Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Spotlight Challenge 4—Czynski

This fortnight, Czynski is going to take lead on this challenge:

Design a cycle of each color's iconic creature—Angel, Sphinx, Demon, Dragon, and Hydra—for a specific plane. You may choose or invent a plane if you like, otherwise design for Tesla/Kaladesh. Also design a sixth card—a common or uncommon—that mentions one or more of these creature types in an organic way.

Czynski's first submission is due 3/7. I'll review it 3/8.
Czynski's last submission is due 3/14. I'll review that 3/15.

Czynski is strongly encouraged to solicit ideas and feedback from the rest of the Artisans, and the community is strongly encouraged to help Czynski as much as you are able.


  1. Ooooooh! Sweet!
    Hydras and Sphinxes are so hard to get right, I find.

    Angelic Castigator 3WWW
    Flying, Vigilance
    Whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage target opponent cannot play spells or activate abilities until end of turn.

    Rhetor, the Ridler 2UUUU
    Whenever CARDNAME is the target of a spell or ability, put it on top of your library, then scry 5. Target opponent names a card. Reveal the top card of your library. If it is not the named card, you may draw 5 cards. If it is the named card, you may put it into play if it is a permanent card.

    Demon Prince 3BBB
    Whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage choose one that has not been chosen yet:
    *sacrifice all creatures you control
    *loose 7 life
    *discard your hand

    Goldhoarder Dragon 4RR
    Flying, Haste
    When CARDNAME deals damage, you may put a gold artifact token into play. It has tap, sacrifice: add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

    Devouring Hydra 4GG
    Whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage to a creature, put a +1/+1 counter on CARDNAME and exile that creature until CARDNAME leave the battlefield.

    1. I had not noticed it had to be a cycle, but the cards could be easily changed to all just care about combat damage.

      The demon should loose flying, and the hydra should gain trample probably?

  2. Ooh, interesting challenge. Has there ever been a cycle of iconic creatures? I can't think of one. I initially thought you were asking for five cycles :)

    I'm also wondering, what counts as a cycle for this purpose. I think most sets have had *most* of the iconic creatures, but not necessarily one of each, so maybe just "one of each" is enough. But ideally they would probably share a name (eg. Eboros' Demon, Nylea's Hydra, etc) or a mechanic (eg. they all have a "when this deals combat damage to an opponent" trigger), or share mana cost and stats (or some combination of the above).

    Ideally they would connect to the plane in some way, but I don't think that's required.

    And the natural implementation would be to be mono-colour, but you could certainly have a UBR demon, WUB sphinx, etc if you wanted.

    The (un)common is interesting as well, it may give ideas for the cycle; I'm imagining a card like the planeswalker associated spells which loosely goes together with an iconic type, or like the Tarkir dragon spells, powers up if you have one in hand or battlefield.

  3. Cycle idea compliments of Nich Grayson.

  4. First thoughts:
    I have a draft of a wedge set where the enemy color is dominant philosophically; this could be a great way to show that off. Drawbacks: the plane isn't unified in feel.
    I could go through the Planechase planes for specific plane inspiration; that sounds useful.
    Related to the draft set idea, I have a vague idea of its prehistory as a monocolor-focused color-chauvinism world. That might be a strong fit for this.

    1. From Planechase, the most interesting idea is Bloodhill Bastion's plane of Equilor, which seems like the land is all one enormous organism. Not sure what that means mechanically, but I have tentative names: Angel of the Bone, Sphinx of the Nerves, Demon of the Skin, Dragon of the Blood, Hydra of the Sinew.

    2. Multicolor iconics are often quite cool, though I don't want to undermine the connection to their source-color.

      Cerebro Sphinx 4UU
      Creature - Sphinx
      2BB: Secretly choose a number between zero and five. Target opponent pays between zero and five life. Reveal your number and lose that much life. If you lost the same amount or more life than the opponent, draw two cards.

      Cycle ideas:
      W/U Angel - (2UU: Untap ANGEL. It gains indestructible till EOT, BONE ARMOR)

      B/R Skin Demon (2RR: Threaten effect, cause he's controlling their skin)

      R/G Blood Dragon (2GG: Fight attack, only when attacking.)

      G/W Sinew Hydra (2WW: Put a +1/+1 counter onto each other creature you control. Those creatures gain vigilance until end of turn)

  5. I think we want something simple but noticeable (probably tied to the plane) that they can all have. And then each have a more unique ability loosely tied to the first. For example we could have all of them make 3 canisters on ETB but then some of them have strong tap abilities while others can care about artifacts or sacrificing permanents.

    On another note the cycle that comes to mind is the one with Godsire from Alara. The creatures themselves didn't have much connecting the cycle other than mana cost. What made it really feel like a cycle was a cycle of heralds that could search each of them into play.

  6. I had this idea for a cycle of iconics, that I never really flashed out. It is really melviny: I had all the creatures cost the same (5MM) but different sizes.
    Angel 4/4
    Dragon 5/5
    Demon 6/6
    Sphinx 7/7
    Hydra 8/8
    I may be the only one, but I would find these sizes flavorful and explicative of color pie (the ones I'm not really sure are dragon and sphinx, which could be swapped). They would have other abilities to balance thing out and to add splashiness, of course.
    Also, some ideas on the sixth card:
    - Uncommon Artifact or artifact creature that makes you choose one of the five types, and reduces by {2} its cost.
    Same thing could be done with a land, possibly.
    - Uncommon that rewards you for controlling or revealing from your hand one of the iconics.
    Or, if you have a more narrow and flavorful idea, go with a card that specifically references only one type. You are not obliged to reference them all.

