Monday, March 30, 2015

Weekend Art Challenge Review 032715—aviaku

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

Bira is a 2/3 for {1}{G} with flash, so we're already two-for-one'ing some 2/2s and 2/1s in Limited. In addition, we get a free one-sided Creeping Corrosion. Holy—What? I'll grant that sometimes does nothing, but it's a free effect that's strictly better than what's been printed as a four-mana rare sorcery dedicated to killing artifacts. Your opponent can play around it, of course, by just never attacking with ground creatures.

I like the principle here, it just went too far. Compare with "Whenever ~ blocks an artifact creature, destroy that creature."

Briarpack Ambush gives you four power across two bodies for just {3}{G}, with the condition that you block with them and can keep them only if they survive. Trading with a couple Goblin Roughriders would be good. Trumping a Dragon Fodder would be good. Ambushing a Hill Giant and keeping a wolf would be good. Not sure how many bomb creatures these wolves will answer, but I love the card otherwise.

Freyalise's Envoy is a green Purify on a stick. I can dig it. It's strictly worse than Bane of Progress, though Commander-only cards don't always translate 1:1 into normal Magic.

Gather Strength lets you grow a creature permanently +X/+X and lets you multi-fight a few creatures too. It basically lets you treat any of your creatures like a Polukranos, except it deals full damage to each monster it fights instead of splitting the damage between them, giving you the nuclear option: Target everything, knowing you'll lose your creature. This multi-fight isn't quite as flavorful for me, but maybe green needs an expensive wrath?

Gift of the Great Widow is the best Fog ever, as long as you've got a few creatures. Not only can you tap out and still block their unsuspecting team, including all those cocky flyers, but all your creatures will live and all theirs will die. Gift doesn't end the game quite like Overrun; you have to wait a turn after casting it to declare victory. (And they have to alpha-swing into your trap, which will happen game 1 in Limited all the time, and then they'll play around it the next two games, whether you keep it in your deck or not.) Given how conditional it is, I think it's probably fair as a rare. Very splashy for the right audience.

That's spider's so tricky, she looks like a wolf!

Glade Protector prevents your opponent from casting Cancel or Murder, and from activating Dragon Whisperer or Shorecrasher Elemental. And if you can boost it, even more. In Limited, most bombs will cost more, but wolfie will still protect you from those early bombs. And it'll shut down quite a few cards in Constructed, perhaps making opponents sideboard in removal that's not usually efficient enough. Oh, and this also counters Arcbound Ravager (y'know, when you somehow get yours out first.) Neat.

Guardian of the Grotto lets you kill any attacking creature it can block and keep a 2/1 for a souvenir. (Is not hitting flyers enough to justify the upside over Rebuke?) That's effective, though I wish it weren't so easy. I'd much rather see a high-power creature without deathtouch or a high-toughness creature without indestructible.

I misread Highland Predator twice. First, I missed that it turns face-up automatically at the end of the turn you morph it. Second, you never cast this face-down. Once it's in play, you can pay {3} at any time to turn it into a 4/4 face-down flying dragon… until EOT. That's not morph. It's neat, but putting the word 'morph' in the keyword made it harder for me to learn what it actually does because I was expecting it to work like morph.

Okay, so I attack with my 2/3, force a creature to block something (I can force it to block Predator if I just don't attack with anything else that creature can block) and keep the option to give it +2/+1 and flying without my opponent being able to respond. (I can also attack with it, use the trigger, and give this flying before blockers are declared, so that the target has to block my only other ground attacker.)

That sounds like a powerful uncommon that will indeed be able to kill a number of bomb creatures via combat. I like that it allows a green player to be clever; that gives breadth to the color. I'm really not comfortable giving green a lot of activated flying. Or calling this split-second rootwalla ability 'morph.'

Lie in Wait gives you the same flexibility of Druid's Deliverance, where you can block anywhere that's profitable and ignore the rest. Instead of giving you a creature to increase your profits, it makes all your creatures lethal. Given the ability to trade a 1/1 for a 9/9, you'll even be happy to trade some of your creatures here. That definitely qualifies for the promotion from common to un-. It's also a Fog Spike will consider. In Limited, at least.

If you read this really fast (but when do Magic players ever do that?), you might assume it prevents all damage dealt to creatures you control; That would be more poetically symmetrical. Not sure there's a good way to address that.

Nymeria has two pieces of evasion, one conditional and the other a choice for your opponent. If you can't or choose not to block her, she can kill one of your creatures, provided you control one of the specified types. Err, houses. (There's no good way to subset creatures this way, since it's not a type and parsing cardnames is messy.)

