Friday, December 29, 2017

Weekend Design Challenge 122917—Preview Week

Click through to see the requirements for your design test, due Monday morning. Every submission warrants feedback, which you may use to revise your submission any number of times. I will aim to review the most recent submission from each designer.

Choose a Magic set no one else has claimed (and claim it in the comments before you begin work, because it'll take a bit and you could get scooped). Then select ten cards from that set for each of the daily features from the mothership circa 2010.

We're replicating the Preview Week design challenge from GDS2, minus the part where you have to create a world and design your own cards. If you try to submit cards/sets of your own design to this challenge, I will delete them. That's not the focus and this will be a lot of work for both of us anyhow.


Week 1 Feature
This article, written by Doug Beyer, introduces people to the world and storyline. Its preview card is almost always a legendary creature or planeswalker who figures prominently in the story.

Making Magic
This card, often a splashy rare or mythic rare, lets author Mark Rosewater introduce and discuss a major mechanic or theme in the set.


Serious Fun
This is the Timmy/casual/multiplayer column, so its preview card should have big Timmy and casual appeal, and may also have an effect that gets better in multiplayer.

Limited Information
The Limited column's preview card should be a common or uncommon that players will want to be aware of at the Prerelease and when drafting, either because of its raw power or because it is important to a particular Limited archetype.


Savor the Flavor
This card represents a chance to talk about some feature of the setting or storyline—a legendary permanent or planeswalker card that represents an important person, place, or thing in the storyline, a representative of a new or newly prominent tribe, or some other card that highlights an important creative element of the set.

Building on a Budget
This column focuses on decks for various formats and levels of competition that can be built with easily accessible cards. Its preview card may be a powerful common or uncommon, or a rare that is unlikely to see more than fringe Constructed play.


Top Decks
The serious Spike Constructed column's previews are often among R&D's top expected tournament Constructed cards. Ideal Top Decks preview cards are those whose power level may not be immediately obvious—role-players, "tricky" cards, and cards with many different potential applications.

From the Lab
This is unabashedly the Johnny column, and its preview cards are open-ended Johnny cards, often rare, with a number of potential applications. Narrower "über-Johnny" cards are usually not a good fit, because the questions posed by such cards are often more interesting to Johnnies than the answers.


The Week That Was
This column's preview cards are generally relatively powerful in Limited and/or Constructed. Johnny-Spike build-around uncommons and rares are a good fit.

Latest Developments
This card allows Tom LaPille to tell an important development story about the set, usually either by showing off a set theme or mechanic or by being a member of a high-profile cycle.

In addition to the requirements above, the individual cards need to be exciting. We're trying to get people pumped for the new set, so a card that fits the requirements for a given column but isn't exciting isn't a good preview card. For Week 1 previews, it's important to bear in mind that some of these cards will be readers' first look at various set themes and mechanics.


  1. Replies
    1. Feature: Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
      Making Magic: Ancestral Vision
      Serious fun: Liege of the Pit
      Limited info: Errant Ephemeron
      Savor the flavor: Dralnu, Lich Lord
      Building on a Budget: Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder
      Top decks: Mystical Teachings
      From the Lab: Paradox Haze
      The week that was: Rift Bolt
      Latest Developments: Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

    2. Jaya Ballard, Task Mage was a character from Dominaria's recent past that fans were eager to see, so it seems like a fair Feature.

      Ancestral Vision is a splashy card showing off the new suspend mechanic. Arguably better for Top Decks or Latest Developments, but it does make sense to show off suspend early.

      Liege of the Pit has no multiplayer appeal but it has great Tammy appeal, so it's a fit for Serious Fun.

      Errant Ephemeron is perfect for Limited Info to analyze the impact of suspend on Limited.

      Dralnu, Lich Lord strikes me as more of a Mel card than Vorthos, so it feels like a suboptimal choice for Savor the Flavor. Did he have much story before Time Spiral?

      Endrek Sahr seems perfect for Building on a Budget.

      Mystical Teachings is great for Top Decks, yeah.

      Paradox Haze is such a Johnny card. Great for From the Lab.

