Thursday, March 22, 2012

M13 White Planeswalker

A long time back we discussed which planeswalker we wanted to use in white. We agreed on Elspeth primarily for two reasons: One, a lot of people are big fans of Elspeth as a character. I know I am. Two, Ajani had clearly been printed too much and Gideon Jura had just gotten his reprint, while neither of Elspeth's cards had been reprinted yet.

There was debate whether to reprint the safe Elspeth Tirel despite that extending her Standard-legal presence another year or the exciting but dangerous Elspeth, Knight-Errant. A Twitter poll backed up my inclination to go with the contentious Knight-Errant version and that's what we've been running with since.

The reason I'm writing this is because we're thinking it might be better to follow the cycle parity rule: It's okay to have 2 cards of a cycle be a little different from the rest, but having 1 card different hurts the connection. Instead of "oh, there are two kinds of X" it becomes "which one of these is not like the others?" This may be irrelevant here since the thing making Elspeth stand out among Jace, Memory Adept, Wyeth Blackboot, Chandra, the Firebrand and Garruk, Primal Hunter is that she is neither one-year old nor brand-new, something only established players will notice or care about.

That said, it's worth asking. Can we make a brand-new white planeswalker card to introduce along with Wyeth? It could be a new version of Ajani or Elspeth, though I suspect those characters are played out. It could be a new version of Gideon. That makes decent sense. It could also be a completely new character.

I welcome any suggestions, but to get the ball rolling on the possibility of a new 'walker, let's look at what classic white tropes remain untapped. Ajani covers the righteous vengeance trope, while Elspeth is the prototypical knight. Gideon is kind of the hometown hero.* We could still see a small-minded extremist or totalitarian control freak, but planeswalkers are better suited as good guys people can relate to and admire, doubly so in the core set. We could have an angelic savior, a leader dedicated to the good of the community, a peaceful rabbi, a celestial observer, a reformed demon (or other villain). What else?

It's fine if we don't come up with anything. I'm not worried about reprinting EKE. I am curious to see if we can come up with something exciting and new. Please do remember while making your suggestion, that this needs to be perfectly at home in a core set.


  1. I like original recipe Elspeth a lot. But I'll take a stab at it anyway.

    I wonder what a 3cc white planeswalker would look like? Jace Beleren and Liliana of the Veil both feel like very fair cards, and it seems like a good cost for supporting white weenie play.

    Kit O'Smallguy
    planeswalker - Kit
    +1: Creatures you control get first strike and lifelink until end of turn
    -2: Return target creature card that was put into your graveyard this turn to the battlefield under your control
    -7: Put 7 1/1 white (soldier? spirits with flying?) creature tokens on to the battlefield under your control

    1. Is Kit a Kithkin? What's the character here?

      I very much like what you were going for with this set of abilities. First strike and lifelink may be too good, but I'm not sure about that. The second ability is awesome.

    2. Champion of the Weenies
      Planeswalker - Weenie Champ
      Loyalty - 3
      +1: Creatures you control gain protection from converted mana cost 3 or greater until your next turn.
      -2: Put two +1/+1 counters on target creature.
      -6: Each player chooses from the permanents he or she controls an artifact, a creature, an enchantment, a land, and a planeswalker, then sacrifices the rest.

    3. I imagined him (her?) as a kithkin first, but then I wasn't sure if that fit a core set, but the test name was catchy (and I'm terrible at naming cards) so that's what I went with.

      I liked my -2 ability 'cause it lets you play a sweeper in a weenie deck (which I'm finding surprisingly fun in the last couple months). I also like Ghost's +1 pretty well, but +1/+1 counters from planeswalkers is getting played out. Also the cataclysm will play against the weenie deck a lot of time (ie, you cataclysm and keep your bear; the ramp deck keeps its Huntmaster/Titan analogue.)

    4. Oh, and I figured the First strike/lifelink pairing worked well as a rattlesnake sort of option against opposing creature decks -- the opponent has to decide whether to make unfavorable blocks, or take the double life swing.

      I'm not sure how relevant or powerful the first strike is; it could probably playtest in a standard proxy deck (use UW humans as a template; switching out some number of Mirran Crusaders/Thalia).

    5. @ Dan - There aren't too many concise methods for permanently boosting your weenies such that when you cataclysm you get to keep a big thing that isn't impacted by the +-ability. But yes, +1/+1 counters, token creation, pinging, card drawing, and a number of other abilities are not so interesting any longer.

