Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Weekend Art Challenge Review 092515—ironshod

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Design an uncommon enchantment or sorcery card for this illustration. Bonus points for expressing 'punk' and/or 'kinship' (not the keyword). 

Celise Dragontamer is neither uncommon nor an enchantment/sorcery, but it does express kinship well. This faerie comes with a tiny dragon hatchling that grows up real fast if its surrogate mother dies. We've got a sort of evolution on Rukh Egg and Dragon Egg here: Dragontamer is much stronger at face-value, giving us four power for {3}, three of it flying, but it's also possible to get nothing from the faerie's death if the 1/1 dragon dies first (or simultaneously). Rare is definitely apt.

Coat of Wings is Favorable Winds meets Coat of Arms. Keyword-alike is the new tribal and it's always cool to see a card express a common phrase like "birds of a feather flock together." The kinship is obvious here and the effect alluring. I imagine it might need to cost more, but I like it in white (or white-blue) and with two colored mana in its cost.

Collaborate allows you to keep a creature back but still hit your opponent, as long as you can get any of your other creatures through. Alternately, it gives a vigilant creature conditional double strike. That's really interesting (as evidenced by how much I've written about variations of escort). I'm not sure it's red. Black would be my instinct, if we renamed it.

What a white way to support dragon tribal! Dragonfriend lets your dragons protect you from harm, even while they're off razing distant villages. It's a unusual kind of card, to be sure, but I love seeing spell effects that show what colors can do apart from brawling and warring.

Cross-player keyword-tribal: whoa. My first instinct is to save this double innovation for after we've done each of the individual parts on their own, but that only works if this card is printable: "Creatures can't block other creatures that share a creature type." Regardless, it's neat to see [a form of] tribal mattering between two players. Since it's symmetrical and conditional, Find Common Ground could probably cost just {W}. I also might list any keyword first except flying, since flying is already an evasion ability and the card starts out sounding like it cares about high-flying/reach when it's true angle is quite different.

Forbidden Love is a smaller, less confusing, reverse Dead Ringers. Given how conditional the targeting is, I'm not sure we also need to cede the choice to our opponent. Maybe "destroy target creature that shares no color or creature types with other creatures its controller controls?" Gah, nevermind. I hate that flow of words, and that effect tells a completely different story. The better comparison is Cruel Edict. Forbidden Love lets you narrow down the sacrifice choice to two creatures, but also sometimes can't be cast at all. Not sure what's white about this spell.

Kaalia's Calling is a big three-color charm that lets you get one of three large flying creatures associated with white, black and red, depending on how much you need life right now. That's pretty cool, I must say. I'm not sensing any kinship here, but maybe a touch of punk? It bothers me that the dragon gets haste; not only does that break the pattern, but it also makes the middle option much stronger than the other two in a vacuum.

Maternal Instinct protects all but one of your creatures and that creature has to survive for the protection to last. On something like Troll Ascetic, that could be quite good. On a lot of things, it seems to be begging to get 2-for-1'd. Except the last ability regenerates the enchanted creature as well, though, so you're usually only risking your aura. Seems legit. I might add a small mana cost to that ability so there can be shields-down moments.

"Come over and fight with me, buddy!" Now that's kinship.

Peer Pressure is an Act of Treason with targeting restrictions but that untaps and gives haste to two of your (new) army instead of one. For a keywords-matter set, that's a very cool variant. I'm not sure we need menace too—I'm worried it combos too well with removing one of their blockers and gaining an attacker.

Rebellious Streak explores the punk sensibility, giving you a repeating conditional Act of Treason. It's a nice iteration on Treacherous Impulses, simplifying the trigger while preserving the concept. Cool.

Soulbind is lovely to read: Simple and evocative, as well as useful (enchanting two opposing creatures). But does it work in practice? Maybe. Probably? Soulbond required us to move two creatures together to show their connection. We could do that with Souldbind. It'll be awkward when creatures controlled by different players are enchanted together, but we can line them up like we do when blocking, as long as we're not in a big multiplayer game. That could be avoided entirely if we restrict Soulbind to enchanting to creatures controlled by a single player.

If one creature leaves the battlefield without dying, does Soulbind fall into the graveyard, or does it sit quitely on the battlefield? We'll need reminder text to answer that.

Taming a Dragon is an all-upside Act of Aggression thanks to the additional white color requirement. This is a bit cleaner than Peer Pressure above, and I don't really find myself missing the keyword-tribal, at least not in a vacuum.

Unlikely Partnership could work in a duel via Bronze Bombshell or against a deck with pain lands, but it clearly shines in multiplayer where it acts like a Bitter Feud for everyone but you. (Oh hey, Bitter Feud effectively enchants two things. Consider that, Soulbind.) Feels odd to see this art and card name paired with an effect that doubles damage. Maybe I'm missing a connection.

My first reaction was to say soulbond would never be used this way, but thinking about it, my stance is the opposite. Soulbond was generally too strong, so limiting which creatures can soulbond is an effective and flavorful way to dial it back and give us good-looking cards that aren't broken. Bonding with dragons specifically should be one of the least useful forms, but Wildheart Angel is an auto-play in Limited regardless, and pushes Standard toward some kind of RW fliers deck. Not a sorcery or enchantment, but very neat.

Three different designs all looked for matching keywords, which is something Magic has done very little of before. I'm curious if the idea of kinship inspired this in three designers independently, or if the first inspiration spread to others because it's such a neat idea.

Thanks to Pasteur for rendering the cards.


  1. Good crop of designs this week.

    It looks like Collaborate allows you to enchant an opponent's Siege Rhino, then attack them in the air with your Mantis Rider and have the Rhino deal 4 damage. It says "Whenever another creatures you control..." though, so I'm not sure if that was intentional. If not, it should be "Enchant creature you control".

    On the flipside, I am not sure why Rebellious Streak is so specific with its "enchant creature an opponent owns". Flavor reasons?

    Regarding Kaalia's Calling:
    The kinship is flavor driven. Kaalia the Vast was the inspiration for this card, and she uses Angels, Dragons and Demons to seek her revenge. She is the ties that bind them. So, yeah, the kinship is tangential at best, but there is my intention.
    What's the pattern that haste on the Dragon token is breaking? I'm fine with removing it to balance out the three choices, but am just curious.

    1. Good call on Collaborate.

      You can have a 4/4, a 6/6, or a 5/5... with haste. Why does the middle choice have an extra ability? Functionally, that skews the choice massively as I will often choose a 5/5 with haste over a 6/6 without haste completely regardless of a 5 life consideration.

    2. Okay, so a play difference.When you said pattern, I didn't see what you meant. It's clear now. I was thinking, make an Angel that does an angel thing, or a Dragon that does a dragon thing, or a Demon that does a demon thing. And all things appropriate for Uncommon. I thought from a pattern perspective the Dragon just being a 5/5 flier would make it negatively stand out.