Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Designing Suvnica, Week 3: Birth, School, Work, Death

(5/16 Update: Something went kahblewy when I tried to check in on the blog from my phone this evening, and this page reverted to a very old draft. I'm reconstructing it from my RSS feed, and I'm hoping that the comments and the post stayed intact. If you see that your comment was lost, please repost.)
Alright. Four guilds down, six to go. Before we talk this week's guilds though, I wanted to start discussing something that came up in last week's design challenge.

So far, everyone has been pretty good about designing across different rarities. Out of the 70 cards sitting in the Suvnica file on my computer so far, we have about 25 commons, another 25 uncommons, 16 rares and 4 mythics. While a few of the submitted commons should probably be bumped up to uncommon, by and large everyone has been doing a phenomenal job with them.

At least when I'm designing cards, whether for Suvnica or Jay Treat's Weekend Design Challenge or for something else, I have to fight a compulsion to cram a ton of random cool ideas onto the card, which always pushes it to rare because NWO. Making commons that appeal to various psychographics, are evocative of flavor, are simple enough for New World Order, and aren't boring is not an easy task. It's especially challenging in this context, since the primary element of the design challenge is to demonstrate your vision of the color pairing, while differentiating it from Ravnica and other people's re-visions.

So here's my advice when designing commons for this challenge: don't make your mechanic carry all the burden for telling your card's story. Maro has talked about the concept of piggybacking in design. We can do that on a small scale within our visions. The description of the vision you're working in (whether it's your own or someone else's) tells a lot of the story of your card before it has any text whatsoever. Don't try to reiterate that entire story into your common spell's mechanics. Capture one aspect of it. If you feel like the result is too generic for the vision, try to get the cardname or the flavor text to pick up some of the slack.

I normally don't comment on my own sample designs, but this week for my two commons I'm going to walk through the thought process I have when getting my commons down on paper.

Rethinking Azorius: Light, Liberty, and Learning

Azorius Recommended Reading:

The Azorius are pretty much the entirety of the bureaucratic government on Ravnica. They are very white philosophically, using governmental trappings for the betterment and continuance of society. Their means are pretty blue -knowledge of the nuances of the law, using delay and control magic to effect their will, and empowering themselves through superior knowledge, mostly through obfuscation in their legalese.

Let's flip it. Suvnican Azorius (Suiroza isn't as catchy as some of the other guild mirror-names) are all about gaining knowledge. They do this communally, recognizing that group discussion and study increase their net gain of knowledge exponentially.

This is the guild of the Academy, where any who seek to better their minds are welcome. Mechanically, this is a guild that's going to care about accumulation of creatures (large groups of researchers and students delving into all manners of knowledge) and/or artifacts (relics for the study of magic, anthropology, art, history, etc.).

Common Design Process: Because of the combat-oriented nature of the game, I always start thinking about my Suvnican designs from a combat perspective: the vision I put forward has to have some element that lends itself to combat. The academics are not likely to go out looking for a fight, but in a world where the Dimir have a dangerous obsession with gaining access to their knowledge, they'll definitely be ready to defend themselves. I decided that students in the academy have to take shifts as guards to the walls of the academy and its archives. Since the students themselves are probably not the most reliable fighters, I settled on an enchantment that helps them with their guard duty. The magic that keeps them awake and aware throughout the night is represented by vigilance, and the untap is them sounding the alarm when intruders show up. I originally had a +1/+1 PT boost on there as well, but the other mechanics were already eating up a bit of space. I then used the cardname (Guard Duty was taken) and the flavor text to finish telling this cards story, showing one facet of the Azorius through the card.

(You'll see my rare Azorius card after we're done with the next guild)

Rethinking Golgari: Get it Faster

Golgari Recommended Reading:

Ravnica's Golgari are a philosophically green guild. They are very much about growth and expansion. They also see death as part of the lifecycle and something very natural, which is a very green outlook. They stray into black when they incorporate the death aspects of nature and lifecycles into they desire for growth.

For the Suvnican switch, we're looking for a guild that is philosophically Black ("get ALL the power") that uses green's tools to get it. Instead of playing in their obvious common ground (graveyard), let's look at green's more prominent tools. Green's biggest asset is accelerating natural processes. It gets bigger creatures for less mana. It gets mana faster.

