Friday, January 19, 2018

Weekend Design Challenge 011918—Half-Test of Endurance

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.

We're going to do a mini version of the card design test from GDS1.

Design 3 cards from 3 different blocks.
8 colors and/or card types must be represented. (4 colors and 4 card types or 1 color and 7 card types, for example.)
Three consecutive converted mana costs must be represented (1-2-3, 4-5-6, etc).
1 of the cards must be appropriate for common; 1 uncommon, and 1 rare or mythic rare.

Check out that link to see what the judges are looking for.

You get no revisions before my final review this time. Your first three card entries are final. If you delete a comment, your submission will be ignored. Just this time.


  1. Lethe Scout 3UU
    Creature - Illithid Scout (C)
    Flying, Flay (This deals damage to players in the form of discarding that many cards from the top of that player's library.)

    Swiftwater Caravel 3 (Uncommon)
    Tribal Artifact - Vampire Vehicle
    Vampire Crew 2 (Tap any number of Vampires you control with total power 2 or more: This Vehicle becomes an artifact creature until end of turn.)

    Kolaghan's Wrath 1WBR (Rare)
    Exile all blocking creature. Creatures that were blocked this turn assign combat damage as though they weren't blocked.

    The first card is a common with an alternate win mechanic in Flay that's suitable to design a set around. It also introduces a new template for "milling" (discard from the top of the library) that's grokable and helps bridge the mechanic more solidly in the blue/black color pie. Card two reintroduces the tribal card type in order to support vehicles. Tribal and vehicles are a natural fit, because restricting the cards to a tribe prevents the strong artifacts from bleeding into too many decks. Using the tribal card type is also a natural fit because vehicles operate so much like creatures and most tribal decks require a critical mass of cards with that creature type to operate. Finally, Kolaghan's Wrath is a splashy, aggressive rare finisher that imagines a return to Takir's dragons with a reintroduction of the wedge color identities.

    1. These are neat! Lethe scout might be a skosh too much? On turn 5 there are about 28 cards left in libraries. That means 5 swings from this creature will kill a player, putting it at about an air elemental in finisher potential. Maybe 4 power?

      I really like Swiftwater Caravel. I could see that becoming a real extension of crew.

      Kolaghan's Wrath is nice and splashy. You might have a simpler template available though. "Exile all blocking creatures. Attacking creatures gain trample until end of turn." Are these different in a way I'm not seeing?

      Great submissions!

    2. 1) Depends on the format. The Flay creatures are like infect in that they don't work with normal sources of damage so an air elemental is usually stronger because if you've dealt other damage it's an even faster clock. Flay is also different than infect because your opponent can choose how many cards to show up with in their deck. Particularly in a limited environment with Flay you'd imagine wanting more limited playables (hybrid? Morph?) So that players could board up to 50+ cards to show down your creatures. It'd be wacky.

      3) I'm not a fan of Ride Down's trample templating, because I think that "trampling over" a nonexistent blocker is very unintuitive. I think It's easier to understand how those creatures deal damage if you just say it on the card.

    3. That's fair. Ultimately, its a development thing, so that sounds like their problem :)

      Since you just got rid of all the blockers, what about "Attacking creatures become unblocked."

    4. You've fulfilled all requirements.


      I had to look up 'lethe:' seems appropriate.

      Magic has made some D&D references on cards this last year, though not in black border. They're making D&D modules that allow you to play roleplay with Magic stuff, so maybe it is time to start introducing mindflayers and beholders to Magic. If so, flay and illithid fit perfectly.

      I like the idea of flay. It lets us attack our opponent's library with creatures, without killing them through damage first. Because it takes more than 20 units to accomplish that, and as with infect most creatures don't help, flay creatures can be bigger or stronger than they normally would be for their cost. But if that means blue gets a 5/3 flyer at common, I don't know, man. I shouldn't be able to trade with your rare sphinx/dragon/demon/angel so easily. That's a problem.


      Tribal's going to be a tough sell. That this artifact becomes a vampire when you crew it is clever for Mel, but leaves my Vorthos scared and confused: Is this ship going around biting and sucking blood?

      The rules/editing team would fix this mistake, but note that as worded, Swiftwater Caravel can crew itself because it is always a vampire and always has power. Which leads to my next criticism of using tribal...

      If we're going to define [tribe] crew N, why not do away with the tribal card type and just define it "Tap any number of Vampires you control with total power 2 or more: This Vehicle becomes a Vampire artifact creature until end of turn?" I very much approve of the motivation behind vampire-crew, even more than I would have of black-crew or white-crew.

      It's clear 'linklink' was supposed to be 'lifelink.' Not a significant problem, but still not your best foot.


      Ride Down meets Settle the Wreckage is terrifying. I think this card text is printable at some cost, but I imagine it's closer to 7 mana. Not only is this a one-sided Wrath, you don't even have to cast it: You can just bluff it for value. The difference between this and Settle the Wreckage (which I'm not entirely sold on) is that this can be used to win the game, where Settle can only be used to prevent losing the game. It's easier to play around Settle, and more expensive for the person bluffing or holding up Settle. Settle also compensates the decimated player with land.

      I like that you kept rareified Ride Down on Tarkir, and I'm intrigued by adding black to it and then assigning what had been the colors of the Mardu tribe to the two-color Kolaghan clan.


      I had issues with all three designs, and that's not ideal. On the plus side, all three have merit and are thought-provoking. I have no idea how receptive the actual judges will be to the language/templating changes you slipped in on all three cards: Could be good, or bad, might even differ by judge.

