Monday, February 22, 2016

Weekend Art Challenge Review 021916—gold synergy

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Hello Artisans! This week we are reviewing this gold-based challenge.
I had envisioned it more like the elf, orc and human challenge of two weeks ago, in that it would make people interact with previous designs, but it gathered slightly less momentum than the previous challenges did. I fear the wording of the challenge is to blame on this, but I regard it as a learning experience.

Never the less, you artisans came through with some interesting designs! Let's get to them.

First up is Zeno Rage, who provided me with a whole MSE file. Out of all these designs, the one I liked most was the mono-colored taverns:

They are generally better than crumbling vestige in any set that does not care about colorless, and they kind of accelerate you.

And they allow some basic gold generation for most colors. Zeno also has cards that "hire out" soldiers by giving gold tokens to your opponents, which is a good way to use gold tokens. I am not sure if it is white's part of the color pie, however. Another idea was the alternate victory condition of owning 10 gold artifact tokens. The precise number of gold you need would be up to development to determine, but it is a cool idea, that Gwafa Hazid would approve of.

The Cozen presented us with another land:

This is a land with a big disadvantage in duels, unless you are playing a goldfishing type of deck that does not interact with your opponent at all. In multiplayer this can become more interesting in creating alliances.

The other part of the challenge was to explore how the set would utilize gold. Cozen's take on it was:

White: Bounty stuff (Divine Verdict, controller gets gold, etc)
Blue: Alchemy (Transmute creatures into gold, or just put tokens onto the field.)
Black: Stealing (Split Second control effects or needing to hit players to get Gold tokens.)
Red: Looting (Looter il-Kor but you discard to get gold.)
Green: Probably doesn't get involved, might hose gold strategies by requiring its creatures to be cast without paying gold.

I like the flavor of each color, but I could see other flavors and mechanics too:
White: taxes and fines (whenever you do something that white does not like, you have to pay)
Blue: transmute cards in hand, use gold to draw cards
Black: mercenary contracts
Red: bribery
Green: leprechauns? That is probably too much of a stretch.

Any other thoughts, artisans?

Czynski considers that a set that is heavily into gold tokens should keyword the gold-making action. I am afraid that doing so would clutter the cards if we had to keep using reminder text. Here is his card:

Fitting into The Cozen's idea of what Black should be doing, these mercenaries will keep coming back as long as you have money to hire them. I like it, even though the card feels quite cluttered, and that is with me removing the unnamed gold making mechanic keyword.

Jack went deep into the challenge and gave us three cards. The card he selected for examination was:

Woot! So the first time ANYONE sacrifices gold, you get some tribute? Sweet! I would have rephrased it into: The first time each turn any player sacrifices a gold token, add {C} to your mana pool.

He also found a way to create a perhaps-printable stone rain! Just pay them some gold. Long term, the land is still gone, but they can still play key cards when needed. Development would see if it is or is not printable, but in a set with lots of gold going around I could see this happen.

Finally, returning from GDS2 is the "if you spent gold on this card mechanic" only this time it is if you only spend gold on this card. This mechanic, named Opulent, would imply lots of gold generation in the set, but I quite like it.

Finally, Jenesis also went deep into the challenge and gave us the following card:

I guess I would have altered the wording to say: "Spells that target rogues you control cost an additional {U}{B}." but that is a minor offense.

The king steals ALL of the gold. Everywhere. And asks for a hefty price if you want to target rogues. It is a better Frost Titan shroudproof. I would have probably preferred it to ask for {2} or to get a +1/+1 counter when gold tokens were sacrificed to make it less of a feel bad situation, but I can see the argument Jenesis does, given the CMC of the card and the synergies she envisions with the other cards of the set.

Black would be generating gold through extortion, damaging your opponents to get money, while blue would give money to your opponent to get advantages. I like how the cards remain in the continuity of other design challenges, since it is supposed to happen in the same place as the 05/10/2013 ("City") and 9/4/2015 ("Nostalgia") challenges.

In the end there were still other ways I could see to explore the gold-matters set, such as: caring about number of artifacts; having a set that has heavy color requirements ({1}{R}{R}{R}) but still is able to play 2+ color decks that care about converted mana costs; bidding with gold tokens for control of things…

I really liked the cards I did get to see however. I believe gold will have its day at some point, and I wonder which of our approaches will come closer to it. Preventing a prevalence of 5-color decks is the main issue I have with gold, personally, and I would love to find a solution to that.

Until next week, keep on crafting artisans!


  1. Adding the reminder text I suggested strictly reduces the amount of text on the card, and makes it simpler to understand.

  2. Yes. That is why I did not include it in the render, otherwise it went on to 9 lines even with a very short name such as gild.

  3. I would like to host the next weekend art challenge or two, if that's all right.

    Jay, you can email me at

  4. FWIW, the reason "Crooked Accountant" doesn't say "add 1 to your mana pool" is that it wouldn't synergise with Opulence and I'd have had to come up with a different third card :) I probably _should_ have done that rather than compromise the wording of Crooked Accountant, but I couldn't be bothered.

    I completely forgot the original "spend gold on" mechanic from GDS 2. That might be better, although I think opulence is interesting too -- depending whether you'd rather give a small bonus or a big one.

    1. I like opulence, but it feeds into my last comment on gold: how would we prevent 5-color decks? For opulence to be possible, you need a lot of gold, but a lot of gold means 5-color!

      Also opulence can create some teachable moments for newer players that see the BIG version of the spell and keep it in hand waiting for that perfect moment, and end up loosing the game, but that is actually very ok.

    2. Yeah, I agree about 5-colour decks. I'm not sure what the best solution is.

      If you *don't* try to use opulence or any other gold-heavy mechanic, you might end up with decks that expect to get a couple of gold tokens over the course of the game, and hence do splash in all colours, but have to keep the total amount of splash down since they can often only cast one or two off-colour spells. I don't know if that's likely?

  5. I suspect for gold counters not to enable five-color decks, we either need no other color fixing in the set (and no hybrid, and almost no colorless), or gold needs to be "Sacrifice ~: Add one mana to your mana pool of any color already in your mana pool."

    1. "Any colour a land you control could produce" might do if the set avoided vivid lands? Although that is starting to sound more like canisters than gold...

    2. I guess Wizards could do that, and change the name from gold to gold coin? They have done things like that before. And with tokens you can have tokens with the same name but different stats or abilities.

    3. Ha. I'd actually forgotten gold was a printed thing, since it's identical to the mechanic we'd been talking about here for so long.

    4. You are making king Macar even more depressed than he already is. Not only he gilded his pet pegasus by mistake, now you forget him???

    5. Yeah, it exists, although only with *two* cards. I'd think if they wanted to make it more of a mechanic, there would be absolutely no problem changing the name. Or using the same name with a slightly different ability would probably be ok (it's certainly within the rules, but probably less confusing to call the colourless ones "silver" or something).