I think that when we combine these concepts, we end up with a guild that recognizes and values the long-term power of nature and uses magic to accelerate so it's not so long-term. The guild harnesses the wilds, taking its resources (lumber, game, minerals, etc.) and undermines any competition to their exploitation by causing the organizational structures backing that competition (governments, corporations, alliances) to accelerate into their natural entropic/self-destruct stages much earlier than would normally occur (various means of ecoterrorism and corporate sabotage). I'm imagining the fantasy equivalent of a ruthless corporation that has an eco-friendly front.

I know I was only going to talk about the common design, but I did want to highlight these two cards. When I started thinking about accelerating natural processes, I immediately thought of how magically induced old-age could be done in both black and green. In black it's easy: kill the creature or saddle it with -1/-1 counters. But for the green element, I thought what if you immediately hit your physical peak, but quickly started aging. That lead to the Jack card, which is a nice (if slightly modified) parallel to Unstable Mutation. Unfortunately, I want to steer away from -1/-1 counters, so then I thought about reversing it, which is how Age Reversal came about.

Common Design Process: I designed the three previous cards before a common design came to me, and those were all enchantments. I knew I had to design a creature and I wanted it to be monogreen. I started looking through my vision description, trying to pinpoint what aspects green would care about more than black, and the ecoterrorism angle stuck out. I decided naturalize on a body would be right up Iraglog's (uchh) alley, so I gave him some appealing stats, a NWO-friendly mechanic, and called it a day.

Championship Round

So I didn't post my third Azorius design above. Here it is:

Yes, I know that's an absurd amount of words. Shut up. Academics are prone to being a little wordy. I'm posting it down here because for this week, we're expanding the design rules a little bit. This week, in addition to the normal design challenge guidelines, you're encouraged to design up to two guild champions/leaders. At least one of the two should be for someone else's vision of a guild, and you are allowed to design for any of the guilds we've covered so far (Azorius, Orzhov, Dimir, Golgari, Gruul, and Boros). When designing for someone else's vision, please let me know whose it is (the list of Gruul and Orzhov visions are here; Dimir is here; Boros is here; and this week's you'll have to read through the comments to see).

Here's the champion I designed for Chah's Gruul, because I am hopelessly in love with Wurm Druids:

Remember, we still haven't given any guilds keywords, so look try to play into the philosophy and/or mechanical themes that are already on cards or visions described.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.



  1. A guild leader for Zefferal's Golgari:

    Hegemon Iraglog
    Creature- Plant Wizard
    You may play land cards from opponents' graveyards.
    1BG, T, Sacrifice a land: Destroy target land.

    Not sure about the power level here, but I like the flavor match. Feedback welcome and appreciated.

    1. Neat concept, but I think it'd likely have to be downgraded to something like:

      You may play basic land cards from your graveyard.
      2BG, T, Sacrifice a basic land: Destroy target nonbasic land.

    2. Point taken.

      Hegemon Iraglog
      Creature- Plant Wizard
      You may play land cards from opponents' graveyards.
      2BG, T, Sacrifice a basic land: Destroy target nonbasic land.

    3. Both of these abilities are worthy of a card of their own.

  2. A guild champion for Jay Treat's Orzhov:

    Speaker for the Dead
    Creature- Avatar
    CARDNAME's power and toughness are each equal to the number of creatures on the battlefield plus the number of creature cards in graveyards.

    I considered shaving off a mana and only having it count your own creatures and graveyard, but this seems more awesome. Not sure it shouldn't be a Selesnya card, though. Feedback welcome and appreciated.

  3. Azorius:

    I like Zefferal's creative vision for the Azorius a lot, but I'd suggest a different mechanical focus. Blue generally is the least creature-y color, so large crowds might not be exactly what we want. Besides, WU tends to be a controlling color pair. Instead, I like the idea of having fewer creatures that "do" important things rather than focusing on attacking/blocking. This could either be conveyed through {T} abilities/untapping as Zefferal suggests, or (my preferred version) ETB abilities. This gets at the flavor of "each creature brings some knowledge/ability with them" and allows us to bring back blink as a major mechanic.

