Monday, December 2, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge 112913 Review—Ninjatic

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

Witness to Titans is a conditional Collective Blessing. Generally, you enchant an opposing creature so that all of your creatures get the bonus and only additional creatures of hers do too. You really want to have a ton more creatures, a lot of evasion, or enough removal to maker her vengeance moot. If you don't win the turn you cast this, your opponent will likely get rid of it by chump-blocking with her enchanted creature (or finding a way to sacrifice it).
As the first submission, this fit the restrictions automatically, but Nich did convey both a sense of isolation and of scale. Nice.

Unknown Path is a Terramorphic Expanse that lets you get the land you need right when you first need it, sometimes surprising your opponent. To avoid the awkward shuffling that version would cause, it makes a token, which Ipaulsen points out could just be a spare land card you have, and I like that solution a lot.

The card doesn't scream isolation, but the name and art lean in that direction and they fit the rules text nicely. Other requirements satisfied.

Lone Wanderer is a reverse Mogg Flunkies. I pushed it up to 3/4 to help justify the rarity, though I think I'd prefer it as a 3/3 common.

It's funny, if you look closely at the art, you'll see there's a human, a horse and a dog (or similar). You can be alone together!

Explosive Vegetation meets Sylvan Scrying. Alternately, Explore the Unexplored is Primeval Titan without the titan. In either case, it's a lot stronger than it looks and is probably costed perfectly.

Thanks to the flavor text, there's both isolation and scale here. So far, we've seen 4 different costs, 4 different 'colors' and 4 different card types. The rarities reset at this point, but other options are tightening up.

Walkabout is expensive but strong removal. It deals with any creature for at least two turns, possibly many more. We're conflicted whether this effect should be white or blue, and I'm not sure Wizards knows yet either.

This card's all about isolation and fits the current set of restrictions.

Doomed Quest is less effective than Pacifism, but still quite playable, and more flexible thanks to the hybrid cost.

This rules text nails the isolation theme and sounds like a fun card to boot. We should've seen an artifact before another enchantment, but that type is hard for this art. If you call this hybrid, instead of white and/or black, it could satisfy color uniqueness.

Continental Clearing is an interesting bit of land destruction. It's conditional and has a steep cost, but could theoretically hit two or more lands, reaching parity or better. Perhaps a good foil to Continental Clearing. Pasteur submitted it as a common, but I'm thinking at least uncommon.

Doesn't nail the theme, but it fits the art and all other requirements (except rarity ish).

Glass Prison offers a colorless way to remove any creature. It can be undone through combat, but will likely cut the offending glass-breaker up. The last part, though flavorful, I'm not convinced adds much.

There's some clear magic isolation grooving here, and we finally got our artifact.

Path to Exile is a damn clever submission, since it's about isolation and this art is perfect for it.

This fits all the requirements except that uncommon was already taken. Speaking of which, I wouldn't be surprised if Path to Exile were rare the next time we see it.

Earth Invoker Captain is intended for a multiplayer product like Commander, but is playable in a duel as well, since it beats the 4/5 defender it gives the other guy, at least one-on-one.

I'm going to say this is more about scale (look, a 5/5 for 3!) than isolation. It's the only red, mythic or creature of it's batch, so all requirements fulfilled.

Forgotten Valley is in some ways better than Black Lotus. You can use it every turn, as long as you never play another land (y'know other than Quicksand, et al). It's a dead card if you draw it late, and playing other lands to eventually surpass three mana is painful to the point of being illogical, but it's still has enough raw power that I expect it to be broken in older formats, if not Standard. It's certainly high-risk, high-reward and very exciting.

Regardless, the card fits the art well, and the submission arguably fits the challenge requirements (if you interpret previous misfits just so).

I usually save the what-others-do-matters requirements for the non-art challenges, and this one was quite tricky as a result. That said, the submissions we did get are rather excellent and I don't think that's a coincidence.

It's interesting to consider how this kind of challenge relates to the work R&D really does. At no point do they make a request for hole-filling and say, "the second submission must account for the first," but at a macro level, that's happening all the time. They've got these three holes, which they fill (but have to exclude the second-best because it conflicts with the first-best), and then testing shows something else needs replacement, and the requirements are totally different as a result. Not the same, but it flexes the same muscles.

You might even argue this is harder. It's meant to be. I once had a friend who started wearing weights while rock-climbing at the gym because he'd gotten to good at all the courses. That doesn't simulate any kind of real-life rock climbing (ignoring the gear you sometimes need), but it made him stronger so that real-life challenges wouldn't be so tough. Always challenge yourself. There is no 'good enough.'


  1. This was the most difficult challenge I've seen since I started participating. Good job to everyone.

    I'd like to make a suggestion for an upcoming challenge.
    1.) Color is locked.
    2.) Rarity is locked.
    3.) Card Number is locked. (ex: name must fall between Ajani and Armadillo)
    4.) Block mechanics A, B, and C are locked and can't be used for this card.
    5.) Must enable/combo with at least one of the given block mechanics.
    6.) Can't hose any of the given mechanics.

  2. I'm sorry that I didn't have a chance to look over the feedback before the review went up, but I like Jay's version of Glass Prison best. Yes, glass can cut, but that's not an essential piece and robs the card of its potential elegance:

    Glass Prison {2}
    Artifact (R)
    When Glass Prison enters the battlefield, exile target creature until Glass Prison leaves the battlefield. (That creature returns under its owner’s control.)
    Whenever a creature deals combat damage to you, sacrifice Glass Prison.

  3. Ideally, Continental Clearing would fit "scale" with the flavor of "I Fling my land at your land(s).", but I realize that doesn't quite come through.

    I think this challenge would work better if, say, all the submissions were creatures, and we had to non-repeat P/T/specific mana cost (not CMC). That, along with flavor/art, might be just limiting enough without being confusing/frustrating.