    5. I'm not sure that the argument against letting a common trade with a rare is particularly useful, creatures are going to trade regardless of rarity, and it's really a case of building resilience into rare creatures more than depowering common creatures. Soul of the Rapids trades with lots of uncommon/rare flyers. Flay does have a bit of a deathtouch feel to it, but as a UBG wedge mechanic that feels appropriate.
      Vehicles can't crew themselves because cards don't have a power or a toughness unless they're creatures.

      Only acting as a vampire when crewed would be the likely solution because Wizards has retired the tribal card type, however it's awkward for things like Sadistic Skymarcher that care about creature type while not in the battlefield.
      Settle is an interesting comparison, although I think the more appropriate comparison is Overrun. Settle is a defensive card that doesn't require setting up, while this is a card that benefits attack and it's only relevant with a significant board presence and a ground stall.

    6. "Vehicles can't crew themselves because cards don't have a power or a toughness unless they're creatures"

      I think the confusion comes that the reminder text says "tap blah vampires you control" and Jay (and I) assumed that was 'vampires' INSTEAD of 'creatures', not as well. I agree the comp rules should not allow that, I'm not sure if 'creature' needs to be in the reminder text or not, even if it was just a typo, shorter text is usually preferable, and I think most people will understand that crewing itself makes no sense; but if you leave it out people who know the rules a bit may be confused.

    7. My confusion was that Vehicle cards have a power and toughness that can be referenced, but non-creature Vehicle permanents don't.

  2. I didn't think I'd have time for this but I found it somewhere :)

    Designing a set in a card is *hard*. I hit the strongest flavours I could think of as hard as I could in the hopes that it would come through at least a bit. And I put in new mechanics as often as I could too, even though I don't always equate "design" with "mechanic", just because the mechanic helps convey what else is in a set.

    I double checked the conditions, but I hope I didn't screw them up anyway, I probably have done. I went for double-colour twice as I think having *some* multicolour cards is more common than any of the other possible approaches to get up to eight colours+types[1]

    Go for Your Guns 2R
    Instant (Common)
    ~ deals 3 damage to target creature.
    Showdown with its controller. If you win, ~ deals 3 damage to them. (You both discard a card and draw a card. The nonland card with the smallest converted mana cost wins.)

    Marie, Guardian of Swamp City 2UG
    Legendary Creature - Human Snake
    Hear the Call 3 (3: All creatures with Hear the Call 3 or less Hear the Call until end of turn.)
    If CARDNAME Heard the Call this turn, it gets +1/+1 and "When this creature deals combat damage to an opponent, draw a card"

    Throw off Your Chains 3WB
    Sorcery (Rare)
    Return up to two creatures with converted mana cost three or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.
    Hope -- if an opponent controls more creatures than you, put a +1/+1 counter on both creatures.

    [1] If you assume all three have a unique "normal" type and colour, you need two extra types or colours. Enchantment or land creatures almost never appear. Artifact creatures usually aren't coloured so the number needs to be made up elsewhere. Planeswalker, instant and sorcery never appear with another type. Artifact lands are a no-no :) Several of those would be good entries if they're obviously the theme of the set (e.g. enchantment creatures), but none fit into any of my ideas well.

    1. Unless your legend is uncommon, you missed the rarity requirement.


      Go for Your Guns does unknown results right, by making a secondary bonus effect rather than determining the success of the card's primary purpose. Showdown is clearly a thematic win for this gun-fighting set. (Technically, that's all we know about it. But yeah, I get it's a Western.) This card feels common.

      My only concern is a detail of how showdown works. It's a little awkward to say that we care about lowest CMC (which is cool because lower means faster, something that matters a lot here that's never mattered before) but that the card type that's always CMC 0 doesn't count. That exception is important, both early when we don't want to encourage players to land screw themselves*, and late when we want them to choose between optimal card filtering and winning the showdown. It's just awkward. Maybe the gameplay justifies it.

      *Doesn't discarding my cheapest spell early in the game also hurt play?

      I also like how caring about cheap cards motivates players to build more playable decks rather than less playable decks as high CMC would.


      I don't think I've seen this exact implementation of Access the Machine before, and my first impression is that I really like Hear the Call. I do want to separate the wording so it's clearer what's what:

      Call 3 (3: All creatures with Call 3 or less Hear the Call until end of turn.)
      If CARDNAME Heard the Call this turn…

      We can also remove "until end of turn," since creatures we can't give Marie's clever no-trigger HtC ability will be worded "Whenever ~ HtC, [bonus] until EOT" anyhow.

      These execution details are much less important than how exciting and novel HtC is, but they are ways to score more points.

      Marie herself is pretty great. Clearly rare despite that detail missing.


      Not a huge concern, but I am made to wonder why Throw Off Your Chains doesn't target like most gy spells do.

      I like how white and black mix here: reanimating multiple creatures, but only small ones.

      Hope sounds like a good idea. Catch-up mechanics are important, and having fewer creatures is a bit more consistent a measure of who's actually losing than Fateful Hour's 5- life. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if playtesting showed that hope is causing players to build decks with no or fewer creatures to the detriment of the format.


      Except for how much "Throw off your chains" sounds like a call I might hear, it's pretty clear these are different blocks. None of these cards have major issues, though they all have tiny ones. Showdown and hope sound fine, and hear the call is really novel and exciting.

