Grand Slam

Friends, after a five weeks cycle, we are now doing a one week, 6 cards cycle! Exciting. This one is a typical case of “completing the pattern”. We have a lot to get through so without further ado I will get started with the first card, the one that inspired the whole cycle.

Master ArcanistMaster Arcanist. I came up with this design a couple of weeks ago and was pretty happy to fill that design space.
What do blue mages love more than countering spells? Drawing cards! On the paper nothing should be better than drawing cards for having countered a spell.Balancing this design will make it or break it. Most of the time I try and not create a modern staple, so I opted to make it cost 3. There might be a standard environment that wants it, most likely one from the past though as I believe nowadays standard is already faster and more powerful than Master Arcanist.

Master HealerWith a crazy twist, we will look at this cycle cards in UWBRG order. You gotta live dangerously.
Next is Master Healer. Gaining life and preventing damage might be more in flavor but none of them seemed interesting design spaces for a repeatable effect. The angle I adopted for the masters is have them reward you for doing something mages of their color like doing. Here are some counters to thank you for gaining life!
Power level here is pretty solid, one mana for two counters is nice, somewhere between Ajani Pridemate and Archangel of Thune. I could see this fit nicely along with some Soul Wardens but again the creature is probably a little too slow for modern.

Master Necromancer
Next is black with Master Necromancer. Guess what, this guy wants you to reanimate creatures.
The masters are Gray Ogres, – 2/2 for 3 – which is fine in limited, but they also don’t always do all that much else. Master Necromancer would need support in his block to be useful at all.
If there was things like reanimation spells or even just undying floating around though, then we would be in business!
This could turn into a very nice upside, though ultimately probably not as powerful as Xathrid Necromancer.

Master PyromancerMaster Pyromancer! Again I think here is the obvious proof that I didn’t want the masters to become modern staple, hence I probably made them slightly too underpowered.
Getting free burn is something red would be very happy with, but I could not resolve to making it a Shock – 2 damage. I figured adding Shock to all spells would be like an everlasting Glacial Ray. What I didn’t factor in was that being a 2/2 for 3, most burn decks would still probably find it too slow to add their arsenal.I might have had cold feet on this one, you’ll tell me what you think.

Master AnimalistLast color is green! Master Animalist likes big guys.
Unsurprisingly, this one is more likely to be good in limited than constructed, with creatures being so much more important.
I think it is very fairly balanced for a rare, yet exciting to play in limited. I don’t forsee many other applications for him other than maybe commander, but that’s not a big issue. We need cards like that!
All in all I like it. Would cast.

Master ArtificerAnd now for the bonus round, we have an artifact creature. Master Artificer blows stuff up for fun. Being able to destroy artifacts when you play one is most likely useless in limited, again unless the format offers support for it – that would be, having lots of artifacts, basically.
Now for constructed it’s a different story. Destroying up artifacts can be nice, but Master Artificer not being able to do it on his own is an issue. What is funny is that this could actually be good in Legacy, with cheap and incredibly powerful artifact flying around everywhere.
Imaging your mox coming into play tapped and destroying your opponent’s!
I’ll be honest, still I don’t don’t think Legacy decks would want to spend 3 manas on a 2/2 just for that effect, which seems to be the theme for this series in the end. I think my vote goes to ‘back to the drawing board”.
That’s all of them! In the end I believe most of the masters need a slightly higher impact to be printable, but I like where they are trying to go, and I like the flavour of the cycle. I hope you liked them too, and maybe you can help me make them a little more significant for constructed play!
Since it’s been a very long post I will only show off very quickly that I won my local pre-release 4-0, and it’s been a ton of fun. I hope you all had a great one too, maybe we can go back to that in a next article. Have a great week!

The Last Clan

How Ominous. Well as it turns out it was a fine idea taking care of those 5 clans as soon as possible. This week we are tackling the last of them and this Saturday is the pre-release of Dragons of Tarkir, where all the clans are gone for good! I’m reasonably excited for the pre-release, as it is becoming one of my main if not my most important interaction with a new set these days. I’m not as much into the idea of the two-color broods and craptons of dragons, but I’m sure it’ll still be fun.

As I mentioned, now is the time to talk about clan number 5, which turns out to be Abzan. We are going to do so with a planeswalker and a creature. Abzan hasn’t really been missing on much as it had a plethora of amazing cards in the first two sets of the Tarkir block, but let’s see what we can make anyways.

Abzan Leech LordAbzan Leech Lord is here to provide us with another “+1/+1 counters matter”, one that cares about holding the fort – and by that I mean blocking.
I pushed its stats a bit, and its effect is semi splashy so I might have made him a rare.
On the other hand I’m not sure the overall power level is a lot above an uncommon, so I decided to go that route in the end.

