Tuesday, November 8, 2011

M13 Party with Top Down (2)

It's been two weeks since I made the call for top-down submissions and the activity has leveled off so it's time to identify the best. What follows is my list of cards that stood out to me as fun, flavorful and appropriate (at least potentially) for a core set. Click for full-size.

Inspiring Angel's pretty straight-forward. I tried to word this more succinctly, but it became either ambiguous or complicated. If you can find better wording, let me know.

Cyclops Noble is the result of many insightful comments from part one. I like the idea that he never looks at those beneath him. The simplest execution was "can't block or be blocked by creatures with power 1" and that may well prove to be the correct implementation, but I thought I'd try the Skarrgan Pit-Skulk wording.

Pack Mule is one of Trevor's. It's cute and just makes a lot of sense. I doubt we'll have enough equipment to justify it in Magic 2013, but otherwise it seems very core set -ariffic. Ironic that it does what Squire should have.

I had proposed the ability to steal an opponent's creature in black with the drawback that they got it back when it 'died,' but Trevor reversed it and that just makes so much more sense. False Demise in black? Don't mind if I do. Could probably cost 3B or 1BB.

Reckless Summoning was originally green but upon further reflection, it seems more red, given the randomness. It could really probably go either way. It's a different kind of card advantage for either color and I think they need that. I do worry about the cascade solution where players only play four cards it can possibly find.

Trevor went through a number of iterations of his lair land cycle and I must applaud his adaptability and perseverance. While many of these may have a place somewhere in Magic, I doubt Magic 2013 has room for more than one. I greedily nabbed the most exciting of the bunch (it has the word 'dragon' in the name). Not 100% sure it makes perfect sense as a land though.

This is a neat idea from Chah. Took me a while to really get it. The execution is actually a bit backwards from the flavor, but the same is true of the werewolf day/night triggers in Innistrad. Is it day because someone cast a lot of spells or did someone cast a lot of spells because it's day? Close enough. Same here. Chah had it always go third-from-the-top which is faster to execute, but I was concerned about it feeling like a drawback because it effectively costs you your third draw, and this feels more flavorful because who knows how long it will be lost?

Trevor offered up Mordenspindle as a black-green legendary spider and maybe she deserves to be saved for a set where that's an option. I thought she was cool enough to steal and convert to core set as mono-green (though black would work too). I like that removing Legendary nerfs the Kokusho, the Evening Star trick.

Something tells me Chah wasn't thinking of David Bowie, the Goblin King from Labyrinth, but I couldn't resist. His death inciting a little mob is a cool idea. It could be applied to other tribes, but I don't think this ability makes any more sense in another tribe than for Goblins.

Pasteur's Brute sure is eager. I tried to talk him down from making it fight every creature anyone plays, including your own, but I must say this sounds like my kind of fun. Made it a minotaur because, don't we need more minotaurs? Kinda want to make it 3/3 but then we have to charge more too. Hmm.

Charging Bull had haste at one point and while that wasn't necessary, it seemed reasonable. It also got "can't be blocked by more than one creature" at another point, which is a green ability that prevents our super Ashmouth Hound ability from getting too awesome. I like it as is. Nice one, Nich.

TK Push originally read "Tap or untap target nonland permanent. If it’s a creature, it gains flying until end of turn." It feels weird to give a creature flying and tap it so I proposed the current wording as an alternative.

I notice a tendency among many designers to target permanents more than creatures, presumably to maximize options and functionality. Sometimes that works and sometimes it's just clunky. Ultimately, I couldn't figure out how telekinesis could prevent a mage from drawing mana from a land she's bonded to.

Willing Recruit (whose name would almost certainly have to change since it has nothing to do with Unwilling Recruit) is just a simplified Kor Outfitter. It's clean and makes a good bit of flavor sense. I'd love to put this in a set with Sword in the Stone. Sadly, I think Willing Recruit—like Pack Mule—is unlikely to make the cut in Magic 2013 since we have no plans to make common equipment. So far. If that does change, we've got two good (if conflicting) options to support such a choice.

Spellsealed Gargoyle is a great idea. You have to crack the seal to wake it. It was submitted as a 6 mana 9/9, but I think it will feel like more of a deal to get a good bomb for cheap than an unstoppable bomb for "full price." Come to think of it, probably makes more sense without indestructible: It would be hard to break the stone coating on an indestructible stone statue, wouldn't it?

You've got my opinion, but we all know that's not perfect. Now I want yours. Are some of these not flavorful enough to make the cut? (Remember, none of these are guaranteed to be used—but we're sure going to try to use them). What did I miss? I know for a fact I didn't list every solid design: some were great, but not top-down; a bunch were awesome but won't work in a core set; and some are inspired ideas that still need a lot more work. But if 9/10 dentists think a card I missed is worth inclusion, it is. Take one last look through the submissions and let your voice be heard.

Scroll down to "Top-Down Design Submissions" on the wiki and check it out.


  1. Metaghost points out Inspiring Angel could just read like Hamlet Captain: "Whenever ~ attacks or blocks, other creatures you control get +1/+1 until EOT."

