Friday, April 24, 2015

Weekend Design Challenge 042415—cycle patching

Weekend Design Challenge
Greetings, artisans! Click through to see this weekend's art and the design requirements for your single card submission, due Monday morning. Every  submission warrants feedback, and everyone is encouraged to give feedback. You may use that feedback to revise your submission any number of times, though only the version rendered will be included in the review, if someone volunteers to render the cards.


Choose a five-card cycle in Standard and re-design the 'worst' card in that cycle.

Thanks to Tommy for the challenge idea.

116 comments:

  1. What do you exactly mean by worst? Power level, design or what?

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    1. Presumably his use of quotation marks was to indicate that worst is defined however you'd like to define it in this situation.

      I will say that it's less likely that you'll have a cycle in which one card is significantly worse in terms of design, though that does of course happen.

      Delete
  2. Counterpunch
    3UR
    Instant - Uncommon
    Counter target noncreature spell, then exile the top card of your library. Until the end of your next turn, if it's a noncreature spell, you may play it.

    To replace Cunning Strike, the weakest of the enemy-color cycle from Fate Reforged.

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    1. This might be worse than Contradict in three different ways. Maybe reduce the mana cost?

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    2. The cycle in question consists of commons and you correctly put this design at uncommon.

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    3. Woof, good points.

      I'll take another crack at a UR common later.

      Delete
  3. To replace Kin-Tree Invocation from the KTK double cycle of enemy gold uncommons: the high toughness matters theme fights for mind space with Ferocious, and later in the block, Formidable and Bolster. Instead I propose a death trigger theme (which would, admittedly, be slightly awkward with the blue cards made to play with Exploit).

    Fighting Spirit 2BG
    Sorcery (U)
    Return to the battlefield all creature cards in your graveyard that died this turn.

    This design is a little bit over the line for what I'm comfortable with at uncommon, so I may give it another try later.

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    1. I'm not sure I understand your reasoning for choosing Kin-Tree Invocation — are you actually suggesting (with this one design) a grand overhaul of Abzan that focuses on a Morbid-like mechanic?

      Because altering the Invocation wouldn't somehow diminish the toughness-matters theme that permeates GB throughout the block, and the contrast between Toughness Matters vs. Power Matters is probably the least complicated theme of each of Khan's limited format iterations. Though I admit the variations on fight-related removal (Bear Punch, Dragon Punch, Butt Fight, and Tail Slash Which is Not Actually a Fight Card) was a bit much.

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    2. I was saying get rid of the toughness matters theme entirely. It's a good theme to have, but has too many other things in competing mind space to be a good choice for this particular block. I, for instance, did a double take on first reading Suspension Field.

      I may ditch this route and redo a stand-alone design assuming the rest of the set stays the same.

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    3. I completely agree Jules. The "toughness 4 or greater" cards in Khans always seemed very strange to me. Bolster is also somewhat at odds with it, because that usually wants low toughness creatures as targets

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    4. I think sets would really benefit from a post development look over by design. Development does many great things for sets, but it is also more than a little bit artless.

      Khans (not even the block, just the set) has cards that care about power 4 or greater, power 3 or greater, toughness 4 or greater, and toughness 3 or greater. That's just nuts!

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    5. I've been thinking exactly the same thing, Tommy! I actually would like some designers who weren't on the design or development teams to look it over and, rather than going ahead and changing anything, ask the design and dev leads about anything that looks off.

      Artless development aside, we also keep ending up with vestigial cards from themes that got cut (like Graceblade Artisan which I assume went in when DTK had Auramorph) that I think would be easy to catch with an outside set of eyes.

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  4. I guess Sultai Emissary is the fifth member of the common manifest cycle? It's weird that it's not a sorcery.

    Revive Spirit 2B
    Sorcery [C]
    Exile your graveyard facedown, then manifest a random card exiled this way.

    Alternatively, because the above reads weird with the exile-your-graveyard bit:
    Frail Conjuring B
    Sorcery [C]
    Manifest the top card of your library. Sacrifice it at the end of your next turn.

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    1. The 4:1 split is indeed off, but Sultai Emissary does a lot of good work for the environment. I might contemplate switching out one of the sorceries for another creature instead. (Perhaps make Fierce Invocation the Hill Giant and Formless Nurturing into some sort of Ambassador Oak.

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    2. Also, note that all five members of the Manifest cycle have a unique CMC. Sultai Emissary's replacement, by that pattern, needs to cost 2 mana.

