Thursday, March 17, 2016

Weekend Art Challenge Review 031116—GaudiBuendia

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Hello all! Anastase here!

Last week I asked you to tackle this challenge. The discussion on the different cards has been outstanding, bringing up many rules issues with trying to solve the question at hand. I wish I had had more time this week to make a bigger introduction, presenting different ways R&D has tackled the issue over the year, but my non-MtG life has been hectic. You will find references to some of their solutions in my review of individual cards.

I had some thoughts about bidding life against a secret converted mana cost (or bidding mana against a secret mana cost) that I did not see on cards but otherwise I really liked what you came up with!

Let's get to the cards themselves:

This card by Jay does indeed reply to the challenge posed. I really wonder how I would build a deck around this, so it must have appeal to Johnny/Jenny players. This card will need rules clarifications in that you have to "lock in" your choice before your opponent does, and this further complicates your opponent's decision. Not to mention the mind games you get to play during/after side-boarding. All in all an interesting, if somewhat limited design space.

Jenesis takes on show and tell and delivers a very interesting and difficult mind game that either lets you loot a card you can't play, or put your permanent in play while your opponent(s) put their strongest permanent in play too. It is costed at three mana, and R&D is moving away from turn 1 acceleration, so this will generally hit the table on turn 3. I guess that this card is printable as-is and will generate interesting moments. A UB reanimator deck would love this.

Jack suggests a card that had a lot of back and forth about the rules regarding revealing: Once a card is revealed, it stays revealed until all relevant actions about it finish. How do you secretly choose a card among revealed cards? I would have written it as:
Reveal the top five cards of your library. Put them at the bottom of your library in any order. Target opponent chooses a card. Reveal the bottom card of your library. If it is the named card, put it into your hand.
I think this solves the problem and shaves off some text. This is a clear demonstration that templating is as much of an issue with this challenge as the mechanic's ideas.

Holy wall of text, Batman! Taresivon's card is quite flavorful and follows in the steps of Jeskai Infiltrator. Apart from the text density (that we could reduce by removing the reminder text of manifest, since this is a rare card), this is a very interesting card. I could see an argument for removing the "draw 3 cards" trigger, since the ability is already interesting in itself. The issue of it losing flying when manifested is making me slightly sad, but there is no easy way to preserve it, so it had to go, I guess.

Ecoabismo's card is a Sphinx that has no flying, but answers the guessing game challenge in a cursed scroll kind of way. Even lacking flying, I like it a lot as it is, and would make blue try to empty its hand to get the trigger during untap. Also attacking without evasion with a 2/2 body is risky business so this sphinx might only give you one card. All in all a card that could do some work at the uncommon slot.

Daniel bravely tried to solve this week's challenge, but the logistics and rules mess of tracking damage, auras, +1/+1 counters when creatures that are in a face-down pile (those are 2/2 creatures for the game rules) in a not-defined zone is a nightmare. I fear that we still need more work on that front to solve this issue in a general enough way that it could appear at common.

I like Ipaulsen's card, but I wonder if the rules would allow it to work as intended. It probably needs a shuffle clause in the first ability, and perhaps a truth counter put on the exiled card you choose to mark which cards have not yet been selected?
Flying, hexproof
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, exile and shuffle any number of cards from your graveyard in a facedown pile.
{2}{U}{B}: Put a truth counter on a card exiled by CARDNAME. Target opponent names a card. You may cast an exiled card  you control with a truth counter on it without paying its mana cost if it wasn't the named card.
I am not very satisfied with this either. Thoughts, artisans?

​This is a neat card by Wobbles that lets you either recur the sphinx or play a card for cheap. The wording is slightly confusing: Do you exile both cards face down? I think your intent is not to do that and have them guess if the face down card is a land or a cruel ultimatum, rather that have it be luck based. I think that changing it to: "When Returned Sphinx would die, you may pay {2} and exile it face up and a card from your hand face down" would solve this confusion. Neat card!

Mike George's card would be a very interesting card with some tweaks:
a) Manifesting your opponent cards is probably ill-advised, mostly due to reclaiming cards at the end of the game. (hey that Mythic was mine! What? No it was not, I manifested once from your deck and once from mine, you cheater... And even without cheating, if you have no sleeves this can get ugly). This should be manifest the top of only your library.
b) Manifesting a card for {1}{U} at instant speed is very strong. Blinking a card is very strong since it is a kind of activated hexproof. Being able to then morph it up, and do it again is even better.

This is an uncommon that does too much, an increase in its mana cost to {2}{U}{U} and targeting only your library should be enough to bring this to a reasonable level.

This is it, Artisans. This week's challenge saw a lot of interaction on the cards designed. I really enjoyed it. I wish we could have solved this at common, in a way that could be printed over many cards, but I guess it is not an easy challenge...

Until tomorrow (sorry for the late review), keep crafting!


  1. A lot of very cool cards and neat ideas here. Weird how small the sphinxes are.

    I don't think Sphinx of Lost Mysteries needs the counters. You can try again as many times as you dare.

    1. The intent of the card in the comments seemed to be that your opponent could not select cards they had already selected, but that is tough to parse, and I came no closer to it with my interpretation.

    2. Ah. I see. Well, if we can't switch their positions, then the opponent need only remember which is which (actually a lot of work if it's more than a couple). Easy solution: Turn it face-up.

    3. As it happens that wasn't the intent of the card-- it's just how it worked with the rules. To make my original idea work, the second ability would need to shuffle. But either approach seems reasonable.

    4. Ah. I misunderstood your comment, then. The card has some design space for mining to get it right, but I guess this is a one-card design space.

  2. oh, my oracle sphinx had flying in first instances, but may be i miss it when rewritte it with corrections. Still it was the idea the important thing.
    I thougth about a secret bidding mechanic, like the PSI games in Android: Netrunner (it is a very intresting mechanic in wich you secret bid money, between 0, 1 or 2 money, and one of the players wins if both bids are different). It could be very paralel with life instead of money, couse you would don´t want to spent 2 life in a bidding when you are at 4...

    1. The problem with secret bidding in MtG, as I saw it initially, is that counters are supposedly not required to play the game.

      But then I thought about it and the ammount of +1/+1 counter cards in the came is staggering! You cannot really play without counters.

      Therefore it might be interesting to use counters to bid things simultaneously. This was also seen on Menacing Ogre.

  3. Oh, "Show, Don't Tell" is interesting. A good game! I somehow missed it in the challenge comments.

    Good point with the wording for Sphinx's Riddle. I don't entirely like it, but putting them straight on the bottom does streamline the text rules-wise.

    People who think "reveal" lasts until end of resolution might think it still doesn't work, I'm not sure.

    1. Regarding Sphinx's riddle, I agree that it is not beautiful, but changing the name to something like "getting to the bottom of things" might help flavor-wise.

      I was hoping that players would assume that if it goes back under your library it is no longer revealed. Plus I added a period between the two sentences, which should indicate that the cards are no longer revealed after the period.

  4. An interesting thing I learned doing this challenge: piling doesn't change zones! "700.3c Objects grouped into piles don’t leave the zone they’re currently in."

    1. That is indeed interesting and logical. The main issue here was turning cards face down, since that is the morph kingdom when cards are on the battlefield, and as long as the rules do not change it is hard to do secret selection of permanents.

    2. Yeah, it's definitely an odd factoid, but I think it's natural from a rules perspective: for cards like Whims of the Fates and Lilliana of the Veil it's natural to want to divide cards on the battlefield without having the process itself remove them from the battlefield. It basically means "choose N of these, you can physrep that by physically moving cards around but that doesn't have any game effect"