Let’s Exert Ourselves

Hey everybody, welcome to Ominous Designs 170 where we feature a new mechanic from the upcoming block Amonkhet. The mechanic is called Exert and it means you can have an extra effect from your creature in exchange for it not untapping next turn. At the time of this article there is still only one exert creature spoilt in previews and it can exert when it attacks. I am going to use that but also a new way of getting your extra value in the following two cards.

Deep-Alaria Druid

Our elf druid here is featuring a new way to use exert indeed.

The idea would be to allow exert when using an ability. If you do so, you will get a second green pip from your mana dork. In exchange you won’t see it untap the turn after.

I think the idea is pretty strong though the balance isn’t too obvious. A two mana elf that enables you to get your 5th – or 6th if you had a 1 drop mana elf too – on turn 3 is pretty ridiculous.

Rethik Battle Scout

Battle Scout is pretty simple in its use of exert. Note that I did add an ability that lasts until your next turn, which is very new and mostly featured in Hope of Ghirapur so far.

If you commit to let your soldier not untap next turn, it will gain double strike in return for the sacrifice. What makes the card very interesting though is that you can make it not tap to attack for two white mana, rendering the downside of exert irrelevant! It’s a fun spin on exert, albeit going against the original idea.

That’s going to be it for the day! Hopefully we got your creative juices flowing in time for the new set that’s about to be previewed and released. As the preview cards featuring exert come out we will see how close we got from predicting its actual use!

I shall see you next week, wish you a great time and until then play responsibly!

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Copycats

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 169 of Ominous Designs. Today we are looking at cards that create copies, hence the title.
Both designs are connected to a shard of mana and I think I can contain with special about them in their description so let’s just get started, shall we?

Aurashaper

Today’s theme comes from the intent of creating a clone in Bant colors. Without looking very hard for it I came up with the idea that a green and white clone should be able to clone enchants and lands. This might seem simplistic but I think it is quite esthetically pleasing.

Why is it so hard to clone lands though? I get the feeling that there is a specific reason but I can’t put my finger on it. Do tell me if you know. As for enchantments, there is probably a way to recur this with a reanimating aura, but I haven’t found it just yet.

Graveshaper

This handsome lady – actually a shapeshifter – shows what Grixis might do with clone technology. First it copies creatures from graveyard because black, then it can also copies artifacts because red. I know they both sound very powerful but I am yet to know why either would require more than 4 mana in 3 colors.

As for the blue part, I opted for copying an instant or sorcery from the graveyard as well. This comes in the form of a Goblin Dark-Dwellers ability.
All in all this one is a really powerful package.

And that will do it for now. As usual there are checks and balances to be made here but what we care about is the creative process of making magic cards, not nearly as much the play testing and balancing aspect of it, which we know takes a whole lot more time. Getting the inspiration going is what we are all about.

I hope this fulfilled our mission, I will meet you again next week for episode 170! Until then have a great time and play responsibly.

Making Magi

Hello everybody, and welcome to episode 168 of Ominous Designs. This week we are going to add a couple more cards to the cycle of Magi, which I’m pretty sure should be the plural of Magus – not that it makes it sound any better. In case you are not familiar with those, a Magus is a creature that reproduces abilities from a cult artifact or enchantment such as Yawgmoth’s Will or Nevinyrral’s Disk. Today we start with a black creature…

Magus of the Nightmare

Can you recognize this one? Recurring Nightmare is an enchantment from Exodus with the same ability as our Magus, costs two and a black, and is a powerhouse in cube.

My hope here is that making this Magus cost four including two mana that have to be black will curve out the main abuse of Recurring Nightmare which is chaining several uses during the same turn – for 4BB or 6BBB. With this one you will need at least 4BBBB for two uses, making the third one nearly impossible to pull off with only conventional mana sources.

Magus of the Attack

How about this one? Sneak Attack is the original model for this Magus and is still occasionally wrecking opponents as high as the Legacy format.

I do think bumping the mana cost of Sneak Attack to 6 should limit early-game throwing of huge creatures to a reasonable amount, plus the usual vulnerability of a 6 drop creature to removal.
I still can’t help but feel very excited at the idea of an easier to get and reprint duplicate of Sneak Attack for commander decks. Maybe I shouldn’t be…

Two Magi, one article. That is all for the day so I hope you enjoyed the cards. Magi are fun to create and have a very strong nostalgia value. Usually they just aren’t very playable in non-casual constructed formats because they rely on extremely strong effects for which designers can’t easily find a middle ground between busted and neutered.

As usual, tell me what you think and hit me up with feedback or if those inspired you with more designs. I will see you next week myself, I hope you have a great time until then and remember to play responsibly!

 

Little Buddies

Hey all, welcome to episode 167 of Ominous Designs. This week our theme is simple, we are going to look at 2 drops that bring something from a color and reinforce a typical ability from a second color. Rather than confuse you it is best we start by looking at our first card, and the origin of today’s topic:

Kerathan Battle Shaman

This shaman originated with the idea of giving you a free fight when you cheat creatures into play, as many green effects do.

Originally I figured I should add a mana producing clause because the first ability was so narrow, but since I have found several mechanics that apply. Flickering is one of them, though it would mean dipping into at least a third color, but evoke and suspend also would give you free fight effects fairly easily. Those two are to be monitored for power level, especially evoke. Should say nontoken too.

Lakegreed Oracle

I wanted to not overlap with the previous design so all three Esper colors where available to me. I picked drawing cards for blue, and -1/-1 for black.

I think getting one for free every turn, plus occasional small removal effects when you draw extra cards is acceptable. Oracle will be forced to target himself if there is nobody around which is leftover from when I was playing with -1/-0 and thought this was fine. It makes for an unfortunate yet possibly balanced side-effect now, so I am not too sorry I left it there. The card is still pretty powerful as it it.

