From Above Part. 2

Hello everybody and welcome to episode 144 of Ominous Designs, inaugurating a series for which I have been publishing entries for a while now, and is titled From Above. As you might have guessed this is top-down designs we are talking about. Top-down design is when I think of a character or object, mostly independently Magic, and then make the concept fit the game.

Every now and then I don’t have a particular idea for a theme and I will browse through my vault of ar, pick a couple nice ones and make cards out of them. To illustrate this, let’s now have a look at a big creature, a big enchantment and a big artifact, all of those in only 3 cards! Isn’t that exciting.

Sea TyrantSea Tyrant.
Doesn’t he look amazing? I couldn’t resist making a card for what seemed to be an obvious Titan. This second ever blue giant is also an elemental though, and his power is mostly inferior to that of Frost Titan. Pretty high bar that was, though; I’m quite certain Tyrant still do quite the job at finishing games, with his large body and good ability.

Tapping three creatures when attacking is no small feat, even though you aren’t likely to do that more than once. His interaction with Master of Waves is pretty amazing but I would venture still acceptable. Tell me if you think so as well.

Gateway to NyxGateway to Nyx.
Talk about a top-down design, right here! What I saw in this illustration was the combination of the starfield of Nyx and some more earthly human construct which inspired me with a design turning artifacts into enchantments.

The end result is pretty wordy but in a nutshell, at the beginning of your upkeep you can recycle an artifact into an enchantment and at the end you can do the opposite. You can even trade Gateway for say a Duplicant in the same turn you played it! I tried to keep the power level in check but this is still some potent piece of Magic technology.

You know what I am the most glad about? Not having to pick a different title for every top-down article! It’s the little things that count… A series is a good thing to have, so everybody should be happy now. I do like the cards as well, so I hope you will have good things to say about them.

I will leave it as that for now, see you next week and until then: play responsibly!



Fast Auras

Hi everybody, welcome again to Ominous Designs. This time we are doing our 143rd episode and I am going to solve try solving the issue with Aura cards which is : what if it doesn’t even hit the battlefield because the target is removed in response? Our live episode was a bumpy one as it started with the assumption that Split Second would solve all of our problems, only to realize mid-stream that it only insures the enchantments does come into play but doesn’t help with the fact you are committing two cards on one creature. Regardless, I proceeded on creating two auras with a guaranteed trigger.

Migth of the PackMight of the Pack.

I first toyed around with an aura split between a static and a temporary effect, only to discover that you could still destroy the targeted creature and get rid of both. My next move would be to allow targeting any creature.
Split Second will ensure the card will enter the battlefield, and your opponent will have two bigger creatures to deal with, unless of course you decided to target only one, in which case you are still under the threat of a single card taking care of the two of yours and of your temporary +4/+4 trample creature.

Revenge CommitteeVengeance Committee.
I went through all the recent auras and I found a couple that would benefit from being guaranteed.
One of them is Murder Investigation. Getting a lot of 1/1 is a desirable effect and with Split Second we find ourselves with something pretty close to a Sorcery that says create X 1/1 where X is the power of target creature. Pretty good for 3, isn’t it?
I started by attempting to create a card one could consider play in Bogles, but gave up. Now I think you might consider siding one of those if you think one of your huge hexproof creatures is still likely to die.

Split second is a 7 on the storm scale, which means it isn’t very likely to come back but if you ask me, everything that is even remotely possible will end up happening again considering how many sets we’re going through nowadays. It is also slightly surprising that the only Split Second aura ever created was a control magic effect but since there was only one altogether I suppose it had to be arbitrary.

That will be it for today! Like I said before I didn’t end up achieving exactly what I had in mind originally but at the very least this was good food for thoughts. I hope you liked the cards and/or got some inspiration from them. I will see you next week for another episode and another theme and until then, play responsibly!

When the Times Get Tough

Hey everybody and welcome again, this time to a 142th installment of Ominous Designs. This week a per – quite – usual, I have come to our episode with a design ready, and made a friend for it. The design in question is a three punches draw spell, why don’t we look at it right now?

Final InspirationFinal Inspiration.
As you can see the concept behind this draw spell is that the worst the situation is, the more cards you are going to draw.
You will always get one, then another if you don’t control any creature, and a bonus one if you are low on life, say 5 or less.
I feel like the low upside probability of getting card 3 is made up by the average probability of missing out on card 2, which allows us to make it an instant speed Divination in two colors.
If you plan on playing control though, it is looking like a very solid card, so you might be excited to see what our second design is…

Final OutburstFinal Outburst.

