Monday, February 3, 2014

Weekend Art Challenge Review 013113—SeeEffEye

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

Adept of the Mists can potentially Unsummon a creature every turn if you can get in without being blocked. Of course, it's easy to block, so you might have to work on that, Johnny.
This is lenticular in that you will usually want to bounce opposing creatures, but extra thought reveals that you will sometimes bounce your own creatures (to save them from negative auras or reuse their ETB effects).

Lenticular Range: Medium

Apprentice Mind Sculptor is a decent body that can mill an opponent for two each turn (until they've got 2- cards left, awkwardly). You can also use it to thin your own deck and get reanimation targets or flashback spells into your graveyard. The choice probably plays fast enough, but I would want to test that. Solid.
(What is the wolfman doing in the art of this card?)

Lenticular Range: Medium

Beset by Spirits can be a one-creature Fog, or it can kill almost any attacker for enough mana. There's also nothing stopping you from pumping all your mana into it regardless of the attacker's size so that you'll have Spirits left over. Neat.

Lenticular Range: Easy?

Dehumanize can kill an X/1 or it can Giant Growth an X/2+. The first time a new player looks at this, they'll likely only see one of those, and will stumble onto the other during play. Turning the creature black will be relevant much less often, but when it does, the player leveraging that will feel quite clever.

Lenticular Range: Easy & Medium

Flurry of Souls is a mono-white Flurry of Wings. Either way, it looks like it's meant to be used defensively, but can be excellent on offense as well.

Lenticular Range: Easy?

Gnoll Patrol wants to reward either blue or black spells, but especially blue-black spells. Unfortunately, it really doesn't reward blue spells: The environment would have to be chock-full of color-matters effects. More than Eventide.

Lenticular Range: Hard. Not all new players know how intimidate works on a gold card, it'll likely be a while before they figure out that colorless means unblockable, but only if you also cast a black spell.

Lycan Spellbreaker is meant to be appealing before you even read its text box. New players will likely not be able to make anything of its ability, except that it's activated, so they can ignore it. Average players will see it as a conditional hexproof, which is a nice upside for a threat like this. Experienced players will hopefully realize they can often bluff an opponent into not trying to remove this even though they can't defend it, or bluffing them into trying to remove it when they can.

Lenticular Range: Hard

Lycanthropy looks like something you want to put on your creatures to aid your aggro strategy. Cleverly, you can also put it on your opponent's creatures to force them either to attack or at least keep them from blocking.

Lenticular Range: Medium

Savage Rebuttal is an amped up Avoid Fate / Ranger's Guile. New players love protecting their creatures (and making them bigger) and will like it as a result. But if you need the pump now, you could target it with one of your own spells and counter that. (For most environments, this is savagely undercosted.)

Lenticular Range: Medium

Spiritual Rebirth is a delayed gratification Recollect. The hidden option being that you can put a useless card from your opponent's graveyard on top of her library (without losing card advantage).
(Black normally only gets creature cards back. That could be bent if there a good reason for it, though I'm not seeing one here.)

Lenticular Range: Medium

Submit to the Nethershades first reads either as "Whenever one of your creatures becomes blocked, you can save it from death on the back of a creature that died before it. So attack away." or "I can block anything, thanks to my deadies." Will likely take many players a bit to see both sides of the coin.
(It's odd to me that you can spend creature cards from any graveyard for this, but I'm glad that it doesn't contribute to its own use, being a board staller.)

Lenticular Range: Medium

Transcend Death will turn off very new players because it immediately contradicts what it says it does. It won't take long for players to figure out that you can use it to Flicker opposing blockers or attackers away, though that's not very good for {W}{B}. The real power is in bouncing your own creatures to reuse their ETB and/or death triggers (like a Rescue from the Underworld with no target).

Lenticular Range: Medium

Turn to Beast might look like a limited form of Giant Growth, giving full value only to your 1/1s, but being able to shrink and/or turn off abilities of opposing creatures gives this trick a lot of flexibility.
(New players won't fully understand layering rules, but that's usually okay since they won't know they did anything wrong.)

Lenticular Range: Easy?

Wraith Summoner is a tricky card to evaluate. If you attack me and X is low, I'll probably kill your wizard and accept your green-black Lightning Bolt. If it's high, I'll just let your 1/1 hit me. On defense, however, this elf could be a substantial deterrent to would-be attackers.
(Ignoring that we're looking at a Werewolf or Wolfir and not a Wraith, I'm not buying that we're summoning a damage spell here.)

Lenticular Range: Medium

Unlike last week, I learned a lot this week. First, we don't have as much insight on lenticular design as we could. I suggested Mark Rosewater devote an entire article to the subject and I encourage you to echo that idea. Second, the big lesson is that there are different levels of lenticular.

Just because a card is lenticular doesn't mean a new player will get any part of it, or that you have to be a Pro to get all of it. I wrote my estimation of what range of scrutiny is required to see all the sides of a card. Let me clarify that I'm not saying any range is better than another, and I didn't grade the quality of any designs: I just think that players will figure out the inobvious sides of Turn to Beast before Transcend Death before Lycan Spellbreaker. I'd love to hear where your estimations vary.

Dehumanize has more than two layers, showing that being lenticular is not binary.

My two favorite designs this week are Lycanthropy and Turn to Beast because they're elegant

EDIT: Mark Rosewater has since posted an article all about lenticular design. It's nice to get a stronger understanding of it, and to see how much we were able to intuit here a couple months earlier.


  1. As a lenticular design, Lycanthropy would be better as Maniacal Rage. As it is, you don't get the blocker out of the way until the next turn, which makes the alternate use of it even less likely to come up.

  2. I really bumbled this one. I certainly could have done better but also this challenge was tough.

  3. I concur that this design was tough since it had more restrictions than usual: art and lenticularness. For my submission I would have used the "your graveyard" tech if it was not a lenticular design, but as is, new players would think to check their graveyard and not the opponent's while experienced ones would first use their opponent's resources.

    1. I experienced something proving your point here: last night I was playing with a new player, who had one of my EDH decks and had out a Jotun Grunt. He was recycling his own graveyard for preference, because he was worried about decking (his general was Zedruu and he was drawing about 6 cards a turn).