Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge Review 051713—StormOwlArt

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

Apprentice Exorcist is a clever solution. Since almost all offensive mill is targeted, it will trigger this effect. Losing life is usually the last thing the mill player wants. My only real gripe is that causing life loss is particularly un-white. There have been exceptions, like Extort and New Phyrexians like Suture Priest, but unless this set has a reason to make that exception, another effect (like making tokens) would be preferable.

Letting you gain value every turn out of the cards your opponent has milled is a good solution (and one we'll see again), and limiting that to extra lands is pretty safe way to do it. The plural here matches Crucible of Worlds' wording, but on an activated ability, it sounds dangerously like you can play more than one land per turn (or when it's not your turn). I'd prefer if Bard of the Lost Woods was just Crucible on legs.

The ability to bring Dusk Minstrel back as often as you want, or more precisely, to move it from your graveyard to your library, could save you from a repeated milling effect. Evan was wise not to put this ability on a splashy creature that you'd bring back every chance, as that would lead to a repetitive game state.

I don't think hexproof adds anything to this design, and either ability would shine better by itself on its own 2/2 for 2.

The first ability is wonderful. Any time you see a card milled from your deck that you'd rather have, you can trade for it. Dryad Reverie could be an effective counter to a mill strategy, and I'd even expect new players to run it because they hate losing their best cards to mill.

The second ability feels so mechanical that it manages to sour the whole card for me.

I like that this art brought out people's inner poet, either in card name's, effects or flavor. I'm not even sure what 'efullgence' is, but this card name is deliciously bombastic. Not sure the rules text matches that flair, but Cultivate of Worlds is pretty neat. It's much harder to use than Cultivate, but do note that you can get back any land cards, not just basics.

I didn't think of this before, but now I'm thinking what this card really wants is either to Rampant Growth with a bonus if you've been milled, or to let you choose to get the cards either from your library or your graveyard.

Endless Melody is a nice clean effect. One of my original ideas was identical except that it only gained you 1 life per card recycled. Maybe 2 is the magic number of life; we'll let Development figure that out.

Jules had the same idea, suggesting it could also be white. Yeah. If this set wants hybrid cards, I could totally see this. While both cards help refill your library, Resurgent Melody plays a bit faster at the expense of not improving your draws until you get to the point where your library would have been empty. Of course, it then guarantees you nothing but creatures. If I were Dev, I'd want to test both methods.

Eternal Elegist also restocks your library, but only when she dies. That could prove too slow in some cases, but could also be a form of evasion in others (against a milling opponent who doesn't want to let you have her death trigger). Curiously, I think she'd be better with 1 toughness for that reason.

This is one of the poetic cards I was talking about. Playing Eulogy's Elegy would be a lot of work. It would get played, as this can improve your hand immediately and your deck for the foreseeable future, but I could see this taking multiple minutes to resolve in a lot of late game situations.

At face-value, Firetree Invoker offers you a Shock every turn for the cost of half your draws. Even as a 1/2 for {2}{R}{G}, I'd play this in every Limited deck that could cast it. It makes you entirely immune to a milling deck (as long as it lives) as well as giving you reach to finish the game through a likely board stall.

Firetree Invoker may be too strong, and I don't know why it's green at all, but I quite like how it doesn't consume all your draws, reducing the game's variance right at the conclusion.

This Runechanter's Pike variant would eat up some complexity points in NWO, since you can apply its effect to any of the attacking or blocking creatures each combat, or two or more if you've got tricks to empower it with. That's a lot of shenanigans and would often be quite a brain-burner. Makings its ability sorcery-speed would help. I like how subtle the interaction with milling is, and I love the flavor text.

Glade of Morpheus can help save you from either a milling opponent or a killing opponent, though only incrementally. Havelock felt strongly that this effect is green, but I think in this context, you could put this on a colorless land without raising any ruckus.

Grove of Remembrance is an enticing build-around-me uncommon. I so want to go make a deck with a bunch of creatures and spells with matching costs and let my creatures recast my spells for me.
Johnny-Spike pudding.

Maiden promises power. Like a little Sun Titan. I very much doubt you'd see this below rare, but maybe if the set has enough Lightning Bolts and Feldon's Canes it could happen.

Midnight Lullaby is a fascinating fusion of Make a Wish and Plow Under. I honestly don't know if it should cost more or less. Two Regrowths would be ridiculous, but two False Mourning is rather less so. Offensively though, you can ensure your opponent doesn't draw anything devastating for the next two turns. If you've been milling them, you can even put land on top of their deck. I imagine Midnight Lullaby would played more by the miller than the millee as-is, but there's probably a variant that would turn that around.

