Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge Review 080913—Neon Knights

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

Blades everywhere! Ambidextrous Flameknight is a pretty cool card. It plays a lot like Two Tims (a pair of Prodigal Pyromancers), except that it has to survive combat to keep going. The name's a little literal, but leave it to Creative.

Clean and simple. A reasonable ability for blue, and potentially quite useful in Tesla. I'm not convinced Blur Knight is a knight, but put 'rogue' or 'wizard' there and it's all good.

What if twobrid exists solely on cyborgs? The colored cost represents the organic half and the colorless cost represents the robotic half. Resonance'd!

The word 'Manablader' hurts me, but I can't argue with how clearly deranged this one is. It clearly wants to attack and just keep attacking. With the ability to deal 2 on turn two and then swing as a 3-power first-striking creature on turn 3, Deranged Manablader could be even harder to deal with than Stromkirk Noble.

Kevin since updated this to:
Deranged Manablader {1}{R}{B}
Whenever a opponent loses life, place a +1+1 counter on Deranged Manablader.
Simpler, awesomer, terrifyinger.

"Want to block Grey Knight profitably? Hope you're running enough artifacts!"
It's more oblique than metalcraft, but the presence of Grey Knight in the set does give players another reason to run more artifact creatures. I wonder if it wants {WB}{WB} or {2W}{2B}.

There are a lot of good names today (including the next one), but Knight of Light and Steel is my favorite. It's so poetic, and yet so fighty and futurey at the same time. If Grey Knight subtly promotes more artifacts, does this guy dissuade them? I guess a little.

This bad-ass knight steals your colors. If Kodachrome Cavalier is the only card in the set that care's about the colors of your permanents, I don't think it's internal awesomeness is enough, but if there are cards that do care, this could be a great uncommon.

I think I convinced P that choosing a color was an odd level of precision for an otherwise global effect, though I was trying to convince him that a laserbow shouldn't even be a global effect. I suppose this art could go on a Prodigal Pyromancer remake.

Does Lifeblood run through the artifacts and lands of Tesla, and not the creatures or players?
This ability seems dangerous for its owner early in the game (being tempted to hurt your mana to win a combat) and dangerous for her opponent late (sacrifice 12 lands… win). I don't know that's a bad thing.

Lustrous Defender is an easier-to-cast Steadfast Guard with an impressive bit of upside (for an artifact set) that even combos with its keyword. Most likely a first-pick.

Nich is proposing "engages in combat" as new wording for "blocks or becomes blocked." It doesn't save as much space as 'dies' but it is compelling. I wonder if just 'engages' could count both combat and fights.

Neon Dragoon is too shiny not too block. That's hilarious and awesome. Also, it zaps players by conducting through their artifacts metal, I think.

Devin explains that Network Protector is white because she's protected from enemy spells. That's a creative argument, and it kind of works for me. He's tied in the usual but-it'll-never-actually-happen drawback into flavor. It's clever, at least.

Plazblade Retributor deflects your laser/magic blasts back at you. Well done.
(In fact, this inspired an upcoming CCDD.)

Prismatic Howler also cares about colors. If only there were a mechanic named 'prismatic' that we'd considered as a possibility recently...
The first ability is a little awkward; Spiritmonger's method is simpler. I'm not sure why this scrappy red fighter is changing colors at all, but then again, I'm not sure why Spiritmonger is either.
Note that James claimed this art before Kevin.

James since updated this to:
Prismatic Howler {2R}{2R}
Creature - Knight (U)
White, blue, black, and green creatures you control can't be blocked except by two or more creatures.

Psytech Nullifier is an Interdict on a stick, but it's a bit too complicated, even at uncommon. It could tap an artifact down, Dungeon Geists style; that doesn't do much to equipment, but it does also answer creatures.

"…The vampires of Tesla don't bite people; instead they carry elaborate weapons that they use to extract the blood from their victims…"
You had me at 'Sanguine Knight.'

Conditional Threaten on a stick, Shardmind Dominator is a solid uncommon-ization of Conquering Manticore.

One way to replace +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters is with charge counters that do different things in different places. Perhaps in one color they can be spent for +N/+N, in another for +N/+0 or +0/+N and in another, to activate keywords or textier abilities. I'm not sure Recharge wants a number, or that different cards should get different numbers of counters from the one exiled card, but that's easily tweaked.

Sparksoul Duelist features an unfortunate amount of text for "double my equipment" (which is awesome). Enough that I don't think it could be keyworded and should probably just live on a single rare somewhere.

Zo-Zu the Punisher gets Tesla'fied. Cool.
I'm not convinced first strike adds to the core of Surgeblade Radical, but it does fit the art.

Licids are not a happy memory for NWO, but I think if they were to be redone, Wiresoul Knight is about as close as you'll come. Do note that this secretly has "{1}{U}: Exile ~ until EOT" which is pretty strong on its own.

I don't remotely love the rules text for this keyword, but I wanted to find some meaning for the glowing, and a psychic network that links creatures tapped into it sounds pretty awesome and could easily spark the story for an entire plane. Find a better mechanic to represent that network!

In summary, glowing is fun.