      Rift Bolt works for The Week That Was, but following Vision and Ephemeron, I'm not sure suspend has as much left to talk about, especially when we've barely touched on the return of morph.

      Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir is fair for Latest Developments, in part because Time Spiral is the first time they keyworded flash.

      Solid submission.

      (Many of these were actually previewed, but I'm assuming Artisans won't have wasted their own time copying history.)

  2. Let me snag Conflux. I’m interested in trying a set I’m not super familiar with, and Conflux was during my last hiatus from playing.

    1. Week 1 Feature - Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker. The first appearance of Bolas on a card. This is a slam dunk first preview.

      Making Magic - Progenitus. PROTECTION FROM EVERYTHING!!! A splashy Mythic that introduces the 5 color theme.

      Serious Fun - Blood Tyrant. A Grixis card that introduced (for the first time, I think?) the concept of getting bigger when opponents dies. Clearly multiplayer focused and splashy.

      Limited Information - Macta Rioters. We need to introduce Domain here, because all the Domain cards are common/uncommon and not splashy enough on their own for most of the other columns. Macta Rioters is straightforward and solid.

      Savor the Flavor - Conflux. The namesake card of the set, and this column is where we’d want to explain what the Conflux was to set up talking about what happened to the shards.

      Building on a Budget - Court Homunculus. White Weenie is an easy staple archetype for BoaB, and Court Homunculus’s upside compares favorably to rares.

      Top Decks - Noble Hierarch. Its obvious in hindsight how ridiculous this card is, and devoting a column to Bant-Birds-but-better would be perfect. (This was a hard choice between this and Path to Exile, but I ultimately decided to stick with the multicolor theme.)

      From the Lab - Master Transmuter. Very multifaceted. I’d suggest an article about a deck built around cheating huge artifacts into play early, as well as a deck with repeated artifact ETB shenanigans.

      The Week That Was - Bloodhall Ooze. A Jund build-around that plays into the cares-about-colors theme that is another small sub theme in the set.

      Latest Developments - Absorb Vis. Basic Landcycling is the Dev backbone that makes all of these multicolored cards tick. If we could spoil a cycle here, all of the landcycling cards could be introduced, but Black hasn’t had a card yet so Absorb Vis gets the nod, as well as being a good representative for the “late game” portion of the cycle.

      Notes about the exercise:

      This wasn’t too hard with a smaller set, especially with as few new keywords/ideas as Conflux. I tried to get every Shard included, but the Naya cards in Conflux are both weak and not particularly exciting - it’s interesting how clear that was at the end of this exercise! Were I designing a set with factions, doing a version of this exercise with each faction would be a great way to check if each has enough identity/iconic cards to pull weight.

    2. Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker is an awesome preview card. My only concern with making it the feature is that it doesn't tell us much about the set.

      Progenitus is a killer preview too, I'm just not sure it's ideal for Making Magic. It is five-color, but as a mythic rare without domain, I'm not sure how clearly it communicates the set's theme.

      Blood Tyrant is a multiplayer Timmy card, perfect for Serious Fun.

      Macta Rioters is a great card to analyze domain's impact on Limited.

      Conflux is The story card of the set. Savor the Flavor!

      Court Homunculus sort of implies a Wx artifact aggro deck, and as a common, is relevant to budget builders. I'm not sure it's significant enough to really excite deck-builders on its lonesome.

      Noble Hierarch is fully relevant to Top Decks.

      Master Transmuter is very tempting for Jenny. Yup.

      Bloodhall Ooze looks like a Week That Was card. Did it end up not making the cut? I don't remember a bunch of decks around it in Standard. Surely it and Putrid Leech were best buds?

      Yeah, Latest Dev is happy to talk about Absorb Vis and landcycling.

      Mostly very strong.

  3. I'll take the original Mirrodin set, just the first one from the block.

    1. Well ... that was an interesting experiment. Going back to much, much older sets and trying to highlight them in terms of more modern sensibilities shows how much design has changed.