Now that's a professional. She keeps strumming after death. Hell, she's strumming even if she never lived.

This is an interesting way to help keep your library up, as well as your hopes of drawing your best creatures. I do think it's a bit weird that she can put herself on the bottom of your library, but eh.

I was surprised there weren't more effects like this.

I ended up adding X to the cost so that you couldn't turbo-mill a dozen creatures into your own graveyard and cast Requiem super-cheap for an army of fliers. It's still a pretty competitive bird-maker, y'know, if you ignore ridiculous ones like Lingering Souls and Spectral Procession.

Causing a shuffle every turn is something we want to avoid when possible. Serenader could just put them on the bottom of your library or something. That said, it was a clever move on Ipaulsen's part to trigger this in your end step, so that the game can proceed while you shuffle.

It's funny how often the discussion comes up: Is it faster to choose a card or do it randomly? I imagine you could graph the two (against number of cards being chosen from) and the lines would intersect at least twice. The trouble is, random choices take a bit longer when you add any card to the pile, while player choices only take longer when you add relevant cards to the pile.

Since Singer of Serenades puts the card on the bottom of your library, its value is less relevant and when you'll get to it is potentially unknowable, so I would think letting the player choose would go faster here. We would playtest to find out.

Sonata of Life and Death is another of our very poetic designs. I'm tempted to say it feels unfocused and should probably either be a sorcery or lose one of the choices, but I can't deny there's a compelling symmetry here. I'm curious to hear what you all think.

Stirring Requiem seems vastly overpowered. The ability to get back any creature for just {W}{W}, whether it was milled or killed is very strong. If it were printable, it would be mythic.

If you imagine some nerfed version that's reasonably balanced, I would say it's a compelling anti-mill card that you'd be happy to maindeck regardless. I do feel like the flavor would be better if it only got killed creatures, but the functionality upside could outweigh that niggle.

This is a stretch. Ideally, it's a one-mana draw-a-card, that can sometimes get you an extra card (or more) after a long game or if you've been milled heavily. That said, I think it's way too wordy and weird for the effect.

I had tried making a card for this challenge in each color. I like the white one, and the green one obviously has some supporters, but if you think blue was weak, well, I won't even waste your time with the red one. Ugh.

Footbottom Feast can be a real game-changer in a drawn-out Limited battle. The ability to stack your deck with the creatures your opponent most saw fit to Murder should not be underestimated. I'm not sure why you'd grab lands, unless you're just desperate to fill your library to avoid getting milled. The persist here is arguable, if you assume the set has a lot of persist, but I don't feel like it adds much to this design in a vacuum.

As several observed, there were a lot of really solid designs here. You're all doing a lot of great work and it's fun to see us all learn and grow as designers together.


  1. I'm pretty sure Firetree Invoker was made GR as a reference to Grove of the Burnwillows, but I could be wrong.

    1. It was! :)

      That said, Jay's right in that the effect is not green at all, so I'm not sure if it's worth the callback to a single Future Sight card.

  2. First off, another design I considered that I liked pretty well:

    Song of Life 2G
    Creature-Spirit (U)
    Whenever a creature with greater power than CARDNAME enters the battlefield under your control, you may return CARDNAME from your graveyard to your hand.

    I'm going to repost a couple of comments I made on the submission post just so people don't have to dig through it.

    On Firetree Invoker:

    "Creatures that deal amounts of damage different from their power always feel really should be fine to cost it higher and add a second point of power."

    On Apprentice Exorcist:

    "White likes to protect its own, but this punishment doesn't feel white...As an alternate punishment, how about giving you creatures? It can be flavored as hiring more bodyguards after someone tries to assassinate you.

    Head of Security 1W
    Creature-Human Soldier
    Whenever you become the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, put a 1/1 white Soldier creature token onto the battlefield.

    All around I think this week was the best pool of submissions yet. It's awesome that we can all improve together this way!

  3. I didn't realize how closely the gold background of the artwork matched the gold border of multicolored cards. Not sure if that's a good or a bad thing.

  4. The persist was partly for flavor reasons (I got "Shadowmoor 2.0" from the art, which inspired the card type and the hybrid mana cost) and partly to make the card more attractive to maindeck, since I don't recall Gravepurge being particularly impressive in Limited.

  5. Sonata of Life and Death is a bit too asymmetrical for me to enjoy the symmetry it's trying to achieve. I like the flavor, but it needs a little bit more of a black-or-white (hehe) execution than what it currently presented.