the enchantment-drafter to get enough cards to ensure supremacy, there will need to be enough enchantments that are bad when you don't have supremacy that she will be able to pick them up late. 

The other nice thing about this version is that there will usually be many fewer enchantments to count and that the pace at which they appear and disappear will be slower. Is that enough to make supremacy worth doing? I'm not sure. What do you think?

I saved the planeswalker submissions for last. There's a sentiment among professional and amateur designers that planeswalkers are so hard to design that it's best not to even try to do so without a team and without the time to test them and iterate a lot. I've been guilty of that thinking and while there is truth behind it, it's a terribly defeatist attitude. It's like saying three-point shots are hard to make, so aspiring basketballers shouldn't even try to make them. Let's make planeswalkers. They'll be flawed, and that's fine. We'll learn from our mistakes, and we'll get better. Isn't that what we're all aiming for?

Oraba is a damn good start. The first ability is entomb, and feels like the perfect size for a + ability. The second ability isn't an existing card, but it should be, and that card would be black. Evan originally had this as a 0 effect which was pretty clearly busted, but now it's well-placed at a hefty -3. For the price of a Damnation, you get a conditional version of the effect and keep a Planeswalker that will only be firing a narrow ability for the next 3+ turns. Seems about right. The ultimate is pretty awesome. It's not as immediately devastating as Liliana Vess' but it does give you massive inevitability. Best of all, each ability feeds the ones after it giving us some lovely synergy.

Seti is predicated by the existence of a keyword proposed for the set: Afterlife, which is explained in the reminder text of the second ability. The first ability limits interaction (as do all cards with shadow, or any evasion for that matter), but is functionally "Seti has shadow" which is pretty awesome once you're open to the idea of reprinting shadow at all. The second ability lets you save a creature you think might die this turn, in a way that uses the set's mechanic and adds more shadows to play with. Nich was also careful to word it so that Seti can tick up her loyalty even if there are no creatures to target. 

Her ultimate feels like "the denizens of the afterlife rise up and strike down the living" which is a pretty cool story. I imagine you'd have to have a fair number of shadow creatures to make it worth paying 1BBR and waiting five turns, but then again she can't easily be attacked during that time and you also get to count any shadow creatures your opponent might have been hoping to use against you.

Seti is a narrow planeswalker in the style of Nissa Revane or Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded. Which is a good thing. She throws the limelight on two of the set's mechanics and that will help drive excitement for Ankh-Theb.

Her first ability lets you protect your/her minions. In turn, they can protect here. "Until your next turn" is unusual in Magic, but if it belongs anywhere, a Planeswalker makes sense.

The second ability lets you kill stuff. We're definitely picking up on the W/B fickle thing here. Not sure what's red about Seht. Maybe the unpredictability of her attitude? I'm not sure why the "besides planeswalker" is necessary in the -2. Even if your last PW, Seht, dies before the ability resolves, you've still traded one for one.

The -8 is cool. It's nearly, "trade seats with another player." Wobbles updated this so it doesn't swap lands. I'm not sure whether it should transfer lands or not. It's rough to take away the colors of mana you need to cast your spells, but if you've both managed and bothered to activate this ability, you're probably winning anyhow, so I'm guessing the cleaner ultimate is better.

It's interesting how many of the designs were (or started as) gold. Part of that is a direct result of the art: This mummified cat person seems very black, but the background with moon motif is very red. The other part that this discussion helped reveal is that Ankh-Theb might want to be a gold set for the simple reason that the gold frame looks so right here. That we can justify some interesting enemy color archetypes/tribes supports that a bit further. Is that enough to convince us Ankh-Theb must be gold? Probably not, but it should be enough to make us consider and discuss the merits.

A quick note about the design challenge process: Several folks submitted multiple designs this time. I don't blame you because I've been setting a bad example by including more than one of my own designs in every review. It's hypocritical. I'd give you a justification for that, but I haven't been able to articulate one way yet. Maybe I'm just guilty of self-nepotism. If you have opinions about that, please share them. For now, we'll keep things the same. You need to specify a single design you want to be your official submission. And I'll cheat. Sharing a few, getting opinions and then choosing one seems fine.

Which of these designs gets you most excited for Ankh-Theb?