    So, cards:

    Debating Student (Common)
    Creature- Human Wizard
    Flash. When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, counter target spell unless its controller pays 1.

    Strict Instructor (Uncommon)
    Creature- Human Advisor
    T: Exile another target creature you control, then return it to the battlefield under your control.

    Exchange Thoughts (Rare)
    Exile all creatures you control. Then return those cards to the battlefield under your control, except that they gain all triggered abilities of cards exiled this way until end of turn.

    That last design was tough to template and I have no idea whether it works. Is there a good way to grant ETB abilities to cards entering the battlefield? Feedback welcome and appreciated.

    1. Strict Instructor is extremely strong. I think an ability that good needs to cost something. It's essentially a much better Nephalia Smuggler, which was pretty amazing in limited already.

      As far as Exchange Thoughts, one way would be to make it a clone effect.

      Exchange Thoughts {1}{W}{U}
      Choose a creature on the battlefield. Exile all creatures you control. Return those cards to the battlefield, they are copies of the chosen creature until end of turn.

    2. You're right about Strict Instructor. Given that flickering is so powerful, I think I'd better stick to an ETB effect. How about:

      Strict Instructor (Common)
      Creature- Human Advisor
      When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, tap all lands.
      "No silly tricks, now."

      Some other ideas I came up with while trying to fix this:

      Substitute Teacher (Rare)
      Creature- Human Shapeshifter
      You may have CARDNAME enter the battlefield as a copy of target creature you control. If you do, return that creature to its owner's hand.

      Night Shift Watchers (Common)
      Creature- Human
      When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, draw a card, then put a creature you control on top of its owner's library.

  4. The Rezorius Academy, Guardians of the Endless Stacks

    Knowledge is power, and power corrupts. To protect the world, we must protect knowledge. The Rezorius Academy seeks to know everything and exists to prevent the citizenry from learning and inevitably misusing the power contained in its vast libraries.

    In ancient times the mana ran free and the magic came easy to the people of Suvnica. Powerful magic was easy to master, and chaos reigned as a result. People were at the mercy of the powerful and wicked and wars left behind charred wastelands that remained uninhabitable for decades.

    Then Rezorius founded her academy, teaching her disciples to bind the magic of the wicked, to drain the mystics scars of the land and nurse them back to health. Her disciples learned to erase knowledge from the unworthy and by the end of her long life her academy had built the first great wing of the library and locked away the most dangerous spells in there forever.

    Mind Chains {W}{U} (C)
    Enchantment - Aura
    Enchant creature
    Whenever an opponent draws a card, tap enchanted creature. If it is already tapped, destroy it instead.

    To merely become a desk clerk in the smallest wing of the Great Library, an applicant must present two four year degrees from an accredited Rezorius University and demonstrate a commitment to secrecy over even their own life. On their first day they are given thick leather armor and a wide-pommeled knife perfect for defending themselves in close quarters between the Endless Stacks.

    Guardian of the Stacks {1}{WU}{WU} (U)
    Creature - Human Wizard
    First strike
    Whenever an opponent draws a card except the first one he or she draws in each of his or her draw steps, put a +1/+1 counter on ~.

    Those that advance in the organization learn to bind the magics of their opponents and keep those secrets forever.

    Rezor Secretkeeper {1}{U}{U}{W} (R)
    Creature - Human Wizard
    When ~ enters the battlefield, you may counter target instant or sorcery spell. If you don't, put three +1/+1 counters on ~.

    1. It's interesting how the Resorious are very like the Dimir of Ravnica Prime - knowing all, and erasing dangerous knowledge from others' minds.

    2. Well the new set does need a pure-control color combo, and since that's the purview of Esper Rezorius is absolutely the best candidate next to Rimid. But you're right, and to highlight two key differences: Rezorius is a creature based color combination whereas Blue/Black is spell based; and the Rezorius are public keepers of knowledge with an essentially benevolent goal- to protect the public from themselves.

      I talked almost exclusively about their quest to capture and limit dangerous knowledge because it is their purpose and primary drive, but their Great Library would be open to the public- just not anything that could hurt the public. And the library card application is several parchments long. And while you're reading you will be accompanied by no less than a Rank III Secretkeeper whilst you are browsing the stacks. And when you leave you'll be magically probed to make sure you haven't stolen any illicit information.

