Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Weekend Art Challenge Review 051514—GameFan84

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

Bohrian Skyship proposes Vehicle, which is multi-equip with the clever rider that all the creatures it equips have to attack and block together. This would be the first mechanic that allows one card to be attached to multiple cards simultaneously, but I imagine players putting those creatures behind the skyship as a group and it seems workable (once the rules are updated). We probably don't want creatures to be able to ride multiple vehicles at once, though, partly for flavor, and partly for mechanical clarity. I doubt this card needs both Equip and Vehicle.

Busy Hoverport  is sort of a Springleaf Drum land, which is neat. It might be strong enough to warrant removing the first ability or ETB tapped, but it's likely fine as is. I'm a little surprised to see that things are operated by artifacts rather than by creatures, but it's clear how that makes artifacts matter, if that's what we want. I'm thinking operate wants to be an ability word:

Modeled after Haunted Fengraf and more common-powered than Buried Ruin, Cliffhub Bazaar looks potentially useful and has pretty neat flavor. Getting a random artifact back does wonders for this design. And the flavor text deserves some love too. Very nice overall.

Windup is a neat evolution to clockwork creatures. I like the innovation that they last longer depending on how much you wind them up and when they run out of steam, they return to your hand so that you can wind them again by recasting them. It's also nice that players don't have to recalculate the creature's size every turn, or remember that it'll be 1 smaller by the time it's attacking or blocking next. I wonder if this mechanic is too dissimilar to its ancestry: We could remove the counters via attacking and blocking, but that would make these perfect chump-blockers, so I'd push for this version. Does this template seem better or worse?

Another possibility: Wind-Up (At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a charge counter from ~. If you can't, sacrifice it. {1}: Put a charge counter on ~.)

Coinship Cruiser 'steals' gold (in the same sense that Stealer of Secrets does) which is a cool piratey thing. I have nothing against colored artifacts, but this card really wants to be a non-artifact pirate like Pirate Ship and friends or a colorless artifact creature. We need a reason to make exceptions and nothing about this card is so red or so artifact-y that it needs to be both. If it cost {3} it would compare closely to Opaline Unicorn; that's better, mind you, but I don't think unprintably so.

Rusting is a nice, evocative process and there are arguments whether it should build up or wear down. I like that Depreciating Airship gains defender when it's rusted, but gaining +2/+2 is such a strange effect for rusting that it distracts from asking whether a rusted airship would still have flying or not (it probably should).

Extravagant Marketplace has a very conditional ability, requiring 3+ copies of cards in your deck to consider and then playing two of them before taking the chance of getting a free one. That's a tiny hoop, but for a common that could theoretically draw you an extra card every turn, the hoop has to be tiny. You could make it more relevant to Limited by decreasing the threshold to one copy of the artifact in play and increasing the cost, though I'm not sure it would remain safe to print at common (but I think this wants to be uncommon or rare regardless). I like the flavor.

Mecha-Charged rewards players for having colorless mana sources, presumably artifacts and a few lands. It seems like we'd need a lot of those for a player to get two of them and thus get a +1/+1 counter on his Imperial Hoverscout. I have trouble imagining a Limited format where players get four colorless mana producers into play at the same time, so depending on that frequency we might tweak this mechanic to be 1:1 instead of 1:2.

Artifact creatures seem to be the least awkward place for monocolored hybrid (aka "twobrid"), and it may be that the set wants it anyhow, but the combination with mecha-charged here isn't particularly special. The two mechanics don't work together and instead just offer two different ways you can cast this. TL;DR—Imperial Hoverscout would be nearly as interesting and rather less complex if it cost {4}.

My first pass was Market with "{T}: Loot" and that was just far too good. Would have to cost {4} or more to activate. I wanted something more conditional, hence Scrap Meet. This could still be pretty nutty in an artifact deck, so maybe it needs to be "The first time an artifact ETB on each of your turns" or "{T}: Loot. Activate only if an artifact ETB'd."

It's impossible not to compare Mecha Mecca to Llanowar Reborn. I think only producing colorless mana and costing 5 to move the counter offsets entering play untapped, but I would make the ability sorcery-speed to limit board-complexity, and I might specify "+1/+1 counter" to focus the kinds of shenanigans possible. If Tesla were to go all charge counters, this could easily grant those and that would be a little more grokkable.

It may be that there are a number of creatures that spend charge counters for abilities that have multiple counters, or that there are a lot of ways to put charge counters on things, both of which could help justify Ornithopter Drone. On its own, one must ask why it doesn't just scry 1 when it ETBs. Looks like a fun card, and I like the idea of an unarmed drone doing reconnaissance for me. Not sure why it's not an artifact.

I would happily play a colorless land that sacks to scry 2 in a color-light deck and Port to the Uknown is a great name for such a card. It's an interesting question: Is it worth making a mechanic so similar to scry? One might rush to say no, that it steps on scry's toes, but as someone who ardently believes every block needs a smoothing mechanism I have to wonder if little variations on Magic's best isn't a bad idea.