  2. I think a planeswalker with some sort of ultimate "Balance" effect would be neat. A straight version probably wouldn't work since by the time the ultimate fires, there's be plenty of stuff already done. Maybe it would restrict each player to X permanents?

    1. Nilan, Keeper of the Scales
      Planeswalker - Nilan

      When ~ is placed into the graveyard from the battlefield, return all cards exiled with it to the battlefield.
      +1: Choose artifact, creature or enchantment. Each player exiles a permanent of that type.
      -6: Each player chooses a number of lands he or she controls equal to the number of lands controlled by the player who controls the fewest, then sacrifices the rest. Players discard cards and sacrifice creatures the same way.

    2. Very cool. We can't use this for the core set because the triggered ability is too new/exceptional, but I'd totally think about something like this in an expert set.

    3. Pardon my memory issues, but does the set already include Journey to Nowhere or Oblivion Ring? My idea was to make a planeswalker version of that. The ultimate is Balance, but the more I think about it the less impressive it is to me.

      Also, on second thought, I would probably change the trigger to 'When ~ leaves the battlefield'.

    4. We have O-Ring and Judge Soul currently.

  3. As usual, I'll say that I'm in support of reprinting Elspeth Tirel. Outside of the positives (it's a fixed version of EKE that will be a deckbuilding option but not an auto-include in the various token decks inevitably spreading through standard, etc), I'd like to address what seems to be the primary criticism against her.

    Ajani Goldmane, unless I'm mistaken, was legal in Standard uninterrupted from his inception in the fall of '07 until the release of Innistrad just this past year. Tirel is just finishing her second year around, and since this is a core set and not an expert expansion, printing her would only add a year to her tenure. Timing-wise, I don't see it as too dissimilar from Gideon, except that he came out in a third set rather than a first. He was around for ROE, then M11, then the following Scars block, then as he's leaving, he returns (feeling somehow new) in M12. Is Tirel's situation that much different?

    1. If you're going by precedent, yeah, Elspeth Tirel is fine. I'm suggesting this particular precedent sucks and that players would prefer something new to play with in this slot. Particularly since Tirel saw almost no constructed play.

    2. It sort of sucks that Tirel is just starting to see a lot of play. She's great in the Junk planeswalkers list. She's a cornerstone of BW Tokens too, but unfortunately that deck mostly got preemptively smothered by Ratchet Bomb and Curse of Death's hold.

      She'll probably see a lot of play this summer, but overall, she probably would've done better in Innistrad/"Hook" (?) than in Scars/Innistrad standard.

    3. Is she seeing enough play that keeping her around another year would actually be tournament relevant?

    4. I don't know for sure; tournament relevance will depend on what M13 and the fall expansion look like. But I do know the current standard meta is extraordinarily hostile to her.

      For example, in this weekend's SCG Open, half the top 16 was playing Ratchet Bomb, and another quarter was playing some combination of Elesh Norn, Slagstorm, or Black Sun's Zenith.

      The one Elspeth T. competitive-level advantage has over EKE is that at 5cc, she complements new Sorin and Garruk Relentless instead of competing with them.

      Since it seems like the biggest factors keeping token-based strategies in general (and Elspeth in particular) are in Scars block, it seems like Elspeth T. could be worth playing if she stuck around after they rotated out.

  4. FWIW, I think wizards have been more free with having unexpected colours or combinations of planewalkers in a set, since they're supposed to be coming from outside anyway, so I think having one new card, three recent reprints, and one other would be ok.

    But it's fine to brainstorm other ideas.

  5. White Tyrant 2WW.
    Loyalty 3.

    +1 Each player may return a creature card from their graveyard to their hand.
    -3 Destroy all creatures.

    1. Neat. Both of these abilities could be black or white, but the pair feels very black or at least black-white. Toying with life and death like that is super-necromantic. I'd save this for an expert set where we need a B or BW 'walker, but it does make me wonder if we couldn't use one of these abilities on a more stictly white card. The resurrection effect is (almost entirely) unused among 'walkers so far.

  6. Teclan, Artificer - 3WW
    Planeswalaker - Teclan
    +1: Put a 1/1 white Kor Artificer creature token otb. Attach target equipment to it.
    +1: Search your library for an equipment card and put it otb. Then shuffle.
    -7: Equipment you control are creatures with p/t = to their cmc and with abilities as if equipped by itself.

    1. Should an artificer make more artificers, or artifacts?

      This is neat, but definitely an expert set card (and specifically Mirrodin or another set with an artifacts-matter theme like Zendikar).

