Monday, June 24, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge Review 062113—MihaiRadu

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

Fog Bank and Gaseous Form finally get an instant version in Aether Bubble. Seems entirely appropriate for blue and works as a core set common. Fairly weak, but it has surprising versatility.

I really wanted to find a card for name Bubble in Time, and the Flicker options had already been done, so I got creative. The result feels like a reasonable direction for blue removal to me. It's an answer-that-can-be-answered, like white's Pacifism strain, but the condition and execution both feel very blue to me. Testing could easily prove this needs to be uncommon, sorcery or cost differently.

As you'll see several times below, exiling a Sliver removes its bonuses from other Slivers and doing that at instant speed could really mess with combat.

I love the playtest name, Bubble of Protection: Red. The effect doesn't feel anything like a Circle of Protection: Red, and I don't think we want a cycle of these, so the final name would clearly change. This card has a lot of variance. It could be useless against a green player, conditional but not irrelevant against a white/black player, and pretty impressive against a red player. Glad it isn't cheaper and doesn't target yourself.

Bubble Trap is an excellent common variation on Sleep. It will be particularly relevant against a swarm of Slivers (as long as one isn't granting them all vigilance).

As a side note, we discovered as a group this card makes disproportionately more sense when it affects attacking creatures as opposed to tapped creatures or creatures your opponents control. Perhaps because this is the only version that actually needs to be an instant.

Containment Sphere is another generally weak card supported by great resonance and a little versatility.

Disinterest works along similar lines but ignores combat in favor of affecting other interactions. A Disinterested Sliver would not receive bonuses from his kin, and can't be saved by its controller's spells. Y'know, unless she responds before this spell resolves. In terms of flavor, hexproof feels perfect (well, since we can't use shroud) but I don't get how the creature types disappear in the game world.

Fool Me Once would eat up an extra complexity point or two as a core set common, and would be almost unusable in Limited, but I like the effect for Constructed. It affects Slivers inasmuch as you'll be playing lots of them, including duplicates. It doesn't do the art much justice at all.

I cleaned Forcefield Enwrapture up a bit for fading, who never clarified which of his submissions would be his final design. By increasing the creature's toughness, we can remove the white-ish damage prevention clause and the resulting text is simpler and bluer with the same flavor.

As with Disinterest, I feel like losing creature types cost us too much resonance to justify the gain from interacting with Slivers. That said, removing the abilities will make more sense in gameplay than Disinterest, because the Sliver you target won't continue to boost the other Slivers.

Impelling Defense is a targeted Fog, with a cantrip added to make it worth playing. That fits the art pretty well and it's something you might consider when faced with Slivers who are boosting each other.

Intervene is a reprint from Urza's Legacy and I would argue pretty much perfect for a core set common and this art.

Any effect that strips all abilities from a creature needs to set its power and toughness to prevent */* creatures from having undefined stats. I also wonder if an Isolated creature should still be able to do combat.

Dissipate could have used similar wording, but exiling spells on the stack confuses some players. Dissipiate-for-creatures sounds like a reasonable card. It eats an extra complexity point, but my larger concern in the core set is explaining exile to a new player and why it's better than, and worth existing in addition to, the graveyard.

I'm not sure Room to Think is 100% blue since Propaganda shifted to Ghostly Prison, but I like the story it tells and I'm sure a number of control players would be happy to play a cantripping Fog.

I like Sphere of Greater Sanctuary; It's a(nother) very blue Fog. I am concerned about the massive amount of math it could force players to do on a complex board, though. Apart from the number of creatures in the sphere, I think this is a solid description of the art.

If hexproof weren't so new, I'd have to double-check Gatherer to make sure Spherical Shielding wasn't already a card. It's a mono-blue Hindering Light and that seems like something the core set could use.

Stasis Capture is the half of Sleep that Bubble Trap didn't emulate. Except, instead of tapping all of your opponent's creatures, it has a tribal bent. Take that, Slivers. It would be shorter without "you don't control" but much worse in a mirror match, which is clearly something they're trying to avoid with the new version of Slivers.

A quick Gatherer search surprises me—Apparently "Tap all creatures target player controls" has never been printed as a stand-alone card. That would be an even better card for the core set.

Bradley's Time Out flickers its target until the end of the turn (exactly what you want to mess with Slivers).

Niche's Time Out reads to me like a fixed Remand. You give up a card in order to cost your opponent mana and time. The reminder text is important here because new players aren't clear whether a spell is countered when something happens to it that doesn't explicitly say it's countered.

Turn Aside is another very well chosen reprint for this art and for the core set.

Jenesis' take on the flicker effect adds one word: tapped. When the creature comes back at the end of the turn, it's tapped. It makes sense the creature would be particularly disoriented (more than when it's first summoned), but it also feels gratuitous next to the whole-turn-exile effect. For most creatures, simply tapping it would have the same result. For Slivers, it clearly makes a big difference. My main concern is that a lot of experienced players will completely miss the extra word because they're so used to this effect without it.

There were definitely some repeated themes, but given the very narrow design requirements I think we came up with a surprising number of different solutions. This art was a bit harder to work with than our average illustration, and was particularly hard to reconcile with the bonus path. Most of the best designs just went one way or another. Perhaps there's a lesson there:

Sometimes it's best to sacrifice one of your goals to better meet the rest.


  1. Impelling Defense is {U} not {1}{U}. Thanks for doing all the mockups though : )

    1. I see. That moves it from playable to amazing. I'd absolutely play that in every blue Limited deck.

  2. To my mind, all the creature type manipulation stuff doesn't make sense in a core set. This ain't Lorwyn.

    1. Except judging by the spoilers M14 is explicitly tribal-oriented, with Slivers being the returning mechanic to support that theme. So, seems pretty sensible if overly complex.

    2. Not counting Slivers, there are 4/159 cards currently spoiled that care about creature types -- two are common, and two are mythic (five, if you count Mutavault). Unless WotC has been holding back a boatload of tribal to unleash on us in the coming weeks, calling the entire set "tribal-oriented" is a bit of a stretch.

      At the moment, the only tribe I can see myself aggressively drafting around is Slivers.

    3. There are Slivers, which seem silly to discount, G/R Beasts, U/x "things with flying" (see: Trained Condor/Warden of Evos Isle/Windreader Sphinx), Mutavault, and the suggestion of other tribal color pairings like U/R Elementals.

  3. Aether Bubble is a nice core set card, it'd be nice to reprint Palace Guards alongside it to give you a selective fog.

    I like Bubble Trap as a tool against Slivers. Since the sliver deck's creatures will mostly have the same stats in play, they're more likely to all attack together, walking into Bubble Trap.

  4. Spherical Shielding reminds me of Gilded Light. It's got the cycling->cantrip conversion that we see on Confound<->Mage's Guile. I think making players hexproof is a lot more white than blue (see also Ivory Mask and all its variations like Leyline of Sanctity).