      Overall, a pretty strong submission.

    2. Except for missing one of the 4 core requirements.

    3. Thank you!

      Yeah, I missed a lot more of the details than I realised, though I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out overall. If I do an actual design test, I will make a checklist for the requirements and not submit at 1 am :)

      (Yes, my problem was that many superhero cards want to be a specific person, but I don't want to use legendary at common and uncommon. I did indeed mean to design an uncommon superhero, even though I missed.)

    4. Yeah, I was heavily inspired by access the machine (and the flavour of both western and superhero worlds were stolen from sets I part-designed elsewhere).

      But somehow when I thought of access the machine in the context of superheroes, this version of it popped out that I liked a lot more, partly that the bonus can vary in size and cost, partly that it gives a keyword action to what happens when you pay.

      Your rephrasing is definitely better, I will steal that if I reference that again.

      I think "hear the call" isn't the right phrase but it was the best I could think of. There's a clear trope of superheroes hearing a cry for help or a batsignal or a raised alarm, and springing into action, but I couldn't think of a good name for it. I wanted "assemble" but that's already been used. Something that can be used the way you did with a keyword and a slightly different ability that's the effect of the keyword seems the way to go if I can think of the right word (especially if it's sufficiently intuitive, something like "Respond {3} (Reminder) // If ~ responded this turn, it has...")

    5. Blow the Horn / Hear the Horn
      Call for Help / Respond
      Summon Allies / Answer a Summons

    6. Suit up?
      Quick change?

      Or for that matter, there could be a specific "people have two different forms" flavour with some name specific to the plane. Aspect. Alter-ego. Power up.

  3. Singe-Spark Spirit (Common)
    Creature - Spirit
    When Singe-Spark Spirit enters the battlefield, it deals 1 damage to each opponent.
    Oscillate (When this creature attacks, you may exile it. If you do, return it to the battlefield tapped and attacking under its owner’s control.)

    Sharecropper's Bounty (Uncommon)
    Target creature you control harvests, then gets +1/+1 for each of your harvests until end of turn. (To harvest, exile the top card of your library face down underneath that creature. When that creature leaves the battlefield, put its harvests into your hand.)

    Spelltrap Jar (Rare)
    Instant Artifact
    When Spelltrap Jar enters the battlefield, exile target spell.
    When Spelltrap Jar is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may cast that card without paying its mana cost.


    With oscillate, "blink" suddenly makes sense in red because it comes at the cost of attacking. It's a fast, impulsive ability that is irresponsible to use when counters and auras are present.

    I don't know if the way I wrote harvest works; can you refer to cards exiled with certain conditions by a unique name? Intuitively you should be able to, but the rules might need to be updated to support it. Harvest would appear on creatures as well, and it gives green access to creature-based card draw.

    Enchantment creatures already exist. Artifact lands already exist. Why not instant artifacts? The rules would need to be tweaked so that anything with the "instant" type could be played at instant speed. No need to errata older cards; just make this the standard going forward. Anything that refers to an instant can interact with an instant artifact.

    1. I think you can get harvest to work. Devotion is a number assigned to players defined by the number of colored symbols among permanents they control. You could define a players harvests to be the number of cards they own that are exiled from harvesting. The main problem would the 'underneath' part of the action. If that's just reminder text, it might be ok.

      Instant Artifact... That might have more baggage than you think. How do Twincast or Mirari interact with Instant Artifacts? What happens to the copies when they resolve? That doesn't mean it's impossible, but I think you have to sort that out before you staple permanents and instants together.

    2. Yeah, the reminder text for harvest is how I think this type of effect should be explained going forward. Even though cards like Oblivion Ring don't technically exile permanents underneath them, that's how everyone plays. Someone reading the card for the first time would get it much faster if that was pointed out.

      You're right, there's a lot of corner cases for instant artifacts I didn't address (mostly because we only get 150 words to elaborate on our designs). In the case of Twincast and Mirari, I think the game would do as much as it could; create a copy of that permanent on the stack, but then nothing happens because there is no physical object to put onto the battlefield. Maybe situations like that mean it wouldn't be worth the change, but Wizards rarely designs for older formats, right? Newer cards could be made to take advantage of the simplicity of instant artifacts/enchantments/creatures. Older cards that are clunky with them would probably only be relevant to veteran players, who would immediately figure out how everything works.

    3. Why not just have it be an artifact with Flash?

    4. Honestly? Because I wanted to suggest something controversial to see how the judges would react. I know Maro has written before about how Magic would be a better game if instant was a supertype, but that it is too late to make the change. I'd be curious if his opinion on that has changed.

      Also, an instant artifact met the requirements for 8 colors/card types, whereas an artifact with flash did not. That's not a great reason, but this particular restriction encouraged me to go out on a limb.

    5. You've met all the requirements.


      I'm not sold on oscillate: The only thing it gets us that adding "or attacks" to Singe-Spark's ETB trigger doesn't is that it's a poor target for auras, equipment, and counters. That's a downside. And doing an extra damage, while very good for a common Goblin Piker, isn't so strong an ability that it needs a downside.

      What could you change to make oscillate significant by default?


      Harvest is a delayed-gratification cantrip like Clairvoyance and the rest of Ice Age. In this case, it's much more delayed; you might not ever get the card. That's not a deal-breaker for me; Investigate shows how useful half-a-cantrip can be for card design. I think you're template will be fine once we distinguish between 'harvest' the verb and 'harvest' the noun. I know they're the same in English, but clarity is paramount in games.

