Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nich Grayson's Avacyn Restored Cards (Pt 3/3)

This is the final part of the card designs by Nich Grayson, where he designed cards he wished to see in Avacyn Restored. (The first part is here. The second part is here.) I hope it can inspire ideas and discussion!

Post by Nich Grayson:

7) Black Miracles

I accept that Soul Bond was kept out of Black because it’s a Human mechanic, but Miracle too? That’s just too much. I think the seclusion of Black, especially from the set’s best and biggest mechanic was overdone. I was hoping for some demon-y Miracles to create a nice conflict between the reborn power of light and the dwindling power of darkness. Zombie Apocalypse from Dark Ascension would have been fun if it had a Miracle cost.

8) Final Evolutions For Monster Decks

There was a decision to make a strong mechanical break with Avacyn Restored, but the downside of that was only Human saw a design evolution. No new cards for the Vampire deck, (or Zombie, Werewolf, Spirit etc.) And that’s not good. Even in small numbers, a bit of evolution for each of the major monster tribes would have been welcome. I've already shown some new werewolves, but what about the others?

Vampires: Black/Red vampires are a fairly straight forward aggro deck. But did you realize the tribe didn't get a single one-drop?

Zombies: The graveyard was not a focus in Avacyn Restored, which greatly hurts Zombies. Blue Zombies need to feed their graveyard to pay additional costs and find flashback cards, but this time they’d need to be more self contained. Also, Misthollow Griffin would have been a huge boon for blue Zombies! Black Zombies are in better shape with Undying returning from Dark Ascension, but were still in need of some solid two-drops.

9) Conspicuously Missing Legends

There is a huge disconnect between the characters mentioned in the first two sets and in Avacyn Restored.  At least Ludevic got some attention, but what of the epic conflict between brother and sister Geralf and Gisa? All that build up and they didn’t even kill each other with Zombies? I made the Sibling Rivals card below awhile ago for Twitter as a fun way to include them in the set without taking up two card slots.  (Sorry about the awkward art graft I made.) Also, I expected Mikaeus would be redeemed somehow in Avacyn Restored, but he wasn’t. So, given the concept of Geist of Saint Traft, I thought that Mikaeus could be saved by Avacyn and return as a spirit Lord of sorts.

10) Gillman!

Not every Universal Pictures Movie Monster made it into Innistrad. There was no Phantom of the Opera, no Mummy, no Creature from the Black Lagoon. Wait, hold up. Look at the art from Dark Ascension card Artful Dodge and tell me that’s not supposed to be a gill-man. I am sure of it! So I was sure we’d get a gillman card in Avacyn Restored, but we didn't. There must be a story behind why. In designing a card, I was pleased that the gillman could be so many different things. Certainly it could have been Blue, or Black, but I settled on Green because he’s an ancient missing link between man and fish, an evolutionary dead end. And also Islandwalk has a history in Green too. Oh, what could have been!

I hope you enjoyed my list. Once I started thinking about the possibilities, the card ideas just started flowing. I know these aren't all completely formed, and their effects or rarities or limited impacts are not all fully developed. But feel free to comment below. Oh, and if you want to read my Top Ten list for New Phyrexia, the link is below.


  1. I like how you play around with the mechanics, and the legends part was what made me want to repost this series here.

    Zombie Apocalypse - Black "Miracles" feel weird to me. Maybe it should be called by another name such as Doomsday or something. But if Innistrad gets revisited, WotC is going to find ways to shake things up, and using old mechanics in a new way would definitely do that.

    Vampires did get a 1-drop - or did you mean it didn't get a 1-drop in Avacyn Restored? And the tribes did each got some cards.

    But I guess the important thing is that even if the flavor focus is not on monsters, it would still be possible to add a new twist to each Constructed monster deck using just a few key slots, while the reduced overall numbers would still convey that they are weakened in Limited. Heck, the card could depict monsters getting desperate (such as a Vampire that sacrifices other Vampires to survive) and still be a strong incentive to construct a Vampire deck.

