Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Weekend Art Challenge Review 071015—Jon Hodgson

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Design a card for this art. If you require further parameters, make a mono-black common whose name falls alphabetically between Nefarious Criminal and Opulence.

Baleful Barrow is The Abyss deified. That is, it's an enchantment that can become a creature like one of the Theros gods. Notably dissimilar, though, Barrow can and eventually will fulfill it's own condition. Vengeful Caomhnoir continues to murder the board after the transformation occurs and then it tries to murder your opponent 6 life at a time. 3 toughness feels awfully vulnerable, but menace combined with the repeated sacrifices will make it quite hard to block. Neat. My only real note is it's unfortunate that two Caomhnoirs will kill each other.

Barrow Guardian is doing some neat things, but it's not doing the reader many favors. The second ability should definitely come first. Should the first ability care about graveyard cards being exiled or shuffled into your library, instead of just being resurrected? The flavor explains that choice pretty well, but no one would question the flavor if it only tracked reanimation. Is the goal to make a Johnny-Melvin card? This is justifiable, but there is a comprehension cost.

Compare Barrow Guardian to Haakon, Stromgald Scourge. Guardian is easier to get into your graveyard, but harder to get out, which is fine. But Haakon expresses its whole cast-from-gy shtick in half the space and more directly.

Based on the "loses defender" clause, I'm going to guess this ability is meant to trigger at the beginning of your attack step, but that's the kind of omission that isn't just "shrug: templating"—we need to know that sort of thing to evaluate the core design. Cairn-Tomb Guardian would be a pretty poor defender without this vengeance ability, but permanently growing each time definitely makes a difference.

It's curious that it cares whether your opponent still controls the offending creature, rather than simply asking if you'd been damaged in combat last turn. Is it important that she can sacrifice the creature(s) that got through to prevent you from swinging back?

Fatal Robbery is a conditional Gild. It costs less and might net you several gold tokens (which is stronger than it sounds), but is restricted to only hitting creatures with +1/+1, -1/-1, or weirder counters. The story that you're stealing what a creature has--and using counters to represent that wealth--is neat, though it's certainly strange that you don't care what the tokens are at all. Assuming Robbery is printed in a typical set, the vast majority of the counters will be +1/+1, but even so, this card goes out of its way to specify that any counter will do, so we'll see some strange flavor interactions outside the set. Then again, cross-block flavor interactions are often pretty strange, and opening up uses in Modern is more fun. If you survive to cast it, sure seems relevant against Arcbound Ravager. Definitely uncommon if not rare.

Ghastly Vengeance could be white or black or hybrid, since both colors enjoy punishing those who hurt them, and both care about your creatures dying (though for different reasons). Mechanically, it's kind of funny that Vengeance's 'additional cost' is smaller than Armored Skaab's, though the flavor doesn't require exiling the ghost. Dev might want to upgrade that cost, or trade it for +{1}, but overall this is neat black common.

Great reprint. Very appropriate for modern power levels among common removal.

Guard the Tomb is an instant-speed Zombify, allowing you to raise the dead in response to an attack and hopefully kill an attacking creature. Zombify effects are uncommon (because casting a creature without paying its mana cost is always dangerous), and this 2-for-1 version should be no exception, but otherwise this seems flawless.

I'm amused that Henge Geist's second ability would make no sense without flash or haste. Instant River Kaijin that usually kills an attacker seems like a solid uncommon (though if it's too strong, it's mere existence can discourage attacking, which isn't great). I don't get why it's green, though: Mechanically, sure: Green can deathtouch. But so can black, and this card's concept is pretty clearly black and not at all green.

Note that if Geist had permanent deathtouch, it would definitely need to cost more as a 1/4 with flash. That would be brutal, and so the choice to limit that was clever.

For +{B}, Rotfeaster Maggot gets to kill a creature. Your target is limited by your graveyard, but by the time you get to six mana, it seems pretty likely you'll have enough creatures to hit something relevant (and if not, you're already winning or never had a chance). For that reason, I'd make Nether Sentinel uncommon (or 2/3 or 1/5 maybe). Otherwise, very cool.

Nihilistic Edict is more likely to hit one of your opponent's more distressing creatures than Cruel Edict, you just have to be careful not to have anything big enough to suffer its symmetry. Not a slam-dunk for the art, but looks great otherwise. I could see this in a set with a p3+ theme or all on its own (like Elemental Bond). Bonus.

{3}{B}{B} Murder plus trinket text is becoming the new standard for Limited removal and I couldn't be happier about it. No One Will Escape is a solid iteration here. Killing something worth killing after it hits you is a steep cost, but when you actually care whether that something is destroyed or exiled, it's a cost you'll be willing to pay (provided that hit won't kill you). Certainly, NOWE belongs to a set with quite a few such creatures (like Shadowevenmoor or Darker Ascension). Bonus.

