Enchanting and Legendary

Hi all. Last week I came across a new group of designers and they inspired me with today’s theme. Someone posted a challenge to create a legendary enchantment – now you know all about this article’s title – and it turns out I came up with more than one. Want to see them?

Curse of the Witch HuntCurse of the Witch Hunt is a classic flavor-fueled design. Curse a player and everybody must throw themselves at them until they are dead.
When they are though, their last action will be to put the curse on someone else.

I believe that such a binding effect should cost a lot, there’s actually a chance it shouldn’t exist at all!

This is either useless or strictly negative for the caster in a two player game but it’s ok: in some editions – mostly multiplayer ones like Conspiracy or Commander decks – we have seen cards like this before.

Into the Blind EternitiesInto the Blind Eternities. As inspired by another designer’s contribution, we are now looking at cards’ watermarks. This is obviously completely new, and most likely not doable, if only because some cards don’t have the same watermark in different printing – including FNM and pre-release version.

I find the concept highly entertaining though, and reminiscent of City in a Bottle, another very weird card that wouldn’t be printed nowadays but has fantastic flavour. If you are not familiar with the Blind Eternities, they are the space that separates all planes of the Magic Multiverse.

And those are the cards! Hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.
Spoiler alert this theme gave me a few more ideas for Auras that I might dive into next week. Until then you all have a good one!

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Pay X

Hi all. Now is the time for me to tell you about another common phenomenon: I’m set for an article theme maybe even two, and at the last minute I come up with a couple cards and decide to go for that instead. I guess I will have a few ideas left for the coming weeks.

Our theme today is creatures with an extra X mana in the cost. I never liked multikicker because I don’t like the idea of paying separate instances of 1 or more. I prefer seeing the X in the cost even though it has its downsides, one of which being complexity.

Rethik LongbowRethik Longbow is the trickiest design to adjust of this new cycle of cards. The idea is that you get an extra effect if you pay X mana on top of your creature, and an duper extra effect if you pay a lot.

The issue here is I wanted the X to deal damage, because red. Usually I want the payoff when you spend more than 2 to be even better, but what is even better than dealing damage? Whatever it is, it would make the card too powerful.

As a concession I made the upside be only good. 3 damage and a 3/1 haste first strike for 6? Sweet in limited if you ask me.

Torian OratorsTorian Orators is a solid white uncommon.

The way I evaluate those cards is basically considering spending 0 to 3 manas for the common case, then using it with 7 to 9 mana in the late game scenario.

4 for a 2/2 vigilance and a +1/+1 is pretty boring.
6 for the same creature, +3/+3 and tap a creature, now we are talking! Powerful but reasonable I think.

If you have lots of mana it becomes a finisher, but not exactly an overpowered one.

Oracle of the Cloud AltarOracle of the Cloud Altar. Beautiful isn’t she?

2/2 flyier for 3 is a Wind Drake, perfectly serviceable. Paying 1 or 2 mana on top, I see it as spending access mana for a fringe scry effect.

Paying 3 though, gets interesting. 6 mana for a 2/2 flyier, scry 3 and draw a card? Pretty sure I’m in. Always talking about limited, of course.

If you have tons of mana, the oracle is going to tidy your library very nicely for you, and get you the best card you can find in there. That’s getting into Dig Through Time territory…

As usual none of those designs are quite perfect, but I do think we touched a very interesting space. Balancing the power will be the key. I do believe the complexity of those mana costs is worth the pain, as I am a fan of visualizing the X cost. Maybe it’s because I’m the maths type… You let me know what you think!

Hope you enjoyed today’s cards, I will be seeing you next week.
Have a good one!

American Gods

…Because 4th of July just happened? I couldn’t even get my cards to be red white and blue today, so nevermind. We are going to look at Gods though, that is exciting. I don’t have too much to say to introduce those, so we might as well just jump into it!

Lokuros the FiercewoodLokuros, the Fiercewood is our green god. As you can see he borrows from the gods in Theros by being an enchantment that turns into a creature, but it also differs in the sense that it isn’t indestructible and isn’t triggered by devotion. Close enough though, Lokuros cares about how many forests you control.

As a self-feeding mechanic, he will allow you to fetch one a turn. In my mind, for 4 manas that isn’t completely out of question, especially when restricted to basic forests. In the best case without other fetches, Lokuros turns into a god two turns after being cast. Might still be a little fast…

Vorok the RagemountVorok, the Ragemount is the red cousin to Lokuros. He functions a very similar way but is extra special. I tried to design him to work with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.

Once Valakut is on, so is Vorok and you could be attacking as soon as turn 5 with your 5/5 god. From there on, you can sac a land for 3 damage, and retrieve it next turn for another 2 Valakut damage, rinse and repeat.
At best, when you have 4 moutains and a Valakut, you can drop your 5th land for 3 damage, attack with Vorok and sac your 5 moutains for 10 damage. Is that worth considering mono-red?

I am quite satisfied with the direction those cards are taking, but I do think they need a bunch a adjustments. As such I am particularly excited to see what comments they are going to raise and what feedback I will be getting from the prolific /r/custommagic.

