Monday, March 5, 2018

Chris Mooney'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

Champion's Belt (rare)
Enchantment — Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has menace and vigilance. All other creatures have 2, T: Fight enchanted creature.
When enchanted creature dies, attach CARDNAME to a creature it fought this turn.

Design 2

Keeper, Underworld Warden (mythic rare)
Planeswalker — Keeper
1: Exile up to one target creature card from a graveyard.
-1: Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. Exile that card.
-2: Exile target permanent.
When CARDNAME leaves the battlefield, at the beginning of the next end step, return each card exiled with her to its owner's hand.

Design 3

One-Shot Saboteur (common)
Creature — Human Rogue
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, look at the bottom two cards of your library, then exile one face down.
When CARDNAME deals combat damage to a player, put the exiled card into your hand.

Design 4

Borrowed Time (rare)
Untap all permanents you control. Draw a card.
Skip your next beginning phase. (The beginning phase consists of the untap, upkeep, and draw steps.)

Design 5

Shared Custody (uncommon)
Enchantment — Aura
Enchant creature
You control enchanted creature.
At the beginning of each combat phase, enchanted creature's owner chooses if it will attack or block this turn if able. (You still choose how it attacks or blocks.)

Design 6

True Love's Kiss (rare)
Put a love counter on each of two target creatures controlled by different players. Destroy all Auras attached to those creatures, then untap them and gain control of them until end of turn.
Put CARDNAME onto the battlefield transformed.
The Power of Love
Legendary Enchantment
Creatures with love counters on them have haste and lifelink. They can't attack players who control creatures with love counters on them

Design 7

Violent Thoughts (uncommon)
Exile the top two cards of your library. Each of those cards deals 2 damage to any target. If you are dealt damage by a card this way, put that card into your hand.
If violence isn't the answer, you're asking the wrong question.

Design 8

Friendly Treefolk (uncommon)
Creature — Treefolk
Vigilance, trample
Prevent all combat damage that CARDNAME would deal to creatures.
A treefolk is a friend to all, be it plants or elves or tiny squirrels.

Design 9

Kwil, Spell Lord (mythic rare)
Planeswalker — Kwil
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, put two loyalty counters on CARDNAME. Then you may activate one of his loyalty abilities.
-3: Choose target instant or sorcery spell. If that spell is blue, draw a card. If that spell is red, CARDNAME deals 2 damage to any target.
-5: Copy target instant or sorcery spell. You may choose new targets for the copy.

Design 10

Deathmatch (common)
Target creature you control gains deathtouch until end of turn. That creature fights target creature you don't control.
The world doesn't pull any punches. Why should I?


  1. 1. Very flavorful! That said, it's still mostly a +2/+2 aura that give menace and vigilance, with a downside. Not exactly the most inspiring rare. Also, green granting vigilance is a stretch, even being secondary.

    2.keeper is an awesome design. One of my favorites from the entire trial.

    3. Why does this draw from the bottom? It makes multiples awkward.

    4. Why does this skip your upkeep? Skipping draw and untap steps happen regularly, but skipping upkeep is just going to be confusing when things don't trigger. Not that it overly matters, I assume the combo decks that want a cantrip reset are probably winning the turn they cast it.

  2. A lot of these are splashy and fun in multiplayer but are weak or have issues in duels. Champion's Belt seems too weak to play in duels, True Love's Kiss is very strange in duels after the first turn, and Shared Custody becomes just a complicated Pacifism in most cases.
    One-Shot Saboteur doesn't seem to have any real reason to grab from the bottom instead of the top.
    Borrowed Time is good, maybe a little underpowered. For 3UU you could just buy an entire extra turn.
    Kwil is intriguing, but I don't like that his loyalty abilities ONLY work after you've cast an instant or sorcery. He's a complete sitting duck if you can only afford to play him that turn, which is a feelsbad moment.
    I love Violent Thoughts (although the name doesn't sell that concept for me) and Friendly Treefolk. The latter reminds me of Karn's old pacifist clause exploited as a card of its own.

