Monday, March 9, 2015

Weekend Art Design Challenge Review 030615—corndoggy

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

Artillery Keeper rewards you for playing equipment, spreading it out among your creatures, and attacking with them. At the least, you want to equip and swing with Keeper (holding something like Hot Soup). This doesn't need to be red, though I can imagine a set where we want white to share its equipaphilia with red. Thematically, you might wonder why Keeper shoots the opponent more if you attack with more swords. He glues crossbows to all your weapons, obviously.

You can't cast Gnork, but you can dash him all day long. That's neat for a set that already features dash, though it's also more confusing than Glitterfang or Viashino Sandscout.

Gobbo Commando widens the Ashmouth Hound ability to the entire field of battle, including himself. That'll definitely add to board complexity, but you can basically imagine everything in combat has 1 less toughness (per Commando), so I don't think it's too complex. Thematically, the commando part doesn't explain why it's damaging your own team, so I guess we're leaning heavily on the goblins-are-bad-at-everything trope, despite the competence I read from this art. Given that it's a 2/2 for two with optional evasion, it's not like Gobbo would be too good if it only hit blocking creatures. It would also fit 3 lines then.

And now it clicks why Artillery Keeper is red-white. Because goblins are red but equipment-matters is white. (And the art fits a {R}{W} frame.) Still, I can imagine a set where every color gets some artifact-matters and red gets some of white's standard fare.

Once you justify that, this is a nice red ability to reward equipment, and would pair nicely with a Trusty Machete or similar. Cool.

Not sure why this execution gets this name. Because bombs hit more than one creature?

Now that's a Goblin Bomber. Double-Mogg Fanatic would be too strong for common, which is why this can only hit players. The result is fits the red aggro deck very well: It can swing early, but isn't dead if you draw it late.

On its own, this is basically just a 2/1 for 1, which red can surely get at rare. With tricks and equipment, it could be very strong, but if Standard has a Geistflame, it should survive. I do wonder if making this a goblin is just one step too far, but maybe Legacy needs a new goblin? Balance questions aside, Goblin Dual-Wielder is a beautiful execution.

Red doesn't get common 2/2s for {1}{R}, much less with an all upside ability. At {2}{R}, Goblin Engineer could be absolutely perfect for the right set. Good flavor.

Goblin Farshot is a little hard to process straight-up, so let's make a stepping stone. Imagine the same card with a standard death trigger. That's better than an Ember Hauler for getting damage through, but worse for clearing the opponent's board. It's a bit better than Goblin Bomber, very similar.

Okay. Now our card triggers not when it dies, but when it's exiled. From anywhere. It's almost never going to trigger organically. Combat won't do the trick and your opponent will have better targets for Banishing Light. You could build a red-white deck with Journey to Nowhere and Final Judgment, but what do you fill it out with? Misthollow Griffin?

It seems like your primary route to triggering Farshot is to exile it from your hand, library, or graveyard as a cost for something else. Does it feel red to get extra effect from Goblin Farshots in your deck when you activate Arc-Slogger or cast Act on Impulse? (Not rhetorical)

Goblin Grenadier has deathtouch, except it's much better because you don't have to wait for the normal damage step or even the first strike damage step and it deals twice its power in damage to the mourning player. Also, this red card only works on defense. Which is weird. Weird enough it took me a few reads to realize the trigger wasn't "Whenever ~ becomes blocked." If this better-deathtouch only worked when blocked, the defender could just let your creature through, and I'd give the color-pie bleed a pass for flavor. But working on defense takes Grenadier completely out of the scope of red. It kills everything it blocks (except indestructible creatures) and can only be killed by things with Godsend.

I'm not getting the flavor here. I don't see how throwing grenades gives you first strike or allows you to trade goblins for +5/+0. If we're referencing Goblin Grenade, I can't thematically justify translating 5 damage into +5/+0, even if the end result is basically the same. 7/2 would indeed make for a lot of first strike damage, which makes me wonder why this targets any recipient. If it only aided itself, it could be a giant who wields goblins as weapons and then the power boost would work (though that certainly doesn't fit this art).

Is this the first time an artisan has submitted a token to a challenge that didn't specifically request them? Not to encourage doing crazy things just for the sake of doing them, but 3 inventive points to Nich.

As a mono-red analog to Eldrazi Spawn and the like, it's not hard to imagine a set with half-a-dozen cards that make these goblin rogues and sometimes have a significant impact on the way games play out. Certainly, three Goblin Arsonists will affect combat math considerably (and that would make a sweet uncommon—a shorter Siege-Gang Commander).

I'm not sure arsenal packs enough awesome to be worthy of keywording, but I'm not sure the other way either. I would totally playtest this in a set with a lot of equipment. It feels like a redder way to care about artifacts, since it's sort of an equipment-haste and can be a little short-sighted. I wonder if Goblin Steampunk couldn't cost {R}. (It would be safer to raise its cost and its stats, but if arsenal is a keyword, there's got to be some variation.)