This one was quite pushed, as you might be able to tell!
Destroying one creature at sorcery speed for four mana of two colors isn’t really something to be excited about, but it can always get you out of a bad situation. Being able to destroy two is already quite a bit better, but is only getting closer to a wrath effect, when you don’t control a creature yourself.
I tend to consider the third effect like a fringe one, but I do believe it still makes Outburst a very powerful card. Any thoughts?

So here we are for the “Final” mechanic. As I mentioned, putting those in similar colors was a deliberate desire to hint at a very powerful draw-go control deck. I do think that if such a deck was a thing the two cards would make it a lot better. I am not convinced they are over the top in terms of efficiency yet though, but only time and test would tell us that. Either way I would be happy to tweak some knobs and make the cards viable, as I’m quite fond of their underlying concept.

I hope you enjoyed those as well, that is going to be it for our weekly gathering. Now is time to say goodbye, see you next week and play responsibly!

Elf, Alf and Alfie

Welcome everyone to episode 141 of Ominous Designs. Today I’m going to show you three very similar mana dorks from the Gruul clan – Elf, Alf and Alfie – and I’m going to ask you which one you prefer. Ready?

ElfElf is the simplest and most efficient of the three.

It is quite obviously based on Avacyn’s Pilgrim and I am leaning towards it being slightly better, just because the red-green pairing tends to benefit more from ramp cards.
Then again white mana might just be more rare and the corresponding color combinations might be more powerful – Bant or Abzan? – so I am not sure it is even stronger.

There is a fair chance that if I didn’t set myself up to makes three elves I would also have made this one a human, similarly to Pilgrim.

AlfAlf is also pretty straightforward.

The idea is still mana fixing for red, but this time we add the green back and make the creature a little beefier, as it is now a two color 2-drop.

For some reason it feels a bit more like an uncommon to me, maybe because it is so similar to Kiora’s Follower, albeit slightly weaker.
It is somewhat a stretch to make it a common but I wanted three very similar elves for us to pick our favourite from. It should be easier to control the power level of this one, knowing that it is a gold card, so I am not too worried.

AlfieAlfie is the subtle and complex one of the bunch.

The idea here is that he can help make sure your hand is a little better, by replacing one of your cards with a forest or a mountain.

Make no mistake, this filtering and Mulligan-protecting ability is deceptively powerful and also could very well make Alfie and uncommon, but again I pushed the envelope on this one.
On top of that he can get you dual lands and enable graveyard shenanigans, but I doubt that makes him good enough for constructed other than standard or perhaps low-power cube.

And those, my friends, make our trio of designs for the week. Let me know which one you prefer. I have a soft spot for Alfie but I also like Elf. Don’t tell the other one.

That’s it for today though; now is time for me to say see you next week and play responsibly!

Ur League

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 140 of Ominous Designs. Today we will be looking at two cards for the blue-red Izzet League. Surprisingly for such guild, the designs are mostly clean, simple and straightforward. So Let’s just get a look at them then, shall we?

I am having a hard time believing this name has not been on a card yet! The effect is also quite intuitive, a Threaten for two turns.
Planeswalkers in recent past have introduced the concept of effects that last for your whole turn and your opponent’s as well. I think this opens a great design space that could show up on regular cards, and makes a card such as Threaten much better in defense.

Now you can steal your opponent’s biggest creature and either attack or block the rest of their creatures with it next turn!

Manacoil WeirdManacoil weird.

There are strangely few effects out there that just add one damage or one extra card to other spells and abilities. Those usually double numbers instead, and as a consequence are usually printed on mythic rares. Our weird friend here will do just that, at a lower rarity.

One extra damage everywhere is obviously very good, but it’s not Gisela good. An extra card when you draw a card is alright as well but requires some extra work from you, and this one will not compound with Howling Mine effects.

And those are your two new members of the Ravnica Engineers Association, a.k.a the Izzet League. Hope you enjoyed, I find that those two are clean and mostly well-balanced but I could be convinced to tweak the creature. Do let me know if you have feedback either way.

Now is time to say goodbye though, so see you next week and until then play responsibly!