Monday, February 8, 2016

Weekend Art Challenge Review 020516

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Hello all!
I really liked what you all cooked up this week. Here is the challenge we are reviewing: Using different rarities to answer specific cards was an interesting exercise!

Since this time I did not have a specific design-space challenge, I will not digress further. No, that is a lie, I need to inform you that my MSE is bugging a lot out of late. Therefore I am sorry for the quality of the images that follow:

Jay kicked off the challenge by presenting us with a berserker that seems to have Ashmouth Hound as a totem animal. He does not survive combat against pretty much anything, but can take down an X/4 creature. I could have seen this card as a common.

Czynski decided to present us with a formidable blocker that trumps Jay's Battler by first-striking him to death. His high toughness means he survives the combat. I like double strike for the image selected. Unfortunately double-strike does not feel very white-green to me. The card would still trump the berserker with first strike which is more color-pie appropriate. Additionally Twinblade is probably too strong at only {G}{W}. Czynski makes a case for the price by comparing it to Boros Swiftblade and saying that equipment has gone down in quality since—which is true, but still, in the color of powerful buffs, double strike this cheap is dangerous. Even more so at common.

Zefferal brings us Flanders, the Purifier. He indeed crushes the Twinblade in combat. I am slightly confused as to why he fights better against creatures that have no family. Is he persecuting orphans? Stragglers from a broken army? The abilities are sound for a 3/3 mythic, but I would probably have preferred him to be:

"Whenever CARDNAME ... a creature that doesn't share a creature type with any of your creatures, ...". Also I cannot stop imagining him as a Simpsons character.

​Zeno's Azig went through many iterations and ended up with this legends-hating legend. Singling out the most challenging opponents or diving into combat, he is a creature that trumps Flanders (still seeing him as a Simpson's character) and a red control-deck commander. Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs has company.

Jack's card also went through some iterations to end up with this version of Orcbane. I really like this card. The only comment I can think of is that I could imagine this being parsed as Bane: Creature Subtype. That way the template would be clear and re-usable without having to create a new keyword each time you want a new type of bane. There was a discussion about prevent-all vs prevent-all-but-1 damage on the bane ability. I am in favor of the latter personally, since it means that if outnumbered it can still be killed, and the 2 extra words do not add a lot of complexity while adding a lot of flavor. Also this is the first card that can trump two previous orc cards in the orc-elf-human cycle imposed by the challenge. Bonus point! (Although to be fair it is the first card able to do so, it being the fifth card printed.)

P for Pizza brings a human to the fight, which is full of Bravado (a new keyword). Bravado is a type of supercharged bushido. Since bushido is bound to come back with a new name, according to MaRo, that could be one of its reincarnations! This again trumps the last two humans presented by the challenge! Bonus points.

Steelskin Orc is an interesting submission. Again working with "all but 1 damage," this time it presents us a creature that can be killed in single combat only through death touch, double strike or a creature with exactly 2 power. It translates into:"You can only kill this in 1 hit if you deal exactly lethal damage" It is the first creature that does not kill the previous creature presented, but rather stalls it. It also stalls Homer's buddy, Flanders. The definition of trump being loose, I consider this to fit the requirements. However I am not sure about the color-pie issues. Black is not a lot into prevention. Why is this Orc black?

Liy is the first card that dies when combating the previous card!  Liy barely slithers away without minus points because it can help another creature fight the orc. It is a Thalia-type of card, colloquially known as a hate-bear, which renders combat more straight-forward for everyone. I could see it preventing opponents from casting combat tricks, since white-red weenie does like to cast its combat tricks, but overall, I dig this.

I always liked ambushers. Solitary Sentry is reminiscent of Qasali Ambusher, and trumps Liy both in stats and by bypassing the casting restriction, since it is simply put into play. We do not know the rarity, and the secondary ability is slightly strange flavor-wise, but this is quite an interesting card. It also answers Orcbane Elf, but fails to impress the Twinblade elf.

Ogre Razer beats the sentry with its stats, and then burns down its forest to rub it in. Well technically the order should be reversed, but still. At {3}{R}{R} I guess we could even see the Razer raze mountains, swamps, wastes, celestial colonnades and co. The issue would be bouncing, but still I feel that at that price it could be done. Was there a flavor reason why you selected forest or plains, Wobbles?

