Thursday, October 11, 2012

Challenge #10: Results

The challenge was to pick a timeshifted card from Future Sight and design a companion card for it that hinted at a new set they could be printed in.  Before I get into the top three, here are the statistics on which timeshifted cards people chose:

Lucent Liminid: 3

No surprises here!  Another enchantment block is a viable idea that R&D hasn't touched for ages.  I'm not a big fan of enchantment creatures myself, but they're undeniably popular, and that's what matters most.

Patrician's Scorn: 2

I found this one a bit more unexpected.  Color-changing seems like a rather small corner of design space to use for a major set theme, particularly because of the memory issues involved.

Steamflogger Boss: 2

I know it's hard to resist a challenge, but some ideas really can't be salvaged.  (Now, watch R&D print a set with contraptions just to make me look foolish.)

And the singletons:

Korlash, Heir to Blackblade
Seht's Tiger
Spin into Myth
Thunderblade Charge
Whip-Spine Drake
Witch's Mist

And now, my three favorites:

Third Place
Winner: AlexC

Flamerider Buccaneer (Common)
Creature - Human Rogue
As long as you control a red creature, CARDNAME has haste.
Morph is a very quirky sort of mechanic.  It has the problem that its inherent complexity is very high, particularly for commons in the New World Order.  Furthermore, most of the simplest Morph designs were used up in Onslaught block.  Any designer who wants to bring back Morph must first find a way to use it that is (A) new and (B) does not increase wordiness.  Whip-Spine Drake is an excellent way to do just that.  It reads like a perfectly ordinary French vanilla morph.  There is, of course, some interesting complexity in deckbuilding decisions, but it's sufficiently subtle that it won't confuse players.

Flamerider Buccaneer alongside Whip-Spine Drake points towards an allied color theme.  I suspect AlexC is hinting at a gold set without the gold - a reverse Alara Reborn, if you will.  It's definitely an unusual twist on multicolor.  My main concern is that it's not splashy enough.  Flinthoof Boar and friends were generic enough to go into a core set; would these cards feel exciting enough to sell an expansion?

Second Place
Winner: Jay Treat

Pharaoh's Curse (Mythic Rare)
Enchantment - Aura Curse
Enchant Player
At the beginning of enchanted player’s upkeep step, he or she sacrifices a permanent. You may pay life equal to that card’s converted mana cost. If you do, put it onto the battlefield under your control.
Seht and Set are close enough that the Egyptian theme is a very reasonable interpretation.  I think that sort of mythological flavor has a lot of potential if done correctly.  (I.e., maximizing recognizability of tropes instead of faithfulness to source material; that's what made Innistrad so good.)  Curses are a natural theme for such a set, and players gaining protection is a clever riff on that. 

I'm not entirely sold on this particular Curse.  I like the "everything you have will wither away" flavor, but it seems far too oppressive mechanically.  It almost certainly needs the word "nonland" somewhere and a higher converted mana cost.  I also feel like there should be an escape clause if the victim runs out of permanents entirely.

First Place
Winner: Ben Nassau

Baquiana's Regiment (Common)
Creature - Human Soldier
Affinity for enchantments
This is an odd choice of winner for me because I really don't like the idea of enchantment creatures.  My classification of nonland permanent types looks roughly like this:  Does it have a body?  And does it take colored mana to cast?  That divides them into four types:

YY: Creature
YN: Artifact Creature
NY: Enchantment
NN: Artifact

But I recognize that these hard-line views are not popular.  (In fact, I'm forced to do so, because R&D keeps printing colored artifacts, Eldrazi, etc.)  And I do think that an enchantment block would open up lots of design space that we haven't looked at since 1998.  A straightforward French vanilla enchantment creature would pull a lot of weight with very little comprehension complexity.

Affinity is an awesome mechanic that got a horrible reputation because of mistakes in implementation.  (The real culprits were Seat of the Synod and friends, of course.)  Putting Affinity on a spell that requires colored mana eliminates the "Free Frogmite" risk, and the possibility of slamming down a 3/4 vigilance for WW is downright exciting.  If we're going to go to Enchantment World, this seems like a really appealing direction to take.


  1. Affinity for enchantments is pretty neat, because R&D would have to do something really stupid (like print enchantment lands) to break it, and because the world needs more reasons to play enchantments.

    I love that Alex is suggesting a multicolor set with no multicolor cards. I want to go to there.

  2. I always thought that Lucent Liminid made perfect sense as a creature. I mean why not. Hell illusions practically beg to be creature enchantments. I would love to see a set with more of these in it.

    1. I suppose so, but it seems like a tricky line to draw; are Elementals also enchantments? Spirits? Avatars? Part of the problem is that the precedent has been set in the opposite direction, so making Ilusions into Enchantments henceforth would be a major change.

  3. Wow thanks! I also considered having an ability word that triggered when you cast an enchantment (Mesa Enchantress style), one that checked to see if you cast an enchantment this turn (Morbid but for Auras or such), and one that was essentially Enchantmentcraft. Affinity seemed like the coolest and most elegant idea.

    I'm also interested in this multicolor set with no gold cards. Would hybrid still exist?

  4. I love affinity for enchantments too.

    Here's what I submitted to go with Korlash, Heir to Blackblade. I've never played with dual lands that actually have basic land types and found the idea so exciting that I wanted to do a riff off of that - in this case basic land types but not duals.

    Erupting Volcano
    Land - Mountain
    Erupting Volcano enters the battlefield tapped.
    T: Add R to your mana pool.
    R,T: Sacrifice Erupting Volcano: Deal 2 damage to target creature or player. Search your library for a Mountain and put it into play tapped.

    1. I'm not sure I understand. Your hypothetical set revolves around basic land, yeah?

    2. For shocks for the cost of one land ETB tapped? Zomg.

    3. My big concern with this proposal was predictable gameplay. As soon as you get one of these, you can get all your Mountain variants on successive turns.

  5. Ben, I wouldn't say the whole set revolved around it but an important feature of the set, yes, is the combination of spell lands + with the land types normally only on basic lands.

    As far as I know, this has only ever been used on dual lands, not on lands that do something.

    I think the possibility of always chaining four of these in a row is probably a bad idea. I guess I was trying to hard to represent all this on one card. If the word Mountain was changed to Basic Land on the last ability this would be better. I guess I could had just mentioned in my submission that obviously this set would want a lot of ways to fetch lands by type - like Farseek.

    Hmmm, in retrospect, maybe I could have actually made these Gates - although that's probably not something that would be done outside of RTR but it's a similar issue. Making them mono-coloured gates would allow for extra ways to fetch them like Gatecreeper vine - or an evolving wilds that nabs basic lands OR gates.

    1. Okay. I was just a little confused.

      Also, Shadowmoor had a cycle of nonbasics with basic land types: Mistveil Plains, Moonring Island, Leechridden Swamp, Madblind Mountain, and Sapseep Forest. Those would make for good reprints in this set.

    2. Oh! So that's not new at all. Oh, well. I still like that idea for a set. Might even bring it back up if we decide to design our own third set in this block.