Monday, December 9, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge Review 120613—bpsola

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

It definitely seems strange to see white trafficking in human sacrifice, but if the human is sacrificing itself in order to better his society, that could work. I wouldn't personally trust any giants that take payment in human blood, but there's yet another flavor explanation: Maybe this human had to ride two days straight at full gallop, even running the last 30 miles after his horse died in order to enlist the Aid of the Ancients.

As Ipaulsen noted, Bought Loyalty is a neat implementation of buyback. You pay so that your opponent pays. It's interesting imagining which scenarios you'd buy this back.

Coalition of the Sleepless gives your creatures ultra-vigilance. Not only can you attack and block with each, but you can tap them to pay for other convoke spells on top of all that. Convoke is certainly due to reapper any time now. Maybe even Magic 2015.

Share is meant to be a keyword that plays very differently in a duel, in multiplayer and in Two-Headed Giant. Deal with the Devil is a cheaper Sign in Blood, which might draw you three cards to your opponent's two in a duel (which isn't amazing, but still good in an aggressive deck), draw you even more cards in multiplayer, or draw your 2HG team a total of 5 cards. It can be hard to find the sweet spot for a share spell, but I've made a few and will share them this week.

Conspire was a mechanic that seemed much better than it tended to play out, but it's not a bad keyword, even if it comes from a(n over) maligned block. Desperate Plea gives you one or two very strong walls. It's unusual to see a 6/6 in white below rare, but no color gets better walls, so there's that. At least the golems don't help you conspire more.

Escort is the other new keyword I'm most excited about from this challenge. It's not ideal to see a creature keyword for the first time on a non-creature spell, but Diplomatic Escort still gets the idea across. Escort (which might want to be called 'escorted') is an impressively simple banding variant: Attack with some number of keyworded guys, and if any get blocked, you can send in any creature you left back to help him fight. I really want to try this out some. I also wonder if the keyword shouldn't go on the creature that can jump into the fight instead. Needs testing.

Earthsworn Perimeter is obviously pretty simple, and also rather Selesnya. It could prove pretty annoying to play against, but hopefully you'll realize you need to stop racing and instead build up critical mass (and hopefully that's an option for you).

Trespass looks pretty appealing, but we'd need to be careful because when you put it on enough cards—particularly with abilities like Forbidden Crossroads' that are worth avoiding—players will stop attacking and then games and drag and draw.

Barter ended up as the Browbeat ability word, which is not something most players are excited about, but there are definitely a few, including myself. Forced Bargain is the new Soul Ransom, replacing a swing in card advantage with a swing in life. Probably doesn't need to cost 6, but that does line up nicely with the life loss.

Interception is a fixed Opposition. Well, it's a fixed Glare of Subdual which was a fixed Opposition. Except this is cheaper and taps creatures down longer. On the plus side, neither white nor blue tend to have the biggest creatures, so some larger threats might break through. My guess is Interception will prove very strong, but not broken (much like Glare of Subdual in its time).

Capitulate offers an interesting little mind game. Suppose I want to sacrifice as few permanents as possible. I could choose 1, but if you predict that and choose 2, I'm stuck with the worst case. If I choose 2, hoping you thought I'd choose 1, we compromise (unless you got tricky on your end). If I choose 3—the thing I least I want—I probably guarantee we end with a 1 or 2 (again, unless you got tricky). That's fairly meaty and might be distracting, but it's one-and-done, so while I expect it to interrupt game flow and slow things down a bit, it shouldn't really add to the complexity of the overall game.

Negotiated Disarmament seems like a pretty good representative for capitulate.

Parley probably doesn't do enough to be worth the amount of text it requires, but I could see it unkeyworded on a vertical cycle or so. Extra credit to Ant for thinking of the same verb I did when I saw this art.

Armored ends up being a "time-reversed undying," or a "persist with +1/+1 counters." Both of those were popular mechanics, and with good reason: Players love to cast resilient creatures. If undying was all-upside persist, armored is even-higher-upside undying. Not only does the keyword's number let you put more counters on a creature, it gives them to you immediately. And if you can find a way to put more counters on it after it 'regenerates', it gains more immunity.

The downside of all that—and this is one of the tricks with introducing a creature mechanic on a non-creature card—is that creatures with armored won't look very good. Figure the {1}{G} Bear is a 1/1 with Armored 1 and the 4cc Giant of the set is either a 1/1 with Armored 2 or a 2/2 with Armored 1 (and will likely have to cost 5 as a result).

Titanic Armaments features a big exception to the way equipment usually works. The result is a double Glorious Anthem that you have to pay for for each creature you want to buff, which probably isn't broken. What terrifies me, though, is how players will keep track of which creatures are equipped and which aren't.

Culture is a neat idea to explore and rewarding players for running lots of different kinds of creatures seems like a nice reprieve from rewarding them for running all just one type. I've seen a number of attempts at this and they usually tend to fall short. I've done something similar and it was so awful it knocked me out of GDS2 (though not all by itself). This particular implementation is pretty harsh:

If I've got a human rogue and goblin warrior out, any culture effects I use will happily count them both. If I then cast a goblin rogue, now none of my creatures qualify. Ugh. Let's not punish players for playing creatures. If culture instead counted "each creature with a creature type none of your other creatures have," then my human rogue and goblin warrior from above would remain eligible and only my new goblin rogue would be left out in the cold.

Fluctuate is a form of cycling that lets you keep the card you 'draw' or choose any of the cards previously 'cycled' away. Maybe you fluctuated away your only Unprecedented Meeting on turn 2 in order to hit your land drops, but now it's turn 9 and you've got a useless Disenchant with fluctuate. You can ditch and keep what's on top of your library or you can go back into your exile trash and take back your Meeting. It's a more complicated, linear cycling with a conditional but strictly positive upside. Worth it? I'd want to test it to be sure, but my guess is its not different enough from cycling to be worth the texty variation.

Good stuff, all. Take away from this how hard it is to find good non-creature keywords.


  1. I intended my art to be scrolled to the left so it focused on the carriage.

  2. For me, Fluctuate is the easy winner of today's challenge (and the card it was on was perfect for it).

    Earthsworn Perimeter, as written, populates for every attacker, basically making you unable to lose as long as you control a token. I'm guessing that wasn't the intention.