Fallow Me

Hi everybody! I have a lot of news for this last post of the year so let’s get to it.

First, I just received my 2015 blog recap which you can find here. I was delighted to see that I had over 4 thousand views this year, most coming from the US but also a lot from Canada, Brazil, France and Germany. I was also pleased to see that my biggest daily post got over 175 views in a day, and it was not due to some referral anomaly but one of my solid designs of the year, Gruesome Sentence. Similar comment applies to my most viewed article of the year, which features two simple designs inspired by Magic Origins. Last trivia fact, I only missed my deadline and posted on a Thursday instead of a Wednesday 3 times for the whole year!

I am now going to keep the last piece of news for the end of this article, and proceed to introduce this week’s theme: the brand new mechanic Fallow – see terrible pun in the article title. The idea with Fallow is that you can discard a land as you cast the card, to get some extra effect. Simple! Now the cards themselves.

Plan for the FuturePlan for the Future is the first. Green uncommon.

Adding an extra effect to a fetch land when you discard a land is a trick that came very naturally to me. Plan for the Future starts as a Sorcery speed Rampant Growth, but there’s a twist…

If you discard a land as an additional cost, you get yourself a second land, this one in your hand. This is Cultivate for 2 and a land discarded.

Allegedly discarding lands isn’t what you want to do when fetching lands but if you look at it like a bonus, it’s an added fixing effect for your ramp.

Storming the Burning FieldsStorming the Burning Fields. Red rare.

The idea of a damage spell as well as the name was given to me by follower Magstarcraft.
I actually quite like the idea of a spell that can switch between dealing 3 to one creature and to the whole board. I think even at sorcery speed and sometimes costing you a land, it is still a fairly powerful and very flexible spell.

The reason to discard a land isn’t the most obvious but I figured that it could be an affordable cost. Ideally such things would be supported in a block containing the fallow mechanic.

Harsh SovereignHarsh Sovereign is our common of the day.

One of the tricky part about this new mechanic is there won’t be unlimited access lands for you to spend into fallow in a regular game of Magic.
Plan for the Future doesn’t actually cost you a land, and Storming the Burning Fields is situational. Harsh Sovereign himself is a reasonable creature, with a nice upside if you do have a land ready to be fallowed.

Drain for 2 is a 4 points of life swing, not too shabby for a common. 3 Would get us into Siege Rhino territory!

And those were the cards for this 112th article. Now for the big news… You have known for a couple of months that Bullzzai will be rebranded to Ominous Designs. Well there is something even bigger on the way, and it’s coming fast. Responsible Gaming is a new Channel that I am now starting, and it will include Ominous Designs as well as hopefully a bunch of other Magic and other gaming content.

As an opening act I have started live streaming on twitch – see link here – the making of my weekly articles. I also made this episode accessible offline on my Youtube Channel, here. You can finally see my weekly process and hear some of the reasons motivating my choices! Lucky you. I still have a bunch of things to put in order, such as logos, templates, and finishing the rebranding of Bullzzai, but you can already start following my channel and find Responsible Gaming on Twitter and Facebook.

I hope you like all of this new content! I had a great time setting all of that up, and I have yet more to do. Let me know if you have any advice or feedback, I’ll be sure to factor that in for my future work. I’m quite excited with it all.
I’ll be seeing you next week now, you all have a great new year!

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The Gift of Eldrazi

Hi everybody! One day I will fail posting my weekly article, but today is not that day. I have prepared a couple of designs before I left for my christmas vacations and now is time for me to present them to you.

Our not-so christmas-y theme is… White Eldrazi! You have probably noticed that the choice was made to create Eldrazi creatures in all colors but white in Battle for Zendikar. Even though I don’t think it was a mistake, I would like us to try and think about what those might have looked like. As such I have two candidates for you today.

Voiceless ShepherdVoiceless Shepherd.

This little guy has a very odd body. We usually like to describe such a card as virtually a 2/3 for 2, which is great. It also has the upside of being spread on two bodies, one of which being a sometimes useful scion token. As Bow on that package, shepherd gives vigilance to all Eldrazi Drones as long as you still control Scions.

Power level on this card is very intricate and rather hard to figure out, but I think it’s fairly high. A 1/2 body could still be very underwhelming, so I think we’re not risking being too good either.

