Friday, December 1, 2017

Weekend Design Challenge 120117—binary auras

Click through to see the illustration and design requirements for your single  card submission, due Monday morning. Every submission warrants feedback, which you may use to revise your submission any number of times. I will aim to review the most recent submission from each designer.

Design an aura card that has one effect while attached to a certain set of permanents and another when attached to something else. (Idea thanks to Bobbbyyy.) Bonus points if the binary creates fun gameplay and/or deck-building choices. Double bonus points if the binary tells a strong story, like Bonds of Faith.

54 comments:

  1. Old Oak Invocation
    2G
    Enchantment - Aura - Common
    Enchant creature or land
    Enchanted permanent has “T: Add GG to your mana pool.”

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    Replies
    1. Great design! This will be hard to beat.

      Delete
    2. +1. I love the choice between ramping for 1 with minimal risk, or for 2 with more hoops to jump through and a risk of getting 2-for-1'd.

      If this were printed today it would probably say "T: Add two mana of any one color to your mana pool".

      Delete
    3. This is a fun one. I'm way too risk adverse to want to put this on a creature, but boy is it tempting.

      Delete
    4. It is indeed a nice bit of tension whether you put this on a land for +1 mana or on a creature for +2 mana. Achieving that disparity so elegantly is impressive. Nice work.

      Delete
  2. Expensive Gilding 2RR
    Enchantment - Aura (U)
    Enchant Artifact
    Enchanted artifact gains indestructible and is every color.
    As long as you control a pirate, you control enchanted artifact.

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    Replies
    1. The "every color" is way too cute. And unfortunately this card is probably blue or black.

      Other than that, cool design!

      Delete
    2. Is it? Red gets temporary stealing and ways to save artifacts from destruction. The color thing is trinket text.

      It could also help justify making the card 2UR, which I like a lot actually. This feels like a fun uncommon build around.

      Delete
    3. This seems fine in red and very cute.

      Delete
    4. You can make your own artifact indestructible, or if you've got a pirate you can steal an artifact (and make it indestructible). That's a neat binary, and a great way to do pirate tribal.

      I have no idea why this aura is also making the artifact colorful. I'd guess for flavor, but Kaladesh was full of fancy gilded artifacts and they were all colorless. I might also guess to play into themes in the pirates' set, but Ixalan doesn't care about color.

      Delete
    5. Oh yeah, this doesn't seem red. Blue for permanent stealing. Not sure what for indestructible; of the pirate colors, I'd say blue or maybe black, though red is arguable.

      Delete
    6. The color thing is trinket text, basically you're giving the artifact a cool, indestructible paint job.

      Delete
  3. Ley Affinity 2GG
    Enchantment - Aura (R)
    Enchant player or permanent
    Whenever you cast a spell that targets enchanted player or permanent, draw a card.

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    Replies
    1. Ooh, very multimodal. I wonder how often this gets cast on a permanent, maybe on a land in Enchantress deck?

      Delete
    2. I don't feel like this is binary because it doesn't treat any potential targets differently. Really, you just want to choose something you were going to target a lot anyhow: Your opponent if it's a curse or direct damage deck; Yourself if it's a lifegain and/or maybe a turbo-draw deck; Your hexproof heroic wombat.
      It's neat and something Jenny will love to build around.

      Delete
  4. Reach Of the Void 6
    Enchantment Aura
    Enchant creature or artifact you control.
    When you cast ~ choose a new target for ~ at random.
    if enchanted permanent has a even converted mana cost Opponents can't cast spells with an even converted mana cost, otherwise at the beginning of you upkeep draw two cards

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    Replies
    1. Wat. I assume this is Eldrazi themed? Funny how that seems to justify the arbitrariness.

      I guess I'm supposed to build my deck to maximize whichever mode the deck wants. Double Staff of Nin seems like the more appealing mode, but shutting down opponents in Commander could be neat too. Reliably "choosing" a mode during a game seems tough otherwise. The more I think about this approach to modal Auras, the cooler it seems.

      "Choose ~'s targets at random" might be a clearer template for the second line.

      Delete
    2. So much to say.
      Reach of the Void might make a creature (or an artifact) into a Void Winnower (though it can't turn to a VW into a VW), or it might draw you two cards each round.

      Those abilities have nothing to do with each other (not even both being existing eldrazi cards, or even cards), and the Eldrazi don't normally care about artifacts or do anything randomly. So I don't get the flavor or all of those mechanical choices.

      It's also not entirely clear why this is an aura. That does make it more vulnerable (to creature/artifact removal) and that allows this to be cheaper, but the design doesn't require it to be cheap.

      I'd sooner expect:

      Reach Of the Void 6
      Enchantment
      As long as you control an even number of creatures (or permanents), opponents can't cast spells with an even converted mana cost. As long as you control an odd number, opponents can't cast spells with an odd converted mana cost.