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    3. Inanimate - actually Soul Summons and Sultai Emissary both cost 2. Jules does make good points though

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  5. Wisdom-Feather Dragon
    4UU
    Creature - Dragon (U)
    4/4
    Flying
    When CARDNAME dies, you may return up to two target noncreature, nonland cards with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to your hand.

    None of the uncommon dragons from Fate Reforged were especially great in terms of thematic expression, but Mindscour Dragon struck me as the worst of its cycle due to the use of a Mill-effect that had no place in the context of the format. It neither represented the mechanical ideals of Ojutai or Jeskai, nor is sabateur-milling an especially useful ability to pair with a 4/4 flier which will kill quicker than it mills.

    The above design is intended to both tell a little story regarding the knowledge Jeskai Dragon-Hunters acquired upon defeating those of Ojutai's brood, while also functioning as a mechanical bridge between Ojutai and Silumgar once the format shifted from FKK to DDF.

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    1. I agree with your assessment of Mindscour Dragon, but I don't love this replacement. This effect is a stretch for blue, and already appears in both KTK and DTK. What about: "When ~ dies, you may put target creature on top of its owner's library."?

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    2. I agree with Jules. In addition, the cycle of monocolor dragons in FRF have effects that are supposed that are mostly supposed to represent "dragonbreath" (with Wardscale being a weird exception), and Jules' effect represents the freezing effect quite well.

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    3. @Jules — It's a little awkward to say "the effect is a stretch for blue" and then acknowledge how that very effect is actively represented within the block.

      @Inanimate — They did a really poor job of expressing "dragonbreath" with only two of the dragons having damage-triggers; is that something they described as their intention?

      Regardless, on-death Excommunicate isn't an enticing solution. I'll try to think of a frost-breath effect that isn't Icefall Regent's or Ojutai's.

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    4. Metaghost: Sorry, to be clear, it's just a hypothesis of mine. Note that they all display dragonbreath in the art except for Wardscale and Mindscour, and that the non-on-damage abilities both destroy, which feels pretty "breath-y" to me.

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    5. Also, how is putting a creature on top of a library a stretch for blue? Isn't that blue's thing? White dabbled in it but doesn't get it anymore.

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    6. Huh? Jules was referring to the ability on Wisdom-Feather as being a "stretch for blue", as blue doesn't traditionally care about enchantments or planeswalkers (etc...) outside of Khans block.

      And I was saying that I don't think that the "on top of library" death-trigger effect is an an enticing solution.

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    7. Considering the art doesn't really suggest any sort of "breath power", how about:

      Gale-Bringer Dragon
      4UU
      Creature - Dragon (U)
      4/4
      Flying
      As long as CARDNAME is attacking, your spells cost 2 less to cast.

      In this way it suggests the nature of Ojutai's brood being more intelligent than other dragons and serves as a fine companion to Wardscale Dragon when paired in a Jeskai/Ojutai deck, allowing you to more easily trigger Prowess effects in combat.

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    8. I was originally a huge fan of this, and I think it is a good space, but I dont' think it works well in this particular incarnation.

      First note the ability lets you cast two things: instants and creatures with flash. You never want to cast a creature with flash while this is attacking, so it just lets you cast instants. That's fine, things can be narrow. The problem, though, is that you already cast a 6 mana dragon. What instant are you casting that you're super grateful to pay 2 less for?

      I think you're aimed at the right space, enabling the spell thing, I think this just isn't quite the right enabler. I think maybe just the loot part of Jeskai Ascendency would work well?

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    9. Tommy, I don't think you're totally off base with your criticism, but I do feel you might be assessing the ability in a way that is somewhat removed from either FKK or DDF limited. This cycle of dragons never functioned as anything resembling a game-ending bomb, and the nature of morph and big butts often meant that players had fairly sizeable hands in the late game as they stared at board stalls in FKK.

      Furthermore, the list of relevant instants with CMC of 3+ is huge. Being able to attack with the dragon, then casting a discounted Enhanced Awareness into discounted Cunning Strike is a pauper's dream come true.

      That said, there's always a better and cleaner design. Something like the loot clause from the Ascendency could be cool, but then the cycle becomes even more aesthetically distorted.

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  6. Nylea, God of the Hunt
    2G
    Indestructible
    As long as your devotion to green is less than five, Nylea isn't a creature.
    Whenever a creature you control attacks, it must be blocked this turn if able.
    1G: Regenerate target attacking creature.
    6/6

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    1. I'm not exactly in love with the existing Nylea execution, but if I were going to redo one of the THS Gods it would probably be Erebos because he usually only really has one ability. So I'm interested: what rubbed you the wrong way about Nylea?