      Mirrodin is, of course, very important mechanically but also very parasitic and very unbalanced (famously so). I often had too many choices to pick from in some categories.

      But at the same time the story/flavor of the set really isn't that present. This is before there were planeswalker cards and mythic rares. The initial set is essentially a prologue to a much bigger story and the protagonist is essentially a hate bear! The set itself just kind of nibbles at the edges of the much larger story to come.

      I managed to get a card that represents every color and each of the new mechanics introduced in the set. But I wasn't able to make space for Gilded Lotus, Chrome Mox, Solemn Simulacrum, and the artifact lands are only referred to in terms of how the affect the highlighted cards. I feel like those are all components of the set that would or should get pieces written about them.

      Week 1 Feature: Sword of Kaldra

      Making Magic: Megatog. (It's MaRo, so obviously. He would also point out the many cheap artifacts and the artifact lands you can feed to him in the set)

      Serious Fun: Mindslaver

      Limited Information: Disciple of the Vault ("Play it while you still can!")

      Savor the Flavor: Glissa Sunseeker ("The protagonist of this set actually hates everything this set is about. Isn't that interesting?")

      Building on a Budget: Thoughtcast (Introduce affinity. Also again point out artifact lands)

      Top Decks: Chalice of the Void

      From the Lab: Isochron Scepter (imprint)

      The Week That Was: Platinum Angel

      Latest Developments: Solar Tide (entwine cycle)

    2. Okay, two changes toward the end. (I could not let go of the idea that Gilded Lotus at least needs a focus)

      Feature: Sword of Kaldra
      Making Magic: Megatog
      Serious Fun: Mindslaver
      Limited Information: Disciple of the Vault
      Savor the Flavor: Glissa Sunseeker
      Building on a Budget; Thoughtcast
      Top Decks: Chalice of the Void
      From the Lab: Isochron Scepter
      The Week That Was: Solar Tide
      Latest Developments: Gilded Lotus

    3. Sword of Kaldra is a great Feature because it shows off the set's most exciting new mechanic in a legendary way, without referencing other cards that haven't been previewed (or printed) yet.

      MaRo loves atogs, so he'd be very happy to preview Megatog and an excited Mark is a strong preview.

      My issues with Mindslaver aside, it's a Tammy/Spike card; that's not a total miss for Serious Fun, but this audience would be better served by a full-on Tammy card. I was going to say Slaver isn't great for multiplayer (because you control a subset of your opposition rather than all of them), but the ability to alpha attack one of your other opponents is pretty relevant. And pretty Timmy.

      Disciple of the Vault would turn out to be important to both Mirrodin Standard and Limited, but so far your preview week has only shown artifacts at rare, so we don't have context to know how common artifacts are and thus how relevant Disciple is. Vault of Whispers is what we want to see here.

      Glissa Sunseeker is our hero, and thus great for Savor the Flavor; It hurts that she fights the set's themes, but we'll blame that on R&D.

      Thoughtcast is just a Divination… for one. Which makes it half an Ancestral Recall at common, if you just build your deck full of artifacts. That's Building on a Budget.

      Chalice of the Void is super Spikey and great for Top Decks.

      Isochron Scepter is super Spikey, but even more Johnny. Perfect for From the Lab.

      I had to look up Solar Tide. Yeah, mass removal with choice is of interest to Spike too. And we get entwine in there. Pretty good.

      I feel like Gilded Lotus is better for Timmy/Jenny than for a development article.

      A couple misses and a couple near-misses, but the rest were dead-on.

    4. Funny, I just read your critique of Mindslaver in your GDS2 essay response.

  4. Hit random card on Gatherer, got Conspiracy. This should be fun!

    1. Week 1 Feature
      Marchesa, the Black Rose. Both mechanically and flavorfully, she exemplifies the spirit of Conspiracy. Introduces Dethrone.

      Making Magic
      Plea for Power. Introduces Will of the Council with a splashy pair of effects.

      Serious Fun
      Hydra Omnivore. It’s huge! It smashes everyone’s face in multiplayer! What more could Timmy want?

