Monday, March 11, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge Review 030813—Goddess Mechanic

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Here's the challenge we're reviewing today.

Edward's Amnesty is modular enough that it could appear in any set with twobrid mana. This Second Sunrise variant is harder to combo with since it only returns creatures, and while that limitation does make this printable at uncommon, it's still a potential bomb if you can set up combat just right.

The twobrid certainly isn't necessary for the card to work, but it does allow it to be cast for 2W or 4 which means that non-white players could surprise you by playing Amnesty. It also means the players who analyze every possible play will have more cards to think about. That's true of all twobrid cards with no strictly-colored requirement. Is that lenticular design? Hmm.

I feel like I've seen this effect before, but can't find anything like it Gatherer. Probably one of us (maybe metaghost) has shared the idea before. In any case, I like the name and I think it fits the art and world (provided our mecha are equipment). Abandon Arms can be cast for WW, 2W or 4 and I can imagine a player being happy to pay any of those costs when his opponent has several good pieces of equipment. Unless there's a common twobrid Naturalize, this could easily prove too strong a hoser if equipment is a major theme of Ekkremes.

Take that, contraptions! We don't yet know what contraptions do (though we've got a few ideas), so it's unclear how effective this narrow Kismet will be. Narrow seems to be a good use of twobrid: What I mean is that putting a universally helpful effect on a card with a twobrid cost will have players fighting over it across colors, but effects that are only useful in some situations—or better yet, in some decks—are more likely to make it to the players who can use them best.

This is a pretty sweet card regardless of the set it goes in. I'd be curious to see if 1W is too cheap while Final Battle is common, but it might be tricky enough to really capitalize on that it's fine here. The name is epic, though potentially misleading, but I like how the art fits the card. Nothing particularly Ekkremes here, other than the great image of giant robots fighting each other to total exhaustion.

Desolation Giants is pretty awesome. Aesthetically, I might avoid colorless mana costs higher than 5 on sunburst cards and square numbers would make it easier to track this unit's strength, but the possibility of an 8/9 for seven mana is indeed impressive (and one very good reason we should consider Ekkremes as the battlecruiser set). I do wonder if this card would be an artifact if not for the art.

There's a lot going on here. First, you can cast Instant Infantry for 2RW, 4R, 4W or 6. Next, it creates three different things. It's also slightly jarring that the name says instant but the typeline says sorcery. George has definitely done a good job hinting at other things in the set: Not only are there parts (presumably for assembling contraptions or something), but also Assembly-Workers ala Mishra's Factory and Urza's Factory and also a non-Assembly worker. Even so, I'd like to see a bit more focus.

Magnum Vorader could be mono-green (and probably should be), but another use for twobrid that I'd overlooked is a form of multicolor, and I think George might have something there. This can be cast for RG, 2R, 2G or 4 which seems solid in a red or green deck, playable in a non-red, non-green deck provided it has lots of small creatures, and particularly good in a red and green deck.

"No disassemble!" I would absolutely call this card "Short Circuit" in playtesting.

At first blush, Manatech Sabotage looks like artifact removal, but it also grants the disassembled artifact the ability to be reassembled (and fairly cheaply). I reckon being 'disassembled' doesn't actually mean anything on a card without assemble, so that was a requirement. I'm guessing Nich made the cost low to make this card versatile: You can either use it to mess with your opponent's creatures/artifacts (as he chooses), or to decrease the assembly cost of one of your big contraptions with an otherwise much higher assemble cost.

I'd rather reward players for doing something than not doing something, and I'd rather allow more archetypes to exist than fewer, but I have to say that Primal is very interesting. You can build your deck around it and it's easy to track.

I'm glad Mass Malfunction is mono-white and not twobrid because this card feels very white.

Artifact auras? You mean equipment? Wait, they come from outer space? Iiinteresting.

What if each pack came with a machine part card that has no magic back. You can't put it into your deck, but you can fetch it and attach it to artifacts on the battlefield to augment them. You can only fetch the machine parts you opened in Limited. In Constructed, you'd either set a parts pool size (5 cards? 10?) or else require that parts take up slots in your sideboard. I'm not sure I'd make them artifact auras necessarily, but if we're ever going to literally assemble actual contraptions, part cards from outside your deck may prove integral.

Haha. Green sure does hate artifacts. Paying half for Blood Feud with the requirement that both parties are automata seems about right. Niggling point, but we need the word 'another' in there or else you can make any artifact creature deal twice its power in damage to itself.

I asked Ben to push his original design (which gave +1/+1 instead of +3/+0) and metaghost shared concern that it makes Reckless Charge sad. I, for one, don't have much pity for bullies. Imagine how Unnatural Speed feels. I'd also argue Pillaged Mechsuit isn't that much better than Reckless Charge: The former costs between RRRR and 8 in order to let two creatures attack hard the turn they ETB. Reckless Charge only costs 2RR. Granted, Mechsuit's power bonus doesn't go away and every other equipment that grants that much power has been uncommon. Even at uncommon, I like Mechsuit and would definitely play it in most Limited decks with mountains in them.

