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!

Fusion Dance

What’s up everybody, welcome to episode 163 of Ominous Designs. Today we are going to look at a mechanic I have thought up a couple of weeks ago: fuse for creatures. If you think about it there isn’t really any reason you couldn’t fuse creatures on a double card the same way we already do for spells. This opens up a deep pocket of design space, so let’s see what we can do with it.

steadfast-captainSteadfast Captain // Hardened Captain

As you can see, on first glance this Dwarf creature will let you chose between a 1/3 vigilance for one and a white and a 3/1 trample for two red mana. Both are acceptable choices depending on the conditions you are facing, albeit not all that often in the same type of deck.
What really makes the card different though is that you can also chose to pay 1WRR for a 4/4 vigilance trample. It’s a bit of a weird creature but if you are lucky enough to have the mana on turn 4 or 5 it should be nice and serviceable.
The fact that you have a choice between the three configuration is what makes the card fun, though it turned out harder than I originally thought to make both sides acceptable at the same time as their merge version not too powerful. If anything I erred on the underpowered side of the fence for the later.

hopeful-druidHopeful Druid // Cloistered Druid

Now we’re starting to really have some fun. Admittedly Hopeful Druid is a bit too wordy but I couldn’t resist making a Golgari card that would make the milling and get-from-graveyard mechanics interacting with each other. I did so by creating an underpowered Satyr Wayfinder coming along with a weird 2/1 recycler alter-ego.
If you put those two together, get a 3/3 for 2GB that will possibly get you a land from the top 3 cards of your library, then make sure you retrieve whatever you might have thrown away by mistake into your graveyard or maybe even another more valuable creature that you already had in there.
I don’t think our Druid is perfectly tuned by any means but this should get the conversation started as I think there is a lot of potential in that sort of dynamic. Just make sure you write the abilities in as few words as possible!

That will do it for the week. As is almost always the case, I am glad to be opening a new design space with cool enough designs and more importantly inspiring food for thoughts for more cards to be created. I believe it is easily the case here and I am sure we could come up with a ton of creative creatures using this mechanic. Do let me know if you make some.

Regardless, I hope you enjoyed those, but it’s time to say bye for now. I’ll see you next week and until then have fun and play responsibly!

 

 

No Favoritism

Hello everyone, hope you are doing mighty fine as we enter episode 162 of Ominous Designs. Today we are again going to look at simple and mostly elegant designs, a trend that makes me quite happy. The mechanic at play is enter the battlefield triggers offering a modular choice that will affect both players the same, hence the title.

abjudicator-of-the-law Abjudicator of the Law

Our first card is the genesis of the mechanic. A very straight forward design that might look purely fair even though good players know that giving someone the choice to move both needles 3 life points up or down is actually a great power.
I think putting this on a 3/3 body for 3 mana makes for an excellent limited card.

I hope people won’t complain too much about making a non regenerating skeleton, this one does a good job of selling himself like the knight, immovable deliverer of the law he his.

harbinger-of-the-law Harbinger of the Law

I have a little cute theme going on with the names here. Harbinger holds the second most obvious effect I could find that would benefit both players the same, as well as grant a simple choice of doing one thing or its opposite: draw or discard cards.

I also think that in the right hands, the opportunity to make both players have one extra card or one less is rather powerful.
When it comes on a 2/2 flyer for 3, you can’t really complain. This one was meant to be a specter though, my bad.

manifestation-of-the-lawManifestation of the Law

Bonus round! I couldn’t help but try and apply the mechanic to green, but it made me go to less obvious and elegant abilities.

You can really play around the targeting triggers for this one, and attempt to either make the card very one sided, or plan best you can to get a better advantage than your opponent will. Also note that when played on its own, it can be a terrible -1/-1 spell or a 3/2 deathtouch for 2 that gives your opponent a counter. Not bad on turn two if they don’t have a creature! I meant for it to be a zombie.

