Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Weekend Art Challenge Review 060515—quaz

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Design a card for this art with a converted mana cost between 8 and 12. Bonus points if it's awesome for Tesla or Zeffrikar. Bonus points if it doesn't need to be rare, but that's probably a trap.

Big Bang lets you reset the game with some permanents in play, like Karn Liberated's ultimate but with a huge land advantage instead of some killer creatures. That's cool. Very mythic. 10 mana seems about right for this effect, though it's hard to judge.

It's nice that we have room for reminder text, though I'm not sure the second line is terribly helpful here. I also have no idea why you'd ever target your opponent's lands, since this doesn't change who controls them. The "up to" also seems needless for a card that will usually require more than three lands to play.

Blood Moon turned up to 11! Well, 8 anyhow. Blood Eclipse turns every creature, artifact, planeswalker, and each other enchantment into a basic Mountain. Planning to win with a creature strategy? Not without enchantment removal. Planning to win with anything other than sorceries and instants? Good luck.

I love the design story this card tells, but I'm pretty sure this is too oppressive. It'll completely turn off a whole lot of decks, and ask your opponent to wait for you to draw your now-lethal Blaze. I'd suggest making it effect only the permanents in play when it lands, but that does hurt the parallel to Blood Moon.

I love this ability. A colorless Yawgmoth's Will is exciting, right? And limiting us to artifacts means you won't just be casting and re-casting Cruel Ultimatums until you win. Curiously, I don't feel like this effect belongs on an artifact, despite Crucible of Worlds. This seems like a blue or maybe white effect. Glad it's not indestructible. There are definitely some crazy things you can do with this. There were some methods to restrict infinite recursion suggested in the comments and it's likely one would prove necessary, but I'd happily start playtesting this in its pure form.

All is Dust is for fledgling cosmic terrors. The big interplanar horrors rock Day of Annihilation, upping the stakes by neutering all your opponent's lands and countering any death-triggers or reanimation effects they were counting on.

This card certainly doesn't justify Ruins, or land tokens in general, but if a set already had them, why not use them all? I mean, aside from most players not owning that many. Still, at {10} and killing your own Eldrazi and mana stones, I'm only worried about Day's power level if Standard has a good way to cheat it out. Particularly since it's easy to stockpile your basic lands in the end game while your annihilating opponent works up to casting this baddie.

Great, now I miss mana burn.

I'm going to pretend that End of Days' two abilities are printed in the opposite order shown here, because otherwise I'll be too distracted to review it. Even better, I'll imagine it's just one trigger and it all happens in your first main phase.

What imagery does the "end of days" evoke for you? Tons of resources to fuel your escalating conflict? A relentless shower of meteoric pain and torrential suffering? People panicking in the street? People forgoing meaningless conflict and just enjoying life as much as they can before they're snuffed out instantly? For me, I see all but the first, and that's what this card offers.

Mechanically, End of Days looks like a metric tonne of fun, and it likely will help bring the game to an end, and probably an epic one, so I think it's a success there; I just wouldn't give it this flavor.

I could've sworn there was an un-card like this. Turns out I was remembering Get Ahead.

So I obviously have some affinity for Event Horizon. But I also have immediate concerns with picking any format, because so many formats change the rules of the game or the setup in ways that can't be retconned mid-game. If I choose Commander and someone has two of the same common in their deck, do they lose, or does reality just collapse in on itself? Can I choose Archenemy, declare myself the villain and slam some schemes on the other three players? If only one winner comes out of a pair of head-to-head matches, can Wizards tournament software even handle that? If I choose a format where everyone draws from a single deck, do we shuffle all our decks together, or what?

I like the idea of a red wrath with a cost reduction mechanic that we see on other cards in the set. Thematically, pairing destruction with inspiration is neat, and this mechanical pairing works here only because of the cost reduction. Even so, I feel like Fiery Dawn is doing one too many things. I don't feel strongly about that, though, and could see a team happy to print this. At rare. Or mythic.

Herald the Apocalypse is basically a Plague Wind that costs less if your opponent controls 3+ creatures. You can cast it a bit earlier if you murder some of your own, like Blasphemous Act… that leaves some of your team untouched. I don't know how eager we are to make Hex look terrible, but I do enjoy the concept of blending these two haymakers. Completely broken in multiplayer.

Impact of the Worlds smashes players and their teams, hitting those with more lands the hardest. Awesome. This is a Magic card. Ship it.

I mean, it'll cause an unfortunate number of draws, and is a little hard to parse. But I really want to build a deck full of red rituals and mana rocks to make this awesome. Maybe some Path to Exiles or Collective Voyages just for fun.

Pay ten mana across five colors and for the rest of the game, all your lands are replaced with spells for free. Oh, and I guess the win you the game a little bit each. Landfall's definitely epic and exciting.

Generally, five-color cards either feel like something no color or color pair could do alone, or else have an element from each color. Landfall looks like it's doing the latter, but there are only four abilities and they don't line up with each color, unless you think Vindicate could be {R}{G}. We could replace that last ability with a red one and a green one and satisfy that aesthetic.

What I'd personally enjoy even more would be removing all the effects from the trigger except the card draw, so that Landfall just makes your lands completely free. That wouldn't be a ten-mana or five-color card, but it would be unique and compelling.

Moonforge lets you trade all your lands for huge creatures to crush your opponent with or all the pieces to your permanents-only instant win combo. Requiring lands to be sacrificed is very smart since it means players can't cheat Moonforge early to much effect. The downside is that it leaves you supremely vulnerable if you somehow don't win the game from the pile of huge cards you dropped on the table, which means players will really only use it as a final haymaker or desperate hail mary. That's not okay for five-mana uncommons, but is conceivable for eight-mana rares. Still makes me nervous.

