Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Top-Down Tuesday - Executioner's Deathmask ( + Contest)

Though I intended to return with yet another hearty dose of ghastly blather, editing the many articles of my fellow contributors got me itching to write something with a bit less heft. (Yet hopefully just as much chew — like a Baby Ruth.) And it being Tuesday, what better day could there be to discuss a couple of top-down designs? Presumably none as alliterative, that's for sure.

This first design began life as one of many inspired by Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, here an attempt at imagining the protagonist's mask that he wears as the Lictor of Thrax. As per my pursuit of obvious solutions, it seemed quite clear that this should at the least be an equipment that grants deathtouch. From there, the question was how do I best represent this shift from a normal creature into an executioner? Technically, an executioner is tasked with bringing a timely end to the terminally imprisoned, but the Magical form of imprisonment is itself already a form of removal, so granting a creature the ability to destroy creatures that are already incapacitated (however that might be worded) would be terribly redundant. After designing a cycle of accompanying equipment, and trawling gatherer for possible activated abilities, I came to the following conclusion:

» Click to Reveal «

While a repeatable Fatal Blow may feel more appropriately associated with euthanasia, I concluded it was the most flavorfully resonant ability that could be comfortably fit as a "CC" non-tapping activated ability — a requirement to align the design with its fellow cycle members. However, to further emphasize the feel of donning an executioner's deathmask, the equip cost requires an initiation into the ranks: the sacrifice of another creature. I wouldn't anticipate this card to tear up the tables in any format, even as a form of repeatable removal in limited, but I do envision it as a fun component to any B/x deck with an emphasis on disposable creatures and a dash of direct damage.

As a bonus, I present an Imperial Watchtower:

» Click to Reveal «

I've been having a tough time with conceptualizing ways to express the oppressive methods of the ruling political body within Melody block, as it's all too easy to find yourself losing sight of "fun" and "interactivity" when you're busy thinking of ways to make opposing players give up on life. And while I still haven't really come to any great enlightenment in that regard, I did kick out the above land after being amused by how much interest Gitaxian Probe has received, albeit primarily for being a "free" cantrip. Historically, Telepathy effects haven't been the most widely played, as the effect isn't quite worth space in the average deck. Seer's Vision provides a little bit of bonus, much like Gitaxian Probe, but it's still too niche. Buy hey, more information is always a good thing, and since the effect is approximately valued at U, I thought what better way was there to make a thing playable than by writing it on a land that taps for honest-to-goodness mana? Of course, the top-down caveat here is that you're required to send one of your cronies up to the watchtower in order to receive that effect, but no big deal.


So now, in honor of Top-Down Tuesday and the continued function of this blog, a contest:

Step One

Friend us, Goblin Artisans, on Facebook. If you don't have Facebook, or happen to be embarrassed at the thought of being friends with an amorphous blog on Facebook, you are shit out of luck.

Step Two

Submit via PM or by writing on our Facebook wall, your best top-down design, with a certain amount of explanation defining just how "top-down" it is. (PM is probably best.)

Step Three

Us Artisans will debate submissions and choose the best three to receive one of the following packages:

First Prize - Lotus Cobra, Avenger of Zendikar, Misty Rainforest (Paper) ; or Sword of Feast & Famine + Sword of Body & Mind (MTGO)

Second Prize - Jenara, Asura of War EDH kit (w/Elspeth, Knight Errant (SoA Art), Knight of the Reliquary, more) (Paper); Playset of Splinter Twin (MTGO)

Booby Prize - Foil Pyromancer's Ascension + Random Terrible Red Cards (Paper); Some Stuff I Ain't Think of Yet (MTGO)

The first place winner can opt to take any of the described prizes, and so forth down the line. And non-Facebook folk, you're not actually shit out of luck, you just have to leave your design in the comments with a functional e-mail attached. But really, we could use some Facebook friends.


  1. I think Imperial Watchtower is good way to implement a peek effect because the cost keeps players from tapping it every turn "just because," so suspense might rebuild in a few turns. Also, it's easier to squeeze into a deck, being a land. However, I don't see it being used over other strong colorless producing lands like Tectonic Edge. Maybe it can be a dual uncommon land that enters play tapped that have a second ability, like the Refuges in Zendikar?

    I wish the Deathmask came into play attached like Piston Sledge, since the equip cost is steep.

    Another idea - no equip ability + "Whenever a creature an opponent controls is put into a graveyard, you may attach Executioner's Deathmask to a creature that dealt damage to that creature this turn."

  2. Actually, I think I'm wrong about the dual uncommon land thing...

    It could just be a colorless land like Reliquary Tower, where a combo deck that needs it would run it.

    There's no reason to make peeking a ubiquitous effect by putting it on a dual land, since guessing the opponent's hand is one of the biggest tests of skill in Magic, and it's an element of the game that exists for pros while beginners can experience their inability to guess hands more as a kind of random fun, rather than being confused or paralyzed because they can't guess what the opponent has.

  3. Top-down design submission from a non-Facebook folk.

    Soul Absorb




    At the beginning of your upkeep, put a -1/-1 counter on enchanted creature and put a +1/+1 counter on target creature.

  4. Sorry - one more thing - it's top down design because it uses a well-known
    fantasy power (absorbing souls) with a powerful effect designed to fit well in black and white.

    The email is fenrir(dot)master(at)gmail(dot)com.