Monday, April 18, 2016

Weekend Art Challenge Review 041516—Clueless!

Hello Artisans! Anastase here. This week's challenge was all about investigation of clues.

Investigate is a very well supported ability in SOI and I have had fun drafting the UG investigation deck. Let us proceed to the designs submitted:

First up is Jay's Curious Rover. It has been some time since we have seen this type of card. As Zefferal pointed out in the comments, since we are playing with layer 1 / layer 2 effects, it would be prudent to change this to "whenever a player investigates for the second time each turn" which would be functionally identical 99% of the time, but would be clearer to read. It is flavorful and would lead you to favor investigate in a draft.

Devin E. Green gives us Greedy Shadowpriest. Its templating is slightly awkward, but it does synergize with investigate. I guess that it could be "if you drew two cards that turn" or "if you drew a card outside your draw step." Nice card in the vein of Asylum Visitor.

Taresivon came up with Recurring Enigma: A flavorful investigation token that recurs itself if you investigated twice in a given turn. Unfortunately playing it or sacrificing it does not count as investigating! I would perhaps change it to: "{2}, sacrifice Recurring Enigma: investigate, then draw a card" and make it cost {1}.

Theo went old-school and made a real-world literature reference on an MtG card. This is something that Wizards has shied away from in the last 15 years. I like this card. I rephrased it to include Zefferal's suggestion. I guess the rarity would be common or uncommon?

Jenesis gave us No Stone Unturned, a flavorful card that is a weaker form of Skeletal Scrying which is a smart choice, as an {X}{B} draw spell would probably not be appropriate in the current standard, even with the limitation of the number of creatures in your graveyard.

Jack's Great Insight doubles the output of your clues, and halves their activation cost. I would guess this is a rare sorcery card, even though it could be an instant of another rarity. I like the idea of suddenly realizing where all your clues were leading you to. This is a very parasitic mechanical excecution. You might notice in SoI that the only card that cares about investigation—but doesn't itself investigate—is Erdwal Illuminator. Wizards has been very conscious about parasitic mechanics out of late and rarely prints such cards any more due to the negative effect they have on the long term compatibility of MtG.

Droken creates a parallel version of skullclamp, a.k.a. the greater good of token players. His version is weaker in token decks, but far stronger in dedicated affinity decks. It is a very interesting melvin-y card that reminds us that anywhere we could put "draw a card" and found it too powerful, we could instead be using investigate. Well, apart from clue tokens… That would be silly.

At very heafty price of {2}{U}{U} and with a very expensive activation cost of {3}{U}{U}, I was affraid that Zefferal's 2/2 Cogwork investigator would be underpowered. The real part of this investigator however is the mana-less activation cost of "sacrifice a clue: draw a card." I expected to see this on a card and was not disappointed. I would probably tweak the numbers on the card around to probably {2}{U} and {2}{U}{U}, but otherwise I could see this card printed.

Merawder gave us Put to Rest. I like the idea of using clues as a kicker cost, and while the card needs other cards that surround it to be optimal, it is not too parasitic. Its mana cost, lack of targeting restrictions and the addition of investigate probably make it too good for {2}{B} mana. I could easily see it as a {2}{B}{B} card, however. And we would need to test weather players are willing to give up 3 cards to destroy all creatures, but that could be also tweaked and would reward skilled players.

Finally Pasteur gives us an unpronounceable card. I like the idea of adding scry to the clues, but this would not really combine well with clues unless you control many of them. I would therefore suggest changing it to: Whenever you sacrifice an artifact, scry 2. I guess that would be acceptable on a 1/1 creature.

That is all for this weeks challenge, Artisans! I enjoyed what I saw. Keep up the good work and see you on Friday for another perplexing challenge!


  1. I reworked my design into a split card!

    1. Seek is lovely and could be common on its own. Nice.

      Destroy is weird. Why do clues help you kill creatures? Can we remove X from the mana cost?

      If we needed a split card, I could see something like this (with another name—'destroy' doesn't describe the right-side card) but in a vacuum, these would make two fine individual cards.


      Here it is with some different art, considering lowering the cost of Destroy by 1.


      My thinking is that clues help you kill creatures because they help you find/get at them. I wouldn't want to print Destroy on its own, because I think it's best to avoid making cards that care about clues but can't make clues if possible. My thinking is that the card offers a slightly worse alternative to Think Twice, with the benefit being it can become an expensive cantrip killspell, or double killspell.

      Is the flavor weaker than it seems to me?

      Oh, probably worth mentioning that my set is constructed rather than limited.


      Also, what do you think about this card? It doesn't have to be blue, since it can't draw more than one card (more like a cantriping kill spell than Divination). Is it too weird? It can be a 5 mana cantriping doomblade that you can pay for a bit at a time, or it can be a doomblade that lets you crack a clue for free. All at sorcery speed only, and double B.

    3. There's a lot going on there for a single set, much less an uncommon. If we do another Time Spiral, this would be right at home. Until then, something this complex would have to be rare, and even then I can't see having two similar smoothing mechanics in the same set.

    4. TumbledMTG, the thing I'm working on, isn't a set! It's a full on constructed format, with hundreds of cards using any and all mechanics. So it should be alright for me to use multiple mechanics, as long as the card itself isn't too confusing for people to use.


      Here's a possible cycle, would love to here any more constructive criticism you have. Given that these won't exist in limited, only constructed, do you think some might still be too much? What about thoughts besides complexity?

    6. Like a Cube?
      You can certainly make a custom set/cube/format as complex as you like.
      All of these can be figured out. The question is, how much time do you want players to spend on them? If most of your set is simple, it's no problem at all. If most of it is like this, you might scare players away half-way through a two-hour game, or even before they finish building decks.

    7. You're right, and I definitely find it hard sometimes to draw the line. Complexity can be a hard restriction to impose on myself I find, but I know that's just part of learning to be a better designer.

  2. Oh no! My submission wasn't accepted. Sadness.

    1. Sorry Chah! It slipped through the cracks. You must have submitted it after I had sent the review to Jay. I liked your submission and commented on it a moment ago.