      Plus, you know, battle librarians:

      Protectors of the East Wing {3}{W}{W}
      Creature - Human Wizard Soldier
      When ~ enters the battlefield, put a 1/1 white Soldier creature token and a 1/1 blue Wizard creature token onto the battlefield.
      Sacrifice a Wizard and a Soldier: Counter target spell with converted mana cost 4 or more.

    3. I disagree with this concept because it feels more like the original Azorius (blue means to white ends). Mind Chains is very cool, but Guardian of the Stacks reads weirdly-- I don't think "punish multiple card draw" has sufficient design space to be a guild theme.

    4. Devin's got something here:
      "Knowledge is power, and power corrupts.
      To protect the world, we must…"
      …destroy knowledge! Ignorance is bliss, anyhow!

      That's obviously not a philosophy for the white-blue guild, but something with red and/or green. There are arguments for RG, RW, GW. I would argue against black (since black loves knowledge, power and corruption), but the first effect this guild wants to go to is discard, which is strictly black. Unless it's symmetrical.

      I propose a new Luurg, with the above philosophy.

      Book Burner 1R
      Creature-Goblin (cmn)
      When ~ ETB, target player discards a card at random, then draws a card.

      Naturalize 1G

      Nessian Rebel 1RG
      Centaur (unc)
      When ~ ETB, it deals X damage to each player, where X is the number of cards in that player's hand.
      Whenever a player draws a card, ~ deals 1 damage to that player.

      Primal Mass 1G
      Ooze (rare)
      If you would draw a card, instead exile the top card of your library. Put X +1/+1 counters on ~, where X is the exiled card's CMC.

    5. Alternately, we could give that philosophy to the Iraglog—It's a very green goal with very black means.

      Delerium Skeins 2B

      Rotting Rats 1B

      Ignorant Zealot 1B
      1/1 Human Cleric (unc)
      Whenever a player discards a card, put a +1/+1 counter on ~.

      Bramblecrush 2GG

      Green Vise 1G
      At the beginning of enchanted opponent's upkeep step, put X 1/1 green Insect creature tokens OTB, where X is 3 minus the number of cards in his or her hand.

  5. Golgari:

    To me, green methods + black goals = take over everything with natural growth while killing all competitors. Think plagues, invasive species, Phyrexians, etc. So here's my concept:

    The Golgari, a shadowy organization of elves and the sentient plant life they cultivate, are convinced that they represent the highest form of life and behave accordingly. They treat other species with contempt and aim to spread over the entire world. On the surface, they appear to be an agricultural guild that provides food, medicine, building materials, and various services. However, this is merely a front for them to spread their influence through all of Suvnica. Mechanically, the Golgari work for incremental advantage by using -1/-1 counters and life-draining effects to gradually wear down opponents. Their creatures tend to be small but are difficult to destroy. It's also possible that they may want to care about creature types.

    Reconstituting Slime (Common)
    Creature- Ooze
    2B: Sacrifice CARDNAME, then return CARDNAME from your graveyard to the battlefield.

    Undermining Elf (Common)
    Creature- Elf Shaman
    Whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage to a player, you may put a -1/-1 counter on target creature.

    Mushroom Agriculture (Rare)
    Whenever a player taps a land for mana, that player adds B to his or her mana pool.

    Feedback welcome and appreciated.

    1. At the core, this reminds me of the Elves from Lorwyn block. Who were creepy and awesome. I approve.

  6. Reading lpaulsen's Suiroza concept sparked an idea for me. Blue and white overlap in equality, though in somewhat different terms. White thinks people merit the same rights, whereas blue's vision of equality comes from its belief that we are born tabula rasa. This works with blinking as a fresh slate as well as cards like Godhead of Awe and balance effects.

    The Suiroza seek to give everyone an equal footing. Sure, they acknowledge that some people will always end up better off than others, but they see no reason that chance should play a role in that process. Suiroza guardians pluck children away from their parents so that all can be raised with equal means and attention, and recently have begun a cloning project to eliminate unfairness in genetics.

