Monday, August 15, 2016

Weekend Art Challenge Review 081216—molee

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Design a mythic card for this art.

With haste and evasion, you're very likely to get one trigger in before your opponent can do anything to stop it, but you might not have the mana left to cast any of the cards you exile. After the first turn, you've still got evasion and you can keep your mana open, but you might have to work to keep your 1-toughness flyer getting through.

As a very efficient attacker with the magical-christmas-land potential of being a free Ancestral Recall every round, Avatar of Inspiration is perfect at mythic. That flavor's quite strong as well, and I'm personally a fan of how fragile/conditional this is: If you don't work at it, it might only be good; but if you do, it could be ridiculous—that's a recipe for fun.

We could simplify this from "that many" to '3' since it's unlikely to matter (even if you do pump its power, choosing from 6 cards instead of 3 is a much smaller gain than choosing from 3 instead of 0), but 5 lines of text versus 6 is irrelevant at this rarity, as is the minor complexification, so why not let the player dream?

How do you make an otherwise-vanilla 4/4 for six mythic? Let it draw you two cards per turn? Yeah, that'll do it. Pretty good flavor, lots of promise. My instinct is this feels a scosche plain, but I'm rejecting that because this will absolutely have a huge impact on the game (while it survives*).

I like that you might not be able to get full value out of it if you don't have two spells to recur, or if you don't have enough mana to cast them every round, but at six mana (and building around this) you're probably just casting the same two spells over and over, or the two most expensive spells you can afford. The latter sounds brutal but fun, while the former sounds boring (and brutal). Maybe:
At your upkeep, choose two instant or sorcery cards from your graveyard at random. You may cast them immediately.
* And if we want to ensure we get some value before Creator of Lightning gets murdered, maybe something like:
Whenever ~ becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, choose an instant or sorcery card from your graveyard at random. You may cast it without paying its mana cost.

Wait, X never gets defined. How do we know how many cards to exile? The only way I can make sense of this is to assume we get to choose X, in which case I'd say "exile any number of cards," keep the Xs in the modes, and add "X is half the number of cards you exiled this way, rounded down."

Lightning Apotheosis is an enchantment (and thus safe except from directed hate) that can let you scry 1 or 2 for almost nothing, trade deck for life (which could be massive in a 60-card deck), or kill a creature, and it can do that every round. I imagine you ideally kill a creature, become invincible, kill another creature, and then fix your draws until you need to kill a creature again.

We want our three-color mythic enchantment to be awesome, and our three modes are super red, white, and blue respectively; but this reads an awful lot like a planeswalker that can't be attacked. Maybe exiling 2 or 4 cards whenever we scry, 6+ cards whenever we kill something, and gambling how many cards we want to trade for life (b/c you only want to spend one trigger doing that) is enough risk to make Apotheosis tricky to use and thus interesting.

Lord Indra's + ability mills you a bit, and might accelerate you 0, 1, or 2 lands ahead depending on your luck (or manipulation). Its - ability is Lightning Bolt, like Ral Zarek. Its ultimate creates a legendary creature with no name (we need a name for legendary to matter; let's assume Creative gives it a name) that's 5/5 and indestructible like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. But you can ultimate it the first time you untap, having +'d the turn you played it (and presumably defended it), and keep it after you do (which might be a touch strong—could trade indestructible for haste or something).

This is definitely mythic, red, and green. It would be cool if its abilities were more unique, but we're definitely going to see some overlap as more and more PWs are created. It would also be nice if there were any synergy between the abilities, but versatility is useful too. Overall, I'd say Indra is pretty solid, a bit uninspired, but very functional and arguably flavorful.

Is it important that The Myriad have 1 toughness even though its immune to damage, so that -1/-1 can kill it? I can imagine a Dev environment where that's true, but let Dev make that call; why does Design want this to be a 5/1?

The last ability probably wants to name combat damage, so that it doesn't look like it can let you draw infinite cards. Getting to draw unconditionally five cards the turn you play it, and every round thereafter seems too powerful for five mana, especially when you're also getting to deal 5 damage anywhere you want.

Looking at the comments, seems this was dropped to 3/1. I still think it should be 3/3 and I'm not sure why it needs to be immune to damage and draw cards and redirect its own damage (from an identity standpoint), but that is much closer to printable.

It's neat that becoming an enchantment solves the other details that "instead of dying" requires (removing damage and resetting toughness). It's also neat that this god calls back to the Theros enchantment gods by having a non-creature state and becoming an enchantment. The effect is very good, but just expensive enough not to break the game out right. Could be frustrating to kill Thor, God of Thunder because you're tired of getting Collective Defiance'd only to have the enchantment reign on, but this is a five mana 4/4 mythic so I think it's pretty reasonable. It would be safer (and slightly more flavorful) to simply copy those spells, so you're not recurring the same card over and over.

