Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Design Review of Dark Ascension—Black

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Other

Unlike Sanctuary Cat, Black Cat is on theme …at least as much as witches, superstition and Halloween are. As a variant of Ravenous Rats it's fairly neat. Trading immediate effect for an upgrade to random discard. I can say more than a few players avoided killing my Black Cats at the Prerelease for fear of losing the best card in their hand. That it's a zombie—while unnecessary for flavor—sure is nice when you've got a Gravecrawler or Diregraf Captain. Or Ghoulcaller's Chant or Ghoulraiser. Oh, and it's a nice sacrifice target to enable morbid. That's a lot of bad luck for your opponent.

Design Review of Dark Ascension—Blue

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Other

Artful Dodge is probably worse than Distortion Strike, since it doesn't boost power and costs twice as much, but the option to get the second effect whenever you want, including the same turn, can't be underestimated. I'm glad they didn't duplicate the effect and went with the simplest version. That said, dodging doesn't feel like the right flavor for attacking unblocked.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Design Review of Dark Ascension—White

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Other

There're too many awesome design things happening in Dark Ascension to let them pass unobserved. I'll be breaking it up by color in the standard order because I don't see a reason to do it any other way.

Friday, January 20, 2012

CCDD 012012—Demon Spawn

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/20/2012 - Today's card is just for fun. It was inspired by a comment Ken Nagle tweeted:
Overheard in The Pit: "Kids are like card advantage."
Naturally that inspired a card design.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

CCDD 011812—Safe Ward, etc

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/19/2012 - Today's cards are a direct follow up from yesterday's discussion of Runeward Bear. Wobbles had suggested moving the ability that helps prevent the aura-problem to the aura itself. Rather than put split second on the aura, he used the bear's hexproof-while-targeted ability, which I prefer because it's the least disturbance that achieves our goal. Next, Chah helped pare down the reminder text to something reasonable.

There are a few ways this could look. First, it could be an additive keyword on the aura.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

CCDD 011812—Runeward Bear

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/18/2012 - A lot of the value of hexproof—when it's not making non-interactive cards like Invisible Stalker—is the ability to enchant your creature without risking being two-for-oned. Today I'm proposing a very marginal ability that offers much of the same benefit without making your creature entirely immune to your opponent's removal.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

CCDD 011412—Belittle, Extinguish, Reject

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/14/2012 - I've been exploring simple options with which to complement the most common spells in the game quite a bit recently. There have been exceptions, but most of the time I've come up empty. Naturalize, for instance, is a card that I have yet to see an alternative for that is as simple and useful. Today I want to show you my experiments in creating alternates to basic countermagic.

First up is a minor mutation to Mana Leak.

Friday, January 13, 2012

CCDD 011312—Sylar's Wrath, Rage & Envy

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/13/2012 - Yesterday's discussion about the viability of the phrase "target planeswalker" on cards hasn't ended in consensus, but it has made concrete in my mind when and how we can use it. We shouldn't use it at common at all if we can avoid it, and definitely not in a core set. We shouldn't use it by itself except at higher rarities and when the flavor absolutely demands it. When we combine it with another type, it has to be clear why that spell can handle both types and the cost of that spell must be appropriate to the versatility granted.

One flavor path I stumbled upon that I'm quite enamored with is the idea of "a planeswalker hunter / serial killer who uses his own spark to hunt and destroy every other 'walker in the multiverse. Maybe one of them burnt down his home town and he believes they are a meddling blight. Maybe he just wants to be the only 'walker. We'll call him Sylar for now. This murderous planeswalker does have magic that can straight-up kill 'walkers and that magic could take card form the same way Garruk's Overrun and Ajani's Lightning Helix do."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Target Planeswalker

Remember that whole debacle last year where everyone hated planeswalkers (most Jace, the Mind Sculptor) because there weren't enough good answers to them? Wizards elected to skip printing Oblivion Ring for a year and the effect was vastly more pronounced than they expected. Other valid answers included Vampire Hexmage for the heavy-black mage and, uh, I think there was another one. Hex Parasite? Yikes.

DespiseThat was the least fun Standard environment in quite a long while, but Wizards and anyone else paying attention learned a valuable lesson: The capacity to kill planeswalkers via combat—while vital—is not enough. There have to be spells that can kill them directly. So far, everything that can handle the newest card type does so circuitously, without ever mentioning them by name. Some target a group of types from which planeswalker is not explicitly excluded, while others remove counters from permanents (a fairly unique weakness of 'walkers). Despise is the only exception, specifically naming the card type you can make your opponent discard.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

CCDD 011112—Ash Storm, Fiery Hail, Legageddon

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/11/2012 - With Stone Rain out of the picture for at least as long as Lightning Bolt was and quite possibly forever, old fans of land destruction are starved for succor. At first, they filled Stone Rain's slot with either bad LD (Demolish, Victorious Destruction) or none at all, but recently they've started to find more flavorful/useful variations that still don't qualify as efficient LD, but at least they're playable in the right circumstances (Tectonic Rift, Into the Maw of Hell).

That's not the only solution to the problem, of course, and you can see another I'd like to explore today in Tectonic Edge. LD is fine as long as you're using it to limit a player's resources or answer land-based threats and not locking them out of the game.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

CCDD 011012—Goblin Mating Call

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/10/2012 I don't know why, but it occurred to me that there is no effect that puts token creatures onto the battlefield based on the amount of damage you dealt to your opponent this turn. Sort of Bloodthirst X for 1/1 creatures instead of +1/+1 counters. There's a very real argument that this card should be black and create vampires, zombies or who-knows-what but I started with red goblins and as soon as I found the name, I was too amused to go back.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dual-Faced Designs with GDS2 Ideas

I've explored possible future uses of the Dual-Faced Card mechanic here, here, and here. I would like to go at it one more time. I found many of my ideas converging with themes from the Great Designer Search 2.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

M13 White Removal

I've been talking a lot about removal lately. I guess I've got removal on the brain. Let's call it Removal Theme, uh, Fortnight. Today I want to talk about white's removal and specifically in the context of M13. There are a few key phrases I want to see on white's removal when all is said and done: "target attacking creature," "target nonwhite creature," "target permanent," "exile," "destroy" or "enchant," and "on top of its owner's library." Some of these serve a specific role and some serve any role. I'll explain each role that needs filling and the options for them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

CCDD 010412—Accelerate Mortality, Brother's Betrayal, and To the Gallows

Cool Card Design of the Day
1/3/2012 Today, I want to share a couple interesting black removal spells. While I am suggesting that these are more in keeping with black's color philosophy than Doom Blade, you don't have to accept that position to evaluate them on their own. None of these could go into any set, but each of them could find a home in one or more appropriate places.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

M13 Playtesting with Tom

I got another chance to playtest M13 live yesterday and with one of my favorite playtesters, Tom. I hadn't had the chance to make many of the changes that followed the original playtest to the cards themselves so we were working with largely the same pool. Tom found a few of the same problems with the set that the last group did, but not all (hence the importance of testing with multiple groups). He did find a bunch more issues however and shared several perspectives with me that were—to put it mildly—revelations for me.