Monday, March 17, 2014

Weekend Art Challenge Review 031414—JordyLakiere

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

Ambassador Oak goes multicolor. Ambassador Brute is comparable to Rhox Brute and still quite solid in Limited.

Bushwhacker Giant isn't strictly worse than Goblin Bushwhacker (because it's better on its own, and when you get to 7+ mana with no other creatures to cast), but it is usually inferior.
Pretty sure new players would take this one over the original, despite that much higher price.

Conscripted Troll is a Phyrexian Rager with a variant of suspend that only makes you wait for the "ETB" effect (and you have to keep the creature alive long enough). I liked suspend, and I think unchain is neat, but it's a tough sell justifying so much wordiness and book-keeping for small effects (at common).

For some cards, the difference between sorcery and instant is subtle or even unimportant. Here, it's pretty significant. As an instant, Rise to the Challenge is a trick that will turn a combat trade (or even chump block) into a victory. As a sorcery, Devil on the Shoulder plays more like a punisher card: Either you chump block this creature, or it will hit you and for 2 extra damage. For contrast, making Syphon Life an instant would be nearly meaningless. It's impressive how much meaning the game derives from those contextual differences.

Drag to the Ground is strictly worse than Grasp of Darkness, even though it can potentially be equal because most of the time, you'll control fewer than four goblins and have to pay more. I love affinity for goblins, especially on a card that shows a mob of goblins, and it's only a matter of time before they make black care about goblins again: black and red shared tribal types in Lorwyn, Innistrad, and Theros.

Empty the Caverns is an Empty the Warrens with an upper limit of one bonus copy. That greatly reduces its potential in Constructed, but retains most of its value in Limited, comparing well to Goblin Rally.

Enslaved Troll is strictly worse than Twisted Abomination in two ways, and it's still a conditionally great Limited card.

Gang Up is strictly worse than Massive Raid in two ways, but the way the rules fit the name and art is great, and this becomes a card the red tokens player can count on wheeling late in draft.

Goblin Gang is worse than Dross Crocodile. Its drawback is usually red-only, but we're looking at a set that bleeds goblins into black anyhow, so that exception might work here.

What if you had to pay Mogg War Marshal's cost entirely up-front? Goblin Platoon Leader. That's a big difference and pushes the card to a more niche strategy (you have to actively want lots of small creatures to pump or sack). You can also compare to Dragon Fodder. Neat.

Goblin War Marshal references the same source as above, but takes a different path. It's not strictly worse (because you can pay less for two goblins, or more for unlimited goblins), but it is mostly worse. It's also really interesting (even if cumulative upkeep is a tough sell in NWO).

I believe Kralfen Brute is a Hill Giant with something along the lines of "can't attack without a smaller creature" which kind of fits the art, but is a strange ability otherwise. "Can't attack alone" or "Can't attack unless at least two other creatures attack" might be more intuitive.

Large Growth is strictly worse than Monstrous Growth (which is strictly worse than Phytoburst, which is slightly worse than Titanic Growth and Giant Growth).

Lead the Charge is a Goblin-flavored version of Trumpet Blast.

Make an Example is strictly worse than Innocent Blood (and also worse than Bone Splinters except in multiplayer).

Oblivious Oaf is strictly worse than Fire Elemental, whom I still have trouble remembering is common. It looks so much better than Kralfen Brute, but that's to be expected given the relative power of the two source cards. That variance is one of the more interesting points this exercise has brought to the foreground.

Ogre War Cry is worse than Gorilla War Cry by a full cantrip, and is the entry most in need of printing.

Ogremaul is functionally identical to a card that had been sitting in my CCDD folder. Lightning Bolt gets the full Char / Orcish Cannonade treatment. That's what I call Deadguy Red.

What if Madcap Skills only worked for a single turn? On the Shoulders of Giants doesn't dominate the game the same way, but could still snatch victory out of nowhere. This card also deserves a printing.

Piggybacking Goblin is like a Caterwauling Boggart that only helps another tribe. Makes me wonder what other kinds of inter-tribal synergy goblins and trolls would have in this set.

Many suggested this should be a Troll that aids goblins instead. That makes a bit more sense with the art and would work in a more average set.

Scab-Clan Marauder is identical to Scab-Clan Mauler, except that its trample is conditional on tapping another goblin, which could potentially combo with inspired or Q, though it makes for a very text common. I'm glad we have representation from the make-something-strictly-worse-to-make-it-effectively-better camp.

Scion of Despair is a less dangerous Ulamog's Crusher (on several axes) and while it's not too strong for a common, it doesn't look like a common anymore. In most sets, Ulamog's Crusher doesn't look like a common. In fact, it being common was actually the most notable thing about it. So Scion couldn't go in just any set, but you could make a set where it's common and intentionally looks out of place.

Scornful Ogretist is more elegant than Scornful Egotist.
(And could still be a runnable card in a set that cares about CMC.)

Scumback Marauders is another example of a common that's so good you can make a strictly worse version that's still very good AND of a card that's strictly worse but functionally better: Scuzzback Marauders was red/green which is easier to cast, but in draft that meant the red player would see them half as often, because the green player was fighting for them too. Fascinating.

Seer of Kookus is meant to be functionally identical to Marauding Maulhorn, but contextually worse because the card it wants to be next to doesn't care about it. It's a marginal difference on a marginal condition of a marginal drawback, but it absolutely qualifies as strictly worse, which lends a bit of perspective on the value of that label.

This exercise wasn't as hard as most, but it was still fun and there were some legitimate takeaways. Will run some lighter exercises again, because it's nice to have a break from the tough stuff every once in a while.