  1. First off, my submission was left out (I assume accidentally, which is understandable given the 103 comments on the post.) Here it is:

    Hireh, Death's Daughter 3BB
    Legendary Creature-Zombie Cat Wizard (M)
    Usurp (Whenever another creature dies you may pay X, where X is its power. If you do, put X +1/+1 counters on Hireh.)
    B, Sacrifice another creature: Destroy target creature.

    As for Recite, each version has some danger, but I think the second one is closer to printable.

    The version that copies itself for each Arcane card could VERY easily be the next Storm. What's to stop you from just running through your deck until you can cast this one for 20? Reach Through Mists, Peer Through Depths, Sift Through Sands and Ideas Unbound already exist.

    The second version is definitely at risk for repetitive gameplay a la Retrace, and it's kind of awkward that, like Splice, cheap spells need to cost more to recite and expensive spells should cost less to recite because of varying opportunity costs.

    That said, I think this is actually a much better mechanic than Splice in that it doesn't discourage you from playing spells before you have things to do with them. What's more, it scales so that you have more effects to use at the same time that you have more mana instead of not having anything left when you get lots of mana like Splice. I definitely want to try Recite Arcane [COST].

  2. Jay, two things about Culler of Duat:

    1. Its trigger is a "may", so you don't have to kill your own thing.

    2. It was originally "less than or equal" per expectations, but that's definitely too strong. There needs to be some wiggle-room such that Red and Green's larger early drops can curve out of Culler's range, while White and Blue's defensive creatures will be forever doomed.

    1. You're right. That 'may' keeps you from having to kill your own creatures.

      Can you not solve the "less than or equal" power problem by increasing the cost of Culler of Duat?

    2. I wanted to point out that it is optional, too, but I don't think it should be on a BR card. I actually like the design a lot better as a mandatory trigger.

    3. There's only so much you can do with the casting cost without requiring a more thorough redesign. There's a fine balance that needs to be observed when tying the power of a variable effect to board development (as opposed to mere mana requirements). Each additional colorless mana would so dramatically dilute the power of this design, regardless of whether it says "or equal", that I think that would be a last resort for development.

      At 1BR it's likely still good (or better), but 2BR is basically "meh" in an era of Loxodon Smiters, Dreg Manglers, and Hellhole Flailers.

  3. Just based on the amount of work these challenges require, I don't begrudge you multiple designs. I like it better when you have one official design, and others that are riffs on the submitted final products.

    I think there are themes//mechancics//creature types that almost require gold cards in some capacity. Life and death as a theme speaks to Black and Green, so why not have a card that is both black and green? Power-centered Religion speak to white and black, so why not have a card that is both white and black? I'd assumed that strong enemy colored themes would exclude ally color pairings, but the set could have both. Like how Innistrad block was mostly ally colored, with some enemy color splashes.

    I like Soul counters. They reminds me of the Spellcraft counters I suggested (Set Design Unanswered Question #5). It's a cool mechanic for Tablets of Law, or a non-creature spells. We'll have a lot of other creatures mechanics to use in this set. But maybe that's the point of the new Divine supertype - to show that this cards deals in Soul counters. That way you can use the mechanic on all sorts of different types.

    The "have more lands than an opponent" mechanic on Culler of Duat is good. It feels like something we'd find in Frontier.

    Crimson Sky hints at a mono color matters theme, but as I noted above, it feels to me that Ankh-Theb wants to support two color decks.

    Gifts of Lady Bastet would be an awesome Tablet of Law, and hints at a cycle. Instead of being free or colorless, what if each Tablet of Law represented a god in ascendency who's rule is the law of the land? Casting a new one overthrows the previous one. Yep, I've just decribed World enchantments:

    orbo, Sky Charioteer's Rule
    World Enchantment
    (Whenever a world enchantment enters the battlefield, all others are put into their owner's graveyard.)
    Creatures with First strike gain double strike.
    Creatures with flying are unblockable.