      That aside, I like your redesign pretty well. Possible points to consider are: 1. Should the first ability only trigger on other creatures to line up with Heliod? Should the second do something that can be useful on Nylea?

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    2. I love the design! Very slick synergy there.

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    3. What rubbed me the wrong way about Nylea is that her creative (huntress, archer) is completely at odds with her mechanics (giant creatures smashing things.) A god of the hunt should hunt things.

      I also considered redesigning Bow of Nylea, which does 5 things and you probably can't remember more than 1 or 2 of them because it's a potpourri of minor effects.

      Erebos is thematically weak, too, definitely, but his creative seems more nebulously defined (the fact that Athreos seems so creatively similar is definitely a strike against him.)

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    4. Hadn't even looked at the flavor angle, that makes sense! Thanks for clarifying.

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  7. By "worst", I'm going to pick the card that I thought was designed the worst, since fixing up the design of something like Defiant Ogre to be better power-wise is relatively simple - I just adjust its numbers.

    The only egregious offender I could think of in a cycle in Standard, design-wise, was Icefeather Aven. The other enemy-color uncommons in Khans of Tarkir are cunningly designed, making good usage of their enemy colors in some fun and clever ways. (Even Kin-Tree Invocation, which feels close to monogreen, shows off a new side of black, its recent acquisition of higher toughness creatures.)

    Icefeather Aven stands out. The only thing that makes it feel green is its aggressive cost - design-wise, there was no green in this card at all, which is a bit of a disappointment. Just adjusting the mana costs would make this feel like a perfectly fine blue card.

    "Fixing" Icefeather Aven, we need to keep a few things in mind:

    1.) The blue/green color pair in Khans of Tarkir is defined by morph, so Icefeather Aven has to keep morph. Not like I would remove it anyways - it's a defining feature of the card.
    2.) Blue/green is quite tempo in Khans of Tarkir, and Secret Plans already encourages morph a lot, so we want this to encourage the tempo side of the blue/green archetype.
    3.) If we keep the costs the same, it has to trade with a random morph.

    How do we change this to feel more green? There are two sides to this card, design-wise - the body, and the effect. My inclination is to change the body. The effect is so vital to tempo, that I feel like the body is the only thing we can change safely.

    Now, working with a {1}{G}{U} flip, there's not a lot I can do. But I did have one idea...

    Icetwin Hunter {G}{U}
    Creature - Elemental Spirit U
    Whenever Icetwin Hunter deals combat damage to a player, you may draw that many cards.
    Morph {1}{G}{U}
    When Icetwin Hunter is turned face up, you may return another target creature to its owner's hand.
    1/1

    (The flavor is based off of the ability that Temur whisperers have - they can create fragile ice-clones of themselves that carry the spirits of ancient Temur warriors, with all of their wisdom and combat skill.)

    I chose to use the ability seen on Hunter's Insight, Hunter's Prowess, and Cold-Eyed Selkie, as I feel it represents a blue/green ability that leans heavily green. I did this because I wanted to solidify this card as a blue/green tempo card - this needs a deck that can support it in the red zone, clearing a path for it, or giving it buffs to make it survive combat and, hopefully, draw more cards. (Note how fun Awaken the Bear becomes with Icetwin Hunter.)

    A 2/2 flier is already a strong tempo card, with evasion and a bit of strength built in. It doesn't need that much support, so it can fit into more decks. Icefeather Aven doesn't necessarily encourage you to build a tempo deck - it just happens to be a strong tempo card. I hoped that by making Icetwin Hunter's new green ability amazing in a tempo deck, that it would push you a bit stronger, but still naturally, towards tempo.

    Also, here's another design I thought of:

    Icetwin Hunter Alternate {G}{U}
    Creature - Elemental Spirit U
    When Icetwin Hunter dies, draw two cards.
    Morph {1}{G}{U}
    When Icetwin Hunter is turned face up, you may return another target creature to its owner's hand.
    2/2

    This card represents more of a 'trap card' for the blue/green morph deck. In blue/green morph, many of your morphs are going to become the targets of enemy spells. They have Mistfire Weaver to discourage this, but I hope Icetwin Hunter would doubly discourage it - it's a cheap effect that earns you a significant amount of card advantage if it's targeted by a removal spell or poorly blocked.

    I didn't go with this design because it didn't feel sufficiently green. The only precedence is Bequeathal, which is pretty lame precedence to be honest. I also just felt like it didn't play very interestingly.

