Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekend [Art] Challenge Review 110813—Born of the Gods

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Here's the challenge we're reviewing today, since TehWERR took the time to mock the submissions up with art and all. What a guy!

Akhilleus doesn't represent a new mechanic for Born of the Gods, but it is a really cool top-down design of a trope you can bet Wizards will execute on before the block is out. Evan is aware that {1}{W}{W} 2/2 Doublestrike is a little too similar to Fabled Hero and expects Development would vary it up a bit. My money is on 3/1 {2}{W}{W} or something.

Rally is thematically fitting and plays very well with heroic, monstrosity and the myriad auras and tricks that enhance creatures. TehWERR wisely avoided a stat increase effect since the power half of it would make it harder to turn your opponent's rally off once it's on, and since toughness that can disappear before EOT is a huge feel-bad trap.

Jules mentioned concern that your opponent can turn off rally with a single piece of instant removal. That's not inherently bad, but if they commonly do so while also wasting your heroic trigger and half your bestow all at once, that could prove too swingy. Warrants playtesting.

It's not impossible to confuse the divinity counters on Ascended Akroan for +1/+1 counters or vice-versa, but the fact that this creature becomes a non-creature enchantment when it ascends means you only get confused in a very long game with multiple Akroans.

This particular execution leaves me a bit wanting as a 1/1 for four is quite underwhelming even with first strike. "Creatures you control have first strike" is conditionally great, but Knighthood was {2}{W} and I'd prefer something even splashier (or just more efficient). Even so, Ben's concept is neat and I could see a cycle of these at a higher power level.

Not sure the divinity counter is necessary with the total type change, though it is a fun callback to Kamigawa.

Lobster explored a few as-yet-unused uses for devotion, and Disciple of Iroas really does look plausible if not downright likely.

Shadows explored off-color bestow, which seems like a solid evolution for the mechanic. This particular execution has a flaw where it breaks [player's confidence about the rules] if you ever cast it on an opponent's creature. You wouldn't, but that's not the point. He proposed:
Emissary of Iroas and enchanted creature each have +X/+X where X is the total power of the creatures with a different controller.
which he is aware isn't great. I propose:
Emissary of Iroas and enchanted creature each get +X/+X where X is the number of creatures you control.

Jules' spectacle is similar to Rally but is a triggered ability instead of a static one, so it can't be turned off half-way through combat or right after. Instead of boosting the creature with the ability, it boosts the creature that got big, which is more exciting with Dauntless Onslaught. Good stuff.

Tommy speculates that Born of the Gods will slow the format down. I'm not sure if that's true, but it easily might be and I love his reasoning. I'm hesitant about his solution of creating a cycle of expensive common double-cantripping cards. My problem with that is that cantripping is in all colors because you're merely replacing the card you spent casting it, so that mana was your only real payment. Doubling a negation doesn't really compute and players aren't going to get that idea: They're going to see crazy white and red Divination plus on-color effect cards.

Alex' Fleeting Eidolon is an execution of bestow Wizards would have been foolish to print in the first set. It's perfect for a small set. If it represents a cycle, I hope it's a loose cycle where each member gets a different ability that interacts with bestow in a wacky way, since black and red should basically never be able to bounce their own stuff.

Reverence is pretty sweet. Doubling your spells seems like a lovely reward from your favorite deity. Mike was definitely right that pairing reverence on a Clone spell warrants rareness. I love spells like this.

Most reverence cards wouldn't have this problem, but how many players will argue whether the new permanent's mana cost counts toward your devotion total for reverence?

Nich's Hubris is a neat idea for a single aura (though underpowered next to Scourgemark) and/or a creature or two in black or red (maybe a vertical cycle). It's not something we'd want to do enough of to warrant a keyword.

Ant explored what the multicolor gods in the next two sets might look like. It's tricky since they have so many abilities. Originally, he explored "devotion to red or white" which I think is likely to happen in some form, but here he split them up: If you have enough red, Iroas becomes an undercosted creature. If you have enough white, it becomes an overcosted Glorious Anthem. With both, you get both (making your god 6/6).

That's a little lopsided (making Iroas better for mono-red than mono-white), but it kinda pales compared to the last ability which is arguably the best of all the gods' abilities.

The other interesting question is whether hybrid mana will show up. It's slightly out of place having just left Ravnica again, but they're doing gold anyhow and it really does work well with devotion. My guess is that if it does appear, precious few cards will have more than one in their mana cost. (Iroas deviates from Theros gods by counting 2 toward his own devotion—you could argue that mitigates needing to get 5 red and 5 white for full effect).

BTW, Ant did included indestructible in the final version, but that was probably after the cards were rendered.

Rebound is a lovely fit for Theros mechanically. I'm concerned it's too themeless to fit in such a top-down block, but there are tricks Creative could employ to make it feel more thematic.

