Pure Gold

Hey all! As you might have noticed before I can’t stop adding new projects to my plate. Most recently I’ve started to take interest into streaming, and am also working seriously on bringing you a new version of my magic companion app. This plus other professional matters are making me consider my options for this blog.
It is a good time for me to put a different formula to the test; I’m going to try writing much less every week, and see how single card articles work with readers, as they should be easier to digest. I’ll probably switch around, and still write long ones some times, but I want to test with only one card.
Today we are going to take a look at something that could be very fun to play with in constructed formats.

aetherbackslashAether Backslash was inspired by the recently reprinted Stifle, which can counter basically any effect that isn’t a spell. Land ability that doesn’t make mana? Enter the battlefield effect? Death trigger? Yes to all of those!

Backslash, though, it will only work for abilities that originated from creatures. But it will also kill that creature!

I think we can keep the cost for that card low because you need a creature triggering its ability to be able to even cast your spell against it, but who even plays vanilla creatures these days?

Restoration Angel, Snapcaster Mage, Voice of Resurgence… Even Flametongue Kavu, they will all hate Aether Backslash. Thragtusk not so much but a vanilla 3/3 – if you kill the beast when its enter the battlefield ability triggers – will be much easier to deal with.

Since it’s my first week doing shorter articles, and also because I have a design that is both cute and deadly, I offer to you as a bonus the feared Unikittenfly!

unikittenfly

 

Unikittenfly is – quite obviously – inspired from its illustration. As you ca see, – and as you certainly knew already – there’s some pretty wild stuff on the Internet!

It’s design is based on the infamous Phelddagrif, but only cuter, and probably better as well.
The abilities are in flavor as well, lifelink for cat, flying for butterly and lure for unicorn.

 
Aren’t those gold cards awesome? I hope you liked them because it’s your dose for the week! Have tons of fun and see you around next time.

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Two-faced

Hi everybody! Let me introduce this week’s article with a little story about how I picked its subject. A little while ago, I had the good idea to note down my ideas for future articles. Some of them I already thought about in the past, and others I even made cards for.
During the week, I mentioned in passing that I had never played with two face cards. Then on Sunday, I was thinking – out loud but mostly to myself – “Oh I haven’t picked what subject I’m going to write about tomorrow”, to which my girlfriend answered “yeah you did, you’re going to do two face cards!”.
Little did she know I wasn’t prepared at all for it. It didn’t take long for me to get the inspiration going though, by the end of Monday I had 4 designs mostly ready do go!
So let’s have a look at what I came up with, shall we?

Veil_of_night

Lord of Lambholt / Veil of the Night.
The mechanics on this card are fun, but the flavor is amazing! One of the first things I thought about two-faced creatures in Innistrad is that not enough of them were vampires – even though some were.
So I chose the town of Lambholt – you might have met its champion, and gave it a ruler that is also a vampire. Since it was my first card I tried a little harder with photoshop it and make it pretty as a double faced card should be, but I couldn’t get it all perfectly and I reckon I don’t have that kind of time on my hands!

Quickly enough I started thinking about the very great Mayor of Avabruck and from then I couldn’t help creating his vampiric counterpart. In fact, I really like the temporary boost the mayor gives to humans, because it’s meaningful, flavorful, and likely enough not too powerful – especially for my card that costs one more colored mana. What you really want though, is have Lord of Lambolt turn into Veil of the Night! Note the flavor of him turning bad when one of its subjects died. Isn’t that romantic?
When gone bad, Veil of the Night basically turns any lowly 1/2 bat into a full fledged Vampire Nighthawk. Don’t even ask about what it does to the best vampires of Innistrad, it’s ridiculous.

Abyssal_Kraken

Deep Sea / Abyssal Kraken.
Now we’re getting a little wilder. Deep Sea‘s flavor is the – sometimes – cold and quiet aspect of the ocean. It is an enchantment that will prevent creatures from attacking unless they are blue, have flying or islandwalk. Pretty flavorful so far.
It’s really powerful though, even if imposing on you to never play an island again, so I thought I would also add a high mana cost, and I’m not too sure it’s enough yet. What’s fun though is that if you’d prefer to have a big Kraken to attack with, you can play that island, and you’ll have your monster next turn, ready to attack!

Abyssal Kraken
will be your man, and as long as you sacrifice an island a turn to it – restriction made more important in combination with the “don’t play islands” one from the enchantment side.
It can even jump from an island and fly for a turn, though there will nothing left of said island after that. Throwing Shroud in the mix because Hexproof is busted, and Krakens need to be impressive. All in all you are likely to want to use Deep Sea instead anyways because a 6/6 costing you an island to attack once and another island to get some sort of evasion is fairly expensive… But hey, that’s the “free” flip side to a Moat effect, so that’s pretty good!