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    1. A fun fact PS: Icetwin Alternate was inspired directly by the Temur shaman flavor - to quote, "When in battle, it can suddenly shatter to release the warrior spirit within." I imagined this in a more 'ethereal' sense, as the drawing cards representing experience or wisdom or something.

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    2. Very good points. My main question is why are you so intent on keeping the costs the same? I don't feel like Icefeather Aven is filling any important holes in {G}{U}'s curve, so that seems like an unnecessary constraint. Cold-Eyed Selkie seems properly placed at rare, but I like this card being the sole saboteur trigger on morphs to turn the normal play pattern on its head.

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    3. Jules: I wasn't too intent, I just figured if I was "fixing" Icefeather Aven, my goal was to stay as similar as possible. I had a few designs I was bandying about in my noggin that involved changing costs, but they felt like they were straying too far from the design.

      Additionally, I do think it's important that the tempo deck have a Turn 2 drop that could also be a Turn 3 drop with a Turn 4 effect. That's an extremely flexible option, and the fact it occupies those early turns means it's vital in a tempo deck. Keeping a similar play pattern, I felt, was important to keeping this card feeling properly 'tempo'.

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    4. And yes, I too noted I was pushing boundaries by making this effect uncommon rather than rare. I felt the fragile body, necessity of multicolor, and lack of evasion, made it an acceptable fit for uncommon - but it IS a dangerous design, I admit.

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    5. Man, you must really dislike Watchwolf!

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    6. If I made it a 3/3 I couldn't keep the morph cost {1}{G}{U} - that's why, even though a Watchwolf was the very first idea I had, I decided I didn't want to pursue that direction.

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    7. Icetwin Alternate should only draw one card. The "draw two" was a leftover from a previous version - it's obviously too strong as-is.

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  8. REMAKING: Defiant Ogre.
    Defiant Ogre is just so low-fruity bad. But I’m going to redesign it while retaining its role as common Red artifact removal. Every set has to have one Red artifact removal spell, regardless of how many artifacts there are. Just as every set has to include a White enchantment removal spell. But why is it that White has been removing enchantments plus getting an in-color bonus effect for years, while Red still only gets bare bones artifact destruction? (Same question for Green artifact and enchantment removal, and Black creature removal getting small bonus effects.)

    I’d like to see Red get temporary artifact stealing as another way to remove artifacts. If you look at M12’s Master Thief, you’ll see this mechanic is currently in Blue, which seems out of flavor and unappreciated. Give it to Red!

    Trove Thief (COMMON)
    4R
    Creature — Ogre Rogue
    3/3
    When Trove Thief enters the battlefield, choose one —
    • Put a +1/+1 counter on Trove Thief.
    • Gain control of target artifact for as long as you control Trove Thief.
    It wants what it gets.

    (BTW, doesn’t the art make much more sense when the Ogre is stealing the Axe instead of destroying it, or destroying some other artifact off camera?)

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    1. I don't think there is any way something with the "as long as you control ~" template is fitting into common (see Banisher Priest et al), much less on a weird modal card like this, and especially not with an ultra efficient 3 for 1.

      That said, I think this is an interesting design, I just think it is uncommon and possibly undercosted? I wish WOTC wouldn't waste so much space printing artifact hate in sets with basically no artifacts.

      As to the color shift, I'm not sure this effect needs to be in two colors, and I think it is pretty clearly primary in Blue (stealing + caring about artifacts?). This is not the kind of temporary effect Red gets (though I'm willing to have that conversation about other red effects, like Exile draw that you could play until a creature leaves play, for instance).

      Also, just a general reminder, there is almost no effect less fun than stealing something. Mind Control at Uncommon was absurdly oppressive. I'm not saying we can never steal artifacts, but I'm pretty happy with it being on the minus of a gold mythic every now and then.

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    2. I've already rendered the card. All the mechanical effects fit in five lines with the flavor text as a sixth line. It's not even mid-size font.

      I don't think this effect is that much better than "destroy target artifact." and like Threaten effects, can be safely moved down from Uncommon to Common. Creatures even 3/3's for 5 like Trove Thief don't stick on the battlefield forever. Even in limited. And the opponent getting their card back after the Thief dies is a real cost. Just like with all the white removal-with-answers we've seen lately.

