Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Weekend Art Challenge Review 102315—detkef

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Design a common or uncommon card for this art.
Oral History
Oral History reduces the cost to cast any creatures with ancestors in your graveyard. That's very cool. Unlike Elvish Mystic or Wild Growth, this enchantment can net you more than one mana each turn, but it's also very conditional, not only restricting use to creatures, but to creatures you have multipe copies of and have gotten into the graveyard. It also only reduces colorless costs, so can't help with your Nissa's Chosen.

For those reasons, I believe this could cost just {G}. Or, perhaps it could reduce costs further when you have more dead ancestors? Uncommon is fair for power level, but rare might be better simply because this likely has no place in Limited.

Bard's Tale will draw you a card for every creature (card) you cast before you sacrifice it, even what you cast before the enchantment itself. It's sort of a Seal of Shamanic Revelation. What I'm not too clear on is why it doesn't just count your creatures when you pop it, or why it's not a sorcery. It is better proof against mass removal, and there will be some situations where it challenges you to push your luck, but I'm not sure this more complex card elicits the flavor any better.

A temporary Clone! Shapesharer is very similar: It's better at shapeshifting but worse at simply being. Assuming this serves the set in a few ways, Boastful Channeler is pretty cool.

Dreams of the Meek tells a very cool story. It reads a bit complicated, but if we remove "with power 1 or less" the card still tells the same story (as it will always be more efficient to tap your weakest creatures) while opening up mechanical options and simplifying the text. Given that it requires you to tap all those creatures every turn you want it, I think this could either cost more or have a useful keyword like indestructible.

Elven Shadowdancer works very much like a Rootwalla in practice, but uses the P/T-setting tech instead of explicitly restricting the number of uses you have. There's a legitimate argument for permanently transitioning 'wallas to work this way. Not sure trample is worth +{2}, nor that it's as expressive of this art as it could be.

Frightful Tales is a sweet simple sorcery. Well done!

It's fairly clear to me that when my Elvish Archdruid ETB, all the elves I had in play previously grow, and I get that many baby elves, but do those elves count as growing to 1/2 from the static effect? There's a very neat idea in Kindelfgarden Teacher, but it has significant clarity and power concerns. Maybe "at the end of each turn, if the power of an Elf you control increased this turn, put a 0/1 Elf token OTB."

Learn Their Tricks is neat. It's a global bushido against a specific type of creature. Remembering the choice will often be easy (like against a goblin deck) but sometimes also annoying (like in Limited), but at uncommon I wouldn't guess too much. It might prove too strong against tribal decks in general, though.

What a clever reversal of  gotcha's flaw! Instead of encouraging players to do less fun things, Lost Boys Rainy Day encourages them to do more fun things. I do worry that this is too strong, as it can be pretty easy for some players too never smile. Hmm, and now I realize that even though this card rewards funny behavior from one player, it rewards humorless behavior from the other. I don't think this will be fun in practice at all. Any thoughts how to avoid this end?

Jeskai Infiltrator with more stealthy shenanigans and less card advantage. Is Savage Shadowcrafter green because of Camouflage? You'll definitely want a lot of cheap creatures with saboteur effects or that punish blocking like deathtouch, and/or creatures with morph triggers, and a LOT of mana to profit from Shadowcrafter.

Seance meets Makeshift Mannequin. Neat. Shadow Play is a Resurrect with the downside of Pacifism. That won't appeal for most creatures, but there will be plenty of exciting targets with static and/or triggered abilities. Griselbrand and Iona, Shield of Emeria spring to mind. Does it need instant? Perhaps not, but it's not clear that we could reduce the price by removing it, so maybe we leave it to maximize the possibilities.

Hey, it's a black-green Frightful Tales. Seems legit. Although, I'm not sure Shadow Puppet needs to be black mechanically, or green thematically. Wait, what is the story here?

Story Den is a weird land, but I can kind of see it.  (Note that it'll look a bit better without the gratuitous linebreaks MSE sometimes adds without warning.)

What kind of set would need such a land?

Storyteller's Boast is strictly better than Frightful Tale but the last line does work to limit that. This is similar to Call of the Full Moon, except you have much more control over attacking into two or more untapped creatures than how many spells anyone casts each turn. Unless the set has a bunch of flash creatures, I suspect Boast is a touch too strong (but idk). I do like the flavor of the illusion fading once a couple creatures gather the courage to stand against it.

Now that's a unique effect. Sylvan Illusionist can basically turn a dangerous blocker into a 0/N, able to absorb some damage, but unable to reduce the number of attackers. Seems uncommon. Is it green?