    Sam Stod points out that Reckless Summoning is broken as written because you can cast it for X=0 and put your whole library into your graveyard for RR. I'm not sure how to win with that, but I'm sure clever Legacy players can figure it out.

  2. I love Reckless Summoning in green, but it can't go to the graveyard without being Hermit Druid. Either way, it's a neat niche card that can have decks built around it, but would probably generally see less play than Green's Sun Zenith. I really like the deckbuilding aspect of it, though the name could reasonably change to be more verdant.

    In the meantime, wholeheartedly agree that we need more minotaurs.

  3. Well, ninjas and there we go! I assume the most straightforward win with X=0 (with graveyard) is narcomeoba+dread return, but surely there's a more eggs-no-eggsy combo kill. Either way, doesn't quite work, and putting at the bottom of the library seems safe enough, like cascade.

  4. Eager Brute is not a common, it is a Rare, and as such could be 3/3. I love the text on this card. Should it be a sexy green fatty instead? GGGGG mythic 5/6 or 3GG 5/5? The bigger you make it, the more awesome and mythic it might be. 5GG 8/8? Muhahahhaha!

    Dragon's Hoard might make too many waves in Vintage / Legacy, be sure to at least think about it.

    Not sure Death Widow needs deathtouch. Something doesn't feel right or necessary about that. Pretty much no fliers are getting past it, so there's no need for it to kill them all. (Not to mention 4 power kills a lot of fliers anyway, including the Angel you show here.

    Telekinetic Push is... just yuck. Too clunky for too little benefit. The flavor is not worth it. If you want to fix Telekinesis (from Legends), make it cost 1U and take out the awkward second turn of not untapping.

    Spellsealed Gargoyle probably shouldn't say "or ability" just too easily solved with equipment and other easily repeated abilities.

    Cool cards overall.

  5. Zodiac Bull = Inferno Elemental with different stats, yes?

  6. 4 Living Wish, X Reckless Summoning; 1 Laboratory Maniac in the Sideboard.

    P.S. Telekinetic Push is misspelled on the card image.

  7. Any reason why the angel doesn't have vigilance?

  8. I may be approaching it narrow-mindedly, but I like Eager Brute smaller – it plays as a weird sort of Seal of Fire, waiting for the first person to play a 2/1 to sweep it off the board.

    Now that Fight is keyworded, I'm completely willing to believe that its Prey Upon form should be strictly green. For Eager Brute, you don't get a choice, and it's largely self-destructive, which makes me feel this more reckless form is tolerable in red. (Especially on a smaller guy.)

    Likewise, with it keyworded, the amount of text on it implies to me something around the uncommon level. If it were mythic rare, I think 1R 3/2 is more interesting, and might even playtest it as a 3/2 for R.

    Am I overvaluing its restriction on what creatures you can play alongside it?

  9. I think Eager Brute could be a 2/3 that fights something when it enters play, then fights everything else that enters play. That way you don't mind it dying to a fatty entering play.

    I understand the riskiness is part of the appeal, but I also think it's a nice story if it enters play by ousting something in battle, then it meets its demise in the same way later as well. Like, those who live by the sword dies by the sword.

    If it's not going to have the initial ETB fight, maybe it could be a 4/2 or something so that it's more likely to trade in a fight than die one-sidedly.

    I wish Cyclops Noble could be a 4/4 or something (with appropriate cost or rarity) to make the ability more relevant. You don't need to chump block a 3/3 as often.

    A 3/4 or 3/5 might also be nice.

    Death Widow is awesome!

    Claim Soul totally deserves to be a core set effect. The shift to black makes sense.

    Spellsealed Gargoyle could also be, "When you cast this, name a card type. Whenever a player plays the named card type, this becomes a huge Gargoyle until the end of your turn."

    I think Reckless Summoning could also fetch a 2-card creature combo by only having one copy each of those creatures.

    The idea of randomly summoning a creature somehow is cool. Maybe X can be the amount of damage dealt to an opponent this turn. Maybe the milled cards can get put onto the bottom of the library at random.

  10. Calling the Wild XGG
    Exile cards from the top of your library until you exile two creature cards with converted mana cost X or less. Cast them without paying their mana cost. Put the exiled cards on the bottom in a random order.

    This is more or less Cascade's wording. Should hopefully solve most of the problems. Likely makes some deck in Eternal formats, but not a show-stopper by any means.

    The most powerful thing I see coming out of it is the ability to pay GG for two Dryad Arbors - but honestly, I'm not sure that's more powerful than paying G for one (with GSZ). Getting two
    Virulent Slivers or some sort of Carrion Feeder package for 1GG seems both inefficient and insufficient, and once you're paying 3GG, you should probably be allowed to get two three-drops at the expense of having no one-or-two-drops in your deck. It being a cascading effect, rather than a choice, should stop it from putting Elves! into overdrive.

    This really does seem like a fun card that a number of people would really enjoy building around.

    I agree with Greg on Spellsealed Gargoyle.

  11. You’ve already put up Article 3, but my comments are about the content of article 2.

    I like Willing Recruit, but you’re right – save it for an Equipment infused set. Core sets have lots of Auras though, so what about:

    Bewitching Enchantress
    Creature – Human Druid
    When Bewitching Enchantress enters the battlefield, you may attach target Aura enchanting a creature to Bewitching Enchantress.