      Limited Information
      Cogwork Librarian. Introduces “draft matters” trickiness, raising the question of how good a second pick from the same pack is.

      Savor the Flavor
      Brago, King Eternal. Probably the most important character in the set. His mechanical ability is extraordinarily sexy as well.

      Building on a Budget
      Custodi Soulbinders. This was tricky because BoaB was not a multiplayer-focused column, and most of the mechanical themes in Conspiracy wouldn’t fit well. However, token decks are always a big hit among casual players.

      Top Decks
      Dack Fayden. Kind of an obvious choice, but this guy is really the only original card in the set that constructed Spikes are going to drool over.

      From the Lab
      Muzzio, Visionary Architect. Tons of build-around potential, and again not exclusively multiplayer-focused.

      The Week That Was
      Double Stroke. Introduces Conspiracies and Hidden agenda. Doubling spells makes for an interesting draft strategy of going all in on Altar’s Reap, Trumpet Blast, or Syphon Soul.

      Latest Developments
      Selvala’s Charge. Introduces Parley, which is a rather bland smoothing mechanic to keep cards flowing. Tom LaPille was great at explaining why such things are useful as a developer.

    2. These all seem solid. My only comment is that I'm not sure Brago's ability is terribly resonant.

  5. Homelands, AKA the best set to preview

    1. Feature: Baron Sengir
      Making Magic: Anaba Spirit Crafter
      Serious fun: Autumn Willow
      Limited info: Feast of the Unicorn
      Savor the flavor: Serra Aviary
      Building on a Budget: Hungry Mist
      Top decks: Serrated Arrows
      From the Lab: Wall of Kelp
      The week that was: Merchant Scroll
      Latest Developments: Primal Order

    2. Baron Sengir definitely introduces the set.

      Not sure I get Anaba Spirit Crafter for Making Magic, apart from that fact that MaRo will defend Minotaurs because one used to be the face of Magic.

      Autumn Willow was a revolutionary in here times. Hexproof might not have come along for weeks later than it did, if not for her good work.

      Oh no. Tell me Feast of the Unicorn wasn't the set's strongest aura… The good news is, it wasn't; the bad news is, it was the best beneficial aura. (I feel like this article would rather talk about red's multiple blocking tricks or Leaping Lizard.)

      On one hand, I think Feast of the Unicorn has better flavor than Serra Aviary, on the other hand, I don't want to read a story about the former.

      I like how Hungry Mist's upkeep doesn't matter much because it's too busy trading with Cyclopean Mummys and being blown out by Anaba Bodyguard. Ugh. (Aysen Crusader is a better build-around.)

      Serrated Arrows actually satisfies Top Decks!

      Leeches clearly beats Wall of Kelp for Jennyness.

      Why is Merchant Scroll a sorcery?! Also, I assume you intentionally snagged the poorest-rated card from the set on Gatherer.

      Primal Order punishes all those greedy Koskun Keep drafters. How dare they be desperate for mana fixing!

    3. Aysen Crusader would be a fun build around with it's modern errata, but as printed worked with 3 other creatures, one of which was another rare in the set. Probably not the best building on a budget, especially compared to a common 6 powered 4 drop. Glass jaw be darned, the Mist packs a wallop.

      I like Leeches, but it's really more of an answer card than a build around. You could write an article about fun build around Poison decks and then say: "Look what card you get out of Homeland!" And then reveal Leeches but that would be a terrible punchline. Wall of Keep is a fun build around like breeding pit in that it gives you cheap expendable tokens to fuel sacrifice strategies. Plus the flavor is awesome.

      For being a card restricted in Vintage, Merchant Scroll has terrible branding. Introducing it as the blue Demonic Tutor would have helped.