Unholy_Experiment

Unholy Experiment / Biological Aberration.
     Ah, another type-change! Artifact to creature. Not too sure about all the ramifications of those in terms of rules by the way, – actually I’m pretty sure there is some sort of special case between those two – but let’s not restrain ourselves now, we’re here for creativity first.      The idea with Unholy Experiment is that every time a creature dies you can store and use its body for experiments, and all you have to do for that is pay 2 during that turn. Once you have at least 4 of them, you can decide to get the result of your experiments – you can also wait to gather some more.

     Biological Aberration, you’ll have guessed, is a huge horror. It combines the characteristics of the subjects used in the unholy lab in the name of science! And by that I mean it carries over their First Strike, Flying, Deattouch, Haste and Trample. Cherry on top, when the aberration dies, you can start the experiment all over.
While Haste and Flying are a nice touch, having the opportunity to stack up deathtouch with either trample or first strike is a real beating! I made sure it’s pretty hard to get all the way, playing the experiment plus exiling 4 different creatures in different turns, but I wonder if the aberration still needs a downside. I guess 11 mana, at least 4 turns and 4 death that you might not quite control is enough. This thing might be a beating in commander though.

Stasis_break_freeWe’re closing the loop with Stasis Chambers / Break Free.
What we want here is to take control over all cards that can transform. It is the second time I try and do two very different things in both sides of the card – the other being Deep Sea / Abyssal Kraken, Unholy Experiement doesn’t count as it’s really only the build up part of the card. It’s a tricky thing to do, since not all decks want to do one thing and another almost completely opposite thing at different times through a duel.
The first side will basically lock down all two-face cards for as long as you have it on the battlefield. Once there is more than one though – which I just realized can’t be the right number, provided that Stasis Chambers is one itself – they will ALL transform.

Which I described with Breaking Free, when all those cards become released and even supercharged. +1/+1 haste and trample is going to have a nice little effect on the board, and I’ll throw in indestructible for the noncreature two-faced cards, because why not. It doesn’t fit the flavor but I wanted to cover all the cards and not just creatures.
The other thing that doesn’t fit the flavor is that when there is two many two-face cards, they all go back in stasis, but somewhat I found that more fun than locking them into +1/+1 forever. Do you reckon I shouldn’t have?
What I could have done as well is try and force all two-faced cards to be reset and flipped whenever Stasis Chambers says so, but that would have been hard to implement. As it stands, if you control and Insectile Aberration or a Ravager of the Fells when the chambers hit the battlefield, you will keep them in transformed mode!

Man, this was work. Pretty fun though, I wouldn’t mind making another few creatures like those. There is a great design space open when you can basically add 100% more text and characteristics, and also people like patterns that will answer each other, like for example some weak guy that transforms into a killer
Maybe I’ll space it out and come back to it in some time. As usual, I hope you liked the cards and wish you a great week!

Manalicious

Welcome again, hope you had a great weekend! I have a quick announcement to make: in just over 7 weeks, this blog will be a year old! I’ll try and think of something to celebrate!

As promised now, we are going to take a look at the last 5 of this dual land series, the ones corresponding to enemy color combinations: Boros, Golgari, Izzet, Orzhov and Simic. Let’s get started!

borosImperiled Village.

I’ve been looking for innovative downsides in this series, and most of the time I’m trying to figure out something that the corresponding guild is going to be able to take advantage of. Well Boros can make sure they have some agents – typo alert, I meant power 2 or less – protecting this village, so that you don’t have to sacrifice it.

Note the alternate “do this or the land is destroyed” template, which is different from “downside when entering the battlefield” or “either downside or enters tapped”.

golgariMarsh Shrine is following third template.

Golgari specialty being to fill their own graveyard, putting cards back into their library shouldn’t be too hard. That being said it’s pretty hard to insure it will be possible, – as taught by Innistrad zombies – so let’s make sure failing this condition will only cause the shrine to enter tapped.

Keep in mind that moving cards from your library to the graveyard back and forth can easily help create crazy combos – see Life from the Loam.

 

izzet Dragon’s Cliffs.

I have pushed creativity to the extent where the template of that card becomes slightly over complicated. Basically, the izzet dual land will inflict you one damage when coming into play, – untapped – and one more if you don’t use it right away.

What it ends up meaning, is that you don’t have a choice but play it untapped, – as opposed to Steam Vents – and if you can’t make a use of it, it will cost you the full price. Less choice, but higher upside.
orzhovEverdark Ghost Town.
Very similar idea here. Unlike with shocklands, you don’t chose whether this one will enter tapped or not, and the cost is slightly different than usual. Instead of losing 2 life, you lose 1 and your opponent gains 1.

Generally speaking, if you are aggro you would prefer your opponent not to gain 1, if you are control you would enjoy not losing 2. So this should fit well in the Orzhov syndicate.