    Fresh Start U/W
    Instant (U)
    Exile target attacking or blocking creature, then return that card to the battlefield under its owners control.

    (This would be common if not for the wonky rules interaction that allows you to use this on a creature after damage has been dealt just for the etb trigger.)

    Fair Fight U
    Instant (R)
    Target blocked or blocking creature becomes a copy of target creature it's blocking or blocked by until end of turn.

    Suiroza Pardoner 3UW
    Creature-Vedalken Wizard (U)
    Whenever ~ becomes blocked by a creature, exile that creature, then return that card to the battlefield under its owners control.

    Unfortunately this mechanical space doesn't lend itself all that well to common, but a couple of flickers and a lot of etb creatures might be enough.

    I'll get to Golgari and guild champions later on.

    1. Isn't the tricky use of Fresh Start lenticular?

      Cool guild philosophy.

    2. Maybe. I'm less comfortable using that justification for cards that play in tricky rules territory because the complexity isn't hidden in strategy. It's hidden in a play that the inexperienced player thought was against the rules. Certainly a topic worth discussing.

  7. I'm new here, but thinking about the NewZorious... I like your concept of the White colective using blue studies... how about a mechanic that increases your creature capacity, then counts it? Like:

    Call for Researchers 1U
    Instant (Common)
    Put a 0/1 blue Scholar Token in the battlefield with "This creature can't attack or block".
    Draw a card for each Scholar you control.

    Silence Casting 1 W/U
    Instant (Common)
    Put a 0/1 blue Scholar Token in the battlefield with "This creature can't attack or block".
    Counter target spell unless it's controller pays 1 for each scholar you control.

    Library Bodyguard 2WW
    Creature - Vedalken Scholar Knight (Uncommom)
    Library Bodyguard's power and toughness is equal the number of Scholars you control.
    Library Bodyguard can block an aditional creature for each scholar you control.

    Gather the Studies XXU
    Enchantment (Rare)
    When Gather the Studies enters the battlefield, put X 0/1 blue Scholar Tokens in the battlefield with "This creature can't attack or block".
    Tap 3 Scholars you control: Look at the top 3 cards of your library. Put one of them in your hand, the rest on the botton of your library in any order.

    Argos Zoltarem 2UW
    Legendary Creature - Human Scholar Wizard
    Each creature you control is an Scholar in adition to it's other types.
    T: Put a 0/1 blue Scholar Token in the battlefield with "This creature can't attack or block"
    Tap 3 Scholars you control: Untap target permanent.

    1. I like the idea. If you saw the last Weekend Art Challenge, there were a lot of designs there that did this kind of thing (except with "Citizen" tokens). I would prefer that these say "creatures" rather than "scholars", because (1) it's less parasitic, (2) it's easier to understand, (3) it gives a reason for the tokens to be creatures, and (4) white and blue aren't very tribally focused colors (as opposed to green and red, for example). Of course, if you change to "creatures" then a lot of these cards probably become too powerful as they are currently costed.

    2. The idea is to mantain the Scholars, because you are recruiting people to research for you, not to do fighting, like the other creatures. White is a very "tribal " color! At least is a great token maker color...

  8. Wow, Quick Study and Overnight Watch form a two-card infinite-draw combo.

  9. You can simply Headmaster Nareen drastically. Replace all the nonsense about casting things at instant speed, with just "cast." That you cast them immediately and regardless of the normal ability to do so is implicit.

  10. Sunvica's Golgari has Black goals using greens means.

    Black's goal: Omnipotence

    Green way to get that: Infinite Mana (well maybe not infinite, but a lot of it!)

    Black-Green way to do that?

    Recycle the dead!

    Recycle Zombie 1B (common)
    Creature - PLant Zombie
    Recycle (Exile this card from your graveyard: add mana to your mana pool equal the colored mana symbols in CARDNAMES casting cost)

    (So if you exile the above card, you add B)

    Recycle Elf BG
    Creature - Elf (Uncommon)
    Recycle (Exile this card from your graveyard: add mana to your mana pool equal the colored mana symbols in CARDNAMES casting cost)

    (So if you exile the above card you add BG)

    Recycle Goliath 3B/gB/gB/g
    Creature - Plant Zombie
    When you recycle CARDNAME, you may put two 2/2 black zombie tokens and two 0/1 green plant tokens onto the battlefield under your control.