I'm hoping this is blatantly literal enough that I don't have to describe the concept. I like that Moment of Respite feels better than Regenerate, even though getting that +1/+1 counter may not be worth missing your creature for the turn. Even more, I like that there are tricky plays like using it just for the counter on a creature that isn't tapped, or to prevent an opposing creature from untapping for a turn. This is no more Ekkremes than the other modular designs, nor does it hint at other parts of the set.

James' submission came in late (and fails the must-have-color requirement), but I hadn't pushed the images yet and this Scrap ability is worth discussing, so here it is. Maybe parts have no characteristics other than being artifact permanents named 'parts' or maybe every time you put a part token OTB, you get to choose one from outside the game and they all have different abilities. When you assemble them into a contraption, you get the sum of those parts. James wasn't pushing for any particular use, just hinting at possibilities. What other possibilities do you see?

Powersuit Freedomfighter is a 5/5 vigilant common for 7W at worst, and a 9/9 (!) at best. The idea of adding giant robot mecha to Ekkremes hasn't been approved yet, but if it is, I don't see we can classify it as anything other than a battlecruiser mechanic. I will say that even at eight mana, making a creature this big vigilant terrifies me. The typeline is a little weird too, but otherwise the Timmy in me really wants to see this happen.

Simple, relevant to the set (without being truly parasitic) and evocative of the art. Great common design, R Stech.

This is about as clean a Board design as you can get. Even so, I'd leave off the flavor text to keep the text size up. The only thing that bothers me about this implementation is that I can have one creature aboard the Armorguard attacking, another blocking, and another tapping for an effect. While the vigilance on this particular card means you can generally attack and block with all the boarded creatures, that won't be true of vehicles that don't grant vigilance.

2/W was by far the most common mana symbol among the designs. Not sure what that means, if anything, but I find these trends interesting. I don't care one way or another, but I'm curious: How many of you finish your design before reading the other submissions and how many take the other designs into consideration?

It was nice to see a few hints toward assembly, toward operate, and really helpful to see more implementations of twobrid. I still feel like 2/C 2/C 2/C needs to be uncommon or higher and that any combination of twobrid and non-twobrid mana looks a little awkward (even if it proves necessary).

What else can we take away from this challenge?


  1. My original template for Board looked more like this:

    Steam Juggernaut (uncommon)
    Artifact - Vehicle
    Board 2 (2: Attach target creature you control to ~. Attach only as a sorcery.)
    Attacking creatures aboard ~ get +1/+1 and have trample.

    That makes slightly more flavor sense and encourages attacking, but it reads worse and doesn't work with vigilance or haste. More problematic is the fact that the extra point of toughness goes away post-combat, though I guess we could just not have vehicles pump toughness. What do you think?

    1. This doesn't feel like boarding a vessel to me. The creatures need to function as a unit (not that I've found a clean way to that). Maybe we can do something like Impelled Giant.

    2. Is it possible for one creature to board multiple vehicles at the same time or do they have to unboard first?

    3. @Jules I agree. What is Impelled Giant?

      @Antny223 Just one at a time; I think the word "attach" accomplishes that.


  2. I always post designs before looking at any because these pieces want more ideas, not more executions.

    As for takeaways: As a group I think we need to focus more on pleasing players unlike ourselves. Melvin-Johnny tendencies run strong in the design community, and a lot of these cards cater specifically to Melvins (I think most of us have gotten pretty good about making cards that have appeal to non-Johnnies).

    The other issue is trying to make cards do too much. It's really easy to want to give your card more flexibility, and that's good for a few cards, but not every card can be a charm. Most cards should tell you what to do with them to keep players from feeling lost.

  3. Today I learned that my brain reads {2}{2/W} as 4W.

  4. Hey, Manatech Sabotage is supposed to be blue...

  5. Anyway, I usually try to refrain from looking at what other people have put up, but this time I looked and noticed I had made the same card as Wobbles! I had a few designs in the fire and was working on names, and when I saw Mutual Destruction, I moved onto other things. What an awesome name. Way better than my "Stumpwood Stirrings."

    I think this challenge was tough because we didn't have a consistant Flavor concept for the mechs and each made them what we wanted them to be. It goes to show how intermeshes Design and Creative have to be these days to make a strong set. Especially at Common and Uncommon.

    1. I wanted to see your different interpretations of mechs. But yes, the challenge was hard. I'd make them easier, but you all are doing such good work as-is.

  6. I learned to double check my submissions before posting them . Also the variety of colors surprised me.

    1. Likewise. We've got all the normal card types and every color but black. I love seeing how many different top-down concepts can come from one piece of art.