    Since the Blue Zombie cards either just exiled or milled, and I like how the Dreadtide Monstrosity plays around with having both abilities on one card. It feels like a Red gamble card, though. I wish it either milled both players, or milled a target player, so that you can feel clever casting it with 3 creature cards in grave. Or, maybe it could mill yourself, and you bounce the Monstrosity (instead of sacrificing it) unless you can exile 3 creature cards from your grave.

    The Misthollow Griffin ability totally makes more sense as a component of the Zombies deck from Innistrad/Dark Ascention.

    Fleshgrabber has some really neat interactions. It would also have helped offset some of the unfair +1/+1 counter spells in the block as well. I think stealing counters makes more sense as a Vampire though.

    I really like the concept behind Sibling Rivals, but the card is begging to be a Dual-Faced Card that can be cast from both sides.

    The idea of a DFC with a legendary creature on both sides sets off my spider senses (or whatever senses it is that I have). There has got to be something amazing that can be done with that, though I don't know exactly what yet.

    Mikaeus coming back as a hallowed entity would have been as awesome as when he came back as a Zombie. The effect of turning Spirits into Angels is another awesome idea.

    I'd like to see some villagers with Gillmen ancestry turning back into Gillmen. Maybe something happens whenever a player plays an Island?

    1. I don't know how I overlooked Stromkirk Noble when I wrote that Vampires didn't get a one-drop. How embarrassing. It was such an aggressive tribe, it's still weird that it only got one. You're suggestion of an evolution like a Vampire that sacrifices other Vampires for an effect is really clever.

      I wanted the Dreadtide Monstrosity to be an impactful Uncommon, so bounce rather than sacrificing might push it to Rare. Still, it's a more attractive effect. And it has an angle that invites you to gamble, but like Laboratory Maniac, I think it can also showcase that blue doesn't gamble, it prepares.

      Fleshgrabber could certainly be re-flavored as a Vampire. I'm a little leery of making their bloodsucking translate to so many siphon-type effects, but it's not a huge issue.

      I agree. The Siblings could be a DFC, except what do you name it on the little proxy so player's know they can cast either side? Because that has the little white dot, the name and the mana cost. Does it appear as:

      o Stitcher Geralf / Gisa Ghoulcaller 1B

      And because the mana cost is in the top right corner of the checklist box, would it be better if both sides had the same mana cost. Tragically, the checklist card is not yet available on MSE. When it is, I will explore this idea again and see what works best.

      A DFC Gillman is a pretty cool idea. In keeping with the themes of Avacyn Restored, they could also be missing link Gillmen that transform into fully evolved people.

  2. I don't think black should have had miracles since the core theme is about being saved from the forces of evil.

    I like Dreadtide Monstrosity. I suspect Misthollow Griffin started as a Zombie and was down-graded when it proved too good in the UB Zombie deck. Is that even possible? Doesn't sound very realisitc.

    Fleshgrabber is cool but would be cleaner without undying.

    I love the solution to put two legends on one card with Sibling Rivals.

    Is the Gillman known for being unkillable? I like the card other than that flavor question.

    Overall, lots of needs ideas in this series. Thanks for contributing, Nich!

    1. My feeling was that Thunderous Wrath didn't feel appropriately miracluous either, but I agree Zombie Apocalyse doesn't hit the right note. A black miracle based on any of the egyptian plagues of the book of Exodus (locust swarm, slaughter of the livestock, death of the first born, etc) would have been a better suggestion.

      You don't like the trickiness of Fleshgrabber with Undying? It can be a 2/2 for 1B right away and then not be able to benefit from its Undying trigger, or it can start small and then when it dies come back potentially as a 3/3.

      I would also believe that R&D was scared of future degeneracy if the Griffin were any useful creature type and never tried it as a Zombie.

      Yes, the gillman is notoriously hard to kill:

    2. The Fleshgrabber having undying does have some interesting implications, but the counter-stealing ability is what makes the card special and a counter-stealing vampire without undying is still plenty special. Undying just distracts from that.

    3. The Undying doesn't detract from the ability, it ability interacts with the stealing ability and creates interesting choices.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks. It's also the only blue Griffin in the block. What the what?