    (So if you exile the above card you may add B/gB/gB/g)

    Another way toward infinite mana, is to fertilize the forests and swamps with the dead

    Golgari's Real Rot Farm
    Land (Rare)
    T: add 1 to your mana pool for each fertilizer counter on CARDNAME
    BG, T: Exile target creature card from a graveyard, and put a fertilizer counter on CARDNAME.

    Other Commons/Uncommons:

    Composte Reap BG
    Sorcery (Common)
    As an additional cost to CARDNAME, exile a creature card from a graveyard.
    search your library for a forest or swamp card and put that card onto the battlefield

    Elvish fertomancer G
    Creature - Elf Necromancer (uncommon)
    Whenever a creature you control dies, you may add G to your mana pool

    Fertilize B
    Sorcery (common)
    target player discards a creature card.

    Fertal elf G
    Creature - elf (Common)
    When CARDNAME dies, you may untap target land

    Buried alive would be a great reprint for this golgari as well

    1. I imagine this has been tried by R&D before, but it's undoubtedly and unfixably busted in half.

    2. Dredge isn't the only problem. It's probably possible to build a deck with Dream Twist and the like that uses this to combo infinitely from the graveyard.

      I also tried to make a mechanic like this. Mine was meant to give a "half-mana" refund, so it exiled the top card of your library as well and only added a mana if the colors matched. That probably succeeds in making it less broken in raw power terms, but runs into all kinds of other problems.

  11. Black goals: ultimate power.
    Green means: evolution.

    The Iraglog pursue superiority in its purest form. The strong prey upon the weak, and each successive group is stronger than the last. They have no qualms about killing "innocents" since everyone is a competitor. They will do anything to improve themselves and view anyone unable to do the same as yet another evolutionary dead end.

    Compete 2G
    Sorcery (U)
    Target creature you control gains "Whenever a creature dealt damage by this creature this turn dies, put +1/+1 counters on this equal to that creatures power" until end of turn. That creature fights another target creature.

    Painful Lesson 1BB
    Enchantment-Aura (U)
    Enchant Creature
    Pay 3 life: Put a +1/+1 counter on enchanted creature.

    Outperform GB
    Instant (C)
    Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Another target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.

    Ravenous Monstrosity GB
    Creature-Vampire Beast Horror (C)
    Sacrifice another creature: ~ gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

  12. Guild leaders/champions:

    Zefferal's Orzhov:

    Cheres, Who Plays the Game 3WB
    Legendary Creature-Human Advisor (R)
    Whenever a creature becomes tapped, you may put a +1/+1 counter on it.
    1, Sacrifice a creature with a counter on it: Destroy target creature with a counter on it.

    Chah's Gruul:
    Krarrg, the Living Peak 2RRGG
    Legendary Creature-Elemental (M)
    At the beginning of your upkeep, put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token onto the battlefield for each creature card in your graveyard.
    At the beginning of your end step, put the top card of your library into your graveyard. If it's a creature card, ~ deals damage equal to that card's power to each creature.

    1. I like both of Krarrg's abilities, just not on the same card. So I want to have creature cards in my graveyard, but I also want them to be on top of my library. Or do I? If I hit a creature card, I'll lose all of my Saprolings (that in all probability haven't had a chance to do anything yet). I apparently want to have a creature-heavy deck to use this, but then I'm scared to play stuff that I will likely lose anyway. I guess then it's in the graveyard and gives me Saprolings? Just as long as I don't flip up another copy of Karrg...

  13. I like your visions for both of the guilds a lot! Let's get straight to it.

    Orderly Attendant 2U
    Creature - Human Advisor (C)
    When ~ enters the battlefield, you may untap another target permanent.

    Common thought process: We want a lot of small guys, and we want to stay defensive. And we want options. This relatively simple effect lets you grant one of your creatures pseudo-vigilance, but can also untap a land to let you cast another small creature in the same turn. Furthermore, I imagine that we will have lots of interesting tap abilities in this guild, making this a solid all-around tool in Limited.

