Tuesday, April 9, 2013

CCDD 040913—Farhaven Wanderer

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/9/2013 - I made these in July while anticipating the eventual release of Return to Ravnica. I wanted to create a cycle of monocolored creatures with an activated ability that works with either of the allied colors and an upgraded version of that ability that works with both (IE, in a three-color deck). I didn't particularly expect anything like that in Ravnica, but it was an interesting exercise just the same. Some of these are much better/worse than others, showing how tough it can be to make a tight cycle sometimes.

Farhaven Wanderer was the first one, and there's some very nice parity. Either red or white will give you first strike and the combination will give you double strike, both abilities that each color does.

Muddbutton Wanderer's not as poetic, but both deathtouch and regeneration are black/green, so our colors are at least right, and the end result is sitll neat.


Already, we're having to fudge a bit to keep our cycle running. Black and blue don't share a lot of keywords, so I went with "bad flying" and "good flying".

Lifelink is black/white and protection is a reasonable fit, but we've completely lose the ability / better version of the same ability conceit, and that makes me sad.

Finally, green/blue forced me to use shroud and hexproof on the same card in order to show the upgraded keyword. I also had to add the toughness boost to make the ability strictly better against opposing spells, which it currently isn't. This design is pretty bad.

And that's how tight cycles degrade. I'm curious if you guys can find better designs to finish out the cycle as intended, or closer to it.


  1. for the blue one you can basically smash the vikopa guild mages abilities together. actually for many of them you can crib from the guildmages since they were tackling similar problems with each of them.

  2. I guess you were going for abilities that only affect 'this' creature though so that's much less flexible than guildmage abilities. For the black one you could probably get away with funky power/toughness bumps ala flowstone and the wacky blue enchantments they've made in the past. maybe something like +1/-1 and then +3/-1 or something

  3. I can only think of two instances where one keyword ability is strictly better than another: double strike/first strike, and unblockable/intimidate or flying. Shroud/hexproof doesn't count because Wizards has already said it would be confusing to print both in the same set.

    What about an "one or the other, or both" cycle? Consider:

    Farhaven Wanderer (uncommon)
    Creature - Elf Warrior
    {RW}{RW}: CARDNAME gains first strike or haste until end of turn.
    {R}{W}: CARDNAME gains first strike and haste until end of turn.

    1. I guess indestructibility is strictly better than regeneration too, but it's so minor of an advantage that it rarely matters.

  4. One of my pet design ideas is similar to this cycle, but reversed. Meaning each creature costs enemy hybrid mana and has an activated ability of the shared ally color. I like the idea of enemy colors "bonding" over their mutual ally, which is something that remains completely unexplored so far in Magic.

  5. Double-Lifelink?

    Brine Wanderer {2}{U}
    {1}{WB}: ~ gains lifelink until end of turn.
    {W}{B}: until end of turn, damage dealt by ~ causes you to gain twice that much life.

    The hybrid ability is a bit iffy on this one, put the two-color ability looks nice and Simic

    Silverplated Wanderer {2}{W}
    {1}{GU}: ~ gets +1/+1 until end of turn
    {1}{G}{U}: Put a +1/+1 counter on ~.

  6. Hybrid and gold activations on the same card are kinda ugly.

  7. Cycles are difficult to design by yourself; brainstorming with others to fill them out is easier. For the red/blue, I think either intimidate/unblockable or +1/-1/p/t swapping.
    1R/U: Intimidate until end of turn
    RU: +1/+0 and unblockable until end of turn.
    R/U: +1/-1 until end of turn
    RU: Switch ~'s power and toughness until end of turn.

    This kind of card is fun to design.