Monday, March 5, 2018

Ryan Siegel-Stechler'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

Swallow Whole (uncommon)
Exile target creature if its toughness is less than the greatest toughness among creatures you control. You gain life equal to the difference.

Design 2

Sewer Skimmer (common)
Creature — Bat Horror
Whenever Sewer Skimmer deals combat damage, exile up to that many cards from a single graveyard.
Sewer Skimmer has deathtouch as long as it's attacking a player with an empty graveyard.

Design 3

Indiscriminate Slaughter (rare)
Choose a creature at random. Destroy all other creatures.

Design 4

See You Tomorrow (rare)
Return target attacking creature to its owner's hand. Its controller skips his or her postcombat main phase.

Design 5

Heart's Desire (mythic rare)
If you would search your library for a card or cards, search for twice as many cards that fit the search criteria instead.

Design 6

Kaya, Kingslayer (mythic rare)
Legendary Planeswalker — Kaya
+1: Each opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.
-3: Exile target creature until Kaya, Kingslayer leaves the battlefield.
-6: You get an emblem with Creatures can't attack Kaya planeswalkers you control.

Design 7

Cranky Hydra (rare)
Creature — Hydra
When Cranky Hydra enters the battlefield, choose X. You may choose the same mode more than once —
* Put a +1/+1 counter on Cranky Hydra.
* Cranky Hydra deals 1 damage to target player.
* Destroy target artifact or enchantment.

Design 8

Ral, Living Experiment (mythic rare)
Legendary Planeswalker — Ral
+2: Discard a card. If you do, draw two cards.
0: Instant and sorcery spells you cast cost 1 less to cast this turn.
-9: Take an extra turn after this one. During that turn, whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, copy it. You may choose new targets for the copy.

Design 9

Alacrity (common)
Target creature gets +2/+2 and gains vigilance until your next turn.

Design 10

Curse of Apprehension (uncommon)
Enchantment — Aura Curse
Enchant player
Creatures enchanted player controls can't attack or block alone.


  1. Congrats R Stech! Well deserved!


    Swallow Whole- Disappointed to see that this doesn't "exile-until" like Colossal Whale, which would be an even stronger flavor fit. As-is it's still pretty good-- kind of a cross between exile and fight. Also, using "equal to the difference" in this context is neat. I wouldn't have picked this for design #1 but it's solid.

    Sewer Skimmer- Some templating weirdness here. I'd have said "target opponent's graveyard" and "graveyard with no cards in it." The bigger problem I'm seeing with the design, though, is how often the abilities are going to be relevant. If they have a big flying/reach blocker and no cards in the graveyard, then it's a trade... but if they ever get a card in the graveyard, then they can block and the Skimmer will die before the ability comes online. Basically, "combat damage" is only going to be "combat damage to an opponent" in practice, at which point it makes more sense to turn the whole exile thing into a saboteur ability.

    Indiscriminate Slaughter- Now this one's awesome. I like how it encourages control decks to run out a threat or two. I was wondering about the color pie, but Bontu's Last Reckoning is non-Planar-Chaos precedent for black wraths, and red brings the randomness.

    See You Tomorrow- Not sure I like the implications of skipping the postcombat main phase. Players who are aware of the spell will have to play stuff precombat, which makes tricks less viable/interesting. Players who aren't aware will get randomly, frustratingly Time Walked by it. Seems unfun. But I like the idea of not letting them replay their creature right away! What about using the Reflector Mage wording to do that instead?

    Heart's Desire- I don't think this works so well within the rules, and since it's such a one-off it's probably not worth the effort of making it work. Also, at 7 mana I'd rather just have Swarm Intelligence, which is better 99-plus percent of the time.

    Kaya, Kingslayer- I really like the exile-until clause and the funky ultimate here. Not so much a fan of the 2-mana cost-- comes off as doing that just for the sake of doing it. I'd much rather see this Kaya cost 1WB with the same ability text and 3-ish starting loyalty.

    Cranky Hydra- Once I realized what "choose X" meant, I went "whoa, that's awesome". I think the balancing of the options could be improved, though. The player burn is only going to be relevant if the opponent is in kill range. Would targeting creatures instead make this too much of a Rolling Thunder? And the last ability wants to be artifact only, since that's the red-green overlap.

    Ral, Living Experiment- Nothing super groundbreaking here, but plenty of fun. This seems like it's accurately designed toward the not-pushed-for-Constructed planeswalker niche. Good choices of effects.

    Alacrity- I've mentioned the "until your next turn" idea before and generally got a negative reaction-- there are memory issues, it's not all that relevant in most cases, and we don't really want it coexisting with "until end of turn" effects in a Limited environment. I almost switched over to it in one of my custom sets because of landfall, which made it relevant in a lot more cases, but even there it didn't seem worth the hassle. That said, I have a soft spot for this idea, and the hybrid and vigilance are smart choices.

    Curse of Apprehension- The Melvin in me really likes this one. It's a drawback we haven't seen before and I'm guessing it plays very interestingly. Doesn't deserve the #10 spot, that's for sure.

    1. Using the same scoring system as zefferal, I get:
      Swallow Whole - 1
      Sewer Skimmer - 0
      Indiscriminate Slaughter - 2
      See You Tomorrow - 1
      Heart's Desire - 0
      Kaya - 1
      Cranky Hydra - 1
      Ral - 1
      Alacrity - 1
      Curse of Apprehension - 2
      for a total of 10.