      I agree that the effect shouldn't be in two colors. But I'm not suggesting Red and Blue share Auras that gain control of enchanted artifact, etc. Let Blue continue to permanently steal all permanent types, while Red has temporary stealing of creatures and artifacts. Honestly, theft as a flavor concept makes no sense in Blue. It's the impulsive act of a Red mage. Long term acquisition, after careful planning is Blue. Here's another example of how to implement this in Red.

      Grab and Smash (COMMON)
      3R
      Gain control of target artifact until end of turn. Untap that artifact. It gains haste until end of turn. At the beginning of the next end step, sacrifice it.

      This is nowhere near the power level of Mind Control. It's shatter with a one-time use bonus. Beyond the temporary nature of what I'm suggesting, there's the fact that artifacts just don't do what creatures do. They tap for mana or equip onto creatures, etc.

      I'm only suggesting we expand Red's tools so that its artifact removal effects are exciting and see some limited play.

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    3. EDIT: Oh, I see what you mean about Banisher Priest. But that uses the "exile until NAME leaves the battlefield" which has added reminder text and Master Theif and Trove Thief use "for as long as you control" wording which doesn't ever include reminder text.

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    4. Strongly on-board for this flavor.

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    5. Very happy with Grab and Smash.

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    6. (Note it is a variant of Metallic Mastery, I'm not sure if you knew there was precedent.)

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  9. Breeding Sliver 1W
    Creature- Sliver (unc)
    Sliver spells you cast have convoke.
    2/2

    Constricting sliver, to me, is a further departure from the slivers of old. There are so many things to say about the botched "evolution" we were subjected to, but this one in particular seemed most out of place.

    The art doesn't fit very well, but that didn't seem to be specified in the preamble and I think the entire artistic direction they took was horrid.

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    1. Holy cow, I love this! Great idea!

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    2. Thanks, Nich!

      Reminder test: (Each sliver creature you tap while casting another sliver spell pays for [1] or one mana of that creature’s color.)

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    3. Replacement art:

      http://www.deviantart.com/art/MTG-Emrakul-Hatchling-175377108

      artist: Beastysakura

      Name change: Birthing Sliver

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    4. This will even give you space to attribute a quote to Hastric, Thunian Scout! I think the reminder text needs to lose its first "sliver", however.

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    5. Shoot, you're totally right. I unintentionally invented "slivoke"

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    7. "Ach! Franz, run! They're gesticulating!" -Hastric, Thunian Scout

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    8. Brilliant.

      The old art seemed fine so I went ahead and used it, for consistency's sake.

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    9. No worries on the art. And thanks for the compliment

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Man, I was going to propose a replacement to Fascination, then I discovered I had designed Reality Spasm :/
      Off to the design table!

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    2. I really disliked the design of two minor Gods, Pharika (BG) and Phenax (UB).
      > Pharika is the only one of minor gods to have an activated abilities. Phenax sort of does the same.
      > They don't really fit their flavor - especially Phenax - something I really liked of other gods and Theros in general.
      Pharika is the god of affliction and apothecary knowledge; what does that have to do with self mill?
      Phenax, even worse: he's "the god of cheats and liars. He governs gambling, deception, betrayal, isolation, planning, and secrets. He is worshipped by criminals and others who wish to subvert the rules." What gives with toughness mattering mill??
      Tl;dr: I hate Phenax and Pharika's design. Here's my substitution designs.

      Pharika, God of Affliction 1BG
      Indestructible
      As long as your devotion to black and green is less than seven, Pharika isn’t a creature.
      Whenever one or more creatures you control block or become blocked, choose target creature. That creature gets +0/+2 and gains deathtouch until end of turn.
      4/4

      Phenax, God of Deception 3UB
      Indestructible
      As long as your devotion to blue and black is less than seven, Phenax isn’t a creature.
      Whenever a spell an opponent controls is countered by a spell or ability you control, that opponent discards a card and you draw a card.
      3/6

      Which of the designs is better? I'll submit that one.

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    3. Could Pharika be simplified to "At the beginning of each combat, choose target creature"?

      I like Pharika in a world where Bow of Nylea is also changed.

      Delete
    4. Oh man, I love how evil Phenax is. I really don't want to play against that, but I really like the design!

      Delete
    5. @Pasteur: My intention is to have the opponent unaware of the target of the ability when declaring blocks, so I don't think that would work. I'm open for suggestions. Also, I forgot about the Bow ability, you're right about the redundancy.
      @ Daniel: Thanks, that was really the flavor I was trying to capture. Design-wise, I don't think there should exist many cards like this in Magic (for Griefer Timmies/Tammies) but every once in a while, at mythic rarity and not too high power level it should be fine.