    4. I didn't look at the original Aysen. Wow. Ugh. Yeah.

  6. Replies
    1. Week 1 Feature: Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
      Making Magic: Debtor's Knell

      Serious Fun: Storm Herd
      Limited Information: Silhana Ledgewalker

      Savor the Flavor: Teysa, Orzhov Scion
      Building on a Budget: Gelectrode

      Top Decks: Electrolyze
      From the Lab: Ink-Treader Nephilim

      The Week that Was: Rumbling Slum
      Latest Developments: Shrieking Grotesque(& its cycle)

    2. I'm running with the idea that RAV makes spoiling the duals, karoos, HQs, and signets a W2 preview rather than W1. It's possible Borborygmos should be the pick over Storm Herd since Storm Herd has nothing to do with the set's themes, but it's a big spell that seems like it would only be in a Commander product these days, so it was hard to turn down.

      Rumbling Slum over Giant Solifuge is a case of putting the card that *looks* pushed & enables bloodthirst over the card that is actually tournament-grade, which I think is the right choice for a preview week.

      Funny that basically every column could run with Niv-Mizzet.

    3. It's weird how small set previews work so differently: It doesn't matter that Niv-Mizzet doesn't tell us Guildpact is a two-color gold set because we already know that from Ravnica; Instead, Niv tells us that the RU guild is in this set and it's awesome.

      Debtors' Knell feels like an odd choice for Making Magic to me: It's splashy and shows off hybrid, but we've already seen hybrid in Ravnica. I expect to see one of the new guild mechanics here.

      Storm Herd isn't a multiplayer card, but it's very Tammy. Good fit.

      Ledgewalker is relevant to Limited, though I'd rather see a card that represents more than just itself in terms of Limited impact.

      Teysa is an awesome Savor the Flavor.

      Gelectrode is a great budget build-around.

      Electrolyze is Spike-candy.

      Ink-Treader Nephilim is both weird and asking you to do weird thing with it. Solid From the Lab.

      Rumbling Slum smash. Being a Timmy-Spike card doesn't make it not a Spike card. Not relevant to Limited.

      Grotesque's cycle is good for Latest Developments to talk about the value of OCAs.

      Borborygmos does seem slightly better than Storm Herd.

      Extra credit for linking all your cards!

  7. Alpha

    Week 1 Feature: Shivan Dragon
    Making Magic: Wrath of God
    Serious Fun: Serra Angel
    Limited Information: Counterspell
    Savor the Flavor: Sengir Vampire
    Building on a Budget: Wild Growth
    Top Decks: Mox Sapphire
    From the Lab: Verduran Enchantress
    The Week That Was: Nevinyrral's Disk
    Latest Developments: Black Knight

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Alpha

      Week 1 Feature: Shivan Dragon
      Making Magic: Crusade
      Serious Fun: Serra Angel
      Limited Information: Counterspell
      Savor the Flavor: Sengir Vampire
      Building on a Budget: Wild Growth
      Top Decks: Black Lotus
      From the Lab: Verduran Enchantress
      The Week That Was: Winter Orb
      Latest Developments: Black Knight

    3. Shivan Dragon is correct. Most emblematic card in all of Magic.

      Crusade doesn't feel like a Making Magic card to me. I expect to see a keyword like protection, first strike, or flying here.

      Serra Angel appeals to everyone, and the vigilance makes it a little more multiplayer relevant. I'd put Force of Nature here myself for pure Tammy-lust.

      Counterspell is relevant, but as a single card it doesn't affect Limited play as much as flying or first strike.

      Sengir Vampire works for Savor the Flavor. It is a very resonant card.

      I'm tempted to say that Llanowar Elves feels more right for Building on a Budget, but close enough.

      Black Lotus! Yup. Nailed it.

      Verduran Enchantress is right on.

      Winter Orb is fair here. I'd preview Howling Mine myself, since it promotes play rather than inhibits it, and I don't want players thinking my game is about not getting to do things.

      Black Knight lets you discuss two keywords, efficiency, color relationships. Yeah, good call.

      Funny how in the same way large sets have more identity-setting to do than small sets, Alpha has more to do than every set thereafter.