Three cards again, huh? Lucky you. Do let me know what you thought of those and if you can come up with similar cards for a cycle. Fun fact is that all of those are two color black creatures, but I couldn’t come up with something that would suit a red black variation.

That is all for today, time to say have a great week, see you next time and play responsibly!

The Melding

Hi everybody! Welcome to this episode 161 of Ominous Designs, prepared by yours truly a whooping 4 days in advance, as I’m traveling this week. This shouldn’t have much impact on the article though as long as the cards are here!

For this one I decided to try and meld creatures together, Innistrad style, except we won’t be using the actual meld mechanic but rather straight up add everything about the two creatures into a single one. We even have a bonus design this week, so how about we just get started.

eathercrafter-mageEathercrafter Mage can’t spell aether properly.

Do not hold it against her, instead take a second to see that she is the daughter of Snapcaster Mage and Trinket Mage – yay same sex marriage – so it’s only fair she would be a mage as well.

The main reasons I merged the two is that I could, and by that I mean I think the power level is fine. On the other hand there isn’t a particular synergy to it, and in fact there is even tension in having to pay for a spell after you cast a 5 mana creature. In a control deck it’s possible though, and either way you received an artifact for your trouble!

pyromancer-devilPyromancer Devil

What about this one? A cross breed of Hellrider and Young Pyromancer. Let’s say it was an experiment gone wrong.

One might think that the Hellrider ability is too good when combined with the token making skills of Pyromancer and coming with a bigger body. I would say it isn’t quite the case as both of those abilities work much better early in games. In that sense, slowing down the card is what saves it from its power level, even though it is still an interesting engine albeit for more casual environments.

seasoned-thundermancerSeasoned Thundermancer

After making what I knew were durdly cards, I wanted to illustrate that if I simply staple together two efficient creatures, a scary monster would arise.

So I did, with the previous mentioned Snapcaster Mage and Young Pyromancer. While the result does impress, I am actually not sure it would be outlandishly good, for the same reasons I presented earlier: both original creatures strive on being cheap and coming in early. That being said 4 mana isn’t all that expensive either so I do think Thundermancer would be very powerful.

That will be it for the week! It is more fun than I expected to merely squeeze cards together. I am very likely to revisit that idea some time. Let me know if you enjoyed them too, what you think about their strengths and weaknesses and maybe which creatures you would like to see assembled!

I shall see you next week for episode 162, until then have a great week and play responsibly!

Freestyle

What’s up everybody, welcome to episode 160 of Ominous Designs. This week I brought you two cards I created within two days of recording the episode, with no particular theme to them. Good designs though, I hope.

assert-dominanceAssert Dominance

I believe this one was influenced by my great experience with Rishkar’s Expertise a the Aether Revolt pre-release, though I am pretty sure my main intent was to reproduce or fix an old design of mine you can find here.

It is a rather hard design to balance, with wild variation in power level. It can easily be a Careful Study or a Divination, but in the late game it will likely dig fairly deep into your deck.
Combine with bounce effects or pump spells for maximum effect!

sublime-battle-armorSublime Battle Armor

What can I say. If you don’t see where this is coming from you probably have never heard of Sublime Archangel.

I actually first thought that it would be a good way to somehow still get a use out of the creatures you have tap to crew a vehicle, which lead me to investigate the Exalted route.

Battle Armor looks great but it is mostly a give and take twist on the original design, which was a good card. I kept it white to fully mirror Archangel’s design.

That is all for today! As per usual do give me all your feedback on your favourite outlet, I shall see you again next week for episode 161. Play responsibly!

More Simplerer

Hey everyone, welcome to Ominous Designs 159. Today we are revisiting last week’s mechanic and closing the gap with the three missing colors. Let’s proceed, with two uncommons and a rare.

cornered-hellhoundCornered Hellhound

This little guy is the black spin on our popular mechanic from episode 158. I was presented with a choice for black and green cards: either I would simply copy the mechanic from red and white designs or I could introduce a twist, which I ended up going for.