  7. Serra, Protector - 2WW
    Planeswalker - Serra
    +2: Reveal any number of cards from your hand. You gain 2 life for each white card revealed this way.
    0: Until the beginning of your next upkeep, prevent all combat damage.
    -8: You get an emblem with: "Choose a color. You and permanents you control get protection from the chosen color."

    1. Should be prevent all combat damage other than to Serra.

    2. Without the errata, this card is obv broken, but even with the errata, it's still (often) better than Gideon Jura. We can tweak numbers, but the real question is whether this is a set of abilities that will appear unique and play interestingly. Two of the abilities basically negate what most of your opponents have done and will do during the game. The third turns off all interactivity for your opponent, albeit in a pretty awesome way.

      I like the idea of an angel[ic] planeswalker and if Serra isn't dead, she's the perfect choice. Some amount of protection effects are clearly in line, but remember that Serra is also pretty militant. She needs something offensive. My concern is that Elspeth's card is almost perfect here.

    3. The second ability is way too good, and doesn't mesh well with the others. Prevent all damage to creatures you control may work, as it can be used offensively or defensively, but is likely still to strong.

      The first ability is too good. The life gain should trigger on attacking creatures, not cards in hand.

      I do love the Ultimate, though.

      I really want to do: You get an emblem with "Sacrifice ~: Destroy target attacking creature." but that's too complex for the core set.

      Would a one shot Thorn effect be too strong?

  8. Dinara, Ringmaster - 2WW
    Planeswalker - Dinara
    +1: Each player exiles a non-land permanent they control.
    -2: Exile target creature. It's controller gains life equal to its power.
    -6: Exile all non-land permanents. Starting with you, assign one permanent exiled by ~ to a player and put it on the battlefield tapped under his or her control. Repeat this process until all cards exiled by ~ have been assigned.

    1. Interesting. I feel like the card as a whole is more impactful if we nix the first sentence of the ultimate so that it actually depends on the first two abilities.

      What is this character about?

    2. Ringmaster was just a play on Oblivion Ring, to be honest.

      Concepting it flavor wise? I picture the Beyonder from Secret Wars, collecting champions from across the planes to compete in her games. She takes either an offering (ability 1) or her choice (ability 2), then sets the teams for combat.

  9. I've been working on a few designs, but I'm not in love with most of them so far. Something I've been considering is the anthropocentrism of the planeswalker spark - so far we've had a leonin (or a Nacatl, actually I guess), a *very* bipedaled/anthropomorphized dragon, and a heaping handful of humans. From what I understand, there's a merfolk PW in the works somewhere, which I'm sure we'll all be pleased as punch to see. A Rhoxy planeswalker inspired in part by Stonehorn Dignitary wouldn't be a bad idea, and I've been working on a vaguely anthrop'd pegasus (since, after all, there's a market for it these days).

    But what I'd like to share today is a little elsewhere on the spectrum, which is (hypothetically, at least) a giant. Thinking through potential other creature types which have a certain amount of resonance to them within the lens through which Magic looks, and examining the planes that have been presented but not fully explored by the Planechase product, I was struck by the plane of Valla. While I'm imperfect on my knowledge of Magic's myriad planes, it seemed easy to infer "eternal fields of battle" as a concept, and the vaguely Norse mythos and tropes that would accompany it. It was then that I was hit by my memory of Heimdall as "the whitest of the gods", and a story began to take some semblance of a shape. As usual or as always, flavor is entirely mutable, but here's loosely where I've got so far.

    Dall was the watchkeeper and protector of the Himinhold, the castle/fort/hall that marks where the burning rainbow bridge to the heavens meets the land. His identity stems largely from being a peaceful but staunch veteran of a warring plane, as he spent his days keeping watch for the signs of the end of the world. Art direction-wise I'd assume he'd be a rosy-cheeked, probably fair-haired giant, with a long, curved horn in one hand. He was a watchman for a larger cause and master of his own hall, and may have the patriarchal paunch that would accompany these things (as well as being out of the fight). So what would he actually *do*?

    Dall Vindler 2WW {3}
    +1 Gift of Estates.
    -1 Path to Exile.
    -6 You get an emblem with "Creatures you control get +6/+6."

    It felt a little funny to end up with two white spells from a top-down card, but I ended up impressed by the synergy of the two abilities. As a result, the third ability is less connected, but makes considerable flavor sense as the mostly peaceful veteran makes the call to arms with his mighty horn.