  7. Brainstorming how Sunburst can be a bit more Battlecruiser-ish:

    Mecha-Bear (common)
    Artifact Creature - Bear
    Augment ({X}: Remove all +1/+1 counters from this creature, then put a +1/+1 counter on it for each color of mana used to pay X. Augment only as a sorcery.)

    So in a 5-color augment deck, you play your weak critters at the beginning of the game, and by the end of the game they're very large. I could even see putting abilities like "This creature has {ABILITY} as long as its power is above a certain value" on rare creatures.

    1. I'm trying to be cognizant of the fact that BCM doesn't just mean "very big creatures", it also means "ways to more smoothly ramp into your very big creatures."

    2. This looks really cool. One of the limitations with Sunburst is how it scales linearly with mana cost, which makes it hard to make different-feeling cards. I like how Augment dissociates the 'sunburst effect' from the base creature body.

  8. I try to avoid looking at other people's designs beforehand-- sometimes I wind up avoiding seeing parts of the challenge too :)

    The talk of Parts cards is interesting:

    Recyclable Mechs {2/R}{2/R}
    Artifact Creature - Construct (C)
    Scrap (When this dies, put a Parts card you own from outside the game onto the battlefield.)

    Extendable Arms
    Artifact - Equipment Parts
    (Cards without mana costs can't be cast.)
    Equip 1
    Equipped creature gets +1/+1 and has Reach.

    This implementation of parts is pretty parasitic, but it does convey the feeling of repurposing dead robots to make new tools. They might work better as DFCs:

    Flying Mech {2/U}{2/U}
    Artifact Creature - Construct (C?)
    Scrap - When ~ dies, transform it.
    Spare Wings
    Artifact - Equipment
    Equip 1
    Equipped creature has flying.

    I could imagine a Green deck sometimes wanting something like Flying Mech more than a Blue deck, just for the equipment side, making good use of the twobrid cost.

    1. Ekkremes could be a post-apocalyptic set where everyone's cobbling together the fragmented remains of the the massive mecha of the former civilization...

    2. I really like both implementations of the Parts idea. DFCs feel too new to be used, but having Parts in your SB just for Scrap cards could be effective, especially in limited. I love the idea of picking cards highly that you actually want in your sideboard.

    3. It's intriguing in limited, but how does it work for casual players? One advantage of Magic is that you can carry around a 60 card deck and play it at any time; does it make sense for them to also need a stack of Parts?

    4. I'm going to be making some artifacts with Scrap and Parts cards to go with them on my blog. Should post at 12 tonight. check it out:

    5. It shouldn't be too tough to find one or two spare parts lying around if your friends play too. ;) Alternatively, you could throw a few in your token pile, just in case.

    6. Why not make Parts noncreature artifact tokens? Then cards that want Parts can just require sacrificing an artifact. Less parasitic, more interactivity with other sets.

    7. a cool way to implement "parts" or "scrap" could be with DFCs. What if we have all the artifacts int he set have a rider that said "shen CARDNAME is destroyed, return it to the battlefield "transformed" and on the other side of the card, it was just an artifact called "scrap"

      mabey that would work better then having to bring a stack of parts tokens?

    8. Outside-the-game Parts cards I would say works about as well as Spawnsire of Ulamog. I just bring my stack of Eldrazi with me alongside my Spawnspire deck. That said, it might not work so well at common, which is a strike against it.

      What I like about the DFC solution is that it lets you customize the scrap side to the creature it came from, like Poison Dart Frog from the GDS2.

  9. Jay, the Parts cards you talk about in the comments on my card with the part that says "What if each pack came with..." is exactly what I had in mind. In fact, in my original post I had referenced the augmentations as Part cards, but I edited them later; maybe you saw my initial few versions of my post before as I edited and re-edited it.

    I changed it to artifact Auras because the Parts act as enhancements. If they're not Auras, they're going to need extra text that explains how they attach to creature. I didn't mean for these to be moved around like Equipment, because that would make them too powerful for what I want to do.

    I wanted to suggest this game play first: The robots start out in the factory, where you can attach an augmentation or enhancement every turn, until it is completed and ready for rollout. You get to indulge in "build your own monster" without spending extra cards, instead spending extra time. That was the essence of game play that I wanted to try out first, and I was going to suggest the Part type if it seemed like it was going to be useful.

    1. I didn't see previous iterations of your post, but I'm grateful for the explanation of Artifact—Aura. If that turns out simpler than simply giving Artifact—Part specific rules meaning, then the oddness might be worth it.
      Trading time for stuff was interesting (though Way too wordy) in Time Spiral; I'd certainly be interested to try it again for mech building.

    2. Interesting-- I saw parts as salvaged pieces from a dead robot, but I really like how Chah's version evokes the Factory setting, as you build your way to a giant monster.