Ow, my language processing center! Hang on, I can math my way out of this. 10-X, where X=10-CMC, so 10-(10-CMC), so CMC. Okay, we draw ten cards and choose a number of them to keep equal to the CMC of our most expensive creature. Got it. All it costs is eight mana and a B+ in Algebra 1.

Why not simply "Draw cards equal to the highest CMC among permanents you control?" When you're drawing that many cards, do you really need filtering? I will grant it makes a huge difference when you're behind and your biggest permanent is an Obelisk of Esper.

Somehow, I skipped the name and the card made little sense to me; but when I finally read the name it totally clicked. Epic. Part of what through me off was the presence of each color in a card that has a white effect and a green-ish effect. Thematically, I don't get the impression planeswalkers have an easier time traveling between realities when they identify with more colors, so the twobrid isn't doing much for me either. I'd make this colorless ({8}?), since it transcends colored magic. That then explains the connection between Eldrazi and colorlessness.

We have a new winner for biggest landfall bonus. By a factor of about 100. While I don't quite buy that a single land play would turn this giant spell into a massive super-spell, I do love the grand scales at work here. Why does Planetfall set up a repeatable trigger for the rest of the turn rather than check for an earlier land play like Searing Blaze and friends? That does mean you need 11 mana to 'kick' this, but it also means you can double-kick it for 12 (given a Rampant Growth or Harrow) or more, which is made even weirder by the fact that each of those kicks ignore the original target. (In practice, that weirdness doesn't matter because you've just won the game, dealing 20 to every opponent's dome, but aesthetics always matter.)

What about "Planetfall deals 10 damage to target c/p/o. If you control 10 or more lands, it deals that much damage to each c/p/o"?

"The first time a player would draw a card each turn, instead look at that player's library and choose a nonland card from it..." Mostly that's just templating, but at the point we're choosing what our opponent draws each round after casting an eight-drop, why worry about them not having enough land? It's like shivving someone and then taking them to the hospital. "Hang in there, buddy, if you die now, I won't get to shiv you again tomorrow!"

Transcendent Syzygy is the ultimate fate seal card. Whether it's fair or not, I can't imagine having fun sitting across from this.

Anybody else notice how multicolor/hybrid blue cards just become monoblue at a 8+ mana. Looking at you, Omniscience.

That horse changed streams hard. First we set the first two things to 5, and then we switched to subtracting 5? Why not "exile all but 5 creature, all but 5 lands, and all but 5 other permanents" or if that's too much stuff, "exile all but 5 permanents"?

Other than that inconsistency—and it's entirely arguable the card is more fun as written—When Worlds Collide is a big splashy new Balance. We've been waiting a long time for that and I think players will be glad to see it. I have no idea what makes it blue (but black, red, and green are somewhat justifiable). I feel like this would be another good candidate for totally colorless (if monowhite doesn't fly).

The multiplanar effect isn't an unreasonable rider for a giant mythic, but I seriously doubt it's keywordable. It'll never save us space, because we always have to write it out, because it never appears below rare. We'll never need to reference "cards with multiplanar."

World Ablaze is slightly less powerful than an enchantment with "At the beginning of each opponent's upkeep, each land he or she controls deals 1 damage to him or her" (so, it's still a terrifying, 'epic' Lava Axe), but it's also got awesome flavor and a nostalgic callback. I can dig it.

*catches breath*

What an epic challenge. I have a better appreciation for how hard it is to judge giant spells and mythic rares. Everyone knows how much a 2/3 costs. How do you price any of the above?! We can leave that fine point to Dev, but we still have to find spells that are exciting to read, fun to play, and worth the effort, without being boring auto-win cards or frustrating inevitable victories. Good job, artisans; Well stomped.

Thanks to Zefferal for rendering the cards.


  1. I don't understand your comment about land in Transcendent Syzygy. It is intended to be nice to your opponent that you can't give them a land (which is what you always fatesealed to the top anyway).

    1. I don't expect it's worth the added wording/complexity to let your target choose land.

    2. Oh I see, my submitted version didn't involve choosing land or non-land, that was discussed in the comments, so I was confused, as I decided not to include that extra text.

    3. But there was a lot of back and forth discussion about it. I could imagine that if this got oppressive with people using land destruction stuff or show and tell stuff being able to insist on a land would be reasonable. It does add a lot of words to the card.

    4. (I should clarify this definitely isn't a complaint about the wonderful people who do the renders, I was just confused!)

  2. Your proposed rewording of Planetfall is kinda horrible. A 10-mana spell that says "Do something. If you control 10 or more lands, do something much bigger and different"? I agree there's an aesthetic quibble with the current wording, but there's another different quibble with your rewording.

    It was delightful to read this huge set of epic spells, I definitely agree :)

    1. What's the quibble? Most players don't expect to pay for a ten-mana spell with ten-land, so doing that is an accomplishment.

  3. I was too busy this weekend writing up an Evergreen Keyword Prediction post on Facebook (which nobody read) to complete the challenge, but I did have an idea all mapped out:

    Living Planet 6GGWW
    Exile all creatures, then put a */* colorless Planetoid creature token with "all creatures able to block this creature do so." Its power is equal to the total power of the exiled cards and its toughness is equal to their total toughness.
    "Some wizards summon beasts to the fight for them. I summon ecosystems."

    1. Hmm, Phyrexian Rebirth but more so. A little variable, but likely to be "win the game in 1-2 turns" - which is reasonable for a 10-mana sorcery.

      Actually, you know what? I'd rather see this as the ultimate on a planeswalker. Might have to be a pretty unusual planeswalker though.

    2. I could see it for a BG Garruk.

    3. It would be an awesome ultimate, but I fear it's too wordy. Tamiyo's evil twin would totally summon a killer moon to demolish her opponent.