    She would probably be Uncommon since she can take opponent’s Auras. Also, I worded it to target the Aura, so you can steal Cloak of Brambles as well. Finally, if anyone wants to argue that this should be Blue, remember top-down design bleeds for flavor (Form of Dragon) and White has shared Aura stealing with Blue before (Glamer Spinners).

    As for a missing design I liked on the wiki, I want to address Jay’s Pubescent Dragon. (Never name a card “pube” anything,btw.) I think the “baby dragon becomes a full grown dragon by attacking” concept is really great. And that it can grow up to be different Dragon cards in your library is cool. The mechanics and X’s of doing that are overly complex. Here’s a much simpler version:

    Shivan Hatchling (Rare)
    Creature – Dragon
    1R: Shivan Hatchling gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
    Whenever Shivan Hatchling deals combat damage to a player, put that many +1/+1 counters on Shivan Hatchling.

    It doesn’t let you choose a Dragon card to have it grow up into, but I think it still excites Timmy. And now Spike is interested too. Dragon’s are hard to design, but really important because they are a huge trope and need to be done right. They have to have a real impact.

  12. I like Bewitching Enchantress, but I'm concerned that it is another reason to *not* play auras (because what if your opponent plays this and steals it). It would be nice to find an alternative to the over-printed (but very nice) Mesa Enchantress. Auratouched Mage is great, but maybe too much for a core set? Hmmm.

    I love the alternative of growing your hatchling by itself. Makes the card much less frustrating in limited where you probably didn't get an adult dragon to turn into. That trigger feels a little vampirey though. Maybe:

    Shivan Hatchling (Rare)
    Creature – Dragon
    R: ~ gets +1/+0 until EOT. If this is the third time you've activated this ability this turn, put a +1/+1 counter on ~ after combat.

    I'm trying to keep some reference points to Dragon Whelp, but maybe 1RR 1/1 is better.

  13. Death Widow absolutely needs to lose deathtouch to match her children.

  14. Bewitching Enchantress: I don't get how flavor makes this white. "Bewitching Enchantress" doesn't sound like a white card at all. When I first read the name I instantly assumed what followed would be a black or blue card. I was confused before even getting to the text box. Glamer Spinners works because the card is a Faerie; they're naturally mischievous. White enchantresses, not so much.

  15. I don't think we should get too hung up on names - even in top-down design, if we find the card we've ended up with strongly fits another flavor and still sends a clear message, it's not a problem to change it.

    For what it's worth, though, Bewitching is really just Charming, right? I'll admit I think the participle belongs better on a Sower of Temptation v2.0, but it doesn't seem all that out of place here. Remember, the card would be obviously white looking at it, and it's not difficult to put a Marilyn Monroe in the box on top.

    That said, while I wholeheartedly endorse moving Aura Graft-ing into white, I think the card needs some sort of support to have strong consideration for the core set. Maybe an aura that has an effect "when it attaches"? Or maybe just best left to Ravnica 2's Magemark mk II cycle. I agree with Jay's point above.

  16. I oppose that move, on the basis that it takes away a fairly unique way for blue to interact with Auras, and I strongly feel that blue should have a stronger connection to that card type than it does presently. Augmenting an existing creature/object, improving upon its basic nature with magical modifications... fits blue like a glove. But instead the colors most in tune with Auras are White and Green.

    White I can see, since it likes protective magic as well as disabling a foe without killing it (Pacifism). Green gets Aura love because... it makes things bigger, I guess? But green is also the color with the most reason to hate Auras, since they meddle with the natural form of a creature. White also justifies the hate side by being able to purify persistent magical effects.

    I'd love for blue to be a color with Aura/enchantment love, since the card type fits its philosophy so well. That love would have a different feel, too, from the other colors that both love and hate enchantments more or less equally. Blue, in contrast, would like enchantments and could manipulate them in some ways (moving them around, for example) but can't actually destroy them.

    White has an unhealthily wide range of effects available to it already. I know blue's had that problem too but I'm more than okay with letting this sort of Aura manipulation stay more or less exclusive to that color, with the occasional bleed.

  17. Bewitching Enchantress could be a Blue card. I don't think I was shifting this ability to White. It shares it with Blue. But when it shows up rarely or in its most basic form, I can see how some might want to put it in the primary color for the ability.

    I disagree that it needs a stronger Aura support than Core sets normally provides since there usually 5-6 positive effect Common Auras, (and most of the Uncommon ones are positive ones worth stealing.) I also think this card would help promote deck building options in Limited.

  18. I always thought bounce was blue's way of interacting with auras, eh?

    I couldn't agree more about the "unhealthily wide range of effects" available to both colors, though, and am more than willing to believe you could be right about the aura graft staying where it is. Sadly, a lot of things in magic just "seem blue", which in itself is a tricky trap to escape from.

    It seems to me that where Blue has artifacts, Green should have enchantments (though obviously not vice versa). Kind of a more complicated discussion than we could have right here, though.