Swing by there and tell me what you think, or see you next week! Have a good one.

Times They Are A Changeling

I should search the mothership for this title, it sounds like something Maro would come up with. “Changeling” is a little bit of a stretch though, today we are going to look at copying effects.

But first, a quick announcement: we are today celebrating the two years of Bullzzai! Last year I organized a tournament that spanned over a month. I don’t think I will have time for such thing this time but hey have a drink to celebrate some time this week, will you?

With this out of the way, let’s look at today’s first design that I took out of my vault of drafts – it’s really a single post-it on google keep – as I was late to prepare for this week…

Call in the EchoesCall in the Echoes is a cute design.

It plays a lot like a combat trick and helps you block by basically doubling the creature you casted it on. Hardly more powerful than Smite if it was only for that, but the marginal enter the battlefield upside is a great add.

On the paper it could get out of hand but I don’t imagine a one time thing would be that damageable, especially considering we already have Mirror Mockery. Now do we want an intricate effect such as this one on a mere uncommon, that’s a different question.

 

Unstable EntityUnstable Entity has potential, though ultimately it is probably also a cutesy design. Whenever entering combat, it will look for a creature from the top of your deck and become that card.
I first made it cost only 2 and transform only when blocking, as I was afraid of enabling things like attacking with Emrakul on turn 3. Later on though, I told myself that this would still make for a wacky deck if that’s what you want to pull off. Maybe it should still cost 4?
The other point is that Unstable Entity triggers on attacking, so the creature that you copy won’t have its own attacking trigger happen.

 

That wraps it up for the week, as well as our second year! I keep my designs by calendar year, and I can see 2015 is already full of cool stuff. It isn’t always easy keeping up with the one week article routine, but for now I’m still having a good time most weeks.

 

I have to say Magic Set Editor and DeviantArt are basically powering me out, as it really helps a lot to see a great looking card at the end of the process. Here is to another year, I hope you will still be following, whoever and wherever you are!

 

Have a great week,
Bullzzai

Famous Last Words

Hi all. In a recent episode of Maro’s podcast, I heard explained that Fateful Hour wasn’t popular because players are too optimistic. I felt it was a bit dismissive and I wanted to create some more designs to make the mechanic more attractive. I’ll be honest, my conclusions weren’t too far off in the end, but I had fun along the way. Let’s see what I produced.

The problem with Fateful Hour is not quite that it doesn’t do anything most of the time, but it only synergizes with dying. Not exactly a feel good mechanic. It also only applies at the last second in the game, so either it barely saves you – not many card save you when you are about to die – or it kind of did nothing. So I went after this week’s assignment from two angles. First, make fun cards that just use the mechanic in an interesting way, and second try to create some real life saviours.

Thraben IncanterThraben Incanter is of the first kind. For some reason it was the first thing I came up with when I thought of the mechanic. Honestly, a bunch of extra mana is not exactly what you want when about to die, but I do think the concept is fairly elegantly implemented here.
First, I had to make the mana elf less powerful to being with, so that at the end of the day the balance is fine. A 0/1 making colorless mana isn’t quite constructed playable but it’s tolerable in some limited environments. If you are near death though, it’ll make you 4 mana! I went for 4 as I figured 3 wasn’t yet overly impressive for green, keeping in mind Somberwald Sage from the same block.

Patient WarleaderPatient Warleader is a first attempt at making Fateful Hour actually save you. I like that it’s a playable card without it too. In its original form it is pretty similar to Archetype or Courage, with a toughness bonus that might have been overkill. I really like that French Vanilla body and wanted to implement it for a while.
Now when you reach the 5 life mark, things get real interesting. 2 soldiers a turn, when they have first strike, can be big deal! I love the idea of defensive first strike too. Outside of Innistrad, more powerful soldiers – not to mention Elspeth – might make this card too good, otherwise I would have told you that the power level is similar to that of Stromkirk Captain.

One thing that will happen when trying to make a last resort mechanic more exciting, is we run into Timmy type of cards.

Thraben MartyrThraben Martyr is the Timmiest of them all. In his original form he is pretty boring, which is also some issue I ran into when making Fateful Hour cards. I do believe it might be a concession to make if I want to make the alternate mode more exciting, don’t you think?

Paragon of Sacrifice is a different story. He’s an angel, a fairly large one, and he can lifelink you out of danger! There is a catch though: to get that effect you will have to put yourself even more in danger by paying some life, when your total is already terribly low. Red deck are going to love that. To balance this design, I kept in mind the similar and contemporary to Innistrad Blood Baron of Vizkopa.
I decided that the setup cost was such that I wanted my Martyr to turn into something bigger than Baron. When I looked at what kind of creature that would make, I bumped the activation cost from 1 to 2. Would you say it was wise? The good thing with this card is it will be a big blocker by just a flip of a switch, as long as you are at low life. It is most likely still quite risky to attempt it, but I like the card.

And that wraps it up for today. Hope you enjoyed, it’s time for me to get back to work! Have a great one, I’ll see you in 7 days.