Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Set Design: Sephorgia 2A

HV: This pitch is by Nich Grayson.  My comments are in blue.  The pitch from round one is here.  The wiki page for this set is here.  

My big flavor idea for Sephorgia is “King Arthur and his Knights.” It
would be a set heavily steeped in concepts and folklore of the Middle
Ages, (which encompasses the crusades, the romance period, religious
overtones, castles, courtly living, and faerie tales.) If you’re
worried that Magic has hits these notes before, I think we can be much
more specific to the setting in a few ways.

Quest for Power
Sacrifice a creature: Put a quest counter on Quest for Power.
Remove three quest counters from Quest for Power and sacrifice it:
Draw three cards and lose 3 life.
“Sir Medrod cares not for the lost Sepulchre, only to bolster his
outrageous pride!” — Sir Beloit, to King Urthor

Knights go on quests, and Quests are a pre-existing variation on
Enchantments. So it’s a good fit. The thing I like most is that there
are many reasons to go on a quest, and each color could be doing so
for right or wrong reasons, according to the morality of the time. So,
there’s a lot of flavor possibility there.

I like the flavor here, although I would get rid of the life loss; trading your friends in for cards seems evocative enough.

Plucked in Full Bloom
Destroy target creature. Its controller loses 1 life, plus 1 life for
each aura put into the graveyard this way.
To a Fae Prince, there’s no difference between plucking the petals
from a lily, the wings from a fly, or the limbs from a lord.

Some folklore of the time was a gruesome exaggerations of courtly
living. The return of Blue and Black Faeries as unfeeling
alien-monsters gives them a distinct feel. And I would also suggest
helpful Blue Seelie Faeries, and Green Unseelie Elves. If it starts to
feel a little like Shadowmoor we can lose it, but it doesn’t hurt to
try and include familiar Magic creature types when the setting allows
for it.

The basic idea here is fine, but this card is strictly better than Murder.  It could also be simpler; a flat 3 life lost if the creature was enchanted, 0 otherwise.  Unseelie Faeries as antagonists is a great idea.

Ignoble Soul
Enchantment — Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature can’t block.
When Ignoble Soul is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, reap 2
(To reap 2, you may exile two cards in your graveyard. If you do, draw
a card.)

With all the regular enchantment removal also now acting as creature
destruction, I wanted to include a mechanic in blue, black and a
little in red that could get a benefit from all those dead
enchantments. Reap doesn’t signify a substantial graveyard theme, just
a subtheme. Btw, there’s nothing wrong with Naturalize being a lot
better in this set. I would print the same number of enchantment
removal as in other sets.

I don't understand how reap is relevant to the theme of enchantments.  It's a reasonable mechanic by itself, but keywords shouldn't be used for minor subthemes.

Moldering Monk
Creature — Human Monk
Whenever an aura enters the battlefield, target opponent loses 1 life
and you gain 1 life.
“In the dark places your wards can fail, and your blessings can turn
on you. Remain steadfast.” – Farlimb, the King’s Sorcerer

Not every color interacts with enchantments, but every color has a
healthy relationship with Auras. So rather than do “enchantmentfall,”
I suggest a series of cards that trigger off Auras. It’s also more
manageable because the set will have so many enchantments of one type
or another that there’s a real risk that “enchantmentfall” would feel
more like “whenever you cast a spell.”

Excellent.  I like that this card plays double duty.

[day side] Vicet of Gluttony
Enchantment Creature — Elemental
When Vicet of Gluttony enters the battlefield, you may attach it to
target creature. If you do, transform it.
Lifelink (Damage dealt by this creature also causes you to gain that
much life.)

[night side] Gluttonous Maw
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has lifelink.

Another way to present the Middle Ages is to show the morality of the
time. Including the Seven Deadly Sins (Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust,
Wrath, Greed, and Sloth) and the Seven Heavenly Virtues (Faith, Hope,
Charity, Fortitude, Justice, Temperance, and Prudence) is a way to do
so that’s dynamic and still Magic-y. Maybe we don’t do all 14. Maybe
we do 10 across multiple colors and rarities, but I think a Vicet or
Virtuet that can flip into an Aura is an effective way to depict each
of them.
About DFC: This is the way I would do every card we want to transform
to and from an Enchantment. It’s so much cleaner than Manifest, or
Incarnate, or whatever other Living Weapon idea has been floated.

Now here's an enchantment creature that feels like an actual enchantment!  I'm not sure that going with specific Christian lists of virtues and vices is the way to go; there's probably a way that suits the color pie better.  (I'm also not sure that "vicet" is a word, but whatevs.)

Unseelie Huntsman
Creature — Faerie Assassin
Protection from enchantments (This creature can’t be blocked,
targeted, dealt damage, or enchanted by anything enchantment.)

Azorius First-Wing is the only card with this ability, but I would
move it to Black and Red for a few cards. It gives the two colors an
interaction with enchantments that doesn’t violate their slices of the
color pie, and creates a distinction between how they play and how
white, green or blue would play. Red would probably get a 2/1 for

I like that the flavor has Faeries consistently against enchantments, but I'm not quite buying the color pie stretch.  There are other ways to evoke the conflict.  


The biggest problem facing Sephorgia was that it was entirely bottom-up, and this pitch found a great new flavor direction for it.  Arthurian mythology is definitely a rich source of tropes, and there are lots of good designs in here.  The fact that every card in this pitch showcased a different mechanic made it difficult to infer what the most important themes are, or decide whether they're living up to the flavor goals described.  A follow-up pitch based on this one will have to nail some things down.


  1. I have the same issue with the DFCs aspect of this pitch as I do with the Ankh-Teb one, but it's entirely a personal hangup.

    I have a similar logic applied to the enchantment set by taking inspiration from traditional fairytales, which rely a lot on stuff being enchanted or cursed, but borrowing from Arthurian stuff is also a great idea, and a somewhat more, errr coherent? one.

  2. From a mechanically point of view, is DFC any different from flip cards from kamigawa. If so, I think flip cards might work better (DFC cards with a night side feel very Innistrad). Otherwise it's good to see faeries back at the center of a magic set.

  3. In a virtual setting, they are not, but when designing physical cards, flip cards have a bunch of limitation (chiefly with regard to the amount of card text) that lead to the creation of DFCs. Of course DFC have brought physical issues of their own (e.g. they sometimes can't be shuffled in a deck), but they are far more liberating than flip cards. Additionally, a DFC without transform makes a split card where one or both halves are permanents possible.

  4. As one of only two Sephorgia pitches to suggest a theme/world, I support Camelot.

    For (unrelated) reference: Mutant Cloudray

  5. Other Sephorgia ideas worth considering:

    Circeus suggested combining Athambia's theme with Sephorgia's mechanical focus, which I loved because it fills both world's gap and seems like a good fit.

    From Prophylaxis:
    —As long as Baquinia's Shapemage is enchanted, it gains vigilance.
    —When Mageform Elemental enters the battlefield, you may attach target Aura you control to Mageform Elemental.
    —When Augur Excavator dies, you may return target Aura card from your graveyard to your hand.

    From cfnlc:
    Foul Presence 1B
    Enchantment Creature - Spirit
    Requiem (When ~ dies if it is a creature return it to the battlefield enchanting target creature. It is no longer a creature.)
    Enchanted creature has deathtouch.