    Peace of Mind WU
    Sorcery (U)
    Target player draws a card and gains 4 life.

    This could probably be either an instant or gain 5 instead. I don't know if it needs to target.

    Diligent Peacekeeper 2WWUU
    Creature - Human Cleric (MR)
    Tap an untapped creature you control: Tap target land, creature or artifact.
    Discard a card: untap target permanent.

    Mind over Matter, meet Opposition, meet Pillarfield Ox. Yus! Quite possibly ridiculously broken.

    Vesper Druid BG
    Creature - Elf Druid (C)
    T, pay 1 life: add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

    Common Design: Vesper Ghoul meets is more svelte but more color-intensive elf counterpart. It does what our new Golgari want to without being as outright powerful as Birds of Paradise or Noble Hierarch.

    Vitality Surge X(B/G)(B/G)
    Sorcery (U)
    If B was used to cast CARDNAME, target player loses X life. If G was used to cast CARDNAME, you gain X life.

    Keeper of the Autumn Grove 2G
    Creature - Human Druid (R)
    B, T: Add BBB to your mana pool.

    Guild leaders probably coming later.

    1. Kariel, The Midnight Sun 1BBGG
      Legendary Creature - Elf Avatar (MR)
      Whenever a non-black creature you control dies, return it to the battlefield under your control. It is a black zombie in addition to its others colors and types.
      Sacrifice another green creature you control: Draw cards equal to that creature's power and gain life equal to its toughness.

      Smid, Protector of the Meek 1RRWW
      Legendary Creature - Ogre Cleric (MR)
      First strike, haste
      Whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage to a creature, tap that creature.
      Tapped creatures your opponents control deal no combat damage.

  14. You could argue that the Azorius have blue goals (control) and white means (law). If we consider a Suiroza with white goals (greater good) and blue means (study), they could be Wikipedia. Concerned with gaining and sharing knowledge, and educating the world. These are the climate scientists and philosophers; teachers and bloggers. The only sin greater than ignorance is misinformation.

    Suiroza Lecturer 2U
    1/1 Scholar (cmn)
    T: Each player draws a card.

    Public Doctor 1W
    1/1 Cleric (unc)
    T: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to each creature and player this turn.

    Cure for the Cough 1WU
    Sorcery (unc)
    Each player draws a card, then gains 2 life for each card in his or her hand.

    Ironclad Librarian 2W
    2/2 Knight Scholar (rare)
    Spells can't be countered.
    Cards can't be discarded.

    Prepared Vigilante WW
    2/2 Soldier (unc)
    1, Reveal a card in your hand: CARDNAME gains protection from one of the revealed card's colors until EOT.

    1. I disagree with your color identity analysis-- "control" is not a blue goal in itself, and "law" as an abstract concept is at least as much blue as it is white. But I like the cards.
      I suspect that Ironclad Librarian is broken, in terms of gameplay and possibly rules as well. A spell that loses its target is considered to be "countered", right? (See the rules text on Abrupt Decay and company.) Meanwhile, the no-discard rule is pretty insane with Faithless Looting and similar effects.

  15. I think an interesting direction to take the reverse-Golgari would be to push that "big creatures at any cost" mentality by having really inexpensive creatures with erratic behavior/weird drawbacks, as well as some "successful experiments" that just make creatures really big. You could play up the horrific experimentation nature of them like the Simic but unconcerned about anything but raw power output. I know it's not quite in line with NWO, but I think there's a particularly interesting tension with the Skulking cards that could be expanded upon in interesting ways.

    Brittle Bones
    Enchantment - Aura - Common
    Enchant Creature
    Whenever enchanted creature attacks, blocks, or activates an ability, it gets -2/-2 until end of turn.

    Nervous Wurm
    Creature - Wurm - Uncommon
    At the beginning of your upkeep, if another player controls a creature with flying, tap Nervous Wurm.
    [i]"It'll eat anything it sees, but the second it can only see a shadow, it's as skittish as a kitten."[/i]

    Endless Might
    Enchantment - Rare
    When Endless Might enters the battlefield, put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control.
    Creatures you control get +1/+1 for each +1/+1 counter on them.