Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Weekend Art Challenge Review 103015—jubjubjedi

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Design an uncommon creature for this art.

Armored Warg takes another stab at the elusive mount mechanic. Ride does nothing by itself, but it's evident that every card with ride will make riding it matter. It looks simple and straight-forward, which is promising. I'm struck by the strange tense of "to be riding this"—Why not "to ride this?" One possible answer is that it's clearer it's an indefinite state.

Our first ability that rewards riding triggers when the relationship is first established. Seems reasonable, though it makes the above tense even more awkward: If you put a creature OTB tapped and attacking, it doesn't trigger "when a/this creature attacks" abilities. Attaching equipment as a bonus for riding is a slightly odd choice, since riding is already an attach-y mechanic.

The last ability is static and more what we expected a riding bonus to look like. It sticks out that it refers to 'creatures' rather than a single 'creature,' and we now realize there's nothing in the ride keyword that prevents a mount from being ridden by several creatures at once. That's not intuitive, but I'm not eager to guess the flavor of restricting riders is worth the added text.

Ride is an activated ability, allowing you to do it at instant speed—an on-board combat trick. Such aren't universally forbidden, but we definitely need to limit how many appear in a Limited environment, and might want to keep them off common entirely (which we could do by granting abilities that don't help win combat, like vigilance).

It's also notable that the turn after a mount rides, it can attack and block normally. If I lose my Warg in combat, the creatures riding it will lose 1 point of toughness and might die in an unexpected way.

My last concern is that there's no connection between what the Warg does on its own and the abilities it grants riders. Unless all mounts grant the same bonus, we'll need to line those two halves of the equation up as often as possible to ease learning what does what. Trading +1/+1 and first strike for simply +2/+0 is one solution that's more closely aligned, and that would be a bit less frustrating to calculate for in combat.

Goblin Denwarden is sworn to protect its kin. It grows fiercer whenever one of them joins it in this duty, and if any do, it also feels confident that it can venture out and the den will still be protected. Nice flavor!

My instinct is that I want this 'ally' bonus to be a static effect that can be lost. If my other defender falls in combat, thematically I want my Denwarden to again feel bound to take its place. That's weaker, but I'm confident it doesn't make this card too weak.

It's ironic that the cheapest of the popular tribes does chivalry at twice the cost… Although, when I put it that way, it makes perfect sense. Regardless, Goblin Knight is a solid uncommon upgrade to Bladetusk Boar.

Kreeshank Outrider has a red evasion ability and a green evasion ability that combine to make a card that's hard to block and even harder to figure out what can block it. For Melvin, this is a cool combination. For Vorthos and casual players, this is too weird/complex. Maybe a good rare?

Flip cards do seem like a better way to do licids. On the other hand, Wizards doesn't like flip cards much nowadays.

Menacing Licid is an unattractive creature with a trivial flip condition, turning it into a decent aura. The reveal, of course, is the fact that you can unattach it at any time for just a {R}, effectively allowing you to save it and attach it to a new creature. Like… equipment. Yeah, why isn't this just equipment? Or maybe a bestow creature?

Corrupt makes permanent and debilitating a portion of a creature's damage, but only if the target isn't already corrupted. Which is exactly how no corruption works. What's with the mercy? And how is it worth more text and calculation? Why can't I live the dream of whittling down your indestructible behemoth?

Rageblood Rider has an ability that forces creatures to attack, but only opposing creatures, and only those that have been corrupted. That takes a bit of processing initially, but should be easy to remember once you do. Shame blocking one of them with the Rider won't help shrink them any further.

A 3/2 with haste and menace is really excellent for {3}, even if gold. A 2/1 that can block really regrets having wasted mana on haste or menace. Rakdos Butcher would be a really frustrating card to leash and I think it would be better off without the keyword.

Rakdos Trick-or-Greater will be very hard to connect with as a 1/1 for {3}. If you do though, you can make it slightly less hard to connect with, or cast Dig Through Time or Scour from Existence for free. As it stands, this is very much a Johnny card because it can do impressive things, but not without a lot of effort. That might be great somewhere, though I wonder if we couldn't squeeze the extremes together for a card with wider appeal. Maybe it starts at 2/2 but lets you cast the top the card of your library [if it's a sorcery or instant], or simply adds {R}{R}[{R}] to your mana pool?

Stalagmite Hunter would fit a multiplayer supplement like Commander well, but might want to be rare in a standard expansion where duels are the default. Usually abilities are either upsides used by the owner and good for the owner, or downsides used by anyone but bad for the owner; this ability can be good or bad for anyone. A clever player in a free-for-all could even kill Stalagmite Hunter and another opponent's creature at once for the cost of a mountain.

Can someone explain the flavor to me?

Vicious Slasher is a mini Dragon-Style Twins. Cool. Wouldn't put this in a set with prowess, but I would put in a set with spell-color-matters.

Vicious Wolf Rider is a sweet rare. It's hard to block and likely to kill two creatures if you do. Moreover it gives your other creatures one or two significant abilities. I say rare, because it's so easy to get a massive benefit from this one card.

Wolf Basher isn't someone who bashes wolves. It's a wolf who bashes. And by 'bashes,' we mean lunges. And then when it dies, its rider gets off and keeps fighting.

With just one of these two abilities, Wolf Basher could be common (in a set that wants OCAA), but the {R} ability explains why the rider is a goblin, and they do go decently well together, making a pretty neat uncommon.

I kind of want the first ability to be "As long as you control a red creature, Wolf Basher has first strike" but idk.

Smaller Lightning Elemental. Nice. Could be common.

Kind of a slow week for us. Didn't see much discussion to help each other improve the designs. I guess the art wasn't terribly inspiring.

Thanks to Zefferal for rendering the cards.


  1. Rakdos Butcher was intended to be a Haste, Deathtouch, Unleash, but I submitted it incorrectly :-P I agree that as submitted it makes very little sense. (I was toying with a lot of combinations that also involved Menace).

    1. Deathtouch in place of menace is definitely swings the value toward the middle in the choosing whether to unleash or not. Much better.

  2. Oops, Rackdos Trick or Treater was supposed to be 2/2 but I completely forgot to put a p/t on...

    I really liked this art! But maybe it just called for a simple creature so there wasn't as much refining?

  3. I think the lack of discussion etc is more just the busy time of year.

  4. Busy weekend, but the art was also pretty uninspiring for an uncommon. Normal red uncommons can at least be portrayed as a conditional two for one, but this art lends itself to "efficient creature", which is an odd fit for a red uncommon.

  5. Jay, you don't think my card would be a terrible rare?

    I was going for "cycle of uncommons that makes you want to be this two-color combination in draft" power level.

    1. It might be weak for a rare, but not terribly. That's easy to adjust.

      I'm concerned it's too brain-burny for uncommon.

    2. Could be somewhat solved by retemplating:
      ~ can't be blocked by creatures with power less than ~'s power.
      Menace (reminder text)

      Reversing the order of abilities and changing the phrasing of the non-keyword one to match menace's reminder text goes a long way towards clarifying exactly how it could be blocked.

  6. Jay's version of the flavor for my Denwarden gives him a lot more credit than what I had in my mind: A goblin itching to get out of guard duty, but too afraid of the consequences -- at least until he can half-ass some alternate defenses.

  7. Your critique of Rakdos Butcher is very insightful.