      Delete
  11. Bow of Nylea {1}{G}{G}

    Legendary Enchantment Artifact

    Attacking creatures you control have deathtouch.

    {2}{G}, {T}, tap an untapped creature you control: Tap target creature you don't control. The tapped creature fights that creature.

    Replace the mess that is Bow of Nylea's second ability with a thematic hunting ability that complements the deathtouch ability but (mostly) doesn't get the benefit of it. Vigilant creatures in Theros limited are scarce below rare, so it's not a significant factor.

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    1. "Bow" doesn't suggest fight to me.

      Also, the original Bow of Nylea is quite beautiful thematically. Perhaps less beautiful aesthetically :-P

      Delete
    2. Since most people need to have the thematic attributes pointed out to them, and even when it's pointed out the seasons <=> abilities correspondence is mixed up, I don't consider it a thematic success.

      And bows do say 'Hunt', to me, which this lets you do. The tapping is supposed to indicate the hunt is preventing you from doing anything else. It's not perfect, but it's much better.

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    3. Bow absolutely says "hunt". The part of fight I don't like is the reciprocating damage. I'd just do Soul's Fire or something. Nothing a bow does is mechanically Green (which is obviously not your fault).

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    4. I agree that Soul's Fire would be better if it was greenish.

      Delete
  12. Karametra, God of Harvests [3GW]
    Legendary Enchantment Creature — God [mythic]
    Indestructible.
    As long as your devotion to green and white is less than seven, Karametra isn't a creature.
    When Karametra enters the battlefield and at the beginning of your upkeep, double the number of +1/+1 counters on each creature you control.
    6/7

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    1. Or...

      Phenax, God of Deception [3UB]
      Legendary Enchantment Creature — God [mythic]
      Indestructible
      As long as your devotion to blue and black is less than seven, Phenax isn't a creature.
      When you draw your first card each turn, reveal the top five cards of your library instead. An opponent separates them into two piles. Put one pile into your hand and the other into your graveyard. Lose 1 life for each card put into your hand this way.
      4/7

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    2. This Phenax is very cool as well! I'd be interested to hear thoughts on how powerful it is, though maybe that's a matter for development to sort out.

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    3. I need to change the trigger to "you may reveal"; it must be optional, not mandatory. Otherwise, your opponent makes the two piles 5 and 0, forcing you to lose 5 life or not draw every turn. That could be really unfun.

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  13. Soul of Innistrad has by far my favorite art among the Souls, but I don't like the card much, and it was widely considered the weakest Soul for limited IIRC.

    Deathtouch always feels redundant on big creatures. Lifelink was fun on Griselbrand, and in real life it's what I'd probably try to make work for future black titans (though I'm not sure how strong a 6/6 lifelink for 4BB is). However, it's more fun to try something new: how could a new evergreen combat keyword for black play better on big creatures? Here's my suggestion:

    Cruel (When this creature attacks, defending player loses 1 life and you gain 1 life)

    To me this ability feels scarier than it is, which is an upside. It reduces the effectiveness of chump-blocking and gives a sense of inevitability, but not by an unbalancing amount.

    It's awkward that cruel was not in Innistrad, but in this alternate universe, I'll suppose that cruel was evergreen in black at least since then. It'd also be cool if the activated ability on Soul of Innistrad referenced undying. Combining those pieces:

    Soul of Innistrad 4BB
    Creature - Avatar (M)
    Cruel
    3BB: Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it.
    3BB, Exile Soul of Innistrad from your graveyard: Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it.
    6/6

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    1. Not at all a judgment, as these things are certainly personal, but Soul of Innistard is very easily my favorite Soul from the cycle.

      The one that I think stands out like a sore thumb as pretty uninspired is Soul of Ravnica.

      Interestingly, your choice of Cruel is something that has occurred almost entirely on one drops like Pulse Tracker (albeit modulo the life gain part).

      If I wanted it to go on big creatures like this I would suggest making it an upkeep trigger instead of an attacking trigger.

      Delete
    2. I like Raise Dead a lot as the black Soul effect. The +1/+1 counter seems unnecessary-- the ability is plenty powerful without it. Cruel is preferable to deathtouch in this case, but I'm not sure I'd want it as an evergreen mechanic. My go-to would be the Shade ability instead...

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    3. Tommy: I like the upkeep trigger idea! I wanted a combat mechanic, but the upkeep's inevitability is tasty.

      lpaulsen: Shade ability is a good idea, I hadn't thought of that -- a nice place to put that late-game mana. Re: +1/+1 counters: it would be more elegant without, and that might well be worth it. I prefer the similarity to Undying, but it adds text and might not even be recognized by many players.

