Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Weekend Art Challenge Review 070116 — smolin

Here's Pasteur's review of last weekend's art challenge.

{W}{B} gets us a Guard Duty+ that will kill the creature before long, but only with a morbid trigger. (Guard Duty + Withering Hex?) I understand that trigger's attachment to the flavor, but it seems like a pretty big drawback without a commensurate payoff when the cost/rarity would probably get us the effects without one.

Getting Dragons:

Traps seem fun and inevitable to come back at some point, and their original appearance was certainly alongside plenty of equipment for this trigger. The story here is cleanly told, and costed effectively. If there was one change I would make, it would be to put the token onto the battlefield tapped, so you could get it at a discount but not as an ambush. But, if equipping is rarer, that upside might be worthwhile.

If it weren't for this art, I imagine this card would grant a 3/3 Centaur/Dryad/Elemental/Elephant/Ape. Droqen's own analysis is spot-on: when the Dragon is splashy, losing a land likely hurts; later when you can afford the land, the Dragon is less effective.

At some point, Scythe Tigers and Rogue Elephants become worth playing. Flying here might be offset by your opponent controlling the trigger? As a player this card would give me a headache trying to evaluate. The story's pretty straightforward, but probably works better with different art or colors.

Do we have to word this "Whenever a spell or ability an opponent controls destroys or gains control of an artifact you control" (a la Karmic Justice)? It's unfortunate that Magic is really unclear about players taking actions. Maybe "Whenever an artifact you control becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls", but that's still obtuse, and doesn't cover Shatterstorm. Mechanically, this could probably be fun in a casual Affinity deck - the dragons don't benefit from your artifact creature synergies, but a 3/3 flier isn't something to frown at. Fun and fair and the story makes sense - I could imagine this dragon being one of several smaller ones that work together to protect a shrine.

I would isolate the discount either to be a pseudo-trap cost from the hand or a recursion effect (which could probably just return to your hand, rather than the battlefield). What if this got a Delve-like discount of {1} per card that's left an opponent's graveyard this turn? That plus flash could synergize with your own Tormod's Crypts and punish opponents' delving/flashback while being a static ability with less looping.

A green Divination hasn't been printed yet, but isn't too far off the path; the Hero option is something we can get at common at this cost. The choice between them is nice, but I'm not sure it's ever worth your opponent getting a free 3/3. What if you just took that part out?

This gets us to "test your strength and have a story told of your deeds" (draw cards) or "best the beast and inspire your kin" (righteous charge). But I think we can clean up the formatting even more.

Is this something we want to see on nonpermanents? I know it's not in the comprehensive rules yet, but I'm alright with anchor words being used like this for clarity of story. Interested to hear what you might think in the comments.

Pretty neat to think about what artifacts you might want to play alongside this. Howling Mines and Mana Crypts, maybe, but also even just a Prophetic Prism combos pretty well with this dragon. Seems like this hits on all four cylinders.

Getting Swords:

A legendary dragon bequeathing a legendary equipment on death seems solid, and you getting both halves works very well mechanically, at least. I feel like either Igneous or Excalibur need just a little bit of extra flair to get over the edge into mythic territory - maybe the equipment grants indestructible?

This sets up the test, which isn't too difficult - trade with the opponent's 3/3 in any way, and you'll get a pretty good equipment out of the deal. All in all, this probably costs you two cards (either a creature that trades or a removal spell) and a handful of mana to get an equipment that could swing the game. Seems fair.

Mike George proposed this, (name changed for clarity) and I think it adds up pretty well. Deathpact Angel would be a DFC in modern Magic, right?

It's a white dragon! Beyond that, though, it's a guardian that can pass on its prize to another of your creatures if it's vanquished - unless you have no other champions to take up the mantle, at which point your opponent gets to claim the bounty. Probably works better as a 3/3 to give three counters, but I'm always tempted towards the Serraesque stats.

Great job this weekend all round! I'll leave you with the question - which came first, the dragon or the sword?


  1. You nailed the flavor of my card design.

    THEIF: steal and sell, then you can get some future value.

    HERO: face the challenge left behind, live gloriously.

    I like your final design too. The 3/3 red dragon no flying was a way to put the dragon into the story. Either decision leads to the wrath of the dragon guardian. Great experience, thanks for the feedback!

  2. Ooh, what if Grave Vigil exiled a creature card from a graveyard instead? It keeps the flavour of watching over a grave (maybe even better?), the grave vigil-er accomplishes something tangible (the buried creature is laid to rest permanently), and the card becomes more powerful, more in line with its cost & rarity.

  3. Lots of very cool ideas here. Good review too.

  4. Valley of Repose: This is significantly better than Rogue Elephant et al, because you don't have to spend a card to get the token. It's more like transforming than sacrificing. Because it triggers off attacking, it also either puts you up a card (you eat their attacker with your 4/4 flying blocker) or effectively gains you a bunch of life (they don't want to attack with anything until they can kill your 4/4).

    Honored Wandering: If not for the art I would say this fits perfectly at WU. Blue is one of the Rogue colors and the red dragon would be the shared enemy color of both thief and hero.

    @Droqen: That is an excellent suggestion.