Seven Heaven

Gotta bank on the catchy titles. In this week’s episode, I set up to take on the unreasonable task of creating a cycle of 7 top-down designs! In a predictable plot twist, I then decide to split this into a two-part miniseries and leave half the cards for next week, after a tense cliffhanger.
But what is the theme, you ask, quite fairly? Let us discover it together.

tumblr_lg03vwvqzE1qevtjco1_500The Endless, from the amazing Sandman comic book series!
If you don’t already know it and are the tiniest bit open to alternative story styles, do check it out; this is the best piece of advice you will hear all week.
Note that this article is a spoiler in the sense that those characters aren’t introduced right away, but if you can deal with that much it’s going to be interesting so keep reading!

The Endless family is composed of 7 brothers and sisters, each one the personification of a fundamental concept attached to the existence of all beings. I won’t spoil any more than their name/concept now, 4 of them to be precise as I will keep the rest for next week.

DespairWe start this megacycle with Despair. Ideally I would have named her Despair of the Endless, but it won’t fit on most of the templates for other members of the family.

As hinted by her name, she is the personification of misery. To reflect that, I made sure any contact with Despair would have a dreadful impact.

Deathtouch is the obvious way to go about it, and the discard and -1/-1 effect when hitting a player represents your opponent and all their creatures being stricken by desperation.
Quite bleak, isn’t it?

DesireDesire is Despair’s twin, embodying one’s longing for what they want and don’t have.

In life as inside the comic book, Desire often is destructive and the related emotions are quite fitting for a red card. As such, Desire will allow players to pay with some of their life to control the object of their fancy, albeit for a limited time.

In a classic red manner, this design leads to somewhat chaotic gameplay and it’s unclear how to truly take advantage of it. It shows a flavor and design challenge of creating neutral avatars who impact the whole world and don’t take sides.

DestructionNext is Destruction, who I don’t imagine I need to present in too much detail.

Being the avatar of breaking everything, it would fit nicely in green or red, quite possibly the combination of both. Somewhat I like the idea that my Endless are purely focused on one color though, flavor wise.

My focus was to create the bringer of a lot of destruction, while not making him a busted design. As such I shied away from land destruction, but admittedly I just didn’t have that much time to spare to further the design… Any better ideas?

DestinyLast we have Destiny. Destiny knows all that has and will happen.
In order to reflect that, I opted to make all player know what would be happening in the next few turns by revealing their hands and the top card of their libraries. This is another symmetrical effect and that’s what made it white in my mind.

I’m not sure why you would want that, though it can help both playing counter magic and warn your opponent about it. All in all it could make for a tense type of gameplay. I like the idea of making Destiny a simple entity without a huge body, which fits its style and white creatures too.

That wraps it up for this week! Good stuff, I loved making an homage to one of my favorite storylines ever. As usual I could have spent a little more time polishing those but hey, try and write articles every week; it’s not always easy!

Hope you liked them though, I think they came out entertaining. Next week should be good, as I kept my favorite characters for the end! Until then have a great week, and see you again soon.

Filling the Gaps

Hi all. Something happened this week. Or rather something didn’t. I wasn’t inspired by anything. It is a pretty occurence, as it doesn’t take much to get my creature juices flowing. It’s not like I haven’t checked out /r/custommagic every now and then, I was just too busy with work I guess.

Worry not! Do you know what we do when not inspired? Well, there’s a few different strategies, but when you don’t have the time to just patiently listen to the muses, add some method in there! What I set up to do this week is to catch up on lacking areas of my creations this year, figure out what is currently missing from my 2015 portfolio and make up for it. Let’s see what it takes to make my legacy complete!

Well spoiler alert, we are going to need more instant and sorceries. Lots of them. I am afraid nothing I will do today will fully compensate for the head start creatures have had so far – 23 or so creatures compared to 3 instants and 3 sorceries in 2015 – but we are going to make it worth our time.
I pinpointed two more things missing. First, I didn’t create many gold cards this year, and none one with my two least represented colors either, blue and green – apart from a certain Sultai Smiter, as you might guess of Sultai colors. Second thing, there are no commons! I actually consider this an utter failure, as a game maker really needs to be able to handle simple and elegant designs.