Skystreet Bazaar can be traded away for a chance at a replacement card when you've got excess mana, which is always helpful on a land. I'm glad it can only get artifacts (both for flavor and to limit it's success rate) and I like that it's never guaranteed to hit (unless you manipulate your deck). I would default this to uncommon, but it's not hard to imagine a set where it's common.

I'm not sure how/why the smuggler automated his airship, but I have no trouble seeing a card with these stats as a 4cc artifact. It's pretty neat to think that this is a 4-power flyer for {4} if you can just supply a 2/X to buddy it up with. Maybe that 2/X will be a smuggler who draws cards when he deals damage...

Smuggler's Haven is an uncommon, but it's also a really neat card. You can kind of see the smugglers trading away their ill-gotten goods for cash mana. Something like this could go a long way in a format that cares about artifacts in your graveyard.

Board is kind of a reverse exalted with a lot more commitment. Presumably, other vessels would get different bonuses for being boarded. Because exiling your creatures is a substantial downside at face value, the only way I'd consider this is if there were a lot of creatures with strong ETB/LTB triggers. I'm not sure why this isn't an artifact.

Tinkerer's Port is probably broken, but might be printable if we only let it untap once per turn. Tommy proposed an alternate version that doesn't untap itself, but can be untapped as part of a chain of cogs; I like that idea, but I'm skeptical that we want to print another artifact land, and even more skeptical that we want to give cogs a particular subtype and make the mechanic parasitic (though it could well prove unprintable if we don't).

My personal favorite land was Cliffhub Bazaar, but it really was close with several very solid submissions. My favorite artifact was Clockwork Airship (and again, there were a number of good designs). It was inevitable that most of these cards cared about artifacts, given both what we know about Tesla so far and the art itself. Next time, I'm going to try something very un-artifact-y and see where that leads, since the non-artifact half of Tesla is almost untouched so far.

What did you think of me doing just the review? It seems natural to feel like the end result could have been improved if you had the chance to consider my feedback, but maybe it's nice not to have me meddling? From my end, it saved a bit of back and forth but since I read all the comments and did everything else, it wasn't a huge time savings anyhow. Next weekend we'll try the opposite.


  1. Whoops, looks like I screwed up my attempt at clarity.

    Vehicle X isn't meant to be an activated ability. It's meant to mean that you can equip to up to X creatures at once, using the normal equip ability. So an Equipment with Vehicle 1 would just be an ordinary equipment.

    Sorry about that.

    The bit about only letting a creature ride one vehicle is probably a good call. More text, but clearer and more flavourful in play.

    1. Jay may have been consfused that vehicle 3 wasn't a cost, but he's right that the mechanic would be cleaner if it didn't have an equip cost and a vehicle wording as two separate things. Anyway, I think using the Equipment subtype isn't a great fit for vehicles. Consider Mike George's use of vessel as a creature type. What if Vessel were a new artifact type instead? Then we could try something like:

      Bohrian Skyship
      Artifact - Vessel
      Bohrian Skyship's crew has flying.
      Crew 3—{2} (You may add crew by paying {2}. Crew must attack or block together. Only three creatures may crew this vessel at once.)

      I took a lot of rules text out of the reminder text here, like whether you need to control the creatures you're adding as crew (I'd say yes,) whether a creature can crew multiple vessels at once (I'd say no) and what happens if you try to add crew past a vessel's crew limit (I'd say you can, but it will move one of your other crew out of the vessel when you do.) These sorts of questions are inherent to any vehicle designs and I don't think there's a clean way to spell it all out each card. In a post-Planeswalker design world, not every aspect of a card's rules needs to be included on the card.

    2. Good stuff.
      Do we even need to specify how many creatures can board a vessel? Is it interesting that some take 2, some 3 and some 4?

    3. Needing to attack and block together seems like enough of a push against huge crews that I don't think it needs a limit at all.

      Crew {2} ({2}: Remove a creature you control from any crews it's in and add it to this one, or remove a creature from this crew. Crew must attack or block together.)

      Alternative wording:
      Crew {2} ({2}: Remove a creature from this crew, or add a creature you control to this crew if it's not in another crew. Crew must attack or block together.)

    4. We may want to limit crew for some effects. Imagine a Rare gunship with:

      Borhian Gunship's crew has "T: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player."

    5. I wanted to use Equip because I dislike reinventing the wheel, but I can see where you're coming from there.

      I think we should keep the crew limit. A 2-mana common artifact probably shouldn't make your whole team fly.

    6. I don't think the crew wording needs to or should be able to remove a creature from a crew. Equipment only gets unequipped if the creature dies. I don't think the extra words and functionality are worth it.

      In other words, I feel it should be this:

      Crew 2 (2: Remove a creature you control from any crews it's in and add it to this one. Crew must attack or block together.)

      Do we want a sorcery clause on this?

    7. I'd be on-board with Ben's version, but a sorcery clause is certainly necessary, I hadn't even thought of that.