    So what would Dall Vindler do for M13? The two things I feel I could really say set this set apart are Bond (basic lands) and Pirates. With one of our new PWs at least nominally attached to the latter, it might be neat for the other to dovetail nicely with the former.

    1. Of course, there's a vampire, an elf, and a golem, but it *feels* like there's only humans, right?

    2. That is terrifying on so many levels. Err, three, I suppose. Any one of those abilities seems pretty absurd. What is the flavor of the last one, he turns all your creatures into giants? That said, a Norse/Giant planeswalker sounds pretty cool.

    3. I like Dall, but I think flavor has been lost to make him more playable.

      Granted, Hill Giant set the precedent for a 3/3 at 4, but since then Giants have gotten a fair deal larger. CMC of 5 is the norm, and most rare giants are 6+

      Dall Vindler 5W {8}
      0: Search for up to three land, reveal and put them in your hand. For each Plains revealed, Dall gains 1 loyality. Shuffle.
      -3: Exile target nonland permanent, its owner gains control of target land you control.
      -10: Balance.

      That seems a lot more "Giant" than another 4 cmc guy. And with a starting loyalty of 8, with a virtual 11, it's got some resilience to common removal.

    4. That's a lot of card advantage, but for 6 mana, perhaps it's not that far off. Certainly exciting. The first ability seems needlessly cute.

    5. @Wobbles
      It's funny, because I almost specifically don't think about loyalty as P/T. Within this setup, though, that's a great way of making the land-tax/what-have-you possibly relevant at 6 CMC.

      I was debating as to whether the -Path ability should be -2 in the style of Ajani Vengeant. The last ability (hypothetically) represents Dall finally blowing on his horn and giving a call-to-arms. Mechanically, it was designed to be something different from every white ultimate we've seen so far, and an emblem that you don't hate to stack. +6/+6 is a timmy sort of ultimate, that looks like it can win you the game naturally, but isn't by any means a sealed deal (given that Dall doesn't, say, produce tokens). Lastly, I was hoping his +ability would be one that could be enticing (and would play neatly with Path) but often or on repeated use would be less and less helpful. +1,-2,+6, maybe?

      There's always the challenge of making a planeswalker simple enough (without overlapping Ajani Goldmane or Elspeth) while also keeping some amount of the abilities *exciting*.

  10. It feels weird to say, but I'm underwhelmed by Balance. Dall is going to fill your hand and put lands into play - so all you're getting is an expensive conditional Wrath. What if the Balance effect was more powerful?

    Dall Vindler 5W {8}
    +3: Search for up to three basic Plains, reveal and put them in your hand. Shuffle.
    -3: Exile target nonland permanent, its owner gains control of target land you control.
    -10: Each player chooses a number of lands he or she controls equal to the number of lands controlled by the player who controls the fewest, then exiles the rest. Players exile cards in hand and exile creatures on the battlefield the same way. You get an emblem with "Opponent's can't play cards with the same name as cards in exile."

    1. I agree that balance is unexciting on this guy. Your version is better, but it's nothing I'd expect to see on a card. I think it's probably the wrong path to explore. I perfer your version of the first ability. That's a lot cleaner.

      -X: You gain double X life.

      Simple, and plays towards his generous nature.


      -12: You gain an emblem with "No more than one creature can attack you each turn."

      That works with his role as a peacekeeper.


      -12: Put tokens onto the battlefield under your control that are copies of every creature your opponents control.

      It's like a reverse Balance! It's a bit out of flavor for white, but White has gotten cards like Soul Mirror and Pure Reflection before.

  11. I've been working on how to build a pegasus that doesn't fall apart two days later. Continuing my "anthropomorphs, eh" bit from earlier, I thought it would be interesting to see where else we could take the concept. I'll go ahead and show the card and then break it down.

    Julea, Cloud Sovereign 1WW [2]
    +2: Each player gains 3 life.
    -1: Until the end of your next turn, creatures without flying can't attack.
    -X: Sacrifice a permanent. Search your library for an Aura card with converted mana cost X and put it onto the battlefield.

    I don't want to try and write out too much of her backstory, but in brief she's basically one part Shadowfax, one part The Last Unicorn, and two parts King Arthur. All the pegasi of her home plane died off from some pox or plague that ravaged the entire plane. She travels from plane to plane, searching for pegasi to band together and resettle a new homeland. However, while she is able to find them here and there, they are scarcer than they should be and she is searching for the reason why. Is there a darker force that is behind all of this, can she rule as sovereign over the others, etc. etc. You know where this goes.