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  14. For Ainok Tracker, the most... uninspiring design among the French-ish vanilla common morph cycle from Khans. In particular, Khans is just not a format where a 3/3 First strike body leads to interesting combat math. I propose:

    Ainok Tracker 5R

    ~ can't be blocked except by two or more creatures.

    Morph 4R

    4/4

    This is a different kind of unmorph surprise than some of the others in this cycle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For reference, what do you see as the other members of this cycle?

      Delete
    2. Sage Eye Harrier, Master of the Hidden Way, Sagu Archer, and Sidisi's Pet. (Green and Blue are heavier Morph colors so they each have one extra card that could be counted in the cycle, but these are what I consider the cycle to be.)

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    3. If you want to consider Ainok Tracker, it should be, I think, part of the Monocolor Morph 4C creatures: War Behemoth, Glacial Stalker, Krumar Bond-Kin, Ainok Tracker, Woolly Loxodon.
      Oh, and I also like your design much more than the actual one.

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    4. It is clear there are two common cycles of Morph creatures, but the exact breakdown is hazy. I think, though, that there is a vanilla cycle and a non-vanilla cycle, but you can certainly see it other ways!

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  15. I never played Setessan Griffin in Limited, ever. While Coastline Chimera is also up for grabs in this cycle of allied-activated-abilities, I could see boarding that in as a big-butt flying blocker. How can we help out the Griffin?

    Setessan Griffin 3W
    Creature - Griffin (C)
    Flying
    3GG: Setessan Griffin gains hexproof until end of turn.
    3/1

    While this is still a pretty bad card, it now at least makes sense to play occasionally instead of never. 4 mana 3 power flyer is a good ROI and hexproof + bestow + evasion is powerful. With the expensive hexproof cost and 1 toughness, it's still pretty answerable, either by removal (Spark Jolt says hello) or a decent blocker (probably something bestowed with Leafcrown Dryad or some such). But hopefully it still gets played in Limited.

    Feedback appreciated as always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brian Wong was eventually a fan of the Griffin. Curve out turns 2 through four, then play a 5 power flier and hit with it every turn is definitely a plan, and one a lot of decks aren't prepared to answer. A 5 power flier at common is quite strong.

      All that said, totally agree it was an ugly unappealing card that I sometimes didn't play when I should have just because it had that ick factor.

      Sadly I really don't see your suggested fix as an improvement. I certainly prefer the Assault Griffin-esque body, but the ability is so overcosted I might feel even worse about this one.

      Perhaps it could gain Deathtouch instead?

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    2. My problem with deathtouch is that it doesn't have Setessan flavor at all.

      I also considered trample, but there's already a common expensive green trampler and a common cheap red one. I feel like it would be hitting the same note to often, especially with bestow.

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  16. Nissa, Worldwaker, while cool and playable, has been a target of criticism. Her abilities call out land, forest, and basic land in sequence - none of which sync up with each other or necessarily overlap. The creatures she produces are not the green ones expected by players, and the text on the card is squintingly small. Planeswalker design isn't easy, but I think her abilities were tuned for power level, not for elegance.

    Nissa, Worldwaker 3GG
    Planeswalker - Nissa
    +1: Untap target land you control. It becomes a 4/4 green Elemental creature with trample. It's still a land.
    0: Put up to two basic land cards you own from your hand or outside the game onto the battlefield.
    -7: Lands you control become 4/4 green Elemental creatures with trample. They're still lands.
    {3}

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    Replies
    1. Ooh, I really like that [0] ability. Except for the risk of shuffling those lands into your deck. Differentiating via sleeves works as long as those lands don't go to hand or library (which lands rarely do), but casual players who play unsleeved risk accidentally over-landing their decks... on the other hand, this is a mythic so the risk of LSPs is lowered.

      Could the -7 be an emblem so you don't have to keep track of which lands are 4/4s and which aren't?

      I also think -7 is a bit high for the ultimate if you're no longer including "splurge all basics from your deck onto the table".

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    2. The ultimate should probably be an emblem, you're right.

      -7: You get an emblem with "Lands you control are 4/4 green Elemental creatures with trample. They're still lands."

