Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Weekend Art Challenge Review 022616—Conspiracy 2.0

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Welcome back, artisans to the review of this weekend's challenge. My name’s Zeno Rage a.k.a Walter Christy, and this week I asked everyone to do a little bit of theorizing on what’s going to be in the recently announced Conspiracy: Reign of Brago.

What’s that? Brago’s dead! Again! Sorry, my bad. I’ll just fix that.

Conspiracy: The Reign of Brago The Empty Throne.

What now! Someone took the throne? Good Urza, why can’t Wizards make up their minds? I swear, this is the last time I’ll change it.

Conspiracy: The Reign of Brago The Empty Throne Take the Crown.

With all of that confusion settled, let’s go over some of the things I’m looking for so we can get right into the cards. Anything that affects the draft, or is affected by being drafted, is one way to go. This could include conspiracies and the typical cogwork constructs. Second thing: cards that interact well in multiplayer. This could be done through the use of the mechanics from the original Conspiracy (Will of the council, Dethrone, Parley), or you could’ve come up with something original. Finally, I’ll be looking to see if the card is iterating on what the first set had done and expanding and exploring on those themes and ideas.

One last thing to take note of: all of the draft matters cards—much like lands, foils, rares, and double faced cards from Innistrad—have their own slot in the booster pack. This means that you won’t have multiple of them in a pact, and players will just have an extra (super fun and exciting) choice to choose from. Now, let’s get right into it!

We have quite the curiosity in our first card. Basically we can cast the best-worst card of our choice that we draft, without putting it in our deck, for the rest of the game. At least, until our Curiosity dies. That would be absurd depending on the card you choose. Even choosing a simple Grizzly Bear would generate a 2/2 for numerable turns, which can be insanely good. Seemingly useless combat tricks can become a nuisance to your opponents. The point is, it doesn't matter if a card's off color, or if it usually sucks, because with Cogwork Curiosity, even the worst last picks can become amazing.

On the other side of all that’s good, we have some interesting things that keep this card in check. The most obvious of which is the fact that it’s a creature… A fairly weak creature at that. A 1/1 won’t survive for long, especially if it has a target on its back. Plus, since it’s multiplayer, there will be more than a few removal spells floating around. Which is something to keep in mind for all of the following cards as well.

The other interesting thing about this is that the player passing packs to you will have some amount of control over what you can choose and what you can’t. Although now that I think about it, players might start to hate draft just to stop the Curiosity Cogwork player. I’m not sure if we want that. But it’s most likely alright since they will just be hate drafting the worst commons that are left in the pack.

There was no rarity included, but I would probably put this at rare, maybe uncommon.

Booster pack swap anyone? If you left something juicy behind in another pack, you can draft the investigator to reclaim your previous pack in hopes that you can draft another goodie from it… Unless someone has already drafted the card you wanted. In which case you can decide that you don’t want to swap packs. But you still might have just wasted your draft pick.

The one thing I dislike is that you have no choice when you use the investigator. As soon as you draft it, you have to swap packs with someone, or you’ve wasted your chance to swap. If it was me, I might have worded it something more like this:
Draft CARDNAME face up. You may flip it over at any time to look at a booster pack another player is looking at with the same number of cards in it as your current pack. You may exchange your current pack for that pack. (You will pass the pack you receive normally.)

Fioran Thinkpol is a basic Thoughtseize effect on a creature, which we’ve seen before, but comes with a twist… of the council (Ok, that was a bad one.) You don’t have control over who you target, but the whole point of will of the council is to create more politics in your games. Just don’t go bragging about that planeswalker that you drafted.

This is a solid design and I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like this this fall.

In the same vein as Eater of Days and friends, we have an undercosted creature with a drawback. The drawback here? We have to play the worst card our right/left hand drafter can find for us. The only light side to this is that they most likely don’t know what colors you're drafting, so they could accidentally give you something completely playable! Depending on how far you are into the draft, this could be more or less of a drawback. If this is your first pick, then you're most likely gonna miss out on some sweet cards. If this happens to be your fifth or sixth pick though, you won’t be missing out as much.

With all the variability though, I’d consider putting this at rare, so it doesn’t mess with players as often. Other than that, I’d love to see how bad this drawback really is and if it warrants a vanilla 8/8 for four.

This is the art I found for Influence, but I’m still unsure if it fits better than the other art.

I assume that Influence would reside in the same spot in the booster pack that other draft matter cards go. Last time only colorless spells and conspiracies resided in this spot, but a cycle of monocolor or ally color draft matter cards could be done. It’s the most obvious extension of what Wizards did in the original Conspiracy, possibly opening up some more design space.

I’m not sure if Influence the pools is that card though. It most likely will be picked up around second, third, or fourth pick. Anything after that is pretty much overkill, because you've already have enough votes to win any council meeting. What if it just was: “You gain three extra votes in the next vote.” You could even tack on some scrying, so you can influence your deck as well.

This does give me an idea though. What about having some votes during the draft? Instead of four people voting, you could have all eight! It would really feel like a council meeting then.

Makes all your crappy last picks more playable, in the same vein as Cogwork Curiosity. Neat. You even want to pick more of those cards that you noted, so you can have a bunch of cheaper spells in your deck. I just wished Uplifter costed less so I could start playing those cheaper spells sooner. Now that I think about it, I might prefer this as a conspiracy. Solid design nonetheless!

Finally, we have Spiretop Spy. As long as you connect with their face, you can get rid of an opponent's hidden agenda or draw a card. I’m not sure if players would realize that when their conspiracy got exiled, its effect no longer works. Or maybe they do.

How many players would sacrifice their conspiracies to stop you from drawing a card? It really depends on the situation, but I feel like most of the time they will let you draw the card. I love how this spy is letting you bribe him to keep your secrets a secret and for me, that’s a flavor win.

A lot of interesting cogworks and spies submitted this weekend. One thing that is harder about Conspiracy is the wording. Do you want it to be revealed? Should it be drafted face up? It mentions terms like booster packs and draft, that it makes us think about magic speak in a new way. I’m looking forward to see how many of us got close when the spoilers start happening next summer/fall. Until next time!


  1. Oops, I'd meant to make Cogwork Curiosity do instants-and-sorceries only. It might not make a big difference -- creatures have probably already been drafted, and anything else probably isn't more playable in multiples -- but it would avoid memory issues.

    I like the idea of influence the pools, but I wonder if it would be too strong as a permanent conspiracy effect? It seems too narrow as a spell, since it only makes a difference when there's a will of the council spell and you want something different to most other players.

  2. My "get extra votes" mechanic supposes that there are other ways to use votes in this set: for every vote of A, do X for every vote of B do that. Also selling your votes could be a thing.

  3. The reason my Cogwork Investigator happens immediately is logistical; having to check if the player with the Investigator wants to trade, every single time, would slow the draft down to a crawl. Not Worth.