Friday, July 4, 2014

Weekend [Art] Design Challenge—070414

Weekend Art Challenge
Click through to see this weekend's design requirements for your single card submission, due Monday morning. Every submission warrants feedback, which I will try to provide, and which everyone is welcome to provide as well. You may use that feedback to revise your submission any number of times.

Design a dual land that's part of a cycle attractive to aggressive decks but not to controlling decks and could have taken the pain lands' place in M15.

92 comments:

  1. This is really hard. It needs to be able to provide two colors of mana on the first turn to be good for aggro. It also needs some kind of downside that's not life loss that's unattractive to control decks but not aggro. This seems hard to engineer without weird ugly drawbacks like "sacrifice this when you control five or more lands".

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    1. All dual lands are hard, and this is definitely at least as hard as any other.

      But I'm not sure it's significantly worse than other dual land designs. The painlands and the "if you control two or fewer other lands" seem to fit clearly into aggro-not-control, and I think wizards have mostly printed control-friendly dual lands because "ETB tapped" is so easy to use as a go-to drawback, they've not previously looked too hard.

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    2. I disagree about Darkslick Shores et al; it saw plenty of standard play in U/B and W/U/B control decks.

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    3. Sure, but Painlands have seen play in control decks too and Scry lands in aggro. We don't need them to be exclusive, just better, and the Scars lands definitely fit that bill

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  2. Bloodflow halls
    Land
    Tap: {B} or {R}
    At the begining of your end step, if you did not control CARDNAME since the begining of your turn, sacrifice CARDNAME unless you cast a spell this turn.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Wrong template:

      Bloodflow Halls
      Land
      CARDNAME comes into play with a flow counter on it.
      {t}: if CARDNAME has a flow counter on it, add {b} to your mana pool. Otherwise add {r} to your mana pool.
      {t}: remove a flow counter from CARDNAME

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    3. I was thinking exactly that! I went with my other idea, but I'm glad someone submitted this. It seems like a good aggro-land: good if you're on-curve, but bad if you want to save up for a big spell.

      I love the name too.

      I was going to suggest the template "When you play ~, sacrifice it at end of turn unless you cast a creature spell this turn." That seemed simpler to follow, since you basically only need to think of it when you play the land, that you have to have something to play with it this turn. I wasn't sure if it should be "spell" or "creature spell" (or even "paid for a spell or ability"), "creature spell" is more aggro-y, but "spell" is simpler.

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    4. The first Bloodflow Halls is very different from the second.

      I like the idea behind the first, that you have to keep casting spells to maintain it. The intervening 'if' gives the player a one-turn grace period in case they've got no one-drops and no other kinds of lands, but it's also pretty inelegant.

      Jack's suggestion inverts that so that you only have to worry about it once, which I agree is cleaner and takes less mindspace, though it's also more punishing if the only lands in your hand belong to this cycle and you don't have a creature you can cast this turn. Either of those might be better suited on a single five-color land instead of a cycle of duals?

      The second Bloodflow Halls is an interesting approach. It makes black until we take a turn to switch to red for the rest of the game. I can see how that could work well enough for an aggro deck. I think it works at least as well for a control deck, though, and while Wizards does print lands with counters (even on common cycles if you go back to Lorwyn), that's always a bit fiddly.

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  3. OK, let's start with something nice and straightforward.

    Cradle of Warriors
    Land
    {T}: Add {R} or {G} to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to play spells during your turn.

    Name that can clearly be used throughout a cycle, with a sensible reminder to which is which (RG = warriors, RW = soldiers, WU = scholars, etc, etc). Clearly more useful to aggro decks. Not useless to control decks -- draw-go is no longer the dominant archetype, but hopefully less useful. Simple, and easy to understand, even for beginners. Clearly useful. Fills a niche no other land quite does. Never leaves you mana-screwed completely, but delays you a bit when you use it in the wrong deck. Not strictly better than a basic land, but strong enough to get people excited.

    I even left off tapping for colourless, because you usually can cast your spells with this anyway. Development could re-add it if needed, but I hope not.

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    1. Oops, make that "{T}: Add {R} or {G} to your mana pool. Spend this mana only during your turn."

      You should be able to spend it on anything, just only during your turn.

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    2. Wow, this is an excellent solution. Props!

