Friday, July 29, 2011

CCDD 072911—Umbramancer

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/29/2011 - Most shades are mindless entities. Fractured souls traveling blindly through eternal darkness. But if the set that yesterday's card goes in is going to establish them as even a minor tribe, there will need to be exceptions to prove the rule. Umbramancer was a wizard in life, studying the magic of darkness. He was consumed by his own research—literally—and has become a shade, yet because of his dark knowledge and the way he was transformed, he retains much of his mind and his arcane ability.

This guy was made to fill a specific role in the Shade deck: going and fetching Noble Revenant. It would be silly to do something so specific as "When ~ ETB, search for a card named NR" when we could do something open-ended that gives Umbramancer a place in other black decks as well.

As a 4cc 1/1 he's a very risky investment, but like Archivist and friends, his ability is also very powerful. You can literally draw whatever spell you want every turn as long as he remains on the battlefield. It's not cheap, but you're also making him into a sizeable attacker or blocker at the same time. (Just noticed you can currently search for any CMC X card; should specify spell card so you can't stack your library with land for free. Probably not broken, but certainly not in the spirit of the card.)

I've got a bonus card that is Shade-related but not remotely worth its own CCDD. Might not even be printable, but at least it's cute and on-topic.

No deck without Shades is going to play Swamp of Shadows, so I'm almost tempted to make it a truly dedicated card by removing the first two abilities.


  1. Mmm, Training Grounds fodder. I might put a once-per-turn clause on that X ability, just to prevent ridiculous hi-jinx with stuff like Oracle of Mul Daya or some such.

  2. I concur with the once-per-turn clause. It fixes the issue of stacking land on top of your library while still allowing you to get a land if you need it, like if you want your shade swamp. Another way to fix it is to have it cost XB instead and have it either cost less, have bigger body or flying/intimidate.

  3. Tutoring every turn is too powerful. Maybe it should look at the top X cards and put one on top, rest in grave?

    I think it's a great way to make a Shade good though - make the mana that you're spending to pump it count for something else.

  4. It's a swamp that's not a Swamp.

  5. I couldn't agree more that this ability should be limited to once per turn.

    It requires the player to choose one card and power/toughness bonus rather than cycling through a number of 1cc spells or so, limits the amount of searching/shuffling (always a huge time suck) and eliminates confusion about how Umbramancer works: You can't actually stack your library by more than one card since you shuffle the rest of it each time.

    Chah's look at the top N cards idea is pretty interesting too.

    Good catch, Anonymous. A land should never have the name of a basic land in its own name if it doesn't have that type.

  6. The land should indeed only have the second ability. The umbramancer is gerat but his repeated p/t is a problem. I would make him trigger the ability only if he was attacking or attacking and unblocked. Perhaps give him haste, since that would fit the way haste should work in black.