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  17. In Khans of Tarkir, each clan received a powerful, cheap creature rare: Savage Knuckleblade, Siege Rhino, Mantis Rider, Butcher of the Horde. Sultai got the unplayable Kheru Lich Lord, which I would redesign as follows:

    Kheru Lich Lord {B}{G}{U}
    Creature - Zombie Wizard (Rare)
    At the beginning of your upkeep, look at the top card of your library. You may put that card into your graveyard.
    3/4

    A solid creature that provides card selection and fills the graveyard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think you can print this in the same set as Sultai Ascendancy.

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    2. Good point. Ascendancy is also weaker than the others, and should be patched as well. I can only design one card, though.

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    3. I completely agree Sultai got shafted both times here. I think you should try to avoid giving Kheru Lich Lord a strictly worse body than other cards in the cycle. Maybe make it a 1/5 lifelink? I like 1/5 as it's a good counter to the rest of the cycle.

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    4. Amusingly I actually very nearly picked Abomination of Gudul, which I've always found didn't fit super well with the others.

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    5. Abomination of Gudul I agree felt rather out-of-place in its cycle. It feels mono-blue. (You could argue many of the others as mono-colour, but always mono- in either of two of the clan's colours.) Kheru Lich Lord also doesn't fit well, but the Abomination is more clearly (failing to be) part of a cycle.

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  18. Hunt the Hunter feels quite out of place in the Color hate cycle and also didn't see any play as far as I remember. I think the main reason I don't like it is that both the creatures need to be green, creating an unpleasant aesthetic for not much payoff.

    Primal Clash {G}
    Sorcery (Uncommon)
    Until end of turn, target creature you control gets +2/+2 and must be blocked only by target green creature you don’t control if able.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As this card is in constructed it allows a bit more interaction by working with trample and other keywords.
      Mainly thinking about things like Siege Rhino trample etc. Making it a little more playable.

      Delete
  19. Much like Daniel, I think Sultai got pretty bad tri-color cards. Sultai Ascendancy in particular lacks two abilities and looks bad when compared to Thassa, or even the much older mono-color Think Tank. Here's my take:

    Sultai Ascendancy BUG
    Enchantment (R)
    When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, put the top 4 cards of your library into your graveyard.
    Whenever a card is put into your graveyard from your library, you gain that 1 life.

    This kind of fights Sidisi with slightly different wording (triggering for every card, not just once for every effect), but has some Johnny/Timmy appeal. Traumatize yourself?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Strikes me as underpowered and a bit narrow for an Ascendancy. But for a clan with delve as its main mechanic, I could easily be wrong on both counts.

      Delete
  20. Silumgar's Scorn UU
    Instant (U)
    As an additional cost to cast Silumgar's Scorn, you may reveal a Dragon card from your hand.

    Counter target non-Dragon spell unless its controller pays 1. If you revealed a Dragon card or controlled a Dragon as you cast Silumgar's Scorn, counter that spell instead.

    While this is clearly the most powerful card in it's cycle, I wish that it didn't hit Dragons. That would make the other Dragons a more viable trump to the control strategy, as well as fitting flavorfully by having the other dragon lords immune to the Scorn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this breaks up the aesthetic of "if you have a dragon it is Counterspell" too much.

      Delete
    2. None of the rest of the cycle are straight homages to older cards, why did this need to be?

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    3. My problem with this is that Silumgar would *totally* scorn other Dragons.

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  21. Sandsteppe Outcast 2W
    Creature - Human Warrior (C)
    When Sandsteppe Outcast enters the battlefield, choose one —
    • Put a +1/+1 counter on Sandsteppe Outcast.
    • Put a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying onto the battlefield.
    1/2

    The problem with Sandsteppe Outcast is that there's basically no reason to ever pick the 3/2 mode. Sure, there's a few +1/+1 counter matters reasons, but in practice since a 2/1 also trades with morphs you never really want the 3/2. By swapping the P/T, we get a 2/3 that can eat morphs on the block, or a 1/2 and a 1/1 (a Seller of Songbirds), which can't eat a morph without losing half of the creatures but still picks up double buffs from War Flares and Trumpet Blasts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, good call! Very sensible switch.

      Delete
    2. This does take White's best common and turn it into Seller of Song Birds.

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  22. Tommy: A Seller of Songbirds which can turn into a morph-killer in a pinch, mind you.

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    Replies
    1. I'm not saying the card id unprintably bad, obviously it isn't, I'm just saying shifting a common in power that drastically has serious developmental ramifications.

      For what its worth, I had the exact same reaction with the exact same proposed change when the set first came out!

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  23. Replies
    1. Just saw this. Maybe review tomorrow.
      Thanks, Ipaulsen.

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