Monday, October 6, 2014

Weekend Art Challenge Review 100314—kokoszkaa

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

Capture the Moment bounces all the permanents that ETB'd this turn. At worst, it's an Unsummon with the restriction of counter-magic. At best, it's a Gather Specimens that bounces instead of steals—which is an amazing deal at {U}; imagine the opponent chaining out a pair of Triplicate Spirits when you've got this in hand. (Then, imagine it the other way, designer.)

It's a big limitation, but the potential to return two or more creature for the same price is a huge upside. Imagine playing four of these in your main deck, and then swapping them out for Frost Lynxes once you've trained your opponent not to cast more than one creature per turn. Is it too good? Probably depends on the format. Spells comparable to Remand definitely warrant a hard eye.

Chromatic Veil harkens back to Magical Hack and the Thoughtlace cycle. You could make it a rare in some random core set (if those were still a thing), but I can't help imagine a set where we want it at uncommon or even common because we care what colors our permanents are (but not how many colors we have. I like how blue this card is, despite it's gold effect.

Delphinium Field is a filter land: A commonized Graven Cairns. When would you run it over a Swamp? When you're trying to cast Vampire Nighthawk in a multicolor deck (and not trying to cast Gravecrawler).

Reasonable to make a land out of this art, though I'm not buying that a land that only produces black and colorless mana would have such colorful imagery.

Dewdrop Field is a Fertile Ground that requires no target and so is not at risk of card disadvantage. That's not a huge gain since they've cut back on land destruction so much. Making it trigger in the first main phase was smart, because if it triggered in the second you'd get to use it on turn two, which would be too much better. There's no memory concern regarding whether you've used the mana or not because of its tight window; I could see players forgetting to use it occasionally but probably not often given how strict the timing is. Better for one-mana spells.

I have no complaints about this except that I'm not sure what the benefit is of printing it instead.

End of the Rainbow is an interesting Heartbeat of Spring alternative. The effect isn't symmetrical at all, and it doesn't double each tapping of a land, just each dropping of a land, but the ability to save that bonus mana up toward a single big effect is considerable. Not hard to imagine this doing some impressive things in Limited. Nice leprechaun flavor.

Strictly better than Inertia Bubble. Coma Veil was intentionally over-costed, but even so, being able to hold down more types of permanents for less than half the cost, with a huge upside is a red flag. Evaporating Dew also compares well to Temporal Spring / Ether Well and everything in that vein. It's not strictly better than this theoretical card:
Away {3}{U} Sorcery - Put target nonland permanent on the bottom of its owner's library.
but it is usually better, and that card is usually better than Time Ebb.

But those are all Dev concerns and can be fixed by tweaking the mana. The flavor's unique and fun, though I think it could be executed better with Mana Chains or:
At the beginning of enchanted permanent's controller's upkeep, that player pays {2} or shuffles it into his or her library. 
At the beginning of your upkeep, enchanted permanent's owner shuffles it into his or her library.
Blue doesn't normally put things on the bottom of libraries. And I'm not sure why this removal spell recurs itself. I guess it's invoking Gomazoa, etc?

Three mana Time Walk that puts itself on the restricted list? Maaaybe? Potentially okay at {1}{U}{R}{G} given Time Warp? Extra turns are powerful. It's really hard to balance the fact that they are the ultimate free spell, replacing both the mana you spent to cast them and the card. Is Temur the shard that should get cheaper Time Warp? Interesting how this spell is kinda legendary, and yet more legendary than legendary.

Are there a cycle of these? I'm not entirely sure why this can be all-white or 5-color. I get that all five keywords are white, or WUBRG in that order, so mechanically that's legit, but Assault Zeppelid and Highspire Mantis are seperate cards, why isn't Light Elemental?

I wonder what's more enticing. Writing out the alternate cost like this, or just pricing this {W}{WU}{WB}{RW}{GW}? Speaking of enticement, is this exciting enough as a 1/1 despite all the keywords?

Mana Blossom is a conditional mana ritual and that's cool. Without any randomness, it's also got huge variance, ranging from producing 0 mana to 5. You've got to have permanents in play with at least two colors just to get non-negative mana fixing from it (not quite Manamorphose because you're down a card), but with three colors you've got a Pyretic Ritual and with four or five you're swimming in mana.

Would you play this in Khans of Tarkir Limited? Standard? Serious question.

Mana Capsule is… new Basalt Monolith. Pay {3} now to get extra mana next turn, but you have to pay again to reuse it. Getting two mana of any color seems vaguely comparable to getting three colorless; a little less abusable but much more usable. Honestly, you could sacrifice this instead of returning it and it would still be occasionally amazing, at least in Limited. Cast this on turn 3, and then play any Titan on turn 4? Yeah, I'd pay {3} and a card for that.

Actually, the best comparison is to Seething Song which also costs three and gets you two mana ahead. This doesn't require red to cast and fixes your colors and can be reused, at the cost of not accelerating you the same turn you cast it. Could this be a red enchantment instead?

The blue and green effects of Morning Dew are notably stronger than the white one. Whether a card is better than the counters depends more on your board state. Regardless, it's clear what each color is contributing to this gold card and that anyone who can cast it in Limited (reliably on t4 via Mana Capsule) would be ecstatic to. This is a huge effect for a card with a pretty tame name; experiencing some cognitive dissonance there.

High Tide is from Fallen Empires and I don't think blue's had anything similar since. Morning Dew is High Tide with rebound. I don't think this effect is in blue's color pie and if I were going to make an exception for nostalgia, I wouldn't power it up so drastically.