      "To harvest, exile the top card of your library face down. When that creature leaves the battlefield, put each card it harvested into your hand."

      It's awkward to see this effect on a spell targeting a creature rather than on a creature for the same reason Ixalan only had explore on creatures and it wasn't until Rivals that we saw spells make creatures explore. Sharecropper's Bounty also leaves ambiguous the exact meaning of "your harvests" (especially since we're assigning harvested cards to creatures and not players).

      "Target creature you control harvests, then gets +1/+1 until EOT for each card a creature you control has harvested."

      Finally, Sharecropper's Bounty looks weak. If I haven't harvested elsewhere, I'm getting +1/+1 at sorcery speed and maaaybe drawing a card later on. That could be {GW} on a common. To make this uncommon, either harvest twice or make it an instant or both.


      If Magic had started out with instant as a supertype that you could add to any other card type like flash, a number of troublesome oddities today would have never existed. Cards like Mirari and Twincast would only copy sorceries, whether they're instant sorceries or not. Unless we're going to go back and errata every instant and every card that mentions instant—and we might've if we'd thought about when we purged interrupts but not 25 years in—Instant Artifact simply isn't compatible with the rules or the cards of Magic.

      To me, your suggestion of Instant Artifact demonstrates a willingness to explore possibilities and challenge old notions—which is great—as well as limited knowledge of the whys and wherefores behind Magic's structure—which is not great.

      If I were tempted to suggest something like this, I'd want to read everything R&D has written on the subject first. Not as definitive as I'd hoped, but a quick google search does bring up Starting Over where Mark explains "there are just too many cards referencing instants and sorceries that the change would be too confusing." If you're going to propose the change anyhow, you've got to address the concerns R&D has already expressed with the idea.

      Spelltrap Jar is sweet. A set that really wants colored artifacts could justify making this an artifact, but it really wants to be an enchantment like Oblivion Ring.

    6. I didn't like oscillate or instant artifact, but harvest has potential. Singe-Spark Spirit and Spelltrap Jar are cool, but Sharecropper's Bounty is disappointing. I've got a vague sense these are from different blocks, but it's not really clear.

      My sense of you as a designer based on this submission is that you have a healthy curiosity and creativity, but don't have the commitment to fully flesh out your ideas. That assessment is less reliable than the assessment the judges gave the finalists in GDS1 and 2 (because I have less data), so don't take it personally if it feels off, but the judge's perception—right or wrong—is what determines how far we'll go, so you can work on convincing them otherwise.

    7. Thanks for your comments, I appreciate the feedback. It's definitely given me a lot to think about.

      I thought it would have been impossible to address all of R&D's thoughts about an instant supertype with the amount of space I had available, so I didn't even try. Clearly that was a mistake, and I should consider my audience more in the future.

      Sharecropper's Bounty was not the best showcase of harvest. I should have spent more time trying to rearrange my submission so that I could fit harvest onto a creature. I couldn't even show what made the mechanic most interesting to me, which is that some creatures would be able to use up harvests as a cost. For example, a white tapper with harvest would require putting (any) harvest into your graveyard, so you would have the choice of card advantage or tempo without explicit discard.

      When I designed oscillate, I didn't really think of it as a downside mechanic, I guess because the trigger is option (like exert). It would probably work best in a set with a high number of detrimental auras (like Defang) and -1/-1 counters. That way as long as your oscillate creatures can attack, they can shake off whatever your opponent put on them. Oscillate also triggers other cards that care when a creature enters the battlefield, which would obviously need to be a major part of any set where it appears.

    8. To be fair, oscillate isn't a downside mechanic. Any permanent is strictly better with it than without it, but the mechanic itself has limits to its use and that's significant. Yeah, it would be best in a -1/-1 set.

      Harvest on creatures sounds cool.

  4. Vernal Emissary {1}{GW}{GW}
    Enchantment Creature - Rabbit Monk (Uncommon)
    Alignment - Whenever you cast an enchantment spell, you may pay {GW}. If you do, you gain 3 life.

    Vernal Emissary would be part of an enchantment block. Multicolor is not rampant in the block, but enchantment creatures and hybrid enchantments help up the number of enchantment spells available to any given drafter. This card also showcases one of the principle sentient races on the plane, because who doesn't want to build a bunny deck?

    Hkara's Grasp {2}{B}{B}
    Instant - Ritual (Common)
    Occult (You may sacrifice a creature to help cast this spell. This spell’s cost is reduced by the sacrificed creature’s converted mana cost.)
    Target creature gets -3/-3 until end of turn. You gain 3 life.

    The black/red faction in this African themed block specializes in blood rituals. Occult is their block mechanic, and is a cross between Offering and Emerge - you don't pay an alternative cost for it, but you can only reduce the colorless mana.

    Karskag's Ransom {2}{U}{R}{R}
    Sorcery (Rare)
    Choose target player and up to two target artifacts he or she controls. That player sacrifices one of those artifacts. Gain control of the rest.
    Raid — If you attacked with a creature this turn, choose up to three target artifacts instead.

    Karskag is a raider chieftain in this Norse world. He likes shiny things. This block features Raid as a recurring mechanic, and Karskag's Ransom features a handsome reward for remaining on the offensive. I would have like to tweak raid to specify that you had to attack that player for the bonus, but it didn't seem worth the additional confusion.

