Monday, September 21, 2015

Weekend Art Challenge Review 091815—NightsongWS

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Design a card for this illustration. Bonus points for telling a story.

Remember that you can click to see an image at full-size, and shift-click to open it in a new window.

Cursed Mirror is the ultimate mirror match trump. Any deck with more than a handful of creatures can sideboard this to dominate whenever it's paired up against its clone. Clone, btw, being the proactive way to enjoy this card. At {2} I'm concerned this becomes a sideboard staple in far too many Modern and Standard decks, but that dev concern aside, this is a very neat design and I love that it tells you what it's mechanical purpose… in a thematic way.

Fae Queen's Realm re-introduces the world enchantments of early Magic. In the same way legends don't have reminder text how their supertype works (and that fact has enabled it to change with the times), I wouldn't try to apply reminder text to worlds; I'd explain how they work in Tips & Tricks cards, and on the explainers that come with any preconstructed decks including worlds.

Tangential but: I might also simplify their function to "When a world ETB, all other worlds are destroyed." Not the same result for Warp World, but that's not a real cost.

Fae Queen's Realm gives you a faerie whenever your opponents summon a creature, and doesn't cost you anything to summon your faeries. You can also play it in a deck with any faerie spells because even though you and your opponent(s) are giving each other free creatures, none of them can attack you. I love how this works in multiplayer and how a non-faerie player might want to play it, but I worry that it's too strong in the dedicated faerie deck. That's a wide spectrum for one card to try to contain.

Mirror Image is a Duplicant that matches—no, mirrors—its victim's p/t. It also returns the original if you kill it, which is what makes it white, despite being a shapeshifter. I'd personally make this blue-white since in addition to p/t matching, it's also doing p/t switching. It's also hard to justify a mono-white card with such a duplicitous and cruel flavor. Very cool. And creepy.

Zeno and I are guessing this is a rare sorcery, but neither type nor rarity were specified.

Mirror of Betrayal gives your opponent a choice for each of her creatures: Either you get a copy or they lose theirs. For any given creature, that choice might be easy or interesting, though I worry the matrix of possible choices on a large board might be very complex indeed. Even so, I love this effect. It's a pick-your-poison that's very thematic of an evil mirror. Could probably be {4}{U}{B}.

Turns out the Mirror of Delusion is deluding you, the player, into thinking the first line matters. Once you figure out that it doesn't, what you've got is a Mind Control generator. Well, Hypnotic Trance, actually. That's pretty terrifying. Especially if you target your own non-legendary creature with a cumulative static/triggered effect… like Doomwake Giant. No rarity given; I'd assume mythic. And I'd still want it to cost more in some way.

Quick aside about order of presentation. By putting the downside first, you're warning the player that there are limitations to the upside, but that's a lot like selling a card by starting with the high price or bad gas mileage. More importantly, the first line is making a forward reference to something the player doesn't know what is—shard counters—or how the mirror might get them. If we put the last line first, however, we see the card's purpose first, suffer no forward references, and we also describe the things the card does in the order that the card does them.

I'm not sure if "at any time" is meant to be 'whenever' (in which case you could theoretically get 4+ uses out of the mirror if your opponent is foolish enough to respond to the third) or an unnecessarily state-based effect. The better template is to add that check to the end of the primary trigger: "Whenever opp casts, copy, and add a counter. If 3+, exile."

As for the actual design, Mirror of Finite Reflections makes you copy your opponents' next three instants/sorceries. It's possible to de-fruit that with spells like Day of Judgment and so the lack of a 'may' is a relevant drawback, but generally getting to cast three spells for no mana or cards (past Mirror's {5} and 1) is going to be pretty good. Three is a lot, though, and some opponents will simply elect not to cast any more sorceries/instants at all, which is a lot less fun for everybody. If the Mirror instead copied spells some unpredictably amount of the time, it could do so indefinitely.

Mirror of Luck is a misnomer. There's no luck involved. Unless your opponent can deal n-1 damage and then follow it up with n+1 all in one turn, the Mirror will trigger and you'll get to steal all their attackers or copy their life. That's a solid proposition (though not one I'd pay {7} for at mythic). What I'm not clear on is why you choose what the mirror does. It would tell a more cohesive story if it just did one or the other (or even both). Stealing their creatures is more interesting than adjusting life totals, but it could be a big life swing, and both force your opponent to carefully consider their attacks.

