Monday, July 1, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge Review 062813—ilkerserdar

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

I'm guessing this is mythic rare based on how very strong it will be when your opponent is playing legends. In fact, Addelheim punishes legends much harder than I would expect in a set that features legendary creatures prominently. (And if the set doesn't, then these abilities are probably out of place.)

You'll see shortly that several of us wanted to bring back (and finally rename) bushido for this card. Ipaulsen went a step further and upgraded it so that the bonus is permanent. I'm not valor warrants a keyword because it may be very difficult to put it on enough cards of different rarities to justify.

We haven't seen an uncommon legend since Kamigawa, my favorite of which were the Brothers Yamazaki. If Theros does have a legendary theme, we will need to see it below rare, but what will that look like? One option is to simply make legendary creatures of lower rarity, like Camilla. There are a few concerns about making common or uncommon legends, chief among them, legends feel less special when they're so common. One solution is the Brothers Yamazaki method. Another are flip/transform/level-up cards, etc, that start normal but becomes legendary.

Looking at this art through a black lens, I saw a mercenary. I had no interest in bringing back Cateran Brute, so I looked for another way to express the occupation. I'm relatively pleased with Arm and a Leg—and Cavalry for Hire for that matter—even if I don't think it speaks to Theros more than any other set.

Kyle proposed this reprint. In a land of gods and heroes, I could see treating tokens as the common people, expendable and whatnot. That said, I don't think they'd make Dogged Hunter white today.

Flank Lancer sports the new bushido. It's interesting how warring is evasion on offense, and dissuasion on defense. I could definitely see this keyword in Theros if only because heroes love riding around on horses and warring gives us a way to make humans that are small but fight hard.

Inspired is another way to bring a legendary theme down to common. Instead of printing legendary creatures at common, you can print the word on cards so that players are aware of that idea more often. The flavor for this mechanic is great too. You could argue that Glory's Herald might be cleaner if it gained just P/T or just first strike via inspired, but it's still at least an A-.

Nich went a similar direction, keying off of gods instead of legends. I asked if we'd be printing non-legendary gods and he explained, "God is a new creature type, not card type. So it's anti-Changeling tech for kitchen table play. Mistform Ultimus still works though, but I'm fine with that." I think I'm fine with all changelings enabling Gykos Legionnaire in order to get that awkward word out of there. It only affects vintage formats and I don't think a 4/2 for three is too good anyhow.

This is my favorite card name submitted.

Hallowed Crusader would exist among a bunch of cards printed with a new super-type, divine. New supertypes are a trap as we learned in Coldsnap when WotC made their best effort to make the snow supertype work and still came up short. They're just too parasitic.

If you replace 'divine' with 'legendary' here, I could definitely see sacred doing some good work.

Sort of a Mistmeadow Skulk upgrade, Highland Lancer is pretty sweet. It's too good for uncommon now, since it's both a nearly unblockable 2 damage and a free block of your opponent's biggest creature every turn. You could cost it higher. You could remove vigilance. You could also make it bigger, so that it's not as immune. A 3/3 for {2}{W}{W} might be perfect for this ability.

I like ambition, but I expect that alleged majority who disliked clash back in Lorwyn will dislike ambition for the same reasons. It doesn't help that you're torn on how you want it to go: If you get the counter, you lose the creature you were going to get next turn, and vice-versa.

By itself, Ambition 1 is fairly marginal, but with Highland Lancer's last ability it becomes huge. You're either getting a 2/2 first striker or a 3/3 double striker, which hits three times as hard. I imagine even fewer players will like that degree of variance.

The two main concerns with heroic are that it plays very similarly to exalted (but less flexibly) and the fact that you can use it on defense makes planning combat significantly harder, adding to on-board complexity.

Hippoi Athanatoi Rider is another submission I think is too strong for an uncommon. Getting a 3/3 for three and a 2/2 for free is pretty darn good, even before you mention that the 2/2 is immortal.

Immortal is identical to indestructible with the addition of a can't-be-sacrificed clause. I seriously doubt that's worth keywording.

Through a green lens, I saw a hunter. I originally put the Stalking Tiger ability on, until it occurred to me it makes more sense that Hunter of Creeta must be blocked, rather than having pseudo-evasion. Nacatl War-Pride would be proud.

Every time you play a creature with hero's tale, one of your creatures will be designated hero, and every time one of those dies, we make sure you still have a hero. The flavor justification is that Jorean Candidate inspires or is inspired, and when she dies, her brave death inspires someone else. I imagine it'll be easier to grok when it's just one or the other. It'll be weird when this dies, you put a hero counter on your Glory Seeker and that means nothing for a while; then you cast another creature with hero's tale but you can't make that a hero, because Glory Seeker already is. There may be something awesome here, but it needs some testing and tuning.

Glorious Anthem on a stick, with a grandeur ability that fits both mechanically and thematically. Slick.

Some cards get better when you have legends, some cards make your legends better. I like Inspired a bit more, but this isn't terrible.
'Skirmish' was my name for new bushido.

Here's another card that wants to be played alongside legends. You can have your cake and eat it too! Definitely a cool new spin on reinforce. Leto's Hoplite reinforce ability might need to cost a bit more, but that's for playtesting / Development to decide.