      That said, I very much like how your card has two very different modes and that you have limited in-game influence over which you get, but potentially quite a lot during deck-building. It raises the question, "How steep is the cost of building a deck of cards that skip half the steps on the mana curve?" How many cards can/should be designed to reward such a deck?

      Delete
    3. Reach Of the Void 6
      Enchantment Aura
      Enchant creature at random
      if enchanted creature has a even converted mana cost Opponents can't cast spells with an even converted mana cost, otherwise enchanted creature has annihilator 5(or 3)

      This has nicer templating and further ties in with eldrazi and goes some way to justify an aura well still providing powerful effects

      Delete
    4. I love that template! Should it specify creatures you control?

      Annihilator 3+ is completely devastating, especially on a creature attacking on turn 6.

      Delete
    5. yeah
      enchant creature you control at random and anialator 3 (I want it to be odd for thematic reasons)

      Delete
  5. Entdraught 1G
    Enchantment - Aura
    Enchant creature or land
    Whenever enchanted land is tapped for mana, it produces an additional G.
    Enchanted creature gets +1/+1.

    I tried to see if I could get the abilities more symmetrical but nothing seemed to work. The idea is, it's rampant growth when you need it, or a mild creature boost later in the game. Or nice on a man land.

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    Replies
    1. I'd say +2/+2 on the creature mode, for better balance. And possibly a 2G cost on the overall card. Unconditional ramp for 1G is actually something we haven't seen in a while, and being able to cash it in for a creature boost is quite nice.

      Delete
    2. Entdraught and Reach of the Void are the only two that executed the binary aura concept in the way I'd expected. That's neither good nor bad, just interesting.

      Entdraught does something clever with that binary where you get both effects if the card is both types, which is cool. I just wish having +1/+1 and being able to tap for more mana were simultaneously relevant on Dryad Arbor or other man-lands.

      I'm not going to worry about Dev balance here too much, but I will say that Wild Growth is much closer to being worth a card than a mere +1/+1 (and that two-mana WG is printably comparable to Rampant Growth… which I now realize hasn't been printed since M12!)

      Maybe:

      Entdraught 1G
      Enchantment - Aura
      Enchant creature or land
      Whenever enchanted permanent becomes tapped, if it's a land, add G to your mana pool.
      As long as enchanted permanent is a creature, it gets +2/+2.

      or

      Entdraught 2G
      Enchantment - Aura
      Enchant permanent
      Whenever enchanted permanent adds mana to your mana pool, it adds an additional G.
      Whenever enchanted permanent attacks, it gets +3/+3 until EOT.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, I missed Rampant Growth somehow disappearing!

      Yeah, it would be nice if they were both relevant at once. I wonder if I could manage something like "untap during each player's upkeep" or something.

      I think there's a natural difficulty in getting dual auras to work (even beyond, getting the flavour to work, which is always a fun challenge). You can approach it like a charm, having several small effects, but it tends to feel busy. Or you can try to do two complementary effects, like Entdraught working one way early and one way late. But I think it's hard to make one that players naturally "get" as opposed to thinking "these look stapled together".

      Delete
    4. It's definitely hard to make thematic modal spells. Charms are popular, though. Why not aura charms? (They _are_ busy, but so are non-aura charms.)

      Delete
    5. Good question. I do relish the challenge of getting the effects to seem natural together. But it does seem harder somehow.

      Maybe being a permanent effect increases the variance, so it's harder to have two balanced modes? Or there's fewer sensible "small aura" effects than "small spell" effects? Or that needing to determine the effect by what it enchants limits the alternatives?

      Ooh, that's a thought. I was naturally drawn towards auras on very different types of permanent. But you could equally well have an aura that granted a different small bonus to different sorts of YOUR creatures based on some minor difference.

      e.g. grant first strike to small creatures, trample to big creatures
      e.g. grant one bonus to humans, a different small bonus to other creatures
      e.g. an artifact nerf or a creature nerf
      e.g. "enchant you or creature", each turn prevent the first 2 damage that would be dealt

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    6. Charms are traditionally small, but that's not integral to their identity. Sure, we can make a one-mana spell with three effects that aren't quite worth one mana and a card on their own, but we can also make a three-mana spell with three effects that aren't quite worth three mana and a card. Or 7.

      As Wizards runs out of small effects, we'll see more big charms.

      Delete
  6. Aura templating is garbage so I'm making do.

    Set an Example 2BB
    Sorcery (r)
    Return target creature from a graveyard to the battlefield under its owner’s control. It has “This creature can’t attack” and “Creatures that share a controller with this get -2/-2”.

    (Weighing "is a black Scarecrow in addition to its other types", vs. being setting agnostic and having shorter text.)

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    Replies
    1. Indeed... Animate Dead is a sad sad card.

      Is this meant to have a modal side where you want to target your own creature? What would that use case be? Griselbrand? Cairn Wanderer for the build-your-own-double-Night-of-Souls-Betrayal value?

      Delete
    2. Yeah, Griselbrand, Iona, and a few other choice cases. I wish I could put it at 1BB so there'd be a reason to play this over Zombify/one of the Goryos, but that's probably a bridge too far.