    4. Wow, yeah, it was nice to see that for Alpha!

  8. Replies
    1. Week 1 Feature
      Sorin Markov

      Making Magic
      Rampaging Baloth

      Serious Fun
      Rite of replication- the article should talk about when 5 of a creature is nuts(always)

      Limited Information
      Arrow Volley Trap

      Savor the Flavor
      Valukat The Molten Pinnacle

      Building on a Budget
      steppe lynx


      Top Decks
      I don’t know how rare lands are spoiled but my first choice is fetchlands, failing that- Lavaball Trap

      From the Lab
      Pyromancer’s Acension


      The Week That Was
      Kazunda Blademaster

      Latest Developments
      Quest for the Holy Relic

    2. Sorin Markov is a sweet preview, but shouldn't be the Feature for Zendikar (where it would be fair for Innistrad). Not only does it not tell us the set is about land/adventure, it lies that it's about vampires.

      Rampaging Baloth is an exciting rare that shows off Landfall. My only hesitation about making it our first landfall preview is that its effect isn't +2/+2 which is more representative of the mechanic.

      I first think of Jenny when seeing Rite of Replication but making five clones is plenty Timmy, and Serious Fun is the place to show off kicker's return.

      Arrow Volley Trap is a great Limited Information preview.

      Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle seems like a weak choice for Savor the Flavor, because I don't know how you tell a story about a non-legendary land.

      For the same reason I wasn't sold on Court Homunculus, I'm not sure Steppe Lynx reassures people they can build a cheap competitive deck all on its own.

      The fetchlands were a huge deal and ideal for Top Decks.

      Pyromancer Ascension is a lovely Jenny card. Yup.

      Kazandu Blademaster introduces allies. Great call.

      Quest for the Holy Relic falls slightly flat for me, because we already had a quest in From the Lab. I'd rather see the gear our adventurer's use.

  9. Random card says...

    ...Weatherlight. OK, this should be interesting.

    1. Week 1 feature: Maraxus of Keld (seriously, this was the first Weatherlight Saga set and they didn't print *any* of the crew?)
      Making Magic: Bone Dancer
      Serious Fun: Debt of Loyalty
      Limited Information: Cone of Flame
      Savor the Flavor: Thran Tome
      Building on a Budget: Aether Flash
      Top Decks: Gaea's Blessing
      From the Lab: Doomsday
      The Week That Was: Ophidian
      Latest Developments: Psychic Vortex

    2. I don't think Maraxus of Keld is doing us any favors telling us what the set is about. (Not that the set has a very strong identity to communicate.) It is absurd they didn't print any of the crew here. Maybe Doomsday? IDK

      I guess Bone Dancer introduces the theme of looking the top [creature] card of a graveyard? It's a stretch for Making Magic, but it's also kinda what we got.

      Debt of Loyalty seems like more of a Johnny or Spike card to me than Tammy. I don't think it reads as Serious Fun.

      Cone of Flame is great. Not sure it represents Limited beyond being a bomb uncommon.

      Is there a story behind Thran Tome? This is a Mel card. Why give it to Savor the Flavor?

      Aether Flash could work for Building on a Budget, especially in a day when so many creatures topped out at 2 toughness (though this being so dependent on what your opponent is doing makes it feel more like a sideboard card than a build-around).

      Doomsday is great for Spike and Jenny. The downside pushes us more toward the latter, so it's appropriate here.

      Ophidian fits The Week That Was. Yeah.

      Psychic Vortex feels like its own bird, and so less conducive to Development discussions. Something like Uktabi Efreet is more representative of cumulative upkeep, and so a better place to start talking about it.

    3. Thran Tome is the set's expansion symbol, and also a component of the Legacy Weapon. I wasn't around for any of this, so I'm a little fuzzy on the flavor.

      Fair points on the others.

  10. Replies
    1. Week 1 Feature - Karn Liberated

      Making Magic - Moltensteel Dragon

      Serious Fun - Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur

      Limited Information - Rage Extractor

      Savor the Flavor - Melira, Sylvok Outcast

      Building on a Budget - Phyrexian Swarmlord

      Top Decks - Dispatch

      From the Lab - Birthing Pod

      The Week That Was - Puresteel Paladin

      Latest Developments - Batterskull

    2. Karn Liberated is a splashy card and important to the story, but it's the exception to the story—the one win the Mirrans pulled out while the Phyrexians crushed them. I think it actively misrepresents the set.