  1. Oops! I am sorry not to have time to discuss, but Goblin Gang ablity is inside out! It can't attack or block EXEPT alone.

    1. Ah. That makes more sense for a black card. Though, less sense for this art.

  2. Piggybacking Goblins was switched to Cave Troll. Somehow I missed a lot of comments this afternoon. (Technically, they were too late, but whatever.)

  3. This was a really interesting challenge. It's probably not quite got as much breadth as some challenges (most answers are "tweak a powerful common to have some flavourful restrictions"), but there were lots of really nice answers.

  4. Ambassador Brute by lpaulsen
    Clever. Since the card clearly references Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, I'd like to see the Giant and the token get classes.

    Bushwhacker Giant by R Stech
    I don't think this is strictly worse, just different. I'd also like to see more interesting flavor, since there's no room for flavor text.

    Conscripter Troll by Devin E Green
    Unchained is interesting, but I bet it's a tweak or two away from where it wants to be. Like, maybe instead of an upkeep trigger, it triggers whenever the creature attacks.

    Devil on the Shoulder by Circeus
    The flavor text on this is really great. I also like it for a set where Devils are the small red creature.

    Drag to the Ground by Tommy Occhipinti
    This is an extremely successful implementation of the challenge. The flavor is great, and the use of Affinty is clever. It's also a good common for our modern era where removal comes at a much higher cost.

  5. Empty the Warrens by Edward Muir
    In a vacuum, momentum makes sense as a copying effect. But in a real set, it'd probably modify the scope of the spell, like Landfall or Morbid, rather than copy it. Especially if the mechanic lived largely at common.

    Enslaved Troll by Jenesis
    This card is so good. Even though it's strickly worse than Twisted Abomination, I have a hard time accepting it in Black over Green.

    Gang Up by TehWERR
    This is a good name, and fits the art and mechanic. It just needs a flavor text one-liner, then its perfect. The opportunity to use, and effect are so weak, compared to Massive Raid, Dogpile and regular red removal, that I think it could cost 1R.

    Goblin Gang by Dai Nonaka
    I wish this were a red creature tweaking Incurable Ogre and not a Black creature tweaking Dross Crocodile. There just doesn't seem to be a reason for this to be a Black goblin. "NAME must attack or block alone." is a mechanic that's never been done before, which makes me suspicious. There must be a reason WotC hasn't used it already.

    Goblin Platoon Leader by Axxle
    While an excellent submission for the challenge, I can't imagine this card getting printed as is. It's way too expensive to fit into a Little Red Men strategy. And all of the interesting complexity has been stripped out of it. I'd also like to see some fun flavor text.

  6. Goblin War Marshal by Marco
    I think something that makes tokens so readily at common should cost more than 1R. Even with an ever increasing cost. I think setting the token trigger to paying the upkeep cost is cool.

    Kralfen Brute by The Sensual Coalition of Men
    It's weird to see a red creature that can always block, but might not be able to attack. Some flavor text would also be nice with this card to explain the name and mechanic.

    Large Growth by fading shadows of a memory beloved
    No one's going to get excited to see this. Even if you told them it was designed for a contest. Reducing the effect on a card by a factor of one isn't clever.

    Lead the Charge by Jay Treat
    So this is for a tribal block where you want to reward players for mixing two tribes together. Is this wording better for that than "Choose a creature type. Creatures you control of the chosen type get +2/+0 until end of turn." I guess if you want to make sure the Goblin Limited player gets this in the draft.

    Make an Example by Tigt
    I don't really get the flavor connection. It seems like it wants to be Public Execution, but I'm killing my creature to make you kill one of your own. Also, the card is just is so terrible. It's all downside. I would have liked a strictly worse version that was actually playable.

  7. Oblivious Oaf by Jules
    If Ember Beast is okay, than maybe we can get a 5 power for 5-mana at common. But it's got to be a set that really needs that. The name isn't great though, because the Ogre seems more lethal than oblivious.

    Ogre War Cry by Wobbles(Mis-attributed to Circeus)
    This is a perfect execution of the challenge. But it's missing flavor text that lives up to the name. "Whaurgh!" perhaps?

    Ogremaul by Pasteur
    Cool name and cool mechanic. I like it a lot.

    Cave Troll AKA Piggybacking Goblins by James Bartolotti
    Caterwauling Boggart was a good way to tackle this challenge. There weren't too many commons that fits the art and could be tweaked by removing one or two elements. But this is still a very playable card. That's the ideal situation.

  8. Scab-Clan Marauder by Bass
    I am not a fan, when I look at all the elements together. The name's too derivative, the trample ability has a weird tribal component, it's multicolor when the design doesn't really ask it to be. About that trample ability, who wants to attack, but hold a creature back in case they want to give a midsize guy trample? It asks the player to do weird things.

    Scion of Despair by Jack
    This strays so far from Ulamog's Crusher that it's hard to compare them. When WotC makes a wedge focused set, I can see a card like this that costs 4WBR.

    Scornful Ogretist by Evan Jones
    I was expecting Evan to provide a real submission before the weekend ended. Kudos on the pun in the name.

    Scumback Marauders by Ben Nassau
    I like Jay's analysis of this card's Draft potential.

    Seer of Kookus by Mike George
    It's an interesting way to downgrade Marauding Maulhorn, but that card only exists for it's effect on a draft. I can't see this one getting printed.

    Overall, I prefer the designs that met the challenge and still printable. I really enjoyed this challenge. It was tougher than it looked.

  9. Scornful Ogretist made me laugh a lot. But I'm not convinced it can be runnable without some Reveillark-style effects, though. The rest of these were mostly pretty clever designs that were still playable in many circumstances.