Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend [Art] Design Challenge Review 082313—Enchantments Matter

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

Auratouched Vampire turns any aura enchanting it into a Totem Aura, which is a neat bit of enchanto-vampiric flavor. It also gets bigger when any enchantment is destroyed, which feels rather stranger to me. Both abilities benefit this black card, but the former revolves around it, while the latter cares about the rest of the world. That's not wrong for black (see Blood Artist), but doing it for enchantments feels off for me.

Blessing of Nyx explicitly rewards you for running enchantment creatures and auras (and doubly for enchanting enchantment creatures). Holy cow, Naturalize is going to be strong in Theros... if it's printed at all.

It's worth asking whether this should be mono-green, green-white, or mono-white. I'm thinking the latter two are both more appropriate, but any could be argued.

I love the Diabolic Harpy's creature type and I like the set up on this card; A somewhat inefficient but almost-always useful body with a big hoop and a big prize on the other side. Five auras sounds too hard, but Development can tweak that number or allow non-aura enchantments. I don't love that tutoring is the prize simply because I don't see any connection between that and the rest of the card, either mechanically or thematically.

Erebos doesn't actually have Offering, because you can sacrifice any number of enchantments rather than just one, but it's the same otherwise. I like the idea of Enchantment Offering for Theros, since sacrifices to the gods were common in Ancient Greece, and this makes enchantments matter in a different way than usual.

It's a little odd that the God of the Underworld can return non-creature enchantments but not non-enchantment creatures.

Card advantage is powerful and can be dangerous, but if you're paying six mana for Erebos's Duty and still have to connect with a creature, which has to be an enchantment creature (y'know or Honden of Infinite Rage), sacrificing it in order to get your cards (and lose equal life) seems mighty expensive. (Or awkward in the case of Seal of Fire). I think the card is still interesting and balanceable without the sacrifice.

One way to reward a thing is to punish not-that-thing.

The ability to turn enchantments into clones is neat and could fit Theros' flavor perfectly depending on how enchantment creatures are defined thematically. Should the clones have the enchantment type?

I'm not sure it would be clear to everyone that you can only choose to use Gnosis Infusion's ability once.

Making the change all or nothing, pushes this from a Buffet of Clones to a Six-Patty Burger of the single best possible creature, which pushes this out of Limited Timmy-Johnny territory into Constructed Johnny territory.

Hammer of Purphoros is weird to me, but so is Bident of Thassa. We're thinking it's like Rod of Ruin: equipment that only a planeswalker can handle. Thematically, I like both abilities for the Hammer, but I'm concerned they work too well together: This is basically a permanent Overrun.

Not everything has to be clever.

Imbue with Divinity definitely wants to be uncommon (or maybe even rare for flavor). I'm not sure it needs to be green and white. I love that it counts both your creatures and your enchantments and can make your creature huge... but vulnerable to emotional disenchantment. Err, I mean literal disenchantment.

Koreliss can fetch a functional reprint of One Thousand Lashes, not unlike Arachnus Spinner. The main difference—apart from Lashes being much stronger—is that Koreliss fetches from your sideboard, not your deck. That saves us deck shuffling, but it means that we can't play our Calcifisms in our main deck if we want to optimize Koreliss, which might be great for Constructed but is miserable for Limited. Devin and Pasteur mused about an upgraded Tallowisp that can fetch any aura from your sideboard; That doesn't fit the gorgon theme here, but it could be a lot of fun.

Infuse lets you turn any creature you managed to tap on your turn into an enchantment until your next turn, granting its ability to your other creatures (or perhaps you, at rare). My concern is that with all the riders involved, every infuse card would be at least 8 lines, drastically limiting how much we can use it, and what abilities we can pair it with. The simplest alternative is "As long as Malicious Nymph is tapped, it’s an enchantment in addition to its other types." Not identical, but the awesome part is still there.

Mud Artist is a noncreature Blood Artist. That does make killing enchantments more relevant, but it's also less relevant itself since noncreatures don't die unless you cast spells that kill them, and since black can't kill enchantments directly.

Divine is "Champion a non-God permanent" with Banisher Priest's improved temporary exile template. The idea is that it's an uber-aura that replaces the creature's stats entirely, and isn't vulnerable to two-for-ones. I like that this deification completely replaces the original creature's identity.

If I were a god imposing my presence on the mortal plane, I'd be looking for holy vessels, rather than just non-gods; In Theros, that's enchantments. Honestly, the non-god clause is basically just enforcing don't-do-this-thing-you-really-don't-want-to-do-anyhow.