    1. Ooh, neat. I am Melviny and I like it. (But yes, swap Dragon and Sphinx for sure.)

  7. Another cycle idea: attack triggers where you can pump in as much mana you want of a color to get a scaling effect. It emphasizes the color iconicity while giving each creature unique effects.

    Firebrood Dragon 4RR
    Creature - Dragon
    When CARDNAME attacks, you may pay any amount of Red mana. Put that many 1/1 Red Elemental creature tokens onto the battlefield tapped and attacking. Sacrifice the tokens at the beginning of the next end step.

    Other effects:
    Hydra: Add +1/+1 counters to this equal to the green mana spent.
    Sphinx: Look at the top X cards of your library, you may cast an instant or sorcery spell with CMC X or less.

    1. If I wanted to go with the heavy-monocolor plane, this is an excellent way to do it. I'm still leaning toward the enormous-body world idea right now, but I'll keep this in mind.

  8. Current idea for megaorganism-world: Whenever a [color] creature you control dies, you may put a +1/+1 counter on ~ and [colored effect].

    Dragon of the Blood {4}{R}{R}

    Creature - Dragon (mythic)


    Whenever another red creature you control dies, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Dragon of the Blood and deal 1 damage to target creature.


    To tie in to this, a hypothetical set mechanic, sort of a riff on transfigure:

    Transdifferentiate [cost] (When ~ dies, you may pay [cost]. If you do, you may put a creature of equal or lower mana cost from your hand onto the battlefield.)

    (The name is a real scientific term for when cells reform into a different type of cells. It's descriptive and somewhat evocative, but I don't actually like it.)

    Marrow Singer {2}{R}{W}

    Creature - Dwarf Cleric

    Sacrifice Marrow Singer: The next Dragon or Angel spell you cast costs {R}{W} less to cast.

    Transdifferentiate {R}{W} (When this creature dies, you may pay {R}{W}. If you do, you may put a creature of equal or lower converted mana cost from your hand onto the battlefield.)


  9. Here's my rough, first-draft take, using the Bloodhill Bastion of Equilor as inspiration for the Plane.

    Whitecell Angel (RARE)
    Creature - Angel
    Whenever Whitecell Angel deals combat damage to a player, you gain hexproof until your next turn, and permanents you control gain indestructible until your next turn.

    Braincell Sphinx (RARE)
    Creature - Sphinx
    Whenever Braincell Sphinx deals combat damage to a player, that player discards a card, then you scry X, where X equals the discarded card's converted mana cost or 1.

    Cancercell Demon (RARE)
    Creature - Demon
    Whenever Cancercell Demon deals combat damage to a player, each player sacrifices a creature, then you draw a card for each creature sacrificed this way.

    Demon's Surgeon (UNCOMMON)
    Creature - Human Cleric
    Germ creatures you control get +0/+1.
    Whenever a Demon enters the battlefield under your control, put three 0/0 black Germ creature tokens onto the battlefield.

    Bloodcell Dragon (RARE)
    Creature - Dragon
    Whenever Bloodcell Dragon deals combat damage to a player, you may gain control of target creature he or she controls until end of turn. If you do, untap that creature, it gains haste until end of turn, and after this phase, there is an additional combat phase.

    Stemcell Hydra (RARE)
    Creature - Hydra
    Whenever Stemcell Hydra deals combat damage to a player, put an X/X green Hydra creature token onto the battlefield, where X is the amount of combat damage Stemcell Hydra dealt to that player.

  10. Oops, Braincell Sphinx is supposed to be 4UU, for what it matters.

  11. Revised:

    Marrow Angel 5WW
    Creature — Angel M
    When Marrow Angel deals combat damage, put a bone counter on another target creature. It gains indestructible.

    Spinal Sphinx 5UU
    Creature — Sphinx M
    When Spinal Sphinx deals combat damage, scry 2, then draw a card.

    Cancer Demon 5BB
    Creature — Demon M
    When Cancer Demon deals combat damage, target player sacrifices a creature and you put a 2/2 black Germ creature token onto the battlefield.

    Heart Dragon 5RR
    Creature — Dragon M
    When Heart Dragon deals combat damage, it deals 4 damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures and/or players.

    Sinew Hydra 5GG
    Creature — Hydra M
    When Sinew Hydra deals combat damage, put two +1/+1 counters on each creature you control.

    Blood Singer 2RW
    Creature — Goblin Cleric U
    Sacrifice Marrow Singer: The next Dragon or Angel spell you cast costs RW less to cast.
    Repurpose RW (When this creature dies, you may pay RW. If you do, you may put a creature of equal or lower converted mana cost from your hand onto the battlefield.)

    1. Images: http://imgur.com/a/zOTJg

    2. These designs seem overly uninspiring for Mythic Rares. Marrow Angel is a slower, more incremental Aegis Angel, which is only a Rare. Compare Marrow Angel and Avacyn Angel of Hope. Spinal Sphinx reminds me of Ojutai, except for being vanilla-ier (it costs much more and is bigger). Heart Dragon is similarly a larger, vanilla Inferno Titan. Sinew Hydra is like Drana Liberator of Malakir, except it comes out much later and doesn't need other creatures to help it win the game. I think the numbers need a lot of tweaking (there's no reason to give these square stats or have them all cost 5MM) and I think the triggers would be cleaner as "Whenever NAME attacks" rather than "Whenever NAME deals combat damage". Last thing; a non-0/0 black Germ token hurts my inner Melvin.

    3. I did not see you've already finalized your designs. It's a little late for me to offer criticism. Sorry!

    4. I think you're probably right that these are not that mythic; Switching them to be rares instead is the obvious solution.

      The combat damage trigger both works with Bloodhill Bastion and can work if you need to block/ give vigilance.