Cards with 9 lines of rules text don't get flavor text… and shouldn't need it.

Mirrored Essence is simple and evocative. It's also an effect I've wanted to see, and saved you all an upcoming CCDD. Reuben's template is clearer but mine is more succinct. Preferences?

Mirrorfiend is a Duplicant combined with Infinite Reflection. At first I thought it odd that this shapeshifter allowed your other creatures to copy the imprisoned creature but didn't copy that itself. Of course, it can, but I was thrown off (in part) by it having a power and toughness of its own. It's enough that Mirrorfiend turns all your creatures into Clones, you don't need to innovate on shapeshifters by giving players a reason not to clone with it. Nice mythic variant.

Portal of the Solitary delays some creatures from entering play, potentially for the entire game, though likely not. I have no idea how abusable that is, or even how to abuse it. It's unique, though, and suggests some kind of mirror-based reverse-purgatory (reverse in that it's where creatures go before they're born rather than after they die). I imagine your opponent would only play an affected creature when they had no better use for their mana, but I suspect Portal will be used on your own creatures for some more nefarious reason. I'm curious if folks can identify solid or broken uses for this.

The colors joke is well done. I'm aware that there's cleverness behind the convoke too, but I'm not getting it right now (but I am getting a cold). Functionally, this would be pretty sweet removal in a gold set.

Touch of the Nemesis seems like it could kill an opponent in two or three turns in an awful lot of Limited games (and quite a few Constructed games). "Nice Craw Wurm. No sacrifice effects? Too bad, I've got a couple chump-blockers right here." I think you could make this a one-time sorcery and still be sideboard-able. As a repeated effect, it's too strong for this price+rarity. Strength aside, I like the flavor. I'd like it even more if the name suggested self-doubt or narcissism.

Good stuff, artisans. It was interesting to see how many mythic designs came through. I wonder if that was inspired by seeing other designer's rare designs, or if the art naturally gravitated that way; Mirrors don't come up often in Magic, so it makes sense that when they do, they'll be special.

Thanks to Zeno Rage for rendering the cards.


  1. Fae Queen's Realm would be so much more readable if it wasn't saddled with the world enchantment rules.

    "but that's a lot like selling a card by starting with the high price or bad gas mileage" Don't worry, Jay, I make this typo all the time.

    I love Changeling Adoption. There's no way in hell "gain control of target spell" is uncommon, though.

    Infuriating Internet meme aside, how does "remedy or compensation for a wrong or grievance" describe...a black kill spell?

  2. Cursed Mirror by Jack (cartesiandaemon)
    Its mana cost reminds me of Graffdigger's Cage, Stony Silence, and other hyper narrow Modern sideboard cards. From that perspective, I like it a lot. It's also very fair, because it requires you to draw and cast the right creatures. Fair, unless Chord of Calling or a similar effect decides to get involved.

    Fae Queen's Realm by me
    I was so wrapped up in talking about how to template World's reminder text, it never occurred to me to just leave it off. Great idea. I agree that the card is very powerful in a Faeries deck, but it is a 4-color spell, so it should be, right? And anyway, every opponent will have a way to remove it from play, freeing their Faerie tokens to attack you, if they include World Enchantments in their deck. I didn't think there could be non- legends in a Commander set at mythic, from a marketing standpoint, but if so, this would be better as a mythic.

    Mirror Image by James Bartolotti
    Templating nitpick: because it's a 0/0, this should have an "As CARDNAME enters the battlefield" effect like Dracoplasm, not an "When CARDNAME enters the battlefield" effect like Duplicant. Anyway, this is a cool idea. Exiling the creature harms that evil reflection feel, because there's nothing left to reflect, but the complexity and gameplay are perfect for an Uncommon.

    1. Why is FQR four-color?

      Since worlds are like the legends of enchantments, Commander should allow worlds to be commanders.

    2. That's a better reason than what I would have said. I mostly feel the trick to 4-color cards is that you make them powerful, but narrow cards. They have to reward you for committing to 4 colors, but work better in 4 colors than they would in 5. FQR is powerful, but there's not any reason to put it in a WUBRG deck, because Red doesn't have any Faeries. (Faeries are mostly U and B, but there are some older G ones that could be reprinted, and some multicolor WU ones.)

