Design a cycle of each color's iconic creature—Angel, Sphinx, Demon, Dragon, and Hydra—for a specific plane. You may choose or invent a plane if you like, otherwise design for Tesla/Kaladesh. Also design a sixth card—a common or uncommon—that mentions one or more of these creature types in an organic way.
Here's the initial submission.
Let's take a look at the final submission.
Here's what Czynski has to say about the plane/set these cards represent:
"The world-spanning body of an enormous super-organism, everything is re-used and adapted in Equilor. The skin of the body’s surface hedges out strange energies a short step removed from the Blind Eternities, strange infections materialize and are combated, and the creatures that have grown from the cells and lesser organs of the body pursue their own agendas in the inner cavities of Equilor’s enormous frame."From this description, I expect to see cards that serve a function in their environment akin to an organ within a body, something analagous to virus/bacteria that endangers those 'organs,' and something like the immune system that targets those threats for neutralization. It's not clear to me why things are re-used or adapted, since that's not a quality native to the inner-workings of most organisms (or not a well-known one—LMK if I'm in the minority on that), and the same goes for 'cells'/'organs' having their own agendas. I don't expect all of this to be demonstrated and answered by one cycle and a sixth card, but what I do see had better nail some of it.
Growth Channel is our set's 3cc mana rock, and it's bonus ability is a tribal connection to the iconic creatures types we're about to see a cycle of. In a vacuum, I'd guess the flavor of that is this plane is particularly reverent to these creatures. Given our background, I'm going to guess that these five creatures types act as Equilor's most vital organs—otherwise, why call them out on a card?
The reward is a mana discount to spells (of a matching color). That's a little disappointing, seeing as how we've just cast a traditionally top-of-curve creature, but the cycle below is 5-6cc—which you could potentially play on turn 4 or 5 thanks to Growth Channel's main ability—and given that you spent two of those turns playing Channel and then your creature, that discount could very well help you catch up by playing two cards each of the next two turns.
But that's best-case. Worst-case is drawing your mana rock late when it's just as useless as a land, and that's the position all the other recent rocks have addressed that this doesn't. I'd rather see an effect that demonstrates Equilor's flavor. Inter-connected-ness of creature-organs, or something.
Evasion and hexproof have been show to be a problem, and putting both on a pretty efficient medium creature doesn't exactly mitigate that problem. If there's an exception to be made, though, mythic is the place. The text adds a static ability to the creatures present when Synapse Sphinx dies. How do remember that they have that ability? With a nerve counter. Hmm. Maybe nerve counters are the only type of counter we put on creatures in this set. In that case, we just treat Synapse Sphinx as a kind of Wonder that only affects creatures with counters on them. Even then, I have to wonder why the body's synapses only work after their destroyed—not to mention how rare that will be given the combination of flying and hexproof.
Sinew Hydra is a 6/6 trampler for five mana, that can block as well thanks to vigilance. That alone could be a mythic creature. When it dies, it creates a static effect that doubles the power of the creatures present at its funeral. Again, I have to wonder why sinew is better for the body after it dies. Also, my fears are confirmed about the counters. How do players differentiate nerve counters from muscle counters? Suppose we fill every pack with these counters so that players can keep them straight, will they be used by a bunch of cards in the block, or just these five?
Cancer Demon has enough power to make double-blocking it a 1:2 trade and skulk which makes it impossible to single-block it and win, so that's a neat combo… although it effectively just gives us 2 unblockable power or a pretty good blocker (very good, really, just not for mythic). This third counter type gives some of your creatures a nasty death trigger of their own. That's pretty cool.
Based on the name, it looks like Cancer Demon isn't a contributing organ in the body, but one of the infectors of it. For that reason, I'm surprised to see it working the same way. I expected infectors to look alien compared to the plane's native inhabitants, like Eldrazi on Zendikar or Phyrexians on Mirrodin.
Marrow Angel isn't more expensive because of its stats and keywords, so it must have a doozy of a death trigger. And it does. Notably, vigilance serves a different purpose on Marrow Angel than it did on Sinew Hydra: You want your angel to die.
Heart Dragon dies into Fervor and a permanent Trumpet Blast. That's strong, as is a big, fast, flying dragon. Plenty mythic.
This is very clearly a cycle and each of the iconic creatures feel sufficiently (if not very) like the kind of creature it is. These cards also do a good job of matching the rarity you chose for them, feeling much more like mythics than last week's.
Rather than a world where important creatures serve vital roles in the environment—like an organ in a body—this cycle illustrates a world where everything is recycled, continuing to benefit its allies in life even after its death. That seemed like the smallest and most tangential aspect of the world that Czynski described, but I can absolutely imagine a world with that central identity.
The five different kinds of counters are a non-starter. R&D chooses exactly one type of counter that it will put on creatures for a block and commits to that counter type thoughout the block, and has done so for quite a few years. All of these death triggers could instead be static effects that work from the graveyard—just as Wonder does—and that fact makes it even harder to justify the choice of counters. If we're married to only benefiting the creatures you control at the time your bomb dies (and that choice means none of these mythics can help you come back in a game you're already behind in if they get killed) then we could at least use the same counter for all of them, so that their abilities stack (w/ tweaked templating).
Czynski, this is a decent submission overall. It could have been stronger if you'd been more willing to hear the thoughts and advice of others. Listening isn't as passive a skill as most think; it really helps to ask questions, engage in the exchange of ideas, and thank people for their contribution. Even so, there's a lot to be said for your progress this week, and how mythic, iconic, and cycle-uh-ic these cards are. Well done, and thanks for your time and passion leading this challenge.