This should be fun in multiplayer, as you chose which opponent will gain the life.

simic


Spore Valley
.

This one is amazing! I see it being similar to Temple of Mystery, except you can chose between an untapped land and a powerful effect.

I do think Scry 1 is more powerful than looking at your opponent’s hand, but that’s very close! All in all, Spore Valley should be very efficient, and control players would probably love it – which seems to be a recurring theme for my lands, and I think I know why.
The theme of this series was to make dual lands with various, creative downsides. I do believe imposing something on control players is easier for them than for the aggressive ones. Think about it that way: pretty often, a highly defensive deck will just draw cards during its first many turns! If you impose restrictions on them, they might very well shrug it off and be patient, while building a great mana base to play many various control spells to react to multiple possible situations. Meanwhile, disrupting the mana base of the player who is trying to be proactive is going to have more of an impact. If I ever go back to making utility lands, I believe more of them will work better with lots of creatures.

I hope you enjoyed those last few lands and like the ideas I implemented for them. I will come back to this theme and make more utility lands some day, and possibly try and stray away from bi-color lands for a change. Maybe I’ll consider commons and uncommons as well. For now I’m going to leave you with a bonus card: Zerglings from Starcraft! I believe this one don’t need too many words so I’ll let you enjoy it and wish you a great week.

See you next time!

zerglings

Landtastic

Hi all! A few days ago, I got carried away into a theme that will entertain us for two weeks: making new dual lands. Today, we are going to look at the allied color ones, for those into the Ravnica guilds, that would be Azorius, Dimir, Gruul, Selesnya and Rakdos.

One thing I wanted to play around with was mana maths. If you look at the bounce lands from the initial Ravnica block, you will understand that it’s not trivial how many mana you have each turn after you play them. Let’s make a quick calculation with my first land,

azorius3Frost Canyon.

When you cast Frost Canyon, it virtually replace one of your lands, – great if for example you are stuck on two swamp in a white-blue-black deck -, but if you sacrifice it, it will actually ramp you one mana next turn, as your initial land will finally untap.

I almost published a broken version of this card, then realized I had to fix it. The “frost land” effect and the last ability I really wanted to play with though, so I had to keep making the card more complex to allow such things to happen.

I could have opted for coming into play tapped instead of costing 2 life but if I did that, playing Frost Canyon would net you -1 mana when entering the battlefield, and that would be pretty bad. This is what the Ravnica bounce lands and we want something more powerful.

There is an advantage to using lands that produce two manas – for example if you untap them – and the extra ability can be a fringe advantage, so I guess Frost Canyon could be playable, albeit a tad too complex.

dimirWitch Canyon.

What other downsides can we add to dual lands?
The one on Witch Canyon is very straight forward, you can only use its mana to play noncreature spells.

I think this would still be considered too powerful, even though not broken, just because of how great it would be in control deck! Imagine all the Doom Blade and Essence Scatter it could cast.

That being said, Cavern of Souls is pretty great for creature decks too! Not all of them, I guess.

gruulDeserters Camp.

Now we’re varying it up! This Gruul dual land wants you to pick a fight.

Giving a 2/2 to your opponent just because you want to play a double land is possibly a high cost to pay. To be honest, most of those creative downsides I have never tested against the advantage they provide, and it’s fairly subtle.

That being said, Gruul can deal with a lowly orc! They are almost the best suited for that, along with the next guild:

selesnyaHalfling Temple.

Turns out this one is actually similar to Deserters Camp. Selesnya might indeed be best suited to deal with pesky little creatures, so if you want this land, you will have to deal with two 1/1 human elves.

It’s arguable which is worse, two 1/1 or a 2/2, but what’s definitely the best, is that you can choose if you’d rather have the land come into play tapped!

Obviously, either 2/2 is stronger than two 1/1, or we’ll have to fix one of those cards!

rakdosForges of Insanity is our last land.

Possibly my favourite of the week, I don’t know if it will turn out to be powerful at all but it is fun. For those who don’t know, fateseal is just like scry, except your opponent does it for you.

Jace’s first power has been mostly experimented with and abandoned by Magic developers for being too powerful – you don’t want others to choose what you will play! To help with that, I left the player the choice to let the forges come into play tapped instead. It’s one of those I’d love to test but I think it could work!

Bonus:
Let’s have a look at tokens from the Gruul and Selesnya lands!
halfling orc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadly, I couldn’t get them to be of two colors, but otherwise they look great! I have to admit it doesn’t make me want to see them on the other side of the board just because I played a dual land… I’ll probably test them though, those lands are just pretty and flavorful.

Next week, prepare yourself for the enemy color lands! I think they are my favorites, so you better be excited. More importantly, have a great week!