    Priestess of Bast's revere mechanic plays well in a set with a lot of token makers. Priestess of the Waning Moon's Human Offering doesn't. Depending on how we choose to implement the set's slaves determines which mechanic is worth a spin. Either way, I can't see either of these mechanics on a lot of cards, or at common. Our main creature mechanic needs to exist at common easily. *cough*afterlife*cough*

    The first Ritual of Breath Stealing is not safe. The last thing we want is another mechanic that can be abused just by self milling. I'd like it if you had to play fair with it, IE cast all your spells. The second version is good, but I wish it didn't pull us into a graveyard matters direction. Also, I don't think it's NWO compliant, because you have to be on the lookout for cards in your opponent's graveyard all the time. I imagine their will be Arcane instants. It's not like flashback where you only need to pay attention until spells in the yard get used up. These spells stay there for endless use. I still think something like my Arcane vigor keyword (Set Design Unanswered Questions #4) is safer, but still a fun mechanic to play with.

    Arcane vigor N (When you cast this spell, if there are at least N Arcane cards in your graveyard, return one at random to your hand.)

    Seti, Death Broker's +1 ability is a permanent granting of Afterlife, so it can play defensively too. I'm not sure if that's something we want to force player's to track, but I saw Tezzeret made artifacts 5/5 creatures permanently, so I took a shot. I really want to playtest Afterlife. It looks fun, and is very flavorful.

  4. On Planeswalkers:

    Oraba in interesting, but the very thing you liked, was an aspect I bristled at. While it might make sense to have 3 super synergistic abilities, most planeswalkers display a wide range of skills. That helps them be more dynamic and less narrow. Look at Liliana of the Dark Realms vs her other two iterations. Dark Realms just cares about one thing: swamps. That narrow focus really limits her to one style of deck vs the flexibility of the other two. There's certainly a place for a few such walkers, but those designs aren't as exciting to me.

    Seti has a similarly narrow focus, but also does something that only Garruk has ever really done before: she uses a block keyword. Granted, Shadow has been used before, but these characters are really trying to get beyond their blocks as much as they can. That's one of the reasons why the "guilded" walkers of RTR don't have watermarks. Garruk is the exception to this with his transformations, but even then he wasn't a werewolf and the keyword was such that it didn't have a super plane specific flavor.

    On Seht: there are a few problems here I was never really happy with the fixes on.
    The first was the gains protection clause. Leaving it up until your next turn is an awkward solution, especially in multiplayer games.

    The "non-planeswalker" clause was really less for balance reasons, and more for flavor. The idea was that as a god, Seht demanded sacrifices. But she's not about to sacrifice herself to herself.

    Her "redness" comes partially from the "fickle"ness of the character: she chooses different colors, different card types and even different sides. The +2/-2 abilities ideally make it that if she uses her ultimate, your opponent gains control of her as well. Exchanging all permanents also felt very red to me (Like Twist Allegiance, or Tibalt's ultimate), even though the life exchange was black. You also get a bit of the Red from being able to use the protection ability to prevent your opponent from blocking and the "everybody sacs" feel of crack the earth. Those abilities have also been seen in white, so it provided some nice overlap.

    Her +2 was also a reference to Seht's Tiger, for what it's worth. I'm not sure how I feel about Humanoid and Nonhumanoid cats in the same set, but it's something to think about if Seht's Tiger is a "preprint" for Ankh Theb.

    1. There are basically two types of walkers: precision tools that go only in a very specific deck archetype (Jace, Memory Adept, Nissa Revane, Koth of the Hammer, etc.) and swiss-army-knives that can go in almost any deck that runs their colors (Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Liliana of the Veil, Garruk, Primal Hunter, etc.)

      Oraba was designed to go in dredge and/or reanimator decks. Even if you have a black deck, if it's not centered around those themes, you're not going to want to run her. Maybe those kinds of decks aren't the ones you like to play. That's okay! I don't think every walker needs to get every player excited.

    2. Not only that, but WotC understands that they need to preserve design space for planewalkers and maintain each one's identity. So these niche designs are going to continue.

    3. Maybe. But it's really not much of something we've seen. Dark Realms and Memory Adept certainly set themselves up, but beyond they still have pretty distinct abilities for different game plans. I'm just not seeing that your walkers really have the kind of choices involved with the rest. You don't want a planeswalker to just be able to "go on autopilot", you want to have both abilities be tempting and represent a pretty real opportunity cost to using one ability over another.