Void ContemplatorVoid Contemplator is our Processor of the day.
A very straight forward one. I can’t imagine there is anything wrong about it except perhaps being a little weak, which is fine.
I based myself on Oracle of Dust, though being a bit put off by how easy it is nowadays for blue to get a 3/5 for 5, I downgraded this one. In the end it was an arbitrary decision that hurt the card and might have been less justified in white, but I think the design is still acceptable if not powerful. We can always tweak the numbers back up.
Void Contemplator’s ability is very white and I think deceptively powerful.

That’s it for our snow-colored giants today! I hope you liked them. I created a contest in my designer group and had several people come up with more of them, which was quite fun.

Now is time for me to get back the my christmas celebrations, I hope you are all having a great time during the holidays and I’ll be seeing you next week!

On the Commutativity of Spells

Hi all! The rather convoluted title on our article today is meant to introduce the following question: in Magic, is doing the same effect 3 times the same thing as doing an effect three times stronger once? I think the answer is quite obviously no and we are about to see why, thanks to a partial cycle of cards that I have – uninspiredly – named ceremonies.

Kindle CeremonyKindle Ceremony.

This one was the first design that came to me. A rather simple and straight forward spin on something we have seen a couple of times before, more recently in Fiery Confluence.

Being able to chose between one damage to three targets and three damage to one is great, even though definitely less powerful than Flames of the Firebrand.

Does that allow us to pay only two mana – albeit one more red – and have it be instant? You tell me.

River CeremonyRiver Ceremony.

This one was quite predictable. As is turns out there aren’t many X effects in each color, and by that I mean effects that can grow linearly, based on a number.

Green mainly has +1/+1 counters. Life gain and card drawing only come next, and aren’t the greenest in spirit.

Power-wise I based myself on cards like Cached Defenses and Reap What Is Sown, hopefully finding a good balance for a flexible sorcery.

Deadwood CeremonyDeadwood Ceremony isn’t too surprising either.

Apart from draw X, lose X – which really wouldn’t make sense with 3 targets – I couldn’t think of many black X effects at all.

The black ceremony could be very powerful, though somewhat similar to the red one. As such you can see I decided to make it a sorcery and make it cost one more.

I costed it based on comparisons to Marsh Casualties and Drown in Sorrow in order to get something that would be powerful but fair.

What do you think? There is something extremely satisfying in the symmetry of those effects. Even though I am not certain of the costs, I think they will get a lot of Magic designers excited. As an exercise, you can try and come up with a white and blue one. Those look quite harder to design!

Hope you enjoyed this week article. Now is time for me to wish you a great week and I’ll be seeing you on Christmas day!

Wishes Coming True

Hi everybody! Now that we are out of Thanksgiving and other birthday specials, Bullzzai is back to something a little tamer. But only a little! This week I’m actually featuring a full 5 color cycle for a new mechanic: Prayers.

Prayers are meant to be the Instant version of clones, and by that I mean a clone that doesn’t copy a creature but rather an Instant spell. I will now walk you through how this works, in WUBRG order…

Hope for HelpHere you have it: your first Prayer, Hope for Help.

In a classic fashion, the white representative of the mechanic is a 2/2 for 2, which is never terrible and often quite reliable.

The Prayer mechanic, as you can see, means that whenever a player casts a Prayer, all players can then decide to copy it by casting their own Prayers in response.

Anyone can match your Prayer with theirs. You will see soon that most other prayers cost 1 so far, but I don’t foresee this being an major issue.

Hope for a SignHope for a Sign.

I don’t think I have ever made such a simple cantrip card and that in and of itself is exciting. Those aren’t free as they do use a card slot in your deck and a mana, but some times they can be great when you are looking at playing a lot of spells or churning through your deck.

Hope for a Sign has the added value to be able to copy other players’ Prayers for only one mana. Often enough it shouldn’t be better than casting dispel on them but the flexibility is strong there and I do think it would be a great limited card.

Hope for the WorstHope for the Worst.

Tasty, black removal spin on Prayers.

One thing that I knew I didn’t want to do, it make a -2/-2 instant speed spell for one black mana. -2/-1 goes quite a bit further than -1/-1 though, if you know how to work it though, and I know all of you limited players will!

That’s about all there is to it; I do believe it would make for a rather solid removal spell, even though -1 toughness is far from being a universal answer. The flexibility of Prayers should make up for it.

Hope for PainHope for Pain.

Yes, for pain. Why not? This looks to me like a sweet sweet take on Shock.
There are many of those already, and I would say Hope for Pain is one of the good ones.