Flying and hexproof on an efficient body is something to keep an eye on, even at mythic. Tydarath, the Endless Eye also gives you Future Sight, but effectively exiles your hand while it does. That's a really cool and red take on the effect, hinting at hellbent (which has been a whisp of a theme in red ever since we first met the Rakdos) without requiring it. I like that, and slapping it on a stormy flying creature works well. I still hesitate about the hexproof: How does green answer this threat? Does this need to be blue? (Maybe this is hexproof to justify the blue, and blue because storms?)

Haha. I read this as an enchantment at first and was like "BAH-ROKEN." But it's a sorcery, so only your lands in excess of four becomes Lightning Bolts (in addition to generating mana to cast, presumably, literal Lightning Bolts). Is it important you still get mana from those lands? Could this just give your lands "{T}: Bolt" until EOT? Or could it just be {X}{2}{R}{R}? Duncan implies it's important that being able to untap your lands improve this, but I'm missing the context where that doesn't work just as well with an X spell.

With Blaze, I need 10 mana to deal 9 damage to my opponent's head. I can do that for seven mana with Unleash the Tempest. I can deal 21 damage for 11 mana vs 20 damage for 21 mana from most X-spells. If there were some conditional aspect to this that an opponent could put pressure against (apart from massive land destruction) I might be cool with that, but this just seems too deadly. Maybe there's some way to prevent you from targeting the same player over and over?

Unlike the full gods of Theros who are indestructible enchantments and can become creatures with enough devotion, Voltais, son of Keranos (and presumably other demi-gods) is a creature that can become an indestructible enchantment. There's no real reward for becoming an enchantment, but becoming indestructible is always nice. It also has an ability (a sweet red-blue ability) but it never feels like an enchantment. I wish the ability only turned on while the creature is an enchantment, or got better while it is. Story-wise, the idea of tracking mortals on their path to deification is pretty exciting. (It would be neat to find a way to tie in the quests to the process but devotion definitely takes precedent.) Mechanically, this is very good, and pretty well-balanced, except…

Three hybrid {UR} symbols completely satisfies half of Voltais' devotion requirement by itself. [Edited thanks to Jack's clarification.]

Kapow! There's 9 totally mythic cards. I'm impressed with the creativity, appeal, and restraint in these designs. Mythic isn't easy and you all did a good job with it.

Thanks to Pasteur for rendering the cards.


  1. I have comments on cards, but a couple of rules nitpicks.

    The rules for devotion say a hybrid mana symbol counts 1 towards "devotion to red and blue". Do I remember that wrong?

    And I thought counters automatically got their types as their name if it wasn't specified so "and all permanents with the same name" worked (mostly) as expected, etc. Has that changed? I think it'd be *better* if Indra's avatar had a name, but I think it works as expected.

    1. Looks like you're right about {UR} counting only once for devotion blue, red, or both. Counting for 3 of your own 6 is still a lot.

      Creative would definitely name the token. You don't leave legends unnamed. But yeah, technically its name would default to its type.

  2. I liked Avatar of Inspiration and Creator of Lightning for having abilities which were simple but splashy and flavourful for the art.

    I liked Thor and Voltais for alternate takes on gods, inspired by, but different to, the theros block, both for the individual cards which looked fun, and the mechanic for gods or demi gods. (Tho, I don't know if they'd print "demi god". That might only be in flavour, I don't know.)

  3. Some really nice looking cards here! Like I said in the other thread, it's been quite a while since I've been here. It's great to see a couple of the "old" designers again but even better seeing some new ones.

    This was quite an evocative illustration. Glad to see so much variance for such a straightforward challenge.

  4. Regarding Voltais: my intent was that Voltais would still be a creature. Now that it's been rendered, I see that should be stated (or in reminder text.)

    1. I assumed that, but now that you mention it the template would need to make that explicit.

  5. What if Lightning Apotheosis was a planeswalker card?

    Apotheosis, Father of Lightning-2RWB

    At the beginning of your upkeep exile up to 5 cards from the top of your library. Put that many loyalty counters on CARDNAME.
    -X: CARDNAME deals X damage to target creature.
    -X: Gain X life.
    -X: Scry X. Draw a card.
    Like Mike, I've been gone awhile too. What have I missed? Are we not doing that one challenge anymore?

    1. That manages cost is supposed to be 2RWU, not 2RWB. I think I've been admiring Mardu Marchesa to much.

    2. Welcome back.

      I'd translate that exile cost into loyalty counters:

      Apotheosis, Father of Lightning-2RWU
      +1: Scry 2.
      -X: CARDNAME deals X damage to target creature and X damage to you.
      -5: Gain 10 life.
      5 starting loyalty

      No personal risk, but otherwise plays pretty similarly.

    3. I was more interested in other ways of gaining loyalty counters. Trading cards in your deck for loyalty could be an interesting twist to a planeswalker.

    4. Cool.
      For me, planeswalkers are weird enough, and exiling-for-effect is interesting enough, that I'd rather explore the latter on less pre-loaded cards.