Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge Review 101813—batatalion

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Here's the challenge we're reviewing today.
My only direction was "Discover an ancient world."

Somehow, Nick managed to submit the only creature card, which is pretty impressive given that there's clearly a creature featured pretty prominently in the art. Braxi Giant features a new keyword, paradigm shift, which is a name appropriate to a world-changing discovery and well-matched to the ability it stands for. That said, I have trouble imagining more than a vertical cycle having this ability, given that it is was strong enough to get Wheel of Fortune and Memory Jar banned/restricted in Magic's most high-powered formats.

I like how Buried by Dirt resets the game but also accelerates the rebuilding process. One of the least fun things about Day of Judgment is when it takes six turns before the game gets interesting again with relevant creature combat.; this card doesn't put creatures on the field, but ensures people have mana to cast creatures and thins their decks as well. The Johnny in me wants to combo this with token making and/or death triggers to get a whole lot of land and do something sick the next turn.

We're doing the exact opposite of discovering here, but a neat card is a neat card.

I'm sure omitting the creature type was just an oversight, but I joked that the trick is you have to find a way to animate Buried Golem, before you can attack with it. What makes that funny is this card is just far too powerful if it's as easy to use as it looks. Sacrificing a few lands is a small cost to pay for a creature that kills in as few as two swings and is resistant to most Constructed-playable removal. Remove the last ability and then you've got a real challenge to overcome in order to claim your handsome prize.

The flavor here is pretty solid and I think this does feel like an ancient discovery.

The premise here is that Colfenor is resurrected through some process that fuses him with Karn.

…Anyhow, let's take a look at the card. It's plus ability nets you one card now and two more if you restart the game. That's a clever way to make this at least arguably better than the four-mana Jace, The Bah-Roken.

The minus ability animates artifacts (yawn), enchantments (hmm) and planeswalkers (whoa). You can destroy any land this way, but I'm guessing you have better plans for your {7}.

The ultimate is very similar to what Karn Liberated had, but gives you access to non-permanents in exchange for having to pay the mana to cast them yourself. That's a lot less decisive and, I think, a lot more interesting.

On the whole… I like how the first and last abilities tie together, but the second ability seems pretty non-sequitor. It is a flavor fit for Karn, since he has been to animate things. Not entirely sure what Colfenor is adding to the equation.

Excavate is a neat little Call to Mind with a self-mill-as-digging variation. It's cool that you can use it get back the exact spell you want, or you can go prospecting before you've seen it, hoping to uncover it. The former doesn't feel very ancient, but the latter could.

Reminisce is a simpler version of the Accumulated Knowledge mechanic, and that's a good thing. Possibly very good.

Not sure Fade into Obscurity needs to be hybrid, but it certainly could be, if that's what its set needed.

I'm compelled to point out again, this is the opposite of discovery.

Giant Megalith proposes that Hideaway could be used on artifacts as well as lands. The flavor's not quite the same, but it's not hard to envision some large artifact containers on which Hideaway makes arguably more sense than on a land.

This particular card uses the exiled card to set the toughness on whatever the Giant Golem you release. That clearly nails "Discover an ancient world," though I have to point out it's a little weird that the card doesn't do anything else. It's nearly "{8} Instant: Put an X/X OTB where X yadda yadda."

Nature Prevails tells the story in the art (opposite of discovering) where land grows over an artifact. Both abilities were made optional since it's rare that both abilities will ever be relevant on the same turn. It's secretly a modal spell. I'd rather have seen it keep its focus by always requiring an artifact but perhaps searching out a land.

The story is that after New Phyrexia, something happened that left the plane abandoned. Whatever that cataclysmic event was, it both placed this Monument and left it untouched. Much later, someone discovers it again. That's a lot of story and mystery to pack into one card's flavor text, but it sure as hell qualifies as discovering something ancient.

Monument of the Suns makes Deity of Scars cost {BG}{BG}{BG} and, without Edgewalker's additional rules text, it makes Mulldrifter free to cast. That definitely warrants reminder text. And development.

You can dig Monument of Ozymandias up in the hope of finding some rare and powerful artifact, destroying the monument in the process. Great flavor there.

This should surely produce colorless mana.

Perfect reprint for this art (cough opposite of discovery cough), and we all agreed Molder should be uncommon in NWO.

It's a little weird that the Guardian card makes more Guardian tokens, but remember the token is legendary, so it's really just one Guardian token that keeps coming back. I still wish the card name were something like Tomb of the Guardian. It's ironic that the guardian of the land destroys the land it guards in order to do its thing, but maybe that's why the ancients buried it. "Stop guarding us, ya brute! You keep crushing the pumpkin crop! And jes' look what ya done ta ol' Bessy!"

Ancient. Scary. Hard to do. What's not to love about Grave of the Colossus?
Apart from wondering how much you need a 10/10 when you've already got 6 creatures.
But that's nonsense Spike talk.
And you call yourself a Timmy?
For shame.

Godsmeadow is too good. Even if you don't have any expensive cards in your deck, it's still a karoo that gets you to 3 mana on turn 2, and ensures you're producing at least 3 mana by turn 3 with just two lands in your starting hand. When you do have an Eldrazi in your grip? *shudder*shudder*die*

Definitely counts as discovering an ancient world. An ancient, terrifying world.

