Monday, March 28, 2016

Weekend Art Challenge Review 032516—Answer Cards

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Hello all! Anastase here, reviewing the answer cards challenge, or should I say the "take that -----!" challenge?

The idea behind an answer card is to find the question (a bit like Jeopardy if I understand correctly what that game is about?).

Here the questions generally were:
Which mechanic is not fun when abused?
Mechanic X is not fun when abused, how can I answer it?

I took the liberty of adding flavor text to all the cards submitted based on suggestions in the comments.

Strangely, the main controversy in the challenge was weather the art #1 by Roswell-Ivory is an angel or an archon. (I would lean toward the second.)

On with the cards!

Pasteur is first up with From the Mist. I can understand the idea of "if you cast it unfairly it will enter tapped, and I will get a token copy of it and smash your in the face with it." However I think that a threaten effect until your next end step + cantrip might be more in line (as we have seen in the white version of the card) and would not step on the toes of gather specimens.

Theo brings us the first of two Angels of Balance. Whether a spell will or won't cause you to sacrifice a creature is not as easy to know as it seems (read the gatherer rulings of equinox, as pointed out by Jenesis to see a similar effect). I guess this card tried not to prevent sacrifice effects (like Sigarda v1 and Tajuru Preserver), but make them harder on your opponents.

The effect is interesting but I believe it could have been done more cleanly: "If an opponent's effect would cause you to sacrifice a creature, do not sacrifice it unless they also sacrifice a creature." Although that could be a nightmare if both you and your opponent control this. Hm…

Pasteur suggested "Flash. If a spell or ability controlled by another player would cause you to sacrifice a creature, instead that player sacrifices a creature."

Any thoughts on obtaining the desired effect in an elegant way?

Prowess decks, pyromancer ascension and so many other things will suffer. I want to give a shout out to Jenesis for consistently managing to find one-line elegant designs that answer my challenges. I find it very hard to restrain myself and not add on small effects on cards like that. I would probably have added a cantrip to not make it 100% useless in limited. This is a sideboard card that could do some heavy lifting against some storm decks.

Archon of Fairness by Ipaulsen does not feel fair at all! It makes your opponent live in a constant feeling of presque vu, and as such I would have expected a bit of blue in the mana cost. I am wondering about the intent of the card; from what I understand (and find logical flavor-wise) it is supposed to prevent your opponent from singling out one target out of a group of possible targets. As such I would probably advocate for the following wording:

"Whenever your opponent must choose among two or more targets, he or she chooses none instead."

In a world of screaming, yodeling and wailing monoliths, P for Pizza presents us a monolith that brings calm to our overzealous researchers. The effect somehow seemed familiar and during my search for it I realized that there are surprisingly few cards that use the wording "more than." (The card I had in mind was the spirit of the labyrinth). I guess the activation cost is there to allow you to draw more than two cards in a turn, but I believe it is a very high cost. The numbers on the card could be tweaked a bit, but I like the effect.

That was my own submission, which is a weird thing to do. I would not have submitted if the Ethereal Anchor flavor did not tie so well (in my eyes at least) with the as-of-yet unprinted "cannot be bounced" mechanic. Should I also submit card ideas? It feels bizarre.

Wobbles brings us a very powerful lockdown creature for control decks. Its mana cost is similar to Admonition Angel, and its power level is similar. I have not heard complaints about the latter so I would not expect complaints for the former either, especially given its lower stats. It could get massaged by Ipaulsen to state: "Whenever another creature would enter the battlefield, if any player controls fewer creatures than its controller, instead exile that creature until CARDNAME leaves the battlefield," but all in all it is a cool card.

The Cozen brings us Celestial Remonstrator, aimed against persist but not undying. It is quite a narrow answer card, dealing with some pretty annoying creatures, but it is strange to see it have persist itself. I echo Ipaulsen in suggesting that the card either loses the graveyard clause or the 'may' clause to make it slightly less wordy, a bit more broad, and less controllable.

Jay's Legal Guardian digs in the same area as Ipaulsen's Archon, but seems to be more white-based: white knows what is best for you. There are rules for that. Respect the law. I like the flavor, but am afraid that this will be used as a Johnny combo piece more than as an answer. Example: Choice of Damnations in the same deck.

Gah! Zeno's card is frightening. It would be able to shape the metagame all by itself, and as such I doubt it would be printed as is. It is an interesting Gaddock Teeg design space, but it would need some serious tweaking to make it viable. I am not sure what to suggest apart from upping Sar's CMC to 3 and boosting her stats to compensate.

That is all for this week Artisans. Good work as always!

See you on Friday!


  1. From the Mist seems like a fine variation on Gather Specimens and Hallowed Moonlight, though it does feel a bit odd that red would get a permanent creature out of the deal. I'd expect that to be a blue or green card. A Threaten version sounds cool too, and arguably redder.

  2. Angel of Balance:
    As amateur designers, templating is a useful skill for getting across our ideas. That said, note that Magic designers don't need that skill because they have people to figure templates out for them, as long as the idea is solid.

    Maybe: "As an additional cost to cast a spell that would cause you to sacrifice a creature, opponents must sacrifice a creature."

    1. I agree about the templating, but should I be judging the intent or the execution?

      I like the suggested rewording.

    2. Focus on the intent, but don't ignore the execution (unless you feel the disparity isn't worth mentioning).

  3. There's got to be a nasty combo with Silent Monolith.

    1. I spent some time trying to see if there was a way to abuse this, but I did not find something. It is quite close to the spirit of the labyrinth.

  4. The trickiest thing about submitting your own ideas (which I used to do all the time) is giving relevant criticism to them.

    Etherial Anchor basically says "{2}: Counter target bounce spell" as well as playing dangerously well with Upheaval with Final Judgment et al.

    1. That is why it has an activation cost of {2}. It is also supposed to trump self-bounce and flicker effects.

    2. I liked the etherial anchor. It made me think of a mechanic that could mirror indestructible: Inamovible (this creature cant leave the batlefield unless it dies).

    3. I had installed the durmphinator up, and now my previous reply is quite funny.

      I do not think there is enough need for unbouncability/unexilability to justify keywording it, but I could see it put on cards in sets with lots of oblivion rings and bouncers.

  5. Couldn't remember the name of it, but I had a feeling something like Choice of Damnations was lurking around to force Legal Guardian into something more complicated.

    "If an opponent would make a choice for an effect, suggest a choice. If they don't choose what you suggested, look at the top card of your library. You may play it without paying its mana cost."

    Or maybe just "draw a card" or "put an angel OTB."

  6. I'd say Sar could be fixed by looking at the highest CMC among permanents you control, but that's just a different deck. Not sure how to keep it from being an auto-win half the time.

  7. Thanks for doing the renders and reviews!

    The intent of Archon of Fairness is to keep opponents from making "choices" like those in the text boxes of Thoughtseize and True-Name Nemesis. As the reminder-text says, targeting isn't considered a choice.

    Also, I meant for the mana cost to be 2WW.

  8. You are correct. Sorry about that. The part about rephrasing it is pointless then...