I'm really impressed how despite all the Star Wars derivative art, so few designs fell into the trap of mimicking that world. And the one that does that most for me, Plazblade Retributor, does it so well I didn't even mind.

Nine of these designs had first and/or double strike. Some of that is due the word 'knight' in the challenge's title and they're Magic lineage, but I'm thinking a lot of it is just from the art. Seems like we closely associate glowing swords with first strike (and twin swords with double strike). Not surprising, just interesting.

There were four traditional multicolor submissions and two hybrid multicolor. I'm curious, do you all feel like Tesla wants to be a gold set, or do we just love making gold cards?


  1. I felt the laser sword symbolized anti-artifactness as having a laser sword as opposed to a normal one implies a "need" for weapons to use vs. the Mechs. I'm glad others felt that way too (I liked the Zo-Zu design).

    I don't agree with a heavy gold theme since artifact blocks already have a slight cognitive dissonance with lands and color requirements; adding the need for stricter manabases is hard to justify.

  2. I'm with Benjammn here. Possibly a few rares: there was a prominent cycle in Innistrad block, and Scars/Zendikar both had a couple multicolor guys, but a focus on it would feel out of place. Also I can't see any justification for {B} anywhere on Cybercavalier.

  3. I think WAC participants design a lot of gold cards because:
    - there is more open space in multicolored than in monocolored (since multicolored by definition can do everything monocolored can, and some things it can't)
    - multicolored allows for a higher power level, and people like designing powerful cards
    - WACs tend to be top-down in nature, and it's easier to match a top-down design to multiple colors than to try to narrow it down to a single color
    - people like bending rules, and designing a multicolored card feels like a "creative" response to a restriction (e.g. if the restriction is "you must design a green card", someone is going to submit a red/green card)

    1. Hit the nail on the head sir.

      Also, for Wiresoul Knight (which is awesome), I wonder if it shouldn't be Soulblade 1U (1U: Wiresoul Knight stops being a creature and becomes an Equipment. Attach it to target creature. At the beginning of each end step, if it isn't attached to a creature, this effect ends.)

      This stops each Soulblade creature from being able to dodge removal, and limits their instant-speed equipping power to one creature (unless you reactivate it. Hmm...)

    2. Likewise agree with Evan Jones about multicolour cards.

      Or just "Equip 1U (this is an equipment instead of a creature until it becomes unattached)"? That seems simpler in many ways and like it would work the way peopel would expect. It could even be an artifact creature - knight equipment, which is shorter but more confusing.

      The biggest hole is that most people would expect it to have an unequip ability (probably also at sorcery speed), but the original wording didn't seem to have a way of turning back either, until the creature left the battlefield?

      I'm not sure what the original comment about "this secretly has 1U: exile this?" Does it just mean "this dodges creature removal?" Then yes, it does, and I agree a sorcery-speed-only equip ability would be better. But it seems completely different to exile because it doesn't dodge artifact removal, which surely will be common in an artifact set?

    3. Right, as instant ability, it dodges creature removal.

      "Equip {1}{U}
      Wiresoul Knight is an equipment and not a creature as long as it is attached to a creature."

      Would be ideal if we could put Equip on non-equipment cards.

      I agree that Evan made very good points about the tendency toward multicolor in design challenges.

    4. Since Wiresoul seems to be interesting people, here are some design notes on it:
      - It's an artifact creature so it doesn't have to become an artifact at the same time it's becoming an Equipment. Saves a bit of text and some memory issues too.
      - I didn't want it to be equippable at instant speed as Ben suggested. Giving it Equip 0 seemed easier and more intuitive than "activate only as a sorcery."
      - Somewhat counterintuitvely, moving an equipment from one creature to another causes it to become unattached (CR 701.3d). So I felt like if the effect ended when the equipment became unattached, it would confuse players who would try to move it from one creature to another, only to have it fall off.
      - Conditional hexproof is a feature, not a bug. It feels like a very blue thing to do to dodge a kill spell by becoming an inanimate object. Interestingly, this dodges Doom Blade but not Putrefy.
      - This is indeed not NWO friendly, but a few of these at common would be fine, with the majority existing in higher rarities. Soulbond is a very wordy and stateful ability that is still pretty easy to grok; I feel like soulblade is too.

    5. "It feels like a very blue thing to do to dodge a kill spell by becoming an inanimate object."

      Are you implying that this keyword would only appear in a single color, or that this ability should show up in other colors more often than it currently does (With the current color pie, the only other color I can see Soulblade appearing in is white, which is both the "Equipment color" and secondary in the "flicker" ability). Be aware that this ability can also be used to create an infinite chump blocker.

  4. I would wholeheartedly agree perhaps to the fact that I grimaced when I saw people submitting multicolored cards, as they seemed really out of place. on the note of rares many of these cards really felt like them, either complexity wise or power wise.

    1. also though in this case I fully believe that several of these cards that were done in multicolor could and should be mono color. they literally have nothing tying them to the second color.

  5. I really want to cast Quickchange on something that blocked my Kodachrome Cavalier. Pity that it won't have lifelink until just after it deals its first strike damage.

  6. On Laserbow Elite, to be fair, I was going to change the design, but then I went on vacation, and was left without connection.