Raid Retaliator makes you choose how to retaliate: Flash it in to deal 3 in response to the orc entering the battlefield, or wait and flash it in to first strike the orc out of the picture?  I am conflicted. All in all, it is a flavorful answer to the previous card. I wish the retaliation was more complete and felt more like a {R}{G} card rather than a {R}{G}{W} card. Perhaps 3/4, flash, deals to target creature damage equal to 3*number of land cards in your graveyard?

This card is made for me. I love it, it has flavor, it has strength, it costs mana to activate. I want to put it my Boros decks and play with it. It trumps a lot of previous cards too. There are some rules ambiguities if you are not familiar with them:

What happens if I activate it with multiple creatures? Do I still get to fight all of them? What if the duelist died? But that is ok for a rare card.

Jack gives us another cool take on Bushido (as seen before in Bravado). I feel that we will get bushido in 2016. It is way overdue. This deals with a lot of the humans presented in the challenge! Bonus points!

​This is an Elf that knows the steps to a grim fandango! I really like how this fits the art. Some issues of templating not-withstanding (should it target? shouldn't it?) this is a very clean and cool card where the secret lovechild of deathtoutch and menace can shine. It trumps pretty much all orcs ever for enough bonus points to last a lifetime.

Our last card by Zeno Rage is a noble effort to trump the previous Wardancer. He can stall all day, but, alas, cannot kill him. As an on-board fog, the Noble Knight is interesting, preventing your opponent from going "all-in" during a clogged stare-down board-state. It is slightly more powerful than I would like for an uncommon, doing too many things at the same time. Removing either ability would still leave us with a valuable card.

That is all for this week, artisans! I hope you enjoyed it! These types of challenges require a lot of time to render so they will probably be rarer than the others.

Good work everyone!


  1. Thanks for the challenge! This was more like a fun designer game, something that you probably won't do for an actual design, but still enjoyable.

    If you need help with renders, just ask. My laptop is broken, and my home computer is deathly slow, so I'm not sure how much help I can be. But plenty of others are willing to help as well.

    1. Thanks for participating!

      I think it has to do with the order I updated the files of MSE. Hopefully next week it will be ok. The idea was, when I started guest-hosting these, to let some time for Jay to monitor other projects on GA.

      If I cannot do the renders (which are more than 80% of the work in running these, I find) I guess I should step down :)

      By the way, I am sure Jay is open to other people hosting them, if anyone is interested. I love doing them, but I do not want to impose myself.

    2. I would love to host one! But like said before, I'm having computer difficulties.

      Plus, I feel like my critiques would consist of "Yup, this is good" & "Nope, can't do this."

  2. Yeah, that was really interesting.

    Thank you for taking the latest version of Orcbane. I wasn't sure if you'd do a review so I forgot to officially specify, but that was definitely my favourite of the ones I thought of. I think it's still not perfect, the two abilities together could be confusing, but I like the effect.

    Landwalk was a keyword with a suffix, like "thing-walk means landwalk for that thing". I think wizards would be reluctant to do that again, but it's possible. And I think if people know "Orcbane" they would naturally understand "Elfbane" or "Artifact creaturebane" or "Everythingbane" :)

    1. The existence of Orcbane implies the possible existence of Elfbane, etc. Without question.

    2. Note that the fight portion of Orcbane doesn't work for timing reasons, but I think I've got a solution.

    3. Landwalk is a discontinued mechanic (albeit mostly due to planeswalking/plainswlaking). I agree that it could be done as Creaturebane, but it would be easier to generalize if it was bane: creaturesubtype. Still that is not so much a design issue as it is formatong/creative.

  3. This challenge was a lot of fun. Thanks for running it, Anastase.

    1. My pleasure. I hope I manage to fix MSE sometime soon. It is driving me crazy.

    2. Having trouble installing various packages for frames? You have to set the program to run as an administrator.

    3. No, that problem I circumvented by installing it in a different folder. The problem is probably with the order I install the pacages. For some reason it keeps wanting to give a color indicator to ALL cards, the type and subtype part of the cards is all bugged out and some parts of the card use a very old font (title, type and subtype) for some reason. I must have performed at least 10 iterations of reinstalling everything.

  4. Incidentally, Flanders was indeed named after Ned.
    Concept is a White Villain, Hitleresque, obsessed with uniformity and order. He can't abide creatures that are unique.