      Moltensteel Dragon is great for Making Magic, introducing phyrexian mana with a splash.

      Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur is huge and splashy AF. It's a little brutal, and that's my only hesitation, but it definitely appeals to Tammy.

      Rage Extractor is a burn build-around that uses the set's new mechanic. It doesn't speak to the Limited format in general, but discussing building that archetype could work.

      Melira, Sylvok Outcast absolutely needs a story from Savor the Flavor.

      Phyrexian Swarmlord is a great budget rare to build around. Nice.

      Was Dispatch a tournament card? I guess it's pretty amazing in an artifact deck. Yeah, seems fair.

      Birthing Pod is correct for From the Lab.

      Puresteel Paladin is a real good preview here, yeah.

      Batterskull shows off Living Weapon. It's exceptional as a mythic, but still good to introduce the mechanic.

      Well done.

    3. What would you choose for the week 1 preview? In retrospect I agree that Karn is not representative of the set, but a card called "Karn Liberated" is a huge twist for the story set up in the previous set.

      I think a better preview would be Phyrexian Obliterator; you want something to show that Phyrexia won the war, but the Praeter cycle is not flavorful enough by itself, and there aren't many mythics to choose from in a small set. Unfortunately there isn't a high profile creature with infect to show off in a new color that hasn't had infect before, which would represent just how far the poison has spread.

      Obliterator probably does the best job because it's got an absurd mana cost, stupidly powerful abilities, and is a callback to Phyrexian Negator from the last time the Phyrexians were around.

  11. Random Scryfall says: Invasion. This should be fun, I know next to nothing about it.

    1. Week 1 Feature - Captain Sisay

      Making Magic - Tek

      Serious Fun - Reya Dawnbringer

      Limited Information - Agonizing Demise

      Savor the Flavor - Tsabo Tavoc

      Building on a Budget - Fires of Yavimaya

      Top Decks - Fact or Fiction

      From the Lab - Phyrexian Altar

      The Week That Was - Kavu Titan

      Latest Developments - Absorb and Undermine

    2. Sisay doesn't mechanically represent Invasion, but she is an actual hero from the story, so that's a win. (I'm looking at you, Weatherlight.)

      Tek is too exceptional to properly represent the set. It has a sort of domain, but not actual domain. Give me Ordered Migration or something.

      Reya is great for Tammy.

      Demise shows off kicker, which has a huge influence on Limited. It's also a good card itself. Great here.

      Tsabo is a legend that kills legends. There's got to be a hell of a story there.

      Fires is a good build-around. Was it budget at the time? I'm going to assume it was.

      Fact or Fiction is perfect for Top Decks.

      Phyrexian Altar is on the Spikiest end of Jenny interest. I'd rather see Dueling Grounds or Cauldron Dance here.

      Kavu Titan is perfect for The Week That Was.

      I think you could squeeze a Dev article about making three-mana counterspells palatable by adding riders, though it wouldn't be a page-turner.

    3. Bonus points for linking your cards.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Replies
    1. Feature

      Making Magic
      Krosan Beast (and it's a squirrel, of course)

      Serious Fun
      Nefarious Lich

      Limited Information
      Shower of Coals

      Savor the Flavor
      Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor

      Building on a Budget

      Top Decks

      From the Lab

      The Week That Was
      Sadistic Hypnotist

      Latest Developments
      Kamahl's Desire

    2. Surprised to see Mirari here rather than From the Lab.

      Krosan Beast is a great card to illustrate the variance of threshold. Mark will love that it's a squirrel that can be 8/8.

      I imagine Nefarious Lich appeals strongly to the subset of Timmies that just want the wildest ride possible, but not to those who read "lose the game" and wonder why anyone would ever play it. I think we can find a less Spikey/Jenny card for Tammy here.

      I more expect to see commons and build-arounds for Limited Information, but Shower of Coals is an uncommon bomb that could inform your play.

      Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor looks like a Mel card to me, but as a legend, there's probably a story to be told here, so sure.