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    3. I generally like this a lot, but players shouldn't be expected to pay close attention to one another's lands because even if it's necessary they won't, and then they'll feel bad. This will look like an untapped mana source, but it's nearly identical to changing the drawback to "At the beginning of your end step, tap CARDNAME." (admittedly more annoying on MTGO)

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    4. I like this idea, but I think preventing people from using the ability would make more sense than preventing them from spending the mana.

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    5. Yeah, I like "at the beginning of your end step, tap CARDNAME".

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    6. This is an excellent idea. It's definitely powerful and might prove a bit too strong, but I would insist that Development was absolutely sure it's too strong before letting them cut it.

      Not sure whether the tap trigger is better or not, because it requires action rather than just awareness, but that action reinforces the awareness. Testing required.

      Delete
  4. Agh! Forgot you said dual cycle. Well, here's what I had anyway.

    Potent Rift
    Land (R)
    At the beginning of your end step, if you didn't cast a spell this turn, sacrifice Potent Rift.
    T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

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    1. Fun? I'm not convinced, but definitely interesting.

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    2. Yeah, this lines up more closely to my reaction from Ben's first submission. As a single rare land, this seems like a real Magic card to me.

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  5. Market of Scoundrels
    Land (R)

    T: Add U or B to your mana pool. Use this mana only to cast spells with converted mana cost 4 or less.

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    1. This probably plays pretty well (it punishes expensive spells even more than it looks like since you're more likely to need all your lands for those). That said, it read a little bit heavy-handed to me. That said, there are only so many dual land designs, so I do expect to see something like this eventually.

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    2. Ooh, that's a good idea. Really simple, but very effective.

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    3. This is my favorite of the designs so far. It's elegant and it clearly rewards aggro decks. I don't think it punishes control decks for running it, though -- consider that even control decks run more low drops than high drops, and the later the game goes, the less important it is to cast your high-CMC spells on curve (especially if the control player is in a clear winning position). Esper Control, the most "pure" control deck in Standard, has ~10-15% of its spells at CMC 5 or more (including Sphinx's Revelation). In that regard, I could see pushing this down to 3 or even 2CMC. (Red-black burn deck anyone? And don't forget that kicker/flashback/etc. costs don't add to CMC!)

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    4. I think you underestimate how bad it is to run a land that can pay for 85% of your spells. The remaining 15% are that much more expensive.

      It is awkward that this lets you put the mana into Sphinx's Revelation though, but I couldn't think of a good way around that.

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    5. To clarify, this works as intended with Rev, in that you call the value of X when it goes on the stack and add it to the spell's CMC -- that's why I counted Rev as a 5+ CMC spell.

      I don't play UWx Control in Standard, but from observing friends who do, you want to hit a land drop every turn, and you generally aren't going to cast an Elspeth or Aetherling until you have 10+ lands out anyway. The main point of awkwardness is Rev, because -1 mana translates directly into -1 card advantage. If we expand the card pool to Modern and look at the UWR Control deck, the only things this can't pay for are (again) Rev, and the activation costs on Celestial Colonnade/Tectonic Edge.

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    6. I also like this solution a lot, and my first reaction was to bump it down to CMC 3-, based less on balance concerns (which Dev will ultimately use to trump the number Design sets) and more on feeling distinct; on going all-in on this card's fundamental distinguishing factor.

      Could see CMC 2- if it produced 3-5 colors.

      Delete
  6. Lair of the Bloodthirsty
    Land (R)
    T: Add {1} to your mana pool.
    T: Add {B} or {R} to your mana pool, then return CARDNAME to its owner's hand.

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    1. Yowch. I can't see *any* deck running this. Maybe a heavy artifact deck that occasionally wants to splash for coloured mana. This is no good on turn 1 unless you're casting an artifact, that's for sure.

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    2. I like what you're going for, and this could actually be nuts in a Plated Geopede deck, but I agree it might be too limiting for most decks.

      Maybe it adds B, but you can T and return it to hand for a R? Or maybe you choose which of the two it produces when it ETB and you can T to return it to hand?

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    3. Yeah, definitely too punishing. Here's another take, less elegant, but hopefully plays better:

      Lush Homeland
      Land (R)
      Whenever another land enters the battlefield under your control, return CARDNAME to its owner's hand unless you pay {1}.
      {T}: Add {G} or {U} to your mana pool.

      Delete
    4. Oof. A pair of these is misery. "Other lands you control ETB tapped" would be easier. (Again, except for decks that want to replay lands a lot)

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  7. CARDNAME doesn't untap during your untap step.

    Whenever a creature you control attacks an opponent or a planeswalker they control, untap CARDNAME.