In reality if he is too powerful as is, we can change its cost, base power and toughness or outlast cost, hence making him into a normal non-rare, so I’m not too worried.
Diane Warrior AscendedDiane, Warrior Ascended is our last Tarkir Planeswalker.
I don’t know that any of her abilities is correctly balanced, but I love the idea behind all of them. The first one is a lot in flavor for Abzan, Outlast and even Anafenza or Dragonscale General, and is a welcome twist on a Ajani-dominated +1 counters theme.
-2 is my attempt at “great protection through creatures”, which Abzan should be able to pull off. Diane’s ultimate finally brings in the warriors, again with hopefully one of the best defense you could need. Admittedly it’s not infinite Krakens, but it’s also a pretty cheap ultimate.
I think we have another case of very fun designs with probably more development work needed on them. As usual this doesn’t surprise me, as design is fun, and balancing is hard! Playtest is just mandatory for that, and obviously I don’t have time for that kind of things, as I do have a real job. I’m still please with today’s designs, more so than with the ones from the Mardu clan the previous week.
I hope you liked them too, I’ll be seeing you next week with a whole new article theme. Until then have a great week and a great pre-release! Dragonspeed.

C’est Mardu

Hi friends. This is going to be another one of those straight to business articles. I bet you heard me say that more often that you wish you did but I have too much on my plate these days to beat around the bush for too long. This week we are cracking some skulls or hopefully will, by making some Mardu cards. Here it comes!

Mardu Assault Leader Mardu Assault Leader is our “cater to a need” card. I have ask on /r/lrcast what card is missing from Mardu decks and I got a couple interesting answers. The problem I chose to try and solve is “useful 1 drops”, and I also made it something that is ultimately aggressive, as a Mardu 1 drop should be.

I feel like Assault Leader is very powerful, but I don’t imagine it’s unfair… I could be wrong, since usually not giving any downside to a pure “this could be two things” card is risk, and both side of this card are fine: a 2/1 for 1 and a 2 damage spell for 1RR, or 1R if already in play.

Olorae BloodcrazedOlorae, Bloodcrazed. As it turns out, all the planswalkers I’ve made so far are women! Why not, that’s fun – cue joke about ghostbusters.

It’s been pretty hard figuring this one out, and I’ll be honest I was running out of time as well. I definitely wanted to make a PW that wants you to attack, and I wish I found something better to do than creating a creature, because I want to get away from the “needs to protect itself with a creature” paradigm. I tried making it so that each creatures attacking would add loyalty to Olorae but I couldn’t balance that in time. Her ultimate is also somewhat boring, so I think this PW needs rework.

But that is what we get this week! I do think Mardu would have benefited from some more effort on their designs, but ultimately the cards still look so cool and they open a couple very interesting design spaces. I would definitely use the designs above as a base and modify and balance them for the final cards.

I hope you liked them! Next week will be our final week with Abzan, right in time before the Dragons of Tarkir pre-release! Crazy how time flies… I’ll see you next time!

Bear Claws

Hmm… Pastries. Hi everybody, welcome to our third clan article, this one is Temur! No big news this week, and I’m little pressed by time for a change, so why not just get started.

Udagan Bear WhispererUdagan, Bear Whisperer is our Temur Planeswalker.
As you can see, it can be used as a 4/4 for 4 which is in flavor in Temur even if not the most exciting.
Udagan’s ultimate is also transforming her into a yet bigger and badder Bear, which does seem a little more boring when combined with the -3 ability, but I think I would keep that one over the previous if I had to, I love to see my PW transform into a ferocious beast!
The thorny one is the +1, providing such a big ramp. I checked and it’s faster than Garruk or Xenagos, but I can’t tell if that makes it broken.

RRoam the Battlegroundsoam the Battlegrounds is my attempt of finding something that was missing in Khans.

It might have been missing for the reason that fetches weren’t that important, and it was actually more underwhelming that missing with Seek the Horizon and Map the Wastes, but I think this instant might still help the Temur Frontier nicely.

Instant speed Rampant Growth is already basically good enough, and the additional land with ferocious could be amazing, if you have already powered out an early ferocious creature and are looking to play a couple more fatties, Temur style…

Having a good time! I still am! I’m not fully sure I will keep on creating a Planeswalker for each clan but so far it’s been enjoyable so why stop. Those are hard to design though, I’m not sure I nailed any of them – actually I’m sure enough none was a complete home run. Maybe that’s all the more reasons to keep on making them!

Either way, now that Dragons of Tarkir is around the corner, I’m that much more assured that I should finish the cycle sooner than later, so I think you can look forward to either Mardu or Abzan next week. Good times either way, have a good one and see you next week!