Kerathan ExperimentSo here it is, Kerathan Experiment. I have a little trivia for you: do you know how many Simic common sorceries there are in the history of magic? One! I’m not the only one needing to work on that apparently.

There are a couple things green and blue have in common and I wasn’t inspired by: ramping and bounce – I wonder how so many bounce effects made their way into Simic cards actually.

Instead, I leaned towards the aspect of spell-creating tokens and I think I have an interesting and clean one here. Tell me what you think!

Command the WindsNext is Command the Winds. As it turns out, blue was the least common color among my designs this year, and yet I have made two blue instants already! We are focusing on sorceries today. Even better, I had not made a card-drawing spell yet, here is a good occasion to do so.

What flavour do you add to a common draw spell? It isn’t that easy to figure out! I did find one though, drawing more when you control flying creatures.

I thought about it closely and Command the Winds is definitely both balanced, limited playable and interesting enough in that field. It isn’t exciting but I could run it in control decks. Would you?

What would you say of my latest efforts. Commendable? It is good to work on a mandate – albeit self-assigned – for a change, creation can’t always be wild and free. Delivering on pieces needed for the overall health of the game is also a very important part of game design.

Hope you enjoyed it, I’ll see you next week for more!

Enabling the Broods

Being literal makes for interesting titles, I guess. Want to hear about how busy I am these days?… Right, so let’s get right to it then! What I meant by enabling the broods was that this week we are going to look at three cards that work well – hopefully – with the mechanics from three factions from Dragons of Tarkir, namely the broods of Silumgar, Kolaghan and Ojutai. I’m playing nice and saying the names this time but to be honest the broods are so close to the former Khans and their names are so equally complicated that I don’t think they will stick much at all.

Silumgar ShamblerSo our first card is Silumgar Shambler, and it is meant to enable Exploit. If you don’t know Exploit – check out those cards – it’s pretty simple: sacrifice a creature, get an effect. And what’s better for this than three expandable creatures? Very little, really.

Easy enough to see three creatures for 3 manas is a great deal, but I can’t imagine why it would be too good. Compared to something as simple as Hordeling Outburst or even Sprouting Thrinax it doesn’t seem so crazy, though I get that mana cost makes a difference. If anything being in the colors of exploit makes it that much better, then again same goes for Youthful Scholar.

Temur FlexerAnd now on to fancier designs! First is Temur Flexer.

Let’s be clear here. I don’t care how plausible the creature is, I just love the idea. A creature whose sole role is to enable Formidable? Sounds fun. A boasting warrior with 0 and only action to raise it all the way to 8, just to do nothing with it? Hilarious.

To be honest I think this might be an ok design! Of course it can be “broken”. But does a two card 8 damage combo with summoning sickness – Fling – make it not ok? Hardly. Show me something more broken and I will believe you!

Master of EchoesMaster of Echoes. Now that is the fanciest design of all!
In case you haven’t picked it up after reading the overly complicated text on this monk, it is meant to enable Ojutai’s favourite ability, Rebound.
The idea is that right after you play a rebound spell from exile, – the second time – it will stay exile for you to cast a third time, thanks to the master. Kinda like skipping rocks! Obviously this makes for a complicated mechanic, and possibly breakable, but as far as I can tell solid and elegant enough.
Note that I have no idea how I got so lucky on the illustration, it’s like Ugin is on that sweet picture!

Good stuff? I think so. Those designs are obviously a little ham fisted, as I really tried to push the respective mechanics, but all in all it worked out fine for us. The shambler’s design was a little flat, but the space explored by the two others was really interesting. They might need some fixing but I’m happy I came out with both.

I hope you enjoyed all of this, I’ll see you next week for some more! Have a good one.


