Monday, September 9, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge Review 090613—Theros Monsters

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

Benevolent Eidolon is a green/white Nighthowler that counts your enchantments instead of dead creatures. It's clear that "number of enchantments you control" is not a theme in Theros, but neither is counting dead creatures and it makes perfect sense on a single rare.

I'm not sure the bestow cost needs to be more strict than {4}{G}{W}, much less {2}{G}{G}{W}{W}. I could easily be wrong, but I'm also guessing this can be cheaper as you're unlikely to have more enchantments in play than all players have dead creatures.

Caldera Phoenix offers a refreshing take on Phoenix rebirth; it has to lay an egg to come back. That's a lot more like normal reproduction sure, but most or all of the time, the Phoenix card you're getting back is the same one that laid the egg. Go go, asexual reproduction! Neat.

Tying the egg-laying into the one-time only monstrosity ability is both fun and elegant.

Normally, I'd urge designers to stay away from grabbing things from the bottom of the library. Like exile, there's a reason other cards use that zone and we shouldn't really mess with it. That said, Capricious Explorer is Satyr, and Satyrs are wild and unpredictable. I'm not sure that's enough justification, but at least it's justification.

It's like Stoneforge Mystic and Squadron Hawk have returned for way more card advantage but without the efficiency. That's awesome. Tournament Spikes might hate Celestial Colossus and Terrestrial Colossus (though maybe not—6/4 haste plus any equipment and another giant isn't exactly bad for {5}{R}) but Timmy Spikes and maybe Johnny Spikes should love it. I mean, cast one of these, and it sets up a chain to get 14 more cards (y'know, given 42 more mana).

I'm obliged to say that the Min Yum art is described in the Planeswalker's Guide as a form of undead spirit and not a giant, but if we ignore that, it's not totally unfit for Celestial Colossus.

Deathsong Siren is not amused by the ability of creatures with {T} effects to avoid the call of an Alluring Siren. It's also not as passive, itself ensuring that at least one attacking creature will die. If you've got nothing better to do with your mana, this Siren is much stronger, but 4 is a lot to spend to kill a 2/3 or worse each turn so I don't know this is too good.

Forgotten Eidolon is too clever. You can pay {0} for a 0/1 with flash which is mostly never going to happen (though it could be a decent Fog against a giant attacker without trample). Most of the time, you'll pay {2}{U} for a permanent—but nonetheless instant speed—Ovinize, and then get a free chump blocker when the creature you tagged dies in combat.

While the card would be just as interesting without flash or a free cost, the biggest issue is that this doesn't follow the rules set up for bestow. In order to mitigate their complexity (both comprehension- and board-), every creature with bestow grants a P/T bonus equal to its own and grants the same abilities it gives. It's possible we'll see those rules bent or broken as the block progresses.

Lure of the Suicidal Satyr seems quite plausible as a cheap scry card for Theros. I would definitely make it a sorcery because neither effect needs to be an instant. Enabling after-blockers heroic shenanigans can be left to the actual instants.

Nixify is slightly better than Arrest and I'm okay with that. Curiously, it's almost blue in the way that it makes the enchanted creature vulnerable to a wider class of further removal.

My initial go at Stonegaze Basilisk had an off-color Monstrosity activation (which I don't expect to happen before Born of the Gods) and the effect—first strike—was only tertiary in black anyhow. Fortunately, fight achieves the same story while remaining mono-green and not stretching the color pie at all. Thanks for setting me straight, folks.

Hulk, smash! Stormbringer Cyclops' ability tells the story of the art, the text is clean, and the card seems printably balanced (though certainly quite strong).

While perhaps not quite as powerful as some recent sphinxes, Temple Sphinx is still plenty good and could really shine in the right decks. It also makes perfect sense and cleanly ties two Theros mechanics together.

Theran Phoenix also uses Monstrosity and I approve. In this case, the phoenix goes out in a giant blaze of glory instead of laying an egg. If it dies of its own accord, you get it back to start over again. Kind of a recursive Ball Lightning... bird. Neat.

Threnodia offers a money back guarantee with her Siren's Call. Or maybe it's a bet in a fixed game. Regardless, my favorite part is that you sometimes want to call your own creatures. The flavor text is pretty sweet too.

It seems like a great use of devotion to reward the player with the most, and I love the choice not to tie this to a specific color. Heliod doesn't just want you devoted to him, he wants his worshipers to be the most devoted of any god's. Hmm, perhaps this is best saved for a later set in Theros block. Taking a stab at the reminder text suggests so.

It's always fascinating what people gravitate to when you give them a lot of options. I was expecting more of The Returned and more creatures with monstrosity, and there were also a lot of Minotaurs, Leonin and Centaurs to choose from. I think there was a general attraction toward the more novel concepts and away from "the obvious path" of monstrosity.


  1. Nixify has a weird interaction with Maro as written. It should probably just turn the creature into an enchantment outright, like Soul Sculptor (though that would require some creative rewriting of the "enchant creature" clause).

    1. Nice catch. I missed that it was "lose all abilities" and not "lose all activated abilities." I also agree that Soul Sculpting it would be more interesting, since you'll have almost no reason to Disenchant a creature you've already Arrested.