Monday, June 11, 2012

Design Challenge #5: Results

Wow!  This was our most popular design challenge yet, and I can see why.  Those clunky old legends are just too endearing to let them sit in their present state.  I received a lot of excellent submissions, and many people admitted that they couldn't hold themselves to designing just one.

Sadly, there is no time to talk about all the clever ways you guys reimagined these creatures.  As usual, I'll only write about the top few.  (I have a new feedback system in mind for future challenges, thanks to suggestions from Jules, but you'll find out about that later.)

Honorable Mention
Winner: Luminum Can

This reinterpretation of Riven Turnbull probably had the most literal flavor text fit of any submission.  The effect is exciting and genuinely feels like fighting back against the oppressor.  However, I feel like the gameplay incentives here are kinda weird; your opponent will cast their next three spells, then avoid casting a fourth, then another four, then stall some more, etc.  This effect would certainly be alleviated in multiplayer, which is where Mr. Turnbull would shine the brightest.

Third Place
Winner: metaghost

What a wacky card!  I would never have picked Hunding Gjornersen to redesign, but metaghost pulls it off without breaking a sweat, capturing his personality with two straightforward abilities.  I really like the story that gets told every time he fights another creature.  ("Still alive, eh?  Get up!  Let's be pals!")  This guy also screams Commander, but unlike Zedruu the Greathearted, he needs some help to get his mojo working.  For 3RWU, I wish he had a better way to smack other creatures around, or at least a higher toughness.  (Yes, I played with The Wretched back in the day, and it was damn hard to actually benefit from that ability.)

Second Place
Winner: P for Pizza

Given the flavor text, a death trigger that made soldiers was the obvious direction to take this card.  P for Pizza noticed something less obvious, though, which was that Sir Shandlar of Eberyn should also be leading the Eberyn militia before his death.  Red and white are a natural combination for martial valor, and the abilities feel perfect for a military leader.  The only real flaw in this design is that the militia fights with less conviction after Sir Shandlar croaks, which is the opposite of the sentiment portrayed by the flavor text.  Aside from that, I like it a lot.

First Place
Winner: Ben Heaton

Xira Arien was the most popular legend in this competition.  This interpretation stood out with a bold flavor choice: that costumes at a ball were best represented by Auras, not with Sakashima the Impostor shenanigans.  We haven't seen Aura Swap since Arcanum Wings, but it's a keyword that could see print someday.  (Yes, the board complexity is a bit scary, but it's no worse than morph.)  By using it here, Ben combined cool flavor with an outrageously fun effect.  I would love one of these in a Zur the Enchanter or Bruna, Light of Alabaster Commander deck.

Many thanks to all who participated!  There were far more strong submissions than I had time to mention here.  The next design challenge will be up in a few days.  I'm in the process of moving and traveling, so the schedule of these challenges will be less regular for a while.


  1. Hee. I love the Xira Arien reimagining. That is indeed awesome.

    I'm looking forward to more challenges (I missed entering this one), and to seeing what the new feedback system you've got lined up is.

    For those who enjoyed this challenge, there was a very similar one on Multiverse last year: Multiverse Design Challenge # 006. The restrictions were a bit tighter there: you had to match the original mana cost precisely. But people still had a lot of fun, and we'd be happy to have some more submissions now if anyone wants :)

  2. While I didn't exactly spend a whole lot of time pondering ol' Hunding, I will say developing such a card in the real world would be a mighty task. Part of the problem with a card like the Wretched is that combat is a bad place to initiate this effect, as people will simply never block or attack into such a card. Charisma, and thus Hunding, try to work around this by letting the steal-effect trigger off all damage. This of course requires additional cards to create a creature-stealing machine, whether it means putting Charisma on Stinging Barrier or granting Hunding with Lightning Prowess.

    But once you take away emphasis on the combat step, the P/T values of a card like Hunding seem less relevant, and I ultimately just went with values that I thought were fair for the cost and would allow Hunding to function as a decently scary blocker.

    Anyway, I can't express enough how impressed I've been with all the submissions that I've seen for Havelock's contests. The work of our readers has come a long way since we started this blog, and whatever the explanation for such development, it's a real pleasure to see.

  3. My submission for The Lady of the Mountain was just to make it a 2RG Legendary 5/5. (Which should ideally be balanced for Uncommon in a given Limited environment.) I was hoping keeping the change slight and letting the story tell itself would be an audacious enough move, but all four of the winners definitely sold their characters more effectively.

    Charisma and Aura Swap are both pretty clever ways to appropriate and express their given concepts.

  4. Good call on my Turnbull design. I did primarily have multiplayer in mind when designing it, what with the theme being multicolored legends and all! :P I see exactly what you mean about being a bit weird when played in a duel, though, and I agree now that you've pointed it out.

  5. I thought my Xira design was fantastic... until I saw this one, that is. I love it. Well done.

  6. Good work everyone. I posted an album with the winners and all the other cards I didn't submit. I think I'll make comments on the winner's there.

  7. Man, I thought my DFC of Kasimir was a shoe-in. But I love Xira's "auras are costumes" mechanic!

    1. Crap! It got caught by my spam filter, and I have no idea why. :(

      You shouldn't have to worry about it again, since I added you to my contacts list. Sorry, dude.

  8. Wow, thanks! (Both to you and other commenters.)

    I'm not surprised that Xira Arien was popular. She really jumped out when I looked at the options, and Aura Swap was on my mind from having read the flavor text to Arcanum Wings recently.