  3. 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) Champions Belt is great up until the point that you realize the opponent can and often will choose to just outright kill the creature and not care whether they take the belt or not. This is not intuitive to the design. Would have made a much better equipment.

    1 Point.

    2) Keeper: PW that appeals mostly to Spike. PWs should appeal to spike, but they should primarily appeal to Jenny or Tammy. Jenny may try to find some stuff to do with this and processors, but otherwise relatively unexciting.

    0 points.

    3) One-Shot Saboteur: That's ok. Doing it from the bottom this way works for the purposes of this test, but I'd rather see it attached to an ability like renown.

    1 point.

    1. 4) Borrowed Time: Literally everything after "draw a card" is unnecessary drawback. The design works fine without it (not broken, even with it being a "free" spell). When designing multicolor rares, the component colors should contribute to upside, not downside.

      0 points, but it would have gotten 1 for being splashy if it hadn't had the unnecessary text.

      5) Shared Custody: That's interesting. There probably needs to be some rules clarification going on, but I dig it.

      2 points.

      6) True Love's Kiss: I could have justified this as a 2-point card if it wasn't DFC, but making this a DFC does absolutely nothing for this card's design. There's a lot of unnecessary parts to this card. Killing auras is cute and flavorful, but meh. This could have been a single-faced card and much less messy.

      0 Points.

    2. 7) Violent Thoughts: Cool concept, and the templating kind of works for me. I'm not sure its necessary, but it does save some awkward templating gymnastics if we tried to fit it in existing models.

      1 point

      8) Friendly Treefolk: Cool. Interesting. Needs a lot of testing to see what it does to a board.

      2 points.

  4. 9) Kwil, Spell Lord: I'm not the biggest fan of pushing PW boundaries in this test, but this works for me. Reactive PWs are definitely innovative. This will probably cause no end of rules confusion.

    1 point.

    10) Deathmatch: Bluch. Could be monogreen but won't be because it breaks spirit of color pie. So why not just make it black? This is kind of clever but contributes nothing new to the game.

    0 points.

  5. Champion's Belt- Is +2/+2, menace, and vigilance enough of a reward? This has a feel-bad mode where you just never dare to play it, because some opposing fatty is going to take it and keep it. Or because the opponent's Regathan Firecat could straight-up 2-for-1 you. Also, there's some strange asymmetry in the fact that the Belt's controller always decides what creature it goes on (though I guess there's usually just one option). I'm charmed by the concept, but the execution could use some work.

    Keeper, Underworld Warden- This is the third WB walker designed around temporary exile that I've seen in the submissions so far! But this one takes things in a slightly different direction. The way all three loyalty abilities interact with the death trigger is certainly cool, especially since they all fit squarely in the WB color pie. And I appreciate seeing this much mechanical cohesion on a planeswalker. But I'm somewhat suspicious of the loyalty numbers and whether this could become oppressive-- especially if it starts exiling lands.

    One-Shot Saboteur- "Bottom two cards" seems needlessly weird, and too complex for common. This would be a much cooler design if it just exiled the top card of your library. And at that point it would be a very cool design indeed.

    Borrowed Time- It took me a while to grok this, but it's really neat. Essentially it's an advance on your next turn, kinda-sorta-except-for-combat. Even with the exile and the skip I'm sure there are ways to abuse this. On the other hand, at 5 mana, why wouldn't people just play Time Warp?

    Shared Custody- Cool idea. A little ambiguity in the templating though. (You get to give it "attacks or blocks this turn if able"? Do you also get to give it "can't attack or block this turn"?) This should definitely be a rare. 3 mana is aggressive for control changing, but I like how it encourages players to play creatures for their combat relevance.

    1. True Love's Kiss- So in a duel this is an Act of Treason with trinket text that then turns into a bilateral Guard Duty? It's weird, even a little creepy, but hey-- that's True Love for you. I dislike it for being too literally top-down, fiddly, and trinket text-y. Others might like it for similar reasons.