    Mm. This seems less like a dual cycle and more like a fivecolor.

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    1. Haha. That's so aggro. Make it "one or more" so that you can't get five mana out of an attack with five creatures. You can still use it more than once per turn with extra combat steps, but that's awesome and should be encouraged.

      I'm leaning more toward dual land cycle for this than single five-color land, but I could be way off.

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  8. Burning Forest
    Land (R)
    Tap: Add 1 to your mana pool.
    Tap: Add R or G to your mana pool. If Burning Forest didn't enter the battlefield this turn, sacrifice it.

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    1. Strictly better than one I was thinking of:

      ETB Dual Land Cycle
      ~ ETB tapped. When it ETB, add C or D.
      T: Add 1

      I like yours better.

      Worth nothing that it's great for cards that cost NC (one colored mana and any number of colorless) but not for CC and more color intensive spells.

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  9. Sun-Drenched Heath
    Land - Forest Plains (Rare)
    (T: Add G or W to your mana pool.)
    When Sun-Drenched Heath enters the battlefield, target opponent may search his or her library for a basic land card, reveal it, and put it into his or her hand. If that player does, he or she then shuffles his or her library.

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    1. Big cost with a big pay-off. This is definitely for the aggro player who's focused on doing his own thing as fast and consistently as possible, irrespective of the opponent. The control player would never give her opponent a free card, particularly not one of her choice.

      My main concern is that aggro players enjoy capitalizing on mana light opponents and this would forego that possibility.

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  10. Beatdown Stronghold
    Land
    T: Add 1 to your mana pool.
    T: Add R or W to your mana pool. Beatdown Stronghold deals 2 damage to you if you have less life than each opponent.

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    1. Should this be "less life than an opponent" instead? I don't know personally. Just asking to make sure it's considered.

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    2. Yes. Current wording plays better in multiplayer, where these lands play better and are more powerful.

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    3. This fits the challenge, though I'm concerned that it leads to snowbally feel-bad moments in aggro mirrors -- after you take damage from it once, it's going to be hard to stop taking damage from it every time you tap it. To say nothing of control decks with a significant lifegain component (Lightning Helix, Rest for the Weary, Sphinx's Revelation...)

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    4. Again, I like the core concept of rewarding aggro play, and this one does it more subtly than Tigt's (not that subtly is always better or worse).

      If we ditched the first ability, could we drop the second to 1 life? That appeals to me.

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    5. It's a little unfortunate this uses the old "deals damage to you" as an effect rather than the new "lose life" as a cost, but you'd have to break it into two abilities for that and I think this is just cleaner.

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  11. Most of the possible designs that first came to mind were already suggested, so I figured I would attempt to pitch something else.

    Flourishing Grove
    Land (R)

    When [CARD NAME] enters the battlefield, you may reveal a creature card from your hand.

    T: Add 1 to your mana pool.

    T: Add G or W to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast a creature spell that shared a type with the revealed creature.

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    1. An entire cycle of dual lands strictly worse than Cavern of Souls in two different ways?

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    2. Cavern didn't exactly create a lot of "feel-good" moments among players. As far as Strictly worse goes, revealing a creature with multiple creature types allows the player to cast multiple types of creatures off of the mana.

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    3. I certainly wouldn't want to see any land printed that was as good as Cavern of Souls for a while.

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    4. I'm concerned about the challenge of remembering exactly what card was revealed / what combination of creatures types it had.

      I'd suggest "Add G or W to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast a spell that shares a creature type with a creature you control" but that doesn't help you with your first creature. Hmm.

      Maybe:

      T: Add 1.
      T, Reveal a [creature] card from your hand: Add G or W. Spend it only on creature cards other than the revealed card.

      ?

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  12. Kird
    Legendary Land - Mountain Forest

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    1. Interesting. Rare I assume? Are these justified at rare?

      Side note: My brother insists that someday they should print this:

      Ravnica, City of Guilds
      Legendary Land - Plains Island Swamp Mountain Forest (M)

      I guess the real question is does this lead to fun gameplay. Sacing lands mistakenly isn't always fun.

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    2. I think this violates their rule about not printing strictly better basic lands. After all, the first of these is strictly better than a Forest.

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    3. I mean, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is in the set at rare. These come with a pretty strong drawback especially for control decks that need to hit their land drops consistently to operate, but seem fine for aggro decks or decks that use them to supplement other dual lands.