    1. I forgot to explain the Ritual subtype. Rituals all have ways to help cast the spell. The green/white faction would have convoke, with heavier than normal colored costs on rituals.

    2. Found a much better wording for Karskag's Ransom after the fact. Ah well.

      Choose up to two target artifacts with the same controller. Their controller chooses one and sacrifices it. Gain control of the rest.

      Raid — If you attacked that player with a creature this turn, choose up to three target artifacts instead.

    3. Core requirements met.


      Alignment seems to be on the cusp of benefting from an ability word. Given constellation, it's clearly fine. On the other hand, what do we need alignment for when we have constellation?

      Vernal Emissary is solid. I'm not 100% convinced that enchantment-block calls for hybrid, but since I'm personally on the side of making hybrid evergreen, it works for me. I'm also not super-impressed by an enchantment that just gains you life for playing enchantments, but this is clearly no worse than the constellation cards in that regard.


      Simpler emerge is solid. Hkara's Grasp is fine, though it feels odd to see life gain paired with -x/-x rather than damage.

      While I hear that you intend to make a bunch of rituals, I don't see any justification for granting them a subtype. There have to be effects that specifically call out ritual cards for that to be correct.


      Karskag's Ransom looks like a fun rare. As it stands, I'd make it {2}{U}{U}{R} instead since you might break one artifact and steal two. That said, what I'd rather do is switch the order so that if they only have one artifact you can steal it, and if they have two if you can break the other, and if they have three and you attacked, you can steal one and break two. That makes it better more often and less back-breaking in the stongest scenario.

      Nice to see an existing ability word returning and with a slightly new flavor.


      There's nothing truly outstanding here, but there are good things and there's nothing particularly wrong. This is a very solid submission. The rarities are appropraite, except for it being possible Karskag and Hkara are two sides of the same set, they feel like different blocks.

    4. Thanks for the feedback!

      I'm definitely a designer that prefers to have justification for innovation rather than just do it to do it, but I'll keep in mind the judges may want a few cards further out on the branches.

      Good call on rituals, I'll double check my submissions to avoid parasitism for no gain.

      That's a reasonable point on Karskag's Ransom. Originally it did steal first and break second, which is exactly where that cost came from. Later I changed it to break one and steal two because that's more fun, but didn't update the cost.

      Note to self: get funky.

  5. Finished all my essays, which I probably spent too much time on given that I'm probably going to bounce out in the multiple choice test.


    Malignant Tatterwing -- B1 (Common)
    Creature – Bat
    Mutate: (Whenever Malignant Tatterwing is the target of a spell or ability, it gains a +1/+1 counter)

    (This is from my proposed "overgrown plane" themed concept)

    Workshop Retrofitter -- W2 (Uncommon)
    Artifact Creature – Construct
    Whenever a non-token artifact enters the battlefield under your control, Workshop Retrofitter may scrounge for an artifact card (take target artifact card in your graveyard with converted mana cost equal or less than Workshop Retrofitter's power and put it on top of your library).

    (We will most certainly return to Kaladesh someday. It will need some new mechanics, figuratively, and probably literally)

    Sanctum Research -- U3 (Mythic Rare)
    At the beginning of your upkeep, choose the effect highest on the list that hasn't been done yet:
    - Scry 1, then draw a card
    - Scry 2, then draw a card
    - Scry 2, then draw two cards
    - Transform Sanctum Research

    Aetherdrift Sanctuary
    Legendary Land (Transforms from Sanctum Research)
    T: Add one of any mana color to your mana pool
    XUUT: Draw X cards.

    (Cheating through flip cards! SMDH. The concept here is a bunch of mages researching to find a lost magical stronghold somewhere out in the Blind Eternities for set focused on that mysterious space.)

    1. All requirements met except that we're short one card type or color: Legendary is not a card type. Using DFCs to solve that problem was clever, though.


      Mutate is just the most common form of heroic.* That could be valid, but I don't see any justification for it on this slightly-pushed but still perfectly printable common bat.

      *Actually, mutate is different in that it counts abilities as well as spells, and it counts your opponent's effects, not just your own. The latter part is cool, because it acts like a tiny bit of hexproof. Counting abilities is really dangerous though, because it turns a bunch of safe abilities into on-board combat tricks; That's why heroic only counted abilities.


      Scrounge sounds dangerously recursive to me, but if it only appears as a one-time effect on common creatures, it's probably fine. Workshop Retrofitter definitely scrounges too much for an uncommon, especially since playing the card it just retrieved triggers it again at no cost. Limiting what it can get is fine, though returning a high-cost card to your hand isn't a huge problem since you still have to cast it. Although tying that to power means players can increase their ability to scrounge, comparing power with CMC is a little awkward. Will feel bad when you have no (valid) targets.


      There are some cool things going on with Sanctum Research. A series of events could tell a cool story. These don't, but they get better and better, and that's fun. This suffers from a memory problem that Demonic Pact doesn't: Pact's abilities are distinct and memorable. All of Sanctum's abilities are essentially the same and blend together.

      Aetherdrift Sanctuary is clearly a very very powerful land to want to get to. It's not like any land we've seen before, so we lose that impact, but unlimited free Mind Springs is certainly exciting. If we wanted a land this powerful (I don't) it would need some serious hoops to jump through.

      This card has no hoops except patience. Unlike all the Ixalan DFCs, there's nothing you or I can do to transform this card any sooner or any later than it intends to (apart from taking extra turns). That removes a lot of the fun of these cards. Given that Sanctum Research does something every turn that's worth {3}{U} or more and then it transforms into the terrifying Aetherdrift Sanctuary and the only way to answer it is with enchantment removal, this card is in bah-roken territory.


