Monday, October 26, 2020

The Great Redesigner Search: Art

 Welcome back to the Great Redesigner Search, a series where I redo all of my GDS3 entries. This week covers the challenge where we were given slush art and tasked to make hole-filling cards with it. As always, you can read my original entries and judge commentary here.

I'd say my largest issue here was being too ambitious with the flavor. Because I have some writing experience, I decided a good way to stand out was to try to connect all of the cards with an overarching narrative. I eventually went with a gritty Conan-esque sword and sorcery world featuring five tyrants fighting each other. Unfortunately, I focused too much on connections and not enough on establishing the flavor of the individual cards, so many of my cards got mediocre grades on flavor. I'm a little embarrassed about it in retrospect but I still understand that I made what I thought was the best choice at the time.

With these cards, I'm focusing on matching the mechanics to the art, so I didn't redo the flavor text.

Spell-Sigil Quieter

I made this card with the concept of it slotting into a hatebears-esque deck that mostly presents threats and not answers. Although I can't say with authority whether this new version is more appropriate a card for Spike, the effect is now more clean and in line with existing cards while still having big splashy language that I'm fond of.

Incidentally, my favorite part of the flavor I created was that the white-aligned tyrant was a planeswalker who stole battle technology from other planes and used them here, in this case a sigil from Bant. I love the dramatic irony of only a few people knowing there's other planes.

Steel Sermon

I revised this card per Erik Lauer's suggestion to make it scale more kindly, since it was an uncommon.

Elf.jpg is one of the hardest pieces of art to design to, and by this point I was down to this and a few other arts that weren't representative of white in the slightest. I'm still not super happy with how the effect aligns with the art, which looks like more of a black removal spell, but let's file this under "good enough".

Amphin Soothsayer

This card was already pretty succesful, but in retrospect scry 1 on the effect was too weak. This is already a creature with mediocre power and toughness, and I'm asking the player to pay a real cost for something they could get for free on many other cards. Scry 2 puts it closer to Omenspeaker and other satisfying ETB scry cards.

Font of Eternities

The reception this card got was very interesting: Everyone loved it except Mark Rosewater, who thought that being able to get the exact cards you want every game would lead to games feeling the same every time. I put in some thought since then as to how I could fix this issue, which I acknowledged as a real thing, while still having a relatively clean mythic design. I'm happy with what I came up with; it still scales up wish effects to a level that hasn't been seen before outside of the narrow Spawnsire of Ulamog, but does it so games are relatively more random. Maybe it should get cards with different names?

Acolyte of Fear

I got criticism for this not looking like a Cleric, so I cheated and used technology from after the GDS to make this card a Warlock instead. I also changed the ability slightly so EDH players can use it to give opponents' creatures menace as they're attacking third parties. I think the odds of someone accidentally targeting a creature they don't want are on the low side, and you can't surprise people by suddenly giving a creature menace in the same way you can with, for example, first strike.

Fear Tyrant Sireth

I had a lot of ideas for this card – in general, I wanted to capture the feeling of building dread. This version uses Tetzimoc, Primal Death's ability so I can achieve that without messing around with start-of-game effects or shuffling Sireth back into your deck. I still think it doesn't do what I want it to do in multiple, and it's obviously not going to be a hit with Commander players, so it could likely use some more refinement.

Starving Hellion

I was so proud of getting snakes.jpg's creature type right (see Amphin Soothsayer above) that I didn't realize I made this card a wurm instead of a hellion. That is my major correction to this card, which is otherwise probably the best of the original submission. I used Maro's feedback to make the card feel more like a fight without giving the opponent's creature actual wither until end of turn, but the card itself functionally works in the same way. (I also made the fight not target your own creatures, but still mandatory.)

Azazug's Whim

I still think this is more of a Spike card, but at least it's something a player would put in their deck as opposed to something too weak to be functional. I feel the art would be most appropriate for some kind of Act of Treason effect, because the devil in the art seems to be goading on the barbarian.

Ferocious Growth

I'm happy with this effect, both with how it would be a reasonably strong removal spell for green in this theoretical Limited format and how it ties into the art. Several judges suggested this add +1/+1 counters, but since I had -1/-1 counters on several other cards, particularly the ones I was happiest with, it just wouldn't work to have the other kind on a card that's theoretically supposed to be in the same set.

Scavenger's Appetite

The original card turned the enchanted creature into a Scavenging Ooze, but what I didn't realize at the time is that Scooze's effect is a color pie bend and that most graveyard removal effects of that level are usually in white or black. But you know what other scavenger-type effect is totally in pie and would be cool on an aura? Tarmogoyf's!

I might want this to grant trample or be cheaper, but having a huge whumpus Aura at uncommon in general has precedent. See All That Glitters.

Thanks for reading this all the way to the end! Unless some major design thing happens that I want to comment on, I'll be posting the final Great Redesigner Search chapter in two weeks, where I return to Tarkir a second time and finally give the noble three-section staff the treatment it deserves. See you then!


  1. Oh, cool. I'm enjoying seeing your retrospectives here!

    "Unfortunately, I focused too much on connections and not enough on establishing the flavor of the individual cards"

    It's really hard. There's always a trade off between supporting the overall set, and strong individual cards, and these challenges are deliberately designed to make it harder, and the contestant is always torn between not just the best card designs and the best set designs, but proving that they CAN do that. And whatever you end up doing, the people looking at the results can always see lots of flaws!

    1. Yes, great way of putting it! I went the opposite direction during round 2 (the circus one) – I focused entirely on making good individual cards instead of creating overarching set themes beyond +1/+1 counters matter. It wasn't a conscious thing, I think it was just based on my conceptions of what the challenge demanded.