Monday, March 5, 2018

Alex Werner's Design Test Submission

(These Tests are being backdated for administrative purposes. They were not disclosed to nor published on this site prior to their publication on the mothership.)

Design 1

Evolution From Below (rare)
Choose target creature an opponent controls. Its controller may sacrifice it. If he or she does not, search your library for a creature card with the same or less converted mana cost, put it on the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

Design 2

Naila and Hrun, Fused (mythic rare)
Planeswalker — Naila-and-Hrun
+2: Find the lowest number greater than zero such that you control no creatures with that power. Create a green and white elemental creature token with power and toughness equal to that number. Then repeat this process.
-X: You may choose a Naila planeswalker card and a Hrun planeswalker card you own from outside the game. If you choose both, and their combined converted mana cost is X or less, put them onto the battlefield, then sacrifice CARDNAME.

Design 3

Swiftblade Pikeman (common)
Creature — Human Soldier
CARDNAME enters the battlefield with a blade counter on it.
Remove a blade counter from CARDNAME: CARDNAME gains first strike until end of turn.

Design 4

Zyym, Mesmeric Lord (mythic rare)
Legendary Creature — Vampire Wizard
Flying, deathtouch
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, target opponent chooses an order for the cards in his or her hand, then reveals them one by one, until you say stop. That player then discards the most recently revealed card.

Design 5

Goblin Guillotine (rare)
Destroy target creature. If a creature dies this way, create a token creature with the same colors and creature types as the dead creature. Flip a coin. If it comes up heads, your token is named Head and is a 1/1. Otherwise, your token is named Body and is the same power and toughness as the dead creature, minus one.

Design 6

Verdant Ingenuity (uncommon)
Reveal cards from the top of your library until the revealed cards include at least one land card and at least one non-land card. Put a land card from among them onto the battlefield. Put a non-land card from among them into your hand. Put the other revealed cards on the bottom of your library in any order.

Design 7

Astral Containment (rare)
Choose two target creatures. Exile the first creature until the second creature leaves the battlefield.

Design 8

Requiem for the Profane (uncommon)
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, target opponent loses two life and you gain two life.
Whenever a creature dies, you may return CARDNAME to its owner's hand.

Design 9

Blood of the Horde (common)
Whenever you attack with one or more creatures, choose one of those attackers. It gets +1/+1 and gains trample until end of turn.

Design 10

Saheeli, Prodigious Inventor (mythic rare)
Planeswalker — Saheeli
+1: If you control no thopters, create a 1/1 colorless thopter artifact creature token with flying. Otherwise, scry 2.
-2: Target thopter you control becomes a copy of target artifact or creature. It's still an artifact. (This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)
-8: You get an emblem with At the beginning of your end step, search your library for an artifact card with converted mana cost X or less, where X is two plus the highest converted mana cost among artifacts you control. Put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.


  1. I'm doing my own mini-reviews of the design tests. I'm awarding a potential 2 points for each card, and will figure out what that all means when I get further along.

    1) Evolution from Below: Strong opening. I might limit it to having the same CMC, and not less, but that's something that should come out in testing.

    2 points.

    2) Naila and Hrun - Guh. There's a lot to like here, but the execution is... problematic. That + ability ought to be a standalone enchantment, assuming we can template it better than that word salad. Where's the third ability? If people get more excited for 4 ability Planeswalkers, it kind of stands to reason they'd be let down by ones with only 2.

    Planeswalker pairs are inevitable, but they don't need to wish for their component parts the first time we see them.

    0 points.

    3) Swiftblade Pikeman: This reads distinctly like a pre-Tempest magic card. There's flavor here (although is it a blade or a pike? Are either of those typically thrown away to gain a short time advantage? Concepting is off), but it's not exactly doing anything exciting, even for a common.

    1 point.

    1. 4) Zyym, Mesmeric Lord: There's definitely a more normal way to template that. It could easily be a rare over mythic. And would revealing their entire hand and having them discard one have been too simple for this?

      1 point.

      5) Goblin Guillotine: Adding a random component doesn't automatically make something red. This is arguably rakdos, but just barely. The concept is fun, if a little disconnected (lol) mechanically, but the templating continues to be a major issue.

      1 point.

      6) Verdant Ingenuity: Solid. Minor templating nitpicks, but I'm very happy with the ways that this could play out. Interestingly, would also make a solid temur card.

      2 points.

    2. 7) Astral Containment: Beautiful. My one gripe is that it mechanically feels more of an Orzhov card, but it plays ok in Azorius' mechanical space.

      2 points.

      8) Requiem for the Profane: I like this a lot. I'd like it better as a creature, but there's some space for this kind of enchantment.

      2 points.

    3. 9) Blood of the Horde: Blood Mist and Nahiri's Mechanations for templating. A simple common that works for its colors, but there's nothing there that's exciting.

      1 point.

      10) Saheeli, Prodigious Inventor: So much good seeds of ideas here, but execution is way off.

      +1: Create a token
      -2: Target token artifact becomes a copy of something.

      The ultimate is being too clever, since it might not be super apparent to most players that copied cards copy mana cost as well. I like where Saheeli was going, but needed significant playtesting and iteration.

      1 point.