Along the lines of "can't be blocked by fewer than two creatures", Mano-a-Mano allows a single-block but punishes it. There's also some frenzy built in there, so that if Mounted Tenari has a one-on-one fight with your creature or you it's able to use its superior speed and maneuverability to charge in.

Can it be time for a proper enchantments-matter block? A lot of players would love to see that and mystic seems like a fair shake in that direction. Jules made a couple strong arguments that make me wonder how reasonable it is. One, enchantments aren't colorless like artifacts and so can never be made as a prevalent as Mirrodin did. Two, only two colors have enchantment-removal... Though in the light of day, I'm realizing that's only one color less than artifact removal. I don't know.

I suspect a completely mana-less, permanent +3/+3 is a bit too strong, but the cost of discarding a legend (even a duplicate) isn't exactly cheap. I love the idea of putting psuedo-grandeur on non-legends as an extra outlet for legends stuck in your hand.

If horsemanship were to come back, it would be on a card like this. That said, the world doesn't need another shadow.

Spartan Scout was also intended for an enchantment-block. That's why it's small; the enchantments you're getting are so good. Allegedly.

It displeases the Vorthos in me that this scout can ride around looking for land and enchantments. I'd rather it was a scout that got land or a shaman that got enchantments but not both.

Another way for legends to matter on a creature.

Ben proposes off-color morph abilities for cross-block synergy with RtR. Thanik's Warden is fine in a white-blue deck, but also in a mono-white deck or a mono-blue deck. (I'd totally pay {1}{W}{W} for a 3/2 or {4}{U}{U} for Mulldrifter.)

The addition of "by a creature with greater power" adds a slight twist to bushido, which could help justify renaming it. It makes no difference against creatures with lower power (except for a 1/3 or 1/4 in Valiant Knight's case), so the main difference is that Valiant Knight won't trump a Runeclaw Bear where a creature with bushido would've. I love the flavor that heroic creatures rise to the occassion against particularly daunting foes, but I'd want to test the mechanic to see if it's grokkable enough to justify the extra text.

Note to self: Creating a strict converted mana cost requirement is more limiting than any other restriction you've tried. It might be okay at larger numbers where some cards will be huge, but others can still be small with awesome abilities, but at low numbers, you're forcing people to basically the same power and toughness. In fairness, that did allow people to focus on differentiating their card elsewhere, and that might have been a good thing.


  1. I find it funny that after last week's "your card must be monoblue" restriction, no one submitted blue cards this week. (To be fair, the art doesn't really support it.)

    1. I tried to find a blue way to make this and I just couldn't. Apparently we've found an identity for !U if Bradley ever makes that set.

    2. My Warden has a blue color identity for what it's worth.

  2. Honestly I'm not sure if Heroic will trigger the right amount of the time to justify a mechanic, but my card was a poor example. Imagine it on a 2/4. They can trade a single 2/2 for it if they have two, but a 4/4 still loses to it in combat. A 1/3 can block a 1/3 can block most anything, but doesn't do much on offense. As for why it's an ability word, I imagined only doing pump at common, but with the ability that Bushido lacks to make exciting cards at higher rarities.

  3. The highlight of the week for me is definitely Jorean Candidate. Hero's Tale has a lot of potential to be very interesting, and I love the idea of the Hero counter.

    I do think the text on Hero's Tale needs to be a bit simpler. I could imagine two alternatives:

    A) When ~ enters the battlefield, if you control no creatures with a Hero marker, put a hero marker on ~.


    B) When ~ enters the battlefield, if you control no creatures with a Hero marker, put a hero marker on a creature you control.

    I like the story of A better. Maybe your Hero dies and your people have no Hero for a while, but they are ever waiting for one.

    I can already see the white reanimation spell that puts a Hero marker on the thing it reanimates if you have no hero.

    Very clever idea, and I could really see a block built around this.

    1. Heroic Bird 1W
      Creature - Bird
      Heroic (If this creature would deal damage to a player, prevent that damage and gain a hero counter for each damage prevented)

      If a player has 10 hero counters they win the game.

  4. Placid Hippeus could perhaps be more interesting if it became a "lineage" trait.
    lineage - discard a legendary creature sharing a creature type with CARDNAME. For every example of the card discarded present in your graveyard, CARDNAME gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

    1. Interesting. Why not:

      Lineage — Discard a creature card that shares a creature type with CARDNAME: CARDNAME gets +1/+1 until end of turn for each card in your graveyard with that creature type.

    2. I thought about it, and it is another way to go, if we do not want to be too parasitic on legends matter.

  5. The big part of this for me is a reminder of how much I love Reinforce and other cycling-esque mechanics. Bloodrush was fun, but streamlined. Cards like "When ~ reinforces a creature, untap that creature", gating bonuses, and the promise of board stalls that you can build and then break with a boost all seem fun. Besides Enchantments with reinforce or things like that, there's even something as simple as:

    Elvish Commando G
    Creature - Elf Warrior
    Reinforce 3 - 4G

    The downside is that you have to be careful that the reinforce cards don't all feel the same, don't break NWO in half, and don't discourage attacking or blocking. Still, if you need to have a military or Lawful feel to a set, it plays so well in that vein.