Eat your greens!

Hey all! I need to tell you more about the limited decks I’m making these days. they are taking a lot of my personal projects time, and I like it! I told you last time that I finished my first two decks, well guess what I haven’t had the time to play test them yet! I started designing a couple more though, which I will be showcasing in the near future. What I want to talk about today is commons. And since I’ve created two decks containing green cards, I will be telling you about the fundamental green cards, that I will call veggies, because they are fun-da-men-tal to a healthy Magic deck.

As you might know, even though rares and uncommon are splashy and powerful, in limited draft as much as in general design, the most important are your commons, simply because they are going to make the most of your deck and experience. In a booster they are respectively 14 and 4.6 times more frequent than rares and uncommons. Commons are hard to design because at the end of the day you can’t make all of them too exciting or complicated if you want to mellow out the power level and not create what designers call “power creep”, which means cards become more and more powerful as time and new editions pass by. So what kind of good but not too good greens have I created so far?

mongrelCornered Mongrel. Pretty tricky already. Bears (2/2 for 2) are pretty common in green. I most cases an edition will have one or two in green commons, even with small upsides to them.

Now I believe deathtouch might be too good an upside to staple to a regular 2/2. Deathtouch is enabling you to defend yourself against huge monsters after all. So how about a 2/1? Sounds more like it to me. At the end of the day, this creates a creature that will basically trade against ANY other one in a fight, and losing your creatures most of the time isn’t usually what you want in green, so the power level should be in check here.

wildsSpreading Wilds. I believe I mentioned before that it is even harder for me to design instants and sorceries. So what can we do to create a fetch land that is both original and well balanced?

Since I wanted to make it mostly less good than Rampant Growth, I decided to try and make it cost more for every creature you had played already. After all, you are supposed to need this kind of spell early in the game. But since I didn’t want the spell to be strictly worse, I added some minor life gain to it, which could actually make it pretty good in long games. So what do you think, is the power level under control for this one?

GargantuaVolarian Gargantua. This one is perfect to rest our brains a little. In green we need what we call “beef”, big bad creatures to hurt your opponent. A 5/4 does that pretty well, especially in limited, and 5 isn’t a bad price for it. That being said it’s not overly powerful and definitely not a complex card, so common should be a perfect place for it.

Knowing how green gets access to big creatures easily, we could make a case to have it cost only 1 green mana and 4 colorless (and call it Spined Wurm), but that’s really not a game changer at 5 total cost. Classic.

scornfulScornful Earthmage. 180 degrees on that one, it is actually pretty complicated. For that alone you might want to make it uncommon. What we have here is a 2/1 for three, which isn’t good. But he can also will send a land back to our opponent’s hand, and that my friends, is very powerful.

I limited Earthmage’s ability to tapped lands, which means the opponent will have already used their lands, and also that you might send your own lands to your hand if you don’t have a choice.

I will need testing on this one, I don’t how good he is just yet.

soulofvolariaSoul of Volaria. Now we are back in the realm of simple cards. You should know that in limited (if you’re new here, look it up) a 3/3 for 4 is a solid creature, if not exciting.

I’m not sure where I found the idea for this card, but I know I wanted its upside to be hard to trigger, to keep its efficiency under wraps. In limited it’s fairly hard to keep 4 creatures alive, and if you get there you are probably winning or playing on a stuck board state. I’m afraid the upside once attained is still too strong though, but more testing will tell us for sure. Keep an eye on that guy.

tamerKeratha Tamer is our last guest in this episode. The “Vanilla Test” tells us that this card, a virtual 3/3 for 3, is pretty good. It’s arguable whether it being on two creatures is better or worse, though I would say in a competition for power and big creatures you would rather have a 3/3 than a 1/1 and a 2/2.

Here at Bullzzai, we’re making it a great deal by adding vigilance on the 1/1! It’s not all that much really, but it’s a nice little throw-in to make Keratha Tamer an interesting card, yet not too powerful. Just how we like it 🙂
As you can see, it is definitely a great task to balance power at common rarity. It takes a great sense of card evaluation if you want to be able to push them to be good or even great cards, without making them broken, or even giving them attributes that would make them better rares. I haven’t reached that master state, but definitely working on it 🙂

Now I have to keep training hard and show you more non-creatures spells. Let’s agree we’ll look at those next time. Until then have a great week!

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Born of Theros

Hey all,

I’ve just finished designing two limited decks and printing one of the them and I figured I would give you another taste of those.Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 5.21.06 PMEvery one of those is centered around members of my playgroup, and obviously enough I started with my girlfriend’s and mine, respectively Selesnya and Golgari. I’m really looking forward to play-testing them, but this will have to wait until after this weekend, as I’m going to Austin for South by Southwest. Let’s look into the detail of some of those designs now though, as I’ve created about 50 already!

possessedskeleton2This one is actually not part of one of my decks yet, but I do like it because it would fit right into the Theros block. I’m actually suspecting they might make a similar card for the third block!

Most limited players these days don’t seem to value regenerating as much as deathtouch, though it is true that in recent history regenerators have had a high cost of activation. But the deathtouch bestow guy does exist! It’s Baleful Eidolon.

I think you can’t get away from regenerate costing more than 1, and I’m on the fence for bestow being 3 or 4. This makes Possessed Remains similar to Everflame Eidolon.

towneater2

Town Eater Hydra is my take on monstruous, and it did make the cut in my Golgari deck.

I find it to be a creature that’s both interesting, playable, and good without being over powered.

I love the alternative cost for monstruous, I think it’s fun and flavorful. I would have liked to see more alternate costs for those kind of creatures.

I had another version of this guys who regenerated and got a +1/+1 counter by sacrificing lands, and another that destroyed lands when it hit.

firemace

Firemace Mage is obviously not part of either the Selesnya or Golgari deck. But it’s a great, simple design mostly created by one of my friends and I think I’ll make a case to make his limited deck to be the Boros one, and include this card in it.

Firemace Mage was inspire by Leonin Snarecaster, and becomes somewhat of a Skyknight Legionnaire. It’s not a crazy powerful card, pretty much ok compared to the other two drops from Gatecrash and Theros, but it’s a fun and elegant design, and it fits Boros perfectly.

So it has been a great week for my designs. I’m yet to get better at block coherence, but single designs are making me happy these days. The community at MTG Cardsmith is actually pretty helpful and inspirational, and if you want to see more of those designs I’ve created, you can see a whole lot of them on my profile there:

http://mtgcardsmith.com/author/Bullzzai

This will be it for now, but as you could tell I’m sure I’m getting excited and having tons of fun and I will be making more stuff and keeping you posted about them. Until then, have a great week!