Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekend Art Challenge Review 051316

Hello all, Anastase here.
Here is the challenge we are reviewing. Let us see what was submitted.

Challenge: Design a card that takes reinterprets the idea of riding a horse.

Riding a horse (and riding anything) is very evocative. I know we have tried to solve this in the past. Outside of a named mechanic, I imagine it best represented by a creature that has two creature types and, when it dies, leaves a smaller token of the second creature type, but that is a personal taste. I have also seen mechanics that are a combination of Duplicant and banisher priest which are flavorful but also slightly complex for common.

I always fear this is a windmill we are tilting at and that the fact that wizards has not named a mechanic for riding horses/ beasts is because they have not found an elegant enough way to capture all that riding entails. Another minor detail: With the addition of planeswalkers to the game, you also need to evoke that both mount and rider are attacking the same target.

This week we look at too interesting implementations, close to the soulbond mechanical pairing:

The interesting part of this is its non-parasitic nature (although you could add a parasitic mechanic—I fancy it named "Rider"—that cares about being mounted). It cares about attacking, which helps gameplay a lot. While as a mechanic it does not capture the speed and evasiveness, it remains an interesting interpretation.

Jay submitted an unchanged mechanic that gives a stronger incentive to attacking while mounted: giving first strike to both creatures. This way, you effectively have to kill either the horse or the rider in combat since absorbing a lot of first strike damage and killing the creature can be hard in practice. And it makes for interesting situations when the horse/knight gets bounced. Interesting to note how selecting what secondary ability to pair with an "activation/threshold" mechanic can influence the perception of the mechanic.

This implementation of mount is more flavorful, but carries too much complexity in the NWO. It is also somehow close to what banding did albeit in a more grok-able way. It is bizarre that the rider is unblockable and will always deal damage to the opponent or the opponent's planeswalkers even though you blocked it.

Challenge: Design a devotion card that belongs to the same cycle as cinder charger.

Jenesis gave us a cool second card for an allied colors hybrid devotion cycle. It lead us to discuss about devotion and about cycles (namely about not changing thresholds in a cycle to preserve mental space, even if it could be a way to adjust power level). A very good submission.


Challenge: Design a card that emulates an iconic sorcery of its color(s) in creature form.

No takers on this one. I guess it is hard to make a sorcery in creature form in that most creatures have to have P/T and be able to deal, take damage, while non-red sorceries rarely deal damage.

Challenge: Design another type of parasite/symbiote relationship mechanic.

Jenesis submitted this interesting treefolk. I think that it could probably cost {1} less, and be slightly better phrased, but I like the idea of the treefolk draining the discarded lands for sustenance. I imagine some Jennies would be very happy.

Challenge: Design a card that lets you live through an attack of Embermare.

Pretty, common, easy to grok. Very nice work there Jack. I like it.

Challenge: Use the burn mechanic in another context. You are allowed to rename it.

The most popular challenge this week was burn. Jack stoked the fires of our collective imaginations. General mechanics and limited vocabulary are things that can force game designers in Magic to think twice about naming their mechanic. While naming the mechanic is not essential (if the mechanic doesn't do some heavy lifting but still sees print, creative will find a name for it) many mechanics that are easy enough to reprint over and over need a generic enough name to avoid bushido situations. Again, creative will be there to help designers out, but it is a good skill to acquire.

Jenesis gave us a card with an apparent disadvantage (you burn your own cards? oh noes!) but then gives us hellbent! Who would have thought this 8-on-the-storm-scale mechanic would be able to find a home? I didn't. This is an amazing place to put Hellbent. I wish I had a knight of carnage for my B/R commander deck.

Kevin Gao's Mordred contains an interesting nugget of card design, using bind (a renamed burn) as a cost for attacking. However the way it is implemented it is almost like having pay {2} and 2 life if you want to attack or block which is a small cost to pay for +2/+1 to your creatures and a 6/6 for 4. I guess if you had to pay this for every creature that attacks it would be ok, yet even so this legendary creature is not very evocative of a flavor.

Droquen gives us a strangely blue legendary creature with a BUG color identity for Commander, the format for which I guess this card was aimed at. A minor detail: Legendary creatures tend to have specific names. As a 2/2 for 2 in blue this is already appealing. The rest of the card just screams Jenny. Unfortunately something in this card feels off to me, probably having to do with the card being blue. I could easily have seen the treefolk image as a BG creature with the exact same abilities and it would have been fine.

Waylay is an interesting name for burn, and Pasteur's card sends this ability to blue when it comes to creatures. I guess it is in between blue and white, since it kind of exiles until a condition is met and kind of bounces. It started off being named banish but that would have made banisher priest cry, and who would like that?

Challenge: Design a card that cares about colored mana in your mana pool in a different way than Flamemare does.

Strangely no one took on this challenge. I had some hopes for a green treefolk that cared about green mana or a blue creature caring about blue mana...

Challenge: Design an uncommon hate card for Nightsteed Subjugator. The shorter the phrasing, the better.

Hello Promontory Lookout my old friend, I come to visit you again, cause you are also a cool counter to the subjugator!

Design a card that cares about cards exiled from your graveyard.

We revisit Jenesis' Treefolk. It still cares about cards in your graveyard so here it is.

Joining the treefolk we have theo's legendary enchantment: Claimed by the Sea. I have issues with its CMC and its upkeep mana payment. Otherwise it is a card that is in-color and can be very strong in limited.

Challenge: Design a card for a neglected minority of MtG players.

I guess I should have put a picture of a noggle with the challenge.

Challenge: Complete the cycle for trojan candle.

This is also a design challenge I would have loved to see taken up.

Good work, Artisans.

I will take a moment here and ask for your input about the way I judge the cards. Do you consider it is too strict? I am worried I am clipping too many wings. Are these challenges supposed to be about blue-skying for you or about seeing if we can design cards that fit in the NWO? I was expecting more submissions this time around since there were 10 challenges. Was that too much?

See you on this week-end's challenge post!


  1. Yeah it was meant to be worded as creatures can't attack or block unless you bind one and pay 2 life for each creature

    1. It makes more sense like that. While I like the "hoop" you have to jump through to attack or block, I still think that it is slightly lacking in flavor (6/6 and other creatures get haste and +2/+1 does not feel as something that would see print nowadays).

      I am unsure of how to tackle this given how much space the text takes already.

      I like it more with this restriction however.