Gremlin Hero looks like the kind of card that players will mostly avoid, but every one in a while a diligent builder will be able to do something impressive with.

As an uncommon, this "X" template is standard and not too complex, but I want to talk about Czynski's original wording:
{T}, Sacrifice any number of artifacts: Gremlin Hero deals that much damage to target creature or player.

That wording should confuse fewer players than X does. Maybe Magic should use it more. I would feel comfortable with phrases like this on commons. Thoughts?

Laconic Demolitionist wants to hang out with Zo-Zu the Punisher. He's all, "Dude, you're like my mentor n' stuff!" But Zo-Zu's all, "I'm not taking any students." And Demolitionist is like, "That's cool. I'm more of a sidekick." And Zo-Zu's like, "Are you even a goblin, bro?"

As far as we want to reward players for stopping their opponent's from playing their cards, Laconic Demolitionist seems like a fine rare. Though I'd expect it to damage players rather than creatures (even though shooting himself when there are no other targets will be ironic).

What do you all think of "Whenever [non-creature permanent] is destroyed" rather than "goes to the graveyard from the battlefield?" It's not obvious that it counts state-based destruction as well as "destroy target thing" effects, but non-creature permanents don't really get destroyed any other way. Except for sacrifice. That's the big spot where neophytes will get confused. Deal-breaker?

Spike will generally hate Mogg Ace and Timmy will generally love it. I like how balanced the two possible results are. Good stuff. My favorite name. I think this could be uncommon?

Ordnance Scrounger has the opposite of arsenal and—wisely—not in keyword form. It would be miserable to have three creatures on the field with this ability and only get to attach your shiny new crossbow to one of them. Again, I like equipment-haste as a red thing.

This is a nice little rare. Could probably be 2/2. (Or maybe it's busted as-is.)

Whoa. Not only is Point Blank Grenadier a 3/1 for one with no downsides, but it's an unconditional red uncommon. I'm hesitant to make an unconditional 3/1 for one in any color at any rarity without a significant downside because it can swing the game irrevocably in your favor all by itself. Remember how Lightning Bolt was too efficient? PBG domes your opponent for 3 every round. But particularly in red, which is fourth in creature efficiency, and particularly as a goblin which has more tribal synergies than any other tribe by far, this needs a serious downside.

Honestly, a 2/1 goblin for {R} would be plenty exciting.

Shady Weapons Trader gives all your goblins a very specific fire-breathing. You have to use it twice each (but can use half colorless mana) and only on the attack. That's quite good, and seems reasonable for an uncommon. Just mind the shady weapons he trades you. They fall apart pretty quickly.

Sly Sniper is a Goblin Fireslinger who shoots so hard, it's like he's been hit by a Singing Bell Strike. I like how that's worse in the mid-game, but so much better in the late game. Not a bad little rare.

Thieves-Gang Mugger gives lets your goblins rummage just by attacking. That's a neat way to make a goblin lord, and I like how the +1/-1 makes him better against a defenseless opponent but worse otherwise; very rogueish. The odd pluralization of the name makes me wonder if the gang was just bad at naming themselves, as goblins might well be.

Look at all these fun goblins! You all did a great job making some very neat creatures with just three lines of text.

Three is kind of a magic number for lines of text in this game. One line is either a keyword or something super elegant like "destroy all creatures;" Two lines is two keywords, or a short and sweet ability. Three lines is still short enough that you can expect real punch for your reading effort. Four and five lines edge toward wordy, often hinting that the effect had to be worded awkwardly for Magic-ese or that it's not an elegant ability. Six lines and more is where players start to tune out. Nine lines is basically the maximum allowed. If your text is longer than that, it behooves you to try again.

Thanks to Jenesis for rendering the cards.


  1. Just a note, the Farshot needs to say "exiled face up" or it won't work.

    1. Well. Either way, it only actually happens when it gets exiled face up. I don't think there's a particular problem with cards having trigger conditions that are slightly wider than intended if the extra circumstances encompassed are only ones which prohibit anything triggering anyway.

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  2. Does the 1/3 Goblin Grenadier deal 2 damage to its own controller, or to the destroyed creature's controller?

  3. I don't understand Jay's comment on Gobbo Commando. You appear to be saying that a 2/2 for two in red is merely okay, so making his beneficial ability better would be reasonable?

    1. I wasn't really addressing power concerns there. Power-wise, it's a better fit for uncommon with the numbers and downside as-is. Design-wise, the card would be improved without that downside. That would make it stronger, of course, so we'd also want to move it up to rare or make it less efficient.

  4. I think the "sacrifice X artifacts" wording is actually clearer than the "Sacrifice any number of artifacts" wording I used originally. Mostly because "deals that much damage to target ..." is pretty confusing when there isn't any explicit *counting* going on.

  5. One thing I wanted to point out is that Farshot works when he's flicked while in play, which I imagine would happen pretty often in the right deck.