Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Weekend Art Challenge Review 090514—egilthompson

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

I haven't seen any of the other designs yet, but I'm betting this is the only one that focuses on the goat and the ground. We'll see.

What stands out to me about this text is the intervening-if-clause. Why is it important that I control another creature? Thematically… I'm not sure. Maybe the card's about eating the corpses and carcasses around you, but then the name doesn't fit. Maybe it's some Abzan truism like "you're not poor until your last goat dies." I dunno.

That makes me look for a mechanical justification, and what I get there is a safety valve against Day of Judgment. Without that 'if,' a player could clog the board with cheap/token creatures, then nuke it all←hopefully tagging a bunch of the opponent's stuff in the process—and draw a ton of cards to overrun the opponent post-apocalypse. With it, you've got to regenerate or flicker one of them, making it much harder to abuse that way. It also opens you up to sweepers from your opponent, but considering that Abzan Goatgrave can potentially turn every fair trade into a 1:0 for the player sitting across from you, that's probably for the best.

Blood-Kin Guardian lets you outlast it and another creature for a single price. Solid. I could totally see that ability printed in Tarkir. I'd prefer square stats here for easier computation. Herald of Anafenza eschews square stats, but it's a rare and can justify that more easily, and I also think that was a mistake.

I had to check that "Whenever you activate ~'s outlast ability" was an existing template and it is. That sure does read awkward, but it's not hard to see why they didn't run with "Whenever you outlast ~" or even "Whenever ~ outlasts." Makes me wonder if 'train' or 'endure' would have been better names for the mechanic.

Hahahaha. Awesome.

Get Your Goat is a proactive Fog. "You're going to attack me with your team this turn, and I'm going to block them all." Red and blue both get compelling, and white gets damage prevention effects, so I can see this a RWU, even if it's not especially Jeskai. (Kudos to Pasteur on omitting the watermark.)

I like that this doesn't always block all damage, since trample still goes through, but I'm not sure I like that the goats can block anything. I also like how it doesn't stop you from adding more blockers to actually kill an attacker if you like. Maybe it should just make that many goats and leave the blocking up to you.

Doesn't kill Storm Crow.

Not hard to buy the super stick-up-their-ass Jeskai casting a member out, though I don't get at all how the word 'horde' got in the name. Horde Outcast looks strong—perhaps a bit too strong for common—but otherwise seems entirely credible for Tarkir.

Only one gold card has been spoiled at common so far and it's three-color, and the as-fan for gold is less than 2, so I'm not sure if there will be two-color commons, but I'm also not sure there won't. Certainly doesn't seem unreasonable.

Pretty sure Marauding Goatherd wasn't intended to be common. Checking… yeah, it's rare. Good.

The concept is pretty humorous, but goat tribal players seem to demand a certain amount of humor anyhow. Once you accept that, I like the core idea. I would key off of power==0 for even more lols.

What needs work are the references to power and base power. As written, I could Wring Flesh a Rumbling Baloth and attack with this, and it would be affected by the ability, but still have power 1. Generally, you want to swap base power with base power, or just grant a bonus. Personally, I'd just give creatures with power 0 +3/+0 until EOT.

Mardu Bird Tamer is ready to roll. (Though the name would be improved before printing. Mardu Hawk Caller or Mardu Falconier or easy improvements.)

I get the impression they're not doing any off-color morphs in the first set of Tarkir, even if it's basically a sure thing for later in the block. There's Rattleclaw Mystic, but I think that's an exception to prove the rule. Ignoring that, Mardu Outrider looks pretty good. 3/1 is pretty good for {1}{R} with upside, but not impossible at uncommon.

I quite like the flavor of Mardu Spearhawk. It tells a neat little story with a reasonable amount of text, and seems well balanced to boot. I do think this ability fights for mindspace with the "creatures with +1/+1 counters have" stuff we're seeing from Jeskai, but I could see Spearhawk in almost any other set, no problem. And it would hardly be the end of the world to see it in Tarkir.

I blame Supply Line Cranes for this card's awful name. Even so, I like Mardu Supply Line's first ability a lot. It's not easy to use your ill-gotten goats to kill the opponent, but they can turn a race in your favor. The off-color activated ability would have been a reasonable space for Tarkir to explore, but from what we've seen so far, I'm not sure it will be, in this set. If it were, the red feels like it's only there for symmetry or the flavor of burnt goat. Otherwise, the second ability helps turn the otherwise inoffensive goats into a clear attack advantage, which is cool.

Lack of power and toughness? So unprofessional.

Temur Hunting Party has pretty cool flavor too. The party uses intel from its avian friend to get the drop on its quarry. RG is unlikely to have many fliers, but GUR should have some. Coincidence that this becomes 4 power and turns on other Temur cards while buffed? Doubt it.

I have the same concerns about mindspace that I did for Mardu Spearhawk, particularly now that I remember there's also power-threshold in the mix. If we did keep this for its awesome flavor and gameplay, I'd make it a triggered ability so that this 4/3 doesn't die to 2/2s after combat.

"If you would" denotes a replacement effect that causes an event not to happen, or to change how it happens. Time of Migration could just be "Lands you play don't count toward the number of lands you can play on your turn unless they share a name with lands you already control."

I like encouraging diversity in lands in a set with 20 nonbasic lands. Costing this is tricky though, because it's completely busted at one or two mana, and largely useless at five or more. Is four good? I have no idea. We'd have to test. I'm not sure getting extra land drops on turn 4 is worth a card, given that you have to have the lands in hand and they have to be new, though I won't discount that Time might be amazing in Modern or Legacy where you can accelerate into and run a deck with 24 unique lands.

Great work, Artisans. Lots of exciting, funny and/or realistic designs.

Thanks to Pasteur for mocking up the cards.


  1. I'm pretty sure the flavor of Horde Outcast is that she abandoned the Mardu to join the Jeskai, which would probably have been cleaner if I remembered the watermark for it. In my defense... watermarks are hard. (I just used photoshop at the end of the day).

    My pitch on Abzan Goatgrave (which probably would get a much better name with a real Creative team involved) was the Abzan, being kind of "the more civilized" clan, have burial rites and a strong sense of succession as long as there's still a survivor. "Make sure there's an enduring survivor" seems to be a flavor theme expressed through both Duneblast (the all-but-one Wrath) and Outlast, but mostly it's a Fecundity ripe for incentivizing Aristocrat-type decks.

    1. The name is still fairly clear, as is the flavour text: she was cast out from the Mardu Horde and found a new home in the Jeskai Way. I guess Jay just had a slight brain glitch, which is fair enough given how much he has to look through to do these reviews each week :)

    2. Ohhh. I thought she was leaving the Jeskai for the Mardu. But yes, the name makes more sense this way, and the flavor text clarifies. But, if she's Mardu-born, how does she have prowess? I think that's what tripped me up.

    3. I think you get Prowess from's probably not genetic.

    4. Yeah, it was meant to have a Jeskai watermark, I forgot to tell. She's a former Mardu who is now affiliated with Jeskais, so she has learnt Prowess.

    5. What on the card represents her Mardu origin? First strike?

  2. Obviously the Supply line is beyond offense and defence. It is beyond good and evil. But if you insist it would be a 2/3.

    Yes the red is there just to signal that this is a Mardu card. I would not like the Azban to use this raid card.

  3. May I add, I really liked the submissions for this challenge.