Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Weekend Design Challenge 062218 - Random Redesign Review

Good morning, Artisans. I hope everyone had a great weekend. This is the challenge we're reviewing today. Let's dive in.

You might need to click that picture to read it. But I made numerous typos, so maybe don't
Arlinn Kord/Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon

We'll kick this off with a PW redesign. That's some bad luck on the roll, because PWs are notoriously hard to design. A DFC PW designed to fit the oft-lamented miss in original Innistrad is even harder.

Her first ability is very green, not so much red. That's fine. Creating a white human is a little odd, and I'm not sure if that's meant to capture her backstory of being a monster-hunter, but it definitely reads strangely on a clearly werewolf card, or even on any clearly Gruul card.

Having the transformation occur at eot instead of the beginning of the next turn is inconsistent with how werewolves transform. Even if the condition is different, there should be some amount of consistency to maintain creative as best we can.

On the other side, we have... a lot of text. Even if both non-loyalty abilities were split, it would still raise some eyebrows. The -2 can easily just be "Add RG" and could lose the impusive draw, although that's not strictly necessary to drop. Somehow, Relentless Assault has not yet become a PW ability, although given how much text it generates, I can understand why.

A DFC walker is going to be complex. But I feel like there are too many parts to this that have some loose connection, but not the mechanical cohesion we really want to find with a walker. Beyond that, there's nothing about this that screams werewolf beyond the transformation, which is a big whiff for me. I do really like how the one side is all about building loyalty, and the other lets you burn through it quickly, but that might be a concept better saved for a DFC walker who isn't a werewolf.

Bloodpyre Elemental

That's a very fun shifted concept. It plays nicely with a number of different shards, and while its recursiveness may be a NWO red flag, the limits on it, and the fact that it exists in a block with unearth (ie, mental space dedicated to GY tracking) offsets that quite a bit. I like how this looks in gold. Demon elemental reads a little strange, but it tracks with the art, so a Demon Elemental it is.

Cavalry Master

I consider Time Spiral block to be a masterpiece of Magic Design as Art. While this captures some of the weird of that block, it does miss a lot of the artistic spirit that drove that weirdness. Making cardpuns on "Master" is cute, but it's not the type of game history that they riffed off of. The color-adjacent stuff is a little more interesting, as all of those are things that would have made more sense on a card in Planar Chaos. In fact, if this had been a White mirror of Zombie Master alone, being a lord for Knights in that regard, it would be a lot better of a fit (other than the lack of flanking on a knight, which was a major mechanical hook for the block).

Circle of Protection: White

This iconic card cycle has some problems. Aside from being a board complexity nightmare, the color hosing nature of it made it simultaneously underpowered and oppressive to play against. This solves two of those three issues. This hoses a particular color, but not so much that the game is a shutout if you can't disrupt their circle. It trades complexity for a blanket reduction in damage. I still don't think anyone would want to highly value this in draft, or even consider it strongly for a sideboard in constructed, but still a reasonable design given the name and history of the card.

Dragonstorm was a very very Tammy card, that held some interesting potential for Jenny, that somehow ended up the centerpiece of a tournament-viable deck for Spikes. So my answer to redesigning that card is, just don't. But since you don't control the random card selector, this is a great shot at redesign. The Earthquake ability is just gravy there, since if you hit a storm count of three or more with this, I don't imagine doing a ground board-wipe is going to make much of a difference. Still, storm isn't storm if it doesn't get to be ridiculous in its splashiness, so we'll leave that alone. Play design would have to do extensive to make sure this is no more broken than storm usually is, but from a design perspective, this was excellent.

Iname, Death Aspect
That's a hard card to redesign without getting into the others. Admittedly, Death Aspect was fairly narrow, but a soulshift enabler, along with its companion Green card, made it fairly versatile. This is a much more interesting design in a vacuum. I'd like to see the other cards redesigned to correspond with it. Would a Titan-esque ETB/Attack dual trigger make this a better design? It's narrow enough that I would say maybe, but the possibility for a free (more or less) Murder on every attack seems like it would be hard to develop. Your instinct to give it flying was a good one, and I wish you'd embraced it.

Jace, Memory Adept

Ouch. Another PW rolled for redesign. This one actually came out great. All of the abilities read Jace, and the stacking emblem mill ability appeals to the same Mel impulse that Grindclock does. Because of the very real possibility of going overboard on the mill, you might want to change that -8 to target a player, which would be a much more suitable milling ultimate. Otherwise, this version of Memory Adept is ready to playtest. Well done.


That's fairly literal. It's a solid card. I'm not sure it does much with the art, but I have absolutely no idea what's going on in that art regardless. If we were redesigning Alpha, this would be a good contender for this slot. Recumbent Bliss is the closest existing version of this with life gain (as opposed to drain), but squeezing a drop more utility out of blue removal is always welcome.

Remove Soul

This card name was always destined to be a black removal card of some kind, but it somehow ended up on a soft counter. But now it's a Fowl Play, which is still a very poor fit for the name and art. Making the creature into a spirit focuses on the wrong part of Removing one's Soul, which should be what happens to the body without soul, not where the soul ends up. I'm a huge fan of this design, just not for this card name. Also, if that's the focus of the art you're embracing, it should be a Dimir card, not mono-U, which cares very little about body/soul dichotomy (favoring the framing of body/mind).

Utopia Tree
Utopia Tree was a fixed version of Birds of Paradise, which is a hard card to live in the shadows of. I love this redesign. With little control over when and how much mana you'll see from it (yeah, right), it's a very fun Tammy card to imagine the big things you'll be able to do one day. There was a suggestion to use Gold/Treasure tokens instead of the main phase mana, but I think you lose a lot of the weird charm that way. Also, my first instinct when I see pretty much any Magic card is to say, can I find a way to break this with Pyrohemia, so I rate this 4/5 Conflagrations.

Dwarven Warriors
The original Goblin Tunneler effect attached to these guys was very in-line with Magic's Tolkienesque take on Dwarfs, but sneaking little guys past blockers didn't scan particularly well for this particular card name. This take is much more interesting. It has a decent rate for a blocker, and great value for an attacker. It's an excellent NWO common, and something that can be generically reprinted in any set that calls for a Dwarven Warrior in its creative, which is a strong plus. I wasn't 100% sold on 2/3-slash-3/4 for 3 in mono-red at common, but there's plenty of precedent. Fantastic redesign.


This was a great exercise, and I'll probably run it again some time. I love the replacement cards you all created. In general, this is a great warm-up or daily exercise for doing your own designs. Well done, one and all.


  1. New CoP white = half a Sphere of Law

    Man, that original Jace Memory Adept has to be the worst-designed planeswalker for limited ever printed. 0: "If this is the second time you have activated this ability this game, you win" is not very fun. Probably unfun strong even in a powered cube.

    1. Yeah it was tough to beat and the times you did you felt amazing.

  2. Harsh but fair. I guess I didn't read the part where I could change the color, because I assumed this challenge was more akin to the Seance GDS test.