Powerful Discovery also nails discovery. It's got a base cost of three because "cascade for anything less than three is broken" and it's {U}{R}{G} because, I don't know, it should be. Cool stuff.

As a player, I hate that you could pump 8 mana into this and get a Savannah Lions. As a designer, I love that what you're going to discover is unknown and could be lame.

Reclaim by Chasms is a sorcery speed, undoable Path to Exile. Alternately, its a Pacifism that boosts their mana like Utopia Vow. That's a sweet spot to design into and it fits the art quite well (but isn't discovering ancient things).

I do worry about rules questions like "Can I still tap my Prodigal Pyromancer to ping things?"

Reclover is a lovely variant on Reclaim. It's better because it also gains you life, but it's worse because you have to pay more to get back bigger spells, and it's not an instant. I like it for this art. (Not a discovery.)

Rooted in the Past is the kind of card that starts slow and escalates quickly. Shuffling in three or four spells and getting that many lands in your hand seems pretty solid, but when that number is 8 or 15… I suspect this exciting discovery card is too abuseable. Development can fix, but since there are no numbers in the rules text, they either up the cost, or change how it works fundamentally.

I love the name-two-other-artifacts tactic for a card about ancient discovery, because it hearkens back to the ancient days of the game itself. Not sure how Senarri Statue is accomplishing the first ability; Maybe it's so creepy that my creatures don't want to go near your side of the battlefield.

Swallowed for Growth is strictly worse than Naturalize in three different ways. The flavor's good, but the card needs something to push it over. For example, it could cost {0} but counts Forests you control instead of lands. Good fit for the art / not discovery.

Uncover the Lost is very nearly Commune with the Gods. You can get lands, artifacts or planeswalkers with this one, but you look at one fewer card. Not sure why planeswalkers or enchantments are on this list, given the card's flavor.

Uncover Ancient Secrets was my attempt to do something different when all the cards were land, artifacts or Naturalize variants. Others broadened the field even wider and I'm glad for the diversity. What I wanted here was the slow plodding of everyday archaeology capped with the massive impact of a major discovery after a long time. In this version, that reward is a mystery (to your opponent). In the following version, I made it a concrete prize; something powerful and unique. I'm really curious which direction everyone prefers.

There were six cards that didn't meet the only criterion I wrote out in the challenge. That's proof that my challenge was flawed. While discovery was not an implausible interpretation of this art, growing over artifacts/creatures was clearly at least as valid, if not moreso. As such, I can't blame anyone for deviating from the challenge's parameters. (Not that it would be a big deal even if it weren't my fault, but since this is kind of practice for GDS3, sometimes I like to imagine the rules were actually strict-ish.)


  1. "Stop guarding us, ya brute! You keep crushing the pumpkin crop! And jes' look what ya done ta ol' Bessy!"
    I shouldn't be reading these at work, laughed at this a bit too loud, haha.

    Uncover Ancient Secrets is an interesting concept, but I think it touches a taboo about remembering what happened during the course of the game (casting a certain spell). Maybe if you exiled the spell as it resolves, it'd be ok, but then you wouldn't able to do the recurring shenanigans you seem to want. Maybe require it to be cast in the same turn? That'd make things more difficult but possible the payoff is sitll worth it.

    1. If you're not doing anything tricky, it's automatically tracked by the number of copies of the card in your graveyard. If you are doing something tricky, you're probably keenly aware of how many times you've copied the spell. Is my theory.

  2. I prefer the first version, but without the "otherwise". It seems fine to draw a card the fourth time too.

  3. Godsmeadow is just a Karoo, assuming no Eldrazi. And a colourless, rare karoo at that. Are you saying any karoo at all is too good these days? Boros Garrison and friends are *nice* because they get you 3 mana by turn 3, but hardly broken. Oh, or is it just that it ETBs untapped?

    I like the idea of Uncovered Secrets in "emblem" mode, but speaking as someone who's achieved Archmage Ascension a few times, "you may reorder your library at any time" sounds pretty slow to play with. I also wondered about how easy it'd be to track it once people start recurring it.

    1. Entering the battlefield untapped is huge. Godsmeadow gets you 3 mana by turn 2, and it doesn't set you back in tempo or cards.

    2. Right. The fact that in the worst case Godsmeadow is giving you three mana on turn 2 on top of giving you three lands for two is too much.

      If you do have an expensive card in hand, it gets you to four mana on turn 3 and accelerates all your spells, regardless of their cost.

      Even if you justify the power level somehow, why does having an expensive card make allyour cards cheaper, but only if you had the expensive card at the time you played the land? What's the story there?

    3. Uncover Ancient Secrets's emblem should be a lot faster than Archmage Ascencion because you can reorder it when it's not your turn and you never shuffle it. You can even sort it during down time to help you find exactly what you want exactly when you want it. Whether that theory holds up in practice is another question entirely. Certainly, a selfish player could take 10 minutes while he has priority messing with his library. Hopefully, that would count as slow play and be penalized.

    4. Right, I agree Godsmeadow should ETBT. I think I was assuming that was the obvious development tweak that would need to be made regardless.