      Also: combo with Sleeper Agent/Akroan Horse. In any case, while this is a strong effect; anything that lets you interact with creatures, sorceries, or graveyards shuts it off, so I'm not as worried.

      Delete
    3. Animate Dead really is awkward. It's almost easier to make this a Body Snatcher. I do want a card on the table with the text of this static effect if it's going to survive the turn.

      It's neat that you might reanimate your own broken-even-when-defending creature, like Platinum Angel or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, or that you might give your opponent one of their useless X/3s back to double-shrink their team. Balancing it so both modes are relevant does seem tricky; possibly even a deal-breaker if the dominant mode isn't awesome enough on its own, but I don't expect that.

      As trinkety as 'scarecrow' is, the flavor's fun. If it doesn't push us to 8 lines of text (and final templating might), I'd include it.

      Delete
  7. Fell Infusion
    2B
    Enchantment - Aura
    Enchant Creature
    If enchanted creature is a demon, it gets +3/+3 and has flying. Otherwise, it gets -3/-3.

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    Replies
    1. While not all demons have flying, the majority of non-lizard-wizard ones do. Do you perceive this being printed in a set where more of them don't? Or where normal creatures can be corrupted and gain the Demon type through a set mechanic? Otherwise I'd consider a bonus that is less likely to be redundant when played for the upside.

      Delete
    2. Ah, here's a third super-binary aura. Like Bonds of Faith, this can be very useful when you've got the right creature out in the right situation, but will primarily just be solid removal. You'll tend to have demons in play less frequently than Innistrad had humans, but the flavor's still good. Solid uncommon.

      Most demons have flying, but not all. This just make sure yours does. While that's slightly frustrating when you're running flying demons, I don't know this aura is better excising "and has flying." I would definitely expect all the demons printed in the same set to be flightless.

      Delete
  8. Scarab Coating 1W
    Enchant Permanent
    If you control enchanted permanent it gains indestructible. Otherwise, enchanted permanent loses all activated abilities.

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    Replies
    1. Two mana for indestructible is a steal, normally it would cost 3-4. Add to that the ability to pithing needle a permanent and you've got a really strong card. I would start this at 2WW at least, but that's more a development concern.

      Design wise, I'm not sure I see the connection. Maybe if it just did both indestructible and lose abilities all the time there's more of a trade off about what you put it on.

      Delete
    2. I'd rather see either:

      If you control enchanted permanent it gains indestructible. Otherwise, it loses indestructible.

      Or:

      If you control enchanted permanent it abilities cost up to 3 less to activate. Otherwise, its activated abilities cost 3 more to activate.

      Something to tie the two halves together.

      Delete
  9. I'm eagerly looking forward to whatever this site does for GDS3. I've already signed up and I imagine others here might want to as well. Any interest in running some "warm-ups" / brainstorming / mock multiple-choice tests / friendly competitions between now and January? I'd be up for contributing some content.

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    Replies
    1. I'm certainly game. I made some warmups for my column tomorrow at HotC and will hopefully continue to make them until GDS3 begins. I'd be delighted to take part in some community practicing and friendly competition.

      Delete
    2. I imagine in a week or two we'll either petition for an open thread, rev up a discord/slack (since it's 2017), and/or Jay'll have some serious/fun thoughts on the topic. It's still kind of surreal.

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    3. Keen to be involved even though I cant enter (non american)

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    4. Discord sounds fun. I'm pretty sure I joined twitter exclusively for GDS2 reasons.

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    5. This site was born for this moment.
      Every post to this point has been a form of practice for it.
      We'll do everything we can to support GDS3 hopefuls.
      Suggestions welcome.

      Delete
    6. That's great stuff, ~Gemini! I'd love to have a thread to post and discuss answers to the challenges you pose. Or do you already use twitter or reddit for that?

      Delete
    7. That's the one. I just realized today that it has a Google form link for submitting answers.

      Delete
  10. Yeah I can’t wait and would be in for “practice rounds”.

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  11. Auntie's Aggression
    1RR
    Enchantment- Aura
    Enchant creature
    As long as the enchanted creature is a goblin, goblin creatures you control get +1/+1 and have first strike.
    As long as the enchanted creature is a warrior, warrior creatures you control get +1/+1 and have haste.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Freeze Over
    3U
    Enchantment - Aura
    Common
    Enchant creature or land
    Enchanted permanent doesn't untap during its controller's untap step.
    "The ice takes its toll on man and land alike."

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Jay I know this is long past warranting discussion but I'm going through all of your post-GDS3-announcement challenges and making cards for them as extra practice!

    Empowering Chant RW Rare
    Enchant creature or land
    Enchanted creature has “RW, T: Attacking creatures you control get first strike and lifelink until end of turn.”
    Enchanted land has “2RW, T: Creatures you control get first strike and lifelink until end of turn.”

    ReplyDelete