Pasteur positioned Pomegranite Harvest to both help players make it to the late game and to reward them for making huge monsters in said end game. Nice.

The most distinct idea I had for a new mechanic was something enabled by scry, but with the flavor of devotion. (An alternate version combo'd more directly with devotion, but was a bit too complex.) Other implementations of prayer could use specific attributes of the revealed card, or the card itself.

We already covered one of Ant's submissions, but since TehWERR went to the trouble of rendering this way, we'll show how it combines heroic and bestow. That's a little complex, but at rare that should be fine. Very exciting. Bonus points for being literally born of the gods.

R Stech proposed a cycle of bestow cards you'd sometimes want to cast on opposing creatures. We brainstormed some ideas to see how that would look in other colors. There's a very thin line here; it's treadable, but delicate enough I could see Dev abandoning it before completion. Steadfast Lampad is definitely one of the better executions.

Ipaulsen's Prophesy looks fun and plays well with scry. There's some less-than-ideal flavor overlap, but that can be reduced with a little reconcepting. "Pray" would work well, especially given Theros religious themes and the existence of the not-dissimilar miracle.

Temple Ritual is neat in itself. It'll net you one mana, which could help you cast whatever card you reveal, which is what you really want. There's some tangy risk/reward in there.

Jenesis proposes that cards without monstrosity will refer to monstrosity, which makes fine sense, and her execution on Trumphant Slayer shows a wise naunce where the reference is just a bonus effect, not a primary conditional.

If you have additional ideas for cards or mechanics in Born of the Gods, feel free to share any of them here.


  1. Here's what I sat on.

    Seal of Doom and Killing Glare would be interesting reprints.

    Reinforce is a possible returning mechanic that works both mechanically and thematically.

    Here are two ability words that care about +1/+1 counters. You could stick with that, or be more modular and care about power instead:
    Great Vigor {G}
    Instant (cmn)
    Target creature gains trample until EOT.
    Greatness — That creature gets +X/+X until EOT where X is the number of +1/+1 counters on it.
    Epic Cleave {X}{R}
    Sorcery (unc)
    Shoulders of Giants (~ costs {1} less to cast for each +1/+1 counter among creatures you control.)
    ~ deals X damage to target creature.

    The ability to cast a creature turn after turn could help you stall or race a big monster on the other side. I had some other reason Army would be relevant, but I can't see it now.
    Flock of Crows {2}{U}
    Creature—Bird (cmn)
    Army (When ~ ETB, you may search your library for a card with the same name. If you do, shuffle your library and put that card on top.)

    Finally, I also explored some more ways devotion could be leveraged:
    Will to the Grave {B}
    Sorcery (cmn)
    Destroy target creature with CMC less than or equal to your devotion to black.
    Will into Being {1}{G}
    Sorcery (rare)
    Search your library for a creature card with CMC less than or equal to your devotion to green and put it OTB. It's an enchantment in addition to its other types. Shuffle your library.

    1. I like to think I'm one of the biggest proponents of Reinforce out there, but it's a nonbo to include in a format with Theros, much like Bloodrush is.

      Shoulders of Giants is cool, and I really like Will to the Grave.

    2. Ah, because reinforce doesn't trigger heroic. Fair.

  2. Want to point out, Ascended Akroan was updated earlier today:

    Ascended Akroan
    Creature - Human Warrior (R)
    At the beginning of your end step, if Ascended Akroan dealt 5 or more damage this turn, you may put a divinity counter on it.
    As long as Ascended Akroan has a divinity counter on it, it’s an enchantment and it has “Creatures you control get +1/+1 and have double strike” (It’s no longer a creature.)

    1. That's much more exciting. Nice.
      Although the flavor's worse now that it doesn't have what it grants.

    2. The flavor here is so awesome. I love moments in gameplay where you can see a change. (Humans to werewolves in innistrad, and in this case, mortals to godhood.) The one problem i see, is that becoming a god is definitely a rare / mythic only thing. IT could work as an ability word similar to the hideaway cycle tho! Ex:

      Basarios the Blade 3BB
      Legendary Creature - Human Assassin
      Whenever Basarios attacks, you may destroy target creature. If three or more creatures died this turn, you may put a divinity counter on Basarios.
      Ascend - If Basarios has a divinity counter on it, it is an enchantment and has "Whenever an assassin you control attacks, you may destroy target creature" (Its no longer a creature)

      Now obviously this design is flawed as its powerful and if you killed 3 creatures in a turn, chances are the fact that he ascended probably no longer matters, but he was the first named character from the set that came to mind that was featured in the flavor but has no card yet.

    3. This sounds like the kind of thing you'd use DFCs for, if it weren't for the logistical issues of putting them to paper.

  3. These art choices are great. Thanks TehWERR!