      Violent Thoughts- Cards dealing damage?!? Bizarre. I'd template this as "put any number of them into your hand; CARDNAME deals 2 damage to you for each card put into your hand this way and 2 damage to any target for each card not put into your hand this way." So I guess it's doing a weird Sylvan Library/turn-my-cards-into-free-Shocks thing. I can't prove this isn't balanced, but I don't understand it well enough to be sure. That's probably a bad sign, especially for an uncommon.

      Friendly Treefolk- Now this is a fun one. Good choice of abilities to be relevant and on-color, and lots of neat possibilities from the "drawback". I even appreciated the flavor text. Caw, Caw, Rawr!

      Kwil, Spell Lord- Design #3 I've seen with a gain-loyalty trigger. This one adds an additional wrinkle, which I don't much like-- it seems like too much. Then I look at the loyalty abilities and realize that Kwil *only* works when activated this way. Oh, and you have to forgo the option at least once if you want to activate the -5 and survive. Also, the -3 is clunkily worded-- I would've preferred not caring about the spell and just doing some interesting effect like Electrolyze or Winterflame. Overall, this design feels like it's bending the notion of a planeswalker in ways I don't like.

      Deathmatch- The BG is interesting here. At first it seemed wrong because both effects are available in mono-green. But then I remembered that Maro was set against green getting unconditional creature kill, period. So BG is probably right for this, and part of what B is contributing is "being an unconditional kill spell". When I think of it that way, it's basically a split Prey Upon / Bone Splinters depending on the creatures' sizes. That's very cool, and a nice design. This should be much higher than #10 (I find myself saying that a lot).

    2. Trying the same scoring system as zefferal, I get:
      Champion's Belt - 1
      Keeper - 1
      One-Shot Saboteur - 1
      Borrowed Time - 1
      Shared Custody - 1
      True Love - 0
      Violent Thoughts - 0
      Friendly Treefolk - 2
      Kwil - 0
      Deathmatch - 2
      for a total of 9.

  6. 1. Of all the weirdness of this aura I think I'm most bothered by the fact that I'm not sure how any of this interacts with hexproof. Can anybody even fight the enchanted creature if it has hexproof? Can the aura be moved onto a creature with hexproof? I would assume no to both, but I'm just not sure.

    2. Keeper. Well, at least the exile effect returns card to the hand rather than the battlefield, though that also makes it off-pie when used on an opponent's permanents. White can bounce its own stuff but not opponents'. I'm still not sold on planeswalkers with Oblivion Ring effects, but this one is designed and costed with the understanding these permanents are probably not going to be gone long. I like that.

    3. One-Shot Saboteur. I, like others, don't understand the bottoming thing. Given that blue is best positioned to shove unwanted cards to the bottom of the library, why would you want them back? And who is this sabotaging?

    4. Borrowed Time. I like this not-quite extra turn trick. I'm not sure it actually needs green. Yes, green can untap its own stuff, but blue can also do that on its own.

    5. Shared Custody. Feels more like a gimmick than a card. I suspect in playtesting it will turn out that the creature's owner would simply say no to either and it will play out like a pacifism, sort of.

    6. True Love's Kiss/Power of Love. These two gave me such a headache trying to decipher. It's top down design attempting to represent the emotional component to red but it's so overworked. It's an interesting design space to present the star-crossed lovers refusing to fight each other, but this needs to be simplified a lot.

    7. Violent Thoughts. I like this interesting choices in this card. I would template it that the cards are exiled face-down so that you had to make the choice without knowing which card it was.

    8. Friendly Treefolk. It's a fun design but it is NOT a friend to players and planeswalkers, heh.

    9. Kwil. I think this is an interesting design attempt to make an instant-focused planeswalker and lots of credit for the effort. However, I think Spike is going to break this guy in about five minutes, though I have to admit I am not entirely sure how. I'm betting it involves storm.

    10. Deathmatch. Good explanation by IPaulsen why it's BG and not monogreen. I'm generally not happy with green having instant-speed removal with the fight mechanic, so I'm glad this is a sorcery. Especially with deathtouch on it. I think I do like this card as well.

    1. hexproof prevents your opponent declaring your creature a target for something. As worded, it doesn't target the belt-holder, but it seems like it probably should.