      It's harder build around Soulcatcher than Favorable Winds but it does still lend itself to an inexpensive all-flying deck. Cool.

      Psychatog is awesome for Top Decks.

      Standstill is a good card for Jenny to build with.

      Sadistic Hypnotist isn't something you run without the intent to nuke your opponent's hand. That makes me suspect it's less ideal for The Week That Was, but the connection to threshold helps a bit.

      Kamahl's Desire is an engaging common for a developer to talk auras, combat, and threshold about. Nice.

  14. Hmmmm, lets go with Rise of the Eldrazi

    1. I'm also being very careful to not look at the real spoilers used during that time.

      Feature: Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre - While Emrakul is the splashiest of the original 3 titans, she is also both more complex and more controversial. Showcases Annihilator.

      Making Magic: Spawnspire of Ulamog - Showcase the 0/1 spawns and annihilator again.

      Serious Fun: Kargan Dragonlord - Build your own huge dragon! also showcases the leveler mechanic at higher rarities.

      Limited Information: Drake Umbra - How powerful do aura's have to be to play them? Talk about the 2-for-1 problem and how Totem Armor gets around that.

      Savor the Flavor: Sarkhan the Mad - obvious choice as a character important to the storyline that has undergone a significant change from the last time we saw him in Alara.

      Building on a Budget: Flame Slash - one of the best creature removal cards outside of the original lightning bolt.

      Top Decks: Linvala, Keeper of Silence - Pushed constructed card with lots of cute interactions with tons of different activated abilities

      From the Lab: Training Grounds - One of the most open ended and potentially broken johnny cards to do all kinda of weird and wonderful things.

      The Week that Was: Vengevine - A wacky but powerful Johhny/spike card that can make waves in constructed.

      Latest Developements: Inquisition of Kozilek - can talk about what this can/can't do in various formats, how the CMC number is an important threshold, etc

    2. Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre is a great feature because it's SPLASHY and tells us the set is about enormous colorless aliens coming to annihilate (and/or gyrate) us.

      Spawnsire of Ulamog introduces Spawn tokens, and calls out the Eldrazi subtype. I like how it keeps the Ulamog thread, but I wish it were common or uncommon so I know these things won't be purely rare.

      Kargan Dragonlord shows level-up and is such a Tammy card (as well as Spike).

      Drake Umbra shows off Totem Armor and shows that auras will let us making serious threats too. Cool.

      Sarkhan the Mad is a good choice for Savor the Flavor. Let's all hear the story how Uncle Sarkhan lost his sanity!

      Flame Slash is a common we're excited to play in Standard because it kills creatures like crazy. We don't build around, but it's still a boon to budget decks.

      Leave it to Spike to love turning abilities off. Linvala, Keeper of Silence fits here.

      If Training Grounds explicitly named level-up, it would be too obvious for Johnny, but opening it up to all activated abilities opens it wide open and makes the wheels spin like crazy. Awesome.

      Vengevine has zero significance to Limited, but a ton to Constructed. Very Spikey.

      Inquisition of Kozilek lets the Dev author talk about discard. Ehh.

  15. Can I play twice? If so, I want Torment (if not, just ignore this one).

    Week 1 Feature: Chainer, Dementia Master
    Making Magic: Mutilate
    Serious Fun: Last Laugh
    Limited Information: Chainer's Edict
    Savor the Flavor: Laquatus's Champion
    Building on a Budget: Faceless Butcher
    Top Decks: Mesmeric Fiend
    From the Lab: Mortal Combat
    The Week That Was: Ichorid
    Latest Developments: Nantuko Shade

    See what I did there? ;)

  16. Happy New Year, folks!

    One thing that became evident very fast is how much easier it is to fit real/final cards to this challenge than untested submissions from a very incomplete set. Wow.

    1. I really wish the search function on the wizards website wasn't so completely awful because it'd be great to check some of these against the actual previews.

    2. It's so hard to search that site.

    3. I don't claim to be an expert on this stuff. Please feel free to share differing opinions about other people's submissions.