I like the idea of a green creature that hunts certain prey and can kill its prey safely and efficiently if you don't intervene, but I might not give it evasion that's not a choice for the opponent.

Nyx Transfusion can boost one of your creatures slightly (as well as your enchantment count, if that's something your deck cares about) or it can make an opposing creature vulnerable to Naturalize. That's pretty neat. If green is to get removal not based on creatures, this is a strong solution. Not one I'd use often, but in Theros, it would be a great fit. Transfusion automatically recurs itself too, letting you kill as many creatures as you have copies of Fade Into Antiquity. When you run out of enchantment removal, you can use it to boost your side. Is that too good? Maybe? I suspect not considering how often that removal had targets in the block.

Protected Glade can turn off any number of troublesome utility creatures, limited only by the size of your habitat. It doesn't kill them, or stop them from fighting, it just forces them to 'play fair.' So green! A surprising number of casual players don't know exactly what a triggered or activated ability is, but at rare we can hope players will go find out.

Regal Wolf is either a 2/2 or a Guard Duty. That might seem a bit odd for green, but the flavor of this wolf just staring down anything is so cool and very green. I'd expect this to be uncommon.

As long as you keep it on defense, Scouting Watchwolf is actually two wolves. The second can team up with the first to trade with an X/4. It also keeps X/2s at bay, since your 2/2 can kill theirs before it damages Watchwolf, who survives to next turn when you can spawn yet another token. We finally have a target worthy of Righteousness.

I don't think fighting is as intuitive here as the token entering play blocking would be, and I'm also not sure why both wolves aren't 2/2s, except that this will be even better. That version doesn't completely invalidate 2/2s with first strike, but it does still kill them and leave you up a body. Sadly, it would still lose to a Truefire Paladin. I'd be curious to see how the fight version fares in usability testing.

Sentinel of Purity is an Acidic Slime that can't hit lands or planeswalkers in exchange for a stat boost (and upgrading from destroy to exile). Oh and it casts Fade into Antiquity twice. A three-for-one isn't out of the question for a five-mana rare, but it feels strange for this card to come so close to Acidic Slime with flavor that really doesn't connect. I think it would be better without deathtouch, so we can focus on this wolfy spirit's hatred of artifice.

Shiisa's second ability sets off alarm bells; it's the kind of thing that might work or might break the game, and even if it does work, it might convince some players it doesn't. Probably "Shiisa's power and toughness can't be reduced" would do the job?

I like the anti-sacrifice clause a lot more on a creature without hexproof. Hmm. I'll bet some player has tried to convince his friends that all his creatures are immune to Cruel Edict because he can choose Sigarda, Host of Herons and negate it.

This is more of a removal-resistant bomb itself than answer to a bomb, but racing certainly counts as a green solution to a creature problem.

Tel-Jilad Litany offers you a choice between a very conditional ability, a slightly conditional ability, and an efficient and always-relevant ability. You can also pay more to get two or all three. I quite like the new use of entwine, but I wish the second choice wasn't so dominant over the others. The only way I can imagine a player not making a wolf is if they only have three mana and will die to an infect attack that turn even with an extra blocker.

Territorial Claim is swingy. Sometimes it shuts off your opponent's attack entirely. Sometimes your opponent Murders your creature and you get two-for-one'd. How often will your opponent actually give you counters and race you? I think it would happen—particularly if they've got a bomb your creature can't block—but probably not often. What if it gave you a counter every turn regardless (so they've got to act or else face inevitability) and some small benefit when they attack (so it's a tough choice) like gain life or make a token, or get an extra counter?

Wash Clean super-kills enchantments, as long as they're creatures or on creatures. Technically, that's green, because green can hit enchantments and so it can hit subsets of enchantments, but "destroy target enchantment creature" shouldn't be used in green because green doesn't destroy creatures directly. Why not just upgrade Tranquility to use exile?

Look at all these green answers! There's a great deal of variety and ingenuity here. It's also fascinating to see what questions you all chose to tackle. Particularly those who challenged questions that green doesn't always have answers for. Good stuff, artisans.

Thanks to Zefferal for rendering the cards.


  1. You know,I totally forgot the art when I was replacing my first submission? It didn't even register that there was art.


  2. The challenge called for a green card, and no one submitted a multicolor card. I'm impressed.

    1. Art didn't really feel any other colors.

    2. I think a case could be made for Selesnya. Making a multicolor card runs the risk of feeling too much like the nongreen color, though.