      Total points: 13

  2. Evolution From Below- Neat punisher-ish idea. Targeting a higher-CMC creature makes both halves better, so that checks out. Deckbuilding to make the tutor half good at all CMCs is probably not worth it. I'm torn on this, because it's a very appealing idea, but it also gives off vibes of clunkiness and I don't get the flavor.

    Naila and Hrun, Fused- Everything about this card is a No. What am I missing?

    Swiftblade Pikeman- Tricky to print because you want a whole set full of blade counters, but I like the idea a ton-- it's a clean and inventive way to mine design space for common creatures.

    Zyym, Mesmeric Lord- Seems a shame to waste a creature slot on this when the ETB effect is clearly the point. Just put it on a 1UB cantripping sorcery or something. Also, rare is (interestingly) a better choice for this than mythic. That being said-- this effect is really really cool! I can't begin to guess what the right way to order the cards is, and I'd love to watch how this plays out in tournament coverage. The fact that it hits lands makes it unfortunately hard to balance. I guess that's a good reason to make it a creature ETB and price it higher.

    Goblin Guillotine- Feels like an Un-card. I kept waiting for the Body not to have any of the creature's abilities, a la Soul Separator. Overall this design doesn't work for me-- I just don't see the point, and it raises way too many flavor questions.

    Verdant Ingenuity- So, worst case this is a more predictable Divination. Best case, you chew through a bunch of potentially dead draws and get some bonus card selection (though not the land vs. nonland kind that people mostly care about). Johnny case, you just stacked your deck and tutored for the low low price of 3 mana. The edge cases here could use a little more thought, but this is a really innovative and interesting way of doing card draw.

    Astral Containment- It's different from Faith Unbroken in that it's an instant and the first target can be an opponent's creature too. Together, those allow for so many fun hijinks. I don't think it's a particularly powerful card and I have a bone or two to pick with the templating, but it's fun and interesting and that's what counts. Not sure what's so U or so rare about it.

    Requiem for the Profane- Reminds me of the mill design that flashes itself back when a creature dies. This is a better version, though. The repeatability is exciting but (probably) not oppressive, especially since you have to cast it again before you can re-buy it. Also, doing this via an enchantment instead of a sorcery with a return-from-graveyard trigger is smart. A solid hit.

    Blood of the Horde- "At the beginning of combat on your turn, target creature gets +1/+1 and gains trample until end of turn." That's the Battle-Rattle Shaman style and I don't see any reason to deviate from it. So this is a design that looks innovative, but isn't. That being said, it looks fun and balanced to play with.

    Saheeli, Prodigious Inventor- Lots of text here. I get a top-down vibe off of this, but I can't quite pin it down. The first two abilities are quirky but not exactly innovative. The third ability is neat and exciting, but too wordy for an ultimate.

    1. Using the same scoring system as zefferal, I get:
      Evolution From Below - 1
      Naila and Hrun - 0
      Swiftblade Pikeman - 2
      Zyym - 1
      Goblin Guillotine - 0
      Verdant Ingenuity - 1
      Astral Containment - 2
      Requiem for the Profane - 2
      Blood of the Horde - 1
      Saheeli - 0
      for a total of 10.

  3. 1. Evolution from Below. Like the concept. This feels like a really tough choice for the opponent. That's a good sign. Often these punisher "choices" have a correct choice. Can't really say that with this one.

    2. Nailla and Hrun. [Tilts head]. So it's really hard to try to evaluate this card without knowing what the other two planeswalkers are or what they do. I grok that this sample is to show a design idea of a specific planeswalker interaction that doesn't currently exist. But given that there aren't all that many planeswalkers in a given set, not fond of an ult that requires at least two other planeswalkers to work.

    3. Swiftblade Pikeman. Cute and simple. I like it. Makes you wonder if there would be a mechanic to restore blade counters on your creatures. But it could also be monocolored in either red or white.

    4. Zyym. Love the mechanic but agree that this should be a sorcery, not a creature, so that it could be played earlier and create more an interesting outcome. I really do like it, even as a creature.

    5. Goblin Guillotine. [Tilts head again]. Well, okay. It would be fun to use against an opponents' fatties, but otherwise it just kind of feels gimmicky, particularly given the cost of the card and the randomness. It's certainly not boring, though.

    6. Verdant Ingenuity. Easy to grasp and fun and playable. But blue typically is also restricted to non-creature spells when semi-tutoring/digging like this. So if blue is bringing the non-land card, it should maybe be further restricted.

    7. Astral Containment. This is interesting, but it's really BW, not UW. It could possibly be even mono-white, but tying the fate of one creature to another seems black. I like the card though.

    8. Requiem for the Profane. I like it (especially if it hints of a cycle like the trials from Amonkhet), but I think I would want to test the numbers on it. It may be too strong, especially in limited setting when it's less likely that opponents will be able to respond to it at all.

    9. Blood of the Horde. Yeah, the wording here is weird and unnecessarily complex. But it's a fine common card. Oh hey, trample!

    10. Saheeli II. I have a fondness for artifact-themed planeswalkers, and this one's fun. I'm a bit confused about thopters becoming people. That's actually kind of scary! I hope Tezzeret hasn't gotten to her. Her ult is unnecessarily complex.

  4. If anyone is interested, I posted my thoughts about my submitted cards in a reddit thread over here:

    Note the shout out to whoever first pointed out the existence of Blood Mist, which I admit I had completely forgotten about.