Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Weekend Design Challenge Review 090415—Nostalgia

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Choose a card you submitted to any previous Weekend Art Challenge and design a card for a new set that references it. Include a link to the art for your new card and to the rendering of your old card. If you've never designed for WAC before, choose any card that was.

Bases Loaded combos directly with banana cards like Poultrykranos, triggering both when they let you tell a joke and when you deliver the punchline. It's slightly frustrating that it does nothing with a single Poultrykranos because of the order jokes are told and punchlines are delivered, but you're clearly building around it if you're using it at all, so that's probably not an issue. I'd prefer the base counter be either more flavorful (shtick or set counter?) or funnier (bases aren't precisely known for burning, maybe a dis or an insult?).

It's unclear how much Bases Loaded references Poultrykranos specifically, as opposed to other banana cards, but if there were somehow a two-set un-block I could definitely see banana cards being loose in the first set and then supported in the second by cards like this.

Cannibal Arsonist is a black-red take on Siege-Gang Commander, giving you two goblins and a 2/2 for {4} instead of three and a 3/3 for {5}. The black part is that instead of flinging the goblins for shock value, we've got the Nantuko Husk ability to sacrifice creatures… and our tokens have ignite, giving us a bit of activated burn after all. Given the existence of Goblin Rogue tokens and ignite, I love Cannibal Arsonist.

I can't imagine any reference more direct than "I am where these things come from."

Drerg the Unfathomable stands on its own, allowing you a very limited but free Polymorph attempt on every creature you and your opponents cast. That sounds quite powerful, but there's no guarantee it'll actually do anything (though it seems quite likely) and it is a {7} mythic legend. Cool.

It shares a design heritage with Chthonic Shapetwister, which Polymorphs your creatures every time they attack. I would expect few players to make that connection unless they're in the same block, or there are some commons that talk about Drerg's ascension from chthonic shapetwisting to unfathomability. Or if Shapetwister was hugely popular in its set and people are excited to see a descendant come later.

Purple. Costs two purple mana. Has flash.

Everseer Initiate is most of a Mana Leak with a flash Squire bonus. While that's not exciting, it is pretty good… provided you can pay two purple mana. Is there a new basic land type that produces purple mana? Are they available in unlimited quantities at Limited tournaments? Or do players have to open purple producing cards in booster packs to have any chance of casting Initiate? Lands that can produce any color of mana grow stronger in either case, but if we push the power of purple permanents pursuant to their prioritized power-level, Prophetic Prism improves plenteously.

Is being purple a reference to a card that boosts purple creatures? I'd say if it's one of just three or fewer creatures that are natively purple it does, even if that number grows rapidly after Initiate's set.

This is a Plane card. The dark area after "roll" is the planechase chaos symbol.
I was wondering why Goldforge Quarter made four tokens rather than three, but Bustling Promenade makes that clear. Everyone getting a bunch of chump-blockers should slow the game down for a bit, which is a fine sort of variance in small doses.

In a vacuum, I have no idea why Quarter gets my citizens and artifacts, but knowing that Bustling Promenade exists in the Goldforge Quarter of Cleimont tells us you might go fetch that, or another building. It could specify that it only gets buildings, and that would help it communicate its meaning on its own, but it also goes from being very modular to parastic (and far too parasitic for Commander).

I can't imagine anyone looking at Infernal Maw and immediately connecting it to Chandra Awakens, but there is a distinct synergy in letting the Maw convert all your exiled lands into direct damage.

On its own, Infernal Maw seems quite credible as a Battle for Zendikar card. It's slightly fragile for an uncommon, but the ability to ping creatures is both incentive and method for getting it through. So far, I've only seen Eldrazi that move exiled cards to the graveyard as a cost, but I can't say I'd be remotely shocked to see a simple trigger… though perhaps not on such a useful ability: Seems pretty broken with Arc-Slogger.

Keening Griffrider is an explicit reference to Keening Griffing, keying off name, keywords, p/t and the cooperate-to-tap-blockers concept. Griffrider can easily tap down an entire team of blockers every turn starting when it hits the field—provided you've got a enough allies—and that's why it's rare. I love how this shows a new angle on an old creature; that's definitely a favorite type of reference for a huge number of players.

Una's Business Manager is a Clone for planeswalkers, which means you never actually expect it to be the type that's printed on the card. Clever Impersonator can by anything, but it is kind of expected to be a creature most times; Copy Enchantment and Sculpting Steel try to start with the type they'll end as. That said, I'm not remotely convinced making a planeswalker with no planeswalker abilities would be better. In fact, that makes me think how strange it is—thematically—that anything without a spark could copy something with a spark… but then again, a shapeshifter needn't copy the spark since it won't be planeswalking itself.

Mechanically, Una's Business Manager seems like a cool card. I imagine it wouldn't be cheaper than Clone—even though there are many fewer targets, all its targets are very strong cards. The template is slightly off (it'll die to state-based effects while the trigger is on the stack).

Apart from the direct name dropping, I'm not sure how this card references Una the planeswalker. That is, is there anything unique to Una, that every other planeswalker doesn't have? I'm not buying the flavor text because I'm pretty sure a shapeshifter of that much talent has better things to do than tend bar. Then again, I'd think that of a planeswalker, so what do I know.

I'm sorry more of you didn't feel motivated/equipped to participate. I definitely enjoyed seeing people go back and reference older designs and riff on them, and in such varied ways. I won't do many (if any) challenges quite like this again, but I will continue to look for new ways to challenge you all.

Thanks to Zeno Rage for rendering the cards.


  1. Don't feel bad about it. The whole point of oddball ideas is that they're unpredictable; it won't be possible to predict in advance which ones will be big hits and which won't. Please do keep coming up with new ways to challenge us all :)

    1. Thanks, Alex. I'm happy how it turned out, apart from people feeling unable to participate.

  2. The base counters were me trying to reference Obsidian Fireheart's "blaze counters", but in retrospect, the answer is probably to use "setup counters" for flavor, or "joke counters" to use fewer counters in the set.

    I like Infernal Maw, but as worded, I think it leads to confusion. If I control a creature with Ingest, it doesn't trigger, right? Because the opponent is exiling their own card?

    1. Agreed.

      Good point about Infernal Maw; I'd missed that. It can likely be fixed in templating?

    2. Maybe "On your turn, whenever a card is exiled from anywhere"? or if it's proving strong, "the first time each turn a card would be exiled, put it into it's owner's graveyard instead and Ping"

  3. Likewise to Alex, I agree, this challenge didn't quite click for me, but I think it was good to try things like this.

    I think I missed some of the original discussion about poultrykanous, I love the idea, but I'm not quite clear how the joke thing works -- can't you usually tell a joke at any time, which would make "when you tell a joke" quite broken? Are you supposed to be limited by usual rules on not timewasting? Or in un-sets "tell a joke" has a specific game meaning that only counts if a card tells you to? Or there's some more obvious meaning of the card I'm missing?

    1. In un-sets "tell a joke" has a specific game meaning that only counts if a card tells you to.

    2. Right, thank you for explaining. Although it does feel, that should be clear by looking at the card (a small templating change might do, I'm not sure.).