Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Weekend Art Challenge Review 120415—Damie M

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Design a rare card for this art. What's the setting? How does that impact your design?

Ankh-Teb Death Mask is a Seal of Vigor Mortis. It's interesting and thematic that you have to choose your target when you first cast it, as opposed to when you finally reanimate it, but I'm not sure the game play justifies the graveyard-aura technology. Arguably more thematic, and definitely simpler: Unhallowed Pact.

You might wonder if creating an artifact is worth {2}{B}, but keep in mind that statuefying dead creatures will still trigger their ETB effects and turn on their static effects. That effect's cool enough to Jenny to be a card all its own.

The ability to animate those statues isn't cheap but free creatures are always great, so it's well worth it.

Czynski mentions that the red-black tribe in this world of ancient terracotta armies will include golem zombie artifact creatures, perhaps with unearth. Assuming this card is rare, it doesn't have to interact directly with its color's mechanics, but it would be better if they didn't conflict directly.

Afterlife is undying plus "psionic," converting life damage to library milling*. That's a neat way to mitigate the high power level of undying (though it's still very effective in controlling the board).

Afterlife is a very long keyword and Coptic Necromancer demonstrates how that's a problem, greatly limiting the amount of space available for other abilities even on rares. That last ability definitely gets cut for space (and relevance), particularly since granting the set's new creature keyword to all your creatures is already a pretty big deal.

*Food for thought. Suppose "psionic" was already a keyword. When we're ready to make afterlife, do we use that giant reminder text, or just "Undying. As long as ~ has a +1/+1 counter, it has psionic"?

Timeless is a neat kicker effect, upgrading a temporary effect to a permanent one. It would be nice if the sorcery could become an enchantment so that players can see the effect on the board rather than having to remember how many of what timeless effects are in play. Subtly, it's possible exiling the card solves that problem: Players could place the exiled card in the same spot where they'd put a global enchantment.

More-powerful-than-Infest is fine, but I'm less sure double Night of Souls' Betrayal that can never be disenchanted is fair for six mana, even without an alternate mode. But Dev can easily tweak Eternal Decay into a very printable card (assuming timeless nets out).

Heirophant of Kutek is efficient on its own and will reward you for building a reanimation deck with even more efficiency and/or card advantage. A case where the flavor is there, a bit wishy-washy, but the card's raw potential pushes it over the line. This could easily by mythic.

Aura imagines an Egyptian set with unearth, and it's neat to see how unearth combos directly with Heirophant.

Lich's Helm follows in the proud tradition of extracting unique abilities from old cards and allowing a player to graft them to anything. In particular, you'd want to affix this to something with hexproof and/or indestructible.

The weird part is that being an equipment won't help much since re-equipping it after its wielder dies will be to slow to save you when you're already undead. Though, you can transfer it from one creature to another, but I wouldn't expect most players to know where that line is, nor for that to be a big factor in Helm's playability.

So the question is, do we simplify Lich's Helm to an aura, or keep it as equipment for flavor?

Mandias only 'returns' when a creature is killed in combat, and once it does, everything gains deathtouch. Not sure why 'deathtouch' isn't on the card, but that's what Mandias does to the board.

I expected it to leave the graveyard at some point because of the 'Returned' moniker, but the story might explain that Mandias is returning from something other than death.

Flash looks promising on a 1/5 flash deathtouch creature, but since you can only play it after combat damage, it's really just there to make blocking a viable way to play it. That's a little disappointing, but enterprising players could block with a first strike creature to... nope, sorry, that doesn't work either because blockers are already declared. You can use Murder to sneak Mandias into play, provided you cast it after the first main phase ends and no earlier. Hmm.

Mandias definitely plays well with tokens and feels like a member of the death-cult, Anastase described, though apparently a combat-death-cult that's not interested in other death.

Afterlife lets you keep the enchantment portion of your enchantment creature even after the creature dies. Does it prevent further disenchantment? I don't know. But otherwise that's a neat and very enchantment-y twist on undying effects. Definitely makes Erase more relevant.

Mortis Priest is a Shatterskull Recruit that could potentially inflict multiple edicts on your opponents. The conditional effect looks kind of white ala Balance, but… heh: It's a loner mechanic that isn't brute forced! And now it hits me that when you kill my Mortis Priest and I have no other creatures, I now get free edicts every turn as long as play no creatures, which seems like my probable game plan. That may be a bit much, especially in multiples.

Statue of Death will often be a strong defensive card, occasionally back-breaking, and rarely irrelevant. Not as annoying as a 1/1 indestructible deathtouch defender.


Veiled Confessor is good at defending, great at attacking, and a pain to be hit by. Sort of an Hypnotic Specter meets Phage the Untouchable. This has a lot of melvin appeal.

Good stuff, artisans.

Thanks to P for Pizza for rendering the cards.


  1. I like the idea behind Eternal Decay, but as is I think it doesn't quite work; the exiled sorcery feels too much like an emblem to me, and I'm quite sure the rules don't really work.
    I've thought about the issues, and came up with this:

    Eternal Decay 4BB
    All creatures get -2/-2.
    Transient 1BB (You may cast this spell for its transient cost. If you do, sacrifice it at the beginning of the next cleanup step.)

    The flavor is a bit weaker, and mentioning the cleanup step is unpleasant, but other than that I'm quite happy with the result.

    1. Nice. "Next cleanup step" can be standardized to "end step" with little functional difference.

      What about the original are you sure doesn't work in the rules?

    2. It's that it has unclear details, more than it is straight up not working. The card is exiled as a reminder because the effect never ends, but you would put it on the table in a different place than PtE'ed creatures and I see room for some confusion. Besides what if the exiled card (for example with digest) leaves exile zone? Does the effect continue? I had to think about it for some time,and I think it does.
      In either case, as is it would be too wonky to see print for me.
      That said, it is quite workable, and something novel and cool we may see one day.

    3. Maybe we could have a stipulation "this effect lasts as long as CARDNAME remains exiled."

  2. The mandias card bared a bit more explaining. I thought about giving all creatures deathtoutch, but he actually plays differently:

    You block with all your tokens, the damage is marked on the creatures that killed them. Then you flash in Mandias, and all that damage on those creatures is suddenly leathal. That was the intent at least.

    1. Ah. But you can't play it until after something dies?

    2. Your &/1 thrulls, spirits and cultists will have served their purpose then... taking the enemy with them from beyond the grave.

    3. Ohh. Because the damage that was dealt is still there after combat, and it suddenly becomes lethal.
      I wonder if there's a template to make that clearer.

    4. Mandias Returned 2BB
      You may play cardname only if a creature died during combat this turn.
      All damage is leathal. (This includes damage that was dealt before cardname came into play)

      We can remove the restriction, but I think it makes for a more interesting card, since it has different lenses you can see it through.

    5. Ooh! OK, I see what this is doing now. OK, tha'ts interesting, but I totally didn't get it. Maybe have it say "destroy all creatures that were dealt damage this turn" (or have that as an activated ability?) instead or as well as deathtouch?

    6. It certainly does not seem very NWO friendly...