  2. Quite a few of these have really weird templating, but I really like the elegance of Alacrity and Curse of Apprehension

  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) Swallow Whole: Solid uncommon design. A little strange, kind of swingy, and would have been a good fit in Ixalan.

    2 points.

    2) Sewer Skimmer: The 1-toughness makes so much of this unnecessarily complicated. When ~ attacks, exile 2 cards from defending players GY. OK common, but could have been cleaner.

    1 point.

    3) Indiscriminate Slaughter: A simple Damnation with a Red twist. I'm a fan.

    2 points.

    4) See You tomorrow: It should be templated as "next main phase." Scratch that. It should be templated as "It's controller may not cast spells or activate abilities until the beginning of the next turn." Cool.

    1 point.

    1. 5) Heart's Desire: Cool idea, but a couple of problems. First, that templating is too gooey for black border. Silver border lets us word things like that, black border requires language that can be programmed. If it worked as a copy effect instead, would it be recursive?

      Second thing, do we want cards that do more searching in your library? It's an effect they try to cut down on, not increase. If it was limited to "reveal the top X cards of your library" effects, as it should be in Simic, then by doubling that number, do we make the game more or less fun?

      Also, as printed, that's probably a dimir card, not simic.

      0 points

      6) Kaya, Kingslayer: There's some cool stuff here, but it got lost in attempting to make a 2-mana walker. landing with 1 loyalty and only having a tiny utility ability available the first two turns she's in play ensure that our big splashy mythic planeswalker won't even make ripples when she jumps in.

      0 points.

      7) Cranky Hydra: Templating could be cleaner, but that's fine. This is a powerhouse in commander and a solid draft pick. I think that the damage did not need to be limited to a player, but a fantastic submission.

      2 points.

      8) Ral, Living Experiment: That ultimate tho. There's a little bad tension between the 0 and the ultimate, in that ral definitely wants you to hold on to as many spells as you can get away with as you tick him up. I guess the middle is meant to be used in the extra turn, rather than before it, but it reads a little strangely.

      1 point.

    2. 9) Alacrity: Until your next turn is interesting, but remembering things past their expected expiration is not. I like that this is the opposite of Armor of Thorns and friends, spells acting like enchantments instead of the other way around, and the simplicity is nice, but I'm not at all sold on the mechanic.

      1 point.

      10) Curse of Apprehension: Cool idea, possibly undercosted, possibly a rare.

      1 point.

      Total points: 11

  4. Delayed responses to these as I'm currently at SXSW (working, not partying).

    1. Swallow Whole. I like the concept but I think I would have worded it so that the target had to be valid in order to cast the spell (Exile target creature with toughness less...).

    2. Interesting ideas but way too much going on for common. I would probably dump at least one component. I'd probably dump the graveyard exile, which I realize seriously neuters the idea. But I think there's some interesting common black creature design space about a creature that is extremely thirsty/desperate to get the first kill. But then that makes it more of a B/R card than U/B.

    3. Indiscriminate Slaughter. So I have to be the jerk to point out that this exactly the same as an iconic Hearthstone card named Brawl. It's iconic enough that I know what it is even though I don't play the game myself (I've watched plenty of streams). I'm not accusing you of plagiarizing, to be very clear here. I'm certain you wouldn't have submitted the card if you knew it existed and certainly you wouldn't have been selected as a finalist had WotC thought that either. I do wonder if any of the judges mentioned the Hearthstone card when they were grading you. That said, it's a great card that WotC will probably never be able to print, unfortunately.

    4. See You Tomorrow. I like this neat little twist. It does a lot more than keeping the opponent from recasting the creature. Hilariously, the better player your opponent is, the more likely this is going to hurt, because they are more likely to have held on to cards they wanted to play post-combat. I really like this one.

    5. Heart's Desire. I like the idea here. I think I would prefer an additional card of the appropriate type rather than twice as many. I'm not sure about the rarity here. How many search cards do people typically put in a deck? It's a powerful effect, but is it that powerful?

    Kaya. I see what you're going for, but I don't think she's playable. With the balancing you've done to keep her exile ability from destroying a player too early in the game, I really don't see her surviving all that long.

    7. Cranky Hydra. This is fun and I'm surprised it's so far down on the list. Granted, it could just end up being a game-ending fireball. Maybe this should be a mythic and Heart's Desire should be rare.

    8. Ral. I'm not sure when you would use the 0 power here, unless playing the card in your hand would win you the game (and then you'd probably have the mana). This seems like a planeswalker you'd always be plusing until you can ultimate.

    9. Alacrity. Not being able to play this as an instant to protect a creature hurts a ton. At least the vigilance is only relevant on your turn anyway. But still, not being able to save a creature from a burn spell or whatever makes this a tough sell in a limited environment.

    10. Curse of Apprehension. This seems fun and I'm not sure why you have it last. Are you concerned this would cause games to stall or something?

    1. Here's the hearthstone card, fyi:

    2. Yeah, I have now had multiple people tell me it’s a Hearthstone card. -_- I had no idea, I do play Eternal and consciously avoided making cards from that, but never liked Hearthstone and so didn’t even think to check my originality against it.

  5. Thanks very much for the feedback, everyone. I’m going to hold off on addressing any specific (non-hearthstone) comments until after the first show is posted out of an abundance of caution, but I do intend to go through and discuss what I was up to, what I believe my shortcomings were, and to address the judges/your criticisms and praise.