Textiness is only one of the reasons Nemesis Trap is uncommon. Complexity-wise, Nocturnal Spirit could be common, but removal that consistently 2-for-1's never is. At least not more efficiently than Boulderfall. And not where it punishes attacking. Still, this is a lovely design and would make a sweet uncommon.

Any time we see a sorcery/instant that makes a single token, we should consider the question, "should this be a creature with an ETB effect?" Given the card name, I think the answer here is 'yes.'

Assassinate gets a damage rider. Seems legit. Oathbreaker's Curse likely could be a {2}{B}{B} common, though it'll define Limited at that price. Again, though, I'd worry about scaring players off attacking when this is too efficient. Bonus.

Would it feel more natural if this had the creature deal its power in damage to its controller?

So... "Destroy target creature. If its power is 0, get a Typhoid Rats?" I'm not loving how sideways this card is. Asking players to fetch a token you entirely expect to die immediately seems disingenuous. That said, the story's cool, and I'm sure players won't actually bother fishing the token out. I'm curious to hear what others think of Oathbreaker's Due. Bonus.

Occult Treasure must be an instant, since you'd need to cast it in response to an opponent trying to put +1/+1 counters on their creature. The larger issue is that WotC haven't used both types of counters together for 10 years or so; players have to track what each counter is when there's more than one type of counter that can be on a given type of permanent, and that's not exactly a strength of glass beads or dice. "That creature gets -1/-1 until EOT instead" will still ruin your opponent's turn and kill a creature or two. Speaking of which, Occult Treasure doesn't need the cantrip because when it does what it's supposed to, it does plenty. Cycling would more appropriate. Bonus.

Old frame? Templating that hasn't been used for 20 years? Repeatable removal at common? Methinks we've got ourselves a throwback for comedic value on our hands. Adorbs.

With serious templating, Odious Fate could be a rare in a modern set: It always costs a creature, and it only returns when you sack your last creature, so in order to keep it coming back, you have to ensure you always have one creature in play. That's generally no small feat, though cards like Savage Conception and Necromancer's Stockpile might help there.

Odium is a big upgrade to Assassinate (which is a bit anemic). Killing the creature before combat ends means you take no damage. It's also strictly worse than Murder (which is a bit too strong for common), so there could be a set where Odium is just right. It certainly compares reasonably with Rebuke and Swift Reckoning. I could also see it at {3}{B} and that would still be good for Limited. Simple, good name, fun flavor text. Nice work! Bonus.

Ominous Barrow-Wight loves equipment and will kill to get it. It's a Murderous Spoils with a 2/2 body, though it excludes unequipped targets rather than non-black targets. Generally, that's a much larger restriction, but when your full-value play is a 4-for-1, you really want to be targeting equipped creatures anyhow. Uncommon is definitely the right rarity here. The card is doing enough, I'm not sure we need the 2/2 body as well; certainly I expected it to equip itself. Maybe if it did that without stealing control of the equipment, we'd have a less swingy card (but trickier to use).

Retribution of the Lost certainly feels like a white card, and it's almost surprising we haven't seen it before. Avenging Arrow comes close, I suppose. This could cost about {2} less, but nice design.

Via unleash, Vengeful Ghost is either a Squire or Shambling Ghoul-ish. But it comes back. It might come back many times. But there is a real cost to that recursion and that's my favorite part of this design. It's flavorful but also a much more strategically interesting recursion trigger than most. That ability is cool enough I don't think we need unleash, but it doesn't hurt the design either. Very cool.

There's so much awesome on this page right now. I intentionally opened up the requirements so this would be an 'easy' challenge, to give us a break from the norm. I'd love to hear how many of you felt that allowed you to design something better, and how many didn't. Maybe the art was more conducive, and/or you all just had great removal/Spirit designs waiting to show forth.

Thanks to Jenesis for rendering the cards. A+


  1. Just FYI, you can never cast anything against Arcbound Ravager because they will sacrifice it in response. Definitely agree it is really an Uncommon outside of a strange set.

  2. I wanted the Wight to attach the equipment to itself but thought, "Gain control of any attached equipment and attach it to Ominous Barrow-Wight" is both wordier and way more powerful. I think I'm still reasonably happy with the way the card is right now, since it has more a "taking back stolen treasures" vibe to the art. That involves more of a permanent stealing. Temp stealing equipment feels more red to me, and not exchanging control means they'd be able to get their dohicky back with open mana.

    I'm willing to believe that it'd be more worthwhile to just straight reprint Murderous Spoils for this effect.

  3. nawww my card didn't get rendered


  4. Thank you for a bit more simple chalange. I loved it :D

  5. If you like the art featured, you can buy prints here: