Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gatecrash Art Challenge 1 — Igor Kieryluk

Thanks so much for your contributions. I'm really excited this went well and look forward to doing more of these in the future. I got enough interesting submissions for the Gatecrash Art Challenge that I'm going to cover every submission for one piece of art per day. First, Igor Kieryluk.

I'd never planned to grade these, but as I started writing this article, that's what happened and it just makes sense. Feel free to disagree and explain what I mis-evaluated.

In completely arbitrary order:

D. This was only my second worst idea for this art. Shadowmage Infiltrator but worse.

C. Jules first version of this was word-for-word identical to my own. We both realized that "Target creature is unblockable this turn," however perfect for this art, is a nonbo with Cipher since all your free copies will do nothing for you (without an extra combat step). Jules solution solves the problem but in an awkward way. I'm certain he only went with this because he didn't want to cheat by replacing his original submission.

A. Lobster's agent is pretty sweet. It's efficient, but you usually don't want to cast it until there's a (Thagtusk) creature on the board worth mimicking. My only concern is that a lot of casual players don't know the difference between triggered, activated and static abilities.

B. Targeted discard and the ability to turn any spell into a Cipher is quite the whammy. That said, a 1/3 for 2UB at rare with no evasion seems about right to me for such a strong ability. Development concerns aside, I love how ANTHroplasm turned Cipher on its head and made it modular. The text length is what really keeps this from getting an A.

B. Totally solid. I could definitely see Chah's submission being printed (and in almost any set). My one niggle is that it wants to combo with Cipher, but doesn't really: It helps you trigger Cipher, but it doesn't benefit from Cipher being triggered.

C. So Darkling Spy was a waste of space, but what if we make an aura out of it? Checking Gatherer and… yes, this is just an updated of an existing card: Sleeper's Robe. That said, totally printable, very Dimir, and a good fit for the art. I'd give my official submission a B if it weren't so "obvious."

A. This modal spell stands out a little funny in a block with highly anticipated guild charms, but it nails the art and looks fun to play: You're stealing scrolls (aka spells), perhaps out of your enemies' hands or perhaps into your own. I could live without the "or both" as far as the flavor goes, but that really makes the card tick as a conditional value spell in spell-heavy Dimir control deck.


  1. I thought it would be better game play if Cypher wasn't an all-or-nothing affair. For example, in some games you might get to copy a Cypher spell turn after turn after turn because you had an unblockable guy or a "T: Target creature is unblockable this turn" guy and your opponent didn't have removal, and that's frustrating for the opponent. Some games, your Cypher guy might be stranded, unable to attack, and it would be frustrating for the Dimir player.

    I wanted to make a Cypher enabler that ensured that whenever you cast a Cypher spell, you get to copy it at least once, but only sporadically helped afterwards.

    I was also looking for the opportunity to combo with Return to Ravnica guilds wherever possible, so that interesting Guild combinations can form when Dragon's Maze comes around. Shadowportal Navigator forms a combo with Izzet.

    But you're totally right that when Shadowportal Navigator triggers off of a Cipher copy, there's an awkward moment where you choose the target to receive unblockability after combat and it produces a feel that the effect was wasted.

    At the very least the wording could have been "Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell before combat, target creature is unblockable this turn" to feel less bad psychologically.

    By the way, I made flavor text for most of my submissions, but didn't include it because it might clutter the submission.

    If anyone's interested, it's here:

  2. I was thinking of how to make Shadow Cypher Thief's text shorter. It could be interesting as an instant or sorcery spell.

    Encode Scroll 1UB
    Exile target instant or sorcery spell encoded to a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to an opponent, you may copy the encoded card and cast the copy without paying its mana cost.

    You could counter your opponents' spell and encode it, or turn your own spell into a repeatable spell.

    1. Chah, man THIS 100% thats an amazing spell.

    2. I'm not sure about the text, as the first 3 times I read this spell I couldn't work out what is doing, as it appeared to be targeting a spell already encoded onto a creature. It's a byproduct of the awkward wording used in Cipher's reminder text. Perhaps simply

      Encode Scroll 1UB
      Exile target instant or sorcery spell. You may choose to exile this spell encoded onto target creature you control. (Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, its controller may cast a copy of this card without paying its mana cost.)

      So its clear what the spell is targeting (or at least clear as targeting spells on stack can be) and it offers the choice of whether to encode (perhaps your convinced your opponent's keeping a control up their sleeve and is ready to pounce on whatever poor creature you choose to encode onto).

  3. I guess the clearest wording would be:

    Encode Scroll 1UB
    Counter target instant or sorcery spell. If it's countered in this way, you may exile it encoded to a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to an opponent, its controller may cast a copy of the encoded card without paying its mana cost.