      I didn't get much of a sense of what each of these blocks were from the cards themselves. Each of the cards had issues, and the mechanics raised concerns too. Scrounge looks close to being a pretty cool thing, and Sanctum Research hints at a vein of design we really haven't seen before, so that's encouraging. I'd definitely encourage you to keep making things and putting them in front of other people for feedback. I encourage everyone to do that, actually. It's not something I intend to ever get out of the practice of doing.

    2. Thanks for feedback. Don't worry about being too critical.

      Mutate is indeed intended to be as you describe and is actually planned to work exactly as you fear, which does make for a lot of balance concerns. I actually have the growth problem in mind in the set itself as I work on it (that's what the set is about), but arguably I haven't thought about what happens when it interacts with existing spells and abilities.

      Scrounge is an keyword I'm still playing with so I didn't think enough about how to implement it. I knew a single ETB trigger wasn't enough for common. Possibly it should be en expensive tap ability. Which would also help avoid the potential recursion problems of ETB artifact=recovering an artifact.

      The whole modal, building enchantment thing is something I'm seriously spending some brain space trying to figure out. It all started with the idea of reversing Demonic Pact and making it an alternate win condition: Make a black player destroy all of his or her resources over a series of turns, and if they can survive it, they win.

      Then I started thinking that this could be an actual mechanic that could make some very interesting gameplay, but I'm still very much hammering it out. The flaws you point I did recognize when I was making it. I'm going to keep working on how to implement the idea.

    3. I'm interested to see where these go.

      I wasn't sure if DFC would count as including the colour and types of the back face or not.

    4. As I was reviewing your stuff, I also imagined an enchantment that tries to kill you every turn until you just win. Would be tricky to make right, but if you do, so cool.

    5. It occurs to me now that I could have had the Workshop Retrofitter spend energy and tap to activate.

      Oh. I have neglected to mention that I started a really, really impromptu, very improvised design blog of my own.

      A lot of it is essentially brainstorming out loud with a single set concept and I can assure you if you visit, you'll see some very terribly designed cards that have been sloshing around in my head for months now, but I'm only seeing the problems with them as I document them.

  6. Pray W
    Gain 5 life
    Gods 1G
    Search your library for a god card, reveal it and put it into your hand.
    Shuffle your library.

    Tibalt’s Pain Chief BR
    Creature- Devil
    T: each opponent loses one life
    Whenever a creature an opponent controls is dealt non-combat damage or destroyed untap Tibalt’s Pain Chief

    Aether Glider 1
    Artifact creature- thopter

    1. Pray to Gods-- This sure disappoints in Limited if you can't find an on-color God for your deck after taking this rare. Or at least that's what players will assume; actually 5 life for 1 mana at instant speed is an aggressive rate that may be worth playing on its own. I'm totally on board with the top-down flavor, but this is sending too many mixed signals in how it actually plays.

      Tibalt's Pain Chief-- That's a cool, innovative, and very Tibalt thing to care about. Unfortunately I don't think the reward is enough to make players care, especially in the controlling decks that want to trigger this.

      Aether Glider-- How has this never been printed? Nice find.

    2. There are no rarities, and all our CMCs are 1 or 2, so this misses two core requirements. Getting to 8 colors/types via aftermath was clever.


      Pray to Gods is pretty representative of aftermath: The first effect isn't quite worth a card, but it gives you free access to the second; and the second is only relevant in certain decks; but together on the same card, in the right deck, a player could be very happy to play this. We didn't get a mechanical connection between the two halves, but the flavor connection is strong enough.

      The rarity is going to be trouble here, though. The first effect really only wants to be common, and the second wants to be rare or at least uncommon.


      Tibalt's Pain Chief looks like a black-tinted version of Lightning-Rig Crew and the like. Sounds neat. I'd sooner expect {1}{B}{R}, but if we need an early 0/4 or to push this card, 2cc isn't unreasonable. It's a little odd that this cares about damage yet causes life loss, but that's clearly to keep it from tiggering itself. Caring about damage as well as destruction is a problem, both because it reduces the focus/identity of the card, and because it's not clear if shocking a runeclaw bears to death untaps our devil once or twice.


      Aether Glider might be a touch strong at common, but not unprintably so. It's real clean, and satisfying to look at.


      I guess Pray to Gods belongs to Amonkhet, because that's the only set to use both aftermath and gods. Tibalt's Pain Chief might be on Innistrad because Tibalt was from there, and that's where devils are most common, though he is a planeswalker and Ravnica's Rakdos also have devils. Aether Glider could be from a few places but I'd say it's clearly most at home on Kaladesh. So we've got distinct blocks.

      I wasn't excited or inspired by any of these cards, but it is satisfying to see a solid common, and to see a submission that's not desperate to show off five new ideas, and there were few problems with the cards themselves. If not for missing core requirements, this would be a find submission.

    3. (You could argue that Pray//Gods costs a total of 3 and thus completes the CMC requirement. Since you don't have to pay those on the same turn though, it's really not the same.)