As you can see, hellhound deals damage but not when attacking. Instead it does after having blocked. It fits fairly well a creature that can’t attack very well but is able to block 4/4, 5/4 and the likes. It still takes a second to wrap your head around the way this should be played.

It would be interesting to see how a Rakdos deck combines attacking and blocking to deal extra damage.

hills-wandererHills Wanderer

By now this last entry should be no surprise to you. The green creatures in our cycle will get you some extra life if you attack with them. This should be easier to grasp as a green ability.

As a standalone design, wanderer is somewhere around the power level of Sultai Flayer or maybe more precisely Arborback Stomper. Either way a powerful mid-to-late game beefcake.

There is a fair chance 4/5 trample is actually much better than the 5/4 stomper. I am happy to push the design and see where it lands though, this is my new moto.
Have fun figuring out the dynamics of mixing creatures from two colors now!

stoic-arbiterStoic Arbiter

Now for the grand finale. When I started this cycle, I didn’t think it would be one. Not only I wasn’t sure about what to do with color 3 and 4 but I mostly had no idea what to do with blue! Blocking might in some cases be a blue thing, but neither gaining life nor dealing damage is.

Then it came to me: if I make blue the outsider, it can have its own mechanic in there, drawing cards. Similarly, arbiter will get his bonus only if he neither attacked nor blocked.

I don’t think this mechanic would do too well on cards with lower rarities but it seems fine on a rare. Our sphinx is a nice flyer with more or less protection from sorcery removal.

And that is it for the cycle this time! I like where we landed with it. It seems really interesting to me how it makes Rakdos focus on dealing damage with a combination of attackers and blockers, – arguably the weirdest one of the bunch though – Orzhov focus on blocking and either gaining life or dealing damage that way, Gruul attacking and Selesnya gain life no matter how.

In a set, we could imagine having more cards keying of attacking, blocking, gaining life or dealing damage. That is it for the day though. I hope you enjoyed wrapping up the cycle, I know how we all love our pattern completion. Now’s time to say have a great week, see you next time and until then play responsibly!

Simpler Times

Hello everybody, happy new year and welcome back to Ominous Designs for our 158th episode! I hope 2017 has started well for you all, over here at Responsible Gaming headquarters we want to treat ourselves with a detox of pure and simple designs for our first article. Let’s start with a couple of creatures.

rethik-commandoRethik Commando

Our very first card of the year is the poster child for the new mechanic. It isn’t a keyword, but it is strongly flavored to feel like what could be a major design direction for a color in a set. To that extent you could imagine giving it an actual Ability Word.

Commando will serve greatly in an aggressive strategy since not only will it trade like a regular creature, but also ensure that some damage goes through no matter what, as long as he attacked.

As you can see the mechanic is simple enough that we could have a ton of different declinations of it with different power, toughness, mana cost and damage dealt.

high-temple-guardHigh-Temple Guard

Very much the counterpart to our red creature, Guard will gain you life and it will do so if you blocked instead of attacked.

I love the organic feeling of being an ok blocker and giving you extra life, which should help the same goal of surviving and padding your life total for your late game comeback.

I was very tempted to make a 2/3 for 3 that gained you 3 life in order to reflect perfectly commando, as if one blocked the other they would bounce off beautifully. I opted not to do so because the actual white card would be pretty underwhelming. In fact I tend to think a vanilla 2/4 for 4 with marginal life gain is mostly filler.

So what do you say? I am very pleased to start the year with the simplest possible designs. You might know that I consider those to be very interesting, hard to design, and of the utmost importance for limited play. I do think we hit something quite good here and I would love to make more of those.

I have wondered if this cycle could extend to other colors but I fear it would take away from its simplicity. The best answer I could find would be to add black cards dealing damage as well and green cards gaining life. I suppose one thing I could do is switch attack and block for those, which would be very fun but also fairly confusing.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s article and I want to wish you again a very happy 2017. See you next week for another episode and until then play responsibly!