For Art

Hi all, this week we are back for some illustration inspired designs. I didn’t have a particular theme in min, plus I did find some great artwork recently, and I can never look at one for too long without coming up with a card! Let’s start with the serious card, then we will move on with the splashy one.

Coerce with WitsThe idea behind Coerce with Wits is to dissuade your opponent from launching themselves into a counter war.
Say you want to counter a spell with Coerce and it is countered in return. Now, if you counter that counter targeting your counter – are you still following? – and succeed, the draw clause will kick in.
The issue with this spell is I didn’t see the appeal of having it cost 3 mana, so I decided to go the restrictive route and make it a noncreature spell for two blue manas.
It should still attract most blue mages!

Angelic War Leader if our big splashy mythic rare.Angelic War LeaderShe gets bigger as creatures are dying on the battlefield and at some stage she snaps… If everything plays out well she becomes a 5/5 for both blocking and attacking once, then turns into a 6/6 to block and attack one more time as an Angel. Finally after witnessing the one too many death, she will turn into a 7/7 flampler to block one turn and then wreck havoc, for as long as people keep on dying around her… Bleak.
I checked for power level and rare and mythic Angels for 6 manas have pretty potent abilities so considering it takes several turns for ours to turn into a Demon, it seems the costing is fair.

I tried to make sure she doesn’t transform if you just put a couple counters on her via a separate effect, as I figured casting Give on her would be too powerful otherwise.

I also made sure she diminishes a little faster if creatures don’t die, by making her black side check every single turn, while the white side only does it during yours.
Would you add Angelic War Leader to your Commander deck? I know I would definitely try her out.
Well, that’s it for another week. It’s been good, some truly inspirational artworks in there. Hope you enjoyed, I’ll be talking to you next week!


Naya Care Bears

Hey everybody. So yeah, funny story I was off on Monday and I ended up not posting my article yesterday mostly because I thought it was still Tuesday… It gave me an extra day to add a design to this week’s article though, that might make up for the wait! This week we have an interesting theme, that I will call “protectors”.

Those little two drops of Naya colors – white, red and green – are here to defend their color’s favorite strategies. Let’s see how they plan on doing that.

Volarian BodyguardVolarian Bodyguard. I recently discovered that I was misusing my green tribe of Volaria for white cards so here we are, back to my fictional roots.

This elf knight is pretty straight forward; he will simply flash in and protect one of your creatures against an opponent’s spell.

I could have made him more flavorful or color pie aware by restricting the colors of the protected creatures or the targeting spell, but I figured the card is well enough balance to not want to nerf it any more. I don’t even think it’s really competitive in any format as it is though, but that’s ok.

Alarian ProtectorAlarian Protector is a little bit spicier.
Protecting creatures – often a multitude of small creatures – is something white loves to do. Indestructible is definitely the right flavor here, but it has to be conditional otherwise it would really be annoying.

I find the limitation to be interesting, albeit only mildly useful. At the very least it can force your opponent to deal with your threats on their turn, and it somewhat combos a little with wrath effects.
I picked First strike thinking I had still a little bit of space to make the card better and I preferred that over Vigilance or Lifelink.

Kaskan BlazekeeperKaskan Blazekeeper is our bonus card, and it asks the question: ‘how much can a red mage protect his or her burn spells?’

I am not very familiar with that particular question, but I opted to answer ‘a lot’. Competitive burn strategies already have Eidolon of the Great Revel now, but I could definitely see them side this shaman in, for blue match-ups.

I still don’t see the design being overpowered but I am very open to being wrong on that. I still opted to give him a slightly less relevant Trample ability where Haste would obviously be best, just in case.

I really enjoyed today’s theme, so I hope you did too. I helped myself from wanting to complete the pattern with blue and black, though I wonder what I would have done for them. Protecting zombies or graveyards? Helping spells to be cast at instant speed for blue? It’s hard to protect blue because it tends to be the disruptive color, and hardly make you feel like it needs help against control bullies.

Either way it’s been a great week, I hope you liked it and I’ll be seeing you next week! Have a good one.