  7. Chaotic Chasm UBR
    Enchantment M
    At the beginning of your upkeep choose one and random
    • Draw three cards.
    • Each opponent draws three cards.
    • Lose three life.
    • Each opponent loses three life.
    • Deal three damage to target creature you don’t control.
    • Each opponent deals three damage to target creature they don’t control.
    From A set where bolas’s master plan is in place but disrupted just enough to cause choas

    Paddock Soldier 1WG
    Ceature- Human Soldier U
    T: untap target land, if it is a plains you gain 3 life, if it was a forest create a 1/1 green plant token

    Treasure Chest 2
    Artifact C
    Treasure Chest enters the battlefield tapped
    1 T: create a colorless artifact treasure token with “treasure text”.

    1. Chaotic Chasm-- it's a cool idea, and I get that you're supposed to d6 it, but it's way weirder than it needs to be. Also, 1UBR I assume? I wonder if giving you a random choice of the 6 effects on Cruel Ultimatum would be balanced.

      Paddock Soldier-- Presumably you have a Forest and a Plains if you cast this, though rewarding basics is nice. At that point the ability is just a clever way of saying "Thraben Doomsayer or Keeper of the Light, plus mana ramp". Which seems very strong, especially on a 3/3 for 3. I get that this is kind of top down, but overall I'm not sold on it.

      Treasure Chest-- Prophetic Prism that does a storage-land impression rather than drawing a card is brilliant, and the flavor is a hit. Very nice work.

    2. This submission missed on the CMC requirement but got the rest.


      I kind of like how Chaotic Chasm is a die-rolling card without saying so, but I also wish the possibilities were numbered so it's easier to figure out which effect I ended up with (and that's valid even if you use another RNG). This is aimed very squarely at the kind of Tammy who loves chaos, and that's fine. I have to point out that we could remove the three bad results and still have a card with a huge variance but that appeals to more players. Appeal is something mythics like to have. As much as I'd love to say this is unbalanced because three cards is so much bigger than three damage, clearly the card has EV:0. (That makes it a good demonstration of the difference between 'balanced' and 'fair' in games.)


      The only thing I don't like about Paddock Soldier is that it's a 3/3. That really makes me want to block with it and get its effect, rather than fix/accelerate my lands during my turn and get a bonus. Being able to untap any land, but getting a bonus for choosing an affiliated land, and getting to choose which bonus if you've got both basics... that's real nice.


      This isn't just any Treasure Chest. This is a magical bottomless treasure chest.
      I like how simple this is, and how it can fix your colors like a prism, but I think this is dangerous enough (both in terms of accelerating out a huge threat early and in making metalcraft + ascend too trivial) that it couldn't be common.


      Chaotic Chasm feels like a Conflux card, Treasure Chest is clearly Ixalan. IDK where Paddock Soldier is from. It's slightly more Bant than anywhere else specific, which pushes two of a cards toward the same block.

      No major issues is good. These designs show some cleverness, and a little elegance. I would've liked to see one keyword or ability word; There is no evidence how much vision you have a designer. Cards that imply more about the theme and mechanics of their blocks would've helped there.

  8. Not enough restrictions... I had no idea what to design. So I went for 10 colors + types instead of 8.

    Prismatic Spray WUBRG
    Instant (Rare)
    Choose one or more--
    -Destroy target enchantment.
    -Counter target spell.
    -Destroy target creature.
    -Destroy target land.
    -Destroy target artifact.

    Weak-Spot Robot 4
    Artifact Creature- Construct (Uncommon)
    Whenever a source deals exactly 2 damage to CARDNAME, sacrifice it.

    Saruman's Plot 2B
    Tribal Sorcery- Orc (Common)
    Target player sacrifices a creature.
    Heritage-- If there is an Orc card in your graveyard, that player also discards a card.

    1. Core requirements met.


      I so want Prismatic Spray to "destroy target spell." This is such a fun idea. All the effects are perfect for their slice of the pie. I think my only concern is that even at {W}{U}{B}{R}{G} rare, being able to nuke five cards of your choice is a bit much. Maybe "choose up to two" or "choose three"?

      (Also, the Vorthos in me has to say that this is nothing like the original Prismatic Spray.)


      That's a unique drawback. I love the idea of a huge tough thing that has one specific vulnerability, and the mini-game that should ensue where I try to exploit that and you try to protect it. That would be more fun if this were a bigger threat. I also want more to happen than for the robot to just fall over and never work again. I want it to explode violently when you hit its weak spot.


      More tribal? If you're going to propose R&D backtrack on decisions it's made, you've got to make a new argument. I guess the justification is that you can play no orc creatures in your deck, but still get the heritage effect on your second Saruman's Plot, from the first. But I actively dislike that justification. If a card is asking me to have some dead orcs, I should have to supply it actual orc corpses.

      Other than that, I dig Saruman's Plot and heritage. Dead things tribal!


      I know very little about the blocks these are from, but I'm willing to accept they're different just because of the types of mana costs. Spray was exciting, Robot is cute, and Plot is functional. I'm not blown away by this submission, but it is very strong.

    2. I just realized that Prismatic Spray could have said "exile" down the line. (And yes, point taken about the D&D version-- I knew that it existed but not how it worked.)

      I went for tribal mostly to finish my 10-color-plus-type "requirement", but there's some justification in both flavor and mechanics for using it with heritage. Probably stretching a point too much though.

    3. Exile down the line and choose three would be a nice way to polish up the spray. It's super splashy as a rare/mythic in a 5-color set.

      I really like the robot. I'm going to take that home and tinker with it if you don't mind; I think there's a real nice uncommon in there somewhere.

      Heritage is cool, very neat way to reward tribal decks. It feels less cool on cards that let you avoid playing any actual orc creatures, though.