      @tommy There are lots of legendary lands that are "better" than a basic. The legendaryness is a real drawback.

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    4. The actual problem with this is that if I'm a mono-black control deck, I can run just one of each of these BX duals for strictly better Swamps that let me splash anything at zero cost to myself. That kind of free power is way too dangerous I think.

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    5. The existing ones are all from Kamigawa and before, and don't have basic land types.

      Also worth noting, I think the games where someone draws two of these awful, and frequent enough that running two of them is probably too great a cost.

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    6. Actually, Urborg, Pendelhaven and Flagstones were all in Time Spiral. And Urborg just got reprinted in this set. As for drawing two being awful, that's certainly a draw back. But it didn't dissuade them from making Nyxthos an extremely strong legendary land.

      @Ben How much do you really think you can splash off of one copy of a land? How many nonblack cards could you run in a deck with just one copy of the dual land? Any deck that wants to use these consistently to fix mana will have to run more than 1. And that comes with costs.

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    7. Nykthos is the right comparison I think. Lands have undergone a lot of changes in how they are designed and many of the high-profile lands are stronger than what would be printed today.

      Nykthos has hidden opportunity costs. On the face of it, it's almost better than Ancient Tomb, but Ancient Tomb is still much, much stronger because there are virtually no decks that can't benefit from it. Nykthos only works if you pay for it by playing cards from a specific subset of the best cards you could otherwise be playing.

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    8. Duncan: Fair. I didn't really think that through. I still feel these are a bit too powerful.

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    9. While running 4 of each allied variety in every mono-colored deck isn't a huge boost (until you factor in fetches), it also comes at literally no game cost. It's not hard to imagine every deck in Modern and Legacy running 4-7 different members of this cycle automatically. Is that a good thing? Sounds like it's good for sales, but will it piss players off to acquire them? Only needing 1 of which will keep them cheaper than normal duals, but every deck wanting them will counteract that (IDK how much).

      Interesting, exciting and super elegant, at least.

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    10. In the long run, this is probably the only thing that can help save Legacy. Because of their interactions with fetchlands, these are the only viable alternative to the original duals without coming at a significant cost to the player base. Especially at rare, these prices would go down over time while not unduly burdening standard with overly powerful fixing.

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  14. Killing Field
    Land
    CARDNAME doesn't untap during your untap steps.
    Whenever your creatures attack, untap CARDNAME.
    T: Add B or R to your mana pool.

    Trying to get the template right so if you attack with three creatures you don't get three untaps, only one. The intuition is you get one untap per attack phase, not one per attacking creature, but I don't want the template to allow that kind of shenanigan.

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    1. From Path of Bravery, the template you're looking for is "Whenever one or more creatures you control attack..."

      This is interesting. Note, Tigt has a similar-but-not-the-same concept above.

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    2. Updated templating from Military Intelligence:

      "Whenever you attack with one or more creatures..."

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    3. I wonder if it could be just "Whenever you attack?"

      Yeah, this is good. Exactly where I wanted Tigt's version to go.

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    4. I didn't see Tigt's, but looking at it, I presume he meant the exact same card and got the templating wrong. I did originally.

      Ben – thanks for the template fix.

      Jay – It can't be "whenever you attack" because players don't attack players. Creatures attack players. This templating talk brought to you by the NCA, the National Creatures Association.

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    5. If "Whenever you attack with one or more creatures..." is valid, than players do attack [with creatures].

      Delete
  15. Swampy Forests
    Land - Swamp Forest
    CARDNAME enters the battlefield tapped unless you discard a card.

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    1. I don't think aggro decks want to play this.

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    2. This is madness (wait, that's it, could go well with madness)

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    3. It's definitely unappealing in a vacuum, but I can't deny it would be amazing in a block that heavily emphasizes madness. Given that dual lands are often a significant factor in a set's appeal, and that we need new players to understand the value of them and use them to improve their decks, something that looks terrible—even if it's still quite good (and this would still be good even it it always ETB tapped, just not for aggro)—may not be the ideal answer.

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  16. My idea is similar to Ant's, by coincidence.

    Hallowed Graves (Rare)
    Land
    When Hallowed Graves enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless you discard a white or black card.
    T: Add W or B to your mana pool.
    When Hallowed Graves leaves the battlefield, you may draw a card.