That is going to be it for the day. I had a hard time balancing the cards today, they probably still need a fair amount of ironing out. As usual food for thoughts is always good though, and there has to be a least one way to balance any particular effect, virtually regardless of how strong or weak its base is.

I hope you enjoyed the cards, do let me know what you think about them and I’ll see you next time for episode 168. Until then, have a great week and play responsibly!

 

Making a Mess

Hello everybody! Welcome to episode 166 of Ominous Designs, were we make big cards for wacky casual games. I took both of those out of my vault, and this is probably as much introduction as you need! The two cards don’t have a ton in common so let’s just have a look at them.

begetter-of-singularityBegetter of Singularity

This one is definitely the bigger and messier of the two. What we have here is a huge Eldrazi creature that will exile everyone’s cards from their hands when cast, keep them all nice and warm under it.

What happens next will surprise you… Every turn, the massive 5/9 returns one of the cards at random to the active player. You are going to end up playing your opponents cards, which is always fun. I can tell people are going to complain that the effect is too symmetrical though, unfortunately I couldn’t fix that in few enough words to fit in there.

kerathan-war-axeKerathan War Axe

I wanted to create an equipment with multiple colored activated abilities. I very much did so here, making sure there is also an initial, static and colorless bonus of +2/+2 for all.

With Jund colored mana, the war axe temporarily gives the equipped creature deathtouch, first strike or trample, most combinations of which have deadly synergies. Keeping that in mind I decided to make the sword easier to cast but one more to equip than a sword, to prevent endless attacking and blocking with first strike and deathtouch.

That is all for the day! Hope you are excited as I am at the idea of testing those in a commander game. They should be a ton of fun.

Do let me know what you think and I will be sure to answer and maybe talk about it next week. Until then have a great time and play responsibly!

Quick! Enchant!

Hello everybody! Welcome to episode 165 of Ominous Designs, and to our still uninterrupted streak of limited mechanics. Today we are looking at what could easily be a cycle of auras, brought to you by an unusually reasonable number of two designs only this time. Here we go.

predictable-disasterPredictable Disaster

There you have it, auras that looks like instants. This reads like a 2 mana red removal but there are many subtleties that are worth digging into, especially if they interact with other mechanics you might play these auras alongside with.

For one, you need a creature to play the card, one that is about to die or that you count on dying some time in the near future. In that respect the spell needs morbid to be in effect as an instant. You can also play the card as a regular aura to provide a threat if the enchanted creature dies.

predictable-demisePredictable Demise

One thing that is different from regular auras is that you don’t care that the creature dies. In fact that’s even what you want in most cases!

The other common downside is that the creature could be destroyed in response, but in this case it will not be a 2-for-1 this time since your opponent will be destroying a creature that was about to die! That’s if you play it with flash, for the most part.
All in all the downsides are pretty limited, so I had to strive for effects that would be almost ok at 2 mana on an instant, draw 2 being potentially still too strong.

That will do it for the day, I hope you enjoyed the cards. I might have created a monster with the draw spell but I am not certain about it. You tell me! Give me your feedback and I will consider it for our next episode.

Let’s say bye for now, have a great week, see you next time, and play responsibly!

 

To The Moon

What’s up everybody! Welcome to Ominous Designs number 164, where we try to go to the Moon, a.k.a do what we we keep being told is impossible.This will manifest – an apt choice of words – in the form of instants and sorceries on the battlefield. Let’s get started because we have a big day in front of us.

dense-fog-bank Dense Fog Bank

As we can all see now, our new mechanic is called Personify. Impersonate is basically morph for instant and sorceries. Once on the board they will have to behave like manifest creatures, except you can cast them for their personify cost.
It can seem counter-intuitive at first, but just like with manifest you can indeed have face down instants and sorceries on the battlefield!

I will leave most of the power level examination for the next cards, but do notice that fob bank can turn into a bounce spell for two creatures when needed.

dense-sand-stormDense Sand Storm

The second design I had in mind for this brand new mechanic is including the classic Threaten effect.

One thing that we need to mention now is that I decided to let Personify be an instant speed mechanic. This makes choosing between the sorcery version and playing personify first a very interesting tactical dilemma. It has all the more impact here as we know instant speed threaten effects are prised, precious and powerful.
It also makes sand storm look very alike a recent card called Malevolent Whispers.

dense-bog-fumesDense Bog Fumes

We are on a roll! It is hard to not come with a million designs that could use our new mechanic.
This one is about the most straight forward you could create as its poster child for black magic.

5 mana for a sorcery speed removal is an acceptable rate in nowadays limited format, though in recent history they did get slightly cheaper. 4 mana for an instant speed version though, that is great and worth investing in personify. Nothing unheard of though, as examplified by the recent printing of Oblivion Strike, an excellent removal.


dense-jungle-thicketDense Jungle Thicket

One more? Sure, why not. I am attracted to the idea of having a narrow enchantment and artifact removal useful as a creature when it doesn’t have any target, and at the same time its cheapest possible version and still instant speed.

I think even vintage might consider paying two for its disenchant effect if it comes with the possibility of using it before its time as a creature, then have it actually be cheaper and faster. I am not sure of that though, as a 2/2 for three scarcely finds its way into a vintage curve.

Fun? I do think so. I will leave you with an example of what our reminder token for personify could look like. It makes me quite excited at the idea of trying out the cards.

personificationThat will be the end of this extra long article. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Let me know what you think of the mechanic and other designs that might use it.

I shall see you next week, until then have a great time and play responsibly!