  9. Gorgon's Gift 3B
    Enchantment - Aura (c)
    Enchant creature or artifact
    T: Harden enchanted creature. (It becomes a noncreature artifact until end of turn.)

    Battleborn Swordwright 1GW
    Creature - Giant Artificer (u)
    Whenever ~ would deal damage to a player, instead distribute that many +1/+1 counters among creatures you control.

    Infectious Rhythm XXUR
    Sorcery (r)
    Tap X+1 target creatures. Each creature tapped this way deals X damage to its controller.

    Gorgon’s Gift is a common example of both Harden (a wedge mechanic that works as both removal and regenerate-lite) and tapping auras, which really introduce no problems for its home set. The second card tests the waters with a new way of introducing effects by trading damage to players for a mandatory replacement effect, allowing for larger bodies at lower costs. It can grow tall, but a single blocker or removal spell can shut down the effect at will. Infectious Rhythm is a jazzy gigadrowse that can also be a fireball. If you’ve got the mana and life, you can tap your own creatures to raise the total damage done to opponents as well.

    1. Battleborn Swordwright is super cool, I'll give you that. It also seems 100% a rare. If you hit once with this, you can make it an 8/8. After that, every time you swing, you either eat a creature, make another 8/8 worth of stats (effectively giving this vigilance), or double the counters on this guy for future swings. As is, this effect feels way to splashy to be anything but a rare. Maybe if you made a weaker replacement effect? Whenever CARDNAME would deal damage to a player, instead put two +1/+1 counters on a creature you control?

    2. Core requirements met.


      I was confused when I saw that Gorgon's Gift could only affect its enchantee when attached to a creature, but then immediately understood why this aura could also enchant artifacts when I actually red what harden does. Even so, that's a bit confusing for common. A brand new player could well cast this on an artifact because they can and don't have any creatures. We've also got the fact that this aura taps, which hasn't been done since Time Spiral, since players so often turn cards attached to their creatures with the creatures. Great flavor.

      Let's talk about harden. Harden's primary purpose is to save your creatures from things that hurt creatures (but not artifacts: Doom Blade and combat damage) or to prevent opposing creatures from blocking. Secondarily, it gives you more artifacts (for metalcraft and the like) and could make an enemy vulnerable to Shatter. If this set doesn't legit care about the secondary effect, than I'd rather use hexproof or blink for the first effect. (We'll assume it does.) Note that the annoying use of harden, particularly repeated harden like Gift, is to create a super blocker.


      I'm not sure what the flavor of turning player damage into weapons and armor is, but mechanically Battleborn Swordwright has a very enticing saboteur ability. 4/4 would be okay for a vanilla {1}{G}{W}, but with this ability, Swordwright would have to be mythic to be this price. It's been a long time, but all saboteur effects used to replace damage instead of layering on top of it, back in the day. That can give us more bang for our buck, but it's also weirder and more confusing (unless we switch all the way back).


      Infectious Rhythm is unfortunately mathy. How many creatures do you hit for 4 mana? ((4-2)/2)+1 = 2. And how much damage do they deal? One less than that. So much math. How about {X}{UR} "For each {U} spent, tap a target creature. For each {R} spent, ~ deals 1 damage to target opponent?" I guess that's pretty different since it doesn't multiply damage, but do we need to multiply damage if we're also preventing all blocking?


      Each of these cards has an issue, but they all tell an awesome story and have a unique and interesting effect. They could all be from the same block, but they're all efficient text boxes and that pleases my eyes. My attention is gotten in a mostly positive way.

  10. Whew. I expected that to be a lot of work, but that was literally a day shift. Wow. Thanks for expressing your gratitude.

    Here are my takeaways:

    Holy cow is it hard to convey a whole block in one theme, and thus even harder to convey that three (or six) cards are from different blocks.

    It's 20x easier to make multicolor cards than multitype cards.

    It's hard to find a balance between showing you can work with existing material and that you can generate novel ideas, doubly so when you have no real choice about rarity.

    It's easier to propose an idea than it is to work through all the ramifications of that idea. But the judges will consider the implications, so you best too.

    1. Wow. Yes, thank you, that was some amazingly comprehensive responses!

      And yes, you need to BOTH have good ideas AND work on them to make them playable. I often need to consciously switch back and forth between those modes.

    2. Yeah. Some multitype cards work fairly easily (e.g. artifact creatures, but usually don't have colour), but most combinations are a real special case. Come to think of it, you could list them. If you leave out planeswalker, tribal, instant and sorcery, the possibilities are:

      Artifact creature, fairly normal
      Enchantment creature, has been seen in one set
      Land creature, has been seen in one card
      Artifact land, TABOO
      Enchantment land, in theory?
      Artifact enchantment, um

      There are quite a lot of snazzy type-swapping possibilities. AlexTfish designed a whole set around it once (it was very Mel :)) But most of them involve something *becoming* two types like a man-land (which would be a solid choice if it counted).

      The best possibilities here seem to be to do an enchantment block (hey, it communicates the block theme well), or to have a land creature which can't attack or block until you pay an activation cost, like the more recent gods. But that's tricky as on a land, having a P/T like vehicles but becoming a creature only on activation is so much less confusing.

      I guess you could invent a NEW card type -- I've batted some around. But none I could easily convey in one card :) The best were "terrain", a permanent type one attacking creature needed to attack through. But even then I'm not sure it needed a new type rather than subtype.