  3. Mirror of Betrayal by Lompe Luiten
    This is a very big effect. And there are going to be a lot of tokens to track once it's been cast. I like the “choose your doom” style of effect, but think it could be implemented differently. It could be an artifact or enchantment that makes your opponent choose one creature's fate every turn. It could be an X spell that only targets X creatures. There are a lot of ways to go. I think a cleaner, more balanced version of Mirror of Betrayal is possible.

    Mirror of Delusion by Amuseum
    I would like this card more if it could only target your creatures. That way you are creating duplicates that can go off and fight, while your original creature is safe at home. Or if it could only target your opponent's creatures, creating narrow removal with an upside. I don't think it should be able to do both, and I don't think it should be able to duplicate more than one creature at a time.

    Mirror of Finite Reflections by Mike George
    This has a great effect. It's limited to only copying Instants and Sorceries, so it's not overly oppressive. Your opponent can still play around it. I like that it exiles itself to prevent graveyard recursion. I wonder if it needs to cost 5 though. Once it's on the battlefield, your opponent has total control over it doing anything. It could cost less, I bet.

    Mirror of Luck by Czynski
    I don't know if "countdown to losing half the life I had when I cast this" is the most compelling gameplay. As Jay pointed out, there's no luck there. And after you've set the number, you have to remove counters each combat; it's overly fiddley. I think the set up and payoffs are fun, but the middle part is where I would work on it. You could do, "At end of combat, if you lost life this combat equal to the number of mirror counters on CARDNAME, EFFECT."

  4. Mirrored Essence by Reuben Covington
    Is it intentional that you get the token even if the creature spell isn't countered? I target your Dragonlord Dromoka and we each end up with a copy of her? Aside from keeping track of the token, this is a fun card. Tracking the token might be easier if it exiles the creature spell, but then it's an even more complex effect.

    Changeling Adoption by Jay Treat
    The flavor text is strong for this submission. And you were obviously fearless about using Changeling in the name of a card that doesn't have the changeling keyword. While this plays very similarly to Mirrored Essence, having the card on the battlefield under your control as a result just seems much cleaner. Blue is able to gain control of spells, so it's great solution. At uncommon, I expect a less powerful version of the effect, like "Gain control of target creature spell unless its controller pays 1."

    Mirrorfiend by Aura
    This can't enter the battlefield as a copy of the exiled creature unless the first effect is "As CARDNAME enters the battlefield." Otherwise, it would already be on the battlefield and couldn't enter the battlefield as a copy. I think this design could be blue, black and red, or blue, black and white, because of the way it goes wide with making copies. Anyway, I like the idea and expect mana cost, and/or power and toughness to get tweaked before it's ready for print.

  5. Portal of the Solitary by Zeno Rage
    Cast Siege Rhino, drain you for 3. Because they travel in packs, cast my 2nd Siege Rhino, drain you for 3. If you kill my first Siege Rhino, the 2nd one enters the battlefield, drain you for 3 more. Meanwhile, I'm just searching for Rhino #3. The symmetrical part of this card is very easy to break during deck construction. 4 mana seems really cheap for its power level, but I could be wrong.

    Redress by Pasteur
    I don't get the joke of Convoke either, but hey, at least I knew this was based on a meme. I know it's a subset of black's creature removal, so it CAN do it, but between Renounce the Guilds and Radiant Purge, I like white destroying multicolored creatures more. Very nice flavor text.

    Touch of the Nemsis by lpaulsen
    The effect isn't very balanced between the colors it's hosing. Green's creatures are so much bigger than white's. I like the idea, and the trigger is good, but what if it punished them for something both colors did? Like, what about, "At the beginning of your upkeep, enchanted creature's controller loses 1 life for each creature he or she controls."

  6. Mirrorfiend needs to say non-token for the same reason that infinite reflection does, as written it's an infinite combo with any creature that makes a token.

  7. I greatly prefer "Gain control of target creature spell" (a la Commandeer) to "Counter it and make a token copy". Though it should probably be "Counter it. If it's countered, put it OTB under your control" (as in Desertion).