    Use a photograph from Mix Hart's blog: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gyELRUEfShA/TiCRwGqDZhI/AAAAAAAAFWM/CZ9HkdN8PIg/s1600/IMG_0409.JPG

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    1. So you can play it, not discard, sac it, and draw a card? That seems crazy good, especially for not taking up a spell slot and in a cycle meaning I can have more than 4 of these.

      Why the card draw? I think leaving off that last bit makes for great duals that aggro decks would love and control decks would hate. With the card draw, this is an auto include in control decks. Play it, tap for mana in response to sac trigger, draw a card, cast something is nuts.

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    2. Yes to all that, although I didn't intend for it to be tappable for mana if you choose not to discard a card. I'm interested in the top deck for an aggro deck in addition to providing mana on curve the first few turns. Aggro decks run out of gas, so I wanted a mechanic that helps keep a head of steam.

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    3. Hallowed Graves (R)
      Land
      T: Add 1 to your mana pool.
      T, Discard a card: Add W or B to your mana pool.
      If you have no cards in hand, sacrifice CARDNAME and draw a card.

      Still seems broken, but at least it would only be broken in super weird decks...

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    4. Free-cycling is awfully good, but I like how that offsets and plays into the cost. A safer tweak:

      Hallowed Graves (Rare)
      Land
      When Hallowed Graves enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless you discard a white and/or black card.
      T: Add W or B to your mana pool.
      When Hallowed Graves leaves the battlefield, you may pay WB. If you do, draw a card.

      Delete
    5. Although it's awful frustrating that if you want/need to keep the land, you not only have to discard, but you're giving up the chance to draw a card (since lands don't die normally).

      Delete
  17. Terraced Farm
    Land [R]
    When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, sacrifice each other land you control,

    T: Add WR, WW, or RR to your mana pool.


    This has, I suppose, the bonus(?) of being very attractive to combo decks too.

    Also, this would just be way too good in decks that don't look to develop board state, like burn.

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    1. This is VERY powerful. 2 (of the right kind of) mana on turn 1, three on turn 2 if you play a regular land, or 4 if you play another Terraced Farm. Those will put you back for future turns, of course, but for certain decks it'll be more than worth it.

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  18. Another possibility

    Hot Springs
    Land [R]
    Whenever you play another land, sacrifice CARDNAME if it is untapped.
    T: Add R or U to your mana pool.

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    1. neither of these fit the "could replace the painlands in M15" guideline though, because they are really narrow and overly complex for newer players.

      Delete
    2. Why wouldn't you just always tap the Hot Springs before you play another land? You can do that before or after combat, so the only real cost is that you can't use this for mana on other player's turns when you also played another land.

      Don't worry about that last criteria, it was the least important of them.

      Delete
  19. Jagged Quagmire
    Land [R]
    T: Add R or B to your mana pool.
    At the beginning of each end step, if CARDNAME is untapped, you lose 1 life.

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    1. This is much more direct. Basically, it's free to use on your turn, but you have to pay a life to keep it open to use on your opponent's turns. Definitely the best design of your three.

      Delete
  20. Shock Land
    Land (rare)
    When ~ ETB, lose 2 life.
    T: Add C or D.

    It's strictly worse than the Ravnica shock lands in two ways, but it's still quite functional for an aggro deck.

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  21. Barren Grassland
    Land (R)
    CARDNAME enters the battlefield tapped. When it does, add G or W to your mana pool.
    T: add 1 to your mana pool.

    Fixes mana the turn you play it, but not after that.

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    Replies
    1. Cool. See http://goblinartisans.blogspot.com/2014/07/weekend-art-design-challenge070414.html?showComment=1404526985249#c2124686163287507145

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  22. This is a little late, but how about a twist on Gemstone Mine:

    Rakdos Quarry:

    {T}: Add {B} or {R} to your mana pool, and put an Tunnel counter on Rakdos Quarry. Then if Rakdos Quarry has 2 or more Tunnel counters on it, sacrifice it and draw a card.

    This land is good (perhaps too good) for any deck that wants to operate on 1-2 lands. Using a land drop for a land that will only activate twice is a real cost for any deck that wants to eventually cast expensive spells.

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    1. It's definitely quite strong. I mean, it's not hard to imagine players wanting this over a nonbasic dual with no restrictions, but those players are running aggro and not control, so if it's printable, it's right on the nose.

      Delete
  23. A little late to the party, but I'll just post a design that I cooked up a while back, for the sake of discussion:

    Last-Land
    Land (Rare)
    When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, reveal your hand and discard all land cards from it.
    T: Add C or D to your mana pool.

    ReplyDelete