Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Weekend Art Challenge Review 080715—Unused Origins Art

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Choose one of the above illustrations. Design a supplemental card for Magic Origins that tells the planeswalker story illustrated.

Baral has a sort of evoke-flash ala Armor of Thorns. So you can either have a sorcery-speed 3/3 for three that kills a small tapped creature, or you can have an instant that kills a small tapped creature. There's really neat design in using that timing mode on a creature with a trigger like this. It's kind of frustrating that you're better off just playing this on your turn so your opponent can't safely attack their 2 power creature into your 3/3. It's very cool that Baral can answer a Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh before she transforms, I'm just not sure that great story is worth the awkwardness in all other situations. I'd suggest the cost of flashing be the ETB effect rather than the body, so that you have two slightly different angles toward getting your 2-for-1. I actually like Baral failing to kill Chandra because that's how the story goes. As Jenesis points out, this is awfully similar to Hixus, Prison Warden.

Blessing is a solid reprint for a core set (despite encroaching on Looming Shade) and great for this art.

Master Warcraft for a single creature? What a lovely uncommon. And I think Bully fits the art/story here pretty well. The template definitely wouldn't use "attack target," but we get the idea.

Chandra's Sorrow dips lightly into black mechanics here, but it tells her story well and in a very red way. I'm in favor of illustrating more emotions on red cards and I think violent grieving is perfect here. Harvest Pyre isn't that far off anyhow. I sort of wish this had morbid—that you couldn't cast it five turns after the target died—but I like the aggressive gameplay this execution rewards. Should it count power or CMC?

Fiery Brawl can grant +3/+0 whether you have a target you want to fight or not. You do hope to be able to fight as well, of course, though Brawl isn't helping you survive like Wild Instincts. As an instant, you can sneak through 3 more damage when unblocked, or you can respond to removal to take out almost anything your opponent has. It's strictly better than Swift Kick in three ways; it's probably printable like that, but would have a significant impact on Origins as a common that can kill your last blocker and also Lava Spike you.

Friendhip's Call lets you tutor for and free-cast any creature that matches the current stats of one you already control, so long as it's not the same creature. That's not quite as weird as Gilt-Leaf Winnower, so I guess it gets a pass there. It's definitely neat to imagine Titanic Growth on Dwynen's Elite to get a turn 5 Skysnare Spider, though I do suspect this is more dangerous than Clone in its ability to shortcut costs toward creatures with low stats but absurd abilities.

Generally we want to avoid cards which make something unanswerable and yet are unanswerable themselves, but five mana legendary mythic auras have got to do something unreasonable, right? I like the cone-of-white-effects idea a lot, though I'd rather see it on a sorcery where it won't complicate the board every single turn. It's also thematically a bit odd that Heliod is giving Kytheon the ability to recruit and train others, rather than making him mighty on his own, but I guess it's more of a leadership boon than a champion boon.

Jace's Ignition helps you remember your past, will often draw you 3-5 cards and could potentially draw you many more if you build around it. That seems like a pretty exciting blue card and thematically fits the Jace/Alhammarret story in a general sense. It does bother me that this contradicts the story (where Jace loses all his memories… although I suppose you could argue that's exactly what this flavor is?) and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy transformation trigger.

Josu isn't particularly big but he is impossible to put to rest. I feel like that represents the character well, even while making a card black aggro decks (as well as sacrifice-combo decks) would be happy to play. The delayed trigger limits how often you can sacrifice it, and the ETBT clause keeps you from attacking with it, recurring it, and blocking it with it in the same round. The life loss also limits how often you want to sack it or chump with it, while expressing Josu's inhuman rage.

Ashmouth Hound and menace is a combo, but Ashmouth Hound and flash is not (because it's too late to trigger after blocks). Flash and menace is a worse nonbo because it suggests the opposite of the truth (whether giving a creature menace after blockers are declared can affect blocking). While flash supports the story, it's not necessary to convey it. Menace doesn't seem to support the story at all. Maybe just: "Whenever enchanted creature becomes blocked, Latent Pyromancy deals 2 damage to each creature blocking it" or "Instant: Target creature deals 3 damage to each creature blocking it?"

Necromancer's Awakening tells a neat story, and a very black one. It's not specifically part of Lili's that I can see, but certainly fits her generally. Mechanically, though, it'll be very hard to profit from casting. You can upgrade a bunch of 1/1 tokens to 2/2, but a simple Glorious Anthem would do that better. It does combo with zombie lords, though. Even better would be "Sacrifice any number of creatures" so that you can keep the ones you don't want to be 2/2 vanillas. Could this cost {B}{B}?

It's a bit odd to get another blue entry into the Gifts Ungiven, Realms Uncharted mega-cycle but Plots Forgotten does fit mechanically. It might be decent as the red member, but the name and art certainly want to be blue. It conveys the Jace-Alhammaret story pretty well, and enables spell mastery all by itself, which makes it the submission that most (clearly) serves a distinct gameplay purpose for Origins.

Quickfire is a Swift Kick upgraded to be one-sided like Tail Slash. That's a significant upgrade; Like Fiery Brawl, I don't think it would be broken but it would be a much higher draft-pick, and would notably affect Limited play at common. Making it double-red limits other colors splashing for it, which is always good for strong removal. Good story.

See Life's Fate is sort of a modern Avoid Fate. White gets Flicker effects, but you could argue this is just a different regeneration (better for 187 creatures, worse for enchanted ones, and it also counters Regress). Drawing cards equal to its power will likely draw you 3-5 cards, which is quite a lot since you also just saved your best creature. Effectively, we've swapped Momentous Fall from sacrificing a creature to saving a dying one, but I think Soul's Majesty shows that shift needs to cost something. I think the story is about planeswalking to safety and learning from the process, which fits the set very well, even if it isn't unique to Nissa at all.


The Raven Man from Liliana's story is indeed intriguing, and I was disappointed not to see anything about him in card form, but adding a sixth planeswalker in a set all about our five main planeswalkers muddies the story and dilutes the specialness of those marquee cards. Ignoring that, he certainly feels like a special character. You can't earn more loyalty from him, but your opponent can't be permanently rid of him either. I do imagine him turning into a flock of ravens and scattering whenever you kill him, and that's cool. I don't know that the character wants to be blue in addition to black, but this card does a good job of feeling both blue and black.

How many of you read all the origin story Arcanas? I'd guess all or all but one, which is interesting. Is it that as designers we're invested in Magic enough to read everything we can, or that we all meet a certain threshold of Vorthos-ness by chance?

I really enjoyed reviewing this challenge because you produced so much wonderful top-down goodness here, as well as some pretty neat cards in their own right. Thanks again to Ben for the idea and for gathering all the art.

Thanks to Reuben for rendering the cards. Especially given all the different art this week.

1 comment:

  1. There's a lot less discussion to be had with these sorts of top down designs. Each design just sort of is what it is, I guess. I will say that I'm bummed we had double ups on art. Each piece is really great and could conjure a solid top down design.