    The real central thing I was working around was the Moat ability. Moat's a decently fun card (for the right set of players) but not one that most (any) players get to play with. I had experimented with a number of other "flighty" abilites to represent Julea's very strong "flight" response that has managed to keep her alive in the face of the loss of her entire people. I really think the flavor should sell well — she's basically literally flying you up to the clouds for a turn.

    I'm a little proud of the ultimate ability, as I think I balanced the numbers on it pretty well. It's not "destroy all permanents", but it encourages deckbuilders to run any number of different things and try and pace when she would pull the trigger. The two uses I thought would be most worthwhile would probably be next-turn search for Pattern of Rebirth or going +2+2+2-search for Eldrazi Conscription, but that's just my instinct. It feels like across Ajani and Elspeth, white ultimates have already taken up a lot of design space, but this again goes in a different direction.

    Lastly, the +2 ability. I'm not sold that gaining 3 life is the best way to go about it, but it's clean, different enough from Ajani and Tirel's lifegains, and plays fine. I'm definitely open to other ideas, though, especially if anyone has other symmetrical effects that could work well.

    I've tried to keep this as brief as possible, as there are a LOT of things involved in PW design and they all seem worth discussing, but if you have any questions, let me know!

    1. I don't know why I have so much trouble with a sentient Pegasus (or Unicorn or Horse) while I've come to accept the Rhox, Loxodon or Leonin. Maybe it has to do with the fact that horses are for riding where cats and rhinoceri are not (admittedly grey on elephants). I guess I don't want to be bossing around a creature between my legs only to discover it is not only intelligent, but able to blink between planes and probably to meet her own destiny rather than to help me with mine.

      Ignoring the creative concept for now, let's look at the abilities. I could definitely get behind an everyone-gains-life ability on a planeswalker with an alt-win condition. Whether it's poison, milling or Felidar Sovereign. I could maybe get behind it if it was central to the character (IE a pacifist healer) and her other abilities gave you evasion and or large amounts of pump.

      It's odd to me that the second ability is a global Moat. Why can't opp A attack opp B? Why not just "You* can't be attacked by creatures without flying?"
      * Could be "You," "CARDNAME," or "You and CARDNAME" for different effects. The last is the most straightforward.

      The last ability is cool, but not really an Ultimate. It's not going to win any games by itself; You'll have to turtle up like crazy to get to Eldrazi Conscription's 8 loyalty cost. That, the fact that it has an additional cost in sacrifice, and that you can do it for just 1 leads me to believe this ability would be an excellent 2nd ability.

      The entire package? None of these abilities has anything to do with each other. Well, the first two both draw out the game considerably.

    2. I mean, the ultimate can win the game itself if you go +2 the turn you play her, untap, and then Pattern of Rebirth, but I agree it's not an everyday thing. Partially my thinking was that you would play her half the time specifically for the Moat, which can sometimes more or less win the game on its own. I tried out 2WW and 4WW versions of her with Moat as the only common ability, using it as 0: or +: abilities, and/or making it "can't attack you or Julea". The neat thing about the way it's worded right now is that you can attack on the ground this turn, but if you want to stack successive moats, you do give up that ability. However, more than likely, you get around that like you would if you play Moat in your deck - by having fliers or an alternative win condition.

      You're right that the Moat wording is odd in multiplayer, and I wasn't thinking about that (but was trying to keep a not-quite-all-upside Moat to keep it balanced at 1WW).

      I was trying to make a 1WW planeswalker that was a little more of a build-around-me, as much or many of the generic abilities have already been taken, but you're right that the abilities don't read as remotely connected.

      I'd be keener on a "+2 Each player gains 3 life" and a Storm Herd ultimate, as that would be a little bit awesome, but I'm admittedly way too afraid of how much that looks like Goldmane. Would the flavor of "survive, run away, and heal until you can bring the fleet in" sell? Would you be interested by that?

    3. So the Pattern of Rebirth goes on Martyr of Sands and gets you Iona? I have no idea if that's broken or weak in Legacy, where it's legal.

      You were definitely right put -1 on the Moat ability. A lot of decks would auto-lose to this if you could do Moat forever.

      Life gain into Storm Herd is very cool, but I think you're right that it feels too similar to Ajani.

      That ability and what Goldmane does have both play somewhat like "survive, run away, and heal until you can bring the fleet in" and yet that _flavor_ somehow actually feels black to me. Kind of cowardly and self-serving. But it's not a huge tweak to go for a grizzled combat medic who's all about staunching the blood loss and calling in the cavalry.

  12. So far I've only shot down ideas and not shared any of my own. That feels unfair, so let me share an idea so that you can all get your evil internet revenge.

    There have been a lot of neat ideas so far to crib off of, but the one that excites me the most is a White Weenie Walker. Ajani and Elspeth have have been solid additions to WW during their time, but what if we made a walker that was entirely focused on that archetype?

    First abilities to consider:
    Make a 1/1.
    Team +1/+1.
    Team first strike.
    Place a +1/+1 counter.
    Tap a creature.

    Second abilities to consider:
    Make 2-3 1/1s
    Team +2/+2
    Team +1/+1 and first strike.
    Resurrect a guy.
    Super-Tap a creature.
    Tap all defenders.
    Exile a creature.
    Fetch a small creature card.

    Ultimate abilities to consider:
    Make an army of 1/1s.
    +1/+1 emblem.
    Resurrect all.
    Trinisphere emblem.

    Feel free to add to these lists.

    First attempt at grouping abilites:

    Aron, Cenn Marshal 1WW
    +1: Creatures you control get +1/+1 and gain lifelink until EOT.
    -1: Search your library for a creature card with CMC 1 and put it OTB.
    -4: Gain an emblem with "Players can't play spells with CMC greater than the number of creatures you control."

    1. Aron's ultimate is quite neat.

      I'd add "Worship emblem" "Godhead of Awe emblem" (ie Humility-lite) or Mirrorweave as potential ultimates.

      I'm not really sold on a White Weenie PW being the thing to push, partly because of how powerful Ajani and Elspeth have been at doing that in their heydays, but also partly because I'd like to think part of the draw of White Weenie would be not having to play planeswalkers/super-expensive cards. Not a big argument, but it's where I'm coming from.

    2. That's actually a damn good point.

      Worship would be a sexy emblem, indeed, for a controlling build.

  13. Mechanical alternatives, with a little more synergy between the abilities.

    Julea of Wingsond 1WW [2]

    +2: Each player gains 3 life.
    -2: Until the end of your next turn, creatures without flying can’t attack.
    -10 Put X 1/1 white Pegasus creature tokens with flying onto the battlefield, where X is your life total.


    Julea, Cloud Sovereign 4WW [2]

    +3: Put a 1/1 white Pegasus token with flying onto the battlefield.
    -X: Sacrifice a permanent. Search your library for an Aura card with converted mana cost X and put it onto the battlefield.
    -8: You gain an emblem with “If you control a creature, damage that would reduce your life total to less than 1 reduces it to 1 instead.”

    1. Could Sovereign is pretty cool. Why the low starting loyalty and high plus ability? The sacrifice cost does important work keeping the second ability from being broken (fetch Burden of Guilt every turn?), but what's the flavor? How do we justify a sacrifice in white?

      I like that path best, but Wingsong makes me think about a 'walker that's all about life.
      Lifey McMeddlesworth 1WW [3]
      +2: Each player gains 2 life.
      -X: Lose X life. Put an X/X white Avatar token OTB.
      -4: Each player's life total becomes target player's.

    2. I don't think it would be kosher to put Phyrexian Processor on a white PW.

      And is Worship fun? I've never really interacted with it outside of extremely casual circumstances, but it always struck me as something that isn't quite "good", but when it works it's just extremely tedious.

    3. Low starting loyalty and the high + are ostensibly due to flavor - in this case, Julea is more less the survivor of genocide. She's not frail, but she's not going to stand up and take a mortal blow for you- she's got a refugee's flight instinct. But simultaneously, as she has more of her kin under her wing, she grows considerably more loyal. Her ultimate is an almost literal representation of this idea - that as long as there's one member of this team/species/ideal going strong, it's indefatigable.

      The -X sacrifice is white in the same way the sacrifice in Polymorph is blue. She also naturally rewards you for going +3 before going -X by giving you both a target for your aura and letting you search for up to CMC 5, rather than CMC 2.

    4. Wait, so she's actually transforming your land/creature/whatever *into* the aura?

  14. Oh, I like Worship as a planeswalker emblem. It's a bit cheaper than most spells turned into ultimates, but that's because the Disenchantability is a key vulnerability; without that it is indeed very ultimate-worthy. I like this second idea.

    1. It depends on the amount of Hexproof in the environment. Thrun alone makes me give pause.