      It's less of a question of niche designs. That's fine. Liliana of the DR isn't a problem because because she focuses swamps. It's more because 90% of the time, all she does is tutor for lands. That's partially because her other abilities are so weak, but it's also because that's basically ALL she does. Nissa, Koth, Jace MA? They all have at least a few options, even if they are focused.

      Seti feels a bit too much like just a straight Afterlife lord. Oraba is better, but it's a rare point where you'll need to actually choose between the abilities

    4. I also felt Oraba middle ability might be better withour the graveyard focus, as any format with focus on graveyard (like Ankh) will undoubtedly get at least one piece of graveyard hate which will render a graveyard focused planeswalker useless. If your opponent slams down a Leyline of the Void out of their opening hand, Oraba becomes essentially a dead card.

  5. Seti's first ability is deeply problematic in eternal formats such as the kitchen table. (I.e., most games people play.) It prevents the vast majority of creatures from attacking it, which is the primary way of eliminating planeswalkers.

    1. I primarily play casual formats, so I was aware of Seti's impact on formats without shadow.

      Seti is to Green, what Worship is to Red. Not every color should be able to handle every card directly. But like Worship, this card isn't unbeatable. When I designed it, I was careful to make it vulnerable. Seti doesn't do anything for you unless you have creatures. Really, nothing. So the way to get around her is a pretty easy.

    2. Isn't there a problem though that giving afterlife to creature directly stops me dealing with them? For example if you have 4 creatures on board to my two and you have a 2-2 split between shadow and non shadow. If you have given the non-shadow creature afterlife and then next turn I sweep the board, you still only lose creatures that had shadow and now I have the remaining two creature with shadow to deal with, leaving you with all upside. Given any creature afterlife should be constantly netting card advantage by letting them continue to attack after death, so the first ability is probably the real damage here rather than the ultimate (which is unnecessary if your opponent isn't playing shadow and hard to reach if they are).

  6. On Kerl, the Bloodworship

    Thanks for the feedback! About the non-square power and toughness - I wanted to make her a 2/2, but I realized that if I started her out as such, at best, she will swing as a 4/4, then as a 6/6; with lifelink! I got scared of such swings in life totals, so I preferred to go with 1/2. (then 3 power, 5 power, etc.)

    Perhaps a 0/2 would have been better if I was going to break away from going with square stats. It's a bit of an increase in flavor since she only gets her power from blood and blood alone.

    1. Don't shy away from making powerful cards, dude! In Rise of the Eldrazi, a 3BB legendary creature (Drana) is a 4/4 flyer with repeatable removal that doesn't require a tap, and no drawbacks. Your 3BB legendary creature is strictly worse than Ajani's Sunstriker until the beginning of your next turn, at which point you have to harm your own creatures to make her not suck.

      For that much investment (as well as giving your opponent a turn to get rid of her before she starts doing her dirty work), why not make her upkeep ability really good? "Target player sacrifices a creature. If he or she does, put two +1/+1 counters on CARDNAME." Or something like that.

      And absolutely, her base stats should be 3/3 or even 4/4. A 3CC legendary rare creature is a bomb. She should end the game in a few turns if your opponent can't deal with her.

      Be bold!

  7. It seems my card fell through the cracks :(

    1. Must've come in after I started the review.

      When you return creatures to the battlefield, do they do under their owner's control, or yours?

    2. Although the alternative is also interesting

  8. On Seht, the planeswalker, a few things.

    1. I agree that it shouldn't have the nonplaneswalker clause on the -2, it seems unnecessary.
    2. Her +2 is really good at protecting her, provided you have creatures, that's awesome, it looks strong.
    3. Her ultimate doesn't seem to fit on the card. She protects your creatures and makes it hard for them to die. She rewards you for building up an army to protect her by protecting them. Eventually, if she ultimates, she gives your entire army to your opponent, AND she gives herself to your opponent! Maybe this was just a costing problem or maybe it was intentional but you NEED her to get hit by some damage to get her loyalty to be an even number so that the -8 can wipe her off the board. If you don't, she -8s and gives herself and all of your army that she's been protecting to your opponent.
    4. It feels kind of like the first ability is meant to be the 'white' one, the second ability is meant to be the 'black' one and then the last one was kind of added on to add chaos for the 'red' portion of her casting cost.