Monday, January 27, 2014

Weekend [Art] Challenge Review 012414—Greek Tropes

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

Aggelos—if it wasn't obvious—is Hermes, the "Messenger God." Not all divine being in Theros are gods, but they are all enchantment creatures. Apart from that, there's some good flavor here. The final ability is a drawback mechanic, which is a little unusual for modern legends, but not unheard of.

Cannibalism might be a bit gross for Magic, though the white sacrifice-myself-for-the-greater-good idea does help. It's interesting that this card lets you benefit from each creature that dies, regardless of how it happens. With the global bonus and the sack upkeep cost, this reminds me of Eldrazi Monument (in a good way). I suspect the design would be leaner without the life gain.

First you have to cast Epic Voyage on one of your creatures that has survived an attack. Then you have to find an external effect to untap it. If you can do all that, you get to Wrath everything but your guy. (You've got a kicked Desolation Giant.) That is epic, but I wasn't expecting my hero to return the same while everything else died. I suppose if you cast this on an heroic creature, it might now be bigger as a result.

How many players will know the enchantment falls off when you untap the creature, and that they don't have to worry about manually untapping it anymore?

Epic Voyage should arguably be a quest, but I've got to award style points for verse counters. The ability to draw cards equal to the number of land you play (after casting it) is pretty neat, and potentially quite strong, which is why I'm glad you can't pop it at any time. I really want to play this with Cultivate.

Fatal Flaw attacks the Achilles' Heel story from the opposite direction, which is really neat. That said, this card is really hard to use and almost impossible to feel good about unless you're playing a lot of 1/5s.

The idea is that these two forgot something important in their Frantic Passion, but found magic in each other's arms. Shrug.
I wanted to put "discard two cards and draw two," but that effect stole too much focus from the can't-block effect.

Home from War is a pretty nice bit of cheap removal, potentially enabling one of your inspired creatures without making it useless on the field. Love it.

Hubris makes it easier to cast boons on your creature, but also much cheaper for your opponent to kill it. That fits the flavor well and the Icarus call out is perfect.

It seems unnecessary to prevent your opponents from doing you the favor of animating your statue, but the story of turning an artifact into a creature by enchanting it is quite nice (see Pillar of War).

Mosaic of Meletis is a wacky and potentially very powerful spell. Timmy-Johnnies should enjoy this one. Does the rules text match the flavor? Somewhere between "I think so?" and "yes, brilliantly."

Mournful Echo is a great new twist on the Phantasmal Image line of cheaper but limited Clones. Johnny approves.

Price of Hubris could probably be a common. It's strictly worse than Guard Duty (or Home from War) unless you can then force that creature to attack. Even so, it gets across the theme of "your efforts are your own punishment."

Riddle of the Sphinx looks like a lot of fun. You get a card each turn (and a scry effect, too boot), but your opponent has a chance of guessing your enchantment out of existence. What's really clever is that how you react to your scry card can help or hinder your opponent's guess about it.

Seek Your Fortune is very strong, at least for Limited. I would first pick this over any Theros aura except Boon Satyr. The good news is, it doesn't make the creature any more resilient (except by drawing you counterspells). The bad news is, it doesn't matter if your opponent blocks or chump-blocks; they have to kill your fortune seeking monster to end the combined parade of card selection and advantage. Spike will love this.

Starscape Navigator offers a unique and fun twist to devotion, and that's why it's a creature even though you don't want to attack with it. Something this potentially unbalancing needs to be easy to answer. I can see this shaping a few drafts to be quite memorable and that's a great sign.

Stinging Gadfly nicely fills the common-with-off-color-activation role. It's not remotely too strong as-is, but I still wish its Plummet effect cost the same as Plummet just for consistency. It's also a bit of a miss for me that the art clearly depicts a non-flying creature and that the flavor text suggests that Centaurs can be killed by this, even though they can't.

Nice work, as always. For once, nothing stands out to me as a shared lesson. Can you find one? I'd love to hear it.


  1. I think the lesson is that Greek myths don't lend themselves to easily being similar, thereby, making an entire set feel like a Greek myth is quite hard. It wants to be lots of independent cards. So, all the more impressive how WotC pulled it off.

  2. Ah shit, you're right. I was only thinking about that ability as perhaps ruining some carefully set-up hands; I didn't see that it would help. In retrospect I should have added "for every card discarded this way..." or whatnot.

  3. I would also like to say that Starscape Navigator is exactly my kind of card.

  4. Hubris was submitted costing {W}{U}. It might not be broken at CMC 1, but I'm not comfortable with it in any one color.

    A couple of other card notes that might have been missed in the submission thread:

    (blue) Epic Voyage:
    An upkeep trigger feels bad because you miss out on the chance to make a land drop, but an end step trigger would leave you unable to cast spells. We really want this during the main phase, so I'd try:

    "Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, put a verse counter on CARDNAME. Then you may sacrifice CARDNAME and draw X cards, where X is the number of verse counters on it."

    Mosaic of Meletis:
    The card is good and fun as is, but I'd prefer it if the specific cards mattered instead of only cost. What about replacing the draw reward with casting the exiled spell?

    1. My mistake: Hubris is updated.

    2. What's white about the idea of hubris? If anything it feels {U}{R} to me. {U} "I'm so brilliant..." {R} "...that I don't need to restrain myself."

    3. Not much, but not breaking the color pie is pretty important as well and {W}{U} gets a lot more stuff like Council of the Absolute and Grand Arbiter Augustin IV that can reduce costs of any spell whereas blue only gets instants and sorceries. The aura bleed might be permissible, but it's definitely a bleed.

  5. My card slipped through the cracks... This was what I had worked up:

    Sacking of Akros 7RRR
    Sorcery (Mythic)
    Put 3 1/1 red human soldier creature tokens with haste into play.
    Until the end of turn, creatures you control have "T: choose one: deal damage to target creature equal to this creatures power, or gain control of target non-basic land an opponent controls, or gain control of target artifact an opponent controls.


      The burning of troy seems fitting here haha

    2. The requirement for a mockup was a link to an image file and the artist's name, which was not included originally.

    3. oooh ok! i missed that. My mistake :)

  6. Surprised at the white and blue Epic Voyages. Isn't exploration green?

    Epic Voyage (rare)
    You may play X additional lands this turn.
    Until end of turn, whenever you play a land, draw a card.

    1. Hmm. Odysseus himself is a WU hero; Agamemnon WB, and Achilles might be mono-W. Ajax could be mono-G.

      You're right, though, that the spirit of discovery and exploration (as well as the card you've given) are quite green. The Odyssey itself isn't a story of discovery though, but of homecoming, so it depends on which way you want to top-down the idea.

    2. I'd like this better with a fixed count so that you don't feel bad getting 1 less for X so that you can draw off your natural land drop.

    3. If you draw the cards first, this is Mind Spring with upside, and Mind Spring is already very powerful.

    4. Epic Voyage {2}{G}{G}
      Enchantment (rare)
      Whenever you play a land, draw a card. If you control 7+ lands or have 7+ cards in hand, sacrifice ~ and cast a creature card without paying its mana cost.

    5. @Evan: the only change I was proposing was replacing X with a number like 4.
      @Jay: that version's doing a lot of fun things, but we probably don't need all of them on the same card. Seer's Sundial was fun.