Resurgance of Heat's ability is meant to alleviate your fear of piling auras on it and getting two-for-one'd. It's doing a much better job of dissuading your opponent's Wrath of God, or comboing with your own. Even if Resurgance is killed at sorcery speed, you're still just getting 1 extra damage per aura/card lost. And if it's killed in response to the aura being cast, you get nothing for that aura. I'd rather see something more blunt like:
Whenever an enchantment goes to your graveyard from anywhere, ~ deals 2 damage to target c/p.

Spark of Purhoros might be doing too much, but I still like it.

Even though this card (and it cycle) asks you to count two sets and compare them every turn, I still like the way it rewards you for having a lot of enchantments. The various rewards (creatures, opponent discards, etc) might be tricky to balance though.

Here's a cycle that rewards you for building up enchantments. What I don't like about it is that Gifts do nothing after they ETB, except get counted by other Gifts, which I doubt is enough.

Awake is a keyword that lets your enchantment permanently turn into a creature if you can meet a goal that it helps you toward. That's pretty cool. The final version wouldn't look like a repurposed leveller, but would could be stylized specifically for awake.

We found a number of decent and interesting ways to make enchantments matter. Very few felt particularly new. I'll be very curious to see how Wizards did it, apart from heroic making auras a little better.


  1. Jay, you should have known the reward was the cycle part of the card. That's why the harpy does what it does. It's not a flavor connection. Diabolic Harpy gives you a Diabolic Tutor each turn. If they are all 2CC the others could be Gerrard's Wisdom, Concentrate, Homing Lightning, and Dangerous (which is 3G). But really it could be anything. They don't even need to be Uncommon Sorceries, but I'm just spit-balling at this point.

    Malicious Nymph is my favorite other design of the bunch, although I am confidant we won't see non-god Enchantment Creatures until at least the second set when some demigods are introduced. It's called Born of the Gods for a reason.

    1. Looks like I was wrong about Enchantment Creature being saved until Born of the Gods. WotC just revealed:

      Celestial Archon (Rare)
      Enchantment Creature - Archon
      Bestow 5WW (If you cast this card for its bestow cost, it's an Aura spell with enchant creature. It becomes a creature again if it's not attached to a creature.)
      Flying, first strike
      Enchanted creature gets +4/+4 and has flying and first strike.

      Other than the trigger, I think I like Infuse more than the official mechanic bestow, because making an Aura is too similar to Living Weapon, whereas infuse affects the whole board and feels more Enchantmenty to me. But, I can see why they would prefer an Aura implementation since all colors can answer enchanted creatures.

    2. I do like the elegance of how Bestow is an inverse living weapon-- Aura now, creature later, whereas living weapon gets you creature now, equipment later. LW does take away some of Bestow's thunder, though, which is a shame for the big Enchantment Mechanic of the block.

    3. I'm trying to think how many cards exist that imply a cycle all on their own. Thing of Kaldra does. The Guildmages do. Very very little else does. Now that you've told me Diabolic Harpy is part of a cycle, that makes sense, but there's no way I "should have known" that.

  2. I wonder if the old mechanic that is returning with a tweak and new name is a version of Haunt, where a creature turns into an Aura when it dies.

    I only just realized that Bident of Thassa represented enchantment-ness through the static ability, and artifact-uality through the tap ability. Darn it, I should have noticed it right away.

  3. Well, we now know both the reworked and enchantment creature mechanic. I think both devotion and bestow are amazing and these mechanics really give off the "godly" vibe. Bestow is quite a bit confusing rules-wise, however, especially since when you bestow the new card and the target is destroyed, the bestow still resolves as a creature. This case isn't discussed on the reminder text which is kinda a problem. Well, I still like it and I knew that WotC would deliver on how to make enchantment creatures work.

    1. Neither the rules text nor the reminder text clarify what happens if the creature you're targeting to enchant dies. I hope you're right that you still get the aura as a creature, but they way I read it, you wouldn't; it would still be countered upon resolution.

    2. Apparently it's not countered?

  4. Thassa & co are fascinating, but does Devotion seem clumsy in a set with two alternate casting cost mechanics? Or should we expect most Bestow and Monstrous costs to match up with their casting cost in terms of color devotion?

    It is neat that we can now say "color devotion" to mean "the number of colored symbols without discussing the total cost".

  5. It looks like we have our tweaked mechanic: Chroma.