Prayer is obviously a parasitic type of design – a design that only works in a particular set – but I see no wrong in doing that in moderate amounts.

Note that while some Prayers can be virtually countered when copied, this one will just let your opponent do as much damage as you did them.

Hope for StrengthHope for Strength.

The market for +2/+2 spells for one green is also quite busy, though even a vanilla version of it should be playable in limited.

This Prayer in particular could be invalidated if your opponent decides to copy it. As such I considered making it give +2/+3 so that if copied, the creatures would be more likely to bounce of each other. That didn’t really feel green though.
It might make it the weakest Prayers, as it could really be tricky having any of your opponents able to copy your combat trick. Any opinions?

And that my friends was the Prayer mechanic! I do understand it is a bit unpredictable, but it’s a trade off for the flexibility and what I think is a reasonable color bleed. I don’t think I would want to see Prayers as commons though; it would get rather messy. Let me know what you think about them.

That will be it for today, once again thanks a lot for reading and I’ll be writing to you again next week. Have a good one!

 

 

Fix What’s Broken

Hello everybody! Today I will finally feature what I have been teasing for a while now: my own custom made set of about 250 cards!

IMG_20151113_153829My girlfriend had this made as an amazing birthday present a couple weeks ago, and I have been sleeving them, making them into decks and play testing them with her since then. Now I can finally show the world.
She had the help from San Francisco printing company in called HH Imaging, and the result looks pretty great! Click the images to see for yourself.

IMG_20151113_102653As you can see they have a beautiful back that sports the name Ominous, which is part of a rebranding that I am working on.
Bullzzai is my brand for Magicky things that I named after a life long nickname Banzzai. In the past few years I have taken on blogging, app making and streaming and I want to create a better brand under this more catchy name.

IMG_20151118_124320 (1)From having sleeved and played those cards I can tell you that they are at the same time amazing in quality and impossible to mistake for actual magic cards. They are slightly thicker, definitely glossier, and from a minor mistake slightly too big to fit in non clear sleeves.
At the same time, both the Ominous background and the Magic Set Editor template are well different from actual cards, which I think is great as I am not trying to make fake cards. Those still look and play fantastic though.
One minor issue was I ended up having to use clear sleeves and put Ominous cards in my basic land sleeves as well, to show the same back.

IMG_20151113_181810Now the play testing is definitely the best part.

It is a blast being able to actually play my favorite designs from the past two years against each other! It wasn’t the easiest making decks out of cards that were not created to function with each other, but with the help of mana fixing I could create two 3 color decks that are really fun.

Here you can see my girlfriend wrecking me by casting a rare Angelic War Leader, followed by Eternal War, that destroys all non-demon and non-angel creatures!

I was feeling a bit salty but couldn’t resist immortalizing the bad beat. Playing them made me wish my designs were perfect, and now I want them to better them even more.

As such, today I decided to feature two designs that I have been playing with recently and I think should be fixed. Let’s have a look at them.

Command the Winds(2)Command the Winds original version costed 4 manas.
I figured at the time that since I added the “only if you have a flying creature” clause it would be ok, but it turned out being all too easy to make happen for a killer effect.

I toyed around with the idea of making it draw only one card if you don’t, for the same cost, but that would then make for an either useless or amazing card.
With a cost of 5, Command the Winds becomes a less powerful version of Jace’s Ingenuity, which feels better to me. More playtesting to come!

Orzhov Hypocrite(2)Orzhov Hypocrite used to have first strike and lifelink and drain you for 2 when coming into play.

First strike on a 2 drop seemed way too powerful for my format, given that I was playing it in a Mardu deck facing much less aggressive green and blue designs, which didn’t help at all.

Even then, I feel like vigilance and lifelink makes for a more balanced design. I now wonder if I could have kept the initial drain to 2 instead of raising it to 3 as I did for this version. What I needed to do though is raise its toughness from 1 to 2, which makes total sense here.

What do you think? I am happier with the new versions of my cards; it’s definitely a minor bummer to realize your designs are broken but it feels great knowing that you can make it all better and keep iterating until they are truly fun to play.

I want to reiterate huge thanks to my life partner for this amazing gift. I was the happiest unwrapping it and I will love playing over and again and bettering myself as a designer in the process. I hope you enjoyed the story, I will probably revisit other ones in the near future, as I play more with them!

Look forward to it and until then, have a great week!