Tale Collector is a weirder Act on Impulse, but one that would do well in a set like Phyrexia Reborn or a multiplayer supplement. Neat.

Wirewood Raconteur takes a very rally-inspired approach to elf tribal, boosting all of your creatures whenever you play another elf. I wonder why it doesn't count itself. I think the flavor is… everyone loves elf stories. Not a huge stretch.

Woodland Sage might never pay out, which will be most frustrating when you ask for one thing three times, give up and ask for something else, and then see the first thing. More likely, you'll get an average of one card before you decide Sage would be okay to chump-block with. Ideally, any number of scry effects will let you get 1+ cards most every turn.

The self-milling is significant. Somewhat dangerous in Limited, very strong with delve and the like.

The story seems a bit loose, but not jarring.

Worldstory Warden proposes a new keyword: a targeted but more flexible proliferate. Quite notably, it allows a player to remove poison counters from herself. I know one head designer who would veto that in a heartbeat. I can imagine a set that makes reshape (that only hits permanents) worth keywording. The Warden of course looks quite weak on its own, but may be quite good in or against the right deck. Would it be common, though?

Worldwide Minstrel rewards you for not having the biggest monster, which is the opposite of what green has done so many times in the last few years. To fit the art's flavor, I could see it checking to see if you controlled the most creatures (or maaaybe the smallest creature, but I'm not super comfortable with that either).

What an awesome variety of cards. Nice work, folks! Some very solid commons and some very interesting uncommons.

Thanks to Reuben for rendering the cards.


  1. I am also impressed by the diversity of cards here. It's an unusual piece of art that lends itself both to creature cards and noncreatures. Good choice, Jay.

    Lost Boys Rainy Day has the problem that you put it in your deck if you think opponents probably can't make you smile. Which might just mean you've got good self-control or an unexpressive face. And if you meet its condition, you get to stop the game progressing, in a frustrating way.

    Perhaps the same idea could be better done as:
    {2}: Target attacking creature can't be blocked this turn if you can make defending player smile.

    That way, the players who're encouraged to put it in their decks are the japesters who think they can make their friends smile. The defending player who has to try to keep a straight face will be different from one game to the next. And rather than shut the game down if you can't make someone smile, it accelerates game end if you can.

    1. Some of my thought on Lost Boys Rainy Day: If your playing this card, your going to be playing an Un-set. Which means your going to be encountering funny cards and situations during your games. Plus your probably going to be playing casual multiplayer if your playing silver borders. So the targeted players should be more inclined to smile.

      I do like AlexC suggestion, and feel as if that works better.

    2. I think any "did someone smile" card is likely to lead to arguments about whether they did or not, but I agree, the attacking version is better than the "can't attack" version, partly because it leads to more variety, and partly because it's less likely to lead to an all-or-nothing "this card means the game is basically over".

      In general, I think it's an easy mistake to make to come up with a good idea for an un-card, but not refine it to the point where it's actually fun to _play_, not just to read.

    3. This is why un-sets just don't make me want to play them. Arguing about whether someone smiled is one of the most miserable imaginable gaming experiences. And I can promise after that argument, no one is smiling again!

    4. And that's why I'd never go to an un- event and play with strangers. Because far too many Magic players will choose to kill their own fun, their opponents' fun, and the fun of everyone within speaking distance, in order to gain or preserve the tiniest of edges in game.

      But I will hella play un- sets with my friends, because they by definition value fun higher.

    5. Which kinda makes my point. Most people won't be playing Un in a tournament setting. They'll be playing with their friends on a Saturday night, and just having some casual games. That's what I meant when I said target audience.

    6. The Un- Prerelease and Release are tournaments.
      But I have no idea how much Magic gets played there versus privately.

    7. If they made another Un-set I think it would be more like a Conspiracy in its release.

  2. Story Teller's Den would clearly need a top-down thematic set. Possibly a European Fairy Tale world?

    1. I guess that would be close to Lorwyn? Or maybe Innistrad when Avacyn isn't locked away?

    2. I really dislike having both the scry and the lifegain options on Story Den, as well as the modal templating. Line breaks aside, it's very inelegant as is. Suggested fix:

      Tap an untapped creature you control, T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
      Tap an untapped creature you control, T: Scry 1.

    3. Not really for or against, but another option:

      Tap an untapped creature you control, {T}: Add {1} to your mana pool, gain 1 life, and scry 1.

  3. You compare the Shadowdancer to Rootwalla, which is fine, but then for your development comment you note you are paying 2 more for Trample. However, if you want to compare costs, the correct comparison is Darkthicket Wolf, where you see you're only paying one more for trample. This is probably a worse deal, but still a fine limited card.