Prismatic Grass is a colorless Dewdrop Field that affects everyone. While symmetrical effects are less common today, they certainly happen and particularly on artifacts. Being rare doesn't hurt but that's a slippery slope.

My question is who would want this? We now players are willing to share extra mana to power out their own more massive spells via Heartbeat of Spring, but this effect is so much smaller that it's quite difficult to use it more effectively than your opponent. I imagine players who want acceleration will just play any mana stone, perhaps a Coldsteel Heart; and that players who want to share for someone reason will go big and run the new Mana Flare.

Prismgrass doesn't add any mana on its own. Even with another land, you still don't gross a single mana from it, just fixing ala Shimmering Grotto. But get to three land (this and any two other land) and suddenly this is producing three mana. That's... not okay. Lands that can produce 2 are dangerous despite their costs and conditions. Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx can produce way too much mana and it requires a huge dedication in deck-building as well as a board presence to do so. Prismgrass is basically conditionless. Play it on turn 3 and make a Fusion Elemental or Chromanticore.

The sacrifice is a significant cost, making this effectively a mana ritual in land-form, but you'll notice that the (still more broken) Black Lotus doesn't suffer too much from it, and the two cards actually have a lot in common.

I'd consider something like this:
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{4}, {T}: Add {W}{U}{B}{R}{G} to your mana pool.

Reaping Rainbow feels like a trap. It looks innocent enough; it doesn't even put you down a land. Then why are you playing it? If it got a land at random, it would be like a red Spreading Seas; cheaper, randomer and without card parity. But since you can choose, it doesn't really hurt a player's colors, unless they're playing five-color no-basics in some eternal format.

So is the purpose merely to tackle utility- and man-lands? It is a nice answer to Nykthos. Or is it for Johnny to break? Certainly does combo well with Mindlock Orb and friends. I'm okay with it having secret nefarious purposes as long they're not too abuseable and there's a relevant primary purpose in Standard and Limited.

If not for outlast, I'd have more trouble evaluating Slumbering Light. With that context, it's fairly clear that giving your creature a turn or two off to improve its morale is sometimes game changing and sometimes suicide. Effectively giving all your creatures outlast {0} is pretty good, though having to get them tapped on their own to start, like inspired, means they either have to survive an attack first, or have outlast already.

I'd remove "during your untap step." Extra words for less fun.

Guess it would have been confusing if they were 'ruddy,' 'suncast,' or 'twilit.' For a card that seems so top-down, I can't shake how much more sense it would make for the name and title to be 'night,' 'cloudy day,' or 'eclipse.' Mechanically, sure: Johnny hoser card. Would have been playable in Shadowmoor (though unfun). Perhaps awesome with whatever mechanic Ghostfire is leading to.

Huh. "[Type] are legendary" is rather interesting. Obviously does nothing in Commander, but that just makes World of Wonder a free City of Brass for the format that can afford such madness*. You could play this in Standard if your deck is just chock full of unique lands, which is less tricky in the five-color deck that benefits most from this. Wouldn't be hard to manage in certain eternal decks at all.

*Oh, right. It makes all your lands free City of Brasses. That might be a problem even in EDH. I like the downside, but I think the upside is just too high.

Can't help but imagine a quirky removal spell now:
Enchanted player's creatures are legendary.

Great stuff, Artisans. Some of you went pretty literal with the grass, and some went more poetic, both of which the art supported pretty well. Note that while I spend a fair bit of time pointing out power level and game balance concerns, it's because we designers need to predict potential problems and raise flags to make sure they get proper attention, not because we should be designing more conservatively. Keep pushing the envelope.


  1. World of Wonder makes your basics legendary, which is relevant in Commander. I can't imagine 2-color decks wanting it.

    1. Ah, yes. Failed to register that EDH decks play multiples of basics. Thanks.

  2. For what it's worth, the blue Morning Dew triggers on untap rather than tap. In all likelihood, that means it would only break things that were already broken.

    Also, Light Elemental wasn't meant as part of a cycle, just a fun stand-alone design. The alternate mana cost isn't equivalent to white + four hybrids because it's all or nothing-- meant to capture the flavor of light passing through a prism.

    1. Huh, I managed to miss that both on the original thread and on the render here. That makes it a oneoff burst of mana during your upkeep. Wacky. Good for casting big flash things like Jin-Gitaxias, I guess.

    2. Wow, missed that. Okay, so that's only a little better than High Tide, and only conditionally so. Or would be if it did anything at all. As written, it adds mana during your untap step when you can't use it, and that mana will drain before your upkeep step.

      That said, it seriously messes with player expectations, and so we can expect a lot of players to misread it as well.

    3. Not quite. Nothing goes on the stack during the untap step, because nobody gets priority then. All the triggers wait until upkeep, and then go on the stack (as well as the sacrifice trigger). So you can use the mana in upkeep, only.

      But yes, I agree, if several of us read it as "tapped" then many players will as well, which makes it too easily misinterpretable to be a sensible design.

    4. Yea I admit I got a little crazy with that design haha

  3. Prismgrass is indeed something like a Black Lotus on turn 3. However your proposed fix appears to be almost exactly Crystal Quarry, which was discussed on the card's thread (where Zach and Jules agreed with you that Crystal Quarry would be much more sensible).

    I always seem to get my submissions to these challenges in on Monday morning, which is after the renders happen. Need to try to get online sometime during the weekend to get in before the deadline!